Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Race Recap!

I want to run this race every year of my life!  Why do I think this race weekend is so great?  
First, it is Disney.  
Second, it is during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  
Third, it is run at night.
Fourth, we stay at the Beach Club Resort.
This year was the second time I have run this race and this time around our cast of characters included: Annette & her husband Brian ran the relay.  Myself, one of my BFFs Leah, two of her co-workers, Sue & Geoff, and one of her high school friends, Scott, all ran the half marathon.  Scott's wife, Jamie, ran the Halloween 5K on Saturday morning.
Brian's BFF, Dave and his girlfriend, Wendy attended the Post Race Party.  This is Dave's 3rd Post Race Party and I dub him the professional Disney Post Race Party attender :)  
Start Area:  Since we stayed at the Beach Club, a race host hotel, we caught the shuttle to the start area right from there.  We got outside at 7:30pm and there was a long line, but it went pretty quick and we were still there in plenty of time.  On the bus, I loved the runDisney info video playing.  Maybe it is because I work in the hospitality industry, but I love the little details.  Just another sign that runDisney has come into their own over the last year.  
While on the bus Leah took one of her famous self portraits of her, Sue & I.
The start area for the race was the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  It is a huge grassy area with bag check, water, port-a-potties, entertainment, etc.  All very organized.  When we arrived, my first order of business was my glow bracelets.  
I had them on both arms, but I am not sure how bright they actually were.  Oh well, it was just for fun.  Sue put some through her shoe laces, Geoff made a necklace and I am not sure what Leah did with hers.
After those were taken care of we checked our bags and went to wait on the port-a-pottie line. Once through one time, we had some water, got back in line and then it was time to go to our corrals.  runDisney pushed back all of the times this year (when to be there, when to check bags, when to get corrals) and to me, it was perfect.  I hope it stays the same next year.  Everything seemed calm and organized from this participants perspective!

Race Goal:  My goal for this race was not to fall since I had dislocated my shoulder the week before.  Luckily I accomplished that :)  I had also decided to run without music.  Loved that!  And I decided to try the run/walk/run method.  

Corrals:  There were 5 corrals in all, A-E.  Each corral was clearly marked with huge signs, loved it!   I was in B.  Love the ego boost Disney races give me :)  Brian also started as Relay Runner #1 in B.  Sue was in C, but went back to E with Leah since her & Geoff hadn't sent in a previous race time.  Those girls are faster than me, so I figured they would catch up to me during the race.  

Race Start:  The race started at 10pm, and the weather was PERFECT!  Like the best running weather I have felt in FLA in at least 7 months.  A-maz-ing!  By 10:05 I was off.  I ran for the first mile which is down Victory Way and turning left on Osceola Parkway.  I knew it would be crowded here at the beginning (and it was), so I didn't want to annoy people by doing the run/walk/run thing here.

Miles 2 to 5:  Once I cleared the Mile 1 marker I started my interval timer for 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking.  That worked ok.  Sometimes when there was loud music in the area I couldn't hear the dinging sound which told me to run or walk, so I definitely missed a few here or there.  Oh well.
I was loving running without music and plan on doing that for any other Disney race I run.  Compared to the Princess half, there are hardly any characters out, but I was still entertained from start to finish.
Let's see, in the first few miles we saw stilt walkers, some Fantasia characters and a DJ.  There was a band set up in the middle of Osceola Parkway.  I have no idea if this was the same band as last year, but I loved them then and I loved them again this year!  There was also random music being piped onto the course. 
It is also at this point where we get to see the leaders of the race heading down the other side of the Parkway.  I was cheering them on!  How can you not?  They were rocking it!
By Mile 3.5 we were approaching our first park, Animal Kingdom.  In the parking lot, there were Electrical Light parade floats... those twirling fish (I think they are fish?).  Once in the park it is dark, narrow and crowded.  I have no problem running here during Expedition Everest but I feel so closed in during Wine & Dine.  I still love that park at night and thought it was great.  Last year, around Mile 4.5 we were still in the park and I was attempting to take a GU.  It was too winding and annoying to open the packet, take the GU, etc... so this year I waited until we were back out in the parking lot, at Mile 5 for the GU and it worked perfectly!  Experience on a course definitely helps.  I did not use the run/walk/run through Animal Kingdom because I did not want to have to stop on the narrow road ways.

Miles 6 to 9:  By the half way mark we were heading back down Osceola Parkway.  Music, stilt walkers and band are all still there to entertain.  At about Mile 7.5 we turn left to head onto World Drive.  We ran up a little incline and a Green Army Man from Toy Story is barking orders at us :)
It was also here that Leah's friend, Geoff, caught up to me.  I was in the middle of a minute of walking, so I told him to keep going.  He yelled over his shoulder "This sucks!".  Pretty funny!
Heading up World Drive we passed another DJ who was giving out college football and baseball playoff scores.  I think Victoria was probably happy Alabama beat Florida that day!  This DJ was also cool because he was standing on the top of a mini orange VW bus.  Leah lost her brother 3 years ago and he drove an orange VW bus.  Seeing that bus made me & Leah smile because it was like PJ was there to support his sister during her first half marathon.  Really nice moment of the night.

Miles 10 to 13.1:  Mile 10 we were now in Hollywood Studios (MGM for us old school Disney folks).  It is the longest we run through any Disney park and it is probably the park I have now run through the most.   As we were entering the park, cast members or volunteers (or both) were yelling "Welcome to Hollywood", loved it!  Love running past the Tower of Terror at night, seems so creepy!  Ran through Pixar Place and then after this point I got all turned around - LOL!  I do know we went through the costuming department tunnel.  This year they had the lights and fans on.  Two things that were missing last year - thank you!  
We headed through Lights, Motor, Action! and on to the backlot and the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights.  Last year more lights were lit and it truly took my breath away.  This year, only half of the lights were on, but I was still enjoying the atmosphere and the christmas music!  
Once we exit Hollywood Studios, there is only about 1.5 Miles to go.  I then headed down the path towards the Boardwalk and past the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.  I just missed seeing Leah's parents outside the Beach Club :(  This is a great part of the course because there are so many spectators cheering you on!  
Is it just me, but no matter how many of these things you run, are you always digging deep through the last mile or so?  I was taking all the energy I could from the spectators and the volunteers in that last mile. 
Once past the Beach Club we headed towards International Gateway (back entrance to Epcot), and took a left into the Epcot backstage area.  We ran behind Canada, Journey into Imagination, The Land, Living Seas with Nemo, before finishing outside of Epcot in the parking lot.  
The volunteers and the encouraging signs they were holding at the end of the race were fantastic!  Mixed with the "Olympic" music and the "Rocky" music... what a fun way to end the race!  I saw my "Cold Beer Ahead" sign, so I was as happy as can be :)

Race Results:  Not my fastest time and not my slowest time.  I did beat last year's Wine & Dine time by 11 minutes, so that makes me happy!  It also makes me happy to realize how far I have come over the last year.  Taking the Disneyland half into consideration, I have taken 20 minutes off my half mary time.  Yup, I'll take it!

Finish Line Area:  Amazing!  Large, spacious, easy to get around.  After crossing the finish line, I got my medal, went through the picture, water, Powerade and food lines. 
Geoff had mentioned to me on Sunday night that he was surprised I had not caught up to him by the end of the race.  He started to have serious knee issues once he had passed me at Mile 9, so his pace slowed down.  That got me thinking, so I looked up our clock times... we finished 3 seconds apart.
Check out the photo... so funny and goes to show just how much you are focused on nothing but the finish line at the end of 13.1
Bag check was so super easy this year.  In... out... no problem at all.  
runDisney had two huge tents set up as changing areas (one male and one female).  No need to be modest in here.  Change yo' shirt and go and party!  Loved the changing areas - thank you!  My only suggestion would be... could there be port-a-potties set up out there? If there were, I missed them and should have had my glasses on.  There were really long lines throughout the park and sometimes you just gotta go after 13.1 miles :)
Once through the runners area, I handed over my "drink coupon" which was attached to my race bib.  They had soda, Bud and Bud Light for us.  I was disappointed they did not have better beer to choose from (maybe throw in a Heineken or a plastic cup of wine?), but I took a Bud.  Like I would say no to a beer.  With a cold beer in hand less than 15 minutes after the race and heading to Epcot to meet up with friends sounds like a mighty good night to me!

Post Race Party: This year for the post race party all of Epcot was open to the runners and their guests.  This worked out much better than having only World Showcase open like last year.  The lines for the food & beverage stands were not too long and we really got to enjoy our late night in Epcot!  
My favorite food at the festival this year... the lamb chop from Australia, loved it!  We made stops at the UK pub (Leah prefers Gin &Tonics above all else) and then one final stop at the US stand for lobster rolls!  As someone whose family lives in Maine, I thought the lobster was pretty good.
We were there until closing (again).  Since we were staying at the Beach Club we only had to walk a short distance back to our hotel.  No cars, no buses, it was great!
Unfortunately not all of us got to enjoy the post race party.  Sue was not feeling great during and after the race and Geoff's knees were really bothering him, so they headed out early.  They stayed at the Dolphin Resort, which is another great choice for this weekend since it is also in walking distance to Epcot.  Sue has what you would call FOMO (Fear of missing out), so she left Epcot that night with a heavy heart.  Don't worry Sue, there's always Princess weekend and of course, you could come back next year for Wine & Dine :) 

Overall thoughts:  I thought this was a phenomenal runDisney event.  My favorite by far.  Granted there is not as much entertainment on the course as other races, but the fun you can have at Epcot afterwards makes up for it!  The whole weekend was very organized and easy to get around.

My year of running Disney:  In February I started this blog as a way of documenting my year running through the Disney Parks.  Of course, my blog has become about more than just the Disney races (though those are always my most popular posts).  
I started off the year with the Princess half marathon and now I am just 87 days from running the Disney Marathon, my first!  Wow, what a fun year filled with a lot of good memories and great times with my family & friends.  The best part is, it's not over yet!  My parents, sister, niece, two of my good friends from home, aunt and cousin will be here in January to cheer on me, Amanda and my uncle in Marathon.
And then the year starts all over again when Leah, Sue and Annette (of course!) run the Princess half in February.  Good times!

In case you missed any of my 2010 runDisney recaps... here you go:


  1. omg. I cannot believe I have to wait A YEAR to do this race. This was a great recap, I am BEYOND excited!!

  2. FABULOUS report!!!

    Okay, Giraffy and I are already crazy planning considering how far away next year's race is .... and your report just made me want to plan even more. I can't believe we have to wait a freaking year!

    It sounds like it is such a fun course - and new places to see compared to the Princess course. That will be fun! Did you run with a camera? Were there character stops or photo worthy things (yes, of course this is me planning right now)?

    And then one more question - runners and their guests can do the after party? So if my vacation partner doesn't want to do the race she can still meet up after for the party?

    I LOVE how you and your friend are in the same finish line photo. Very cool!