After the adventure of getting from my hotel room to my corral, it was time to get this whole race thing started. About a minute or so after 5:30 AM, the wheelchair racers were off. For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, there was only one wheelchair but there were almost 20 for this race. Before I knew it, my corral was making its way to the starting line.
The fireworks for Corral C went off and the race began! Thank you very much pyro guys for continuing to shoot fire into the sky while we all went through the gate!! It totally helped me warm up!
Mile 1 – 10:53 min/mile
The first mile of the race was along Epcot Center Drive. The road was lined with trees making the night seem much darker than it really was. At the end of mile 1 was the first water stop, which was really crowded of course. I kept running right through it hoping to break free from the majority of the people. When my Garmin beeped at me to signal the end of Mile 1, I looked down and realized I was going at a pace much faster than I could maintain.
Mile 2 – 10:53 min/mile
The course continued along Epcot Center Drive before following a ramp that took us towards the Magic Kingdom. Once we were off the ramp, the route continued on World Drive. As a little girl, I always got super excited at this point of the trip because I knew we were almost to the Magic Kingdom. Along this part of the course, there wasn’t a whole lot of entertainment. There were two high school bands lined the roadway playing and cheering for us as we passed by. When my watch beeped at the end of mile 2, I knew I was going to have to slow down or else I would be crawling across the finish line.
Mile 3 – 11:18 min/mile
Mile 3 continued along World Drive. There was another water stop, which I totally utilized. I am not a sports drink enthusiast so I only ever take the water during races. I also took my first walk break so that I actually drink the water instead of wearing it. This part of the course actually paralleled the return route. Luckily, I didn’t see any of the elite runners this time because that is usually very disheartening for me. In the median, Mary Poppins’ hot air balloon was lighting up the night sky and helping the runners warm up as they passed by.
Mile 4 – 11:26 min/mile
Continuing on World Drive, mile 4 took us through the gate into the Magic Kingdom and past the Walt Disney World Motor Speedway, which is home to the Richard Petty Driving Experience and the new Exotic Driving Experience. For me, this was definitely one of the coolest parts of the course. The first character on the course besides the stilt walkers was Launchpad McQuack from DuckTales. I was more interested in the awesome the awesome cars that lined the road though.
After we passed the speedway, the course continued to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Mile 5 – 11:24 min/mile
The course continued through the Transportation and Ticket Center before heading back to World Drive. As I got closer to the Contemporary Resort, I started scanning the spectators hoping to spot my boyfriend. We went under the water bridge connecting the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. On top of the bridge was a man (?) wearing giant Mickey Mouse hands waving and dancing at us. There was a stereo blasting “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. I couldn’t help but throw my hands in the air and start waving them around.
Once I passed under the bridge, my search for my boyfriend renewed. We never really finalized where he would be waiting or what he would be wearing. As I passed by the Contemporary Resort, I didn’t see him and a sinking pit started to form in my stomach. I was counting on seeing him at least once on the course.
Mile 6 – 11:46 min/mile (aka The Magic Kingdom Mile)
For me, mile 6 was the best part of the entire course. After passing by the Contemporary, the course took me into the Magic Kingdom by way of the side door. We entered the park near the Town Square and turned right onto Main Street. At this point, I caught my first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle.
Before we reached the castle, the course turned right again and we headed into Tomorrowland. Near the Astro Orbiter, the course turned to the left and we passed by the Tomorrowland Speedway on our way into Fantasyland. After passing by Snow White’s Scary Adventures, the course turned left and the moment I was most excited about was finally here.
As I approached Cinderella’s Castle, my eyes started to tear up and I almost forgot about having missed my boyfriend … almost. Once I left the castle, I stopped for a picture.
As soon as I was back on the course, I saw him! There he was in bright green waiting for me to run through the castle. If I wasn’t already teary eyed, I am sure I would have cried.
After I saw him, the course turned to the right and I found myself in Liberty Square. Another left turn put me in Frontierland, which is definitely one of my favorite places in the Magic Kingdom. As I approached the Country Bear Jamboree, I noticed one of the bears was all alone waiting to have his picture taken. I jumped on the opportunity.
My dad LOVES the Country Bears, especially Big Al, so I couldn’t resist getting this picture for him. Shortly after that, my time running through the Magic Kingdom came to an end. We left the park near the parade route staging area. I know this because some of the floats were out.
Mile 7 – 11:16 min/mile
Once I left the park, I found myself on Floridian Way. We passed by the Reedy Creek Fire Station. There were several firemen and women on the side of the road waving to us as we ran by. At this point, the sun was coming up and I could feel the temperature actually falling. My hands were freezing and I could feel my body starting to reject the distance.
Mile 8 – 11:48 min/mile
Still on Floridian Way, the course took us past the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, the Polynesian Resort and the Shades of Green Golf Courses. The moisture in the air was thick and I could still see my breath. Luckily, my ankle wasn’t really bothering me even though this was the farthest I had run in over a month. I continued running while trying to avoid the water hazards on the course caused by sprinklers and the morning dew.
Mile 9 – 11:34 min/mile
The course continued along Floridian Way. We passed the Motor Speedway again but this time we were on the other side. No cars to gawk at this time. I grabbed a mocha flavored Clif Shot from the food station. Unfortunately, there was no water stop near by so the energy gel sucked whatever water was left in my system right out. By the end of this mile, I knew that the next 4.1 miles would be some of the longest I have run in a very long time.
Mile 10 – 12:08 min/mile
Floridian Way turned into World Drive. When I reached the water stop, I took a longer than normal walk break and got splashed by some wayward water cups being tossed to side of the road. I am not quite sure what the ultimate contributing factor was but I absolutely knew that it was going to take everything I had in me to finish this race.
Mile 11 – 11:50 min/mile
This mile was absolutely excruciating. As the course continued along World Drive, we reached the interchange with Epcot Center Drive. Now I know that I design interchanges for a living but I never considered the fact that I would one day be running on a loop ramp. By the time I reached the top of that loop ramp, my quads were screaming at me to make it stop.
Mile 12 – 12:15 min/mile
Once I was through the interchange, I could feel the energy and excitement of the other runners. We all knew we were in the home stretch. Nothing was going to stop is from finishing … except that bridge we went over at the start of the race! As I descended the bridge, I saw it on the horizon … Spaceship Earth (and the Mile 12 marker)! Almost there was what I kept telling myself.
Mile 13 – 11:59 min/mile (aka The Epcot Mile)
As I was running through the parking lots of Epcot, I could feel my body running out of steam. I didn’t want to stop running though because I felt like I would be letting down the crowd that was cheering me on. By me, I really mean every runner.
We entered Epcot through the side and made our way past Spaceship Earth. I didn’t pay much attention to the course map so I was a little upset that I actually had to run all the way to the Christmas tree at the entrance to the World Showcase and back before I was done.
On my way out of the park, I saw it … the Mile 13 marker! Then I saw him again. My boyfriend was there cheering me on and I knew I had it in me to run that last 0.1 miles!
I did it! I actually did it again! I ran across the finish line of my third half marathon and earned my 15th anniversary Donald Duck medal!
After crossing the finish line, I made my way through the crowds. My goal was to get to the medal engraver’s tent, grab my food and find my boyfriend. Unfortunately, the one thing I absolutely needed actually eluded me. Somehow in my dazed state, I completely missed the food line! When I tried to go back, one of the volunteers wouldn’t let me!! It was a good thing my boyfriend brought a banana with him. Once my medal was engraved and I was wearing my clean, dry running sweatshirt, my boyfriend and I headed over to monorail station. It was time to celebrate my newest race bling and the fact that I survived half marathon number 3!