Disclaimer: I’m a slacker and should have posted this a heck of a long time before now. I started it, oh, probably at least 10 days ago.
Well…after too many weeks of training, my first half marathon has come and gone! Disney’s inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon was a lot of fun and I even surprised myself with how well I did. Being that the race wasn’t until Saturday night, we really made a weekend out of it. Josh, Kami, Chad and Liz came up from West Palm on Friday and we stretched the fun out until Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday morning (October 2), we went to get our race packets and check out the Expo. Disney really is so organized and that made things move pretty quickly. We got our packets, submitted our 10K race times and browsed through the vendors. I even made a couple of purchases…more on that later. 🙂
Once we were finished at the Expo we headed back to the house for a big Pioneer Woman Chicken Parm lunch. If you haven’t had it, do yourself a favor and make it. You’ll thank me later. We obviously had several hours to kill between lunch and the race, so we all kind of went our separate ways for a little bit. Josh & gang went back to where they were staying for naps. Matt went to a movie with Kasey & Chad. And, I ran an errand for TFG and then worked on Cadence’s birthday cake. I think it was good that we had things going on during the day. Otherwise we would have been sitting around waiting for race time.
Around 7pm, we (Matt, Josh and I) headed over to Epcot. Although the race started at Wide World of Sports, all runners had to park at EPCOT and take a bus to the start of the race. Traffic was crazy and it was beginning to seem like a logistical nightmare, but in true Disney fashion, once we figured out the plan things seemed to flow right along. We hung out in a big field at Wide World of Sports for about an hour along with 9,000 of our closest running friends. About 9:15pm, they started getting everyone over to the corrals. We hung out in the field as long as we could. At one point, I turned around and noticed that the field was mostly empty. I then noticed a volunteer walking around picking up trash. I looked around and realized there was not any sign that 9,000 had just been sitting in this large grassy spot. It was incredible. Leave it to Disney to have things all cleaned up before the race even started. Impressive!
I hung out in Corral A with Matt and Josh, even though I was supposed to be in B. I had no intention of keeping up with them for the run, but I was getting a little anxious to be waiting in a corral by myself. The race started at 10pm with all kinds of fireworks. Matt took off right away, but I was able to keep up with Josh for a little bit. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the entire race, so I had originally planned to alternate running 3 miles and then walking 0.5 miles. Right before the race started, I made a game time decision to just run until I felt I needed a break. When I hit the 3-mile marker, I was feeling great and we hadn’t even entered the first park yet. The first park we ran through was Animal Kingdom. Ironically, while AK is not my favorite park to visit, it was my favorite part of this race. The path was a little crowded because it was so narrow, but the atmosphere was so cool. Right before we exited Animal Kingdom (around 5 miles), I grabbed some water and walked long enough to drink it. Then, I kept right on going. After we left Animal Kingdom, we had a few miles outside of the parks again. At 7 miles, I decided I was ready for a break. So, I walked for half a mile, caught up on my encouraging texts from Rachel Kuhl and gave a quick update on my progess. The 9-mile marker came shortly before we entered Hollywood Studios. They had some gummy gel snacks there and since I was so hungry, I grabbed one. I walked for another half mile at that point, so that I could rest and eat my snack. The run through Hollywood Studios was pretty good. Even some of the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights were lit up!
I think it was around 10-11 miles when everything just started hurting. My lower back was killing me. My ankles hurt. I was tired. But I knew I was so close, so that kept me going. I took one last break around 11.75 miles and walked for a quarter of a mile. Although I was tired, when I saw the 12-mile marker, I knew I was almost there. Several times in that last leg of the race, I had to keep myself from crying. I was so overwhelmed that I was actually going to finish…and finish strong. I couldn’t believe it! The last part of the race went from Hollywood Studios through the Boardwalk Hotel, around to Epcot. There were so many people along the course cheering on the runners. It was so encouraging and I was so overwhelmed. When I saw the finish line, I took off! I couldn’t believe it! I heard Kami, Kasey, Chad and Liz screaming from the stands and I was SO happy. I finished in 2:23:31. While I didn’t have a time goal for myself, I was very pleased with that for my first half marathon. I think I would have been happy with anything under 2.5 hours.
After I finished, I got some snacks, water and my medal! Then, I set out to find everybody else. We met up and wandered around Epcot for the after party. Being that it was the kick off weekend for the Food & Wine Festival, the World Showcase stayed open until 3am. As part of our race ticket, we were given one free drink and one free food selection. Unfortunately, I never used mine because all of the lines were too long. Imagine 9,000 runners plus all their friends/family with nothing to do but eat/drink in the World Showcase. No rides were open and you couldn’t go into Future World unless you were leaving. It was pretty packed. After about an hour of roaming, we decided it was time to just head home.
Overall, it was a very fun race. I think I’d definitely do it again. I am so proud of myself for finishing and I am thinking about doing another half. In the meantime, I’m putting together a relay team for the Palm Beach Marathon in December. That should be fun!