Finally, the third installment of the Star Wars Rival run Race recaps. The fourth early morning in a row, and this one after a long day and late night before.
We had indeed planned it this way, though. Dave and I had visited Hollywood Studios and saw a lot of Star Wars stuff on our last trip together sans kiddo, so this time we thought we would treat my son to a Star Wars day complete with Dessert Party and Fireworks show. This meant we didn’t get to bed until after 10:00 pm with a 2:00 am wake up call. It’s okay. It’s Disney. You run on fumes all weekend. We’ll sleep on the plane.
My friend, Karen, brought her college-age daughter for this visit, and she was available to “babysit” my son in the early morning hours. She came by before we hit the early buses and did homework while my son slept in.
Dave and I went to the start line early enough to get a couple of character shots before I danced my butt off with my friends. Unfortunately, my friend Gerald had broken his foot the day before and could not participate. He was crushed.
Dave and I split up into our respective corrals, me in D, he in F. His plan was to just truck along at a 30” Run, 30” Walk throughout and not really stop. I planned on stopping for a couple of “must stops,” but then deciding along the way who I really wanted to stop for. In the first couple of miles, I ran with some friends, but wanted to maintain a strong pace so I could make those stops.
The thing that really got me was the 95% humidity and 70 degree temps. I am simply not used to running in humidity like that, so I just did the best I could.
The first 4 miles were pretty much in the dark. I didn’t have music, but just took in the sights and sounds around me. I stopped for pics at every mile marker, but not much else. Around mile 3 I felt something hit me — one of my Minnie ears had fallen off my headband! It was so warm and humid the glue just melted. I was bummed, because I really liked those ears.
Through Animal Kingdom, I didn’t really stop. I just enjoyed running through there in the dark. I was getting really warm, though, and trying to figure out how to fight it. At another bathroom stop in the park, I saw a woman splashing water on her face, and I remembered my Ironman experience — keep your core cool. So I did the same: splashed water on my face to cool me down, and then a little down the back of my neck. That did it — refreshed me and helped me push through to the next water stop. From there on, I would take two water cups at every stop — one to drink and one to pour around my neck. Made a huge difference in my race.
Then I got to the hardest part of the course: from Mile 5 just outside of Animal Kingdom all the way to Mile 10 at Hollywood Studios. It’s a slight uphill the entire way, and not much going on. I knew this was a “dig deep” section of the course. I paused for mile markers and even stopped for Chewbacca, but otherwise kept myself at a steady jog, pushing pace slightly to get through it. I wanted to be past this section and headed north before the sun rose too high.
I do have to say that along the way, I was getting text alerts from runner tracking about Dave’s progress. He was exactly 25 minutes behind me at every 5k timing mat. He was progressing at the same rate I was!
Into Hollywood Studios, where there was almost nothing going on, then up the narrow walk toward Epcot. I took water at the aid station. Note to self: don’t drink water and inhale at the same time. I did this, and it really messed me up for a couple of minutes. I just had to sputter and cough it out, and I really just felt like an idiot. It was quite a scene. The volunteers were worried for a minute. I finally got back on my way, stopped for a couple more characters (and got a photo of the stanchion my son ran into the day before), and made my way to the finish line. At mile 13, I started feeling a little emotional at the Mile 13 marker, having finished this race as hard as I did.
I’ve run 13 races at Walt Disney World in Florida. I’ve run this course specifically — or parts of it — more than half a dozen times. Yes, I’ve gotten emotional, and yes, I’ve been excited, but for this one? This one has had a special place on my list for 4 years, and I finally got to finish it. Recently, I’ve been flying solo (no pun intended) for these races, but for this one — I ran with my family in the pouring rain. I ran with my son across a 10k finish line. My husband and I were about to not only run our 3rd race in as many days, but pick up a very special medal — the Kessel Run — which I’ve coveted for so long. Dave and I finished with a net time of only 3 minutes apart: me at 3:05, him at 3:08!
This race was hot, humid, and challenging. For Floridians, it’s Spring running. For everyone else, it was a 13.1 mile gut check. Costumes and packing and planning with my family, and all of it reminded me why I do these races. For fun. For the love of running. To celebrate fitness with my friends.
I’m going back to Star Wars Rival Run next year…and every year I can afford it for as long as it’s fun.
Later that day, though, the sleep deprivation caught up with me. We went to Epcot, and rode Test Track. The guys rode again while I rested outside. They wanted to then ride Mission Space…NOT my thing, so I found a bench in the breezeway between Electric Umbrella and MouseGear and tried to get comfortable but not look like I was napping. I literally fell asleep on the Spaceship Earth ride. Slept through the whole thing.