Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon
November 10, 2012
I worked a half day Friday before heading down to Atlanta and the airport. Heather and I were meeting at the airport in Orlando, Amma was already in Florida at this point, and Selby was getting there earlier on Friday. We had plans to all meet up for dinner (plus some more folks) to carb-load at Olive Garden before parting ways for the night.
I would count this as my first legit run-cation (though Ragnar I suppose would fit that word, too), but it felt like the first trip solely to run. I was excited! I got to Orlando at 4:15, and hoped I'd see more runners coming through baggage claim than I did while I sat there for an hour, but I supposed the die-hards had already gotten there (mostly if they were accepted into the #WineDineHalfMeetup which I will make travel arrangements for next year). Thankfully, that just meant the airport was super mellow for a Friday evening! Heather got in at 5:30, we got our rental car and made our way to Disney's All-Star Movie Resort to pick up Selby, Amma and Ryan for the dinner fun! Dinner was incredible -- I'll provide you the visuals, but in short: I was the common denominator, with a few exceptions, to the entire dinner table. Talk about pressure! Heather, Amma and Selby I knew prior, of course. Dillon was my former RA in Texas, and his wife Kendall was also an RA while I was there, and they live in Orlando now. Alicia has been an online friend for ten+ years (seriously!), and we got to meet in person for the first time ever - talk about awesome - because she lives in Orlando too and runs pretty much every runDisney event there is. Amma brought along her friend, Ryan; Alicia brought her roommate, Katherine (who I also know online), and a sorority colonist from UCF, Chelsea, met up with Heather and I for the shenanigans too. Can you say crazy? So much fun.
|All of us at dinner! Ryan, Amma, Selby, Katherine, Alicia, Kendall, Dillon, me & Heather. Chelsea hadn't arrived for the crazy yet, unfortunately for her!|
We eventually woke up to an 8:20 alarm on Saturday morning - late for me, but at the crack of dawn for Heather who currently functions on Pacific Time (sorry HP). Grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and were trying to scramble to make it to the expo in time to see Jeff Galloway speak at 10 am about pacing and motivation (pacing being my long-standing issue). Breakfast took a lot longer than we thought, and getting texts from Selby saying that they were already using overflow parking at the expo freaked us out. So we high-tailed it there and got to the main expo around 9:30. Selby had warned us that the seating area was surprisingly small for this size of an expo, so we were nervous, but were pleasantly surprised when only 2 of the 25-30 chairs were occupied. Success.
First, walking up to the expo - I had never been to/near/at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but felt the energy as soon as we were there. No longer had we parked and gotten out of the car that we started talking to a guy who was on his way in and gave us tips for running W&D (he had last year). The expo was set up in two venues - one for actual packet pick-up/chip testing/photo fun and the other building was entirely the expo. I liked the system - though we had gone straight to the expo building first, so we had to get back to the packet pick-up afterward, and then back to the main expo to get our shirts (anything to get you to walk through the expo!). Packet pick up was quick and easy, so apparently Saturday morning was the time to be there!
|ZOMG, Jeff Galloway!|
We spent a little while longer at the expo, spent some money I shouldn't (but I did need new shoes so I can actually start cycling through some and not killing my Brooks in training), and had a load of fun, to say the least. After picking up our packets, had a mini photo shoot with the backgrounds, and headed out for lunch at Downtown Disney and a quick errand before coming back to the hotel to take a nap and watch a few crazy football games (hot dang, Alabama, what happened to you?). Alicia worked at Magic Kingdom until 5:15, and was going to bus over to Downtown Disney and then walk to our hotel. En route, her phone died, so come 6 when we still had no idea where she was, I headed out and drove into the madness to try and find her, to no avail. Thankfully, around 6:30 she was finally at our room, scrambling to eat, change, try and charge her phone, and get over to All Star, where we planned to meet with our people at 7:15. Success, on the bus and at the start line by 7:45!
Then the fun began. Because buses stopped at 8, you had to be at the start line nearly two hours before your gun time (depending on your corral). Thankfully, there was a great entertainer who was teaching us moves and getting us to stay active (and warm) for those two hours -seriously, they flew by. Bag check was to be done by 9 pm, and we were hurdled into our corrals at about 9:15 (stand in a corral for a full hour?!). Ah well.
I was originally assigned Corral C, while Amma was in B, Selby and Alicia in D, and Heather in E. Alicia, Amma, and I all went back to E to get started with Heather. We had some meet up plans with the rest of the crew (Mile 8 or Tigger, whichever came first), so we didn't sweat about the split up too much.
I had two goals for this race:
- Have fun, as mentioned above. It's a race with friends, it's by Disney, it's AT Disney... how seriously can you take this?
- Get Heather across the finish line. This was my dear friend's first half marathon and I was determined to make sure she did it. She was at the finish line for my first one back in January, and I needed to make sure the same happened. If worst came to worst, she told me I could drag her across the line (spoiler: that didn't happen).
|Hey guys! You're doing a half marathon!|
From there, I didn't pay attention to splits (really, I only did at Mile 1). Alicia and I would run ahead a little while, then walk for a bit and wait for Heather. Or we'd stop in line for character photos, Heather would run ahead and then we'd catch up again. Just before Mile 8, were Goofy and Chip 'n Dale, three characters I was really excited about - and, by this point, I hadn't taken any character photos! Heather charged on ahead, and just told us to catch up with her. The major point of planned meeting-up (Mile 8) came and went - we knew Heather was ahead of us, we just hoped the rest of the bunch had started running with her too and didn't wait for us. Heather texted me just as we entered Hollywood Studios, saying she had just entered and she needed us to catch up - I knew this meant business, so we nearly sprinted through the Rockin' Rollercoaster section and found her along Main Street. She was doing so great (she had maxed out her training plan at 9 miles and we were nearly at 10) but had started to hit the wall. Back to the run-walk cycle, the three of us.
Hollywood Studios is a park that I feel is under-appreciated. Admittedly, it's not my fave, mostly because the rides are fewer, but they are awesome ones! After the back-lot tour tunnel, we come around the corner by Star Wars (we didn't stop for Darth Vader, he freaks me out), and turned the corner into Osborne's Festival of Lights, so nearly the huge main square at DHS is lit up. Stunning. My favorite was the Peace on Earth with dozens of angels looming around. Beautiful.
I'm going to out Heather a little bit here (sorry boo, love you!) - she's not the emotional type. That's also coming from me, Queen of Execessive, Unnecessary Tears. About the 12.5 mark or so, she started tearing up, just knowing she'd finish, that she'd make it, and she could officially call herself a half-marathoner (!). At Mile 13, she lost it, through the smoke (poor decision Disney) and lasers, as I did with her, and over the line we went. And then it was cryfest (mostly on her part). She did it! I'm so proud of this girl - she's been running not even a year, ran her first 5K last January and has been kickin' tail since. So proud of what she's done in not even a year! And already signed up for her second half before this one even happened (she'll be joining me in Surf City while I run the full).
|This sufficiently depicts it for you - tears, excitement, pride, accomplishment.|
I'll have another post later about our parks adventure and things I recommend for enjoying your runDisney experience, and both the positives and (very few) negatives about the weekend and my experience!