Wine and Dine It!

After a frustrating finish at the Tinkerbell Half in January, my chance for redemption and the highly coveted Coast-to-Coast medal arrived: runDisney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon! Joking about it for months on end, I predictably selected “Hipster Ariel” as my muse for this costumed event, but at least it gave me plenty of reason to pound lattes and look utterly oppressed by society for a while. With the yo-yo-ing temperatures, trying to prepare for the race was a challenge, but I was relieved when it warmed up the day of the race. After four years of running, W&D was my first night race, not just night half-marathon! This early bird usually prefers knocking out her runs in the mornings, but when food and booze get involved, she’s a little more flexible! 😉

IMG_0964Sebastian is the only Crustacean this Mermaid fraternizes with!

One of my favorite things about runDisney races is the fantastic atmosphere which is only amplified when running with friends. Unfortunately, Jason, had to sit this one out with a broken toe, so it was down to Kim and I to represent our little group. Unlike other rD races, the W&D doesn’t stop at the finish line in the parking lot! It concludes inside Epcot on the last weekend of the Wine & Dine Festival, with a party raging until 3AM. Being that Epcot is the only theme park of WDW that serves alcohol, it puts a completely unique spin on the rD experience.

IMG_0923Misery loves Company! Bestie Bibs!

Due to pace timing, Kim was unable to join me in my corral, but the folks at rD let folks move further back in the corrals, so I joined her and her classmate Di in theirs. I’d like to think of is as  “Corral Special K” because we’re pretty darned special! Plus, not only is running with my friends fun, but Kim’s also one of the largest proponents of my “Hipster Ariel” phase (Home Girl loves a great theme)! This evening’s Disney Bounding was courtesy of Athleta (racer back tank, running skort, and awesome exchange policy), Sparkle Athletic (my first Sparkle Skirt), and Mad Happy Studio’s Under the Sea Princess Bow which really tied the whole outfit together. Of course, to help fight the evening chill, I opted for my Sugoi Tatu Sleeves, making this mermaid looking more bad ass, and my neon green Zensah compression sleeves, to keep me safe while I’m running at night.

 IMG_0932I’ll Admit, the Bow is the Piece de Resistance!

Unlike the familiarity of the out-and-back of Princess Half, the W&D is a point-to-point format which starts at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, travels through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and finishes up at Epcot. This required extra time to deposit the car at Epcot and take a shuttle bus to the staging area at ESPN. It’s a great course, full of bridges and off-ramps! Great for developing those puny leg muscles and making runners earn their wines and dines at the Finish Line Party!

IMG_0934After all this time? Always.

Starting from ESPNWWoS was a bit disorienting, but a race new route needs a fresh attitude! Kim and I stayed together until we reached Animal Kingdom. Being a W&D1/2 Virgin, I had no idea how much the course narrowed nor how dark Animal Kingdom could be at night (no wonder it closes at sunset)! Try as I may, all the runners jockeying for position and trying to make their breaks through the crowd completely stressed me out. I love the rD races because the community is so solid and friendly, but even in the “slower” corrals, fast runners who took their time showing up were trying to make up for lost time (and being completely inconsiderate about it). I pulled over to the side to take a deep breath and pull myself together after getting separated from Kim (and being shoulder checked for the umpteenth time), but it didn’t help. My new goal for the AK portion of the race was to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, and then shamble along in the wide open parking lot after.

There weren’t too many roadside character greetings worth stopping for, especially knowing how much my iPhone hates taking pictures of anything in low light. However, coming out of AK, I saw Sebastian, and no self-respecting Little Mermaid can take a pass on her crabby little wing man. The best part? No line! No wait! The hard part of a new race route is not being able to slip into auto-pilot when exhaustion hits. Having run the Princess twice (and driving between Epcot and Magic Kingdom plenty), sometimes I can just slam it into cruise and follow the pack mindlessly. This time around, my senses were on high alert as I needed to actually think about where I was going.

IMG_0966Making Magic at the Sorcerer’s Hat!

My favorite stretch of the race was the weaving in and out of the paths of Hollywood Studios. Though it is a little on the narrow side compared to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, I didn’t feel claustrophobic like I did being herded through Animal Kingdom. I disliked contended with the runners and the faux cable car rails from the Tower of Terror to the Sorcerer’s Hat, but it wasn’t anything a wee bit of slowing down could fix. I wish they could have done more things inside the DHS, but since it was after hours, many of the cast members went home (or were running in the race).

IMG_0965Three Words: Mirror. Ball. Tunnel.

IMG_0957Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!

During Mile 4 of the race, my Garmin died. All my preparation and the one thing I forgot was the plug in the darned thing to charge it! It was Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal all over again, and it was heart breaking. Thank goodness for runner tracking! I believed I used every expletive I could think of to express what a colossal bone head I had been, but I needed to shake out the negativity from my system if I wanted to finish. It wasn’t until I synched my watch at home that I realized that it recorded everything— all my splits, elevations, heart rate, and even the course map! I guess it paid to wear my foot pod and heart rate monitor strap, too!

IMG_0958 Double Fisting the Medals! I forgot to pack Tink!

{Official runDisney Times}

  • Clock: 3:35:26
  • 5K: 45:35
  • 10K: 1:26:43
  • 15K: 2:09:19
  • Net: 3:00:53

Overall, I had a great time with the race, but I will need to learn to better flip my sleep schedule, so I don’t feel like warmed over death by the time I make it to the Finish Line Party. I wanted to get much more wining and dining on, but after a half marathon, I was simply too damned tired. If I remember correctly, we wound up cutting out by 1AM on somewhat empty and sober stomachs. Also, I have to remember to pack wet wipes to “clean up” with after the race. I can’t express my thanks enough for the lady who wandered around the ladies’ changing tent handing wet wipes out like they were candy. Aaah… to feel human again…

I dedicate these 13.1 Miles to the Hulk Smash Cancer Virtual Race, which I signed up for earlier in the summer. Next time, I’ll pack my tiny purple shorts! 😉

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