2015 Walt Disney World half marathon recap

Fun fact: I’ve never run a Disney race twice.


I kicked it off in 2012, tackling Princess as my first half marathon and doing the 5k for funsies the day prior (and friends thought I was nuts). From there it’s been a whirlwind of the Castaway 5k, Tink, Wine and Dine, Disneyland 10k and half (again, with the nuts comments – they obviously don’t know many who have done Goofy/Dopey), and most recently the Walt Disney World half this past weekend.

Anyone who has run a Florida runDisney race knows about the dreaded early wake up time.

Anyone who has not run a Florida runDisney race but wants to… you may want to set your alarms now for 2:45am and practice that along with training. Because yes, that’s what time you get up for these races.

The struggle is real.

Extra, extra, read all about it. It's COLD outside.

Extra, extra, read all about it. It’s COLD outside.

Brooke and I decided that we would be Newsies. We also decided that we would wear cute little tanks and running skirts. And then Mother Nature decided that she was going to throw a curveball at all of northern Florida and make it fairly chilly. Warmth took precedence over cuteness.

Sleep nearly took precedence over the race, if I’m being quite honest. Have I mentioned how early it was?

We stayed at the All Star Movie Resort, which made our travel to the start very simple; buses are scheduled non-stop starting at 3am. We didn’t check bags so we gathered our SPIbelts, food (wheat flats, almond butter, and bananas), and braced ourselves for the cold weather.


Donning our pajama pants and Brooke’s husband’s sweatshirts we found ourselves at the start village. Our dear friend, Ashley, was doing her first half marathon and our plan was to find her before the race. Attempts to track down Kristen and Suzanne were made, as I knew they were starting in our corral but to no avail.

The walk from the start village to the corrals is about a mile or so and while I found it daunting during the Princess half (remember, that was my first half ever), this wasn’t bad at all. The flow of traffic was smooth and we were able to get to the corrals with no issues. Our walk consisted of us geeking out over Universal’s Harry Potter world and books in general.

These are my people!


Ash, Brooke, and me

Soon we had to split off and go to our separate corrals, so we gave hugs and high fives to Ash and her friends before heading to corral J.

Thanks to social media, Brooke and I knew which skirts Kristen and Suzanne were wearing so we spent a good long while walking around the corral, peering at people’s legs. Yes, indeed. Sadly, we didn’t find them (but hey, it was a way to pass the time).

The earlier corrals began to cross the start line and we both shimmied out of our pajama pants, tossing them into the collection boxes. We listened to the announcers banter and watched the fireworks at the start of each corral.

Before long, it was our turn!


Our plan for this race was to HAVE FUN and I would say we succeeded! We thanked volunteers left and right. We ran when we felt like it. We walked when we felt like it (or when the course narrowed and there wasn’t much of an option). We cheered for other runners.


We pulled to the side and took selfies.


This course is the exact same as Princess so we knew what to expect. But honestly, my feelings toward this race couldn’t have been more different. My first half, it was all about getting through it. This? This was just about having fun and spending time with my friend. I didn’t hurt. I didn’t push any limits. I just had fun with Brooke.

The park is always crowded, as you can see in this video. There are people cheering and there’s not much room to navigate if you want to go faster than the people in front of you. What’s a courteous runner to do? Just roll with it. Soak it up, enjoy the moment, and smile.

It was "snowing" as we ran into the castle.

It was “snowing” as we ran into the castle.

If you’re a middle to the back of the pack runner, realize that you probably won’t get that awesome running shot of you coming out of the castle. I know for me, it was slightly disappointing when I first ran a Disney race. However, there are photographers stationed right in front of the castle if you want to stop and grab pictures with the castle in the background.

Brooke was hoping that this train would bring us to Diagon Alley. It does not. Sadly.

Brooke was hoping that this train would bring us to Diagon Alley. It does not. Sadly.

Miles 7-11 are what I like to call “the boring miles.” You exit Magic Kingdom and it’s lackluster. I feel like Disney could do something MORE in these miles to make it less tedious. I said that 2 years ago during Princess and I’m saying it again.

That’s not to say that the boring miles only pertain to runDisney, it’s really true of any half marathon. They are just sort of ho-hum, are we done yet? miles. For the record, the answer is no. You’re not even close to being done.

Which is why when you run into Kristen and Suzanne, whom you’ve been looking for the entire time, you basically lose your ever-loving mind and make loud squealing noises!

They spotted my hair and hat and we spotted their SKIRTS. How cute are they?

They spotted my hair and hat and we spotted their SKIRTS. How cute are they?

We hung out with them for about a half mile (I’m guessing – my watch was set on kilometers so I wasn’t exactly knowledgeable of anything in the distance department) before I pulled to the side because I had something in my shoe. It was so wonderful to see them and it definitely made those “boring miles” way more exciting!

Since the race is mostly on access roads, it’s hard for spectators to get out to the more remote areas. That’s why I totally have to give kudos to this guy! This was mile 10, just before going up the access ramp.


Brooke and I kept chugging along although we were straight up speed walking at this point with the hopes of finishing up faster. Right outside of Epcot there were people cheering and it was wonderful to hear my name being called. Only LATER did I realize it was Bonnie! OH MY GOODNESS, I love that girl!


When you hit Epcot, you hear the same thing over and over. “The finish is just around the corner.” But we knew the course and we knew that it was NOT. You have to wind your way through Epcot a little before that corner finally comes. However, this is how you know the corner is really the actual corner and not a fictional one.

That’s right! There’s a gospel choir! You can hear Brooke WOOing them, like a good Woo Girl should.

Then, and only then, can you expect to see the finish line around the corner.


This is the moment that you’ve been waiting for for 13.1 miles. You take it in. The crowds cheering. The people in front of you holding hands. The far off sound of medals clanking.

The sound of Brooke as she exclaims, “WAIT! Is that Minnie Mouse?”

Well worth it!

Why, yes. Yes, it is.

The finish was wonderful. Filled with great medals and snacks because runger is a real thing. Oh, and banana phones.


W stayed at the finish area, snacking and stretching, so we could meet up with Ashley after she finished her very first half marathon. Mark my words, next time we are running TOGETHER.

Different races have meant different things in my life. Some are for PRs, others are for fun with friends. This one, and this weekend in general, was therapeutic. It was good for the soul and exactly what I needed.


Do different races hold different meanings in your life? When is your next race? Anyone entering the Broad Street 10 Miler Lottery? The next 5k I’m registered for is the Adrenaline Run 5k. After that it’s the Atlantic City April Fools Half. Will I see you at either of those?

Shake out the Sugar

When I was in college, a friend of mine had a post-it note on her campus card. It said one word: NO.

I remember asking her about it; she explained it was her way of reminding herself not to use her card to buy cookies. And it worked because that girl did NOT buy cookies.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the word NO. It feels restrictive to me. Don’t tell me what I can’t do, tell me what I CAN do.

However… maybe a little restrictiveness could go the distance? Especially when it comes to food. Because I’ve gotta tell you, my pants are feeling a bit tighter than usual.

Self-control apparently went the way of the dodo during the month of December. And maybe a little bit of November too.

Okay, a lot of November.

I can’t even call them “holiday pounds” because these 8 pounds have been creeping on slowly over the fall/winter. I’m fully cognizant that when you don’t work out as much and “treat yo self” with goodies, your body says “Oh hey, I guess we need a little extra padding for the winter.”

We do not, body.

Kyle has had great success with the Whole 30 and it’s something I might consider in the future. For now, I’ve decided to try something a bit less restrictive than the Whole 30, yet still restrictive. Because apparently, I need some rules.


I created the graphic, not the challenge. However, if you DO know who created the challenge, give me a shout!

This is happening. Not today though. Because tomorrow I head to Florida for a few days of quality time with BROOKE, and for the Disney World half marathon. Starting today would just be cruel and unusual punishment for everyone involved.

Therefore, I’ll be starting the No Junk Food Challenge on Monday, January 12th. And when I say challenge, it’s definitely going to be because we have things like this in the house…


We “won” this movie basket. Oy!

The candy won’t be my biggest issue though. Oh, no no. My biggest vice is/has/and always will be ice cream. That will be the main challenge of the challenge. Also, not listed but something I’ve added in is alcohol. And that, will be a challenge because I like to enjoy wine with my dinner.

Apparently, I’m a creature of habit because I posted this exactly a year ago.

Meridith of a year ago knew what she was talking about and Meridith of today will be following the same mindset!

  • More water, less bazillion calorie drinks.
  • More homecooked, less takeout. More veggies, less cookies. Smaller meals throughout the day and smarter choices.
  • More movement, less non-movement.

When I put my mind to something and give myself parameters, I can and I will thrive! And so, it’s with that knowledge and a bit of restrictiveness that I move forward for the next month. Let’s see where I land! I’ll be checking in (accountability is a beautiful thing).

Bec and Brooke are joining me for this challenge. The more the merrier so if you’d like a couple of accountability partners, give a shout in the comments!

If you see me in Florida this weekend, and I happen to be eating ice cream, drinking wine, and trying a cronut for the first time (that’s not technically a donut – see totally starting early!), please try not to judge me too harshly. Also, come say hello and we can share!

What’s your game plan for the next 21 days? Have you ever tried a cronut? (I’m slightly intrigued by this phenomena but not really a donut person so I’m not sure I’ll like it.) Who should I look for at the Walt Disney World marathon weekend?

Guest Post: WDW Half Marathon

I signed up for the WDW Half Marathon very last minute (early December through a travel agent), and was not very prepared for it training wise after being sick for the majority of December.  With the 10K the day before, I knew that the half was going to be tough and long no matter what I did, and I was right!

If you read my blog about the 10K, you know that I had to wait 40 minutes to start for the 10K, and I was in corral E. After that, I had no idea how long I’d have to wait to start the half when I was in corral I. The half start was structured a lot more like Wine & Dine with only 2-5 minutes between each corral, which was good since there were 16 corrals! I actually only waited about 30 minutes for the half to start which I was happy with.

Starting out I was already sore and needing to take walk breaks by mile 1. From there I went into the race with the mindset, as long as people keep passing me I’ll be ok! It’s when they stop passing you that you know you’re in trouble.


With the new mindset I had a lot more fun! I focused on getting to the Magic Kingdom and to the characters I wanted to take pictures with. The half has A LOT of spectators throughout the course, which is great encouragement! Not only are they cheering you on, but it’s always fun to see the creative signs they make. With the help of the crowds and knowing the feeling of running down Main Street, I made it to the Magic Kingdom! This is about 4.5/5 miles into the race.


I love Disney races because of all of the pictures I take with the characters on the course. I always buy the photo package, so I purposely stop for as many as I can, and make Shutterfly books for each race weekend.  While I have a lot of character pictures, Disney continues to surprise me and adds characters I haven’t seen or stopped for before on course! It literally took me an hour to get through Magic Kingdom because of all of the character lines I waited in! But I did get so many great pictures throughout the day.


Back on the course, I was struggling! My legs hurt and I was having a hard time sticking to longer running intervals.  A good thing to know too about this race is the course is VERY narrow. Most of the roads are only one lane. This means if you wait an hour on character lines, you’ll be towards the back of the pack with all of the walkers.  This isn’t a bad thing, I was walking a lot too, but know that if you do plan on trying to run, it’s a lot of weaving in and out of people or running on the grass around everyone.


I was really impressed with all of the character stops they added throughout the non-park portion of the course.  Again there were characters/costumes I had never seen before, i.e. golfer Mickey! Last year, this was my first race ever; I didn’t stop for any character pictures and don’t remember how many there were to compare to this year, so I was pleasantly surprised this year.

There is nothing like seeing that 13 mile marker and knowing you’re almost there!  Disney is extra special for me because you have some of the fab five waiting for you and cheering you on at the finish. I might have even stopped a few feet before the finish line to take a picture with Goofy!

Crossing that finish line is a feeling that never gets old. Whether it’s a 5K or a Marathon, you accomplished a huge feat! You overcame obstacles however big or small, and no one can ever take that away from you. This was my 4th half, and race anniversary, and an overall great experience!



  • Running through Magic Kingdom and Epcot
  • Running through the Castle!
  • Lots of character stops
  • Lots of spectators and motivators along the way


  • Tight course
  • Lots of participants!
  • Super early morning start (3:15 wake up call)
  • Running on exit ramps (aka hills of death!)

Meredith is a 29 year old living in South Florida. She started her running journey with the 2013 WDW half marathon and has been hooked on RunDisney ever since! You can find her on Twitter @MSchechter1218 and over at her blog, justanordinarygirlinfl.

Have you ever ran back to back races? Do you take it easy the first day so you can push the second? Or vice versa?