This race is a whole different ball game than the other half marathons I have run at Disney mostly because its a night race....meaning we don't even START running until 10 PM! Maybe that helped me. In February I woke up at midnight with a BAD case of nerves seriously looking to go online and sell my bib. This one, I was just excited to GO!
One thing I REALLY need to work on with these night races is staying off my feet the day of the race. I always go there with the best intentions but those all disappear once I get to Disney. On Saturday morning, I headed to expo to pick up my number, shirt, race goodies and do a little shopping. I spent a good couple of hours there, ran into my friend Mindy, and bought not one but TWO new Sparkle Skirts (and some desperately needed Clifshots). No big deal.
Then I got a text from my friend Fran who I haven't seen in months! She was in EPCOT and I needed to eat so I wandered in and met up with her and her sister. Somehow we managed to walk ALL the way around World Showcase - oops. I was there for about 3 hours but we did a lot of sitting in the meantime. I headed back to the room around 4 o'clock and got about an hour nap and then an early dinner before it was time to get dressed.
The buses started heading over to the race start at ESPN around 7 PM (3 hours before race start) and I grabbed the first bus. Judging from the lines I'm SOOO glad I made the decision to get down there early! The line backed up nearly all the way back to the lobby!
As I was riding on the bus I was texting with a few of my teammates to find out where we were meeting up. Luckily for me it didn't take me long to find them. Everything about this race was different even gathering area. Usually, we hang around in a parking lot - this race we gathered in a large grassy field...with the obligatory hundreds of port-o-potties. We had a great time getting everyone together, chatting, laughing taking pictures. Before long, we made a group stop at the porto-potties and then headed for our corral...somewhere at this point some strange guy handed Lori a free banana...yep just as weird as it sounds. Kind of became a running joke for the night!
One of the coolest things RunDisney does is give EVERY corral fireworks at the start. They also blast music as each corral gets ready to go...although we were a little concerned as we noticed the music for each corral getting a little more...corny. The corral before us was this really cheesy German music so we were worried we going to get....I was plesantly surprised to hear the strains of Aaron Copland' s "Hoedown" which I more often associate with the old Illuminations!
Before we knew it, we were entering the first of three parks we would run through - Animal Kingdom! Talk about "caution runners; path narrows ahead!" They weren't kidding! One of my teammates had a BRILLIANT idea - bathroom break in one of the nice clean theme park bathrooms! We all agreed to stop and found literally no wait before we were on our way again - 9 miles to go! Shortly after I had to stop and fix my shoe and my skirt. Now I love my SparkleSkirt because the shorts literally do not move but they are a bear to get back in the right place if you have to...make a pitstop! So I sent my teammates on ahead and said I would catch up. After a quick break I SPRINTED (which may or may not have hurt me later) up ahead and suddenly I saw Joe's red DAWS shirt and of course the group of WDWRadio Blue and shouted Marco! (we had been doing this along the way to keep track of eachother) and my teammates responded POLO! and I think they were surprised to see that I had caught up so fast! One of the down points on the race was on our way out of Animal Kingdom where apparently a pipe or something had blown and there was an unexpected fountain of water which had created a HUGE puddle in the middle of the road. There was a cast member but he was AFTER the puddle and was like "Oh yeah...watch out for that big puddle"...gee thanks buddy!
The miles passed by - lots of open roads but enough entertainment that I didn't have to run with my iPod. I found that a lot of the music they were playing along the course. At about 7 miles in I was having a little trouble keeping up with the pace of my teammates so I decided to fall back a little and Joe was nice enough to hang with me.
Mile 8 - time to head into Hollywood Studios. Running past Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror were pretty awesome and I LOVED running down Sunset Boulevard but I couldn't WAIT to get to run through the Osborne Lights...and they didn't disappoint!
If anything I was REALLY nervous about running through the "costume tunnel" as last time I ran there during the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2012 I was REALLY hurt and just remembering wanting to stop right there. Luckily, Disney took my mind off those bad memories by turning the tunnel into a giant 70s dance party - music, lights, fog, disco balls!
On our way out of the park, I texted Mom and Dad that they should head down from our room at Boardwalk because we would be there soon. It was fun to run down the Boardwalk and before I know it I saw my parents but just waved - no time to stop for a hug! According to Dad - I looked "fresh"!
Heading into EPCOT - last park and then it was time to eat! I'm so thrilled to report that I crossed my first half marathon finish line uninjured. I knew I had done well with my time because my running buddy Joe had kept me updated that I was WAY ahead of my former personal best of 2:53 but I didn't know how far and at that moment I didn't care - my goal was just to finish uninjured.
Soon I headed off to change in the changing tents (THAT was an interesting experience LOL) and after I was finished my official time came through...2:33! I had PR'ed by some 18 minutes!!! Of course I immediately posted it on Facebook LOL! Next up...party time! Unfortunately I couldn't get there as quickly as I wanted to because there was a HUGE block through Future World as the people who were finished were trying to cross through the people still finishing the race. Come on RunDisney! There MUST be a way you can fix this? Have the course go around World Showcase and only use one side of Future World? Turn off the fountain and let the finishers walk up and over it? LOL. I just wanted to get across because with all that standing my legs were cramping bad!
FINALLY I made my way over to Rose and Crown where I found my team, who had seen my Facebook post so there were lots of hugs and celebrating. The only down part of the night was my friend Joe didn't make it to the after party as he was feeling crappy after the race.
Even though this was Food and Wine festival, we didn't partake in a lot of the booths and we were pretty tired (we even skipped our 2 AM plank in Mexico) but had a great time hanging out in front of Rose and Crown. We DID close out the night at 3:45 AM dancing with some cast members though. Something I'll never forget!
While each race weekend is special in its own special way I think that night Wine and Dine definitely became my favorite. Great weather, great race (3 parks!), great bling, great friends, and the best after party with great food! Let's do it again!