Ah, Disney. My dear, sweet, Disney. I wanted to hate you for not deferring my Dopey Challenge entry after I was told by my doctor, I physically could not run. I was angry…because that was a lot of money to be out…despite having doctors notes and all. I wanted to swear you off for life.
But I couldn’t.
Especially since I had to cancel my trip in January due to the injury and I opted, instead, to sign up for your latest challenge…Lumiere’s Challenge…which is a 2-race challenge (not the 4 races you do in January)…a 10K on Sunday and a half marathon on Sunday. I had the date marked on my calendar to sign up…and was so busy at work that I totally missed it…by a day. I figured it would be okay…but it wasn’t. The races were sold out.
I was sad, but then I recalled I wanted to do some more running for charity. So, I chose a cause near and dear to my heart…Alliance For A Healthier Generation. I blogged on this during my fundraising effort…and I totally raised a little bit more than the $1000 required for the charity.
THANK YOU to anyone who donated.
So, this was the weekend it all went down. And it has been a bit of a struggle getting here. Not physically…well…not here to Disney World. Physically, my foot ligament has been twinging every now and again, and sometimes is just painful. Also, just under a week before leaving for Disney, my sinuses suddenly decided that they wanted to just get all cloggy. I wasn’t sneezing or coughing, but I was definitely congested and lost my voice. This also meant my training runs were a mess of stops and breathing issues. Which didn’t make me feel confident heading into this weekend. While some of it has cleared up, I’m not 100%, but I was definitely ready for some running for sure.
Two days…two races…19.3 miles.
Let’s do this thing…
Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Race: Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 5, 2016
It is my long-term goal for the coming year to set a PR in a distance race. Short or long. With my return to running from injury, I’m having a hard time, mentally, dealing with the pitfalls of this hip labrum tear and the other aches and pains that have cropped up. So, after getting back with my running coach, we’re setting a few goals to aim for.
This was not one of the races I was using to hit a new PR. In fact, I was a little under 4 minutes from doing so. But I didn’t care…because this race was so freakin’ fun!
This is the first year that the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend included a 10K distance as well. I love doing inaugural races. I really do. And then I love returning to them. Disney puts on fantastic races, as I have mentioned before. And I do love these challenge race weekends that are popping up…EVERYWHERE now. But Disney…Disney has always done it best.
I actually got to Disney World on Thursday, giving me time to hit up the expo and have an entire day of exploring the parks before needing to worry about running. It also gave me time to recover well and be ready to run. We all know that race mornings come very, very, very, early at Disney World. And while Wine & Dine is usually a night race…this year they changed it to morning. So…I set three alarms on my phone…the first 2 for me and the final one for my entourage (aka: Jenn & Cathy).
I always do Disney races in costume, and I had originally intended to break out Vanellope Von Schweetz again (I was Vanellope when I did Wine & Dine in 2014), but my hip labrum injury had me not running for close to a year. Despite keeping a clean and healthy diet, I’ve put on some weight. So, the costume wasn’t flattering on me…at all. So…in the span of 2 days, my roomie and I managed to piece together an Officer Judy Hopps costume (from Zootopia). And that took a little while for me to get on (as it involved hair extensions and accessories), but I managed to get it on and get out the door in time to catch the shuttle over to the start.
I was supposed to meet up with my friend (and fellow #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Stephanie) at the shuttle bus from our resort (she was also staying at Port Orleans Riverside), but it turns out she turned off her alarm and slept through the start of the race. But, I did manage to meet up with another #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Melissa, at the start line. She and her husband were running the 10K as Disgust and Fear from Inside Out. Their costumes were totally cute! So, it was nice to converse with them before we were heading into the race. Melissa is a Run Disney pro…for real! And her costumes are AMAZING. So when she complimented me on my Hopps costume, that meant a lot to me.
We took some photos and then headed toward the start line. She and her husband were in a different corral, so I went to get into mine. It was pretty crowded in Corral A, but I found a spot to sit (even with my pinned on bunny tail) and let myself relax a little before being moved to the start line. I wasn’t there for too long before the group began to move. We passed by the other corrals and I heard a few people calling out to Corral A and wishing us luck. Love that.
Once at the start line, there were some announcements made and the National Anthem was sung. And the wheel chair racers were sent on their way. At this point, I was drawing a deep breath as the corral moved forward and we waited a couple of minutes before our fireworks and start time. And soon, Remy from Ratatouille was sending us off for the start of our run. I was hoping for the best. Continuous running was a mere impossibility leading into this race due to some sinus issues. I still had the lingering effects, so I just hoped I could get through it.
I was less than enthusiastic about the first three (and then some) miles of the 10K race. As with most Disney races, a majority of your time is spent out on the highway. They sort of curb your boredom with character stations and areas with jumbo television screens and fast, fun music. Still, by the first mile, I was already not loving my costume. The long hair extensions were hot…and annoying. I honestly don’t know how women with long hair can run with it down. I was so DONE with it. It just kept getting in my way. I can’t count the number of times I flung a extra-long pigtail back behind my shoulder.
Also…wearing three layers on your top half in humid Florida…not my best idea. HA!! Yep…three (3) layers. My sports bra, my t-shirt (which was originally long sleeve, but I thought better of it), and my other sports bra that I made into Judy Hopps vest. Yep…it got hot pretty fast for me. But, you know, you just keep trekking. I mean, it was 68 degrees with 88% humidity (it is Florida, after all) at the start of the race. I knew the layers were going to be hot when I threw this costume together at the last minute.
Regardless…I felt a little better about life (even if all the race photos are unflattering and tell a different story), once we entered Epcot for the last part of the race. At about 3.5 miles, we take to the park, starting around the World Showcase, cutting down across the boardwalk (and I love the people staying at those resorts along the boardwalk who come out and cheer that early in the morning!), and then cutting back into the World Showcase to round out the run by running past the big Epcot ball. From there, it’s down a stretch into the parking lot and across the finish line. I could tell I was slowing down once I hit Epcot. The hills inside the World Showcase aren’t bad…but my legs had been going on a full day of parks and I was tired. Seriously. I was tired…and a little grumpy. That 2:30 am wakeup call came too early and I was doing my best to not fall asleep in the corral at the start of the race. So, finishing was a relief. I didn’t even care about my time. And after crossing, I saw Cathy and Jenn waiting up in the bleachers, waiving the sign that was made the night before…and cheering.
None of us were really firing on all cylinders. But I do love having my peeps at the end of a race. I walked through the finisher’s chute, getting my 10K medal (this thing was HUGE and HEAVY) and continuing down for the water, snack box, banana, and then the official photos near the end. Cathy and Jenn were going to meet me outside of bag claim…so I went through after that and there they were, heading my way.
I gave them sweaty hugs and Cathy helped me change out of my race shoes (I raced in my Altras for the first time!) and into my recovery flip flops. My feet thanked me for that. I had wanted to take some photos with the Disney characters in the finish area, but the lines were super long. I told them we could head back to the resort as long as I got to get pictures after the half marathon. I think they were all relieved. We got on the bus after a few pictures and headed back to Port Orleans – Riverside, where I showered, ate some real food, and got ready to spend the rest of the day out in Hollywood Studios. Yep…at Disney, I don’t rest these legs. I get on rides, chase down characters, and have a blast. It’s Disney. And even though lacking mega caffeine and oomph, I had a brilliant time. Spent the day on my feet, and ended with a traditional (gluten free) pasta dinner at Mama Melrose’s. I even got to indulge in more carby goodness with the gluten free dinner rolls. I only ate one. And I ate only about 2/3 or my huge pasta dish. I was full. And tired. It was back to the resort after that. I climbed into bed, setting three alarms for the following morning…when I would run the half marathon!
Oh…so my official results of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K are that I finished in 48:19. Not too bad given the circumstances!! I was 164/9260 finishers overall. I was the 42/6556 female to cross the finish line. And I was 6/1102 runners in my age division. Considering I am still not 100% physically (damn ligament in my foot) and was dealing with the last of a sinus…thing…I’ll take it. It was a fantastic race and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Race: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 6, 2016
What a difference an extra hour of sleep makes!!
Seriously, THANK YOU TIME CHANGE!! It was a lot easier to get up at 2:30 am when we had to fall back on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ll take that extra hour. I could tell we all needed it regardless.
Especially Jenn. Jenn was not feeling the early morning love all day on Saturday as we trudged around Hollywood Studios. I kept offering coffee and/or caffeine in the form of soda, but I think she was determined to just be tired and (a little cranky) ride it out on her own. NOT ME!! I downed a Iced Soy Caramel Apple Latte from Joffrey’s just after riding Tower of Terror on Saturday and that was the kick I needed, honestly, to help with the rest of the day. I don’t play around. If I’m tired…I get my caffeine. Lessons learned along the way. Definitely helped make the day easier to navigate through. And it was another long day…this time at Hollywood Studios…still undergoing renovations.
We did take in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show, which meant we were sitting for awhile. So, I think she liked that part. Be that as it may, she was not loving much of life all day Sunday, and after hearing, “I’m so tired I could cry” more than once, I told her that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if she stayed at the resort on half marathon morning and slept. In fact, I’d prefer it so that we could avoid another adventure like Saturday.
She ignored all three alarms, and slept through my hurried dash back into the room after forgetting my sunglasses (sunrise was now earlier…I didn’t have time for the sunscreen I didn’t put on thinking it would be like the day before and still be dark when I finished). The one other race weekend she came to Disney with us, I was doing Wine & Dine in 2014…and it was still a night race. Note to self: Jenn doesn’t handle Disney wake-up race times well. LOL!! Hey…those schedules on Disney weekends are brutal…I admit it. But I’m sort of used to the early mornings, and the on-the-go days, to the semi-late. And I’m pretty much a Disney race veteran. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone for sure. I think Saturday was the breaking point for Jenn. And that’s fine. The extra sleep and down time meant that she was ready to go at Epcot that afternoon. So, YAY! And that was a long day, as we had the after party that night as well. So, this was probably the best option for her…so I’m glad she did what was best for her.
Now, Cathy and I were up at the ass-crack of dawn and out the door to the shuttle to take us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where the race was to start. For the half marathon, I was running as the Disney Princess that my niece, Kaytlynn, requested this time around…Ariel. Yep…I was The Little Mermaid. Simple costume (and much cooler too, although this race morning was a bit cooler (64 degrees) and windy…but the humidity was higher…pretty much at 100%. UGH. That being said, I had a throw-away shirt on over my purple sports bra and it helped keep me warm up until I shed it for the #KDFMarathon Ambassador photo before the start of the race. Anyway, the big shuttle left the resort pick-up spot just as we were getting to the front of the line…so, when the next bus showed up, it was WAY smaller. I said, “And they sent us the short bus!” It made everyone laugh. That being said, we boarded, settled, and let the bus carry us to the start of Sunday’s adventure.
The plan was for all of the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors (Stephanie, Richie, Melissa and me) to meet up at Bag Check before the race. This time, all four (4) of us made it. And we all looked amazing in our cute outfits. We got our pictures (which meant I ditched the shirt and then just never got it back) together and chatted a bit about the 10K, upcoming races, and just other stuff…that general stuff. Richie and I were in Corral A together so, after we all broke to get to our corrals, he and I stuck together and made our way into ours. I stood with him until the wheel chair racers kicked off. Then I gave him a hug and said I was going to move up and attempt to meet the goal that my coach had set for me for this race.
That goal…run it in 1:45:00.
As I had run (not raced) the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon two weeks prior to this (that race blog is incoming, life has been a busy, frantic, hectic mess) in less than this time (but barely), I figured this was an acceptable goal and one that I could accomplish.
But it wasn’t a walk in the (Disney) park either.
Once again, we had the fanfare of fireworks for Corral A to start off to. We also had Olympian Jenny Simpson running with the first corral. She was using this as an easy training run, you know…only running 6:15 min miles and all. She came in second, overall, btw…after a back and forth to the finish with the eventual winner. Her husband, Jason Simpson, won the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and set a new course record. So, that’s kind of cool to run in the footsteps of Simpson running greatness.
It was also in this first mile that I noticed a familiar running stride ahead of me. I pushed a little to catch up and was able to say “HI” to another Louisville runner, Lynn Riedling. That was about all I got to say before she pulled ahead and then was gone in the darkness. Probably about halfway through the first mile we heard the fireworks go off to send off Corral B…and one of the guys just ahead of me goes, “Run faster…they’re coming for us!”
Once again, this Disney race was mostly highway miles. But they did make a point to have character stops and some scenic stops along the way. There were also the music and television monitor stations throughout the course, to sort of shake up the monotony. The first three miles of this race…I felt like I ran well. I was comfortable in the moist air, as my layers today consisted of a purple sports bra and a green sparkle skirt. MUCH better in the Orlando humidity.
My first noticeable pace slow-down came between Mile 4 and Mile 5. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this was while I was inside Animal Kingdom (THANK GOD, they let us run completely through a park, because when the course maps were first released, it looked like we were running to the middle of nowhere and coming back). The course did narrow in some areas, and I do get distracted by the photo stops that are set up with characters. But I pressed on through to the 10K mark, my pace picking back up. I told myself that I would take in nutrition at the 10K line, and I did, downing a Hammer Gel (giving these a try…despite the rule to never try something new on race day). This and my Nuun I was hauling in one of my bottles on my fuel belt both had caffeine, which I hoped would wake me up when I was feeling tired and ready to stop.
It worked its magic. I managed to pick the pace up a little again for Mile 7 through Mile 11. These were all on the highway, and despite being Florida, we actually had a few hills to navigate over. Two of them came in a row. My favorite one though had to be the first hill we hit. Disney stationed a character out there…one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story. He was calling out to runners to push hard up the hill. If anyone slowed down they would have to do pushups. He noticed one runner just ahead of me.
“You…you in the blue shorts…get over here. Give me one pushup.” To my surprise, the runner did just that. And then the army man said, “Now…run fast and make up the 3 seconds you just wasted.”
I LOVE DISNEY!
Mile 12 had us entering the Epcot area. Like most of the races at this point, we just sort of duck into Epcot. It isn’t like the 10K where we get to run around the World Showcase and see it all. At this point, I spotted one of those inflatable T-Rex Costumes and the wearer was holding a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” LOVE IT. I was in my last mile…and really cutting it close on time. I hated that I felt like I ran this race better and was still coming in so close to what I did Urban Bourbon in without even trying. Returning from injury is frustrating at times…but you just end up being thankful for the gift of running that day in the end. I did the weird jog around the Food & Wine Festival centerpiece and headed up past the Epcot ball. And with that said, I made the turn and heard the gospel choir that is always at Mile 13 (or 26 if it’s the full marathon) at the Disney races. This is always uplifting…and I picked up my pace. I rounded a corner…got nailed by all the Disney photographers taking pictures of the runners coming toward the finish…and just pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my hip and (sore) foot…and crossed that finish line…before it hit 1:45:00.
I saw Cathy up in the stands cheering and gave a wave as I made my way down the finisher’s chute. Here I received my medal for the half marathon, then proceeded on to get water, my snack box, and eventually go through the tent to get my medal for completing the 10K and the Half Marathon. This was “Lumiere’s Challenge”. As I was about to grab my water bottle, I hear my name being called over the fence. It was Cathy, sticking her camera over to get a photo. She said, “Want to know your time?” I said I did. And she said…”You did 1:44:30…BOOM!” She even texted it to my coach for me. HAHA! The volunteers at the table found this entire conversation amusing being as it was done over a covered fence. I got to the Challenge Medal tent, had them look up my name, and they sent me through to receive the medal. Afterwards, I exited through Bag Check and met up with Cathy on the other side. Sweaty hugs were given, and my race shoes (today I was in my Brooks), were changed out for the flip flops again. I was lingering a little, hoping to catch Richie again as he came through, but Cathy noticed that the lines of the characters were super short, and didn’t want me to miss the opportunity to get photos with them, since I passed it up due to lines on Saturday. I was able to get photos (rather quickly) with Lumiere and with Remy (from Ratatouille). And after that…I went back to see if I could catch Richie, but he had already finished and left for Port Orleans French Quarter. I had just missed him.
We arrived back at Port Orleans Riverside and trekked back to the manor house we were staying in. Jenn was up, and she was rested. So this was good. I went to shower, change, and eat some real food before we got our stuff together and headed out to Epcot for the day. We finished up around 4-ish with everything and decided to go back to the resort for a little while to unwind before returning to check in and then enjoy the After Party. This also meant that everyone else was kicked out of Epcot and we got to stay and eat at all the countries, drink at all the countries, and ride any of the rides that were open. This was, in fact, how we got on the new Soarin’. We had fast passed the Frozen Ever After ride.
I did manage to meet up with Stephanie and Richie while walking the showcase that night. I didn’t ever find Melissa. Ironically, my friend Michelle, for the second time in a row, managed to find me in the huge crowd of people at the After Party. We took a picture to commemorate her awesome GPS honing skills. HAHA!
I was able to enjoy a few stops at the After Party as well. I started my night off with Dole Whip…then went on to Brazil where I devoured two large rolls of Pão de Queijo, and then finished off the night with a Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffle.
It was close to 1 am when we got back to our room at the resort. And we had to get up early (but not race morning early) for a character breakfast the next morning. BUT…that involved gluten-free Mickey waffles…so I was okay with this.
Oh…and I guess I should give you the official race results. The official race results of the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:44:30. So, yay…I managed to hit my coach’s goal time with 30 seconds to spare. Whew. I was 208/12651 finishers overall. I was 56/8749 women to cross the finish line. And, I was 11/1513 in my age division. Not too bad.
Now…if I can get this whole endurance with speed (and no pains or issues breathing) thing down, I might be well on my way to a way better race year next year. But this was Half Marathon #23…and the final one for the year. No better way to finish it up than at Disney!
I will say…I still miss running this race at night. But it wasn’t a bad way to start a Sunday off either.
OH…and before I forget…a big THANK YOU to all of you who donated funds to the charity I was raising money for by doing this race. Alliance For A Healthier Generation is a fantastic charity doing great things for the future of our country and the children that are to be our future. I went slightly over my fundraising goal, never a bad thing…and I have many of you to thank for that. So…THANK YOU…from the bottom of my heart!