Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Walt DIsney World Half Marathon Recap

Alright, we've talked about the Expo, 5k, and 10k. Now it's time to dig in and talk about the first 'big' race of the weekend: the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

I love this distance. Absolutely love it. 13.1 miles is long enough to burn through the tough early miles and slide into the 'runner's groove.' I've finished half marathons before with no recollection of miles 5-10. They just melted away.

And what's not to love about the WDW Half? The course takes you down Main Street and under Cinderella's Castle (probably the most magical stretch of any race, ever!). Here's a pic of the course map.

Our costumes for this race were Alice and the White Rabbit. We are wearing jackets again because it was still cold.

This race requires another early wakeup call. However, our entire running party (Me, Handsome Jack, and my SIL aka Tigger) knew we were in the back, near the last corral.

We knew it would be nearly an hour between the official race start and our start. So we caught a later shuttle to the race start. This meant we spent less time standing around in the cold before the start. We also did not go to he corrals when the runDisney volunteers first suggested. We stayed back near gear check, used the porta potties, and took our time.

Note: This strategy worked for us but may not work for everyone. If you are nervous before a race you may not want to risk missing your corral by hanging back to stay warm.

When we finally went to the corrals my SIL left us to join her corral with he hopes that we would catch up to her somewhere along the course. This was my SIL's first 13.1 and she was nervous about getting swept. This is a common fear for new runners, especially among the run-walk crowd, but a completely unnecessary one.

The race started with the awesome fireworks runDisney events are known for. And these fireworks aren't just reserved for the official start. No. Every single corral start gets these fireworks.

After we passed under the start we were on our way. Handsome Jack and I kept to our planned 1:1 run-walk strategy. The thought here was that a 1:1 would help conserve energy. We wanted to avoid the horrible fatigue we felt during the 2013 Goofy. We also planned regular fueling. As a rule during a race I try to take water at ever stop. This can be a lot of water during a runDisney event because they seem to have water every miles. In addition to drinking regularly throughout the course we also planned to eat fuel blocks every 3 miles. At our pace, 3 miles would be around the recommended 45 min guideline for fueling so it just made sense.

The start of any race is difficult to manage. There are tons of people of differing ability levels all around you. It's tough to hit your stride and it's tough to reign in your excitement. My hubby is terrible at this. He shoots out of the corral like a lightning bolt only to crash at mile 3.

But this years strategy of 1:1 run-walk really seemed to help. We kept to the plan even though we wanted to run farther/longer.

We were running without headphones so we chatted, joked, and even sang along with the music playing at each mile maker. Oh, did I mention Disney plays music at each mile marker? They do and it's totally awesome.

Somewhere before the 5k mark we heard a familiar song from one of our fave movies - Wreck it Ralph. The music was playing from a character stop including Ralph and Vanellope!!!!! Who doesn't love a brat with dirty hair?

We didn't stop for pictures ourselves. We agreed that we would only stop for costume related photo ops (for this race it would be any Alice in Wonderland related character stops). I snapped a pic from the sidelines and kept on.

Soon after Wreck it Ralph we saw Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Not long after the Jack and Sally we were turning away from the Epcot service area toward the Magic Kingdom. I think the Magic Kingdom is the best part of the course.

After crossing the 5k mark we bumped into my SIL. She was a little upset about a recent bathroom break that cost her nearly ten minutes. She joined us and our 1:1 run-walk. We made the turn toward Main Street together.

And paused near the castle for a few pics.

Near the teacup ride we saw The Red Queen! Of course we stopped for a quick photo.

Now, remember above when I mentioned how I love when miles just zip by without memory? Well, that happened here. I remember laughing and joking with my hubby and his sister. But I don't remember much about the actual miles themselves. I've run this course before so I knew what to expect.

After leaving the MK we would be on service roads between resorts or parks until returning to Epcot. Disney does a fabulous job of making those 'uninteresting' miles interesting by staging bands, DJ's, and character stops. We even pass WDW's Fire Department and the guys come out to cheer for you. Sorry, no pictures.

Now, it was somewhere in these miles that my knee began to hurt. The burning was under the patella (not to the side where my ITB has hurt before). I didn't think anything of it - figuring that it would stop hurting after the race.

Eventually, we made our way back towards Epcot. The thrill of being near the finish line overtook Handsome Jack and he ran ahead a bit. Eventually he slowed and we caught back up.

We ran through tomorrow world, under the ball, and out to the finish line marking the end of my SIL's first half!!

Handsome Jack and I were both trilled to be done. Or were we already stressing about the 26.2 tomorrow? Hard to say.

We iced up in the self treatment tents, grabbed a quick sports massage (*did I mention that runDisney events (half or greater) have a massage tent for after the race? Bring cash*), and loaded the bus back to our resort. With three races down and only one to go we were feeling pretty good. Any knee pain I was feeling earlier was long gone.

We napped, laid out or marathon costumes, and grabbed some dinner in Hollywood Studios before calling it a night.

Did you run the WDW Half? What did you think of the race?

Stop by for my WDW Marathon recap (soon). Or check out these posts:

My 2015 Disney's Health and Fitness Expo and Family Fun Run 5k Recap

2015 WDW 10k Recap

on Live Run Grow: 2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

on Sparkly Runner: 2015 WDW Marathon Weekend pt 1

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