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After last year’s Star Wars half marathon, I knew that I definitely wanted to participate in another runDisney event. This year, though, there would be some changes.

First, I would actually train. My run last year destroyed me. I hadn’t done much to prepare, and after pushing myself to run 13.1 miles with almost no practice, I couldn’t walk normally for weeks between the muscle pain and the knee and hip injuries.

Second, I invested more into running. This time, I made sure I had some real running shoes and some insoles that helped with the arch pain I had started to develop on even my short runs. Knowing that my small running belt from last year wouldn’t be big enough to fit my phone or my portable charger, I also found a bigger running belt. Also, I’ve been wanting a nice way to display my medals, and I finally found the perfect thing at the race expo!

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Finally, this year would be different because I would be running on my own. I look extremely awkward when running (as everyone I know repeatedly reminds me on a regular basis), so in the past, it has sometimes been a challenge to go running on my own because I feel like I look so ridiculous. I don’t feel quite as self-conscious if I have someone running with me, but this year, I would be pushing myself past that comfort zone.

Though the race wasn’t until Saturday morning, the expo started on Thursday. I drove over to ESPN Wide World of Sports after work to pick up my race bib, t-shirt, and the commemorative pin I preordered.

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Then, I exercised a great amount of self-control as I walked through the gigantic hall full of vendors. I’d been wanting a new race belt and medal display, and I felt pretty proud that those were the only things I allowed myself to get, despite how enticing all the Disney-themed running merchandise was.

The following night, I was in bed by about 7:30, with my alarm set for 2:30. I was not staying at a Disney hotel, and even though I live only about 10 minutes away, I had to get to the Epcot parking lot before the roads closed at 4am.

When my alarm went off on Saturday morning, I jumped out of bed, got ready, and had just enough time to make a bagel to take with me on the drive over.

I got to Epcot’s parking lot a little before 4, but since it was kind of chilly (I knew I wouldn’t want to wear a jacket since I’d warm up after the first 1/2 mile), I opted to stay in the car until it was almost time for the race to start. I wrapped up in my car blanket and enjoyed an hour and a half of Costume Watch 2k17.

At 5:15, I tore myself from the warmth of my blanket and headed toward race corral E. Though the race started at 5:30, my corral didn’t start until sometime after 6, so I had plenty of time to soak up the excitement while I waited.

Finally, my section of the corral had made its way up to the starting line. The announcer counted down, and fireworks shot up as the song from the Kingdom Dance scene in Tangled serenaded us.

I enjoyed myself immensely, just running along at my own pace and admiring the people who were running in amazing costumes. The first half of the race was pretty easy, and I really only stopped to take pictures of the mile markers to put on my instagram story.

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After about 3.5 miles of running around on the roads outside Epcot, we entered the World Showcase between Norway and China.

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I started to get a little exhausted around mile 4; luckily, Marie was waiting outside France to give me strength!

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The course took us out Epcot’s back entrance to run around the Boardwalk and Yacht/Beach Club resorts. The rising sun burst through the light morning fog, and it was truly a lovely morning to be running at Disney.

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After looping through the resorts, we re-entered Epcot through the UK pavilion, and the last stretch took us up to the front entrance of Epcot.

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(Thanks to the Photopass photographer who took this!)

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The finish line was just outside the park in the parking lot, and I ran through it with a lot more energy than I had at last year’s race.

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(Thanks to the Photopass photographers who took these!)

In fact, I had enough energy that I was able to walk through the park without limping to take plenty of photos of my freshly-earned bling!

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And when I was finished at Epcot, I went home and pigged out on vegan pizza and spent the rest of my day reading in bed. It was truly a perfect day!

Love, Elizabeth

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