Wine & Dine Half Marathon Recap

Michael with his Wine & Dine award
The following post comes to you from our friend Michael K., the 6th place finisher of the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon! Micheal is an avid runner but new to Disney and we knew he would have a great perspective for those looking to get more serious about their running (for the casual runDisneyer) and those who are already serious but skeptical about running with the Mouse.

Wow! Although it's well over a month since I raced the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I still find myself constantly thinking about that race. The runDisney group did an awesome job with this race, although when I first registered I had my doubts.My previous experience with "for profit" race management groups had not been positive as I had found the course support, attention to detail and even Finish Line to be lacking at best, I shouldn't have doubted that runDisney would follow suit with the rest of the Disney brand and put on an amazing race and experience.

There's something completely different and magical about racing during the night, being under the stars and having the quiet of the world around you makes you forget pain and just let your body do the running. I've run a few other half marathons (both as their own training cycle and as part of a larger marathon training cycle), but this was my first night half marathon. Having a race that starts at 10pm definitely does a flip to your entire pre-race schedule when you're more accustomed to racing in the early morning hours, as such I lost a day out and about in the parks, but I felt that was a necessary sacrifice to make in order to be able to run my best that night. Luckily I have great friends and a great "dude" who understood that for me this race was important and allowed me that day indoors and more importantly, off of my legs. I feel that this was a major help to my being successful and calming my nerves over a night race as I was able to simulate as much as possible the 15 hours pre race.

Mickey & Minnie waiting for the runners!
Just a sign of how much fun runDisney can be!
Boarding the bus at the hotel to head to the start line I had my usual nerves; stomach cramping, shaking, upset stomach, incredibly thirsty (good everything is going all right, it's going to be a good race), and so I did what I always do, put in my iDevice with my pre-race playlist, but as I pressed play I noticed something different, the bus was LOUD, like I had to turn up the volume on the playlist LOUD, so naturally I pressed pause and listened. People were joking and laughing and in general having, not something I accustomed to on a bus to a half marathon, usually you can hear a pin drop as people are mentally preparing themselves for the challenge ahead, but on this bus, it felt more like a school field trip. I actually engaged in a conversation with the women that I had sat by (all of whom were dressed as fairies with tutus and enough glitter to make one of my current swimmers jealous) and forgot about the fact that in 2.5 hours I was about to race 13.1 miles. Arriving at ESPN Wide World of Sports I put my iDevice back on play and went to rest and hydrate in the final hour before bag check in at 9pm. This was another thing I was having issues controlling, I am accustomed to being able to have my bag with my racing flats, warm clothes etc until 15 min pre race, in this race I had to let go of all of it prior to even beginning my warm up.

From 8-9 we were in an athlete's village of sorts with water, vendors selling gatorade and food and music, so maybe a better description would be an athlete's PARTY. I'm not kidding, again, there was a shock moment as people were up dancing to the Cupid Shuffle and Gangham Style and any other hit that had a dance that you can think of. Additionally, instead of usual runner garb, I saw at least 10 different "Snow White's" running around (pun not intended). I found myself wishing I had dressed up and may work on something race appropriate for next year. In essence I was warming up and getting race ready in the middle of a HUGE party, it was a different experience and making the decision to take it in and enjoy it was one of the best that I think I could have made.


Michael just about to cross the finish line
... yes, he was running that fast!
Once the gun started all was back to normal, I clicked my watch and off I ran, the miles clicking off like you can only expect when the race is good and you're feeling good....oh and the magic of Disney and a night race. The course is truly spectacular, running through Animal Kingdom, then out on the main road where you passed all of the other runners who were still going to Animal Kingdom, up in to Hollywood Studios by the 'Mickey Hat' in the middle, through the back to Pixar, up New York Avenue all lit up with 'The Osbourne's Christmas Lights' and then by the Tower of Terror. Next we ran through the back lot and hit Mile 10 where they took video and continued to Epcot along a boardwalk, coming through the back entrance around Spaceship Earth (my favorite ride in Epcot) and finishing just outside after running through what felt like a recreation of Jennifer Lopez's 'Waiting for Tonight' music video. Along the way there were people cheering everyone! It was AWESOME!!

Look at that sweet swag! The MountainEars are so proud to have a friend like Michael who will not only endure our love (obsession?) for Disney but can do it and still place in the top ten! He is such an inspiration to us as we take on the Tinkerbell Half in 30 days!
We can't wait to join Michael in the Wine & Dine half next year! Who's with us?

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