On Saturday, I completed the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I had one of the best race experiences and despite stopping for pictures with Disney characters along the way, finished under 2 hours!
It literally took us 30 minutes to use the lovely port-o-potties. Luckily we had the time but I didn’t exactly “warm up” for the race at all. Twenty minutes before the start, I had my Vega Pre Workout energizing mix with water that I brought from home. I thought I would feel left out as one of the few people not dressed up but Gia gave me a sparkle tattoo and light saber to run with which made me happy. The race started right on time. Luckily I was in the second corral with my previous half marathon finish so I could start with Jess, Meghann and Lauren, who works as an editorial assistant at Fitness Magazine and was also a guest of New Balance. Meghann just ran an Ironman the week or two before so I could not believe she was already running another race.
The course started off pretty boring on the highway but with all the adrenaline, music and fireworks it was hard to pace myself. I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to keep up with Jess at a 7:30 min/mile pace, which I knew from running Reach The Beach 18 months ago. Lauren and I broke off and settled into an 8:30 minute mile. Right before entering Animal Kingdom we spotted Sarah, Gia, Meghann and Jess getting ready to take their picture with a character. Lauren and I hopped in and ran the next few miles in a pack of 6. This made the time go by so fast. The course has this Vegas effect. The lights, music and cast members, aka Disney employees, line the course and cheer you on. It felt like you were at a club hanging out with your girlfriends but instead of dancing, you just happened to be running a half marathon.
We continued to stop for characters along the way as long as there was no line. When we exited the Animal Kingdom we spotted a line at least 30 people deep on the other side of the highway waiting to have their picture taken with characters. At mile 8.4 they were giving out Clif Shot Gel. I had chocolate and was really glad I did. It tasted delicious and powered me through the last part of the course. I was on cloud nine as my feet felt great, my legs were not tired, I had no chaffing and I was not the least bit bored despite running without my music.
Running through the Christmas lights was especially nostalgic and again made me feel alive. It might as well have been 2 in the afternoon my energy was so high. Lauren and I stayed together for the entire race. We were laughing about how in sync we were. I never run with people and the race made me not only want to find a running buddy but maybe even try joining a run group. It made the miles go by so quick.
At the end we picked it up a notch and finished strong in Epcot with a time of 1:58! For no music, stopping at least 8 times for pictures, 10 water stops, zero nerves or anxiety, I was more than happy with this time.
After the race, we made our way to the New Balance after party which was a challenge given the large crowds. If you run this race in the future, go to Epcot right away if you finish early! Epcot stays open until 4 am for the Food and Wine festival the day of the race. There are over 30 food stands featuring cuisine from various countries and regions. The food is not free but Disney gives you a $10 gift card in your race day packet.This will get you 2.5 treats.
Along our way, we stopped for a picture with Belle and Beast. She was the first princess we saw! I asked her where the other leading ladies were and she responded in character that, “her friends Mulan and Jasmine were here.”
We also stopped at the Hawaii stand for Tune Poke that was served on a bed seaweed salad. It was delicious and my favorite for the night. A good starting off point and decent portion for $4 at Disney World. Nothing is cheap at this place.
I had a glass of wine at the New Balance after party as well as fruit, antipasti, cheese, crackers and another rice crispy treat, not your typical recovery meal. For some reason, I was wide awake and gathered the group to go explore more country tastings and check out the live entertainment throughout Epcot. We stopped by Mexico and Italy before calling it a night which was 4 am! The park was packed until closing which surprised me. I can’t remember staying up that late ever. It just might have been one of my favorite experiences as a blogger so far.
I woke up early on Sunday on just 4 hours of sleep but felt OK. My dad drove 3 hours from Fort Lauderdale to hang out with me until my flight at 6:30pm. New Balance had two extra passes to the Magic Kingdom so we decided to spend the day walking down memory lane. We didn’t go on many rides because the lines were so long. I also didn’t want to get wet or whip lash so the options were pretty limited.
We did ride the carousel per my dad’s request which was cute. At the end, we watched the parade as we said good bye. I’m not sure when I’ll be here again but when I do, I’ll have lots of fun memories to revisit.
I was not compensated for my attendance at the event but all travel was covered by New Balance. As a title sponsor for the runDisney racing series, they received comped entries for our group.
This was my favorite race that I have ever run. The entry fee for the race is worth the steep price tag that starts at $175 in my opinion and many more, which is why the races sell out regularly. It gets you access to the Epcot after party, a long sleeve T-Shirt, the $10 gift card, a delicious and healthy post race meal box that I saved for my plane ride home, plenty of professional pictures all over the course, water and Powerade at every mile, plus the Clif gel and TONS of course entertainment. The race gets expensive when you factor in staying at the park. Transportation to and from the race is included as well but can be hectic as the race is LARGE. Hotels are pricey. The food in the hotels is limited and expensive. A 20 oz smart water and banana were $6! Admission to parks for one person is $90 or more. For a family of 4, that would mean $360 minimum for just 1 day at Magic Kingdom. You do get a discount for park passes if you sign up for a race in your confirmation email but I didn’t check to see what the discount was.
Bottom line: It’s a vacation you will not forget. You will not regret but it’s not your average half marathon you sign up for a week in advance. It sells out and it is more expensive than most. I do hope to go back and run another. The runDisney race director said his favorite is the Tinkerbell Half in Disneyland. This is fitness tourism at it’s best and will not disappoint.