That lovely badge can now proudly be displayed as my own! That’s right. As of Saturday, I officially completed my very first 5k race. My goal for so many months has finally been realized. 5k doesn’t seem like a lot. It’s a mere 3.1 miles after all. For someone who barely ran five seconds before this past fall, I’d say that’s something.
As I mentioned previously, the Royal Family 5k was my chosen first race. It’s part of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend which was filled with 20,000 women. Or princesses, I guess? I figured that it was a good way to see my parents (who happen to live close to Orlando) and who wouldn’t want their first race to be at Disney? Lucky for me, my boyfriend R, decided to come along for fun and running.
We arrived the day before the weekend’s expo and packet pick up started on Friday. The expo was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. I was nervous and the only thing about the expo that made me any less nervous was my sudden search for compression socks. I was having problems with one of my ankles and thought those might help. I didn’t really want to be in the middle of the race and start having problems. I ended up with some Sigvaris athletic recovery socks, which I’ll talk about at some other time, but which seem to be very helpful!
After getting our packets and expo-ing, R and I did some Disney-related activity. We ended up at Epcot, walking around what would end up being part of our race route. This was also R’s first race and so it was nice for both of us to see what we were getting into. Not that there was much chance of backing out. We headed to bed early that night in order to be ready for our very early morning. My mom was nice enough to be our race transportation and she was going to arrive bright and early at 5:30am.
There’s me. We arrived at Epcot before our 6:15am race-call time. The race wasn’t supposed to start until 7am, so we had plenty of time to drink water, check out the other racers wearing costumes (lots of tutus and tiaras!), and listen to the DJ they had going. Jeff Galloway was there and spoke a little. Before we knew it, though, it was time to get into the corrals. There were several corrals based on pace and I was aiming for the last one before the walker/stroller/wheelchair corral, but because the “chute” itself was not wide enough and the 5000 or so people that were there were having a hard time getting into it, we ended up amongst the strollers. When the fireworks(!!) went off signaling the race start, it was a very slow procession toward the starting line.
Once we made it to the starting line and were off, we had to maneuver behind the people walking and all those strollers. This wasn’t altogether bad since I like to start out my runs with a nice walk to warm up, but it eventually became a problem. For some reason, I hadn’t really thought about my plan of action for getting around people. I had concentrated so much on being physically prepared for the race that I didn’t think too much about the technicalities. As I started to actually run, I found myself outside of the path a lot of the time, trying to avoid the people walking. The race was a bit of an obstacle course all the way through. So many people, so many different speeds. Sometimes it worked out in my favor and I would get behind a slower group that gave me an excuse to walk a little bit.
There were lots of awesome things about the course…
I realized pretty quickly a few of my fears were unnecessary. For one, I was not going to be finishing last. Secondly, despite posting a pacing requirement, it definitely was not enforced at any time that I could see (I know this is not true for the 1/2 marathon the next day since they had closed roads, etc for that). In fact, there were people lined up wherever there were characters. Mickey and Minnie were there, Belle and the Beast, Pocahontas, some others I can’t recall. There were also lots and lots of Disney staff cheering the runners on! Everywhere you looked, there was another one saying “Yeah! You’re doing great!” or ringing a cowbell or clapping, high-fiving, or waving as we ran by. While I don’t carry water with me on my runs, the two water stops along the route were nice.
Time went by so quickly. Before I knew it, I was running under that giant “golf ball” and headed toward the finish. I have to admit that all throughout the race I was getting pretty emotional on and off. Here I was! I was really doing it! After all that anticipation and training, I was reaching my goal! I held it together most of the way through, but then I saw my mom waiting near the finish line and almost lost it. I was so grateful that she was there. I powered through and crossed my first ever finish line at about 43:50 with a 14:03 pace. The fact that I did it under 45 minutes was more than I could have hoped for, but had secretly wished was possible.
I didn’t finish fast. But I finished. And set a personal record (that I get to beat next time). Talk about a runner’s high!
R wasn’t too far behind me in finishing his own first 5k. It was awesome to get to do the race together, even if we weren’t side by side the whole time. We got our medals, got our picture taken, and grabbed our recovery goodies before meeting up with my mom again. After hugging her, I promptly started to cry. Just a little. 3.1 miles isn’t a very long, but the road to get there was. 30 years long, technically. I’m so glad that R was there to race with me and my mom was there for support.
I couldn’t have asked for a better first 5k experience. The race itself was easy going and full of fun. The course was great. For those interested, here’s the map…
Also, here is a video I found of the 5k. The “virtual host” shows you a bit of the race route, etc.
I am already finding other races that I want to be a part of and gearing up for a longer distance next time. Hopefully, I will find myself a little faster and with another PR. Can’t stop with those goals!