Sunday, March 03, 2013

Spectating the Royal Family 5K

As I mentioned in my last post, I did a five mile run in the Epcot parking lot while I waited for the start of the Royal Family 5K - Disney races always include a 5K fun run the day before the long distance race. It's generally a great way to get the whole family of the distance runners involved and I think it's awesome that Disney offers a shorter "intro" race for people who don't want to or aren't ready to run the longer races. (I wish they'd do more - I'm super stoked that they've added a 10K in Disneyland, but I think more races at the 10-15K distance would be really great, since I think the current set-up pushes people into running the half marathon distance before they're ready.)

SUCH a fun course, although the map doesn't show that
most of the first mile is through the parking lots!
My cousin was walking in the stroller division and her husband was running the 5K. He's amazing. He's lost 100 pounds since 2011 and turned into a runner! I REALLY wanted to be there to cheer for him, because I've never gotten to do that - I think what he's done is absolutely incredible.

So, I caught the bus from our hotel at some ridiculous hour of the morning - 5:00am, I think, to head over to Epcot. It felt weird to be on a bus full of runners with their bibs on when I wasn't actually running myself (even though I was dressed in running clothes). When we got there (and the 5K had a far more convenient drop-off point than the half marathon did the next day), I stretched for a bit and started running up and down the lines of parked cars. I originally intended to do my run, then head down to the finish line to wait for them, until I realized that the start of the race actually went straight through the parking lot where I was then running! And once I realized that, there was no way I wasn't going to scream my head off for the runners!
The run was great because they were playing music for the runners and I had a number of mini dance parties with myself. I'm sure people thought I was insane. Don't care. I could get about half a mile in between each corral and got a whole mile in between the last corral of runners and the stroller division! I also met two women who run for my favorite running clothes company, Oiselle, (one of them had just WON the women's race, although there's no official prize or actual results) and we shared the sad that we couldn't be in Seattle for the sample sale that day (hi @runfastandfab and @trainracepace!).

But, SERIOUSLY, SPECTATING IS SO MUCH FUN! I LOVED clapping and cheering my head off for each of them! I may have done some serious jumping up and down, too! And it's amazing how many people are stoked to give you high fives! Later, I moved over to the 3 mile mark, just as people were exiting the backstage area of Epcot. I lead a number of them in finish line dance parties, told people to finish strong, tried to call out names (on the bibs, but too small), and gave special shout outs to the first time 5K-ers. It was so energizing! My voice might have taken a pounding, but I'm SO GLAD I went out that morning!

The only thing I wish was that I wouldn't have been the only one cheering! Sure, there were other people out there with me, but they weren't cheering on everyone, just looking for their runner! That ISN'T how it should be done! Everyone deserves a cheer - it means SO MUCH to the runners and it's so disheartening when people are just standing there like lumps while you work really, really hard. Plus, it's BORING to do nothing but stand there and look for your friends - it's like being at the airport or something. My cousin said that this happened over and over again to her at the half marathon the next day - she was on a one-woman mission to get the crowd behind the runners. The same 0.1 to go mark was packed the next day for Princess and NO ONE was cheering! I had to yell at the spectators! Seriously, people.

Afterwards, we all met up and shared stories. Apparently my wee cousin had spent the entire race talking (this doesn't surprise me), chanting mantras from Cars (I AM SPEED), and instructing his mom to chase down the other strollers. That child is so going to be ready for the Mickey Mile soon (he wasn't in the kid's races because they sold out). Everyone said the course was amazing - around Epcot's World Showcase - and I wish I'd done it (although spectating was probably better for saving my legs)! Their medals were super cute, as well! After breakfast, my cousin and I and her son headed back to my hotel to shower and get ready for some Magic Kingdom time and found that Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie were still doing photos - well, Mickey's line had closed, but we JUST managed to be last in line for Minnie! It was awesome! What a perfect way to start race weekend!