Thursday, November 17, 2016

Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Lumiere's Challenge 2016 part 2.

Sunday morning, after not nearly enough sleep we were up again at 3:00 for the big event of the weekend. The half marathon.
The lines to get onto the buses that would take us to the start were remarkably long. There is a huge difference in the crowd level at Port Orleans Riverside vs French Quarter. Luckily, there always seem to be abundant buses and we were on our way in less than 15 minutes. (in January, at POFQ the lines were small. no wait. spoiled, we are.)

Rather than heading over to Epcot and the delightful parking lot, we headed to ESPN Wide World of sports for a refreshing combo of parking lot and highway. Change is good.

A nice change of scenery. Road. Whoot!
Because of the bus lines, and then taking our time in the interim (porta-potty stop, catching pokemon) by the time we got to our corral we were only about 30 minutes to the start. The corrals seemed to be more relaxed than at Dopey, meaning, on marathon weekend if you showed up to a front corral late you'd be kicked out (not out of the race, but moved to a later corral.) At this race, people were loading into the corral as it started.
Since Eric was in corral B (I moved back to be with him). Running together seemed like a fun idea since we had gone our separate ways in the 10k!
"What pace are we running" I inquired. "8:30's" replied Eric. For some reason this seemed completely sensible.
Right on schedule, at 5:32 off we ran. Into the dark, dark night (see people? this is a night race!) 

The scene: Quite dark. Neither of us looks thrilled.
We actually got off to a good start. There were some miles of dark highway. So, we ran away from ESPN and banged a left on the Osceola Parkway (in my head I mix this up with the Okeechobee parkway, but whatever!)
After that, close to the 5k mark we transitioned to some fine Animal Kingdom parking lot (very little, thankfully) and then into Animal Kingdom. As much as I enjoyed running there in January I found it a bit tricky in the dark. Not terrible, but tricky. More fun than parking lots though.
There are quite a few pictures of the two of us running through AK, me looking DEAD AHEAD (because terror?) and Eric looking sad. I remember being ok at this point so our faces were not reflecting our true feelings....

#2 hahaha
Immediately after concluding our trip through, and then away from AK, a potty break was needed. I took the opportunity to take immature photos of the shitters. Someday I will grow up!

After Animal Kingdom came my favorite stretch of road ever in the history of races: Bear Island Road and the Wonderful World Of Waste Water Treatment. In true Disney fashion, there are distinct notes of Febreeze to make you think you aren't smelling noxious fumes.
Ahhhhhh. So lovely!

In reality, nobody loves that stretch of road and when you FINALLY make a right onto Floridian Way you are happy to see it.

Our pace is pretty damn steady except for the potty and water breaks.
While we were able to keep a relatively steady pace throughout the race, neither one of us was having an easy time. The combo of a brisk 10k the previous day, the humidity (high by our standards) and being just a *touch* untrained were taking a toll.

While we didn't totally throw in the towel we did take a couple water breaks. Mostly, we tried to stay positive, count down the miles and, (if you were me) you tried to avoid Eric's sprinkler system sweat (impressive!)

There was no on course congestion, it was extremely easy to proceed at a comfortable (or uncomfortable) pace without having to get creative. No off road running needed.
As we all know, I don't pay a ton of attention to character stops but my feeling is, there weren't very many. I have been to random races with more on course entertainment than this had. 

 YOU ALL KNOW WHAT THIS IS!!! All together now: "glorious PARKING LOT FINISH!!"
So yeah, despite being passed aggressively by Belle, Tink (and a sweaty Peter Pan) and a man-cat in the final mile, we finished.
We miiiiight not have won this one but we did pull off a sub 2 hour finish (1:57:19 I believe.)
Next time we are feeling a bit tired at a Disney race, we might opt out of running and become character photo people. This race, for both of us, was neither the best nor the worst. It was a solid "MEH" across the board. So maybe we need more time with the Country Bear Jamboree or what have you.

Disney does race medals RIGHT.
We got on a bus, sweatily, and cruised back to the resort (where we should have taken naps!)
The takeaway message from the many Disney race experiences we have had this year: The medals are frigging pimp. HAAAAYOUGE. The 10k medal we earned this weekend was larger than 98% of my marathon medals. The Half and Challenge medals were equally robust.
I like this kind of overkill. 

You really can't beat Disney Bling

After hastily showering and briskly preparing for the day, we were off (again..)
We had a bit of bad Disney juju at this point...
We had a 9:30 breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest (which is one of those d-bag pain in the ass reservations to get....) We gave ourselves 75 minutes to get there, and 75 minutes later had been unable to even get to the park. UGH. Any other park you can Uber too, but not the MK. Anyway, after being up for hours, running, and not eating, this was maddening.
So, we got mad and then moved on and ate a hot dog.

Magic Kingdom

A fuck ton of people
Everybody and their brother was at the MK so after a couple hours we had to peace out. *sigh*

Disney Christmas tree plus that guy with his kid
We took a moment to rest up and regroup. The problem with the 3:00am wake up calls is that it leaves you with very little gas in the tank to run on. We fully intended to spend ALL the time at Epcot for the after party and we needed to snooze a little and prep for the jugs of wine we planned to consume.

"jugs" of wine
The after party was fine, as far as I could tell. It just felt like a normal night in Epcot, at Wine and Dine plus an extra half hour of standing in line to get a wristband.
Since this was a "perk" for our race we tried to stick around for a while.
However, not much changed between "normal" hours and "party" hours. Except for some food vendors closing up for the night (bummer.)
We sampled some food and tiny wine, and enjoyed the fireworks. It was a really beautiful night and we focused on soaking in the warmth before returning home the next day.
Pro tip: skip everything at W&D and simply head to Canada for the amazing tiny steaks!! What a bargain and so delicious!!

So thus concludes the final installment (of 2016) of the Disney Race Shenanigans.
This was a good weekend and there are always plenty of wonderful moments at Disney.
For me, personally, it's probably time to move on to some other race/travel adventures for the next year. The key is variety and as seamlessly as RunDisney manages their races there are many more places to see, and to run in. (long story short: I doubt I'll ever want to run every single Disney race in one year. There are other Disney races that interest us, but they can wait!)
I wouldn't be shocked if we end up back in Disney at some point for more running. It really is the perfect place for a trip with friends and family, who might enjoy running and racing on different levels. You go out and enjoy  race or two (and a park or two!) and then relax and hang out. It would be a blast to go back with our little nieces and nephews (AND their parents...) We'll probably spend some time away from Orlando next year and then, who knows!

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