Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wine and Dine Half Recap

 I know it's been almost 2 weeks since the Wine and Dine Half and I should already have posted my recap, but I really have no excuse. Time flew by with getting back in the routine of teaching, report cards, and Thanksgiving tomorrow. Without any more excuses, here it goes...

After the excitement and energy from the Wine Dine Half Meetup (see my previous post), I could not wait for Saturday night. I visited the Expo on Friday and by Saturday morning I was counting down the hours until the race. My family had reservations to Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot and as much as I wanted to go and enjoy their company, I knew I would be way to tempted by the delicious food. If you have never eaten there, you HAVE to make reservations. I went on my honeyymoon
and seriously would eat there every night of the trip if I could. I decided that it was best for me to take my time getting ready, eat a light dinner and HYDRATE! I had learned some great tips about preparing for a night race the day before from Tara Gidus (the runDisney offical nutritionist) and I wanted to make sure that I followed them. I was so concerned about encountering GI issues on this run. I wanted to make sure I had time to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival afterwards!

I stayed at the Beach Club Resort and had planned on grabbing a bus to ESPN Wide World of Sports around 7:30, but my excitement got the best of me. I was on the bus by 7:05 and heading over to see what the runDisney pre-race experience was like. Looking at other people's blogs and catching up with fellow team #runDisney members I realized that if I had waited until 7:30 like I had originally planned, I would be waiting forever! Luckily I missed the bus backups that many people faced. The only downside of getting to the race so early was that there was A LOT of wait time until the race started. Lucikly I was able to hang out with some team #runDisney members and participate in some great runDisney entertainment before we had to line up in our corrals.

Before I knew it the announcers were asking the runners to head to the corrals. I owe a big shoutout to fellow team #runDisney member Linzie (@SeeSharpRun) for hanging out with me and easing my nerves before the race.

Corral C. I loved the color changing balloons that directed us where to go.

Waiting for the start.

After about an hour, the first group of runners were off. I had heard stories, but I was amazed at the firework display and the excitement that the announcers generate before the start. I anxiously waited for corral C, said goodbye to Linzie, and made my way to the side of the group. I had planned on using the Galloway method for the race and I wanted to make sure that I was out of the way when I stopped for my walk breaks. After corral B left, we moved up and I could actually see the start line! When they counted down to the start of our group, I didn't expect them to set up fireworks as they had done for the first groups, but I soon realized that they give every corral the same, AWESOME, experience. Thank you runDisney for thinking of the slower runners too! 

Moving up the start line after Corral B left.
The beginning of the race waas a little slow due to all of the people that left at the same time. I'm glad though because it forced me to pace myself a little better at the beginning. I let my excitement get the best of me most races and I start out WAY too fast. We started out the race on the road and even though runDisney had characters and entertainment, I was much more excited for the parks. When I was about half a mile from the Animal Kingdom, I was lucky enough to be passed by the leaders on the other side. After meeting Anton van Zyl, it was so cool to see him in action. Boy is he FAST! When I came up into Animal Kingdom I was so excited to see the park at night. I loved that we were able to see it all lit up and that Disney cast members were cheering us on.

Throughout Animal Kingdom, I kept getting text messages from my mom, who usually texts me during races to see how I'm doing. Usually I ignore her until certain mile markers when I give her a heads up. As I left Animal Kingdom, I was getting a little frustrated with the constant buzzing of my phone so I figured I should at least respond to her. This time thought it was my husband, sending me this picture...

My husband, mom and stepdad surprising me at the race!
 My mom and stepdad had organized a surprise trip with my husband to come down and see my run! I don't think I can even describe how touched and excited I was. I actually sped up because I wanted to get to my mom to give her a hug. I quickly slowed down when I realized I was only at mile 7 and that I needed to make it through the rest of the race in order to see her. At the pace I was going, I knew I would run out of steam.

The hardest stretch of the race for me was when we were about 1 mile from Hollywood Studios. At this point we saw the sign on the highway below so I was expecting that we were closer. I started to hit the mental block around this point, but luckily I was able to take in the sights and before I knew it I was at Hollywood Studios. I enjoyed entering the park by the Tower of Terror, but I was a little disappointed that we ran through a lot of the back lot tour that wasn't very visually appealing. At this point, I was just looking forward to seeing what Epcot looked like.

As I ran by the Beach Club Resort and over the bridge into Epcot, I decided that I was going to slow down a little and take the last mile in. As much as I wanted to run fast, I also wanted to enjoy every minute. The disappiontment with running through Hollywood Studios was soon forgotten because running through Epcot by Spaceship Earth with everyone cheering may be one of my most favorite memories of my experience. Even with my headphones on, I could hear everyone cheering and yelling and telling me I was almost there. Running through the laser lights and giving Mickey a high five at the end of the race was such a special runDisney detail. I couldn't wait to get my medal and run to see my family.

When I finally caught up with my family, I gave my husband a huge hug and thanked him for all his support on this long journey. However, when I saw my mom I lost it. I cried because I was so touched that she had surprised me and that she was able to share in this experience with me. Looking back to when I first signed up for the event, I had no way to expect it would be as amazing as it was. I can say with certainty that I am going to sign up for another runDisney race soon!

Crying with my mom and thanking her for being there.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wine and Dine Half Meetup

Last weekend I finally made it to my goal that I set back in the winter of last year. I ran the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and had a PR! But... more on that later, because I was also able to participate in one of the most memorable experiences on my life. The runDisney Wine and Dine Half Meetup (or #winedinehalfmeetup for anyone who wants to read the recaps onTwitter).

When I first began running, I also joined Twitter at the suggestion of one of my colleagues. I'm glad I did because I was able to join an online community appropriately named #teamrundisney. It is an amazing group of individuals who come together to share their love of all things running and Disney. Without this group, I would NEVER have learned about the runDisney meetups and how challenging they are to get into! For those of you that aren't famliar with runDisney meetups, they are on a "first come, first serve" basis. About a week or so before the race, runDisney makes an annoucement on the Walt Disney World Blog and people are invited to RSVP to the event. As you can imagine, it is a widely popular event and it fills up quite quickly!

From all of the information I had heard on Twitter and through fellow bloggers, I knew I had to be a part of this experience. I was constantly obsessively checking the blog beuase I didn't want to miss it. Luckily another #teamrundisney member, Krissy (@krissymurphy - in case you want to follow her or read her blog... I promise you'll enjoy it!), offered to help me out and keep me in the loop by sending me emails if she heard any news. With her help I was able to register within minutes of the "invitation." I was going to finally be part of the meetups I heard so much about!

The day of the meetup I was so excited, I didn't even mind the FREEZING weather! It was Florida and everyone was bundled up because it was so cold. We started the morning by spliting up into two groups. One group ran with 2 time Wine and Dine winner Anton van Zyl and the other group would run with Jeff Galloway, the founder of the Galloway Marathon Training Program, the program I used to train for the Wine and Dine. I chose running with Jeff because I was hoping to take it easy and learn some tips from him. Plus, I was intrigued because he was running in jeans! He said he didn't prepare for the weather, but I find it hard to believe that runDisney couldn't have helped him out with warmer clothes! The run was approximately 1.8 miles and we ran around the World Showcase in Epcot. It was beautiful to see the park open to only us and to see the sunrise over the lagoon. We even met Mickey on the run!

View as we entered the park. Beautiful I know...

The start of our run.

Getting a little morning run motivation from Mickey!
The most unobstructed view from the World Showcase. It's a whole different experience when you are the only ones in the park.
Group shout with our fearless captain.
Copyright: runDisney
After our run, runDisney organized a short question and answer session with Anton van Zyl, Jeff Galloway, and Tara Gidus, the official runDisney nutritionist. In addition, we were treated to an athlete's spaghetti pie created by Chef Steff, a chef who specializes in recipes and meals for athletes.It was delicious! It had a little kick to it from the red pepper, which was right up my alley! I can't wait to make it on my own at home. It was so inspiring to hear each of these people speak because they are all incredible motivators. One of my biggest mental blocks as runner is that I can get in my own head and doubt myself. When I "slip" on my goals I start to compare myself to others and I am always afraid I don't measure of to them. One of the biggest things I took away was how each of them were honest and admitted their own challenges. It made me feel like when I am struggling I'm not alone. Even former Olympians have tough runs!

Anton van Zyl sharing his race advice. I personally loved that he enjoyed potato chips while running the Ironman Kona. Now I know what I want potato chips every time I train hard...

Jeff Galloway sharing his insights on how to enjoy the run, no matter how challenging the run may be.

Tara Gidus sharing important nutrition tips.

 After we were throughly fed and even more excited for the race on Saturday, runDisney organized us for a few last photos and sent us on our way with a complementary park ticket, runDisney water bottle and pricessless memories.
So honored to meet Jeff. His training plan is the reason I am able to run.

I couldn't pass up a picture with Mickey. My daugher was jealous!

Group shot outside Germany.
Copyright: runDisney
Another group shout outside Norway.
Copyright: runDisney

I am so honored and grateful that I was able to experience this meetup at my first runDisney event. Not only did I learn some great advice, I was able to meet a great group of runners who share a common love for Disney. As a result of this experience, I have gained a network of runners and friends that I know I can rely on to help motivate me and to celebrate my experiences with. Thank you again to runDisney and #teamrunDisney for an amazing start to my Wine and Dine weekend!

#teamrunDisney group shot.
Copyright: runDisney