Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wine and Dine (half of a) Half Marathon review - Part 1

Well, I foresee this being a long post, so settle in for the story :). Actually, the post was so long I ended up splitting it into two parts.

By this point, I'm sure many of you heard about what happened at the Wine and Dine half marathon at Disney World but for those of you that haven't, I don't want to bury the lead.  The half marathon was shortened to about 6.7 miles because of weather and timing concerns.


But first things first, the expo.  We got to the expo pretty soon after it opened and the crowds were pretty big.  The expo is split into two buildings, one for bib pick up and the second for buying stuff. So we went to pick up our bibs first.  There was a huge line, but before I waited too long it was announced that the line was just for people who had pre-ordered merchandise.  I don't know why they had to wait in a separate line instead of putting that stuff with their bibs.  But thankfully for me, it meant I could get out of that line and instead go straight to the bib pick up line, which was only a couple people in front of me.  I had to wait in two lines since I did both the 5k and half marathon, but both were relatively short and moved quickly.

There was also some official race merchandise for sale here, but the line was really long so I decided to go buy the stuff in the other building instead.  This would turn out to be a mistake.  There were also some fun photo ops here so we took advantage of that before heading over to the second building.

Where the crowds were even worse!  We went to the area to pick up our included race shirts first, and that moved quickly.  But then we went to look at the official race merchandise and the crowds were crazy.  I found the shirt I wanted and thankfully, Mike and my dad agreed to wait in line for me.  It took them more than an hour :(

My mom wanted some shoes and a knee brace, so I took her over to the Fit 2 Run booth where she got some oofos and a knee brace.  We wandered around some more, took some photos, and went by the KT Tape booth but the line was long there as well so I skipped it.  We wandered around a bit more, Mike found a booth giving away some free stuff from Disney Springs along with a coupon for the place we already planned to eat lunch, so score!  I think we spent about 2 hours at the expo, total.


Race day was the following day.  We had left the room at 5am for the 5k so after a late breakfast, we spent the rest of the day resting.  The half marathon was a night race so I had a hearty late breakfast and a light dinner at 5pm of a bagel with PB2.  Mike and I then left at 6:30 to drive to Epcot.  We got in easily with smooth parking and I got in line for the buses, which started at 7pm.  I got on one of the first buses heading to the start area.  I'm glad I did.  I heard from others that there was quite the back up later, even for people who arrived shortly after 7.

But of course, this means I was at the start area pretty early.  The race was supposed to start at 10pm and I was there shortly after 7 so I had quite a bit of time to kill.  Thankfully, there were characters out and the lines weren't too long so I got in line for a photo op.  Then, I saw that the Mickey Miles podcast hosts tweeted they were in the start area as well so I went over to say hi to them.

After that, I went over to the runner only area.  It was still early but I wanted to minimize time on my feet so I just found an empty spot and sat on the lawn and listened to the DJ. Around 8:30 or so, I went over near the area that opened up into the corrals because I figured they would open that up around 9.  Shortly after I got there though, the temperatures dropped petty drastically, the wind picked up, and we began to feel a couple raindrops.  I also saw some flashes of lightening. People near me began checking their phones for the weather radar and worrying about possibilities for storms.  I pulled out my poncho and continued to wait but I was beginning to worry too.  We then started moving and I just assumed that they were letting us into the corrals as I hadn't heard any announcements saying otherwise.  But as I passed one of the volunteers, I heard her saying we were being evacuated due to the Lightning. I think this was around 9.

I ended up in the baseball stadium, seated on one of the steps.  And we continued to wait.  There were some announcements but we couldn't really hear them at all and I had no idea what was being said. But I figured it was ok because I'd see other people moving once it was announced.  I was beginning to worry about whether we'd get to race at all and if we did, how I would handle the delay. I got up at one point to go to the bathroom (yay really bathrooms!) and when I came out, saw that everyone was moving! So I followed along with the crowd, back to the corral area where we were earlier and we were held there again.

I had put my phone on airplane mode as I was trying to conserve battery but other people around me were checking Twitter and the rumors were flying.  This is where I first heard someone say Run Disney had tweeted that the race would be shortened, but still no details on what that meant.  Most people around me assumed that meant Animal Kingdom would be cut out, but how much of the highway section would be cut out?  We were guessing it would be somewhere between 6 and 10 miles but that's a pretty big range.

I think it was around 10pm when we were allowed into the corrals and this was a giant mess.  Everyone just streamed towards the corrals en masse and it didn't seem like anyone was cracking whether people were going into the proper corrals or not.  Now, runners obviously have to take some responsibility for this.  You know where you belong and you deliberately chose to take advantage of the chaos and try to sneak into an earlier corral.  Not cool.

Once we were in the corrals, more waiting and more listening to people getting information from the Internet.  We were in corral H and so we couldn't hear any of the announcements back where we were.  I later heard that the speakers where we were had malfunctioned, so maybe that's why? Nonetheless, we felt pretty left in the dark.

The good news is that people and me were pretty positive the whole time.  I think people felt disappointed but able to roll with the punches.  This helped me put a good face on it as well.  At that point, I and most of the people around me, just wanted to start running whatever race ended up in front of us.  Also, we were laughing about being pretty hungry so I think we just wanted to get to the food too!

You can see the rest of the story in Part 2 of my review.