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.

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