Sorry, not sorry for the random fizzy owl picture, but it is my happy picture for the week. These guys are my little good luck charms and I've been practicing my photography.  I was really happy with how this picture came out.  Kind of funky, right?

So I'm diving into this week bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take back the day, kick butt, so on and so on.  So how did I do on my goals from last week?
Last week Nuun was my hydration hero
  • Fitbit - We had a bumpy middle-of-the-week, but I came back strong.  I hit my 10k per day Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Not only did I hit the 10k per day, but I hit every fitness goal on each of those days. #Winning
  • Moov - Well, I still love you and even though I didn't use you Monday through Thursday, I did finally buckle down and do the 7 Minute+ Workout on Friday.  Good, right?  Wrong.  I spent most of Friday and Saturday wanting to die.  Note to self: anything resembling heavy cardio or abdominal work will lead to much regret. #LessonLearned
  • Gutsy Girl - Did you notice I followed you almost to the letter Friday, most of Saturday, and all of Sunday?  Good food choices = empowerment.  Empowerment means not wanting to eat the frosting off the 12 pack of cupcakes my son bought at the grocery store and then blame it on fairies. #Hypothetical
  • 13.1 miles - I blew that goal right out of the water.  My total Fitbit miles for the week are in and around 35.  Not too shabby at all.  That's all my walking and activity for the week, not just actual walking/dreadmill time. #JustSaying
Look at those stats! Well, not Tuesday or Wednesday.
Goals for this week -
  • Welcome back, Fitbit.  We're still doing 10k per day and I'm using you to track my calories for the week.  I've actually been food logging since Friday and I'm doing pretty well (in terms of honesty, anway).  And Fitbit? In exchange for being my wrist coach, I won't forget to charge you mid-week again.  #MyBad
  • Moov, I'm not giving up on you.  I don't care that I have the physique of an apple right now, no anything that involves ab work or anything that causes any abdominal movement.  So I want to brisk walk at Level 7 three times this week.  #Optimistic
Easier said than done
  • The gym.  Oh God, the gym.  I'm going to the gym this week and I'm going to go three times.  This fills me with such anxiety that I can't even.  But I'm facing my fears, the treadmill, and the free weights and getting my butt back in there.  #MoralSupportNeeded #FacingTheMeanGirls
  • I did a full on meal plan this week.  Why?  My doctor says it's time to start "testing myself."  This is code for "you paid a $200 copay to be told make choices that will make you miserable."  Sounds fun, right?  I've got wistful hopes that when I put pea and asparagus soup with homemade ricotta in front of my husband and kids, they'll eat it, love it, and not think I've officially gone off the deep end. #WishfulThinking
Still haven't settled on a running plan for the 5k at the end of April and I have to knock that out.  Honestly I feel like if I keep up with my walking and my diet, I can finish no problem.  I won't PR and I may not even do anything beyond a brisk walk, but I'm tackling that all one day at a time. 

In big news for the week, on Wednesday is my big scan.  Yup, that's right...  The scan that will hand me some life-defining answers to my health is scheduled for April Fool's Day.  Oh, the irony.  Right now my biggest fear is forgetting I'm not supposed to wear eyeliner (yes, that's a real restriction) and not the results themselves.  I expect this will change in and around 12:59pm on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Speaking of medical fun, the Prednisone taper continues and my reaction to it can be described as nothing short of nightmarish.  Insert statement about my hatred of Prednisone here.  As a result, my doctor has adjusted/extended my taper from 14 days to a month and a half. Because awesome.  

This week's motivational picture...  I don't know.  It speaks to me this week.  Don't judge me.

Sourced from here, found on Pinterest. Like most of my life.
Sorry I'm such a bad friend you guys...
Not going to lie, I'm doing a pretty suck job of keeping up with my goals that I was pushing for on Monday.  While I hit my 10k per day goals on Monday and Thursday, I didn't on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I can say it's because I forgot to charge my Fitbit, which I did, but in reality, I just had a rough couple of days.  And working out with the Moov?  Yeah, that hasn't been happening either.  I don't even want to talk about the whole Gutsy Girl Bible eating plan right now...  Let's just say I've been eating badly, feeling badly, and paying for it badly.

The simple fact is I'm not in my groove at all and I'm having a hard time finding my way back in.

A lot of it is that I started my Prednisone taper this week and that has been absolutely brutal beyond words.  It's messed with my motivation and my moods and now it's absolutely wrecking my body.  Everything is sore all the time, like somebody has been beating me with a bag sack of oranges.  On top of that, for the life of me, during the day I can't stay awake and at night I just can't get to sleep.  That leaves me feeling tired, frustrated, discouraged, and fully triggered for everything from binge eating to binge TV watching to binge doing nothing.  While watching most of Mad Men Season 7 in one sitting is an accomplishment, I'm not sure it's the accomplishment I was hoping for this week.  It was a very good season though...  I'm so hype for the second half. #OffTopic

Like I said, I feel trapped in my body and it really, really sucks.


Small changes make big impacts
The nice thing is, today is a new day and I recognize the multitude of mistakes in eating an entire bag of Smartfood Popcorn in one sitting and I'm ready to dust off and try again.  

Clearly, my new friend Prednisone is messing with my need for food pretty wildly.  My sugar craving is out-of-control and I'm wanting to eat absolutely everything that isn't nailed down.  I went through and swept out my kitchen of triggers and honestly, I plan on spending as little time as possible in there.  Did I mention I want to eat everything?  Literally, everything.  Since I can't be on Weight Watchers right now, I have no accountability in what I eat and that's not good.  Instead, I'm keeping a food log through Fitbit.  While I can't diet, I do need to track just how much I'm eating and how many calories I'm pouring into myself.  Spoiler alert...  It's a lot.

Next up, I clearly defined some times that I'm setting aside to exercise.  Nothing big, just little chunks every few hours.  I set my phone alarm and everything so the guilt factor in hitting the snooze should keep me from wanting to skip my activity for "just one more thing."  Moov, dang it, I'm going to use you I swear I am.  

I'm slowly realizing that coming back to a healthy lifestyle after a debilitating illness is something of a major process with a lot of physical and mental roadblocks.  In many ways it's more frustrating than being a beginner because instead of the victory that comes with saying "Woo-hoo! I hit (insert milestone here) for the first time and it's awesome!" you're hit with a seemingly endless series of frustrating revelations that things you could do before you can't do now.  You can't help but compare where you were at your best to where you are now at your worst and realizing how far back you've fallen.  It's very humbling to look through beginners exercise routines and running plans knowing that only a few months ago it would have been a cake walk and now it's a strenuous workout.  

Mmmm...  Cake walk...  I want cake so bad right now.  Somebody needs to make the Cake Walk 5k.  I'd PR that bad boy like you cannot even believe.
No more perfect tomorrows, focus on today!

My mind is still not at all wrapped around the fact that in December I was well into training for a half marathon in February, and doing a pretty kick-butt job, but now I can't even really go up the stairs without wanting to take a break because I'm so out-of-breath.  It really seems surreal.  Who would have thought my "hey, I'm not feeling so great" downward slide in January would end with me holding a shovel at the bottom of a pit by March? 

I think the thing I need to remind myself is that everything is temporary.  The bad stuff, the pain, the stupid medications, the cravings, and the feelings of not being where I want to be, it doesn't last.  But along with that, neither does the motivation.  It's all well and good to say I'm ready to battle back from Lyme Disease and the co-infections I'm dealing with, but without fueling my need for motivation as well as my desire for change, that shovel I'm holding in my ever deepening pit will just get deeper and deeper.  By remembering the bad stuff doesn't last, hopefully I can pull through to the good stuff.  But by remembering that the motivation doesn't last either, maybe I can train myself to take a dose of motivation to help me grow stronger.  Because clearly, medication isn't enough to get me through recovery...  I need something stronger and longer lasting that will form a long-term healthy me and not one that has to run from illness non-stop.  Ah, a me that isn't recovering from or coming down with something...  What a beautiful thought.

Also, Prednisone, seriously, I hate you so much.


At least I went for a walk yesterday... Bonus points because it was raining.

My "visualize this" picture for the week. Lots of tea, lots of rice.
So it's here...  Monday again.  After having what can only be counted as a totally disastrous month for my health, fitness, eating, and everything in between, I'm ready to kind of hop back on the wagon.  Not going to lie, it has been kind of a discouraging week and on Saturday I made the big decision to rage quit my lifestyle.  I really am ready to just shake it off and move on with life.  I can't even believe that it was a month ago I walked the Princess Half Marathon...  It feels like years ago, especially considering all that's happened since.

This is the week that I take the baby steps back to regaining control of my life and desperately clawing my way back to being that person who used to be an active, outdoor, runner-type person.

My baby-stepping goals for the week:
  • Fitbit, you're the center of my life again. 10k per day or bust is my new motto.  I've joined three challenges with my friends this week and while it'd be nice to win, it'll be even nice to have the accountability of having people see if I'm at least getting active.  Want to join me?  Feel free to be my friend, unless you're more active than me and I have no chance of beating you.
  • Oh hello Moov...  I got you for myself for Christmas because you promised to change my running life.  Then you didn't work with my phone so I stuffed you in a drawer until my upgrade.  Then I got my upgrade, but I forgot I had you.  Then I used you twice, you were nice enough to point out that I have a lot to work on to be a better runner.  Even though I filed this under "stuff I know," I lamented how mean you were to point it out (even though you really weren't) and put you back in the drawer.  Well, now I'm ready to face my embarrassingly low walking/running score and try to level up.  You and me?  We have a date twice a day for one round of walking training and one round of 7 Minute+.  If I can pry my husband's iPhone away from him, we may even do some boxing...  Unless you could also put that workout on my phone too, that would be awesome.
  • Thank you Pinterest for turning me on to the "Gutsy Girl's Bible."  When I rage quit my lifestyle over the weekend, I bought it and I fell in love.  21 days to help me heal?  I'm all over that.  I'll do occasional updates on how it's helping me manage over at CitrusSwirl.com.
My new best friends
I had grand, lofty plans to hit the gym three times this week, maybe take a class or two, but I'm just wanting to break this all into solid chunks that I can reasonably tackle without overwhelming myself.  There's always next week, right?  

Next race on tap is Color Me Rad 5k in April, so I'm thinking even though it's highly bizarre to want to start a training plan to run a 5k efficiently after having just done a half and a 10k, but really, I clearly need it.  So maybe that's a "by the end of the week" sort of thing.  

I can't help it...  I'm a sucker for a motivational poster.  This week, I keep going back to one of the first ones I found on Pinterest way back in the day.  I don't know why, but it's one that I default to pretty often.  It seems like a great first "Motivate Me Monday" picture, if anything, because it reminds me of strength and beginnings.


Having survived Disney's Enchanted 10k by the skin of my teeth, I was halfway to earning my Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  The problem?  I was sick.  Sick as a dog.  My nap didn't help and after a leisurely afternoon at Epcot, I was getting worse, not better.  This was absolutely devastating and utterly nerve-wracking.  My eating was off, my hydration was thrown totally, and my body was screaming "you're doing what tomorrow??"  

After touring the parks and and arriving back at Pop for the night, I bounced back and forth on what exactly to do.  Do I drop out?  Do I spectate?  Do I try to run anyway?  Do I stay in bed?  Ultimately, I decided I'd move to the back of my corral, and just walk until I got swept.  My husband and I convinced my brother that he should run ahead, and we'd all reconnect at the finish area after he finished and we'd gotten picked up by the parade bus (the bus that collects the people who're unable to finish).  Last thing I wanted was to drag down my brother's race too...  Nobody has trained for an event like my brother trained for this run and he deserved to blow the wings off of pixies on the course.  

Having decided to face my fears and my uncooperative body, we dressed up in our outfits.  I was Princess Vanellope Von Schweetz, my husband was a version of Wreck-it Ralph, and my brother reprised his Fix-It Felix.  While my brother was a dead ringer for his character, I don't think many people got my husband's outfit, and judging by the number of "Go for it Princess Aurora!" and even the odd "Hey, it's Princess Peach!" I think my outfit was lost on some people too.  After hopping the bus at 3am and arriving at the party, we pulled up a bench on the same spot we'd sat just the morning before while waiting for the 10k and watched the festivities for a bit, but we didn't stay long.  The walk to the corral is almost a mile and I just wanted to go and be in the starting area.  Thank goodness it was at least a warmer morning than it was during the 10k...  A balmy 55 degrees or so.  While we must have waited at least an hour in our corrals, it really felt like it zipped by and before we knew it, lights, fireworks, music and we were on our way.  
In The Starting Corral
So maybe I do look a little like Princess Peach

We stuck together for about half a mile before my brother ran ahead, and I'm so glad he did.  He trained long and hard for this and has become an amazing athlete as a result of his training.  He ended up finishing the half in less than 2:30, and that included character stops.  He is a freaking rock star!  And I guess he was his own little attraction on the course as people actually stopped him for pictures, thanks to his Fix-It Felix Jr. outfit.


Meanwhile, at the back of the pack, my husband and I had the time of our lives.  We walked and talked, we held hands, we stopped and took pictures...  And before people freak out, we stayed totally to the right, gave everybody faster than us right-of-way without comments, side eye rolls, and rude comments, and we didn't walk more than two abreast...  I know my racer etiquette and I'd like to think that since I got lots of "you got this!" and no "stay right" or "out of my way," I was doing pretty well at being in absolutely nobody's way.  As we kept going, I found it was completely liberating to just enjoy the spectacle of it all.  Really, it was kind of like a date.  A date that 20,000 other people are on with you and where you have to walk 13.1 miles.  But they served us water and food along the way so if that's not a date, I don't know what is.  

After crossing the Magic Kingdom parking gates, we stopped for pictures with Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph, something I'd gotten used to skipping during Run Disney races because I'm so fixated with my times.  It was a riot because Vanellope made a big deal out of my outfit, Ralph made a big deal out of my husband's outfit, and we got some great pictures.  At least Vanellope knew I wasn't Princess Peach...  Small victory there.  

When I started this race, I had no expectations in mind.  No minimums, no "I just want to
Character Hugs Are The Best Hugs
Character hugs are the best hugs
make it to the castle before I get swept," just one foot in front of the other and living in the moment.  And we did eventually did end up hitting the Magic Kingdom, and it was stunning.  That sunrise is burned in my mind as being one of the most gorgeous things I'd ever seen.  Golden sun soaking the castle, rosy peaches and pinks whisping across the horizon, and this electric blue coming across the darkness like lightning.  It was stunning.  Last time I'd done this race, I'd zipped in the Magic Kingdom, out and was gone and didn't take the time at all to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park.  This time, I just soaked it in like a sponge and it was so beautiful and special.  I tell you, Main Street spectators are the best spectators and they really know how to get people motivated.  I felt like a princess being welcomed home by her people.  
     
Leaving the Magic Kingdom was hard, and not just because it meant the end of flush toilets and an expansive line for porta potties.  I just wasn't ready to leave the magic yet and, truth be told, I was dreading this next part of the course.  It was long, flat, not a lot to see, and the hardest part of the course for me by far last year.  Also, I have a hate/hate relationship with miles eight, nine, and ten.  No matter how great or how bad my run is, I hit the wall there.  There's always tears, questioning why I do this to myself, a feeling it'll never end, and resentment over never, ever getting the Cliff Shot flavor I want at mile nine.  

We ended up hitting the halfway mark, then passing back by the parking gates at Magic Kingdom (to the spectator who was walking out of the gas station with all the donuts and hot dogs...  You're a horrible human being...  So cruel...  I almost took you down right in the parking lot for those donuts...).  I had honestly expected to be swept by this point, but there wasn't a sweeper in sight and thousands of people behind me.  Still thinking that it was an "if" not "when," we wandered along the course, stopping as needed, and enjoying time with my husband.  Did you know there's a tree that looks like a witch tree that actually grows out of the ground, then back into it, then back out again?  Way cool.  Our theory?  It's a witch portal.  

The other random thing we noticed the further back we got...  The costumes got more
We're Going To Wreck It!
We're going to wreck it!
elaborate, the runners were more boisterous, the chat among friends was livelier and more animated, and the crazier the overall atmosphere was.  I was expecting panicked cries about sweeping and not finishing, but honestly...  I never heard a peep.  But I did get to be a part of some pretty wild, spontaneous things on-course.  Have you ever done a massive "wave" on the back end of a half marathon?  I have.  Heard dozens of people spontaneously break into choruses of "Let it Go" because a particularly elaborately dressed Elsa ran by (who happened to be a man)?  I have.  I had the honor of being next to a group of men dressed quite convincingly as princesses, and their ladies, dressed quite convincingly as their man's prince.  They were a total riot, completely in character in both looks and behavior, and they were an attraction in and of themselves.  I even had people who recognized me on Twitter and Instagram stop me to wish me well, which was beyond awesome (love you guys!).

By the time I hit mile nine, my comfort level was starting to dip and my pace nosedived along with it, and while I hadn't hit the wall with the force I usually do, I certainly wasn't in my mojo zone.  With the taste of the Cliff Shot flavor I didn't want fresh on my tongue (I swear, every race...  Every single race I grab the wrong flavor), I was wondering just how much longer until we'd be picked up.  But when we still had thousands of people behind us and at mile 10 we were told the sweepers were more than 30 minutes behind us.  That's when it hit me...  I may actually finish.  I still wasn't counting it as a certainty because at any moment my body could have said "enough" and that would have been that, and I can honestly say it didn't matter to me...  By that point, it was a beautiful time with my husband, one foot in front of the other, and just enjoying the moments.  


Ta-Da! At the Castle!
Ta da! At the castle!
It was when we crossed over into Epcot and heard that we were all safe, I was stunned.  I couldn't believe that I was there.  I couldn't believe I was at Epcot, staring down the finish line.  Yes, I was tired, sore, ready for a bench, ready for a nap, and feeling not-so-awesome, but I couldn't believe I was in Epcot and finishing the race.  It was one of the weirdest, most surreal moments of my life.  Having spent the last couple hours saying "you're not finishing so just go and have fun and let the rest fall away" and operating in that mode totally conflicted with the new and sudden realization "hey stupid, you're finishing!  You did it!  You're in Epcot and there is the finish line!"  The moment it actually clicked came courtesy of somebody I knew at one of the last water stops who yelled "Hey, it's Jerusha!  Hey Jerusha, you're going to finish!  Less than half a mile to go!  You're finishing, you're finishing!"  

This is the part where I say like a jerk that it happened so fast, I didn't catch who it was to thank them after...  So if it was you, I love you so much and congrats for being my "holy crap!" moment on the course and easily, hands-down, without a doubt the single best moment I've had on any race course, during any race, during any run I've ever had.  I replay that moment mentally all the time and I bet you don't even know it.

I ended up crossing that finish line, waving to the camera, getting the frantic texts and phone calls from my Mom who said she saw us online, who said my son saw us cross and was losing his mind with excitement, and it was simply incredible.  It was one of those moments where I felt totally surrounded by a lot of good vibes and love.  Magic moments abounded and my heart was swelling with a combination of pride, exhaustion, and nausea.  And I was thrilled to pieces, not because I finished, but because I had started.  I can honestly say my first thought after walking across that finish line was "I can't believe I had the courage to start even with all the doubt."  My second thought, however, was "man, I hope they have those awesome mini-chips with the cheese dip in the post-race box...  Those were awesome."


Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust, and Snow
Faith, trust, pixie dust, and...  Snow?
The cold hard truth of the matter is that my time was terrible, I came nowhere near a PR, and I freely admit that the corral I was placed in through the proof of time I earned from my average past race performance was my saving grace.  I will be the first to say that if I had started in the last corral, I'd have been swept somewhere near the halfway point.  I admit, this makes me feel guilty, especially when I think of the others that were swept, who may have even ultimately had a better pace than I, who pushed, tried, ran, and still got swept.  My husband insists that through my training and previous races and all the effort I put into that, I put time in the bank and today I simply made a withdrawal to help me get through because of my health issue.  I admit I got lucky and I maintain that some of the truest athletes who's feet hit that pavement are the ones who didn't finish.  Those people are heroes too and I hope they were proud of all they accomplished, even if it wasn't all they hoped.

After we finished, I got checked out by the med tent, got something to help with some nausea and ickiness I'd been feeling on course as the result of being sick, and I scored a pretty amazing banana and some fancy-pants water with electrolytes they save for VIPs.  VIPs being, of course, people who say they're sick and feel like they're going to boot everywhere (like me).  Then we went straight back to Pop Century, took the longest, most amazing nap, and even though I woke up feeling beleaguered, I was in really good spirits.  

When we went out to the parks, I didn't put on my medal and wear it around...  I decided that since I didn't really run it or maintain a pace that would have kept me in the race I didn't feel right wearing it.  I also felt like wearing it was celebrating my finish, when really, my inner party was all about how I didn't roll over and go back to bed.  I didn't give up by not getting up and instead I said loud and proud "I'm going to do this, it's not going to be awesome, but it's going to be the best I can do and I'm Ok with that."  

Even now, of all the race memories of all the Run Disney events that really stick with me, the most profound are the thousand little moments I had on this course, with this race, where I just...  Dare I say it?  Let it go. 


Come on, it's the Princess Half Marathon and it was "Frozen" themed.  I had to get one in there.

At The Finish
One last character...

Welcome to Run Disney Race Weekend!
Here I am, back again and (nearly) fresh off another race weekend, and of course, it was a race weekend at my favorite place on earth...  Walt Disney World!  This weekend was a double header thanks to my signing up for the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Two days, two races, 19.3 miles...  Disney's Enchanted 10k on Saturday and Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.

I remember doing this challenge last year and thinking to myself "never again."  What happened between "never again" and the mad rush to sign up in July?  I have no idea.  I'll blame my brother, who wanted to make this his first race, and me who thought I'd tag along like it was no big thing.  But this time I swear, this is my last Glass Slipper Challenge, this is my last Run Disney race, and I'm hanging up the shoes for the foreseeable future.  I'm not sad about it, though I thought I would be...  I'm ready to go back to running for fun, Disney vacations that are actually vacations, and not hobbling around in a park after getting up entirely too early to run entirely too far.  I left behind a dining credit because I couldn't find enough time to eat, thanks to the races.  That's criminal.

Anyway, after running around the parks the day before, our 2:45am wake-up call came entirely too early.  In case anybody was wondering, 4 hours of sleep isn't enough to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for a 10k.  To make matters worse, I had been sick as a dog the day before so I was very nervous about how my body would react to the run (spoiler alert: not well).  And if there wasn't enough to stress about, it was unseasonably cold in Orlando.  When we slogged out of our Pop Century room at 3:25, it was a frosty 38 degrees.  
Cold souls in corral B

Due to the cold, my planned Captain Eo costume had to be changed a bit, from a tee shirt and homemade sparkle skirt, to a hoodie and sparkle skirt over some gym pants.  Really, it was kind of slapped together, but that didn't bother me at all.  I was cold, I was tired, and I was about to run 6.2 miles.  My husband felt much the same and opted for a non-costume, while my brother was a total trooper and went fully dressed in his Fix-It Felix Jr. outfit.  My brother was amazing during these races and I'm in total awe of him...  But more on that later.  

The line to the bus was small, the ride to the start was short, and the time to wait before the race was ridiculously long.  On the plus side, the DJ was absolutely hysterical and I loved watching him so the time kind of flew by.  The crowd was pretty amped especially considering how cold it was, but we were perfectly happy to chill (figuratively and literally) on some bleachers until it was time to load up into the corrals...  Which came sooner rather than later.  When they called corral A into the chute and were sent on their way, I figured that the frozen masses in corral B would be sent off right behind 3 minutes later, but actually the gap between corral A and B was 10 or 15 of the most painful minutes of my life.  It was so freaking cold!  The shine of the race was definitely dulling a bit during the wait...  I was ready to go and being so close, yet so far from starting was agony.  

Finally, fireworks, fanfare, and we were off!  I know a lot of people complained there wasn't much to look at during the first half of the course during last year's race so I thought one or two character stops would be added between miles one and three...  But there were no new stops that stood out to me this year from last.  Anna joined Elsa this year at the overpass just outside of Epcot before mile one, the White Rabbit was meeting at the turn just after mile one, some of the fairies (Tinkerbell and some frost/cold themed fairy) were meeting at mile 1.25 or so.  I know people were bothered by the lack of entertainment again for 2015, but honestly this course was one of my favorites and I had absolutely no complaints about the activity along the way.  Though I did love that when we entered Epcot, they replaced those toy soldiers with some cool, Mardi Gras-like performers on stilts.  They were very Labyrinth-like and I kinda regret not stopping for a picture.

After having learned the hard way last year, where I hit a PR for the 10k but was ruined for the half, my plan (and by default, the plan of my brother and husband as we all wanted to stick together) was to interval run the first half of the race, then walk the rest.  I figured that would get us through the most boring part of the course, and give us more time to enjoy the journey through Epcot.  My brother was going to stop for Alice if she was on the course, but my only planned stops were in Japan for a shot of myself and the torri and Spaceship Earth, and a stop at Captain Eo for that oh-so-necessary poster picture.      

As predicted, the first half of the race was uneventful...  Though shout-out to the woman dressed like Maleficent who was blatantly cheating and cutting the course (yeah, we saw you...).  The course was mostly flat and fairly easy, but I think the cold air and my not feeling good was throwing me off.  I was having a hard time sticking to my intervals and regulating my breathing.  When we hit mile three and transitioned to walking, I'm not going to lie, I was ready to drop it to a walk.  But mile three meant we were hitting Epcot, the best part of the run.
Not a great picture, but ah, memories

I really can't describe popping out in Epcot between the Norway and China Pavilion in any sort of way that does it justice (by the way, I looked hard for clues of work being done at Maelstrom, but no such luck).  The sun coming up, the Illuminations torches lit around World Showcase Lagoon, everything quiet and still except for the sounds of feet hitting pavement and the ambiance music they play...  It just brings a lump to my throat.  For some people, they hold out for that moment they run through the castle, and while that's an amazing feeling, I live for that moment for when you pop out from a seemingly endless, weaving route backstage into my beloved Epcot.  This moment makes me so ridiculously happy that I wish I could bottle the feeling and pop it out whenever I need a peaceful moment.  That run from China to England (which makes me sound like an amazing runner when I put it that way) is one of the most beautiful parts of any Run Disney event.  I was so happy I could share that with my brother and husband...  Last year I was on my own and while I didn't mind it at the time, I'm was grateful to not be alone this time.

There were characters out and about in the World Showcase.  I think we spotted Jiminy Cricket in Italy, Marie in France, and Goofy just at the start of the Boardwalk next to some sort of race car.  Then, of course, Princess and I think Prince Mickey were out by the re-entry back into Epcot.  The biggest course entertainment, however, came by way of the hundreds of spectators who lined the course route.  Cast members, families of runners, and curious tourists were all out in force to offer support.  I loved seeing the people sitting by the windows of the rooms, sipping their coffee, and watching the race.  I totally got a thrill out of pointing at them, then waving frantically, then watching them perk up and wave back, equally as frantically.  

Before I knew it, we'd wound our way through a character-less Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club, through the Epcot backstage, and back out by the Imagination Pavilion and Captain Eo (finally, after four races, I got my picture at the Captain Eo poster!).  After passing by The Land, The Seas, and through Innovations and under the shadow of Spaceship Earth, we went backstage again and charged to our glorious finish just outside of Epcot.  I was happy to get the medal, even happier to get the post race box (chips and cheese dip, woo-hoo!) and Mylar blanket.  

My brother, who I think is the fittest person I know and didn't even break into a pant during
I am here to change the world
the race, walked like it was no big thing to Hollywood Studios for rope drop and rides, while my husband and I wandered back to Pop via Art of Animation for a nap.  

Oh, did that soft bed and those warm blankets feel good...

Overall, the Enchanted 10k route is my second favorite course, behind Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  I could have wished I felt better, but I was aiming for fun with my family over a PR.  I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.  The magic of looping through the World Showcase at sunrise in a quiet park is still one of the most moving experiences of all of my races.  I think Run Disney put on a fantastic event with a lot to do and a lot to look at, and while some seemed disappointed in the lack of course entertainment between miles one and three, then miles 5.25 and six, I thought there was still plenty to see and do.  During miles three through six, the volume of people out cheering made up for any lack of characters.  To people who've run halfs at Run Disney, remember the set up for a 10k is a bit different with fewer hydration/water stops, no Powerade given out, and no energy shots.  Keep in mind, as such a large part of the course is in a park, there are ample bathrooms (portapotties) between miles one and three and again from mile three to mile 4.5 (flush bathrooms), but no bathrooms of note between miles 4.5 and 5.5, though once the route re-enters Epcot, flush bathrooms are again available.  If I could change one thing, it would be that arduously and unnecessarily long launch time between corrals A and B.  10 - 15 minutes is just too darn long.

And after the wet and wild run that was Wine and Dine 2014 and the freezing cold Enchanted 10k, if Disney could figure out a way to regulate the weather, that'd be awesome.