I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited on race day morning as I was on the morning of the Star Wars 10K.
A couple of factors contributed; I knew it was a much shorter, and therefore easier, distance than a half marathon, I’d already spent 2 days in California getting excited (including watching the 5K), and it was the first race of my Rebel Challenge experience.
This was also the first runDisney race I ran solo which made it the largest race I’ve run solo. So many people!
I had trouble deciding my strategy for the 10K, knowing that I had a half marathon the following day. Common sense would dictate that I take it easy. I also knew that I can do a 10K pretty fast and I wasn’t doing an all-out half marathon the following day.
Still, 13.1 miles is a long way to go following 6.2 miles so I decided to take it slow and easy…. Until I heard “GOOOOOOOOOO…”
I took off.
I don’t usually need any convincing to take walk breaks but this was not the case during the Star Wars 10K.
The beginning of the Star Wars 10K took us down Disneyland Dr and looped around the park the same way the start of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon did. Luckily, there was a brief uphill as Ball Rd. goes over the freeway, which was enough to convince me to walk at least a little bit.
Very soon we were entering Disney property via the backstage area, with just enough time on the main roads for people to spread out a little bit.
My idea was to run the backstage areas and walk during the more exciting bits. This made sense in my head because the outcome was I could spend my walking breaks enjoying the atmosphere and spend less time during the boring bits.
And it totally didn’t work.
First I was so excited by the people cheering for us in the entrance plaza. I spotted my family cheering for me and I was so pumped up by all the cowbells ringing and people cheering that I zipped straight into the park.
Running down Main Street is one of the best things about runDisney races. Seeing all the lights on the buildings, from the crystal arcade all the way down to the hub is one of my favorite sights.
Usually you can only see such a view at night.
Instead of slowing down as intended, I swear I picked up my pace and raced down toward the castle and toward mile 2.
Mile 2? Already? Usually the first two miles of a race are some of the worst for me, the miles that feel like they take forever.
Not true in a runDisney race… especially since I felt like I was running full out.
Eventually, I realized going slow wasn’t ever going to work, especially as I started running down Big Thunder trail toward the sounds of Fantasyland.
Fantasyland, hands down, was my favorite part of the race.
What made Fantasyland so exciting is the sheer energy of the place; the carrousel was light up and moving, Dumbo was flying, tea cups were spinning. And nothing puts a grin on my face like the bubbly instrumental track of The Unbirthday Song.
It all made up for the fact that part of Small World was under construction (lights were still up in places, however).
The fact that there were Jedi near Small World with words of encouragement for the runners also helped.
I took pictures at every mile marker and every one was unique. Sometimes this was just a quick snap with the mile marker on the background. In fact, I went kind of selfie crazy. I think it made up for the fact that I wasn’t planning to stop for a lot of characters this time.
All too soon, we left Disneyland to head toward California Adventure via backstage areas.
Around mile 4, I felt the first hints of fatigue break through my insanely happy running high and realized that I didn’t take a gel at the halfway point
If I’m only running a 5K, I never take a gel, but I’ve found that for the 10K distance, taking half a gel at mile 3 and the other half at mile 5 really helps me finish the 10K distance strong.
Since I’m not a very fast runner, it takes me a little over an hour to finish a typical 10K. I quickly remedied the fuel problem while running through California Adventure.
I was planning on visiting Disneyland Park after the race, but California Adventure was not in my plans so running through was my only chance to view the sights.
It did not disappoint.
Outside Cars Land I actually stopped for a movement to take in the view of the runners heading toward Paradise Pier at sunrise.
Sadly, the moment didn’t capture well on camera, but so many 10K runners will tell you that it was a gorgeous morning.
Perfect for running!
I decided that since I had done such a terrible job of taking it easier for the first 4 miles, it wouldn’t matter and I might as well keep it up for the last 2 miles.
I also got in line for my one and only character stop in the 10K, and a had a nice break before snapping a picture with Boba Fett.
Actually, stopping for a picture was great because of the cast member who immediately looked at my 10K costume and said “Star Tours, yah!” to which I replied “Whoo, represent!” since he was wearing the cast member costume for that ride. We then launched into reminiscing about the old Star Tours and our buddy Captain Rex.
He also took a really great picture, so thank you awesome cast member…. and I miss Rex too (Brakes! Brakes! Where are the brakes!).
As we excited into the backstage area off of Paradise Pier, I mentally said goodbye to the part of the race that was inside the parks and resigned myself to finishing the last little bit backstage.
Imagine my surprise when all of sudden we were running onstage again and through Cars Land.
I don’t usually look at course maps carefully and this lovely moment is one of the reasons why.
Mile 5 was right near Radiator Springs Racers.
Our last stint in DCA was short and soon we were exiting to the backstage area near Tower of Terror and on our way to the finish.
The marker for mile 6 was in a parking lot right before the Disneyland Hotel.
I could hear the cheering from the crowd lined up along the course in Downtown Disney near the Rainforest Cafe and I knew I would run the last 0.2 of the race fast.
Not feeling all that tired, and seeing the finish line, I was estatic running toward it and I waved at the stormtroopers before crossing the finish line.
After getting my medal, I felt a bit of sadness that it was all over.
It was amazing with all the people cheering, all the lights and all the amazing runners in some pretty impressive costumes (seriously wondering how some people ran in their costumes).
I couldn’t help but wish we could have spent more than 6 miles running through it all.
Except. Then I remembered. I’d be running again the following day! Yikes!
Off we went to LaBrea Bakery where I feasted on a post-race meal of French Toast. Yum.
All in all, I was impressed by the Star Wars 10K. Nearly all of the 6.2 miles were on Disney property. Of course, much of that was backstage, but it was still amazing in how they designed the course to wind around and through the parks.
I was a little sad that both Small World and World of Color fountains were under construction as they were definitely highlights last January at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.
But each race is a different adventure and considering my near-euphoric 10K, I’d say it was a good one.
Time: 1:29:14 (Should they even time RunDisney races..?)
Ran With: Solo
Photo Stops: Lost count…
Best Sign: Right as the finish line came into view was a sign that said “You’re doing great, kid! Don’t get cocky.”