Throwback Thursday: My First RunDisney Experience

Now that I have a couple of RunDisney events under my bib belt, and I’ve made a lot of friends through RunDisney, I’m starting to feel a bit like an oddball.

Many runners use RunDisney events as their first races — whether it’s a 5k or a full marathon, many first-timers make up these events. These races are an entry point into the world of running…the “gateway drug” if you will.

Not me, though.

No, before I really became a dedicated runner, I was a BAMTri — a Badass Mother Triathlete. I used half and full marathons as “training days” for 70.3 and Ironman. This…this is not normal. Disney wasn’t serious enough for me at the time. I was still pushing myself to get better, go faster and farther. I didn’t have time for Disney…because I would want to slow down and enjoy it.

I am not saying this to brag…in fact, I’m feeling a little FOMO. All of these fun, RunDisney races were happening while I was working on this other thing. There is a whole RunDisney boom that happened while I wasn’t really paying attention!

All of these “Inaugural” races happened without me…except for one: The Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, signifying the completion of the Captain America 10k and the Avengers Half-marathon. 

Looking at the transition from triathlete (see what I did there?) to runner, I probably should have taken a bit more time off. No, I should have taken more time off. Like two more weeks…of sitting on my butt.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene was brutal — 105 degrees and 15 ½ hours of sufferfest. And I’ve never been more proud of myself.

The RunDisney Avengers Superhero weekend was a horse of a different color. I didn’t care about time. I didn’t know what to expect, because I hadn’t discovered the social media groups in which I would have learned about every detail that makes RunDisney races special.

When I showed up the Avengers Superhero weekend in 2015, I was constantly surprised.

Wait, that’s Captain America? And I can get my picture taken with him? Oh wait, no, not with that line, I have a race to run. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand the purpose of Character stops. It was counter-intuitive to everything I have ever developed mentally as an athlete. I did love the entertainment before during and after the race and running through the parks, but I didn’t understand. Where were the hard core with their compression everything and fancy watches (yeah, one of them was in Corral D)? I thought I had put a lot of thought and effort into my costumes until I saw guys in Inflatable Baymax Costumes and one guy in a full Fred Kaiju-style costume. My favorite costume that weekend was Honey Lemon, though. Crafty and perfect all at the same time. All I could find was a red fedora and some S.H.E.I.L.D. patches on amazon.

It was new…all of it. Everything about this “race” made no sense to the competitor inside my head. That girl who has to put down a time she’ll go home proud of. That girl who fought for every mile and every minute of racing for the last 10 years…and you want me to stop and take pictures? What? Why?

But since that first RunDisney weekend, I’ve loosened up. No, my first race at any distance was not through a Disney park, but my first RunDisney experience changed my whole outlook on my running journey.

While triathlon still calls me and faster legs are the goal, for the moment I’m going to dress up, meet up, and sign up for as many RunDisney races as my budget will allow. Because there is always balance: the challenges and the fun. Superhero weekend will always hold a special place in my heart…until I do Dark Side…then it gets real.

Star Wars races? Sign me up!

Heather Jergensen

Leave a Comment