Intro to Running
I’ve never had a successful running career. It started in high school when I would fake sick every time we had to run the mile. Then, when I would run it, I’d end up being so slow that people would lap me. It didn’t help that I insisted on wearing spice girl style platform heels to gym class as I tried to clunk across the track. As soon as I graduated high school I never thought I’d run again unless someone was chasing me.
In law school, even when I got in great shape – none of my workouts ever included running. I became more cardiovascularly fit by boxing and doing high intensity interval training, so it solidified my bias against running. My very first race was a corporate 5k when I was at Disney. We ran through the streets of Orlando, and I spent most of my time playing games with the kids on the side of the road. I didn’t even come close to running the whole time. It almost took me an hour. My second 5k was the rugged maniac! It was amazing, but I was way more into the muddy parts and had to walk a lot of the run. (see http://shainainnewyork.blogspot.com/2012/07/rugged-maniac.html ). It also took me an hour, but there were lots of obstacles. Finally, I did another corporate 5k in 2013 and ran the whole time and finished in 42 min. I was proud.
I thought Charlie was crazy when he had the idea that we should do the Expedition Everest challenge. But, a Disney race – especially one with obstacles and a scavenger hunt – sounded awesome. 2015 was the last year that this race was going to happen, so we HAD to do it!
Of course, by the time we were ready to sign up, the race was full. So we decided to do it through a charity. Charlie did the research and found AACR – a charity that is devoted to the research and cure for cancer. It seemed like a great fit since we both knew so many people, including our grandfathers and some close family friends, that have battled with various forms of the disease. Whether a win or lose, it is always devastating and the opportunity to raise money for the cause AND do this race seemed right.
We sent out our initial request for donations and had an overwhelming response. Our incentive was to write donors names and/or faces on our race t-shirts depending on the amount donated. After all donations, we raised $800! We are really proud and so thankful to everyone who contributed! Also, we were able to make some pretty cool shirts – they looked like this:
Since neither of us were in race shape, I convinced Charlie we should do the couch to 5k program. After it was already too late, we finally started on week 5. At that point, just running for 9 minutes straight was difficult for us. We didn’t quite follow the program, but we got up early about twice a week to do our running. By the end, we were running for 27 min straight and felt the same as we did initially after 9 minutes. The down side was that we were still pretty slow. When I found out that Charlie said our time would be 9-11 minutes per mile, I was sure we’d never make that.
On our last week of training, Charlie was so hardcore that he got up early and went for a long run in the pouring rain! He came home completely soaked through and dripping all over the floor. “There was one other person I saw on the run!” He exclaimed. When I mentioned that person was also crazy, he elaborated that she was in a full poncho and riding a bike to get somewhere – not running for fun. That’s dedication.
This race didn’t start until 10pm, which was perfect for us, since we are not morning people. We did, however, plan a little too much in our day prior to the event. Charlie got up at 6 am for a test and we busied ourselves with appointments and lunch and, oh yeah, a WEDDING! We left the wedding saying, literally, we gotta run and went straight to the Animal Kingdom. We didn’t arrive until 9:45, which turned out to be fine since we found ourselves in the very last corral! Thousands of people were cheering in the parking lot in all kinds of awesome costumes! The snow was falling from the top of Mt. Everest, and it really did feel magical.
There was a wall where every runner could sign!
I wasn’t sure why we were in the very last corral since the time we estimated was not one of the slowest options. (For this race, you could do up to a 16 min mile). As corral J was getting ready to begin we hovered at the back of the pack to avoid the crowds. We discussed that it was a very significant possibility that since we were starting at the very back and ran so slow there was a distinct chance we would be the very last people to cross the finish line. We hoped there was some kind of prize for that.
At 10:55, as the horn sounded, we took off but there were hundreds of people blocking our way. We went all the way to the grass outside and began a comfortable jog. The idea of being dead last quickly disappeared as we seemed to be passing most of the people in our corral rather quickly.. We were still energized towards the end of the first mile when we saw the first obstacle – jumping over bales of hay! It was easy, but so much fun as we lept across the hay and giggled.
As we finished the first mile, there was a bottleneck of people walking through the gates to get into the park. They were impossible to get around. “This is a run, people!” I angrily thought, as we squeezed through, trying not to trample anyone. Once we got into the park, the ambiance was really cool! There were speakers playing ominous animal noises and really cool lights!
We were both feeling great even though I was truly regretting my dinner decisions at the wedding. It was a southern themed buffet at a winery! Of course I had just a bit of wine and shrimp and grits, corn bread, chicken and waffles, brisket sliders, and two mini pies. It was so delicious. I pretended I was carbo loading, but halfway through the race I had that honest discussion with myself and was sad that I couldn’t have a dinner do-over.
That thought process took up enough time that we were past the second mile mark! We came to the next obstacle, which was crawling under a net on our forearms and knees. Charlie and I looked at each other as if to say “we got this” and took off. That was the most fun obstacle! The high didn’t last very long, though. As we exited the obstacle, we were pushed out of the way by the fire department on bikes. I didn’t know what was going on and saw some giant fire explosion far up ahead and thought maybe an effect got out of hand. Unfortunately, two minutes later we saw what the rush was about. The firemen were leaned over, doing chest compressions on a man who wasn’t breathing. He looked about our parents age and we saw what must have been his wife standing on the side being calmed down by two other women. This completely shook us. It was that moment when you want to help – would do anything to help – but there was nothing we could do. We ran past the fire explosions, but they didn’t have the same effect. When we finally came back around, the man was being loaded into an ambulance, which gave us hope, but we were still shaken for a while and ran in silence.
Fortunately, the third and final obstacle broke up the depression. Tires. NBD. After that we were pretty tired and Charlie’s hip was hurting. When we rounded the corner, we saw that we were pretty close to the finish line and Charlie took off sprinting! When I realized what happened, I took off behind him, excited to cross the line! We were so happy and still felt good! When I looked at map my run, it said we had only done 2.98 miles instead of the 3.1 required for a 5k. I don’t know whether it was a little more or a little less, but the results came out and my time for the 5k was 31:52! That was more than 10 minutes faster than my previous 5k! Charlie’s time came in at 31:51. Argh! He beat me by one second! Grrrrr.
The Scavenger Hunt
Exhausted from the run, they handed us a cold towel and our first clue:
Easy, we thought. We know what an analog clock looks like. It was clearly a trick that we weren’t falling for.
We ran up to the clue taker and proudly proclaimed “zero!” She looked at us weird and said “no.” We explained that it was a trick because there are no digits on an analog clock to match. She told us to “think of a clock.” We argued but could see that we were getting nowhere. Disney does not understand the difference between an analog and digital clock. I mean, they could have just said clock and that would have been fine. But they specifically said analog. What kind of idiots write these questions!
So we figured out the answer for a digital clock, begrudgingly.
We angrily received our second clue:
Again, extremely ambiguous. Expedition Everest the ride has been running since 2006. The Expedition Everest Challenge race was being run for the seventh time. Despite the ambiguity, we went with 7 for the first clue and spelled out the word carabiner!
Shouting this got us our third clue:
This one I got immediately. Stack the letters on top of each other from the right and it says mountaineers. Time for the next clue:
Elevation. The answer to the clue is elevation. Ugh. This is not even clever. Time for clue 5:
Okay, this clue actually ended up being kind of cool. We had to use the words from the first four clues and find them a certain number of times in the word hunt. Once we crossed them out, the rest of the letters told us what to do!
“go find the hidden yeti on a clue card and hold it up at the finish” Woo hoo! We had a slightly difficult time finding the hidden yeti. Do you see it:
We went bounding across the finish line! The scavenger hunt took us another 45 minutes and our total time was 1:15:53. We got our super awesome medals and forgot to notice that it was after midnight.
The After Party
The best part about finishing a night race is that they keep the park open to ride the rides! After getting an obligatory beer, we went to Dinosaur.
Charlie managed to flip off the camera without anyone noticing. Then we rode our favorite ride and the race’s namesake: Expedition Everest!
We ended the night with Kali River Rapids – a water ride where we got soaked right before running to our car at 2am. The after party was great! At least, Baloo seemed to think so….