My friends and I went out to the shuttle by the Yacht Club at 7 pm, and were on one of the first buses. The shuttle system was smooth and we arrived at ESPN Wide World of Sports in no time. Now, I was expecting large crowds, as I knew there was anywhere from 12,000-14,000 runners, but I guess it was still a shock to see the large masses congregating in the field that evening. We headed over to bag check and then proceeded to a line up for a photo with Chip & Dale.
After that, we enjoyed the pre-race DJ and even rocked some dance moves during warmup. While the evening air felt cool for Florida standards, even just dancing around for a few minutes caused me to realize the humidity was lurking. Had to stop! At about 9 pm, I parted ways from Teresa and Kristen, got in the porta potty line up, and then headed to my corral.
This was a night race, with the first corral starting at 10 pm. There were Corrals from the letters A-L. Runners were placed in corrals based on prior race time submissions. I was fortunate enough to start in Corral A, and was also lucky enough to be positioned right next to the main stage before the race! While I was standing over here for approximately 40 minutes, time flew by as I had tons to watch and listen to. I was just soaking it all in!
I barreled out of the corral and my net time ended up only being 4 seconds off of gun time. I had the motivation and mindset to aim for my PR, beating 1:41:07, and even going sub 1:40. Going to say right now, I really thought I could. But within 2 miles I could feel sweat pouring off my body like I was in a sauna with a fan on me. I was still going to give it my all though!
I knew from looking at RunDisney pictures, videos and other blogs online that the entertainment on course would be awesome. Yes, it is a little different on the highway portions since it is pitch black night outside, but as you neared each mile marker, bright lights and music welcomed you. Whenever there was a character meet and greet on the roadways, there would be giant lights by them, and you could see these blocks away. I just kept my head forward and eyes on the next “icon” coming up at all times.
This race goes through three of the four Disney parks—-Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Going through Animal Kingdom at night was awesome as a Disney parks fan, since it is usually only opened each day until 5 or 7 pm! The big loop around the parking lot on our way out was visually tough and deceiving though—-felt like I would never be back on the road! When we got back on out, we headed to Hollywood Studios.
All the volunteers at water stops on the course were so friendly and excited. Since I was dressed up in costume, it was fun to hear the delayed reaction to that I was Mary Poppins! I think some people only got it when they saw my back!
For as small as Hollywood Studios is, RunDisney really gets you to wind a lot through the park! I was very excited to see the Osbourne Christmas lights, as I have never been to Disney during the season. After exiting this park, in my eyes you were in the home stretch. The reason why—-you hit the path that takes you to Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin and Yacht & Beach. This pathway is of extreme symbolic importance to me, as they built it when I was in high school, and my parents and I would often walk it to the Studios instead of taking the boat. I even wrote a blog reminiscing how my dad and I tried to “Beat the Boat.” You can find that here:
Beat the Boat!
With those memories in my mind, I mustered the energy to keep on trucking, even though that by now I knew I wouldn’t be making 1:40. My eyes swelled up with tears as I ran on the wooden walkway in front of Yacht Club, Stormalong Bay, Beach Club, and in around the backside of EPCOT’s World Showcase. As we entered into EPCOT next to Journey into Imagination, I knew I could push myself this last bit. It was very cool to run through Future World, because while running through the other parks and on property was awesome, you didn’t have the spectators there yelling for you. After running past Spaceship Earth I knew the end was near, since we were exiting and heading near parking lots. I couldn’t wait to finish!
Coming down the dark straightaway to the music blaring and the crowds screaming was incredible! The photo below was taken as I crossed the line, and I have ordered a collage from Marathon Foto capturing four on-route moments, two of which I included in this post. I finished with a 1:44:33, which is my second-best half marathon time.
I was hot, sweaty, tired, shaking and a ball of emotions. My first RunDisney event was complete and I couldn’t have been more impressed. From the Expo, to the transportation between venues, to the entertainment and pre-race fun, the route itself, the medals, the swag…..it was definitely magical!
The Wine & Dine Half caps off with a runner celebration in World Showcase, deemed as part of the “Ultimate Runner’s Night Out.” I changed in the provided change rooms, picked up my complimentary beverage, and wandered back to World Showcase. Since I was done rather early, I didn’t have much trouble making it to the back of the park, but anyone who ran this race will know that the “crosswalk” created to manage flow of traffic through the race was quite stressful. When I got in the back of the park, I texted Teresa and Kristen that there was no way I would be able to make it back to the front to find them when finished, as I made it to the point of no return. I told them to tell me what country to meet them at when finished.
I could talk tons about the after party, but instead I will post the video created by RunDisney. As I waited for Teresa and Kristen, I wandered from Canada to France and back, where I got photos with the penguins from Mary Poppins, enjoyed some food and drink at the booths, and was interviewed by RunDisney! They had shot me greeting the penguins, but it wasn’t until after I had gotten a Leffe Brune beer from the Belgium booth and was texting Teresa when they approached me for an interview.
So what if the first thing I say is “I love beer!”? I do have to note that this whole “Beer, Disney, Running” mantra was written to me via email from my husband on Friday of the trip. He had said, quote “Booze, running and Disney. This crap really is tailor made for you.”
Cheers to a fantastic Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2013!