Monday, November 11, 2013

I did it! One week post-Ironman I crossed the finish line of the runDisney Wine And Dine Half Marathon and earned my Coast-to-Coast medal.

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Woo hoo!

I debated calling this post “What not to do before a 10:00pm Half Marathon” because, let’s face it, I did everything wrong. Besides doing my full Ironman the week before, I spent the day of the race at a family party. I drank from the keg, I ate a big plate of roast pig, enjoyed homemade sides (heavy on the mayo), and indulged in rich desserts. I also neglected taking any sort of nap. Whoops.

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I had a good excuse, though! My twin brother was in town from California, my grandparents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, my parents just made the final payment on their mortgage, AND there was that little Ironman my siblings and I just completed. There was a LOT to celebrate!

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So I drank beer, I ate an extra serving of homemade potato salad, and I sort of forgot I was running 13.1 miles in a few hours.

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I left the party just after 5:00 and made the hour drive to Disney. I stopped at Starbucks on the way and asked for my secret weapon (iced coffee with an espresso shot). I hoped this would help me run hard and stay awake.

Luckily I was staying on Disney property, which made everything super easy. I took the obligatory bathroom run outfit shot.

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Go #TeamSparkle!

And was in line for the bus to the start line with these lovely ladies before the 8:00 pm cut off.

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(So much fun getting to know Kristin and Megan this weekend!)

I was spoiled at Disneyland in September. Sadly, the ability to just walk from your hotel to the starting line does not exist at Walt Disney World. Due to road closures, traffic, and RunDisney’s desire to start the race on time; we had to make sure we were on the bus by 8:00pm (for a 10:00pm race start). Fortunately that’s 8:00pm and not 3:30 am, like some other RunDisney races at WDW. 😉

The wait for the bus was a little longer than expect, but that’s what we get for arriving 15 minutes before the cut-off (we weren’t the only ones!). I heard there wasn’t much of a wait for anyone that took the earlier buses. Despite the wait, the whole process was really easy. We hopped on the bus, enjoyed a comfortable ride, and were still at the start line well before they opened the corrals.

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We even had time to enjoy the dance party happening in the holding area.

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Never mind the fact I was the only one from our crew dancing. 😉

They opened the corrals an hour before the start, at which time we proceeded to wait in the world’s longest porta potty line. 45 minutes! We waited 45 minutes to pee… without toilet paper! There were at least a hundred toilets there, I’m still blown away by the fact the line was that long.

We went from having plenty of time to get to our corrals, to getting very antsy and practically bolting to them as soon as we were done. I said goodbye to Kirsten and Megan at this point, and said hello to some new friends I found.

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Yay! Friends! I found Sarah and Jess with a handful of other bloggers who were all running their first RunDisney races.

Monica and SkinnyRunner were the corral in front.

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In an effort to alleviate some of the overcrowding on the course, RunDisney recently changed their corral system. Instead of a handful of corrals filled to the max with participants, they’ve doubled the amount of corrals and divided the number of participants in each corral in half. They’re also releasing the corrals every 2 minutes instead of 5. This was my first race with the new system and I have to say, starting in front, I thought it worked well.

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We watched the first corral go, then made our way to the front. I spotted the lovely Carissa and she gave me a shout for my Ironman (have I ever told you how much I love Carissa?!).

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As soon as she mentioned completing the Ironman last week, the couple next to me told me they just did Panama City, too (and even showed me the blue wristbands they still had on!). I knew I wasn’t the only crazy one! We commiserated in the fact that none of us had done any running since IMFL and we just hoped we made it to the finish line. You couldn’t hope for more than that.

Two minutes after the corral ahead of us went, the fireworks went off and it was our turn to cross that start line. I was happy to see that even though there were twice as many corrals, they were still doing fireworks with the start of each one. The fireworks with the start of each corral is one of the things that makes RunDisney special!

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I let the adrenaline high of the race atmosphere get to me and admittedly went out way too fast. I ended up pacing with Jess (who is super fast!) and went out 8:05 for our first mile. Keep in mind that first mile also included a photo stop.

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Eeekk.. too fast!

I knew I wasn’t going to hold that pace for all 13.1 miles, but I also knew I was having fun and enjoying the company. I told Jess I needed to hold it back a tad, so we slowed down to an 8:30ish pace… and stopped for another photo.

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We caught up with the rest of the group and ran as a six-some for the next few miles. I started to feel really comfortable with the pace we were holding as a group and decided to hold on as long as I could.

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(p.s. I love that RunDisney allows you to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your runner tracking. It was really accurate and my husband had fun texting me with encouraging comments when the updates came through.)

We entered Animal Kingdom around mile 4 and had a ton of fun in the park.

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Since we were surrounded by the “serious” runners in the early corrals, the lines for the photos were nonexistent. I was actually shocked that we never waited in line for a photo.

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Anyone who’s done a RunDisney race knows that the lines for photos can get insane. I’ve heard of people waiting up to 10 minutes for a photo on a run course! Admittedly, I’ve been in that situation before and have some pretty slow-for-me half marathon times to show for it.

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So you want to avoid the lines? Here’s the trick: start in an early corral and average 8:30 min/mi between characters. I know this won’t work for everyone, but if you can run a sub-2:00 half (and hold that pace between characters), the lines should be minimal.

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We exited Animal Kingdom around mile 5 and started the long, boring stretch to Hollywood Studios. I ran with Sarah and Lauren at this point. They were both impressed with the amount of aid stations on the course. There was at least one station every mile (to account for the nasty Florida heat and humidity) and I had a Powerade and water at every single one of them.

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It was fun getting to know the girls on the run, but I started feeling really bad out there. I probably could have kept pushing myself to keep up through the finish, but I didn’t feel like pushing myself that hard. I’m NOT trained for speed and didn’t want to hurt myself. So somewhere between mile 8 and mile 9, I decided to walk the station and told the girls to keep going.

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Not long after the girls left me, we entered Hollywood Studios.

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See my times slowly slowing down?

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At this point I totally let loose and decided to have fun with this race. I stopped at every photo opp, I hammed it up for the cameras, and I just had fun.

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I even started a dance party in the disco-themed costume warehouse.

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Everyone who’s done Wine and Dine has RAVED about running through the Osbourne Family Lights. I was so excited once we entered Hollywood Studios because I knew they was coming up. However, it turned into a big tease. Every time I thought we were heading towards the lights, the course would turn and we would go into another backstage lot. The anticipation of the lights really made our time in Hollywood Studios feel like it was dragging forever!

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Finally, we went backstage one last time and made a big loop towards the lights. It was worth the wait, the lights were amazing to run through.

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I can’t wait to return this holiday season and properly stare at them for longer than a 20 second break.

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The final stretch of the race had us running the path that connects Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The crowds outside the resorts were awesome, clearly that was the best spectator spot on the course!

We entered Epcot with less than a mile to go and headed past the globe and to the finish line in the Epcot parking lot. I took my time in the finisher’s chute and finished with a quick high five to Minnie. I’m not sure why I’ve never given a character a high-five at the finish line before now!

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As soon as I crossed the finish line I heard the announcer say Jen’s name. I got my medal (Thanks, @LivingtheBefore!) and quickly turned around to say hi to Jen.

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That’s one speedy pregnant lady!

I also grabbed my Coast-to-Coast medal.

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My neck was sore after lugging those medals around all night. RunDisney does not mess around – those babies were heavy!

I made my way to my bag (which was with the S bags – weird) and grabbed my food box and “glass” of wine.

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How cute is that? A single serve glass of wine to-go. I never opened it (sadly, I’m not one who craves alcohol after I finish running), but I did save it and put it on a shelf at home.

I was hungry for the last half of the race and on the verge of starving after I finished. I was also sore, so I plopped down next to a light and opened my food box. I was only craving salty food at that time and lucked out with a bag of chips, which I devoured. Once I finished the chips, I decided to head to the after party for some desperately needed real food.

I was tired, weak, and my right foot was killing me. Getting into Epcot wasn’t bad, but waiting at the crosswalk to cross the race path was torture. It was really crowded and I started to feel light headed and sick. I needed food and I needed it now.

It took a good 20 minutes until I was able to make across the crosswalk. Once across, I beelined it to the Greece booth and ordered a gyro. It’s amazing how much better I felt after devouring that gyro.

The post-race party, was really just the Food & Wine Festival opened privately for Wine & Dine Half Marathon Participants. The staff was amazingly peppy and energetic at 1:00am. I was jealous of all their energy!

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All runners were given $10 gift cards to spend at the party when we picked up our race packets. Mine went quickly with the gyro and a lobster roll in America.

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Oh, man. That lobster roll was amazing after running 13.1 miles at 1:00am. I talked Kristen into ordering one too, and she agreed it was among the best post-race food she’s ever had. Delicious.

The party went until 4:00am, but I was done after the lobster roll. We finished our circle around the world and headed to the bus. It took everything I had not to stop and take a nap on a park bench on the way out. There were still runners on the course (more power to them!), but luckily the wait for the crosswalk wasn’t as bad going out as it was coming in. It was insane to watch the crowds continue to pile in. When I entered the party, there were no lines for food, on the way out the queues were all full to the max. Crazy!

We hopped right on the bus and were in our hotel rooms 15 minutes later – perfection!

The next morning I met Megan and her fiance for breakfast at Kona.

We shared Kona’s famous french pressed coffee (the best coffee on Disney World property).

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And toasted our success with mimosas.

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I ordered the famous Tonga Toast (sans banana) and cleaned my plate.

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Megan and I continued the party in the hotel room with more champagne, more orange juice, and lots of ice for our sore feet.

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I couldn’t have planned a better post-race morning. I’ll now be requesting mimosas after every race I do!

I spent the rest of the day at Disney World, enjoying the sunshine and showing off my new bling.

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Not going to lie, I’d been planning the shot for years now. 😉

I had so much fun at Wine & Dine this weekend. I would definitely do this race again, 10:00pm start and all. 🙂

Did you run Wine & Dine? What did you think?

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