Saturday, November 10, 2012

runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Boy, what a fantastic weekend to be in Walt Disney World! First of all, let's talk about how lucky we as runners were to experience such beautiful weather during the day AND at night. For those that may not be familiar, the Wine and Dine half marathon is 'The Runner's Night Out'...a nice race. This was my very first night half marathon and it is a completely different monster than an early morning race. Fatigue is your worst enemy. But we will get to that later in the post ;)
The evening started with me fueling up at my hotel on a great chicken salad and fruit. I went back to the hotel and took a quick nap before putting on my gear and heading to the bus. I boarded the lovely motor coach and made my way down to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which was the starting line for this race. Once I arrived, I made my way to the main lawn where many runners where checking bags, waiting in crazy long lines for character photos, and dancing to keep their energy up. This was quite the exciting sight to see. I met up with some of my Team #runDisney tweeps for a lovely group photo, met some new people, laughed, judged, and headed off to the runners only area to wait for the corrals to open.
We headed to our respective start corrals and waited for race kick off. More high energy music, more meeting of people, National Anthem...ya know, the usual. So then, fireworks...race time. Corral A heads out, the B, then my corral C for CRUNK, or Crazy, or Combustable.

We shot out of the corrals began our 3 mile trek to Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK). Once we entered DAK we ran past the always stunning Tree of Life, through Africa, into Asia, through some backstage areas, around the perimeter parking lot and back onto the road and continued to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Let me not forget to mention the various parade floats, characters, and bands that flanked the streets to provide us with some awesome entertainment!
At mile 9 we arrived at Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS). At this point, I can tell my body is fatigued so I slow down to compensate and conserve as much energy as possible. The good thing is, Hollywood Studios was really cool! We came in behind the Hollywood Tower of Terror and shot down the boulevard and literally ran all over the park. The most impressive part for me was running down New York Street with it illuminated with the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights! That was seriously an awesome experience and visual.

After we were set free from DHS we got an unexpected detour that I wasn't expecting (and I am not quite sure why since I read the map beforehand) but we got to run on the pathway to Disney's Boardwalk which lead us to the back door of Epcot. So for me, running on the boardwalk was a lot of fun. There were lots of spectators there cheering us on...which I needed because all I wanted at this point was a cheeseburger and a nap. When we entered the World Showcase at Epcot, I knew this was it. I am one mile away from my runDisney Coast-to-Coast accomplishment. So I dug DEEP and pushed myself from World Showcase, through future world and to that really cool laser filled mile 13 marker. Let me talk about that by the way. The mile 13 marker and final stretch was hands down one of my favorite parts of this race. You turn the corner and all you see is fog and lasers. All you hear is high energy music. VERY cool and well played runDisney...well played.

I turned the corner and there it was...the finish line. I finished strong with a time of 2:31. Not half bad...and guess what, I earned my Coast-to-Coast! SUCH an amazing race! Such great energy! Such great people! Such great bling! Will I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! This was the best race I have run all year! It won't be to long until I return to Walt Disney World...I will be back to go Goofy in January! Wine and Dine Meet Up + Great Race + Coast-to-Coast=EPIC WIN!

Friday, November 9, 2012

runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Official Meet Up

was one of the forty fortunate athletes that were selected by runDisney to participate in the Wine and Dine half marathon weekend meet-up! For my runDisney enthusiasts we all know that this is a big deal! Friday morning, I met up with some great runDisney racers who we heading to EPCOT for a wonderful event. Thanks, Krissy for the lift ;-)
Once we arrived at EPCOT at 7am before park opening, we were greeted by runDisney staff and signed in and received the our coveted runDisney technical shirts! These shirts are only given to staff and at meet up events so this made everyone VERY happy. We gathered in front of Spaceship Earth and met Olympian and runDisney training consultant, Jeff Galloway, and the now three-time Wine and Dine half marathon winner Anton. We began our two mile run through Future World, and even met Mickey Mouse in front of the Future World fountain and snapped a quick photo. we proceeded to run around the world showcase 1 1/2 times ending in the Germany pavilion.  All of the runners I spoke to were just take a back any the amount of energy and happinesswe were all experiencing.

The runDisney Team running through the World Showcase at EPCOT

Once we all arrived in Germany, we made our way to the Biergarten Restaurant and were treated to muffins, juice, and coffee. Team #runDisney took this as an opportunity to take a group photo (you know, since about 20 of us made up the meet up). We then had Q&A with Jeff Galloway and Anton. Then we were treated to a quick nutrition demonstration and Q&A with the now official nutritionist of runDisney, the Diet Diva herself, Tara Gides! She is SO nice, by the way. And then something we weren't expecting, a cooking demonstration with sports chef, Chef Steff! He made an a some card loaded spaghetti casserole that was so full of flavor!

After the demos, runDisney was nice enough to give us swag! We received really nice water bottles, and $10.00 (in addition to the $10 we got for being registered racers) to enjoy the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. We were then able to take 1:1 pictures with, Jeff, Mickey, and Tara! Then we took at few team photos which was incredible!

As far as running events go, this was one AMAZING meet up and I am humbled and privelged to have been selected for such a great event. I met so many people, had the time of my life, and ran with an Olympian! This was the perfect way to kick of my runDisney Coast-to-Coast race challenge weekend!