A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Wine & Dine (Half?) Half Marathon

on November 10, 2015

I’ve been looking forward to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon for ages. From the moment I first heard about this fantastic race where you ran through the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (and the Osborne Lights!) and Epcot in the middle of the night, I thought it sounded like an absolutely fantastic way to spend 13.1 miles. Getting registered for this year’s race went quick and easy, despite my worries for how quickly it sells out, and getting in my night run practice between the Des Moines half marathon and this race also went reasonably well. These are the only parts of the whole thing that went easily but you know what? I’m totally okay with how things went. 🙂

We flew out to Orlando on Thursday and on Friday, explored the Magic Kingdom all morning and I hit the Expo in the afternoon. Between picking up stuff for my 5K and half marathon, plus Oliver’s race, I made 6 stops across two buildings! I do wish it was one stop. No shopping at the expo because A) I had a Seven Dwarves Mine Train fastpass to get back to and B) they were out of everything I was interested in at the official race merchandise booth.

Saturday morning started bright and early for the Jingle Jungle 5K, which I’ll have a full recap on later. I then caught a bus from the Animal Kingdom (site of the 5K) back to the Polynesian to get Darrell & O for the next race. We got on ANOTHER bus for the ESPN complex for O’s 200 meter kids race (also getting its own post later) before coming back to the Polynesian for lunch and rest time. I ended up taking a 45 minute nap and then lounging around the room all afternoon before heading out at 7:45 for the race. We were told to be on a bus by 8 in order to get to our corrals by 9:15 and I knew it was not going to be a smooth night when I arrived at the bus stop at 7:45 to see HUNDREDS of people in line. Turns out, traffic was so snarled the buses couldn’t get between the resorts and the ESPN complex where the race started. After much anxious waiting, we finally started seeing buses at around 8:30 and I was able to get to the site by 9.

I had just enough time to drop my bag at bag check before they announced an evacuation. Yep, EVACUATION. Over 10,000 people were to calmly leave their port a potty lines and head into the ESPN complex because of lightening and severe weather in the area. We could see the lightening and the scary storm on the radar, but never got much rain. I was amazed, frankly, at how calm everyone was. There was very much an air of “seriously? First the buses and now this?” to the whole thing.

Everyone moving indoors for the storm

Everyone moving indoors for the storm

On the plus side, that move meant we got to use indoor toilets instead of port a potties. However, it also meant we sat around for almost an hour and lost whatever bit of race nerves we had keeping us awake. I did not want to move again when we finally got the all clear to go back out after 10 pm!

I will say that on the whole, I was impressed with how smoothly it all went given the sheer size of this enterprise. My only complaint is that there weren’t many announcements out loud while we were waiting to get back into the corrals. Everyone had their phones out checking social media for updates, but Twitter was being glitchy. It was only a few minutes, I’m sure, between the time that RunDisney announced the delayed start time and the shortened course on Twitter and the time we were told over the PA system but it felt like FOREVER. The race announcers wanted to get us going as fast as possible and they did their best to keep us entertained.

We still got our fireworks at the start!

We still got our fireworks at the start!

For a lot of reasons, they ended up cutting out the entire Animal Kingdom loop of the course, about 6 miles. They had to get us off the roads and we were an hour delayed in starting. I also heard there was a lot of wind trouble in the Animal Kingdom making things more complicated. Truthfully, as hot and humid as it was, I was totally okay with a shorter run so long as I still got my Coast to Coast medal (I paid for and trained for a Disney half marathon on each coast and was going to finish the race they were putting on – I totally deserved that medal!). They’d had a “red flag” posted because of the heat and humidity early, so I suspect a lot of people had a safer run with the shorter mileage. It was a little surreal, though, not knowing exactly how far you had to run because we weren’t sure of the total mileage (they said 7.1 but my Garmin, complete with ALL of my weaving, measured 6.95) and because the mile markers were wrong after mile 1.

Mile 8 in 40-ish minutes? Wow did I get faster!

Mile 8 in 40-ish minutes? Wow did I get faster!

They had lots of water stations, which was great in the weather, and I’m impressed that they were all coordinated and stocked appropriately despite all of the delays and craziness. Of course, the Gu station was still at mile 8ish of the original path, which was funny as we were only 2 miles in when we passed them.

Happily, there were still loads of characters out. I stopped with the Country Bears, the Incredibles and Buzz and Woody. I skipped Lilo and Stitch because I was on the wrong side of the road, the Toy Story army man because I got him at Princess and some fairies because  I’m sort of “meh” about fairies.

The first character stop and already dripping sweat!

The first character stop and already dripping sweat!

I waited forever for this pic but A) worth it because O thought it was cool and B) I figured this race was all kinds of screwy anyway so who cares how long it took?

I waited forever for this pic but A) worth it because O thought it was cool and B) I figured this race was all kinds of screwy anyway so who cares how long it took?

Check out my super hero strength :)

Check out my super hero strength 🙂

I loved running through Hollywood Studios at night both because it was a new experience to run through and because the lights were gorgeous, even before I got to the Osborne Lights.

Streets of Hollywood

Streets of Hollywood

I had no idea you could cover so many miles going in and out of Hollywood Studios! Of course, the highlight for me were the Osborne Lights. I confess, had this been the part of the course they cut, rather than Animal Kingdom, I’d likely feel differently about this whole odd race. I was REALLY looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint.

So great to experience in the middle of the night!

So great to experience in the middle of the night!

I can't believe this is the last year - hopefully these will be back!

I can’t believe this is the last year – hopefully these will be back!

After this, it was time to head along the path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot. I will confess, this stretch was annoying. One problem with a shorter race is that there isn’t enough space for people to thin out and that path is narrow. There were lots of times when I walked because I literally couldn’t run due to the crowd. Frustrating, but when we got to the Boardwalk region, we got our first real spectators, which was a nice distraction. Some were offering beer, some had cool signs and one guy (very drunk I’m guessing) hopped out in the middle of us to travel with us for a while talking about how cool it was that we were doing this. I enjoyed the Boardwalk because a) we got more space and b) it’s a part of Disney I hadn’t really seen before.

I definitely want to come see the Boardwalk during the day!

I definitely want to come see the Boardwalk during the day!

It was a relief to make the curve into Epcot and know we were almost finished.  I high fived both Minnie and Chef Mickey on the way into the finish! According to the Garmin, I covered a little less than 7 miles at around 15:30ish pace, which is not bad considering the character lines I stopped in and the crowded sections where walking was the only option. I got my medal, my (not cold!) water and Powerade before heading toward the Coast to Coast medal booth. For anyone who hasn’t done that, you have a wrist band attached when you pick up your packet if you’re Coast to Coast and have to keep it on through the race. At the back of the finish area, there’s a tent where you walk through, flash the band and get a medal – easy peasy.) They did have cool towels, which was MUCH appreciated.

Weird angle, I know, but check out my gorgeous medals :)

Weird angle, I know, but check out my gorgeous medals 🙂

By the time I ate my snack box and changed clothes (it is HARD to get out of sweaty gear and into new clothes even though you’re still sweaty in a tent with a hundred other women, in case you’re curious), I had ZERO desire to stay and party. The heat, the humidity and the hour sitting around before the run had sapped any desire I had to experience the after party. I got my screw top cup of chardonnay (at least that was chilled!) and headed for the bus home. LOTS of people were doing the same, so don’t feel lame if you skip the party.

I felt all kinds of classy drinking my plastic wine cup on the bus ride back to the resort.

I felt all kinds of classy drinking my plastic wine cup on the bus ride back to the resort.

All in all, despite the craziness of the evening, I still had a good time and feel like it was worth the experience. I loved running through Hollywood Studios at night, especially the Osborne Lights, and liked my character stops. I am impressed with how calmly and smoothly everything seemed to go on the whole, given how big an event this was and the adjustments they had to make. I’m grateful they didn’t cancel it outright with the storms. I was running this for fun, so the change in distance didn’t bother me much, but I know some people had trained for this to be their first half marathon and that would be horribly disappointing. Disney has to keep us safe and while I know some people were disappointed, most people in my corral and around me running seemed to take it all in stride (so long as the after party was still on!).

Honestly, the way this was handled by Disney and most of the Disney runners makes me feel really good about the huge amount of money we pay to run these events. I’d definitely come back to try Wine & Dine again and hope for the full experience, but for now, I’m happy and had a great time!

Have you ever run a race with this kind of disruption before? How did you feel about how it was handled by race management? Did you still feel like it was a good experience?

Thanks as always to Marcia, Patty and Erika for hosting Tuesdays on the Run!


16 responses to “Wine & Dine (Half?) Half Marathon

  1. Meg B says:

    Too bad about the delay and shortened course but I’m glad you still had a fun race!

  2. Sorry about the delay but I’m glad you were able to make it worth the craziness! I’ve heard that about Disney races too. If I liked to run, it would definitely be my dream to do a Disney race.

  3. Anna says:

    What a wacky adventure. Glad it all turned out well…love your bling!

  4. You did great, even with all the craziness going on! I had a half marathon cancelled at mile 3 because of lightning. Like you said, I really for sorry for the people who have trained and it was going to be their first! I would love to run Disney someday!

  5. Wow. That is a whole lot of things going wrong. Kudos to you for staying positive and enjoying the experience! How hot and humid was it? Did you have any problems with feeling sleepy once you started running? And how late was it when you finished?

    • It was around 11 pm when I finally started and probably 12:30 am-ish when I finished? It took me an hour to get through the finishing chute, eat, change, etc so it was about 2-2:15 when I finally got back to my hotel and to bed!

  6. […] the half marathon later that night, I had no trouble with travel to the race site on Saturday morning. Buses were […]

  7. […] easy read and b) I had a big chunk of time to get started on it while I was waiting out the Wine & Dine evacuation, I got sucked into this really […]

  8. […] it” in Papillion to the night race that didn’t turn out quite like we expected at the Wine & Dine half marathon. Des Moines was special though, because A) I totally told lupus to suck it and ran the steady, […]

  9. […] but certainly not least, has to be my Wine & Dine and Coast to Coast challenge medals. The Wine & Dine medal is pretty and certainly represents a […]

  10. […] also really like the colors of the Wine & Dine shirt (hmmm – my favorites are most my Disney shirts, surprise surprise!) and the fact that the […]

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