Well, first things first: we finished our first 1/2 marathon!! When I initially stumbled across the race website back in May, I knew we were meant to run it. Our wine nights, whether in person or via Skype, are frequent. We love to cook and enjoy delicious food. The Wine & Dine 1/2 was calling our name!
We trained separately for five months, her in Florida and I in Texas, and we met up in Orlando on October 1, 2010. Our first stop? The Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.
Obviously since neither of us had done a race this large before, we had never experienced an Expo. Needless to say, our wallets were not pleased by the time we dragged ourselves out of there.
The Expo was pretty well organized, and there was minimal chaos. It might have helped that we showed up the first day, only one hour after it opened. You pick up your number, check your D-Tag, and pick up your swag bag (not impressed with the contents, I will say though). Quick and painless!
After picking up all of our race supplies, we grabbed a glass of Prosecco and began wandering around. We both invested in iFitness belts, a Wine & Dine t-shirt and wine glass, and I purchased a BondiBand. We also saw Jeff Galloway speaking on stage about running the race using the Galloway Method.
That evening we headed to Café Tu Tu Tango for dinner and drinks, followed by a trip to a dueling piano bar and a nearby dance hall. Probably not the best pre-race day lineup, but the race wasn’t until 10pm the next night. Vacation mode was in full-swing!
Saturday was fairly uneventful, as we rested up for the big night! Lots of eating, napping, and watching tv. Around 5:30pm, we began getting ready:
and headed to the food court for a pre-race snack: almond butter & bananas on whole wheat toast:
We boarded the bus at 6:30 to head over to the start line. In hindsight, I probably should have brought this food with me. It was WAY too early to eat that, with a 10pm start time. We were fully stocked with Gu, but something substantial closer to the race would have been much more beneficial.
Here we are at the pre-race party:
Around 9:45 we were all herded towards the starting line. We were in Corral C, but the race didn’t start in waves, which I thought was a little odd. Everyone started at once, and it made certain stretches of the race really cramped.
And we’re off!
This is what a lot of the race looked like, extremely dark and on back roads. I know there is only so much we can run in the parks, but the rest of the course was pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong though, there was a bit of entertainment:
And after running all of this:
… it was a HUGE relief it was to see this:
After running through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and a couple hotels, we were about to cross the finish line in Epcot – thank god!!
We finished in 3:12. We walked probably about 50% of it, but we were completely okay with that. Our goal was to finish, and that’s exactly what we did
After crossing the finish line, we were handed a bag with a banana, muffin, granola bar, etc. in it. Then we got in line to receive our medals, and headed to pickup our bag from bag check. This is where things took a turn for the worse.
We were all funneled through four separate doors, which we assumed would lead us to four separate lines for bag pickup. This was not the case; the four doors emptied out into one large building, which had little to no airflow. Cramming hundreds of hot, sweaty runners into a small confined area only minutes after finishing a half marathon? Massive fail. People were passing out left and right. Disney definitely dropped the ball here, although it was pretty surprising since they put on numerous other endurance events throughout the year.
After grabbing our bag, we entered the Finish Line Party. Basically, it was the Food & Wine Festival setup. This party was open to the 11,000 runners, plus family/friends of the runners who purchased tickets for it (at $35, if anyone is curious). Now imagine all of those people in line at 25-30 food/drink kiosks. Pure pandemonium. The last thing you want to do after running a half is stand in line waiting for food. Especially when you enter the party with only about an hour to enjoy to it! We hit the champagne kiosk, which had a bearable line. Then we went to Puerto Rico for frozen mojitos, and Carly had some soup. We snagged a spot on the steps of the Mexico ride, and then we decided we needed to leave ASAP. After grabbing a beer from the 15 Beers for 15 Years kiosk, we headed towards the exit.
A place where I expected Disney to fail was the transportation back to our hotel, since there were SOO many people at Epcot. However, we were able to board a bus right after we arrived at our bus stop. We arrived at our hotel, and then it was time for this:
Overall, we had a GREAT time! I mean, we finished our first half marathon together – how awesome is that! Would we run this race again? Definitely. The logistics at the bag pickup/finish line party need to be worked out on Disney’s end, but it was the Inaugural year so we can’t complain too much.
Hopefully we’ll be back for the 2011 race!