Sunday, March 25, 2012

2011 WDW Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay Weekend Recap

Sorry if some of this is not very fault for waiting 5 months to write a recap *doh!*

This was my first time doing a relay so I wasn’t sure what to expect; it was also only my 2nd time doing a race at night (my first was only a 5K-Expedition Everest Challenge-and was broken up by obstacles; the “run” portion was only 45 minutes or so). I was runner #2; my runner #1 would be starting the race over at Wide World of Sports and would run from there to and through Animal Kingdom for 4.8 miles, then I would take over for an additional 8.3 miles from the Animal Kingdom parking lot to and through Hollywood Studios, then over to Epcot for the finish.

I left home early Friday morning so I could check in to my hotel (All Star Sports) and get to the expo when it opened. Love the color of the shirt, a nice deep maroon.

For us relay participants, we also received a commemorative baton which was a miniature rolling pin, so cute!

Everyone also got a $10 Disney gift card, supposedly to use at the race After Party at Epcot at the food & wine booths, though you could actually use it whenever you wanted to. Wish they would do that for every race!

Friday night was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom (which I absolutely love and highly recommend, I’d go every year if I could!)...normally when I go to the party I am done by 10:30-11pm but since I knew Saturday night would be a late night, I stayed until the park closed at midnight and then a bit longer at the park entrance where I met up with Rebecca from ROTE...we took a picture at the front so we could say we were in the park for its 30th anniversary since it was past midnight (I wasn’t about to battle the crowds there in the morning, plus I wanted to sleep in a bit since I’d be up late the next night with the race).

I had a late breakfast reservation for myself for Saturday morning at Kona Cafe (no, not Tonga Toast-not a fan of things stuffed in my french toast-but still very yummy), then back to my hotel for some pool-lounging and relaxation time since I didn’t want to tire my legs out wandering in the parks.

Had a late lunch/early dinner before hopping the bus to head to WWoS to meet up with the other Running of the Ears folks before the race.

My partner Tracy and I took a before-race pic before it was time for me to head over to the busses that would take us runner #2’s to the exchange point at Animal Kingdom.

Two other ROTErs were also running the relay so we rode over together and hung out until it was time to start watching out for our partners to come in. The weather was nice, was in the upper 60s with a little breeze by the time I’d get out on the course. They had it set up so when runner 1 got to our area in the parking lot, they branched off to the right of the course into the relay exchange where the runner 2’s were waiting. We had mini-chutes to wait in to watch for our partners with different colored flags...only problem was the flag color on the chart at the expo was different than what they were at the exchange. But next to the flags were signs with bib numbers so that helped out.

Since Tracy was texting me to let me know where she was on the course, I pretty much knew when she’d be coming so I was watching out for her. I still almost missed her, then heard her calling my name and waving. After a quick hug, I headed out running. And running...and running. And then I saw the start timing mat for the runner 2’s...after I was already past my time to change back to walking *sigh*. Wish I would’ve known that our timing mat was so far out, I would have worked a walk up to a run before reaching it...lesson learned for next time I guess.

The course headed out of the parking lot and onto Osceola Parkway. While I knew it would be darker than what I’m used to since I’m a daylight run/walker (well duh, the race started at 10pm and I didn’t start until almost 11:15pm), it was a bit out of my comfort zone even with the available lighting from streetlights and course lighting since I was pretty unfamiliar with the course from a race standpoint. That slowed me down a little bit since I was being more careful and watching my surroundings more closely. I was in between 16-17mm the whole time though...would have liked to go faster but the dark was making me concentrate more on watching around me and so my pace would keep dropping off, then I’d try and speed up again when I could be more sure of footing and not running into others.

Headed to Hollywood Studios and wound quite a bit through it before heading toward Epcot for the finish. I did take pictures along the way, but coupled with the dark and my walking/running, almost every single one came out very blurry.

The finish line seemed kind of closed-in to me; it didn’t seem like there was anywhere for lots of spectators to watch and cheer. I’m so used to having a huge, long finishing chute with tons of people cheering all over that this one seemed kind of anti-climactic. But, Mickey was there and of course I high-fived him as I crossed the finish! Got my cool medal and headed over to get my free drink and regular post-race refreshments.

I’m not one for alcoholic beverages (used to when I was younger but now I don’t like how they make my head feel at all) so I grabbed a can of Coke instead. I should have saved it for later--soda after a race was just not satisfying or enjoyable at all and I threw it out after only drinking half. Met up with Tracy afterward and joined a few ROTErs, but I was just tired out and decided to just change into a different shirt since it had cooled down some more and head back to the hotel to crash. Tracy was ready by then as well so back on the busses we went.

Overall it was a great experience for my first relay. Of course you have the great on-course entertainment with Disney characters which helps the miles go by quickly. It was a bit quieter than the other WDW races I’ve done since the number of spectators was drastically reduced; guess they didn’t want to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just to watch us crazies out there LOL. I did miss the cheering though.

Met up with some ROTErs for another breakfast at Kona Sunday morning then headed to Epcot for a bit before making the three hour drive back home. I wouldn’t mind doing the “full” half marathon for Wine & Dine one year, I’ll be keeping it in mind for some time in the future.

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