I was fortunate to take part in the Inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon on October 2, 2010. I was looking forward this race since it was announced last year. I had always wanted to take part in the Race for the Taste 10K but that was discontinued last year. I was also looking forward to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival which started the same weekend as the race.
The race started at 10pm. I had tried to adjust to a nighttime lifestyle, but it seemed like my body was just working against me since I just kept falling asleep early every night since the Philly RnR half. I tried to stay up late and my body was just working against me. On race day I was only able to sleep until 9 am. Not the 10 or 11 that I wanted to sleep until.
I hung out with with my friend, playing with his daughter (and trying to keep her from using my phone as a teething ring). We had a light lunch of pasta and watched Shaun of the Dead. I then decided to run over to Animal Kingdom to catch a showing of the Festival of the Lion King. After that and a quick trip to Downtown Disney to pick up some souvenirs, I headed back with the intention of resting for about an hour before getting ready for the race.
Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. I didn’t get to rest. Before I knew it, we were getting dressed and we were on our way to Epcot to catch the buses over to the starting line.
I wasn’t too thrilled with the start line festivities. The line to check your bag was ridiculously long and instead of being divided up by last name or bib number there was just a single line for everyone hoping to check their bag.
I was placed in Corral C, but my friends were placed in Corral D so I went with them to the front of their Corral. Rather than having a waved start, a few minutes before the race started, they dropped the ropes between the corrals and everyone started moving forward to wait for the gun for one start.
The start went off pretty nicely and we crossed the starting line about 8 minutes into the race. The first 3 miles was pretty boring. There were some cast members along the course cheering and some musical performers. There were also some of the stilt walkers from the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade. But the course wasn’t really that exciting until we got to the gates at Animal Kingdom.
When we got to the gates, we were greeted by some of the parade puppets and then entered the park through giant glowing red tusks. Somewhere around mile 3 my friend had twisted her ankle and we had slowed down. She told her husband to go on without us. We tried to run through Animal Kingdom, but it was way too crowded in the narrow paths so we just walked. We hung together past mile 5 and past the relay exchange. She then told me to go ahead because she didn’t want me to get swept because of her.
I tried to make up some time, but my body was fighting me the whole way. It kept shouting at me, telling me it was bed time not time to keep moving. There was one part of the course that I wasn’t happy with. The out-and-back portion near mile 8. This part was easily a half mile of road where you got to see all the people who were ahead of you, followed by a lot of people who were behind you. I guess in the full marathon course it is even worse. I’m not looking forward to that part.
They had food around mile 9. This time instead of giving use Clif Shot gels, we were given Clif Shot blocks. Some of the packages weren’t open even. I use these and they are not easy to open in the middle of the day when you have all your wits about you, let alone after running for 9 miles at 12:30 at night! Thankfully one of the volunteers had some open packs. And thankfully, the flavor that they were giving out was the flavor I was used to training with. Cran-Razz. Yum. It definitely helped me at that point in time.
I then made the turn onto an especially dark part of the course before we turned into the Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For the next two miles I wandered around the Studios and was surprised by what they had for us there! There were tons of race photographers, but more importantly, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was lit up. Of course I had to pull out my camera and film it for a few seconds!
Once I got out of the studios I was so relieved! I only had about a mile left!!! Not only was it only a mile, but it was a mile that I had walked more than once in the past year (and in varying states of sobriety – but that’s another story). Probably hardest part about that last mile was the short, but relatively steep hill right at mile 13. I knew that right over the hill would be my friends waiting to cheer me to the finish though!
I’ve never had such a large group cheering me on at my races. There have been lots of people cheering at finish lines, but never have there been so many people there just to cheer for me! It was amazing and the fact that all these people had stayed up til 2 in the morning and left the party in Epcot just so they could cheer me on at the finish line made me feel warm and fuzzy all over.
I waved to them, blew them kisses and made the turn for the finish line!
I finished the race in 3:35. That was my slowest half marathon time ever and almost 6 minutes slower than the race that I did two weeks before. I wasn’t happy with my time at all, but I was happy that I finished. My friend’s husband was at the finish line. He was about 5 minutes ahead of me and my friend came in 7 minutes behind me. She managed to do the whole course on a twisted ankle! I’m so proud of her!
I will be back to do this race again in future years, I hope that they consider having an earlier start time. 9pm would be much nicer and allow people to enjoy the after party a little bit more. I wasn’t too thrilled with the food that they gave at the finish line. Water, a granola bar, a muffin and a banana (probably sports drink too). Maybe Disney thought that people would use their food and drink vouchers for the food in the party to supplement their post race meal. I won’t go into the post race party because I’m sure you can read about it on more than one blog (and maybe I’ll cover it on my Disney blog).
Apparently there were also lots of problems with the bag pick up are and for people who were just trying to make their way through into Epcot. I didn’t experience any of these problems since I was so far to the back of the pack. Hopefully with all of the complaints that they had there will be some major changes for next year’s race.
Were you at the race? Share your experience with me!