January 16, 2013

WDW Half Marathon Recap

Without a doubt, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon has been one of my all time favorite races.  Simply put - I had a ton of fun during the entire race.  There are many things that can impact the "fun factor" of a race - how you feel, the weather, the on course entertainment, etc.
For me, this race was an A+ and here's why...

1. I had a good attitude about my time.  I definitely wanted to PR, but I knew with the weather that my sub-2:10 goal was likely out of reach, so I didn't put too much pressure on myself.

2. I enjoyed the moment.  I stopped thinking about running at specific times during the race and made sure to soak up my surroundings.  I did this going through the Magic Kingdom gates, in Magic Kingdom and running through EPCOT.  Sure those were the easy high points of the race, but it's what makes Disney races amazing.

3. I more consciously focused on the runners around me.  I chatted with strangers, fist-pumped a fellow Virginian and enjoyed every one's costumes/outfits.

4. I also focused on the volunteers and thanked them as often as I could muster the breath to shout "thank you!"

So now for the chronology of the morning...we woke up at 2:50AM (gross!), got dressed and headed out to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) by 3:10 to catch the monorail to EPCOT.  We wanted to be on the early side given that we've heard nightmares about making it to the corrals on time during marathon weekend.  We got on the first monorail that came through and shared a car with a few other runners.  We chatted with them and shared our nervous excitement.  We made it to EPCOT a few minutes later and walked over to the Wonder Lot where the bag check, pre-race entertainment and family reunion area are located.  One perk of staying at a resort on the monorail is that the walk to this area is much shorter than from the bus drop-off point.
Great signage for transportation
We hung out a bit, hit the port-a-potties and waited for the time to move to our corrals.  While there, we ran into one of our awesome readers (Hi Karen!) and chatted for a bit.  Alas it was finally time to walk through the weird Disney vehicle graveyard to the corrals.  We stopped at the port-a-potties one last time and headed to Corral B, where we met up with Krista and her husband, Scott.  It was awesome to meet up with friends and chat prior to the start. I find that the time waiting in the corral can be a little bit anxiety-inducing.  Since Mom and I weren't planning to run together, we wished each other well and had a quick hug before the start.  And then things started moving quickly...the national anthem, corral A start and then corral B start.
Starting line fun!
During the first few miles, I focused on staying on the right side of the course (I'm a Galloway girl) and avoid weaving as much as possible.  As always, the first mile or two can be pretty crowded, so I didn't worry too much about pace then.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my preferred pace was consistent with the crowd, which definitely helped.  At mile 2, we made the turn for Magic Kingdom, passed the pirate ship and a few other characters.  Then the fun began...we hit the Magic Kingdom gates, rolled through the TTC and then went under that legendary underpass near the Contemporary.

And then the magic happened...running down Main Street is just awesome!  I smile a big ol' cheesy smile every time I do it!  I ignored my pace completely during MK, just trying to enjoy the sights and sounds of it all.   The characters, the rides, the castle - amazing!  And then all too quickly, it was over.

As we exited MK, I grabbed my Clif bloks and started chomping 2 at a time during a walk break until they were gone (about mile 7).  And then we started getting closer to the MK resorts - the Grand Floridian first, with Mary Poppins, Bert and the penguin out front, posing for photos, and then the Polynesian, with Lilo and Stich posing for photos with a Hawaiian backdrop.  My Dad planned to spectate, so immediately I was looking for him in the crowd.  And sure enough, I saw him before he saw me.  We shared a smile and a wave and off I went towards EPCOT.

Now, somewhere on the mile 6-7 stretch, the 2:15 Clif pace group passed me...and let me tell you, I was none too pleased to see him go by me.  But I relaxed, told myself to run my own race and just go with the flow.  At mile 8, the course widens significantly as we passed the Hess station to merge back onto World Drive.  Here, I was able to find my groove, dropping my pace to 10:10-ish.  I felt great.

Next up, was the Clif Shots stop at mile 8.8ish.  I checked out the banners to find citrus and made my way over to a volunteer ready to fuel me for the rest of my run.  I always wait to take the gels until I can see a water stop...I really need water to wash them down.  And a word of caution - watch out for the packages afterwards - I once watched someone step on a full gel and it squished all over their shoe - icky!

Surprisingly the route back to EPCOT went very quickly for me.  I was amused by the Army Men challenging runners to push up contests...but soon that amusement faded as we headed into the string of overpasses that made my calves burn!!  At mile 11, I passed the 2:15 pace man triumphantly...I thought about sticking my tongue out as I passed him, but thought better of that.
As we descended the 2nd to last overpass, there was a DJ giving shout outs to people's hometowns...I yelled "Virginia is for Lovers" to him and the guy running next to me also yelled "Virginia"...we shared a quick "VA represent" moment and then he was off ahead of me.  The last overpass was brutal and my legs ached.  I quickly reminded myself that I was a mere mile+ from the finish.

EPCOT greeted us at mile 12 with tons of awesome, cheering spectators.  We made our way by Spaceship Earth, up to the edge of World Showcase and back out to the side exit.  The amazing gospel choir serenaded us to the finish.  I felt like I was floating.  I concentrated hard on seeing a character at the finish line (I ALWAYS miss them!) and high fived Mickey on my way to a 2:13 finish time.  I was overjoyed with a 4 minute PR.

I made my way through the crowd, received my medal, took a quick photo and waited for Mom to finish.  

I had set my text alerts for our friends Allie, Sunshine and Josh and I was so happy to see they had finished right behind me and Allie had PR'ed 10 minutes!  We shared (very sweaty) celebratory hugs.  Very soon after Mom finished up and we went through the formal photo line, grabbed our snack boxes and headed to the buses.  We quickly boarded the bus back to the Polynesian for I had celebrating to do in Hollywood Studios! 

So here is my race by the numbers...
Total mileage (from Garmin): 13.27...my least ever, so I ran the tangents well!  
Total time: 2:13.48
Average pace: 10:12
Fuel consumed: 6 strawberry Clif blocks (1 package), 1 citrus Clif shot
Fluid consumed: 2-3 oz at 9 water stops - approximately 25 oz.
Slowest mile: mile 5 (thru MK) at 10:34
Fastest mile: mile 12 at 9:30
Very poor lighting, but a happy shot back at the Polynesian with our medals



  1. Awesome job! Yea those pace groups messed with me! I loved having Clif on the course & the army men were cracking me up! ;)

    1. Thanks Kat! Still obsessed with your Piglet costume!

  2. Congratulations! Sounds like a great morning.

    I ran that race last year and absolutely loved it. Hope to do it again one day. (Or maybe the marathon!)

    1. Thanks Lisa - it's a fabulous race! I can't decide if I'll ever do this (or any other marathon)...maybe... :)

  3. Christine...thanks so much for your great re-cap! Congratulations on an Awesome run through Disney!!! :c)
    Thank goodness for those pace groups!!! They really help motivate and keep you going....
    So happy you had a fun time! Great job! That Donald medal is adorable!

    1. Thanks - the pace group was definitely a good motivator!

  4. Congrats on an awesome race!!!!!

  5. Thanks for such a fun and inspiring post! I am just a few days out from the Tink (my first ever half marathon) and reading this is getting me that much more excited!

    1. Good Luck Jamie-Marie, I am sure you will enjoy your Tink race. Disney races are the best!

  6. Replies
    1. Yes, loved meeting you both at the meetup and seeing you run the marathon!!

  7. Awesome Job :) I am new to running..but my goal is to a half marathon...and to do a Disney one .Looking forward to reading more of your blog

    1. Thanks Audrey! The Disney races are fabulous, and they definitely spoil you :)

  8. You go girl! That's so exciting, especially with that nasty weather!!

  9. Yea! Great recap and congrats on the PR! It was so nice to meet both of you over the weekend and hope to see you at future events!

    1. Thanks Lisa! It was so fun meeting you - glad to make connections in person after reading blogs, tweeting, etc.! :)

  10. Found your blog today and I love it! I'm running the WDW Half for the first time in January and your post made me even more excited!