Run now, wine later!
Finally got to experience the fall half marathon at Walt Disney World. With a lot of changes to the race weekend, it was a lot of firsts for many involved.
For the first time, this race was a morning race. It also featured a new 10k and challenge. It was also a whole new course – eliminating a run through Hollywood Studios (I’m assuming because of the current construction at the park).
Friday: Expo and Cocktail Reception
I arrived on Friday and immediately headed to expo. There was a line to get into packet pickup but it moved quickly so I was in the building before I knew it.
After picking up my bib, I headed over to the Jostens Center to pick up my race shirt and do some shopping (and freebie hunting!).
First stop was New Balance. I just wanted to drool over the pretty runDisney shoes (they are gorgeous!). I also never paid attention to their clothes options before – I definitely fell in love with a sweatshirt that had the castle in gold with the word “home” underneath. I was good and didn’t buy 🙂 I then just wandered some of the other booths to see what was being offered as I made my way to the shirt pick up area. This expo seemed less crowded than other expos I have been to at Disney – which was a pleasant surprise. After picking up my shirt, I swung by one booth and made a very tasty purchase:
While sipping my champagne, I made my way up the last aisle of the expo. I stopped by the runDisney booth and looked at the pretty medals for the upcoming races. I also stopped by the Jeff Galloway booth. If you don’t know, Mr. Galloway is the official runDisney coach as well as an Olympian. He is all about the run-walk-run method. I got to meet him and he signed my copy of The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World. He writes the foreward for each edition.
Finishing with expo, it was time to head to Disney Springs for the cocktail reception with Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. The event took place at Splitsville Lanes and I was super excited since I had never been there before.
The weather was absolutely perfect for an evening out on the balcony at Splitsville. The food and drinks were delicious and the service fantastic. It was a very fun and festive atmosphere for a gathering of Kellsie’s Krew.
I can’t tell you how much I absolutely love this group. The energy is infectious and the people are the best you will ever meet. I can not wait to run for them again in 2018 (I would in 2017 but I need to give my fundraising some time off; I raised over $2000 for 2016).
Saturday: Volunteering the 10K
It was an early morning on Saturday. I was up at 2 so I could be at my volunteer shift by 3:30am.
I’m always asked how I can voluntarily wake up so early to work for free. The energy at Disney races is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I love being there to see the smiles on runners faces as they finish, seeing the creativity of costumes, and just being a part of the excitement.
I was assigned to finsh line crowd control which basically means I tell people to keep moving to keep the chute clear so everyone can get through smoothly. I also get to help runners take photos of their finish line memories – the most popular background being with the medal tree and finish structure behind them.
Sunday: Half Marathon
Second early morning in a row but it is race day!
I was out the door by 3:30 and at the staging area around 4am. I made my way around the area dropping off my gear bag and making a quick stop at medical to get some TLC for a blister.
I was in corral I. I believe I crossed the start around 6:00am which was 30 minutes after the initial gun time of 5:30. I had been urged by a good friend to try a 30/30 run walk interval so that was what I set out to do.
The first mile was around ESPN: Wide World of Sports. Not a super exciting area but it was cool to pass the entrance sign as it was all lit up in different colors and they had energizing music playing through the speakers. The second mile was boring service road leading to the main drag that takes you to Animal Kingdom. For entertainment, there was a DJ and an act from one of the night shows (potentially the new Animal Kingdom show). I also noticed the Country Bears. These first 2 miles flew by and I was really pleased with how the intervals were making me feel.
Miles 3-5 were through Animal Kingdom. This does include the parking lot. They had a water stop and a marching band in the parking lot to make it not so boring. Once approaching the park, the entrance was definitely a photo stop for a lot of runners. Once in the park, I noticed characters from Jungle Book out for photos. I really liked running through the park from the front entrance to the back. It was nice to experience the park a different way than Star Wars. I did stop for a picture in front of The Tree of Life.
Miles 6-9.5 were through services roads and areas I don’t really know. They did have some characters (Chip and Dale, Dark Wing Duck), a band, a DJ and a comic act along this part to provide distraction and entertainment.
Miles 9.5 to 13.1 were familiar to me. It was the exit for Magic Kingdom (so parking lot), long road way to Epcot (and everyone’s favorite on ramp – however I do love the toy soldier who is always there), and then the best site ever – the Epcot ball right over your head signalling you are almost there! It’s always a thrill to run past the park goers as they shout encouragement to you! I also noticed finishers wearing their medals cheering on those of us still heading to the finish.