When she was just 2 years old, E. ran her very first race at Disney.
It’s amazing how that can feel simultaneously like yesterday and forever ago.
On that day, she dashed 100 meters to the finish, sprinting every step of the way. We joked about her speed and said perhaps she had taken after her father, a cross-country runner in high school and a runner ever since.
Perhaps our parental pride was right.
This fall, DadJovi signed E. up for the Mickey Mile, which is part of Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend. At the time, he was planning on running his third straight Disney Marathon, but some injuries over the past few months have temporarily sidelined him. (If you like marathon stories, both of his are pretty good — 2011 and 2012).
Now, Marathon Weekend has arrived! Since he was no longer running the marathon, we debated whether we should still have E run her mile, even though she was already registered (read: we already paid for it). I’ve had my concerns over whether she could run a mile. After all, she is 4. That’s a long way for ME at times. In the fall, DadJovi did a bunch of training runs with her and thought she could do it, but the running has tapered off through the holidays. I took her for a run on Thursday and we went about half-a-mile, and there was a lot of walking involved, which is fine, but I still worried about her doing the whole thing on her own.
But E. never doubted that she could do it. She’s been telling anyone who’d listen for months that she was running her own race at Disney, so we decided to suck it up and face the MASSIVE crowds at Wide World of Sports.
This is our fourth year in a row of hitting the Marathon weekend Expo/Packet Pickup and let me tell you, I’ve NEVER seen it this crowded. It was so crowded that we never even made it into the Expo itself, thanks to a line that was hundreds and hundreds of people deep. I was disappointed because I really want two things — a Spi/Fitness belt to carry my stuff while running and an armband that fits my Droid. I know I can just order both online but I wanted to try a couple options of each out first. Oh well.
Besides, it wasn’t my day; it was her day.
Yes, the Run Disney is nearly as big as her.
Finally, it was time to line up with hundreds of other kids. The mile is open to any kid 13 and under. Before the race, I would have thought she’d be one of the youngest runners in the field but I was surprised to see so many kids even younger than E. Parents were allowed to run beside their children, so that helped open the field up.
We squeezed as close to the start as we could without entering the cluster of runners up front. DadJovi gave E some final racing pointers.
And a high-five for our favorite racer.
And we asked her (for the fifth time) if she wanted Daddy to run it with her. Her answer was a very emphatic no.
At 12:30 p.m. on the dot, she was off!
You want to laugh at people? Go to a kids race and watch the stampede of parents who take off running in the opposite direction of the kids in order to get to a spot further down the way to snap pictures.
We were no exceptions.
This was just before the half-mile marker and she was still going strong!
I sort of wish I’d attached the Garmin to her because I’m pretty sure she ran further to a mile, thanks to her insistence on sticking to the edge of the yellow cones for the entire race. We told her before the race that she had to stay inside the cones and apparently she took that to mean RIGHTINSIDE the cones.
Then, the parent sprint was on again — this time, we all barreled toward the finish line. I
elbowed my way somehow got a spot along the fence, and much faster than I expected, I saw E. sprinting down the track.
After the race, I asked her how she liked seeing Mickey Mouse at the finish line.
“He wasn’t there Mommy.”
“Yes he was.”
“No, he wasn’t!”
Thankfully, a good mom always has irrefutable proof.
The race was chip-timed but E. was registered to run Saturday, not Friday (don’t tell Mickey) so we won’t get her official results. But I checked my phone as soon as I saw her crossing the finish and it was 12:41. That means she ran the mile in 11-12 minutes. Girlfriend has wheels!
As soon as we found her in the parent pickup zone, she had two messages for us: “I didn’t even have to walk!” and “I don’t think it was a mile. It was faster than a mile.”
Granted, this is an almost-5-year-old’s sense of distance based on her training runs, but I think she discovered that age-old secret — racing magic. There’s just something about running in a group that makes you faster and makes the distance seem smaller (at least at times).
We were even able to grab a quick picture with the race’s namesake.
So what’s the lesson?
For starters, I need to give my kid more credit. In my mind, she’s still that little 2-year-old running down the track. But in a blink of an eye, she became a big kid, running a full mile. How’d that happen?
And two, clearly she needs to be my running coach.
Yup, this was one of the good days.
Do you remember your first “real” race? Have you ever run a race at Disney?