I arrived via I-75 from Marietta to Tampa on Wednesday. My gracious sorority sister agreed to host me for the evening so I wouldn’t have to drive in so early on Thursday. We dined at a sushi restaurant that was delightful. Thursday morning, I got up early to go pick my friend up from the airport. We went to the expo and was delighted to arrive to no lines and pick up our bibs and tshirts in about 20 minutes. We then spent a little over an hour looking at all the vendors. There wasn’t anything I felt that I had to have, but I enjoyed taking pictures at the different booths (especially the fairy wings). My favorite item at the expo was the lavender and purple New Balance shoes. The strangest thing was Sucess rice. They had a wheel that allowed you to win a prize. Tonia and I won a box of rice. After the expo we went back to the hotel (Coco Keys) and then to dinner at Chi-Chis. After dinner, we watched a little tv in the room and decided to take a nap. The nap was more like sleep. It lasted three hours. When we woke up, we walked to get water and French fries.
In the morning, our alarms rang at 3:30. We were dressed and out the door by 4:10. The directions to the Royal Family 5k were easy, or so we thought. Somehow, we got twisted around and went about ten miles in the wrong direction. We arrived at Epcot in time to see lots of costumes. I really liked seeing all the fathers with their daughters. The mc was fun and kept the crowd pumped. It was fun watching over a thousand people in tutus doing the Cupid shuffle. The race had five corrals. Tonia was in corral D. By the time she started, the people in corral A were finishing. She crossed the finish line with a smile. After the race, we went back to take a nap before check out. After leaving the hotel, we had breakfast at IHOP and then went to check in at Westgate. Our other two sole sisters, Pam and Kat were in the air en route from North Carolina.
Funny of the night….Pam finishing her costume. Gotta love the last minute details to enhance the perfect ensemble.
Day two of 3:30am alarms. This morning I got up in a great mood and I was super excited. The four of us got dressed. At 4am, Princess Tiana, Snow White, Belle and Tonia loaded the car enroute to Epcot Center. We parked in row D-23 and were off to the strart line. We walked past the balloon ladies (women you have to stay in front of in order to be allowed to finish the race). As we waited for the start of the race, I took pictures with two others dressed as Tiana. The beginning was a little congested. The first character we saw was from Frozen. She was on a bridge above us that sprinkled down snow. At mile 1, Pam stopped for a picture with the Snow White mile marker. At mile two, I took a picture with the Ariel mile marker. Pam’s support prop (an apple) was the “talk” of the race. Everyone commented on how much they liked her attention to detail for Snow White prop. Just before mile 3, we saw the sweeper bus and took a picture in front of it. A Bambi mile marker greeted us at mile 3, this was Kat’s turn for a photo opp. As we entered Epcot, an electronic sign that said”Go runners go” made for a great picture moment. we entered an area that had shrubbery cut into Snow White and the Seven dwarfs. There weren’t many spectators on the course, however, there was a guy holding a sign that said, “You look good when you sweat”. Soon after seeing this poster, we encountered a man who had on a shirt that read “why are all of these princesses chasing me?” I was excited to see one of the bakery’s open for business and was tempted to stop but the line was too long. At the mile 5 mile marker, I got a great picture of Tonia with the Donald Duck sign. Mile 5 to the end proved to be the most eventful. Just beyond a character photo line, a runner face planted as the line and everyone near her gasped. She collected herself and got up to several people asking if she was ok. She said, “Did I lose my teeth?” When she discovered they were still in tact, she kept going. As we were walking, I happen to look behind us and could see the balloon ladies. I yelled, “balloon ladies” and we all took off into a sprint. At the finish, we collected our medals and realized that we had really taken our time. Most of the bananas and water was gone. But we got our snacks and proceeded to walk the green mile to the car. Part 1 of princess challenge, 6.2 miles. Walk to and from the car and to the start line, probably an additional 5k.
This was a very fun race. I liked taking it easy and enjoying the experience as opposed to worrying about my time. We started together and finished together.
Day three if 3:30am wake ups. Everyone was excited and dressed by 4am. My sorority sister from Tampa came to support me. Stephanie (another runner we know from home) drive down to do the race as well had come over to ride with us. As expected, the traffic was a little heavier with the additional people. We stood around for a while until the crowd started to thin out. At this time, we made our way to our corral. The walk was over a mile. When we got close enough to see the big balls indicating where we were to go, it was time to split. Stephanie was in Corral D. Tonia and I we’re is corral I. Pam was in corral J. And Kat was in corral M. We all wished each other well and proceeded to take our places.
At 5:30, the wheelchair division started. At 5:30, corral A was ready to go. At 6:00, it was show time for corral I. Tonia and I quickly split up. The surprises started early off. There was a pirate ship near the first mile marker. No sooner than I passed the ship, thunderous cheering began as we could see the first wheelchair participant and first place runner already coming back. I was in shock to think that they would finish before the sun rose. Soon after this spot, I was stopped in my tracks as I witnessed a group of drummers that made me think back to the Olympics in China during the opening ceremony. I ran most of the race on the grass as the course was quite congested most of the way. Just before mile 5, I got the photo I dreamed of getting; Princess Tiana. This was the first time I had seen Tonia since the start. As the sun began to rise, I approached the one thing on my “have to take a picture” list. I got several castle pictures and kept going. Miles went on and I opted for no more pictures. Everyone was very encouraging. The funniest part of the race was the army guy. He was great at telling people to keep going or stop to do push ups. Most walked or ran past him with a salute. I think this was a pleasant site for all runners. Prior to mile 12, I saw Tonia at the turn around. As she waved I gave her a not so friendly scowl. At this point, a pain went from my hip to my knee and it was really a look of distress. I walked through my run interval until the pain subsided. The signs and people started to pick up so I knew I needed to turn it on. Just as my race was coming to an end, I saw the one thing that everyone talks about but I had forgotten that I would see…..the gospel choir. They were placed in the perfect spot. I lifted my hands in praise as I recalled my prayer at the beginning of the race. I was crossing the finish line in under three hours and injury free. My prayers had been answered. I crossed the finish line and got my post race power aid, water and treat box.
I had given this race my all and was ready to rest. We took a few post race pictures before the long walk to the car. Race 13.1 miles. I’m sure the walk to and from the car and to the corrals put us close to 20 miles. Race number 3 of the year…..done. Next stop after my move, half fanatic status.