Race Report: Walt Disney World Half-Marathon

Walt Disney World Half MarathonI did it!

Completing a half-marathon is on my “40 before 40” list, and on January, 10, 2015 I finished the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon!

I arrived in Florida on Thursday. My mom lives in the Orlando area, so I got to stay with her. I had just visited her a week before, so I got some practice runs in. It was hot during those runs, and I was nervous that temperatures would be high during the race (I’ve been training in Memphis with cooler weather). More on that later.

My sister picked me up from the airport, and we headed to the race expo! i had been to the Wine & Dine Expo the year before even though I wasn’t running the race. It was cool to be there as an actual participant this year. We picked up everything and walked around to look at all the goods. Sadly, I had no money to buy any Sweaty Bands or Sparkle Skirts, but they were still nice to look at. When we were walking, I saw Jeff Galloway! I used the Galloway 13.1 training plan, typically with 3 minute running and 1 minute walking intervals. I love it! I think I actually end up going faster overall this way, and it allows me to actually enjoy running.

[Jeff Galloway and I at the Race Expo! Not the best picture of me… but still awesome.]

Later that evening, I went out with my mom to try to find apparel to complete my running costume. I know that it’s not recommended to run in something new for a race, but I hadn’t been able to find anything the day I went out in Memphis. I already had a gold Sparkle Skirt and red Sweaty Band, so I bought a blue running shirt from Target to be Snow White… who is actually one of my least favorite princesses. However, we went to Walmart after to buy some cheap throwaway sweats, and I found an awesome Lion King shirt that matched my skirt perfectly! It wasn’t a running shirt technically, but I didn’t care. The Lion King is one of my favorite Disney movies, so I was happy to be representing a story I liked.

The next day, I went on a 1.6 mile run to try out my outfit with my camelbak and to get out some pre-race anxiety. Everything seemed great. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to wear my camelbak since Disney has ample water stops, but I decided I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m used to wearing one while biking, and my running-specific one doesn’t bother me.

I attempted to go to sleep early, but I only ended up getting about three hours of sleep given my 2:30 AM wake up call. I had everything ready, and we were on the road quickly! We had left early enough that it was easy to get into the parking area. I left my mom in the van and I headed to the race retreat tent!

The race retreat was one of the coolest experiences of my weekend. This is access to a special tent before/after the race that is temperature-controlled and has food/drink, private restrooms, character photos, etc. I had not bought this for myself, but the night before the race someone posted online that they had an extra wristband! Getting access to this tent for free was awesome because it is normally $120. Considering it was chilly when we arrived (and early), I was grateful to get to snack on a banana, drink some water/powerade, and sit on a beanbag chair watching Finding Nemo. I also got to take pictures with some Toy Story characters! Not my favorite, but they were fun. Woody pretended to put mud (or whatever it is) on my forehead like Rafiki does to Simba in the morning. Perhaps that symbolic mud was good luck for the race.

[“Just keep swimming” became my mantra for the day.]

[Getting the side-eye from the alien.]

[Cool dudes.]

[Ha.]

Around 5 AM, I headed to the race start. This was a long walk. By the time I got there, I had already walked about 2 miles that morning according to my Fitbit. I was in the last corral because I didn’t submit a time, so I still had awhile to wait… an hour and a half, to be exact. The race officially starts at 5:30 AM, but my corral didn’t start until 6:30. RunDisney starts each corral with fireworks, which was exciting! It was a bit cold, but I made a friend to talk to. I was excited so the time went by fast.

[Excited and cold!] 

Finally— I was off! Honestly, the race was mostly perfect for me. The chillier temperature was much appreciated, and my 3:1 intervals were going well. I couldn’t stop smiling! I felt really good for the whole beginning of the race, which is mostly down roads until you get to the Magic Kingdom. Once I got to about mile 5, I started to get foot pain which is common for me in any sport that I’ve done (ice skating, cycling). However, the distraction of Main Street/the Castle and seeing my mom cheer me on for a second time was great! I then decided I had to go to the bathroom, and ended up waiting over 10 minutes in line. Not ideal, but my pace was good enough that it didn’t negatively affect me (you have to do a 16 mm for RunDisney events). The next part of the race is not as memorable… my feet hurt pretty bad and I had to do a lot of weaving in and out of people due to different paces and congestion. However, I never questioned my ability to finish the race. I took a gu every hour (and I had some sports beans before the race started), and I was drinking out of my Camelbak and took a few powerade cups. Besides my foot pain, I felt great! Once I reached mile 10, I knew I could do it, and it just got better and better from there. The race ends at Epcot. I thought we got to run “around the world,” but I was wrong. After about a mile I passed the stands and saw my mom for the third time, then I crossed the finish line! (Embarrassing: I started crying a little when I got to the finish out of happiness. Ha.)

[Obligatory castle selfie. I am so happy! Also, my playlist for this race was awesome.]

I met up with my mom, who was awesome for coming with me to cheer me on considering it involved a lot of waiting around. She always has a positive attitude about everything, and I think/hope she had fun! I went back into the race retreat real quick to grab a coca cola (which, surprisingly, I didn’t actually really want… while I was ravenous after my first 10K, I did not have much of an appetite after this). We made our way to the car and headed out to get a post-race lunch at a breakfast place! I then went back to the hotel my mom stays at to take an awesome shower and nap. Overall, I had a wonderful and fun half-marathon experience! My next race goal: an olympic distance triathlon.

[In the race retreat tent.]

[Obligatory post-race selfie.]

Here are my times according to Map My Run and RunDisney. I would like to do a less crowded half marathon to get a more accurate time… as you can see, according to MMR I added quite a bit of distance from weaving in and out, and my bathroom break added a lot of time as well. It’s slow, but my goal was to finish, and that I did! Still a personal record considering it was my first 🙂

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