On Thursday night, I double checked my suitcase and took the Metro to Reagan airport. As usual, I over estimated the amount of time it would take so I ended up sitting at the gate for 2 hours reading the February copy of Runner’s World and Fitness because it had Sami Brady (known to everyone else now as the host of the Biggest Loser but she’ll always be a paternity test switcher to me).
We landed early, so I took the Magical Express to pick up my 5k bib which took all of 5 minutes and then when I asked the bell hop for a cab to Port Orleans Riverside he offered to give me a ride over instead! Sweet. So that took me 5 minutes total which was a lot less time than check in at…
I get it, you have questions, but is a 40 minute conversation really necessary at check in? At 12:00am? Seriously? Online check in wasn’t working so I didn’t even have the option to do that though honestly I don’t think it would have helped very much because that line wasn’t moving either. Surprise surprise.
The Riverside hotel is quite cute–the main building was built to look like a bunch of smaller, connected buildings on a riverside with a dock and the Ol’ Man River pool, and Mark Twain sipping mint juleps on the veranda with someone named Beauregard while a steam ship passes by. No really, I think that’s what the imagineers had in mind when they came up with this place.
When I checked in, the lady asked if I was here for marathon weekend and nothing, I mean nothing gave me greater satisfaction than telling her, “Why yes, I am!” It was one of those moments I’d been waiting years to have. I received my letter from Princess Tiana welcoming me to her royal guestroom, a packet for marathon weekend that included a transportation schedule, a program, and pamphlet with a brief overview of the expo, room key, a gift from my sister: a cooler that looked like Mickey’s shorts filled with snacks. It was great and I loved it–even though my mother’s name was on the tag I knew it was all my sister’s doing.
So it was late and I wandered a little bit before I finally the room in Oak Manor–conveniently located a short walking distance from the main building and the French Quarter hotel. Score. The room can best be described not as a guestroom where other princesses have left gifts for Tiana, but more like a strange storage space where unwanted/unneeded items are kept. The foot stool/dog from Beauty and the Beast, the carpet and lamp from Aladdin, portraits of the princes… When my sister arrived on Friday she looked and said, “wow, this looks kinda vegas-y…” It was still cute, a nice sized room, clean, with a great shower and certainly a conversation piece. Plus it was conveniently located near a quiet, empty pool and equidistant from two very close bus stops which made it that much more appealing. There’s wasn’t much that was Tiana about it though, which was disappointing because I do indeed like that movie and they could’ve done more with that theme but when you’re the new princess on the block I guess you have to warehouse Cinderella’s coat hanger before you get your frog front and center. (Definitely cute for the Princess 1/2).
Around 1am I finally crawled into my royal bed. I went to sleep in what I planned to wear for the 5k. The humidity and lack of space in my suitcase meant I traveled with just my back up running clothes, not the Donald costume so I wore a pink, Minnie sparkletech and a black top, the same outfit I wore to the Fitness 4 miler back in September. The plan was to go to the 5k as late as possible, do it, take the bus to Art of Animation for breakfast, then take the bus from there to the expo all before my sister arrived at 1.
So 4 hours after I went to sleep, I was back up crawling out of bed and ready to go! Sleeping in my clothes helped–roll out and get moving. The pockets in my sparkletech also meant I could keep my wallet and phone with me through the run and only bag check my flip flops. I couldn’t help yawning. I was really excited to go, though–I hadn’t done a Disney 5k before and while I had said the next 5k I did would only be if I was going to do it in under 30 minutes I decided to just go ahead and have fun.
The lady at check in had said that the bus to the 5k would stop at all the bus stops… I didn’t believe her, though. I don’t know why–ever since they told my sister I didn’t need a coast to coast wristband, I don’t believe anyone plus it was a short walk to the main bus stop so it was no big deal to just walk it. The buses were all there and we didn’t go around to any other stops despite not being full, so who knows.
Anyways, for people getting ready to do their first ever race and starting with the 5k distance, I have to be honest… Disney’s not a bad way to go. Sure, it gets tacked on to longer distance race weekends so as my sister would say “the 5k people get no love” but they do a lot of work to make the 5k just as much an “experience” as they do the other races. Pre-race there was a DJ, the usual runDisney announcers, and corrals so it’s a nice little preview of how a larger long distance race would work. It was definitely low pressure–people came by themselves, as part of groups, in and out of costume, and with young kids or older grandparents. And each of the corrals got fireworks! The run was a loop around and out of the EPCOT parking lot, back in through Mexico, around the World Showcase, out behind France, back in through the UK, through Future World and back into the parking lot. I left my watch at home and stopped for pictures with Donald in Canada and one in front of the EPCOT geodesic sphere.
It was humid. Like, really humid. Gross, as a matter of fact. As the sun came up the humidity burned off slightly but the 5k definitely left me feeling nervous about the temperatures for the marathon. Afterward, I picked up my runDisney box of crappy treats (seriously? white cheddar at 7am?) and headed off to Art of Animation and the Expo…
The 5k Pros:
- It’s a nicely done big event just like the other runDisney races.
- Has on course entertainment including character stops (this one had Norwegian Daisy, Colonial Goofy and Canadian Donald)
- Perfect for anyone regardless of age.
- No pressure, no timing (though there are clocks on the course).
- You get the closest thing to a medal you’ll ever get for completing a 5k.
The 5k Cons:
- Very slow moving for the first mile. If you want to run and feel frustrated by walkers, skip it.
- Expensive, but not really that much more so than other “big” 5ks. ($50)