It was Saturday night and almost time for the reason we were all down in Florida,
to eat our way around the Epcot Food & Wine Festival! to run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon!
We had all gone to the expo on Friday to pick up our race bibs and after party bracelets, so we were ready to go!
We started Saturday with a HUGE buffet breakfast at the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom where we filled up on breakfast, lunch (*tip – make your reservation for around 11am and the two will overlap!) and jungle juice (yum!)…
…and mingled with Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy.
At around 2pm we headed back to the room for a pre-race nap since we wanted to be well rested for the 10pm start (and had high hopes of closing out the after party at 4am!). By 5:30pm the room started to come alive again and we began to change and pack our bags to head over to the starting area at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
I was excited to get to the start and find my two other friends that were running, Jess, a former co-worker and Jody, a friend of a friend who I have been talking to about training for the race since I met her about a year ago. Both were running their first runDisney event and their first half marathons!
Since we had some time to kill we all waited in line for a picture with Chef Mickey…
…and then proceeded to wait in the longest pre-race porta-potty lines ever! Luckily we got through the line just in time and made it to our starting corrals right as the National Anthem began!
Minutes later we were off!
I had no real plan for this race, I wasn’t going to try to PR since I just don’t ever see myself PRing at a night race (I prefer morning runs), so my only real goal was for it not to be my slowest half marathon to date (this race was my 4th). Jenn, Dan and I had planned to run together, so naturally about 100 yards into the race Dan disappeared. Jenn and I planned to stay together until one of us either wanted to speed up or hang back.
The first few miles of the race were on the highways. The roads were pretty congested with runners so Jenn and I just took our time and warmed up to a comfortable pace (it’s hard to get your legs going at 10pm!). At around mile 4 we reached Animal Kingdom and the next mile or so was through the park. We passed a few characters and some other entertainment, but I just wasn’t in the mood to wait on line at any of the character stops so I just took a few pictures as I ran by.
As we came out of Animal Kingdom there was a water stop so I ran over, grabbed a Powerade, quickly drank it and when I turned around Jenn was gone! I wasn’t sure if she was in front of me or not so I sped up a bit to see if I could find her…no luck, I was on my own for the last 8 miles! (Turns out she was behind me, I somehow lost sight of her and ran right by her at the stop.)
Back on the highway I did see this lovely lady who had no photo line so I made a quick stop:
And a bit later I ran into my favorite runDisney race character:
I love seeing the Toy Story green army men out there! They’re always stationed on a hill (no hills in Florida you say? Think highway on/ off ramps…) and barking orders out to the runners (“Let’s go soldiers, pick it up! Get moving! GO GO GO!”). I stopped for a quick photo and kept running my butt up that hill! (NOTE: I am currently seeking volunteers to dress up as green army men and kick my butt during my long runs for Goofy training. If interested please e-mail me at LiveRunGrow@gmail.com.)
And then it was on to Hollywood Studios!
Running the streets of Hollywood Studios I started to get flash backs of the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, unfortunately I think Hollywood Studios is forever going to be associated with the misery that was that race and how horrible I felt at the end, but I pushed through and tried to think happier thoughts (or as happy as thoughts get at mile 11).
Most of the time I’m running through a park I’m thinking about how I’ve been coming to these parks with my family forever and never in a million years would I have thought I’d be doing something like this and running through them, it really is amazing to me.
When I turned the corner on to the Streets of America I got my first glimpse of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights…ummm, wow. (Last year during Wine & Dine they were only partially lit since the race was a month earlier.)
I had to stop myself from just throwing on the brakes and just staring, but I knew we were planning on coming back to see them the following night so I took a few pictures and kept running.
Once I exited Hollywood Studios I really felt like it was the home stretch (is 2 miles too much of a “home stretch??”). We headed towards the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, this part is always fun because it’s one of the few places on the course that there are a lot of spectators and I just love running around that boardwalk area.
We made one more quick pass through the front part of Epcot and then headed back out to the parking lot and to the finish!
Once I crossed the finish line I picked up my medal, a bottle of water and Powerade, my bag from the back check area and grabbed some ice for my knee (some mystery knee pain bothered me for most of the race). I changed quickly and happened to run into Dan and his brother who finished a few minutes before me (and yes, I did meet my goal of it not being my slowest half marathon to date).
Once everyone finished we headed into Epcot for the race after party, which I was determined to enjoy this year (last year I was NOT feeling much like wine-ing and dining after running 13.1 miles).
I actually felt pretty good and we managed to snack our way around the world until we could barely put one foot in front of the other at 4am. I was glad I stayed for the after party this year, but, the highlight of my night was my post race photo with one of my favorite, and rarely seen, characters…REMY!
(Thanks to Jenn for spotting him for me! I literally ran after him when she pointed him out!)
Overall another Wine & Dine success story and another medal to add to my runDisney collection…
Next up…Goofy 2013!