Race recap: Disney Half Marathon 2016


I'm finally getting around to writing this recap! After a relaxing vacation, life went from zero to crazy in a matter of moments. It hasn't really slowed down - although, I hope it does soon - but here I am.

I ran this one with a friend from PA. She and her husband came down to Florida and we got to spend time with them, which was a big part of the fun. And of course, B had a blast at the Magic Kingdom seeing all of his favorite characters.

This was my first Disney race experience and I thought I'd be one and done with it, but now that it's over, I think I might go back again. It was one of the most fun racing experiences I've had and the Disney vacation attached to it made it even better (especially the school bread and vodka slushies at Epcot's World Showcase).

One thing that did not make it better was my son giving me a black eye on vacation day one. He woke up extra early, decided it was play time, and was bouncing around on our bed when he swung his head back and cracked me in the eye socket. Man, that hurt. I saw stars and thought I was going to have to go to urgent care. After a few hours of icing my eye (and some painkillers), I was okay, but I have a black eye in all of our pictures. Ha! Something memorable, for sure. 

But anyway enough about school bread, vodka slushies, and black eyes. Let's talk about the race...

We hit up the expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports on Thursday so we could pick up our race packets. I think we missed the big expo rush because there were no lines at all, and we just breezed through packet pickup. It was a little odd to have bib pickup and packet pickup in separate buildings, but it worked. And getting to and from the expo was really easy thanks to the shuttle bus transportation. We would have stayed at the expo longer and probably done a little shopping, but they wouldn't let us bring our stroller inside and B was being unruly, so we had to skip the expo shopping this time around. 


Race morning came bright and early, and with a good amount of fog and humidity, on Saturday at 2 a.m. Lovely.

Since we stayed at Disney's Polynesian Village, we were right on the monorail line, which made getting to the race super easy. We just hopped on and switched trains at the Magic Kingdom to head to Epcot and we were there. And we beat the crowds by getting there around 3:15 a.m. (ugh, that was early and painful!), but I wish all commutes to a race were that easy! 

After that rough 2 a.m. wake-up call and getting ourselves moving and over to the race area, we got stuck in a rather long security line. Calling it a line isn't exactly accurate. It was a huge crowd of people with no real organization to it. They weren't clear prior to arrival what you'd need to go through security for. Apparently, it was everything. Unless you weren't carrying anything with you and weren't wearing a belt, you had to go through security. Had I known that, I probably would have left my water bottle at the hotel. But surprisingly, for the length of the line, it actually went pretty quickly.

And then we were into the runner's area with porta-potties as far as the eye could see. Seriously, I have never seen so many porta-potties in one location in my life. And there were no lines! It was great! In general, logistics for this race were one of the best I've ever experienced with a few exceptions (like the security lines). It was easy to get around and find where we needed to be. 

Once we were in the runner's area, we walked a mile (literally - my friend tracked it) to the starting corrals and after our second bathroom stop of the morning, we made our way to our corral and just hung out there until it was time to race. Donald Duck called out the start for each corral and when it was our turn, we started off at an easy pace. Only in Disney will an anthropomorphic animal signal the race start. 


Less than 2 miles in, we both needed another bathroom break (WTF?). I think the odd start time had both of our bodies a little off schedule. After our bathroom break, we hopped back onto the course and kept a pretty steady pace for most of the race, slowing down just a little bit as we went. My friend mentioned feeling the humidity a bit, which makes sense since she had come from Pennsylvania where it was still in the 30s, so she wasn't used to the crazy Southern humidity. To my surprise, I wasn't really bothered by the humidity at all. Maybe I'm adjusting (finally). 

We stopped for a few character pictures, but not a ton. We had certain ones we were on the lookout for. I was looking for Stitch, who we found in mile 7ish and my friend was looking for Ariel. The closest we got to that was Sebastian around mile 10 or 11, so we stopped there. 

We finished in 2:40:33, a 12:15 pace, which was 10 minutes over my friend's loose goal time of 2:30ish. However, our actual moving time without the character picture stops was 2:29, so we decided that we unofficially hit her goal. Given that she didn't have much time to train for this race (only about two runs per week with her longest run being 9 miles), I think she did great!

For me this race was a nice break because I had zero pressure to try to PR or run a crazy race. It was completely for fun and to help pace my friend. I've paced someone one other time, and I always have a great time doing that. 


One thing I didn't expect from this race was the amount of highway we ran on. There was tons of it. Most of the race, in fact. We were only in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for about 2 miles each. I know the full marathon goes back around the World Showcase in Epcot and I really think they should do that for the half, too. That's the best part of Epcot!

But overall, a great racing experience and I'll be back for another Disney race soon. I don't think I'm dopey enough for the Dopey Challenge, but I could handle one of the two-course challenges. My friend and I are considering Lumiere's Two Course Challenge at Disney Wine & Dine and making a girls' weekend out of it. Mostly because we want to wine and dine on school bread and vodka slushies at the World Showcase for an entire day, which is kind of what we did this time, too - at least we got several hours in at Epcot after the race. But next time, there will be t-shirts with slogans about school bread and vodka slushies involved. Because it's Disney and that's allowed. 


I'm so glad my friend convinced me to do a Disney race. It was a fun experience and one of the best vacations I've had in a quite a while and a great way to kick off 2016.