I actually ran two of them!!!
The Wine & Dine Half was a total success and I had the time of my life. It’s so hard to put into words what the whole experience meant to me, so I just haven’t. Hopefully I’ll get that done soon while the memories are still fresh.
In the meantime, I was really regretting not registering for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. I had stumbled upon a running group who were obsessed with the weekend and I got sucked into the madness. So when a bib for the half became available with only 2 weeks left, I grabbed it! Never mind the fact that my training had slacked since the Wine and Dine. I was going for my 2nd race!
Hello, my name is Laura, errr Lisa, and I’m becoming addicted to RunDisney!
Friday morning Will, Gavin and I piled into the SUV and headed off to the Land of the Mouse! Since it was such short notice we weren’t able to reserve a Disney resort so we ended up staying at the Best Western at Downtown Disney. It worked out ok, but just lacked the magic you get from staying at a Disney property. The room was spacious with a nice balcony but everything was a little old and worn down. The staff were very friendly and helpful which always counts for a lot with me. After getting checked in we headed to Downtown Disney to grab a bite at my favorite, The Earl of Sandwich. It’s so nice to carb load guilt-free! After that Gavin and Will headed back to the hotel for an afternoon nap and I headed to the Art of Animation Resort to pick up my bib from the couple who were giving it to me. I considered also heading over to the expo, but with reports saying the line stretched 20 minutes outside the building I decided to give it a pass. We’ll be back for the Princess Half next month and I anticipate doing some serious damage to my bank account then!
A crazy thing happened that night: Gavin fell asleep early. Bliss!!! So we put him in the stroller and went to Chevy’s Tex Mex for dinner and enjoyed an amazingly quiet, stress-free dinner. Tex Mex for dinner the night before a race is truly not the swiftest of ideas. However, I was willing to take my chances to enjoy some steak fajitas. Tomorrow I would need to remember the runner’s mantra: “Don’t pants your poop! Don’t pants your poop!”
As usual, I was way too excited to sleep so I watched my guys drift into sleepytime while I stared at the clock and imagined how early 2:30am was going to come. I managed about 3 hours of sleep before the alarm went off. I had been warned that driving to the start line was going to be awful and the traffic would be out of control. So I speedily dressed, jumped into the SUV… and coasted traffic free to the start line. Easy peasy and only took me 8 minutes to get there. Oh well.
The start area was a virtual tent city in the parking lot of Epcot. I didn’t have to deal with bag check since I drove (a definite advantage!) so I went to the staging area where we met for the PbRC pre-race photo. Met a few nice people but by this point I was a little too nervous to talk. I still wonder what I’m doing showing up at these races: I’m not a runner! I always half-expect that someone’s going to realize I’m a fraud and send me on my way. Still, the friendly faces of the PbRC definitely helped!
From there I headed to the start line (or so I thought). Whoever planned this area did a poor job of planning for congestion. Upon leaving the bag check tent we were all herded into a tiny area instead of being allowed to move to our corrals. We were stuck like sardines for about 30 minutes and while most of us maintained our sense of humor, of course there was always “that guy” in the crowd that made things interesting. Finally got to move out and I headed to corral F. After what seemed like forever, the fireworks started and we were on our way! There was about 5-7 minutes between the start of each corral so while the race started at 5:30, I started around 6:10.
Miles 1-3 were mainly spent just trying to get into my groove and work my way through the crowd. There are some definite challenges with the corral system as it exists. Too many fast runners in the back and too many slow walkers in the front. Some bottlenecks and frustration happened. On a whole, everybody is courteous but I got ran over by a big guy who stepped on my heel and took my shoe off. Not cool. I was also dealing with this weird high ankle pain I get for the first few miles. Used to think it was some sort of injury but it actually gets better the longer I run. Whatever. We headed up World Dr. which is fairly plain looking but it was nice to see the monorails going by and to see floats and entertainment set up sporadically on the roads.
Things start looking up as you run through the entrance to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Magic Kingdom, here I come!!!
From there we wrapped around the lagoon, past the Contemporary, and suddenly I found myself on Main St. headed towards Cinderella Castle. Can this be real?!?!
Running through the parks can only be described as pure joy! There’s characters to take pictures with, people cheering you on and just this amazing atmosphere. Such an amazing feeling to be accomplishing something I would’ve thought impossible a year ago!
Finally we wrapped our way around Frontierland and back out of the park. From there we headed past the Polynesian and Grand Floridian en route back to World Drive and the trek back to Epcot. By this point the sun was out in full force and it was HOT. I was sweating and really wishing I’d brought my sunglasses. Disney does a great job of providing lots of water and Powerade stops. I didn’t really even need my hydration belt and will probably leave it home next time.
By mile 9 I had hit my old familiar “Crap! What was I thinking?!?!” point in the race as there was little entertainment, lots of heat, and too much time on my hands. That’s where my iPod comes in handy. Time for some Vogue dance moves, conversation with fellow runners and a little bit of daydreaming (hellloooooo, Dan Kendra!). Also, time for a few more character stops. Couldn’t resist a stop for Captain Jack Sparrow! I attempted an “Argh!” face with dubious results.
Mile 10 = Second Wind! Oh yeah!!! We ran up a ramp on the way to Epcot and were greeted by the Green Army Men yelling at us to take the hill and drop and give them 20. 20 pushups?!?! No. But I will stop for a photo!
This is where being a Jeff Galloway runner starts to pay off. It’s just a simple 5k from here. No problem, I’m feeling good!! I increased my run ratio and kept on plugging. Meanwhile, all around me people were starting to succumb to exhaustion. Between the sun, the heat, the distance and the amount of time out here, it was a little brutal and most everyone around me had just slowed to a walk. Thus started my fun period of pretending I was an Olympic sprinter as I ran (umm, jogged) past crowds of people. When you do the run/walk/run, it keeps your strength up and you’re able to finish strong. I cannot say enough good about the Galloway method and I would never be able to do this if I hadn’t stumbled across his philosophy.
We ran into Epcot and straight back to the World Showcase, then circled back up and out. I had to stop for last-minute photos since I couldn’t help myself!
We exited back on the front and were met by a gospel choir who sang us in the rest of the way. A quick sprint down the chutes and I was DONE!!! 2nd half marathon is in the books!
I am SO thankful for the opportunity to run this race and can’t wait to come back for the Princess Half next month! Does RunDisney charge a lot for their races? Yep. Is it worth every cent? Yes!!! The amazing course, friendly runners and world-class entertainment make it an amazing experience that I wish everyone would have the opportunity to enjoy someday!
- Fun course
- Lots of character stops
- Plenty of entertainment
- Great time of year (usually isn’t this hot)
- The pre-race area was not well organized. Need to plan for better flow and less congestion as we all make our way to the corrals
- A lot of congestion on the race course. They really need to consider limiting the number of participants.
- The heat was pretty crazy for January!
An amazing weekend I’ll never forget. Thank You, God, for getting me started on this journey!!!