The race that started it all! Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon! 2011’s race was my very 1st half marathon and I didn’t think I would even finish it. In fact, if you read my “play by play” you’ll know that I mouthed the words “I never wanna do that again” at the finish line. The lies we tell ourselves! But like all challenges in life, it gets easier. And this year it got much, much more FUN!
The afternoon before the night race…
Marathon weekend was spent with my bestie Running at Disney partaking in shenanigans at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. The previous day had included a runDisney Meetup in Epcot, breakfast at Kouzzina and a trip to the race expo followed by the RAD Meetup and a Food & Wine Walkabout around World Showcase ending in a cocktail party at the Belle Vue Lounge. With all that walking the day before, we knew we wanted to try and somewhat save our legs for the night race that would take place in a few hours. After a second breakfast at Kouzzina with friends we headed out to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic over at Shades of Green.
We tried to keep the walking to a minimum and the picture taking to a maximum! After we toured the classic we headed out to forage for lunch, but not before making a pit stop at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Sarah had never been inside the speedway and she wanted to see what that leg of the 2013 WDW Marathon Course would look like.
After we left the speedway we remembered we needed lunch. Sarah had suggested Landscape of Flavors over at the Art of Animation Resort. We both ended up getting smoothies instead of food and decided that a nap was in order.
After our nap back at the Boardwalk, we decided we didn’t want to leave the resort for dinner so our options were relegated to whatever we could find AT the Boardwalk. The ESPN Club sounded like the best option.
My normal “night race” routine consists of a McDonalds Southern Style Chicken Sandwich with cheese and extra pickles with a large unsweet iced tea. I figured I could makeshift something similar off the menu at a sports bar. I ended up ordering the buffalo chicken sandwich, ixnay on the buffalo sauce and adding cheese and pickles. The sandwich came with a side of fries and I got my unsweet tea. The service at the restaurant was really slow and what should have been a 5:30pm meal turned into a 6:30pm meal. I also ate more than I would have normally cause the basket of fries was right there in front of me. =\ My McDonalds meal in usually taken “to go” and consumed back in the peace and quiet of a hotel room so I can focus and get mentally prepared for the race. The meal at ESPN was consumed amidst college ball brew-ha-ha and a whining infant in my left ear the entire meal. Not quite what I had invisioned…but I digress.
Almost time to race…
Back up to the room we went to get on our running gear and head down to the bus that was to take us over to the start line at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
There was a little bit of a line to get on the bus at 7:30pm. We had waited as long as we could. The last bus was at 8:00pm.
I thought that the line moved efficiently and pretty soon we were on a bus.
The race staging and corral area were in full swing at this point! Music pumping, port-o-potties being utilized and runners stretching and dancing.
Qualms…bag check cast members were less than friendly screaming at runners. I understand they were trying to be efficient but not at the expense of the runners’ experience. I also wish that there were more characters out to pose with for photos. We stood in line for a good 45 minutes for a character photo and weren’t even half way through the line when we had to jump out of line to get in another line for the port-o-let.
After a somewhat quick trip to the bathroom we were ready to eat our first GU and file in to our corral. I was lucky enough to be in the same corral with three of my favorite runDisney runners! Here’s a shot of the Fab 4…myself, Jim DeMarco, Sid (my Wine and Dine coach and confidant from 2011) and my partner in crime Sarah McGovern!
This is yet another reason why I have such an affinity for the runDisney races. My people. I’m always surrounded by my people when I runDisney! The four of us decided that we were going to try and run the entire race together.
Time to runDisney…
The fireworks sounded for the corrals in front of us and then right around 10:15pm the four of us crossed the start line on our epic three-park journey.
The weather was absolutely perfect for our race that evening! It was nothing like the humidity we had faced at the Tower of Terror 10 Miler just a month before. The first half mile of the race was run on Victory Lane leading out to the turn onto Osceola Parkway. The girls and Jim had decided on a 3:1 run-walk-run ratio. Three minutes of running followed by one minute of walking. Rinse and repeat. I had not trained like that. I run till I feel I need to stop and then I walk until I feel the urge to run again. This left the three of them pretty close together and me the random spaz who would fall behind and then zip past them on one of my running spurts, but it was a method that worked. I know that Sarah McGovern was holding back, she’s faster than me, but wanted to really run the race as a cohesive group of Disney friends. Thanks Sarah!
Mile 2 and 3 were spent crossing massive overpasses and long stretches on Osceola Parkway. I had lost the 3 amigos but had their splits texted to me and I knew they were only about 30 seconds ahead of me. As we entered the Animal Kingdom parking lot I popped my second GU and spotted the “longest pee” port-o-potties from my first Wine & Dine Half. I wasn’t going to make the mistake of stopping there again. I loved that they had Main Street Electrical Parade Floats at this portion of the race!
I did have to pee at this point but I was trying to catch my posse and I knew I would pick up the pace running through Animal Kingdom. As I entered the park I got a text from Sarah telling me they had stopped at the entry bathrooms so I kept on going trying to get a bit ahead of them since I had been lagging. By the time I got behind the tree of life the bathroom won out and I made a quick pit stop texting Sarah in the process that I had stopped. Let me tell you something, being a Disney expert really pays off in these runDisney races. We Disneyphiles know exactly where the bathrooms are located and about how many stalls are in each one making our potty breaks much more efficient than the people standing in lines for port-o-potties out on the course. If you decide to do a runDisney race and you aren’t familiar with the parks, look at the maps online and see where the nice restrooms are.
After my bathroom break I headed back out onto the course and as I neared Expedition Everest I heard Sarah’s voice as she walked out of the Everest bathroom, “I didn’t see her in there”. I came up behind them and yelled…”I’m right here!” =) I loved running through Animal Kingdom at night! Most guests don’t get to experience ‘dark in the park’ let alone ‘running in the dark in the park’.
Having a Moment…
We all continued along at our own pace and as we exited Animal Kingdom I spotted the mile 5 marker and had a moment. This was the point in the half last year that I had wanted to quit. I had never run farther than 4 miles before that first half and I really hit a wall there. As I was having my moment, my girl Sid appeared from beside me and grabbed my hand. She was there for me last year and by God she was going to be there for me again this year!
I was feeling GREAT as we exited Animal Kingdom and ran out onto Osceola Parkway. Miles 5, 6, 7 and 8 were spent chatting amongst the Fab4. I took my 3rd GU around mile 6. We crossed back over the two massive overpasses on Osceola Parkway and made the sharp incline up, over and then onto World Drive. Around Mile 8.5 was the one-and-only food station where volunteers were handing out gels. I wasn’t slated to have another gel til Mile 9. At this point we had to conquer another hill before making a right onto Buena Vista Drive and heading into Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
I Almost Died…but not really…
My posse had forged on ahead of me and they were no where in sight. As I walked up the hill a strange feeling came over me. I was having trouble breathing and my arm was aching. Panic set in and I had a panic attack. Was I having a heart attack? I felt as though I might throw up or worse… I looked over in the sweeper bus for a paramedic but the bus was empty and there was no one standing around it so I continued my death walk onto Buena Vista Drive. I had the exact same feeling come over me in the 2012 Princess Half Marathon right around the same time. I think that I need to take my GUs every hour, not every 45 minutes. I believe it was a combination of too much GU and Powerade in my system. Needless to say, I did NOT take my Mile 9 GU.
Just after Mile 9 I spotted the Rock’n’Roller Coaster bathroom and decided I better use it. It felt good to sit down and I got my mind together so I could get my run back on. It was around Mile 10 that Sarah texted me and said they had stopped to take a picture with Wreck-it-Ralph. I could see him up ahead and I ran as fast as I could to try and get in on the photo but was just a few seconds too late. Up next was my favorite part of the race. Running through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!
Such a treat! A good portion of the Wine & Dine Half is run through Disney’s Hollywood Studios! A solid 3 miles in fact. I used to work at “the Studios” so I like to get back behind the scenes again. Probably one of the BEST photo opps is by Star Tours.
I didn’t stop. Come to think of it…I don’t think I’ve ever stopped for a character photo during a race! Just before Mile 11 our group passed by the DHS Christmas Tree.
After exiting DHS we took the path over to the Boardwalk. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of our pal Marc who had been at Magic Kingdom with his daughter right around that time but he was like 2 minutes too late and we had already flown by the Boardwalk Inn and made our way past the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. We hooked a right onto the wooden portion of the Boardwalk and man was it cool! Like 10 degrees cooler on the water. This was Mile 12 in our 13.1 mile journey. There were a few drunk spectators with signs on a bench which was AWESOME! And we started spotting runners with their finisher medals heading back to their resorts. We knew we were close!
Just past Yacht and Beach Club and after the hill over to International Gateway was this amazing Lumiere photo opp!
Totally looks like a parade character. Anyone know where it’s used on property?
Poor Jim…it was at this point that I could see he was done. He pointed out to me that he had run the 5K that morning and I understood why he was dragging. We didn’t enter the park at this point but ran behind the UK and World Showplace before making our way onstage at Journey into Imagination. The park was full of spectators at this point. We passed between Imagination and the Land, ran through the Innoventions breezeway, behind Spaceship Earth and then made a right backstage for the final stretch!
There was no choir but there was a RAVE at Mile 13…and I felt like dancing!
Sarah, Sid, Jim and I all locked hands and crossed the finish line…together…as a team…like we’d planned it all along! God Bless Disney Friends! We stuck together like glue!
As soon as the race was over and we were handed our medals the rigamortis started to set in. I was stiff! Real Stiff!!! Like couldn’t put one foot in front of the other stiff. Sid took off to find her husband and while Sarah went to get her bag from bag check Jim and I decided it best that we throw in the proverbial towel. Sarah still had gas in the tank and decided to partake in the Wine & Dine After Party. What a trooper!
The walk from the finish (near the old kennel) to the resort bus (the farthest point in the other direction) was brutal. If I had spotted a taxi I would have shoved Jim in and paid any amount to not take one more step. My body wasn’t that tired but my feet felt like I was walking on hot pokers.
We finally made it to the Boardwalk bus. Do we look tired?
Back at the resort I said my goodbyes to Jim and headed for the shower. By this point I was starving! I had two croissants in the room left over from our Kouzzina breakfast. I inhaled them! I poured myself some water, took some Tylenol for my feet and then crawled into bed…with this thing!
It had been a good race. It had been a FUN race…better yet, an EPIC race run with the best running buddies a gal could ask for…and I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2013!