Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011 Wine & Dine Half Marathon Race Recap Part 1

Last weekend my wife and I headed down to Orlando to visit family, friends and of course, participate in Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon. We have run in Disney 5Ks before but this would be our first half marathon, so we weren’t sure what to expect. I was excited to be able to run through MGM Studios since I spent such a large part of my Disney tenure at that park, but equally nervous as I was recovering from a serious stress fracture in my leg. Overall, the entire weekend was amazing and we are both pretty sad to be back in Chicago after such a great weekend. Luckily, the WDW Marathon is right around the corner (with plenty of 5Ks & 8Ks in between).

We got in Thursday and visited with my wife’s parents for a bit and dropped off our dog (we tend to travel with our pup a lot. He’s a good traveler on the plane) to be babysat for the weekend. We were concerned the weather hadn’t cooled down yet like predicted and heard horror stories of last year’s race where it was so hot and humid people dropped like flies. Luckily, the cold front showed up and made the night perfect for running.

Friday, we met up with my mom and went to the expo at the Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets and some RunDisney merch I’ve had my eye on. It was pretty empty at the packet pickup area so no long waits. I picked up my packet quickly and headed over to the Runner’s Relations booth to see if I could get in the correct corral (my stress fracture prohibited me from qualifying races during the summer). I was finally able to get a qualifying race and the person behind the counter changed my “C” corral to the correct “A” corral no problem.

After the packet pickup, we headed over to the expo to get our shirts and look at all the other great running gear. I ran into fellow ROTE’r Heather from www.runningwithsass.com at the Running Skirts both and told her I enjoyed her blog. We also got to meet Jeff Galloway which was super awesome (in a nerdy running kinda way). Even though, we didn’t purchase a book at the expo (we already had some), he spent a good time prepping my wife about the half marathon. He was super genuine and all around a great guy. That night we had a great dinner at the restaurant we had our wedding rehearsal dinner at and reminisced about the night.

Jeff Galloway

Saturday morning was the Halloween 5K at Animal Kingdom. My wife requested we walk it since the half was a mere 15 hours away, so we hung out in the back (thankfully, I managed to get her to jog a bit since the back of the pack was something akin to water buffalo trying to all make a narrow water crossing. As per usual, the pre-race was chock full of DJ’s corny banter and a repertoire of songs typically found on a bride & groom’s ‘Do Not Play” list. There were also a lot of characters for pictures which was nice for those who are into that kind of thing. Since this was an “experience” run and not a “timed” one, I decided to bring the little camera. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a lot of pictures. Oh well.

One of the few photos

Once the race started, the herd started to move to a slow crawl and we were off. Later that night we learned many of the paths used in the 5K were re-appropriated for the half marathon so it was nice to somewhat know where we were headed when running that night in the dark. The 5K started taking us all the way around the AK parking lot and in through the front gate. We, then moved through the path which opened up to view the Tree of Life which I think is a very cool icon for the park (more on that later). Past Camp Minnie Mickey, we headed over the bridge to Harambe and made an immediate right towards Asia. However, before doing so, we cut through the back area to Conservation Station and the backstage area for the Kilimanjaro Safaris. During the backstage run, we ran past the hippo and elephant enclosures but didn’t see any animals. The only ones that were on the course were an owl, and tortoise, and a ferret. Really, Disney? Really?

After emerging from backstage, we turned into Asia, where in front of Expedition Everest there was Goofy dressed as Himalayan Sherpa. I found this to be pretty cool since I am completely enamored by the actual Mt. Everest. From there, we headed through Finding Nemo: The Musical queue, past Countdown to Extinction and backstage. Since we were nearing the end, I decided to do some actual running and took off a bit. I waited at the Finish line for my wife and we crossed together which I thought was nice.

C'mon Devin!

The medal (ahem…medallion) was another cheesy rubber keychain looking thing that is rather sad (certainly, the price to run warrants a real medal), but we expected nothing less. Even though, we didn’t really “run” this, it was still enjoyable to motor through a park we seldom visit. I’m really looking forward for an MK 5K. Hopefully, in January.

After the run, we had breakfast at Whispering Canyon in the Wilderness Lodge. I’ve been there before but my wife hadn’t so it was fun to see her reaction of all the debauchery that happens when the staff interacts with the guests. However, our experience there was a foreshadow of my overall experience at Disney during our weekend (that’s saved for another post).

It was about 11a and we decided to check in at our resort, the Beach Club, knowing full well our room wouldn’t be ready. Turns out, it was! Well, our king bed was not available so they upgraded us to a water view with two queen beds so the room was kind of ready.

We hung out at the resort a bit and walked around the lagoon. For old time sake, we had lunch at the little pizza counter over at the Boardwalk which was delicious as always and then headed back to the Beach Club. Upon arriving back at the hotel, my wife exclaimed she left her purse at the pizza place so I had to high tail it all the way back over to the counter to see if it was there, which luckily it was. We napped until about 6. I didn’t sleep well as my anticipation for what lay ahead of me in just a few short hours.

6:00 came, we donned our running apparel and headed out the door to the bus for Wide World of Sports. The next time we entered our room we would be half marathoners……


End of Part 1.

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