Disney Wine & Dine 2012 Half-Marathon Race Recap

At long last, my race cap for the 13.1 miles I ran through Disney World…at night!

Let’s rewind allllll the way back to November 9th. Dustin and I packed our bags and left freezing New York City (it was in the 40’s, so it wasn’t really freezing, but I had my winter coat on) and flew down to Orlando, getting in around noon so we had plenty of time to relax and hit up the expo. For a girl who isn’t a big fan of winter, the jump in temp was exactly what I needed!

We checked out the entire expo and while they had some great vendors there, there wasn’t much that sparked my personal interest. I was on the hunt for a pair of running sunglasses though, and managed to nab a pair for $30 – not bad! At least I’ll stop squinting when the sun decides to show itself for normal amounts of time again.

I also picked up an official race wine glass. I was a little disappointed that the glass wasn’t included in the goodie bag – I’ve done my research on wine-themed races and nearly every one gives you a glass and a bottle of wine, so I was let down. But it was only $10, so I happily handed over some cash to commemorate my fifth half-marathon.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and eventually met up with my friend Lauren and her sister Kristen for dinner. Fun fact: Lauren and I met on my press trip for work (when I learned how to surf!) and became fast friends. After a lot of chatting, we found out we were both racing the Disney half (this was her first 13.1), so we knew we had to meet up! Since she’s from Tallahassee, FL and ventures around Orlando way more often than I do (read: I hadn’t been to Disney since I was 10), I let her take the reigns for dinner and dessert locales.

We ended up at Giordano’s, a great place known for its deep dish pizza. Um, holy yum. I had chicken parm and it was delicious. And just look at this pizza that Lauren and Kristen shared:

Yeah. That happened.

Oh, and we had frozen yogurt for dessert. Clearly. We popped by this place called Menchies – I must admit, its wide array of toppings and “swirl” option make it a serious contender against 16 Handles for top fro-yo spot in my heart. If only it were in NYC…

Dustin and I explored Downtown Disney on Saturday and hit up a movie in the afternoon so I could rest my legs. Since it was a night race, I didn’t want to do too much walking during the day. We decided not to spend the $90+ on theme park tickets because of this and just enjoyed the free marketplace. It was fun checking out all of the shops and I most definitely stopped by Ghirardelli for my free chocolate sample!

We said hi to Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, too. I mean, how could you not? Classics.

Then it was time to get ready! And by get ready, I mean have a pre-race dance party in my hotel room. By myself, since Dustin won’t dance. Lame.

And then we met up with Lauren and Kristen and meandered over to the race start. We had to get to the pre-race area three hours early if we wanted to catch the shuttle bus over, which was a little ridiculous if you ask me. But Disney did a great job of keeping everything organized and everyone entertained. Lots of music, dancing and people in costume. And tons of porta potties for people to use. The lines still ended up being really long, but that’s to be expected with such a huge race. At least the runners were courteous and moved in and out quickly!

Fortunately, we were in the first corral so we didn’t have to wait a long time once everyone was ready to begin. But about a half-hour before the race began, Dustin shot me a text message with seriously disappointing news:

Race directors won’t let me on the course. No spectators allowed, except for at start and finish. If I try to sneak on, I won’t be able to get back to the finish.

Um, what?!

In case you missed it, I didn’t really train all that well for this race. My longest run prior to race day was 7 miles and I was mentally relying on seeing Dustin at key points in the race to keep my head in the game. I didn’t remember this little tid bit of information being advertised anywhere, so when we got the news, I was a little more than upset. I mean, crowd support is a key component to a race!

After a few minutes of pouting, I sucked it up and decided I would just keep running as much as I could and be OK with whatever happened. If I had to walk then I would walk, but no bitching out. Run as much as you can.

Needless to say, I felt awesome throughout the race and my splits have never been so on point. After the first 5K, I made it a goal to stay around a 9:20-9:30 pace for the entire race, which is where I felt uncomfortably comfortable. If I felt really good, I would ramp up the speed at the end, but no pressure. I was not aiming for a PR.

The minimal crowd support was extremely discouraging, in my opinion, and I really had to rely on myself and focus to keep up my pace. My legs felt great, which helped a ton, but there was barely anyone on the course. A few spectators were out (I believe they were volunteers), but most were silently holding signs and not cheering (I must say though, that the Lululemon cheer squad was great and they got a huge smile out of me with their sign that read, “Is that a Gu in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” BEST SIGN EVER). There were Disney characters around every mile, but it just wasn’t enough to get me psyched about being in Disney. It was cool to run through portions of the park after hours, especially through the Festival of Lights, but most of the race was on back roads and highways, making it no different than a typical long run – except that I knew I would get a shiny medal at the end.

Around mile 8, my legs really started to feel it. But when I looked down at my watch and saw my splits were still consistent, my mind was blown. I realized if I kept pushing it, I could PR. I was starting to slow down, so I pulled out a shot blok and my phone – where I saw a bunch of encouraging text messages from my mom, aunt and Dustin. He was keeping tabs on me with runner tracking and calculating my finish time, so with  his encouragement, I decided then that I was going for the PR.

Nailed it! My legs were screaming by the end, and I had to convince myself not to slow down or walk when it wasn’t necessary, but I powered through and PR’d by about 30 seconds, finishing in 2:06.41. Success!

I’ve never been more proud of the consistency in my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:26

Mile 2 – 9:29

Mile 3 – 9:27

Mile 4 – 9:24

Mile 5 – 9:34

Mile 6 – 9:20

Mile 7 – 9:29

Mile 8 – 10:07 (Walked to take in Gu and fumbled with my phone. Eep)

Mile 9 – 10:02

Mile 10 – 9:36

Mile 11 – 10:11 (Now my legs can tell I didn’t run more than 7 miles before this)

Mile 12 – 10:06

Mile 13: 9:40

Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:36

Lauren and Kristen both KILLED it and finished under two hours! I have some speedy friends and hope to join the sub-2 world soon.

We met up with Dustin, changed and headed over to the Food & Wine Festival over at Epcot. We grabbed some food at Greece, explored the whole festival and closed down the place at 4am. I continued to get 45 minutes of sleep (yes, you read that right) before Dustin and I checked out of our hotel and drove to the airport to catch our flight back home. It’s safe to say I passed out as soon as I was in my seat.

My final thoughts on the race? I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I grabbed one, so I really am impressed and content with my results. I went in with no expectations, which seems to be when I have my best races. I like night races. I walked a little, but I’m fine with it. If I actually trained for this, I think I could’ve gone sub-2. Oh well. Fingers crossed for the next one.

And my thoughts on this race in general: If you’re a big runner and a fan of Disney, I definitely think you should do one of their races. But I don’t understand all of the hype, nor do I get why people spend a ton of money to run in each one. I’m glad I experienced a Disney race, but I won’t be signing up for another one anytime soon.

Have you run a Disney race? Do you think it’s worth the price? Am I missing something? If you ran the Wine and Dine, tell me how you did! 

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Posted on November 26, 2012, in Exercise, Goals, Racing, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I also ran this race and while I was much (and I mean much) slower than you, I really enjoyed the race. it was my second half and I am thankful that I had the experience. I’ve run some smaller, extremely unorganized races and I am really in awe of how well Disney pulls it all together. Will I do it again? Maybe not next year, but I will do a Disney race again one day. Will you?

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the experience, and congrats on finishing your second half! I think Disney does a great job organizing things, that’s for sure, but with what I paid, I don’t think it quite measures up. Disney could do more, I think – like Disney music through the parks (I was envisioning “Just can’t wait to be king” blasting through Animal Kingodm, personally) and other small things they could do to amp up their game with minimal funding required. I doubt I’ll do one again, unless I win a free entry or a friend wants me to do it with them – if that’s the case, I’d likely check out the Princess half.

  2. Disney races are amazing–and it looks like this one was too–I am so glad to have seen your race recap! I’m running the Princess Half in 2013 and I ran the Disneyland half in 2010 (which was super fun). Congrats on your PR! 🙂

  3. Wow, CONGRATS on the PR! I agree with you that I’m not a big fan of Disney races, but wondering if the food/wine festival at the end made up for it. You said you stayed a while, but how was it? Worthwhile? You know I am a huge fan of running for treats 🙂

  4. Awesome stuff, congrats on the PR!

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