Wow! What an interesting “off season” it’s been for me! I’ve crossed more finish lines during this season of running than I did during my “racing” season.
When I’m chasing down a specific goal, I don’t race much, if at all. I use races as training runs and each has a specific purpose (usually a half marathon ran at goal marathon pace). On the other hand, when I’m just running for the love of the run, I tend to run all sorts of races. Both of these seasons are of equal importance in my training book.
My “off season” ended last weekend at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon with New Balance.
If I had “raced” the New York City Marathon, there’s no way on earth I could have completed a half marathon the week after. Here’s how the race and race weekend went down:
Wine & Dine Half Marathon Tweetup
One of the many special features of a runDisney race is the pre-race tweetup in the park. This is such a great event! I think it would be awesome if other races did similar things. On Thursday night after the park closed 125 runners met inside the park for a special viewing of Illuminations (a fireworks show at Epcot), a quick ride on the Test Track, a food and wine tasting, a special speaker series, and a quick two mile group shakeout run. To find out how to attend the next tweetup, follow @RunDisney. In the days leading up to a race they release details on how you can snag a spot in the meetup tweetup.
Fueling for a Night Run
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, I am not a night runner! I’m usually in bed by 10pm so running a race that starts when I’m normally in bed was a challenge! Prior to this race, I’ve only had a handful of night running experiences so I wasn’t sure how I would feel starting this late, especially when my legs weren’t completely recovered from running a marathon.
Fueling for a night race is another challenge. I generally like to start races feeling a bit light, so I tried to eat mostly simple carbs throughout the day. I ate my last pre-race meal (oatmeal with cashew butter and a banana) around 4:30. My stomach felt a bit off during the run, so if I do another night race I’ll need to figure something better out.
The race started out at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The course took us through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot with several highway miles sprinkled in-between each location. I had heard a rumor that you may be able to stop to ride a roller coaster in the middle of the race, but I didn’t notice any opportunities to do so.
The other thing that’s a big deal at Disney races is stopping to take photos with Disney characters along the course. Our group decided to stop for as many character photos as possible without having to wait in line. Surprisingly, we didn’t see too many lines so we made quite a few stops for photos. I found that I lived for these much appreciated stops along the course. I definitely didn’t feel my absolute best during this race, but I had more fun than I ever imagined.
Overall Thoughts About the Race
It was a super organized event with friendly volunteers. There were plenty of water/powerade stations, and port-a-potties. Spectators were sparse since the course ran along the highway and through the parks, but the ones we did see were loud and amazing. If you’re in one of the first few corrals the course isn’t crowded. As expected, it’s a super supportive environment and there is a large number of people who walk or walk/run the race and still have plenty of time to finish without getting swept up by the sweeper.
Last, but certainly not least, when you cross the finish line you are handed your choice of either a glass of wine or beer! Need I really say anything more?
I owe a huge thank you to New Balance for inviting me to this race and giving me the opportunity to experience a different kind of race weekend. It’s the first time I had been to a Disney park since 1988!