Today, I’m giving a 2017 runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon review and recap!
On Sunday, November 5, 2017, I participated in the runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. It was only my second half marathon — the first (Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas 2014) being almost three years ago to the day. About five years ago, I learned about runDisney and ever since it has been a dream of mine to participate in a runDisney event. This year I finally got to make that dream come true!
I had been hinting to my husband about wanting to do this for a while, and last Christmas I finally convinced him to say yes. As soon as registration opened up in January, I jumped at the chance. In fact, based on my bib number (1831) it would seem that I was within the first 2,000 people to sign up! After months of training, which you can read about here, we finally set out for MCO on November 2, 2017.
Wine & Dine Half Marathon Review
Originally, we had plans to attend the expo when we arrived on Thursday, but our flights changed and we weren’t going to have time, so we went Friday morning! It opened at 10 a.m., so we were in line for the bus heading to ESPN Wide World of Sports at 9:30. I had heard horror stories about runDisney expos in the past. I was expecting all the official merchandise to be sold out and the bib line to be an hour long.
It was a total and complete breeze! There wasn’t a bib line at all and the runDisney merchandise was perfectly stocked. The only thing I found odd was the bibs were on one floor, but the runDisney merchandise was on a different floor… And then the race shirts (and the rest of the expo) were in a different building. I had some pre-purchased merchandise, so for a few minutes I was walking around with my bib in one hand, a mug under my arm, and a t-shirt in a bag.
We didn’t hang around the expo long. We were anxious to get to Magic Kingdom (read my Disney World Trip Report for Days 1 + 2), so we headed back to the bus after grabbing all my goodies. On the way to the bus, I was trying to tie up my bag and ended up dumping my mug on the ground. There was a Christmas ornament inside it and when we got back to the resort I realized I had broken it. WOMP WOMP. Luckily, my sweet husband fixed it for me when we got home. 🙂
Wine & Dine Half Marathon Race Day
Saturday evening I started to get really nervous. I hardly ate and we got back to the room much later than I wanted to. Of course, I had trouble sleeping and woke up every few hours to check the time. Luckily, the time was changing that night, so I got an extra hour of sleep I wouldn’t have otherwise had! However, waking up at 3:15 a.m. was still brutal. At the time, I thought waking up was going to be the worst part. I moved very slowly and realized if I wanted to make the bus there wasn’t going to be any time for any kind of food. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door.
I suddenly had a fear of missing the bus, so I ran to the bus stop from our building near the back of the resort. I went to the front of the resort because I wasn’t sure if the event buses were picking up at all stops. I quickly realized I should’ve gone to the stop closest to our room. I stood at the stop for 20 minutes (with a line of 50 people behind me) and watched four completely full buses pass by. An empty one finally showed up and we left Port Orleans Riverside at 3:58 a.m. I remembered I hadn’t eaten anything, so I ate a HoneyStinger waffle and took an AdvoCare Rehydrate Gel on the drive over.
Starting Area & Corrals
People are not joking when they say it’s a hike from the bus to the starting line. The starting area was spread throughout a Magic Kingdom parking lot. I quickly made my way through security bag check and started looking around for the gear check area I walked past a Port-a-Potty line hundreds of people long and thought, “Oh no”. I quickly found the gear check area and hopped in line to use the restroom. It was the longest potty line I’d ever seen, but still moved fairly quickly. I had weaved my way through by about 4:45 a.m.
I found my corral (Corral D) and plopped down on the asphalt to wait out the next 45 minutes. About this time I really started wishing I had a buddy to chat and pass the time with because I got bored just scrolling through Instagram, haha. I found the pre-race entertainment just ok. I didn’t care to stand to see the screens because I was trying to save my legs. After all, I already 3,000 steps by this point.
I’ve learned that I have a nervous bladder and very shortly after finding my corral I realized I was going to need to use the restroom again soon. Thinking back to the Port-a-Potty line I’d just left, I decided to just find one on the course. At some point, the 2:30 pacers for my corral showed up in front of me and I devised a plan to try and stay ahead of them to reach my goal time (2:20-2:25).
Start time (5:30 a.m.) rolled around and before I knew it, Corral A was gone! I was expecting about 10 minutes between corrals, but it was more like 3-5. My corral had started by 5:45. My plan was to follow the run-walk-run protocol after about the first mile to try and let things thin out. There were SO MANY people and I never really felt it thin out. After starting, I realized just how badly I had to use the restroom and all I could think about was my bladder, ha.
There was medical tent just after Mile 1 with Port-a-Pottys, but the line was already long, so I waited for the next one. It cropped up at about Mile 1.5, so I paused my tracker and waited. When I came out, I saw the 2:30 pacers go by and realized I needed to step on it. The first few miles of the race were pretty boring, though I think runDisney tried to do everything they could to make it entertaining. It was all back roads between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. There was a marching band, a few character stops (no one major), and a DJ I believe. I didn’t stop for any characters because by Mile 2.5 I was feeling some digestive distress, and unfortunately, Port-a-Pottys again became my first priority. About this time I really started to become upset with myself. I questioned what I could’ve done during training to avoid this. I know most people don’t runDisney for time, but having only one 13.1 under my belt, I had a time I wanted to beat.
Around Mile 3-4 I found another potty, hopped in line, paused my tracker, and took off again a few minutes later. I never saw the 2:30 pacers from my corral again, so this had me down on myself for a while. The course was still outside the parks at this point, but by Mile 5 we had made our way into Animal Kingdom! The Wine & Dine Half Marathon was the fist runDisney race to go through Pandora, and it was beautiful! Those “floating mountains” are pretty crazy. At some point in Animal Kingdom, I caught sight of the 2:30 pacers from the corral behind me (WOMP) and was able to stay up with them through the rest of the race.
One thing runDisney did very well was water stops! The humidity was outrageous (literally 99 percent). There was a stop just after each mile with both water and Powerade. I really thought I was getting in enough of both, but I realized later maybe that wasn’t the case. 🙂 Anyway, around Mile 8 I felt great and we were coming in hot on Hollywood Studios. We entered Hollywood Studios behind Tower of Terror and exited near the front of the park. The course bottle-necked between the Studios and Yacht & Beach Club and I was forced to slow down a lot — annoying. I felt like I couldn’t get out ahead of anyone, but when the course opened again it was smooth sailing. The last 2.5-3 miles were through Epcot World Showcase and then finished in one of the Epcot parking lots.
Upon finishing, I got my medal and then started weaving through everything else. I was a handed a sopping wet Cool Core towel, a bottle of water, a Powerade, a banana, and a box of snacks. I ended up dropping half of it and some kind soul helped me gather it up as I hobbled to get my picture taken. I stretched for a minute, checked my time and realized I ran 13.6 miles (so much for running the tangents) and then met up with my husband on the other side of the gear tents.
I drank my Powerade and had another AdvoCare Rehydrate Gel on the bus back to the resort. Unfortunately, due to the high humidity I wasn’t consuming fluids quickly enough and ended up getting sick. I tried to tough-guy it out at a pizza lunch celebration, but we were forced to leave the park early and I spent the afternoon in bed. After a few hours, I felt a lot better, but was mad with myself for getting sick and also for my poor performance. Or what I perceived to be poor performance at the time. By Monday, after some time to think back on the race, I felt much better and am ultimately proud of myself.
I would absolutely recommend this race, but my biggest regret now is that I ran this solo. I understand why so many people run it in pairs with all the photo ops. I would love to do another Disney race, but without someone to include your selfies, it just isn’t as much fun. Does anyone want to do one with me?!