Dear friends… I am now the proud owner of three shiny RunDisney medals. I may not have been the fastest in the field, nor woke up the next morning without some crazy soreness throughout my body after each race, but somehow I got my feet past the finish line in two half marathons, a feat that no one really thought was plausible (myself included) just one & 1/2 year ago.
When I signed up for the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I was a little apprehensive. I knew a night race would be interesting, but I figured that the thrill of running through 3 parks would be exhilarating enough to overcome the crazy downsides. On sage advice from super-runner bff Auds, we scheduled our weeklong WDW vacation to start with the race, and then enjoy the following days for the trip, rather than having the race be at the final end. I’m really glad we did it that way – because I only ended up missing out on a few hours of park time on Saturday and that was it!
I can say that I was completely underprepared for the costume element of a Disney race in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, so I made up for it during this race.
This would be the “Cheshire Cat” outfit of my choosing. I was proud that Miss L knew who I was when I asked her… which means she’s catching on to her mom & dad’s sly way of dressing up.
For this race, the start line was at the Wide World of Sports, but the course would through the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and the finish line was at EPCOT. Since we stayed off-site (but practically on-property), I had to drive our rental car to EPCOT and park, and then take a shuttle bus over to the starting corrals. You had to be parked & on a bus before 8pm, but the race didn’t start until 10pm, so there was a lot of just sitting and waiting around. I was all by myself, so I pretty much found a place to sit and drink lots of water and nosh on my final protein bar snack before the eventual porta-potty stop and push into the starting areas at 9:30pm.
In the last piece of advice from my coach Auds, she had said “enjoy the race!” and as I got into the corral I put it to my mind that I would do exactly that. I’d take photos and enjoy the scenery and really take advantage of the fact that I was doing something unique. So that’s exactly what I did!
And you know what’s great about the Wine & Dine event? Lots of photo ops and no lines!!! At Tink, there were 30+ people in lines for some of the characters. I waited for 10-15 for a few photos, but the only bad line of the night was Darth Vader (who I didn’t stop for).
I was doing really well with my personal pace as well, staying at my previous race time but with stops for photo-ops! And I was feeling really good running in the “heat” of the Florida night!
However, you might be able to see a slight difference in my smile/demeanor from this photo to the next two… let’s just blame it on the ClifBar ShotGel. I usually eat Clif Shot Bloks, but mine had wiggled their way out of my waistband somewhere after Mile 2. So, I started getting really really hungry around mile 7 and decided that it’d be smart of me to eat some of the free ShotGel the provide at mile 8.5 for the final miles.
Yeah, it wasn’t.
Somewhere in the middle of Hollywood Studios around mile 10 my stomach started to tie itself in knots… the ones that just don’t let up. It wasn’t a side cramp… it was a serious case of, “omg! what did you just eat?!!?”
But I kept going. Walking most of the final 2.5 miles with some short bursts of running to pass by people. I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t make it… so I pulled the old “mind over matter” trick out of my bag and just kept going. I kept my race pace timer on… running when I could. Kept listening to my music and pushing through. This is where Disney races really pull out the stops. People cheering you on every step of the way. Scenic elements in those final miles to push you through.
I stopped for this photo in EPCOT because… why not? I’m sure I had the look of death on me too… but the flash wiped it away.
After running through EPCOT the best I could (couldn’t let all those people see me walking, right?), I saw this laser light show and knew the finish line was ahead. And I stopped for one last moment to enjoy the awesome course and all the work they put in to make it more than just a 13.1 mile road without cars on it.
After I got both of my medals (I got an extra Coast-to-Coast medal for my D-Land/WDW trips!) and my snack box, I tried to keep things down and just settle my body from the hideous gel. It didn’t work. Let’s just say that I eventually made it back to the parking lot, to the rental car and into my bed for a five hour nap before waking up for a fun-filled day at EPCOT with the family.
It wasn’t pretty at the end, but it was done.
And next year… there won’t be any half marathons. I’ve decided that I’d like to quicker my pace in the shorter distances and stay away from the endurance right now. It’ll be easier on my knee and also on my weekend schedule… and a new goal to develop throughout the year.
Thank you to all of the friends and support that you’ve shared with me here and through social media… it really meant the world to me to have such a wonderful cheering squad on my side!