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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Walt Disney World Half Marathon!

This is one of a series of posts about my Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Experience! The other posts I have written thus far are listed below:

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Expo
Walt Disney World 10K

Disney Dining at 1900 Park Fare

Walt Disney Marathon Weekend...Magic Bands and Downtown Disney

Saturday morning was ANOTHER 3AM wake-up call. That's the worst part of a Disney race...having to wake up so early. But it's worth it! Today my friend Sandi was running the half too! We got ready and then headed for the buses.

Here comes Mike Wazowski!

Disney transportation for race weekend is a plus! I love not having to worry about getting there on time or getting stuck in traffic. We had no line for the bus and got right on!

Selfie pic on the bus!

We got off the bus and started walking. We had to go through bag check since we both had hydration belts on. We didn't stay long in the meet and greet area.

It was close to time to be in your corrals so we stopped for a quick potty break and then started the trek toward the corrals. If you've runDisney then you know this trek is about a mile long. I was starting two corrals back with Sandi in Corral I instead of my Corral G. Disney will let you move back corrals but not forward. We made it to our corral on time and immediately started enjoying the entertainment. runDisney has huge screens up in the corrals so you have a good view of the stage. They had someone teaching us dances on the stage. He even taught us the moves to the song, "What Does the Fox Say!"

Me and Sandi waiting in the corral! Ready to run!

Then it was time for Goofy, Mickey, and Donald to wish us a great race! Since this was Donald's race he got to talk (or quack) a lot!

Before we knew it, it was time for the first corral to start! Donald did an awesome job of counting down the start for each corral! And of course Disney had fireworks for each corral's start! Finally it was our corral's turn! Donald counted us down and off we went!

Sandi was doing run/walk intervals of 2:1 so for the first time ever I did this with her. I'm not used to having to walk when my legs are so fresh but I wanted to run the race with her. Before we knew it we made it to mile 1!

You could feel the excitement in the air from all the runners! Everyone was so excited! It was hot and humid but not as bad as it was for the 10K. I was feeling great! My legs felt strong but I was also running at a slower pace than I normally do. But my goal was all about having fun...not about my I wasn't too worried about my pace.

Our first character stop...Pirates! The line was pretty long but we stood there anyway. While waiting, we saw the first place runner run by! He was almost at mile 11! That was kind of hard to handle knowing he was almost finished and we still had a really long way to go. But it was cool seeing how fast those elite runners were running!

Before long we had made it to the entrance to Magic Kingdom! I knew the fun was about to begin!!!

We ran past the speedway and saw Darkwing Duck and Launchpad on the side! But we didn't stop (I wish we had now). We headed towards the Ticket and Transportation Center and I saw Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas!!! I had to stop for this one for my boys!

In no time at all we made it to Magic Kingdom! The roar of the crowd on Main Street is always so amazing! It's so fun to hear the spectators cheering you on as you run down Main Street and the Castle is in your sights! We stopped for a quick picture before we headed to Tomorrowland!

In Tomorrowland we spotted Buzz Lightyear!

And by the Tea Cups we spotted the Queen of Hearts!

Then we headed towards the castle! And major congestion began! It was so crowded! I've never ran through the castle when it was that crowded. Actually, it was so crowded that I couldn't even run. We had to walk. And I was a little disappointed. The photographers couldn't even take pictures because of the congestion. So I'm pretty sad there is no picture of me running out of the castle. :-( There was a photographer taking pictures inside the I got that one at least. But not great enough to buy in my opinion.

Once we made it out of the castle we headed towards the front to get a picture! The castle is my favorite and I was getting at least one good picture!!! ;-)

Then we headed towards Liberty Square and Frontierland and out of Magic Kingdom. I knew this part of the course would be tougher. We ran past the Grand Floridian and a few more character stops but we didn't stop. It was very crowded here because the road is a lot more narrow. During our run breaks we were weaving in and out of walkers and it was exhausting.

I loved looking at everyone's costumes while we were running! Gave me lots of ideas for my next Disney race! We even came upon this guy who was running the half marathon while dribbling two basketballs! It was Doctor Dribble! He was doing the Goofy Challenge so he ran the full marathon dribbling his basketballs the next day! Amazing!

Sandi started struggling some around this point in this race. She had an ankle injury and it was starting to bother her. We were running a lot more slower on our run breaks. Finally we made it back onto World Drive and I knew the end wasn't very far. It was hurting me more to run slow and walk than just run. So around mile 10.5 (and with Sandi's encouragement), I took off to finish the race strong!

And I got some encouragement from this Soldier!

I'm always amazed at all the runners when I go on the overpass!

And then I saw the mile 11 sign and knew my fun was almost over.

The last few miles consisted of me running and weaving in and out of all the people. Most everyone was walking...and I just wanted to run! There were a few places where I was forced to stop to a walk because I just couldn't get by. I was just ready to make it into Epcot where I knew I would have a little more room to get around. I was really excited to see Elsa, Anna, and Olaf on the mile 12 sign!!!

And then we entered Epcot! Yay! A sweet cast member took this photo for me with Spaceship Earth behind me!

I knew at this point I just had to run a ways into Epcot and around Spaceship Earth and the finish line would be there! All the cast members in Epcot cheering for us was awesome! They really make you feel special!

Before I knew it I saw mile 13 with Donald cheering me on!

I rounded the curve and took it home! It was great having enough energy left in me to sprint to the finish line!!!

And just like that....I had completed my 20th half marathon!!!!! It was my slowest yet (3:31:25)...but I had a blast! I received my medal and headed to the meeting place that Sandi and I had agreed on.

Sandi wasn't too far behind me. She did great!!! I was so proud of her!

And I was so happy to get my first Donald medal!!!

Final Thoughts: This race was just as great as I expected it to be! I've run this course several times at the Princess Half but there were a few changes in the characters since it wasn't geared mostly toward women. runDisney redid the corrals this year but it didn't help the crowding issue on my end. This race was the most crowded I've ever been during a runDisney event. It could have been due to the fact that I started in a later corral than I normally would have. I was surrounded by more people walking than running. But it was to be expected since I chose to do the run/walk intervals up until mile 10.5 with my friend Sandi. I'm interested to hear how the new corrals were for those that ran in the earlier corrals. Despite the overcrowding....I still had an absolute blast and would do it over and over again! :-)

Stay tuned tomorrow for our afternoon in Epcot! :-)

QOTD: Did you run the half marathon? Did you feel like the course was super crowded?



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