We came. We saw. We ran. (And did some wining and dining, of course)
The 2017 Run Disney Wine and Dine races at Walt Disney World were truly a feast. Not only was this the first time we were running the Wine and Dine races (we did the two-course challenge), but it was also our first return trip to WDW since our very first half marathon ever during the 2016 marathon weekend. Here are some of the highlights:
New This Year: The Race Routes
Since this was our first time running these races, the routes were all new to us anyway. But compared to prior years, Run Disney changed it up! The 10K started in the Magic Kingdom Mulan parking lot and headed out of the MK area toward Hollywood Studios. We trekked up a ramp, went through a back Studios entrance, and found ourselves in the Fantasmic area. We then ran down Sunset Boulevard, curved onto Hollywood Boulevard, and then went outside the park toward the Boardwalk.
Running through the studios and around the Boardwalk was so awesome! The Boardwalk is our DVC home resort (in fact, I can still remember when it was being built way back in the day) and we got to see my parents outside of Flying Fish as we went flying by (I couldn’t resist!). We headed toward the International Gateway into Epcot and curled backstage behind the U.K. (an area I was quite familiar with during my cast member days) then cut left into Canada and toward the World Showcase entrance. We dashed through Future World and around Spaceship Earth, then went backstage again past the gospel choir (love them!) and charged toward the finish line.
I almost forgot – we dressed up for the 10K! If you look back on all my Disney history, there’s one common thread you’ll see: there are always photos of me with a Dole Whip. A Disney trip will never go by without me getting one, if not multiple. The Dole Whip fandom is real. So we dressed up as…you guessed it…Dole Whips! I pride myself on making fun and functional (and cost-effective) running costumes and we actually had most of the items we wore. I made the little Dole signs using clearance fabric and paint from JoAnn Fabrics whichcost less than $10. BAM!
And now for the half marathon! This route started in the same place, but went in a slightly different direction toward Animal Kingdom. When we made it to the park (somewhere just after mile 4, I believe), we ran through the new Pandora area, past the tree of life, and out through Dinoland. You don’t realize how uneven the ground in that park is until you run on it and, I gotta say, running through Animal Kingdom was definitely my least favorite part (though we did hear “Born to Run” blasting as we ran out of the park so that provided a nice hit of motivation). After zig-zagging through the parking lot, we were on our way out and heading to the Studios; another long stretch of road that you really don’t realize is so vast until you’re running it. The rest of the race was mostly the same as the 10K, except that we ran by the Yacht and Beach Club and then around World Showcase.
Our Pacing: Smart and Strategic
We came into this 19.3 mike challenge just wanting to finish healthy; we both started coming down with colds and hadn’t been able to run for the last 8 days leading up to the race. And while my knee had been doing pretty well, we wanted to make sure it stayed that way.
For our run/walk segments, we kept them at 7 minutes running x 3 minutes walking. We knew that was a manageable pace for us and it worked well last month at the Staten Island Half Marathon. We didn’t run the 10K full-out, but finished comfortably at 1:07.
The Half Marathon very humid with mild fall temps. We stuck with the same running segments and had to refill our Nathan’s bottles with water and Powerade a lot. This half was probably our most tactfully run race and strongest to date. We adjusted our expectations due to the humidity and used the first 4-ish miles as a warm up. Our 10K split was only a few minutes slower than what we’d run the previous day, so we were right on track. We waited to kick things into gear until we got off the highway and into Hollywood Studios – the parks always provide so much momentum!
My parents were near the bridge heading toward the International Gateway. I forgot that part was kind of up hill…note to self for next time…but they got to see us schlep up the hill just before mile 12. We walked for a bit backstage then started to run again when we came out of the U.K. This time, we turned right and – oh another hill – went toward France. World Showcase is actually longer than you might think (especially when you’ve just run 12 miles) and at the quick pace we were going, I knew it was going to be tough to finish strong, so we took a walk break by China. Thank you to the Run Disney photographer for this gem: the true #athletesunfiltered shot. Hot, sweaty, tired, bottles practically empty, and almost to the finish line.
When we rounded the corner toward Future World, I heard it: blasting loudly in the air, cast members dancing…Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” This could not have come at a better moment. I started dancing as we ran and the “I’m lightning on my feet” lyric set me in motion and propelled my toward the finish. Connor was so laser-focused that he didn’t even hear the song nor did he see me shaking it off. 😉
We turned another corner coming out of the backstage area, grabbed hands, and hauled ass toward the finish line. While we didn’t PR (official time was 2:28), we finished this race stronger than any of our other 3 half marathons this year (and after running a solid 10K the day before).
The Home Stretch
These two races and this vacation were both very special for us. We got to run around the parks with family and friends, eat amazing food, and despite getting up at 2:45am on two consecutive mornings, actually had a very relaxing vacation (ok, I guess one could call it a run-cation). Though we have a few more races left this year, the Wine and Dine Two Course Challenge was the perfect centerpiece of our 2017 racing season.