We’ve been writing about our runDisney race weekend for days are but we’ve finally arrived at the HALF recap! If you’re looking for recaps of the kids races, the expo, or our pre-race shenanigans… well, you’re not in the right place. But if you want to hear how we fared during the actual race – this is the spot!
Vic and Brooke stuck together throughout the race, starting in corral C while Mer and Cam experienced the race alone. But not really alone! And for that reason, we’ve decided to go Chick Chat style with this post.
Vic and Brooke (corral C): We piled into corral C with friends Traci, Ray and Aaron. None of our happy crew planned to sprint 13.1, especially since our last few Disney runs were incredibly hot and humid.
So we stuck together as the fireworks sparked over the start line and sent us on our way. We quickly lost Ray and Traci as they zoomed ahead. Brooke and I ran side by side as we logged the miles – two happy Mouseketeers in matching costumes.
We giggled and chatted about recent life events as we ran. We waved to the fastest runners leaving Animal Kingdom just past the 5-mile mark as we headed toward our first theme park of the night.
The front gates were open and a huge, stunning Christmas tree welcomed us inside. We headed into the park and wound through the pathways of the park.
I spotted a restroom near Expedition Everest, and shouted to B that I’d catch up, then peeled off to use the facilities. A short time – and a short sprint – later I caught Brooke and Aaron at the tail end of the park. Success!
We waved to Cam as she passed us on the other side of Osceola Parkway. The final corral of runners was followed by an Army of street cleaners that tidied up after the crowd of 14,000. We paused around mile 7 so Brooke could use the facilities as well. Then again, we were on our way.
We settled into our happy pace, and headed into Hollywood Studios . We laughed about our amazing surroundings , we disco-danced our way through the backlot tunnel and we sashayed our way down the Streets of America, completely decked out in its “spectacle of lights.”
We cheered as we passed into double digits.
“Let’s pick up that pace!” Brooke cheered. Oh, and we did. Our last two miles were by far our fastest. We sped up and passed runners left and right. We cheered for them, we cheered for each other and cheered for that finish line as we crossed second apart.
For me, the run was incredible. It was a celebratory race, six days after I ran NYC Marathon. (I still can’t believe I successfully ran a full and a half one week apart!) The run capped off a successful fall training season and two huge PR races. It reminded me why I love to run, and why I’m so blessed to have such incredible friends and support from so many across the miles.
Mer (corral G): Cam, Heather and I said adios to Vic, Brooke and Traci as they headed to the A-F entrance. We found the second corral entrance and said our goodbyes and good luck. As we peeled off into our own corrals, I ate a PocketFuel and realized just how alone running alone can feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I run alone. Often, even! But this was the first time I was surrounded by a slew of runners and didn’t know a soul. The feeling quickly passed as I fell into the zone that I usually find prior to running a race. When I signed up for this race in March, I had visions of a PR dancing in my head. However, with my quad injury in September/October and my heel pain that manifested during the week, I just wanted to finish and to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
I made the decision not to have my phone out, not to take pictures and just to move forward.
There was a moment of silence for the veterans, as it was Veteran’s Day weekend, and then corral A was off. The new corral system (more corrals and a shorter wait time between each) seemed to work really well and we moved forward quickly. Mickey and Minnie were around to send off the first few corrals before they skedaddled, which struck me as odd. I mean, maybe they wanted to get to Epcot before the hoards?
Soon we were off! I really liked the course, visiting Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot was awesome and very different from the Princess half course. While running toward Animal Kingdom, we were able to see the leaders of the race on the other side of the road, approaching the 10k mark. That’s always inspiring!
Running through Animal Kingdom was great, despite with the animal aroma that hit as soon as we entered the park! From what I understand it was warmer than some people had expected but I was comfortable from start to finish, relishing the cool breezes that kicked up occasionally.
There were portions of the course that I wasn’t feeling AT ALL. The road toward Hollywood Studios was slanted pretty severely and didn’t feel great on the hips. I tried to even out my gait as much as I could and be light on my heel since that was the one that was coming down harder during that stretch.
I’ll be honest, I was surprised that there wasn’t more entertainment on this course. I understand that it’s late so the marching bands and cheer squads might not be able to make it but I expected more, especially on the access roads.
Hollywood Studios was a welcoming sight and we spent a good amount of time running through that park, miles 9 – 11, which was amazing. The Osborne Lights in Hollywood Studios was so incredible that I had to break out the phone and video a couple of seconds! Apparently Brooke and Vic had the same idea – it’s just THAT cool.
Heading out of Hollywood Studios to Epcot, there was an announcement warning that the course narrows. And boy, did it ever! It was pretty crazy over there and I was grateful when we finally reached the boardwalk portion for two reasons: more room and there were some spectators out, cheering on the runners! On an otherwise quiet course, it was really nice to have that support and it continued into Epcot.
My heel was not happy but the rest of me was as I rounded the final corner and saw the laser lights they had set up just before the finish line. I could hear the announcer and I flung my hands up in the air (and yes, I waved them around like I just didn’t care) because I had finished. I didn’t set any course records, didn’t PR, but I felt amazing! Beyond infinity!
As I collected my half medal and then my Coast-to-Coast I got hugs from both volunteers and thanked them profusely. I was the happiest I’d ever been at the finish of a half marathon and felt really good about what I’d accomplished.
Cam (corral L):
Yep, the very last corral. Somehow when I had registered, I neglected to put in a projected finish time. So I was stuck in the very last corral. We were slated to run at 10:40 p.m., which seemed like hours away. But after the first fireworks sounded, the line seemed to move quick. Before I knew it, I was weaving through the traffic. I must commend runDisney for their awesome use of fireworks. All corrals received an explosive send off!
If you read my previous post, How Not to Train for a Half-Marathon, then you already know I was ill prepared for this race. Meri turned me on to the run 3, walk 1, and I figured that, along with walking through water stations, would get me through the 13.1 relatively unscathed. I didn’t have a timepiece, so I counted my steps instead. I’d count to 60 three times, then walk for 60 steps. This provided a welcome distraction and for the first 6 miles, I felt fabulous, especially after seeing two of my fellow Mouseketeers on the other side of the Parkway. I also felt envious as they were coming up on the half-way mark!
Running through the Animal Kingdom was great relief. It seemed to be cooler in the park and I relished in the breeze. I’m from Southern California so the heat didn’t effect me as much as the humidity. Despite it being well into the night, I was immediately drenched in sweat. I was sweating from my arm pores…my arms! As I said goodbye to the Tree of Life and headed back along the Parkway, my enthusiasm started to diminish. So far I was keeping my 13 minute mile pace and I was trying to stay with a couple who were also run/walking the race. The gentleman had a super loud watch that beeped at the intervals and that was enough to motivate me to keep pace with them.
It was around this time that I puked. I had fueled pretty well, I thought. I had pasta for lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner, and I snacked on some Honey Stinger chews during the first half of the race. I started feeling crampy so I grabbed some Powerade at the next hydration station. I’d been drinking only water until this point and changing things up seemed like a good idea at the time. Not so much. I would realize in the next few days that I actually had a stomach flu. But at this point I thought I could possibly remedy the turmoil going on in my stomach.
It was all downhill from there. And I mean that in the worst way possible. Shortly after entering Hollywood Studios, I started to have a lot of pain in my left Achilles tendon. Combined with the constant cramping in my stomach, I was pretty wiped out. My walking time started to get longer, and I stopped counting. I was in survival mode at this point. I was feeling pretty shitty about my pace and it wasn’t until I saw the fantastic Osbourne Christmas lights that I decided to call it. No, I didn’t quit the race. I just quit worrying about the time and I started admiring the sights.
Running along the lake, I could see what I believe to be a giant golf ball in the distance. I wasn’t exactly sure where the finish was but as spectators began to line up along the course, I knew I was getting close. I could hardly run at this point, so I walked a little then ran a little and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I’d never been so relieved to see the finish. I slowly walked back to meet the other girls, my two medals clinking around my neck. I was exhausted and my digestive system was wrecked. And I had no intention on wining or dining.
But I finished. I don’t know how I got there, but I did! Sure, it took me 3 and a half hours, but, hey, finishing is always my PR.
Once Vic and I crossed the finished line, we were ready to change and meet up with some of our pals who had already made it into the After Party.
We found Traci, grabbed our complimentary drinks (beer for them and the cutest little plastic wine goblet for me), and headed towards the park entrance.
Once inside, we had to navigate through crowds of spectators and racers to get to the World Showcase. Once there, we headed straight for Canada to meet Ray and eat some of their amazing cheese soup- I look forward to it every year.
There weren’t many lines at this point, just a lot of dancing, chanting, happy Disney employees. As one would expect from Disney, they do a lot to make these events magical for everyone. From congratulating you on your race, to staging a dance party in front of their food kiosk, the park workers ensure that the post-race party is a time for celebration.
After a visit to the craft beer tent (Abita Purple Haze for me), it was time to meet Meri. We hugged, chatted about our race experiences and I ogled her collection of medals. Then we checked instagram, natch, to catch up with our other friends. We immediately knew we had to find Lisa to congratulate her on her PR.
We found Vic, Ray and Traci in Germany, and hoped we could grab a pretzel, but the lines had grown and it was time to meet Cam. Mer and I circled the Showcase (Bonjour France! Next time, keep the creperie open, s’il vous plait) and headed back to the entrance. We congratulated Cam and then trekked to the bus to head back to my hotel. At 2am, all walks seem to last forever. We came, we ran, we medaled. It was time to go the eff to sleep.
What a difference a few years makes. I ran my first Wine and Dine in 2011 by myself, and celebrated with my husband at the after party. And by “celebrated,” I mean I was too sore to enjoy anything. This time, I got to hang out with so many friends, meet new people and run with a pal. I love being a part of this community.
As for my own race performance, I had hoped to run 10 minute miles and that’s exactly what I did. Thanks to Vic for keeping me entertained! Next up for me is a return to Disney for the Glass Slipper Challenge, but in the meantime, don’t expect me to sit and rest. I have plans…
Have you ran a night race before? Were you at this year’s Wine and Dine or have to participated in past years? Tell us about it in the comments!