I woke up from my nice nap shortly before 6pm. Buses started running at 7pm and we wanted to be as early as possible. I'd read in a recap from a previous year that they have characters in their Food and Wine attire before the race, and we wanted pictures.
I was surprisingly calm before this race. Maybe it's because it was my 3rd half marathon, maybe it was because I'd just run, and PRed, a half marathon 13 days prior, maybe it was the whirlwind weekend I'd experienced thus far. Whatever the reason, I was extremely lax pre-race. Normally I am super prepared, I have my checklist, my stuff is ready well in advance. Not that night. I felt a bit nervous trying to get everything together because I couldn't remember what all I needed and I was afraid of forgetting something vital. But I didn't forget anything and by 6:30 I was ready.
We were all ready and we headed to the front of the resort to catch the bus, and meet up with all of the other DisBroads as well as Wendy and Bonnie.
The race started in the Wide World of Sports area, and once getting off the bus, it was a rather short walk to the pre-race area, where we could find characters, what seemed like a million porta-potties, the bag check area and all of the entertainment before the race.
My first stop was the bathroom. A tidbit about night races. I have hydration for a morning race pretty much nailed down. I drink and drink and drink the 2 days before my race, then a bunch of water before bed the night before the race. So by the time the race comes around in the morning, I'm not constantly going to the bathroom and I have never had to stop during a race or long run to go to the bathroom. I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out when to stop drinking water before this race. We didn't realize with would be as warm as it was until close to the race and Disney didn't put out the typical heat warnings at the expo like they did during PHM. By the time I realized it would be warm and I'd need more water, I was only hours from the race. I didn't stop drinking water until just about 2-3 hours before the race. This would turn out to be a problem.
After the bathroom break, we decided which character we wanted to see. Lines were pretty long and we would only have time for 1 picture before some of us needed to be in another area to meet with the Pacebook Running Club for our pre-race picture. Our choices were Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale and Goofy. We chose Mickey.
|Waiting for Mickey|
After our picture, we headed over to our PbRC meetup area for a big group picture.
I had to stop at the porta-potties once again before we headed to our corral. I was hoping that would be my last trip, but it wouldn't be. We headed to our corral after that, they had just opened entry as we were finishing up. We walked up to Corral A first, while Amy was assigned to Corral A, she was gracious enough *ahem, cough* to join me in corral E. She still wanted a picture in Corral A.
Being in Corral E used to mean we'd be waiting quite a bit after 10 to start our race. During PHM, corrals were evenly spaced, with equal numbers of runners, and all let go several minutes apart. runDisney has started changing their corral structures and I have to say, I like it. The earlier corrals are smaller and they gradually get larger the father back you go. The smaller the corral the shorter the amount of time is between letting those corrals go. So if you are in an earlier corral, your corral is smaller and you are waiting 2-3 minutes for each corral in front of you to be set off instead of 5-7 minutes. At 10pm, Corral A started. They had the countdown and the fireworks, which is standard for Disney. By only 10:09, it was already Corral E's turn.
As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't nervous for this race at all. Perhaps I should have been, because not being nervous meant I thought this was an easy time. I am going to admit that I hadn't run, not even a mile, between my Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon 13 days prior and Wine and Dine. A lot of traveling, a lot of catching up on work and I just didn't have the time. This would prove to be a big part of my downfall.
We set off and started running. The hour of sitting in our corral and I had to go to the bathroom again. I was hoping I would be able to suppress it, but by the time we hit the first mile marker, it was clear I couldn't and we had to stop. Seriously y'all, I have NEVER stopped during a race before, and here I was, having to stop at mile 1. It was a nice break, as I was already feeling warm and sweating. Amy was also digging the idea of a break already as well.
We continued on after our break. My game was already thrown off. Having to stop during a race is not something I've ever done. I don't know why it got to me. I hadn't planned on a PR during this race. Not only was it warm but we wanted pictures. I wanted to finish before 1 am and that was my only goal, which gave me almost 3 hours. But I have this intense need to compete with myself and taking it easy just wasn't something I was able to do. But stopping at mile 1 got into my head. Amy had requested a 1 minute walk break after each mile marker and I was happy to oblige at that point, still struggling with my game plan and knowing I was seriously dragging Amy along with me. I didn't want to kill her.
As we approached the 5k split, before we got to Animal Kingdom, heading down Osceola Parkway, we passed runners coming up on the other side. They were the Corral A runners, the elites. They had only started 9 minutes before us, and they had already passed the 10k split. It was awe inspiring.
After the 5k split, we came up on Animal Kingdom. The entrance was all lit up for Christmas, with a large tree, and it was gorgeous.
After turning off of what seemed like the longest stretch of road, we came to a cloverleaf and surprise, surprise, another "hill", a Florida hill(an on ramp). On our way up, we hit the Army man, so stopped for a picture.
After our break, we approached Hollywood Studios as we hit mile 9. I was excited for HS, because of the Osborne lights. This is something I have always wanted to see and I was pumped to see them during this race. I needed it, because by this point, I was hurting. On top of being sweaty and salty, I was hurting pretty much from my water belt down. My hips hurt, and my feet were on fire. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so poorly, but I think it had a lot to do with all of the time I'd spent on my feet the day before and the day of the race. We ran all around Hollywood Studios, and came across Wreck It Ralph.
Coming out of the tunnel we passed through another back part of the park and past a large garbage area. The smell was offensive to say the least. Really Disney, you run us past garbage bins? It was so gross and I was glad to be out of there. Then we seemed to leave the park. What the what?? We had hit mile 10 and we were leaving the park. Where were the Osborne lights?? I started to have a mini-melt down. I was ready to throw myself on the ground in a full on adult hissy fit and so was Amy. One of the biggest draws to this race was running through and seeing the Osborne lights, especially because there are rumors that this is their last year. We approached another water station and I asked a volunteer if we were done in that park. She had no clue so we went on and I asked another volunteer, who also had no clue. We approached mile 11 and that's when I hit the wall. I didn't really hit the wall during my last half, and this time, I hit it hard. I seriously thought some of my internal organ were going to fall out and the only thing holding them in was my water belt. We had left Hollywood Studios(or so we thought), I was feeling weak, my feet hurt so badly, we hadn't seen the lights, and I literally thought of stopping. I have never thought of stopping before but I was ready to give it up then and there, and wait for the bus to pick me up and take me to the finish line.
But I didn't give up. I did a whole lot of complaining to Amy. Graphic complaining at that. Bless her heart, not only did she handle taking all of the pictures but she listened and stuck with me. I'm sure she was thinking "How did this cry baby run a 2:12 half 2 weeks ago??".
Then it happened. We came back into the park. I could see the lights around a corner. Finally!! The Osborne Lights!!
We had hit mile 11 and then some by the time we left the park and we started towards the boardwalk. The path narrowed considerably and the concrete was uneven. I nearly bit it, and tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. Luckily for me(but not so much the girl in front of me), a runner in front of me kept me from going completely face first.
At this point I just wanted the race to be over. My Garmin had us at nearly .3 miles ahead of where the mile markers said we were at, so it was a mind trip thinking I was further ahead than I was. My body ached for me to be further ahead, but I wasn't. I popped my Energy Bits for one last bit of energy to finish the race. Warning to all of you bits users out there. If you carry your bits in a tin for almost 12 miles, they shake around, a lot. This creates a lot of dust. So it's not the best idea to pop the tin back to your mouth while running, because the dark green dust will settle on your sweaty upper lip, giving you the appearance of a mustache in your race photos. Trust me.
We ran along the boardwalk before Epcot, and the pounding was even harder on my already aching feet. As we approached Epcot, Amy called out "Peggy Sue!" and then I saw her. Peggy Sue is a staple at Disney races. she comes to pretty much every race and sits at the later miles, with a sign that says "Complete Stranger, I'm proud of you too." She's a beacon of light in the pit of despair. When Amy called it out, I stopped dead in my tracks. I was brain dead at that point, it was after midnight and my mind was exhausted. I stopped right in front of another runner, causing him to nearly run into me. I felt like a dolt, but since I missed Peggy Sue at PHM, I had to get a picture then.
|Notice my Energy Bits mustache|
By this point it was time to head into Epcot. Normally I would welcome another park, but Epcot has become a bit of an enemy of mine during races. During PHM, it seemed like that last mile in Epcot lasted forever and I abhorred the giant ball that taunted me. As soon as I saw it upon entering Epcot, it taunted me once more. "Hey there April. I was once an icon to you, standing proud as the symbol of Epcot. But now I will mock you. Are you there yet?" Shut up Spaceship Earth!! By this point, with Amy still with me, I refused to stop anymore. I wanted to be done. No more walking, no more breaks or pictures, just finish.
We came out of Epcot into the parking lot, where a very cool light show shone overhead in fog they had created. There was one more corner to turn to the finish line. I head Amy's name called out by the announcer and then mine. Done. Finished. Crossed. We finished in 2:41:21. This is not my worst time. I ran PHM, my first half, in 2:48:45 and I didn't stop nearly as much during that race. Considering we went through 2 bathroom breaks, many water stops, walk breaks and plenty of pictures, the time wasn't so bad.
I was limping by this point. My feet have never hurt so bad. We grabbed our checked bags and headed to the changing area. The changing area was not what I expected. It was one large tent with pretty much anyone and everyone changing where they could find a spot. The tent was a good 15 degrees warmer than outside, because of the large amount of sweaty, pretty much naked women packed in. I tried to change as quickly as possible, without flashing anyone, and got out of the sauna of nakedness and funk as quickly as possible.
I felt a bit better being in not so soaking clothes but I was still sweaty and achy. The long march through the hoards of finishers and family members to the after party in Epcot was torturous. We met up with Wendy by the changing area, she had finished not so far behind us. I wanted food. Hot food, not the hippie boxes that Disney gives out after a race. We put our stuff in a locker and parted ways as I was going to meet up with some PbRC members. I made my first stop of 3 for food. It. Was. Heaven. Beef on a stick, dripping with butter and juice and mashed potatoes in some amazing sauce. I licked that paper plate clean.
I met up with the PbRC folks outside of Germany and hobbled back to a food booth near China, where I picked up some Mongolian Beef. We made our way to America where I was greeted by a wonderour thing. A turkey leg stand.
I enjoyed my turkey leg and perfect timing, Amy texted saying she was ready to go. While I hated to leave the party, I wanted a shower and a bed in a bad way, so I met her back at the front. We took a few pictures in front of the park with our medals and headed back.
1. I can't say it was my favorite. While I'm not a morning person and getting up at 2:30 am for one of Disney's morning races isn't exactly pleasant, and I am a night owl, the night race really threw me off. I didn't know how to hydrate properly and this left me needing to use the bathroom, a lot.
2. Another reason it wasn't my favorite was because of some of the areas we ran by. Not one, but two garbage areas. I have a heightened sense of smell during long runs and even smells I'd normally find pleasant turn me off. So horrible smells like garbage bins made me want to hurl. What's up with that Disney? I'm kind of disappointed that they couldn't find some way to avoid bringing over 10,000 runners past smelly garbage.
3. I did like the course, aside from what seemed like so many more hills than the PHM course(although according to my Garmin, it was flat. Go home Garmin, you're drunk). We spent a lot more time in the parks, going through 3 of the 4 parks. I loved running through Hollywood Studios and loved the characters on the course.
4. I don't know what happened to me during this race. Sure, our time was still decent and it was a Disney PR for both Amy and myself, but mentally I broke down. I didn't feel all there, and for the first time ever there came a point where I seriously wanted to quit. I have also never hurt this badly during a race. While I was battling some very painful ITBS during my first half, that was one general area of pain. During this race I hurt everywhere, and in areas that have never given me an issue before.
5. I'm glad to have experienced this race, but now I'm pretty sure I can cross it off my list and leave it be. It's not like PHM where I want to do it again. Sure, if entry and a trip fell into my lap, I'd take it, but I have little desire to try for it next year. I did fall in love with Disney during Christmas and my family is planning a trip back next season so our kids can experience it. For a split second I thought "Maybe we could just plan Wine and Dine weekend again and I could do the race." but that was quickly replaced with "Nope, not a chance."
6. While I was extremely sore during and immediately after the race, when I woke up in the morning, I felt good. no muscle soreness and even through the next day, with lots of sitting, especially on my plane ride home, I wasn't sore at all.
So there you have it, the good and not so good of the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon. It's a favorite for some people, but not for me. I bid farewell to Disney the following day and am already counting down the days until my first Disneyland trip in January, for the Tinkerbell 10k and half marathon.