by Zack | Mar 5, 2016 | Disney World Half Marathon, Glass Slipper Challenge, Princess Half Marathon, Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap
It’s day three and I’m actually feeling better than I did during this time at marathon weekend. It could be the weather that was much nicer this time, the fact that I had now done this course before or that my immune system wasn’t in the process of destroying itself. Either way, the race went quicker this time around.
There were more people from the team at this race; it usually builds up more every day of the series. There were also more characters out that Sharon and Beth got to see after I took off. Beth gave them Valentines cards which they all enjoyed.
WDW Radio Running Team!
You already know how much the WDW Radio Running Team means to me and my love for them so I’ll move on….
I was in B corral (The first dudes allowed corral) so I knew I would likely not have too many long lines for the characters. It was a great start, nice and cool, and a solid two miles before the first characters… boy was it a good stop! A bunch of the rare guy characters all together!
Phoebus, Rare Eric costume, Flynn Rider, John Smith
Getting some new characters that I’ve never seen always gives me a boost in the race. This one was no different and I was zipping along on the way to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t stop at for Aladdin or Jack and Sally. It’s interesting because a year ago, I would have lost my mind seeing Jack….
The run through the TTC was interesting because it was dead compared to marathon weekend. There was a Japanese percussion group that was amazing though! After that there is not much before you enter the Magic Kingdom.
I got a awesome surprise after entering the gates. The team cheer squad had talked about just meeting towards the end to cheer us on, but here they were in the MK as well. It was great to see Angel and the crew when I wasn’t expecting it! Sharon and the kids were also right around the corner. The turn on to main street is one of my favorite moments on this course. If you don’t get the feels from the huge crowd cheering and the castle all lit up, then you are at the wrong race.
Disney makes up for the distance between characters in this park. They are everywhere as soon as you get out of the viewing areas. I passed Buzz Lightyear, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Woody and Jessie. I did stop for the Tremaine’s. They were in their winter outfits and they were retiring the step-mother from the park the next day, so she was about to become a rare character. They are always super fun to see.
I interacted with the Frozen characters as the were on the backside of the castle. (You cant meet them during the race)
me: Kristofffff!!!!!!! (Pointing with both hands up at him)
Ana: Why yes, that is his name!
Kristoff: You sir! Keep going!
Elsa just stands there doing her awkward hand pose thing……
Ive heard of the big bottleneck through through the castle but there were no issues at this point.
This spot is at the bottom of a little curve in a hill, you cant see it until you get close and so far it’s always been a fun surprise. They had one of the floats out with Belle and Aurora out this time. Beast in formal wear is hard to get and the only way you have a shot at him now is when you get a reservation at Be Our Guest. The lighting is not the best, so we have yet to get a good picture with before this race. Mission accomplished this time!
I started to break down the course in my mind at this point, because I was right at the half way point and was getting a bit tired. You go for a good stretch in the back with nothing but a dj so it can be a tougher spot on the course. I made it to the resorts area right as the sun was coming up. I saw Bert and his penguins but didn’t stop.
There had been a lot of stories about the next stop. Originally it was a bunch of guys with the glass slipper. They would sing and people would even propose at this stop of the race. They were now a full wedding party and it was fun crashing the reception! They were hilarious and said that they had been waiting on me to broadcast the wedding on WDW radio. This was definitely one of the favorite stops in the race. Worth the 8 miles to see them.
I had gotten a picture with the vacation Genie during marathon weekend, but there were no lines at characters from here on out so I stopped in hopes of getting a better one. I also had a chance to get a better picture of the Mickey golf cart that they had out.
There wasn’t a whole bunch going on character-wise for a while after this. They had Mrs Incredible out with no wait at about mile 9.5.
It was amazing to see the crowd of people running in towards the Magic Kingdom. I was also able to see the infamous balloon people that carried up the end of the race. I thought that they picked up people, but there were several racers still trucking along behind them.
The Green Army Men were again out on the big curved hill and I was able to snag a picture with some of the regular ones. You can see the leader yelling at runners behind me! It was then off for the final push. It’s definitely the hilliest portion of the course. (You go over three overpasses)
Our running team cheer squad was after the last overpass in the perfect spot to encourage us for the final mile. I rolled an ankle at some point, but was pushing through it to make some decent time. Deanna and Lou didn’t even realize how much just a quick note of encouragement helped me get my mind right.
Around the bend was the coachmen from the Expo, except this time they had the actual coach with them. I didn’t get a picture with them the other day so I stopped to get a quick one with them.
There was not much going inside Epcot at this point. It had not opened yet, and there really weren’t any characters in there. The famous gold choir was there though. It’s a gospel choir that sings at the 13 mile mark. I forgot to get a picture of them at the last series but made sure to get one this time. It’s a good finale right before the turn in to the finish line.
Right as the sun was coming up nicely…
I was pretty happy on how I finished and went and got a massage right after the race. Overall, it was a great race and I was able to pick up several new characters over the weekend. It’s a definitely a race that has it’s own flavor!
Next up: Star Wars (The Dark Side) Series in April!
by Zack | Jan 23, 2016 | Disney World Half Marathon, Disney World Marathon Weekend, Dopey Challenge
Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2016
So they do actually have races where it’s not raining.
I’ll trade you rain, for a boatload of fog.
It’s day three. I got hardly any sleep the night before and I wasn’t really feeling that well. (more on that later) I chalked it up to nerves and we headed out at 3:30 am for the race. We were calling it a day early each night while we were there to buy us some sleep time.
We get there and its not raining. Yes! It’s not cold. Double yes! They say its going to turn into heavy fog, but it hadn’t rolled in totally yet. There were a lot more people here than the the earlier races. The WDW Radio Running Team picture blew up in size. Its was great seeing everyone and meeting some new running friends before the race. I checked in with several to see how their race went the day before.
I had the opportunity to get an early walk out with the Runners World crew to the starting line. They were going to be escorted to the front of the corals via shortcut. I thought it was more important to stay with the running team and didn’t think the shortcut would save a bunch of time. I was glad to stay with the team, but was wrong in thinking the shortcut was not a valuable perk. The start line is moved out onto the main road for the half and full marathon. While it may not seem far away, they bring you over 1/2 mile around back to get there. It’s so long that they have port-a-potties along the way and entertainment!
This is before you even get to the starting line.
It takes a little more time to get going since I was now in Coral E for the half and full marathons. I wasn’t feeling awful yet, but something didn’t feel quite right. They were moving through the corals pretty quick to get us all out there, so about 12 minutes after the first group goes they let us out. I was surprised by how many people were cheering at the beginning. Sharon had ditched me early to make it to the Magic Kingdom.
The first three miles didn’t have anything for you really to stop and get pictures at. They had a couple of school bands out which were great, a hot air balloon and a puppeteer with a giant Sebastian. I stopped at the gate to get a picture and kept moving on.
They had Wreck it Ralph and Venellope out with their float pieces from one of the parades. Although I loved the backdrop, I kept moving since I had them. Up ahead though was a awesome surprise. Oggie Boogie from nightmare before Christmas! It’s really hard to find. He made an appearance at the Halloween shows but wasn’t available for a meet and greet.
The stretch between here (MK parking lot) and the park was really difficult for me that morning. I think it was because I’d never run that course before and it just seemed like we were never going to make it there. We eventually did though and there is the WDW cheer group right in front. I was glad to see them! It was just the boost I needed.
At this point the fog had really started to come in. Running down main street was awesome and it was crazy how many people were there cheering the runners on. Disney made up for the lack of characters leading up to the park in a big way here. 5 miles in and there were only 2 stops. In Magic Kingdom alone there were 5 stops. Mike (Monsters U again), Queen of Hearts and the Tweedles, and Ulf and Pub Thugs (from Tangled). I had to stop to see Ulf and the Pub Thugs. Again it was one I was super psyched about and everyone else just went by.
Thats my Pub Thug face
The Frozen Characters were on the back of the castle cheering everyone on. We ran through the castle and out the front. Course wise, this was an interesting stop because it narrows so much. There were a ton of photographers and a bunch of the girls start doing the jumping in place pose for the cameramen. It was oddly disorienting. They were telling us to keep going to the bottom to get pictures. That’s when you see the sea of cheer squad people and they are all wearing the exact same thing. I eventually find Sharon and Beth. Beth had made some fun signs for the races. I stopped for a minute, took a selfie with them and kept on moving. I later saw pictures where that part of the course had become almost a standstill because so many were trying to get through at once.
Woody and Buzz were out around the corner and I ran into Pattie again….or actually she ran past me. They also had the train out and lit really nicely. It was interesting to see the same picture of the train after the sun came up. It didn’t really have that extra touch to it. There are definitely pluses and minuses to being in a more forward coral.
At the bottom of the hill was an amazing Peter Pan float with a ton of characters. They were real fun and I’d never met the lost boys before.
The course leaves the park and then hugs around several of the resorts before heading back to Epcot. they had Mary Poppins, Bert and the penguins out at the Grand Floridian. Stitch was out at the Polynesian. Donald was out in his golf gear at the golf course. Loved the golf cart!
The sun was coming up at this point and the fog was really starting to show up. I was also starting to feel pretty bad and my stomach was killing me. At mile 9 I had to stop and pull myself together. After a short break, I was back out there trying to finish the race off. They have a green army man and some troops out on the course towards the end. He’ll yell at you and his group will try to make you do pushups if you are walking. I didn’t try to get a picture with him at the Wine and Dine because he’ll give you a bunch of grief for it.
I get on the side of the road to try to snap a quick picture with him.
“What are you doing citizen?” He yells.
“Let me get a quick picture…” I say, as he wont stop for me.
“Start running citizen!!!” He insists.
“Well dont let me hold up your time for the race. Take you picture and get going!”
Meanwhile his troops have got people doing pushups.
A few more turns and we are getting ready to head back in to Epcot. I beat Lou and the group to their second cheer point. The inside of Epcot went really quick. It all stayed in the front before ending at the normal spot. Scrooge was out and I ran into Disney Vacation Genie! That was a fun surprise.
Notice how foggy it got by the end.
Mickey and Minnie were at the finish line so I had to get one last picture with them before crossing the end.
I finished up, met up with Sharon and the kids and headed to breakfast at the retreat. I also got a massage which was a life saver for me after the race.
Three down. One to go! Check back tomorrow for the full marathon recap.
by Zack | Nov 22, 2015 | Disney World Half Marathon, Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015
The race that was, wasn’t, then back on, semi-half marathon.
What a day! Our day started in the Animal Kingdom parking lot at 4.45am and we completed the 5K that morning. We left there and went straight over to the ESPN center for Beth’s kids race at 11.00am and then went to Epcot at 6pm to get ready for the half marathon that night. Lesson #3 of the weekend: Don’t do a kids race and both the regular races in the same day. It was just too much going on that day. Next year if Beth wants to do a race, we will do the 5k together. (Which is what we are doing for the princess half marathon weekend.)
We were again way early for the event. We weren’t first this time, but there were only about 12 people there when we arrived. The family stayed around for a little bit before heading on in to Epcot to enjoy the park. I got to sit with a nice lady on the shuttle who was just getting back in to running. She was anxious about the race because she was competitive and didn’t want to do bad. (I know the feeling!) I also sat behind what I thought had to be the most interesting guy around. He was talking about his private birthday party at Disney that included a character from each park in the world and had unique pins made just for the party. Crazy!
I was already trying to learn from the 5k race that morning. I knew there had to a character meet before the race, so I hustled over to the staging area. Instead of one though, there were six! Each had its own line, so I was able to get through three before the crowds really got there. By the time I got to the forth, the lines were almost a football field length long.
It took about 2 minutes each to get the first three and 40 minutes to get the fourth one. I opted not to go for Minnie or Goofy since I was supposed to meet up with the WDW Radio Running Team for our team picture. After hanging out with the group for a bit, it was time to go to our corrals. It had been lightning in the distance for about an hour at that point but nothing close and you could not hear thunder. About the time we get going into our corrals we hear the PA announcement, “We are evacuating the course. Please head to shelter in the ESPN pavilion.”
Its blurry, but that’s the sea of people heading back for shelter. There was also that many people out in front of us!
It was organized chaos. Our group had separated to go to the corrals and now we were trying to swim in the sea of people to reconnect. We found everybody and headed to the pavilion. Once inside we hung out for right at an hour before they put us back out. It was funny to see people posting on instagram/twitter/facebook and you could spot our sea of blue out in every picture.
This was the moment I fully grasped Lesson #4: Join a running team. I have been blessed to represent some cool places like LifeWay and Camp Gladiator in the past. Even then, I typically am doing my thing solo at events. I do enjoy meeting people on the course and sharing that experience with them, but I have never been on a true running team before. What Lou, Deanna, Jimmy and bunch of others have built is really awesome. I would have been fine that night by myself, but they made it enjoyable. I’m looking forward to running with them this year.
Finally they bring us out and it’s time to go. It was a little bit chaotic getting back to the course and along the way, we got news that they were cutting the Animal Kingdom section of the course. I was actually glad since we were running so behind….which brings me to my next lesson.
Lesson #5: Don’t try to kill yourself (see Lesson Two)
I was updating Sharon on the conditions and told her I was going to try to haul to make up time since it was so late. (I started after 11pm) My mind was in a different mode now and telling me, “Your knees can recover later. Haul to get to the kids and don’t worry about the characters. They will be there next time.” Meanwhile my rational side actually agrees for once and thinks that I could just treat it like a regular race. So several minutes pass and off we go!
Things are going fine at first. Its hot. Its muggy. We are an hour late. My knees already hurt. I’m running too fast….again. I really did feel like things were going good though. We rounded the first corner and I was getting ready to down shift in to about a minute slower per mile pace….and then I saw him. Wendell. Who the heck is Wendell?!? Yeah, he’s one of those country bears and he’s wearing his regular outfit. (I’ve caught him twice in Christmas gear.) So I decide that I’ll just pull over for this one character since there isn’t a line.
No worries my rational side thinks. Meanwhile my other side is telling me if I just pick up the pace a little I can get a few more. Well you know that “a few more” turns in to all but one. I had fallen into a trap of my own making again. I was running too fast and trying to get all of the characters.
I couldn’t pass up Lilo!
There were still several fun things out on the shorter course. I loved the fairies and the green army man was out famously daring anyone to walk while they were in front of him. A couple of DJs later, I find Lilo and Stitch not far from Hollywood Studios. You are going to pay $50 a head (character meal) if you want a chance to meet Lilo on a normal basis, so I had to stop.
A couple of guys on the running team gave me a heads up on all the switchbacks and hidden turnarounds in Hollywood Studios. They were right of course. It seemed to go on for a long time, but I really liked seeing some of the old back lot tour areas that you never get to go to anymore. It’s also likely to all be gone next year as they expand out the park. The only character stop I didn’t do was the Incredibles. They had a cool backdrop but we’ve met them a ton, so I kept pushing through.
I loved seeing the Christmas lights with just the runners in there. This was the one area I slowed down to a walk and took a couple of pictures. We came as a family the night before looking for the black cat to no avail. I was able to find him with no problems during the race! The last two years, its always been super packed. That night I could spread out as much as I wanted to!After Hollywood Studios there wasn’t much distance left. I was in full on pain mode at this point and just tried to buckle down and get through it. The course went down through some of the resort areas that I have never been through before. It was fun to see guests at the hotels out holding up signs and cheering people on.
Soon, it turned in to the back of Epcot where there were these giant almost Christmas light looking puppets. They were really neat! Another turn later and we are officially in the park and people are everywhere cheering us on. I really turn on my last bit of kick and push it hard to the finish.I got an unexpected surprise about 10 seconds after hearing my name called out at the finish line. I hear Jeff Galloway cross the line. I beat an Olympian! Granted he has tacked on a couple of years since then, and was running with his wife, and probably walked most of it…..but hey, I’ll take the win.
It might not show, but my knees were killing me at the end. We decided to skip the after party in the park and head on back to the hotel. We made it back a little after 1AM. It’s an unique race that I would recommend!
by Zack | Nov 19, 2015 | Disney World Half Marathon, Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Wine and Dine Expo
This was definitely different from what I was expecting. I’m not really sure what my expectation was but this was not quite it. (Both positive and negative)
First, the lines! These things should come with fastpasses! I registered for the Half, 5K and a kids race (for my daughter) That meant three seperate ques for each bib. You then had to go to another building to get your clear bags and t-shirts.
My number up on the board!
The Vendor Pavillion
I was expecting to find lots of RunDisney merch and race specific merch. They did have several shirts for the race weekend, but not really much in the way of regular merch. Only one mens running shirt. (Haloween colors of black/orange/white) I stood in a line for an hour for $15 worth of stuff.
The expo itself was in a nearby building. It had a bunch of great booths, another merch booth (with more room) and an area for different speakers to share with runners. There were a bunch of interesting and fun things to browse through while there.
I thought this warning sign was funny at the expo. Little did I know that it would be prophetic.
I got there early in the day and it took me a couple of hours to get my bibs and go through the expo. I enjoyed it overall and it was fun to be in a part of Disney that you wouldnt go to on a normal basis.