Friday, January 23, 2015

Race Recap: Disney Half Marathon 2015

Sorry in advance, this is a long one... but it's mostly photo's if that helps :)

Disney World Half Marathon
January 10, 2015

State: repeat (Florida)
Lifetime: #51

This race has become basically second nature to me.  This was my 8th year doing this race, so I basically have it down by this point.

Race morning always comes bright and early at Disney and this was no different.  I got about 3am (so early!) and quickly got ready.  I had laid all my clothing out the night before (I was going as Winnie the Pooh) and prepped my bag to check.  So it was easy to get ready half asleep.

I'd been watching the weather all week and knew it would be cold race morning so I came prepared.  I had brought a pair of throw away sweat pants, a shirt, $1 store gloves and an old heatsheet.  They were lifesavers, let me tell you.

I headed to the buses just before 4am and was able to board almost immediately.  There was only a little line and they had tons of buses ready to go.  Traffic wasn't too bad to Epcot, but even so, I didn't mind as I was happy to sit in the warm bus instead =)

Once arriving in Epcot and venturing back out into the cold, I headed to the pre-race area.  The security check went quickly and then I had time to kill.  I used the bathroom one last time and made sure all my stuff was ready for the race.  About 45 minutes before the start, I checked my bag and headed to the start.  The walk is long, but it was cold so I was just trying to stay warm.  I was so glad I had packed all the throw away gear!

Once inside the corral, I basically tried to stay warm.  I lost the heat sheet and sweat pants when Corral B started (I was in C).  They only had about 2 minutes in between waves so I didn't have to stand around long.

I didn't really have a plan for this race, just run comfortable and take it easy.  I was planning on stopping for photo's only for characters I had never seen out before.  I did pretty well, but did stop for some repeat photo's (only if they had no line).

The first miles were basically about regaining feeling in my toes.  I was warming up quickly, but my toes always take the longest.  I removed the extra shirt I had on at about mile 3, but kept the gloves on still.

The first couple of character stops were all ones I had before - Captains Jack and Barbossa and Jack and Sally (from Nightmare Before Christmas).  The lines weren't long, but I didn't stop.

Right before hitting the Magic Kingdom parking lot, they had out Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope.  I've gotten a photo with Ralph before, but never Vanellope so I had to stop.  Luckily there were only about 3 people in line before me!

Vanellope and I tried matching poses.

After my picture, I quickly got going again.  I didn't want to get too cold standing around.  As we made the turn into Magic Kingdom at mile 5, I remember thinking how quickly the race was going.  Those first 5 miles had really gone by fast.  By this my hands were really heating up so I lost the gloves.

Running down Main Street never disappoints and this year was no different.  No matter what, I always love that stretch down Main Street.  As we made the turn into Tomorrowland, I tried to take a selfie, but clearly I need to work on my selfie skills.

As normal, they had Buzz Lightyear out in Tomorrowland and the Queen of Hearts in front of the tea cups.  Neither had a line so I stopped for both.


As we came around the corner, I was keeping my eyes peeled for Pooh or Tigger.  One of them is usually by the Winnie the Pooh ride and since I was dressed as Pooh... I was hoping to get that shot.  Unfortunately, they weren't out this year.  But, they did have out one of the Mimes from Tangled (who I've never seen on a course before) so I had to get a shot of that!

Usually right before the Castle, they have either Mickey and Minnie or Donald and Daisy out.  They had neither this year.  It almost always forms a huge line and causes a backup, so I get why they might not have them out; but I feel like they are pretty popular, so it still felt weird.

Similar to running through Main Street, I love running through the Castle.  There is just a feeling that cannot be described.  Continuing along, we headed into Liberty Square and Frontierland.  They had one of the bears from the Country Jamboree out so I stopped so I could at least get 1 photo with another bear.

After that, it was time to head out of the park and start the journey pack to Epcot.  This stretch is usually pretty full of characters/entertainment and this year was no different.  They had a DJ out, some men in tux's outside the wedding pavilion and lots of spectators.  Outside of the Grand Floridian was Bert and the Penguins from Mary Poppins.  No line again (seeing a trend here?), so I stopped for a photo!

Yes, Bert and I coordinated our color choices.

I don't know why (since I started in a similar corral as usual), but I remember finding it strange the sun wasn't even up yet.  I got to watch a very pretty sunrise during the trip back to Epcot.

Right near the Golf courses, they always have out either Golfer Mickey or Golfer Goofy.  And the line is always ridiculously long, so I never wait (even though I've always wanted that photo).  But this time around, the line was (relatively) short - about 10 people.  As you might have noticed, there were really very little lines this year.  I'm guessing given the low temps, people did not want to wait in lines and get cold.

Even though this line was "short", I almost didn't wait as I didn't want to get cold.  But I quickly realized it was BOTH Golfer Mickey and Golfer Goofy and I couldn't pass that photo up!

Bonus for the beautiful sunrise in the background
And immediately following that was the Genie with Abu.  I love Abu in the movie so I had to stop (again, no line!).

He must drink Alice's growing potion for the photo's...

After this section is one of my least favorite parts of the course (basically miles 9-12).  It's a long straightaway on a highway and you've past most of the character stops.  They do have entertainment on the course, but it's still tough.

I know there were a lot of corrals this year and they were really spaced out, but I was surprised to see the mass of runners just heading into Magic Kingdom.  Usually at this point, it's just the stragglers, but there were tons of people still heading in.

During these miles, I tried to zone out and just keep moving along.  I actually ended up joining a conversation with some fellow runners and ended up chatting with them for a while (and actually ran the rest of the race with one of them).  Just one reason, I love the running community - every one is so friendly!

Having someone to talk to the last couple of miles, made those miles go by really quickly.  Before I knew it, we were heading into Epcot for the last section.  After a quick jog around Spaceship Earth, we were heading back out and past the Gospel choir to the finish line!

My finishing time was 2:13:04 which is just over a 10 minute pace (10:09).  Considering I wanted to take it easy and when factoring in photo stops, I am happy with this time!

After collecting my medal, I was keeping my eyes peeled for Abby.  Similar to last year, she was volunteering.  I was very excited to see her and we walked for a bit - she couldn't go far from her zone, but walked me to the water area.  And helped me open it, which was good since stopping my hands were quickly getting cold again.  I do have to say, I am surprised they weren't handing out heatsheets as it was cold once you stopped running.

After taking a finishers photo and grabbing my snack box, I head to baggage.  After collecting my things, I said goodbye to my new friend (and good luck since he was doing Dopey!) and made my way to the character photo's.  They had out Chip and Dale, Daisy, Goofy and Dopey.  I wished they had had out Dopey last year, but I am glad they learned for those folks running this year.


I think it goes without saying that I love this race.  It was my first Disney race ever and I've come back every year (and will continue to do so).  I liked that they had some different characters out on the course and seem to be learning from past years (like having Dopey at the finish for photo's).  The new corral system seems to be helping with congestion (at least for me, can't speak for the corrals farther back).

Another great Disney Half in the books!  Can't wait to go back again... how many weeks until Princess?

Official: 13.1 miles, 2:13:04, 10:09 pace
Garmin: 13.41 miles, 2:13:02, 9:55 pace

And of course, no race is complete with out my customary medal + beer photo.

Who else out there ran the WDW Half?  How'd it go?  Share your recaps below!