I admit, I was worried about this race. Not so much the distance, as I have been running well over 10 miles for marathon training. I was worried about the time (it was a 10pm race) and the temperature. The last time I did a night race was the inaugural Wine and Dine in 2010 and I felt absolutely awful afterward, and didn’t feel so hot during either.
So for this race, I just planned to sit back and run easy. We wanted to be able to hang out at the after party feeling good. Plus, my sister is coming off of an injury, so the goals for this race were just to finish. I had just gotten my box from Team New Skin, so I applied my anti-chafing spray and my new team visor and I was off.
We got to the start area early and ran into bunches of friends, which is the best part of running. Additionally, it was fun to see all of the insane costumes. I can’t believe how many layers people wore! I would have melted.
A group of us started out with slow 1:1s, and managed to stay together for about half the race, at which point, Caitlin and I lost them and spent the rest of the race leapfrogging with a few other friends.
For me, the hardest part was the beginning of the race. The heat coming off of the roads was intense. Unfortunately, it hadn’t rained, so the air was incredibly thick. I was absolutely drenched with sweat within a matter of minutes. Definitely gross. But slow and steady was the name of the game, with plenty of water stops. I carried water with me so I could have a drink whenever I wanted and took both Powerade and water at the official water stops.
We were in corral B of D, which really surprised me and made me think this might be a slow race. I am not fast by any means, and I submitted a qualifying time reflecting that. We did get passed quite a bit, but by the end, we were regularly passing groups of people. The course was crowded at a number of points, as is common with Disney races. While I obviously love runDisney, they attract a lot of new runners who aren’t always savvy to the rules of road racing, which meant we often came across large groups of people walking and blocking the entire course. We also ran into a lot of people who couldn’t hear us calling out to try to pass because their music was too loud. If a race allows it and you want to run with music, that’s your choice, but make sure you can still hear what’s going on around you!
But the crowding didn’t hurt my experience. I wasn’t out to set a new PR, so having to maneuver around people wasn’t the end of the world.
I loved the mile markers with all the villains, and I especially loved that the music playing at each mile marker was a song related to that villain. Definitely an awesomely Disney touch. It was also fun to see the villains out on the course (though I disagree that Stitch is a villain. He is cute and cuddly!). We didn’t stop for photos because of the lines and because I knew if we stopped, we’d never start up again.
This course took us through the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and I personally enjoyed the trail portion of the course. It was nice to get off of the roads and away from the heat. There was apparently a “missing” baseball team on the field, but I totally missed that element. It was hot, after all.
Cait and I started out with a number of people, but somehow, we all lost each other before WWoS and we didn’t find them again. We knew we were somewhere ahead, but that was it. We did continue to leapfrog some other friends, which is always fun. It’s nice to have friends out on the course with you.
The only real “park time” for this race was right at the end inside Hollywood Studios. I liked running through the backlot area, and was horrified when I made a comment about the Flight of the Navigator ship and some girl looked at me like I was crazy. How can you not know that movie? It’s so good! We slowed when we ran through the costuming tunnels so we could see all the things hanging. And then the finish came up as a bit of a surprise. But we finished strong and got our fabulous medals.
What you can’t see in that picture is that my hair is GIANT. Oh, the humidity.
Our final finish time was 2:33:55 for a 15:24 pace. Well slower than my normal race pace and significantly slower than my training pace. But that’s why I could finish with a smile.
One smart move we made was grabbing ice from the med tent on our way through. There was a woman handing out bags of ice, probably about a softball size chunk of ice. We immediately put that on our heads and necks as we walked. At one point, I had it stuffed down the top of my shirt. It was cold, but it felt great. I think that definitely helped our recovery because we cooled down so much faster.
To get to the family reunion area, we had to walk through the streets of Hollywood Studios, and the volunteers were doing a great job keeping the streets clear so we could get through. There, we met up with our Mom and waited for the rest of our friends, some of whom hadn’t fared so well in the heat. Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare, your body just refuses to listen.
This race was hot and it wasn’t easy, but I will definitely be running it next year. It’s scheduled for the day we get off our cruise ship, so how can I not?
After the race, I was very disappointed to see all the negative comments about the race. They were all over Facebook and Twitter, and people walking around after the race were complaining as well. It was definitely a downer, and I would like to address some of the issues here. I’m as critical as anyone when it comes to races, but I’m also a generally positive person, and I hated seeing all the negativity.
First off, the corral sizes. These corrals were big. There were only 4 corrals for 10,000 people, which means there were about 2500 people per corral. Not huge, but I think maybe having five corrals would have helped some of the crowding issues at certain points in the race. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. I saw some people complaining that the corrals were so crowded that they couldn’t sit down. First off, there were people sitting in our corrals, and having room to sit in a corral is a rarity.
Post-race, we had to walk to the family reunion area, then walk further to bag check. Yes, if you were hurting after the race, this wasn’t awesome, but it was actually good for your body. If you’re not feeling great after a race and come to a complete stop right away, you’re going to feel worse. Walking is actually good for you. Bag check was held on the floor of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, which was a great location. Plenty of room. For next year, I would suggest runDisney change the way people enter, but other than that, it was great. Yes, there were stairs. Nothing you can do about that. There were also places to sit. You may not realize it, but your body thanked you the next morning for all that walking.
We didn’t park at ESPN WWoS (the designated parking area if you weren’t staying at a host resort), so I can’t speak to those issues. I can only trust that runDisney will make improvements for next year.
There weren’t a lot of characters out on the race course, and I wonder if that had to do with the heat. It’s a safety issue for everyone. I would like to have had more music along the way though!
After the race, we were handed bottles of Powerade and Water, bananas, and a snack box, something runDisney and other races have started in recent years. Inside the box were some crackers and cheese, a protein bar, some trail mix, and some candy. Maybe not what everyone wants after a race, but I really like the snack box. I definitely like the variety and the fact that I can just shove it into my checked bag if I don’t want to eat it right away. I also like that it’s not been pawed over by gross runners, as bagels sometimes are. I know that some people with nut allergies complained about the box, and I can’t really say anything about that. I guess the best option is to make sure you have your preferred post-race food in your checked bag if you have food allergies or intolerances.
There were a number of people nauseous or throwing up after the race, which is definitely unfortunate. I saw a few people trying to link this to a problem with the water or the Powerade on the course. There was nothing wrong with anything on the course. People got sick from the heat. And it wasn’t necessarily because they were undertrained or because they weren’t used to the heat. Sometimes your body just reacts strangely, even if you have been running in the humidity. I will say that slowing down and making sure to be hydrated tends to help. But the best advice is to just listen to your body. Just because someone else can run in the heat doesn’t necessarily mean you can. And just because you did it two weeks ago doesn’t mean you can do it today. Just run smart.
So if you’re considering this race, take all the negative comments with a grain of salt. It was hot, yes. And that’s always a possibility. The first Wine and Dine was awful when it came to temperature. But while I didn’t run it the second year due to my brother’s wedding, I heard that runDisney did a great job changing a lot of the problems with the race and I have confidence that will happen here as well.
And the most important thing. The volunteers for this event were amazing. Absolutely amazing. They were out there in the heat doing everything they could to make sure that we runners had a great, safe race. They were there to help when people struggled and they were great with all their cheers. I can’t thank the volunteers enough. You all rock.