Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wine and Dine (half of a) Half Marathon review - Part 2

My review of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon was so long, I split it into 2 parts.  I talk about the expo and a lot of the pre-race happenings in Part 1.


I think the fireworks for the first corral start went off and 11:00 or so.  By that time, we were pretty sure thanks to social media that the race would be between 6-7 miles.  Things moved pretty quickly after that and I think our corral started around 11:30 or so.

So my race strategy had gone back and forth a couple times.  Initially I wanted to try for a good finish time, maybe even a PR.  But once I saw the race was red flagged due to heat and humidity, that went out the window and I just planned to take it easy.  That decision was cemented with the delay.  But once I saw the race would be shortened to less than 7 miles, I thought I might push it a bit.  I think this uncertainty kind of hurt me as I just wasn't sure what I was doing.

I started out running for 10 minutes and then started my intervals of 2 minutes running to 30 seconds walking.  But then I saw a photo with dancers from the Main Street Electrical Parade with a short line so I stopped for a photo.  Obviously not thinking of time then.  Plus, I was sweating like I've never sweat before.  The humidity was out of control so I decided to go back to just doing the race for fun. But then toward mile 5 or so I saw the 3 hour pace group pass me and I felt the need to catch up and finish ahead of them.  I'm not even sure why.  I was obviously not thinking too clearly at this point.  

Random giant light up lobster puppet

Ok, so the shortened course at least included the best parts of this half marathon course.  The out and back on the highway was cut out, as well as running in Animal Kingdom. There was tons of entertainment on the course, including the characters, DJs, the green army man motivating people, etc.  And the best part of the race was running through the Osborne Family Christmas lights at Hollywood Studios.  I stopped at this part to take a couple photos as well.

After the lights, we left Hollywood Studios and ran on a path going toward Epcot.  This part was very narrow.  There were loud announcements warning that the case was going to narrow, and I was glad of the heads up.  It was narrow enough that I had to walk a lot of this section.  It turned into run when I could but walk when I had to due to the congestion.  We got to the area by the Epcot hotels and the course widened a bit so I was able to run again with my normal intervals.  And this section was nice because there were cheering spectators hanging out to encourage us on.

We then entered Epcot and I knew this meant the end was near.  We ran about a mile through the park.  I was looking for Mike at this point but wasn't able to find him.  There were a lot of spectators and runners that had already finished cheering. And then it was out to the Epcot parking lot and the finish line!  

My official time was 1:35:06 for 6.72 miles. According to my Garmin, it was 1:32:45 for 6.84 miles so an average pace of 13:34 per mile. This included one character stop, stopping to take photos of the Christmas lights, and a quick stop at medical for more body glide.


The finish line area was pretty chaotic.  Thankfully, I hadn't checked a bag since Mike was carrying stuff  for me and he was already in Epcot for the after party. Therefore, I didn't have to stop in bag check or the changing tent.  I just trudged past to get some water and a banana.  I didn't take the food box since I was planning on getting food at the after party in Epcot. I did get my free beer and this is the first race where I've been able to do that!  It was too cold at my first half marathon and too rainy at my second.  So yay for finally getting my free beer. When I saw the line to get into Epcot, I was again glad I didn't have a bag.  There was a giant line to go through bag check, even with the clear bags that you had just gotten from the race bag check :(. I was able to skip all that but I felt really bad for the people who had to wait in that line.  I think I would have given up on the party if I had to wait in the line.

Instead, I went into the park, found Mike and changed clothes.  We the walked toward the party but had to wait since it involved crossing over the race course.  This part seemed really chaotic and I think it took 15 minutes or so.  Finally, we got to one of the food booths and Mike parked me on a bench while he went to wait in line to get me some food and drink.  We enjoyed the band that was playing, walked and a bit, but then headed out a bit before 3am since the lines seemed pretty long everywhere.  

The party was a bit disappointing if you finish toward the middle or back because the lines made things seem inaccessible.  But Mike said it was great for spectators.  He was able to get into the park at 7, see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert, catch the fireworks show, sample the food and wine booths using the $15 gift card I was given with race registration with very little lines as well as several of the rides.  He said the character lines were also really short at the beginning.  I heard the same from the faster runners, the party was great at the beginning.

Final thoughts

Overall, I think Run Disney did the right thing.  There was definitely lightning in the area and I was feeling nervous about running in those conditions.  I don't know how you would evacuate everyone to shelter once the race had started so I think they had to delay.  And I heard afterwards that there was a lot of debris on the ground in Animal Kingdom from the rain, so that part had to be cut out.  I was obviously disappointed, but I understand why it had to be done.  It was also really hot and humid, and I had a hard enough time with the shortened course.  I feel bad saying this but given the way I felt after those 6.7 miles, I'm not sure I would have done well with the whole 13.1 miles. I think it was good for runners well being that the course was cut.  I do feel bad for people who trained for this as their first half marathon, but hopefully they were able to find another local half so the training wasn't "wasted."

I listened to the Mickey Miles podcast from last week where they did their recap of this race and it was very informative.  Apparently the race came really close to being black flagged earlier in the afternoon and the close to being cancelled with the Lightning in the evening.  So I'm glad I got to run at all and I feel positive about rolling with the punches and running the race that was put in front of me. No one can control the weather and we all have to deal with the circumstances we're given on race day.

The only thing I wasn't happy about was the communication to people in the later corrals.  The majority of our information was coming from social media and the few people who were able to get service in the crowd were kind of reporting out to all of us.  It would have been nice if the official race communication could have been filtered back to us somehow.

This race, more than any other I've done, felt like a really different experience for the back of the pack than the front of the pack, especially with the communication difficulties, the lines to get into Epcot and the lines at the after party.