In case you missed it, this is the third part of a series recapping the runDisney Dark Side Weekend, so be sure to check it out from the beginning to get the whole scoop.
Day 3: Running the Star Wars 10k
The second day of getting up between 2 and 2:30 am was a little rougher. Not bad, but after having put a pretty solid day in at Hollywood Studios, my alarm wasn’t the best sound I’d ever heard.
Regardless, I got dressed and tried to shake the sleep from my head. Even though my wife wasn’t going with me for the race, she still woke up to see me off, wish me luck, and to make sure I didn’t forget anything that I’d need.
We said our goodbyes, and I headed for the bus, Frappuccino and chocolate-chip protein cookie in hand. The bus ride to the starting line was a little quieter than it had been the day before, but the buzz was definitely still there.
Some of us talked, but for the most part, the ride was just a ride. When we got to the drop-off point, I headed right toward the character photo ops.
Since we’d had our pictures made with BB-8 and Captain Phasma the day before, only Jabba, Kylo Ren, and Boba Fett remained. I didn’t care to get my picture by Jabba on his throne since he wasn’t animated or interactive.
And the line to Kylo Ren was more than a little insane. Of course, so was the one to Boba Fett. I would only have time to snag one snap.
I Chose Boba Fett
For no real reason, either. Maybe the line was shorter? I don’t remember. If there was a reason, it apparently wasn’t something major. But I got in line for Boba and had a pretty good view of the main stage, too.
I don’t think I mentioned it in the previous posts, but watching people in their costumes was some of the most fun I had in the early-morning, pre-race extravaganza. And being right at the stage this time meant that I was able to see the screen better and more of the actual folks as they went about their business.
Like cosplay anywhere, some folks are just crazy talented, and it’s just fun to see their work.
Now, as I am in line for Boba Fett, I am watching everyone in front of me get their pictures taken. All of them are doing strong poses. Intimidating poses. Bounty hunter poses. You know, as one does when you’re near Boba Fett. (You can’t show your weakness to the Mandalorians.)
That’s when I had an idea. The best idea I’ve ever had.
I Was Going to Hug Boba Fett
It was a good idea. It was, like I said, the best idea. So I waited my turn, trying to figure out how to do it. I mean, literally no one was hugging Boba Fett.
So I got to thinking: how does one hug Boba Fett? Do you ask? I mean, the attendants are pretty nice and take your pictures with your phones, but they also keep a tight grip on how people act with the characters.
So I made the choice: I was just going to go for it. No asking permission. (And with Boba Fett, I figured, there would be no asking forgiveness.)
My turn came up. It was my chance to get my hug on with the deadliest Mandalorian in the galaxy. I handed the attendant my phone, they got it into position…and I hug attacked Boba Fett.
And y’all, Boba Fett is fast. He backed up immediately, I had my arms spread and just went for it, and I didn’t get even close to wrapping them around him. He stepped back, pointed at me, and said in the same voice you hear in The Empire Strikes Back, “No.”
Just that one word. “No.” But it had authority. Because it was freaking Boba Fett. But here’s the thing. Boba Fett backed up from me. He took a step back. I intimidated the intimidator.
And the attendant got a shot right after he said it, too. You can even see him still pointing and how tickled I am by the whole thing.
After that, though, I did it right and got my picture taken like everyone else. And still had a crazy good time and happy look on my face.
Once that was over, it was time to head to the corrals.
Running the Star Wars 10k
I got put into corral E for the 10k. I felt like I should have been far earlier than that, but runDisney didn’t count my Proof of Time as valid because it hadn’t been from the previous 18 months.
So despite having a sub-2-hour half time submitted, I didn’t get credit for it.
Lame. But it was fine. I mean, it just meant I had to wait a bit longer to get on the road. And it wasn’t terrible waiting alone, really. I had my phone, which I played on some, and the Disney show itself wasn’t half bad.
The worst part was having to wait and not get to go to the bathroom, honestly.
But when we got up there and ready to go, it didn’t matter what corral I was in. I hit the road running (literally) and…that’s about all I remember.
Yeah, really. The 10k was by far the least memorable of all the runDisney Star Wars races. And that’s not because it wasn’t fun. It was a total blast.
I loved doing it. I wasn’t miserable even a little bit.
I just don’t remember it.
Well, I take that back. I remember one part of it: as I was running through the Disney Boardwalk, I see a character stop. Because of my late corral, I hadn’t stopped at a single one because of lines being crazy.
But ahead of me was Ezra and Sabine from Rebels. And I love Rebels.
Unfortunately, they’re Face characters (meaning that you see the Cast Member’s face instead of them wearing a Mascot costume), and they’re never as cool as the others.
So even though Ezra looked like a total goob, and Sabine was just passable as Sabine, I went for it. There was only one person in line, and I loved Rebels. So I stopped and got to meet some of the founders of the Rebellion.
After that, it was only a couple of miles to the finish line. Thankfully some other runners had distracted the Stormtroopers for me, so I didn’t run into any Imperial entanglements, and I got my medal.
This time, a First Order Praetorian Guard.
I know they made this the 10k medal because The Last Jedi had come out just a few months before and because the Praetorian Guards looked really awesome in the movie (and on the shirt, which I’ll touch on in a second).
But as a medal…it looks kinda goofy. And not in a Disney Goofy kind of way. In a goofy goofy kind of way. But whatever, I earned it, and I was stoked about it.
So I put that sucker around my neck, wandered around for a little while, and found a bus to Epcot so I could meet up with Jennifer and Adam to hit up Epcot.
Aside: A Note on Race Attire Etiquette
As you might have noticed, I wore the Star Wars 10k shirt to run the Star Wars 10k. Not a previous year’s, but the one I had been given at registration.
Why? Because I liked it better than the plain-old, normal ones that I brought with me. They were tech fabric, and they were the same brand that I had been running in. Essentially the same shirts, so I knew they weren’t going to chafe or anything (never wear an unknown garment to a race).
But while I was in line for Boba Fett, I heard some folks in the crowd making fun of people like me. They were saying things like Don’t they know it’s tacky to wear this year’s shirts to race in? and It’s fine to wear another year’s, but you’re not supposed to wear the new ones.
And I wanted to slap them in their daggome faces. Because you know what? We’re there for fun. To have a good time. To freaking run a race with Star Wars characters and have a great time doing it.
And these two nerf herders were mocking people for being happy and excited about it?
They can choke on bantha poodoo.
Because here’s the thing: I wanted to wear my new Star Wars running shirts to the Star Wars races. So did all those other people. This was my first runDisney event, so I didn’t have anything but blank running shirts, and I ran the 5k in my only SW running shirt the day before: a kinda uncomfortable Stormtrooper Crew shirt.
Making fun of people like that, being elitist about running clothes and what’s tacky and what’s not, is not cool. It never is, but it’s super not cool at a runDisney event. These are the least competitive runs I’ve ever been in, and it’s about making friends and being part of a community.
There are people in Wookiee costumes and Artoo Tutus. It’s okay to wear the race’s shirt to run that same race.
Find your joy. Wear your shirt. Ignore people like them. You do you.
Now…back to the story.
After the Race: Epcot
We had reservations at one of the restaurants in China. And the buses were slow that day. And your whole party has to be there before they’ll seat you, even if you have reservations (if I remember right). Regardless, I was running late and had no idea where my friends were.
As I go into Epcot, it was busy. Like crazy busy. So many people. And the clock was ticking. I was going to be late. So I did what you’d expect: I started to run.
Only this time instead of for a race or from Mexico to Germany, it was from the gigantic Epcot ball whose name I can never remember to China. People probably thought I was nuts, but I had a running shirt on, and it was running weekend, and runners are generally nuts anyway.
So it was fine.
Despite having dip, dodge, juke, and jive between people like I was the Falcon and they were asteroids, I made it to China just a couple minutes behind.
We got our table, and I had my very first bao bun. (This was before the Pixar short came out, too). It was yumtastic. Maybe because it was like 11:30 am, and I had just run a 10k with only a chocolate-chip cookie to eat since 2 am, but it was delightful.
After that, we did the typical Epcot day. It was the garden festival, so the park was just beautiful. We walked and laughed, and we had a great time.
I did, however, notice that I had rubbed a blister on the inside of my left heel during the race. We had to stop and get some band-aids to doctor me up until we could get gauze and medical tape back at the resort.
The only other major thing we did at Epcot that day was meeting some of our favorite characters. Including Mickey Mouse.
Meeting Mickey Mouse
I’ve been to Disney World quite a few times in my life, despite not living near it. And never once have I met Mr. Mouse himself. (You can read my disappointing tale about the Star Wars Celebration Weekend when I missed my last chance at Jedi Mickey here.)
Folks, I was 35 years old, and when I got to meet Mickey Mouse in Epcot, I was freaking star struck. I know it’s a lady in a suit intellectually, but having Mickey Mouse himself hug you and shake your hand and do the whole thing…it was amazing. All three of us were star struck by the Mouse.
It was nuts. I mean, look at our faces here! We are in awe!
And then we got to meet Minnie and Goofy, too. (Once Goofy got back from taking a phone call. Seriously, lol.) They were awesome, too, and we felt the same way, but there was something about the main guy that was even more striking.
So let me tell you this, y’all: if you have a chance to do the standard, Mickey and Friends meet-and-greet photo-op stuff…do it. It’s amazing.
After that, we saw Baymax, and it was…everything. Mickey and Friends were astonishing, but Baymax was perfect. He was the real Baymax, and I will never let anyone tell me differently.
By the time we were finished with the characters, it was close to time for us to eat dinner. We had reservations in Italy, so we made our way back to the countries at the back of the park.
But since it wasn’t quite time for dinner…we had gelato first. It was delightful.
Just let me tell you, one of the best parts about doing one of the runDisney challenge races is that you can eat nearly anything you want and not feel a single pang of guilt for it. It’s wonderful.
Or should I say…runderful?
After Dinner, Pre-Half Prep
After dinner, we went straight back to the hotel room. Well, we did make a pit-stop at the main gift shop at our hotel because we needed gauze and medical tape. The blister on my left heel was killing me, and I still had a half-marathon to run.
So we bought waterproof tape and tons of sterile gauze and pads. When we got back to the room, my wife outdid herself. She bandaged up my heel like she was a medical resident. By the time she was done, my heel was dry, sealed, padded, packed, and ready to run.
Even walking around didn’t hurt.
So that meant that I was ready (as much as I could be) for the Star Wars Dark Side Half-marathon the next morning.
With my heel taken care of, food and clothes and accessories prepped for grab-and-go tomorrow morning, I set my alarm for 2:00 am and did my best to get as much sleep as possible.
And by that, I mean…maybe 4 hours if I was truly lucky. My head hit the pillow…and it was 2:00 am before I knew it.