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Monday, November 14, 2016

RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Race Recap


I’m sure you all know by now that I am a huge runDisney fan.  Well for my birthday this year, I decided to spend the weekend in sunny Florida with my brother, sister-in-law and 2 ½ year old nephew and run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  It was my ninth half marathon and 4th runDisney experience, but my first time running this particular race.  And let me assure you, it did not disappoint.  I really wanted to run Lumeire’s 2-Course Challenge (brand new this year!) but I just couldn’t afford to take the extra time off from work and spend the money.  If you’re interested in some general runDinsey race tips and tricks, make sure to check out my previous 2 posts.  But this post will focus on my experience specifically with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.


EXPO

First up, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Race Weekend Expo at the Wide World of Sports.  I love runDisney Expos.  They are so full of energy and it’s great to see so many other runDisney fans and runners there.  The expo is necessary since it’s the only place to get your race bib and tech shirt, but it’s also wonderful for getting yourself pumped up for your race(s) with fellow runners and Disney fans.  For this particular expo, my time was slightly limited though since I was babysitting my nephew and he was getting tired.  He spent most of our time there alternating between running around in circles and throwing himself face down on the floor in protest… haha!  When he first saw the largest part of the expo from upstairs, he ran to the railing and starting laughing and pointing and yelling “Sandy, look!”.  It was thrilling for him to see so many people and so much excitement going on below and I have to admit, I felt close to the same level of excitement myself knowing that I would be running a Disney race the following morning.


This weekend’s expo included everything from sparkly skirts to cute graphic running tees to Jeff Galloway (the ex-Olympian who designed the official runDisney run/walk interval training program) himself!  I wanted to get a picture with him but my nephew had other plans at that moment… running himself into a backdrop which promptly fell to the floor!

I only got one piece of Wine and Dine race merchandise (the official event weekend t-shirt) and I really love the design and colors.  My nephew and I also got to meet Remy while at packet pick-up and they gave me a birthday button to wear during the race!


PRE-RACE STAGING AND START LINE

Disney doesn’t do anything part-way and the staging area and start lines for their races are no exception.  For Wine and Dine, there were lights, live music, dancing, and even an hilarious impromptu joke-telling session by the DJ when the power unexpectedly went out for a few minutes on the main stage! 


There were also several Disney characters (including Lumiere and Chef Mickey/Minnie) on site for photos if you wanted to stand in line for them.  And there were a few areas near the stage that made for good photo backdrops.  My pic ended up a little dark because I got to the front of the line while the power on the stage was out… but I like it anyway. 



Two other pre-race highlights for me included a T-Rex hug and a familiar smiling face.  Let me explain… a couple of weeks before this race, I joined a Facebook group called runDisney Independent Runners (Solo Princesses).  The princesses in this group support each other during and between Disney race events and they are simply the sweetest group of women!  One of these amazing women, ran the 5k and 10k that weekend then showed up at the half marathon wearing a T-Rex costume and advertising free hugs!!  It was great to finally meet her in person… er dinosaur, and grab free hugs both pre-race and at mile 12 of the race! 


The other highlight came in running into my friend Ashlyn who runs ALL of her runDisney races on Kellsie’s Krew (for Kellsie’s Hope Foundation)!  I ran for Kellsie’s Krew for the Dark Side Challenge this past April and will be running with them again for the Disney World Marathon this coming January.  It was so great to run into this sweet girl before the race!  PS. I HIGHLY recommend running for Kellsie's Hope Foundation (or any runDisney charity) for your next Disney race!


THE RACE

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may remember that I tend to turn into a Chihuahua before races… i.e. my nervous-excitement causes me to have to visit the port-a-potties more than I would like to admit.  So in true Sandy fashion, I missed my corral start because I was… wait for it... standing in line for the bathroom... ha!  Fortunately, I only ended up one corral behind (And was helped over the barrier by a very attractive young man that kind of made the late corral start worth it!).  Then 3-2-1, fireworks, and GO!!


Along the course there was plenty of entertainment, characters, music, and costumed runners to enjoy.  The only downside to this particular course was that we only went through two parks (Animal Kingdom and Epcot) and there was a super long stretch of highway between them that got just a little boring towards the end.  I hit a bit of a wall around mile 11.5 due to the humidity and lack of sleep the night before but then we got to Epcot and I was re-energized by all of the amazing spectators and cheerleaders in the park.  I also got my first character photo (with The Genie!) since the line was relatively short and I was close enough to the finish to know I had plenty of time left.


Sully (and Mike was back there too!)

The Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom

This toy soldier started running backwards in front of me and told me to "Keep running princess!".

The Genie... in a Goofy hat no less. :) 

Almost there!

THE FINISH AND BEYOND

I was pretty excited to see that finish line coming up and know that I was about to finish my 9th half marathon!  I crossed the line running fast and teared up a little (as I always do) as I received my medal.  I'm such a sap!  I then made my way to the photo area to get a pic with my medal. 


All that was left was to grab some water (into which I dropped a nuun tab immediately!) and my runDisney snack box and head back to my brother’s house to shower and celebrate.  I had every intention of attending the after party at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival that night (beginning at 10:00pm), but after getting so little sleep the night before and playing with my nephew all day, I was honestly just too tired to go. 


So there you have it… my Wine and Dine Half Marathon recap.  Was it my favorite Disney race so far?  Not necessarily.  I liked the Dark Side Half Marathon course a little bit better.  Would I run it again?  Absolutely!  Would I do anything differently?  Yeah, I would try to rest more during the day so I can actually go to the after party… ha!  Next up, the Disney World Marathon on January 8.  My first full marathon!!  In the meantime, keep smiling and happy running.

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