It’s taken me awhile to be able to write about my trip to Walt Disney World for the Glass Slipper Challenge. It’s not that the races themselves were all that tough. Honestly, it’s the rest of the trip that has taken me awhile to process.
First, the races. The runDisney team thinks it’s fun to get its participants up at unholy hours of the morning. For these races, the buses stopped running at 4 a.m., so my sister-in-law and I were up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus from our hotel to the race area. Remember, that’s 3 a.m. E.T. — my Pacific Time body felt like it was up at midnight.
The Enchanted 10k was the first part of the Glass Slipper Challenge. Unlike the half marathon course, the 10k course takes runners through Epcot’s World Showcase. The ad said we’d run through all 11 countries, but that wasn’t true. But the course starts in a parking lot and runs down the main road through the Walt Disney World
compound Resort. So, after a boring jaunt down the highway, I was thrilled to enter the park.
Here’s something you don’t really notice when you walk through Epcot: It’s on an incline. And the race designers sent us runners up the incline, which was surprisingly challenging. So, I was shocked when I got to the finish line at a personal-record 73:51, especially because I had deliberately held back in anticipation of the half marathon the following morning.
And that following morning, we were up again at 3 a.m., this time with my brother in tow, to run the Princess Half Marathon. That’s where things went wonky for me.
First, the night/morning was so foggy that we couldn’t see more than a few yards in front of us. So, the first few miles (down the same stretch of highway) were dark and sopping wet. My body overheated quickly, despite my tank top and compression shorts, and I felt sick within the first mile.
There was a creepy moment when I stopped for the single portajohn at about mile 2: A man, standing alone in a Jedi-esque cowl with the hood pulled over his head, emerged from the fog and pointed silently to the bank of portajohns across the road (meant for the trip back to the parking lot). I hesitated briefly, wondering whether the guy was real and/or a serial killer. But my stomach told my brain to shut up, and we got in, out and back on the path.
Gross story short, my body demanded a bathroom break pretty much whenever there was a bathroom to be had. I don’t know whether I was dehydrated or what, but I had to stop. A lot. On top of that, my knees both decided to hate me after the first half mile of the 13.1 mile race. Thank goodness for Biofreeze at every medical stop!
Something finally shifted in my body at about mile 7. It’s not that I didn’t need to use the bathroom — I ended up stopping twice in the Magic Kingdom, once in the men’s room no less — I guess my body just accepted the idea that it had to hold up its end of the bargain. And in the end, I still didn’t have my worst time ever, even with a half hour spent in the bathroom total. (Yes, I counted.) If not for the bathroom stops, I would’ve had a PR!
I got my water, my Princess medal, my Glass Slipper medal and my Coast to Coast medal, and then I sat down to wait. See, everyone else I knew at the race was back in corral N, so even with my half an hour of bathroom stops I still didn’t make up for the delay from my corral (H) to theirs. So I sat on the concrete, ice on my legs, and ate my snack box food. Yay for gluten free!
I cannot adequately describe to you the pride I felt when my brother walked up to me in the waiting area. It was his first half marathon, and he did a great job! In that moment, all the knee pain, soppy feelings and other discomforts melted away. All I felt was joy for him, and it took all I had not to throw myself at him for a hug. (I imagined his legs wouldn’t hold us up if I did.) He was a cross-country runner in high school, and to see him back on the trail makes me feel immeasurably happy for him.
Then, my sister-in-law came up a few minutes later, bloody. Yikes! She was a victim of the incessant Florida wet, so she ended up with blisters on her feet that exploded and bled into her shoes. I was thrilled she got across the finish line!
We caught a bus back to the hotel, regaled our family with stories, then cleaned up with the intention of grabbing breakfast. Instead, we woke up about an hour later — we’d all crashed for a nap without discussing the idea. We hobbled to get food, then to the parks. And you know what? That’s where my challenges really were housed.