Monday, November 19, 2012

Wine & Dine Half Marathon

When I first started running in races, I never imagined that I would enjoy running amonst 15,000-35,000 people. However, one of the biggest advantages of  participating in a large event is the expo. Not only do you get to sample various products, you also get to see what are the latest and greatest products on the market. 
Wine & Dine Expo
One of my missions for this expo was to replace my iFitness race belt since mine died this summer during IMLOU training. The expo is a great place to check out compression socks, recover drinks and purchase lost of funny t-shirts. I found one shirt I wanted to purchase for Abby. The logo for the company was "Where we celebrate the athlete in every Princess". I love it! Who says a girl can't be strong and feminine all at the same time? The shirt said "I run Fairy Fast" and had pixie dust on it.  It seemed perfect for my little mini-me.

Coast to Coast
At the RunDisney booth, I got to see the Coast to Coast Medal in person. Did I ever tell you I pick my races based on the bling? If they have a cool t-shirt or awesome medal, you can count me in!! How many people could say they have a medal with Walt Disney & Mickey Mouse on it? According to my Fitness Bucket List, my goal was to complete Disney's Coast to Coast Challenge in 2014. Now I started to feel the desire to move that goal up on the list...and it would only get tougher throughout the weekend.

Catching the bus
 The biggest disadvantage of a Disney race is the logistics of getting all of the runners to the start line. Due to obvious safety concerns, cars are not allowed back at the ESPN Complex where the Wine & Dine Half Marathon begins.The only way to get to the ESPN Complex is to take a bus from EPCOT or one of the designated resorts. The buses only run from 6-7 pm which means lots of time standing around waiting for the start of the the race.

The DJ kept everyone dancing and grooving during the wait.
Fortunately, even though we had a 3 hours wait until the start of the event, the Disney DJ was outstanding getting every to dance and move during the long wait. Electric slide, conga lines and even a Thriller dance to help pass the time.

Jeff & I before the race
Since we had plenty of time before the start of the race, we took advantage of the time to get plenty of pictures. Yes, I started out the evening bundled up since the temperatures were only in the mid-60s and obviously no sunshine for a night race.

Chef Mickey
We waited OVER two hours to Mickey Mouse, but how could you come to Mickey's house and not see him? Waiting in line - standing - for two hours may not have been the best decision. Most race insiders would suggest standing on your feet for almost 3 hours prior to a race is not a good idea; however, we all knew we weren't going for a PR. This race was about fun, friends and the after party!

Iron Family
For some reason, I didn't see many Ironman tattoos at this event. As a matter of fact, other than mine and Cheryl's I actually didn't see any!

Signs you are at the Wine & Dine Festival
Instead of Ironman tattoos, I did see someone trying to sleep off her wine. Hahah. So glad I'm way smarter than that...finally.

Ready to Race
We finally made our way to our corral. Luckily, all four of us were in Corral B together...Well, actually Cheryl was in Corral A because she's awesome like that, but she chose to start with us instead. The corrals started 10 minutes apart each with their own set of fireworks. How awesome is that? You've got to love Disney.
2012 Wine & Dine Race Route
The official race description from
Start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex running down Victory Way and then west on Osceola Parkway toward Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Make your way past the Tree of Life, Expedition Everest™, Dinosaur® and then race back to Osceola Parkway and head toward Disney's Hollywood Studios. You will enter the park in the shadow of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, run down Sunset Boulevard through Pixar Place, past Toy Story Mania!, then through the Costuming Tunnel in the Backlot on your way to Lights Motor Action! for your big debut! Race through the Streets of America, past Star Tours and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular on your way to Epcot®! The course will wind through the idyllic village of Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and lead you to a finish just outside of Epcot®!

First stop at Animal Kingdom
As we entered the Animal Kingdom, we run through rows of dinosaur teeth which stood 7-8 feet tall. Soon after entering the park, we made our first character stop. Who could pass up sharing the wisdom of Rafiki and the silliness of Terk? I know I couldn't. Why do I have a shoe off? Oh yah, that's the other reason we had to stop. I had a small pebble which kept shifting around in my shoe and it was just enough to be annoying. A quick shake and we were back on the course.

Merry Christmas!!

It may be November 10th, but Frosty the Snowman was the only sign I saw of snow all weekend. Once we started running, I was glad I shed all of my longer layers. Heck, Cindy & Cheryl even wore capri length running apparel, but not me. I can't stand to have my legs covered when I am working out. They need to breathe!

Our main man..err, dog, Pluto
A quick shot with Pluto was our 2nd stop. Luckily, the lines were not long. The only character we wound up skipping was the very first one with Goofy because that line seemed extremely long and not worth the wait.

The Fairy Godmothers
As we left Animal Kingdom, we stopped to take a picture with Sleeping Beauty's Fairy Godmothers. I know we've all wished we could have our fairy godmother at one time or another. Someone who could grant you your every heart's desire. Unfortunately, they didn't seem able to help me with my greatest wish. So I guess I will have to continue to plot and scheme instead.

Chip & Dale
On the way toward Disney's Hollywood Studios, I thought I heard someone say, "It's Chippendale". I was so excited!! I thought I was finally going to get to see my Gaston, but alas...what they actually said was, "It's Chip...and Dale." I was a little bummed, but found a way to put a smile on my face for the picture.

Green Army Guy
The Green Army Guy was waiting for us as we ran up the final hill before entering Disney's Hollywood Studios. Using his military methodology, he motivated runners to "take the hill".

Are we passing muster? 
I look like I'm sticking my chest out for the camera, but really I was only following orders: "Chin Up! Chest Out!" He should have reminded me to suck my gut in as well. Grrr....

Whenever we take the kids to Disney, we always know if you want to see characters Disney's Hollywood Studios is the place to go. Naturally, the park did not disappoint during the half marathon either. Our first stop was to see Woody.

Wreck-It Ralph
Our second stop was for the newest Disney character, Wreck-It Ralph! Jeff just took Abby to see the movie prior to our Wine & Dine excursion. So naturally we had to stop....although it kind of looks like Wreck-It Ralph is mauling Cindy & Cheryl. He's trying to wreck our picture! Oh well, Abby sure did enjoy the picture when I sent it to her.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
I stopped to take a couple of quick shots of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The annual light display has over 3,000,000 lights on Residential Street and takes over 22,000 man hours to install beginning in September of each year. Of course, Disney being Disney they have now incorporated over 40 Hidden Mickeys into the display as well.

I am your father
I'm not sure what the photographer must have said to us at this point. Jeff looks like he's still posing with the Green Army Guy. Cheryl looks terrified and Cindy looks like she's checking herself out. Hmmm.

13.1 ALL DONE!!!!
In 2010, the Wine & Dine Finish Line was at the International Gateway at the back of EPCOT. This year the the finish line weaved through the backlots of the World Showcase and crossed into the park at Future World out the front of the park - weaving around several times - until you FINALLY found the finish line. I was so happy to see that finish line. I knew I hadn't been running enough, but  running  13.1 miles at someone else's pace and stopping frequently to get pictures or stay with your group can be tough on the body. For the first time, I ran most of the race with my phone in my hand in order to be prepared to stop and take pictures whenever I wanted. By the time I crossed the finish line, the outside of my right knee was tender to the touch. My knee locked up almost immediately. I probably couldn't bend my knee more than 5 degrees which made walking around the park for the after party difficult.

After crossing the line, we were immediately shuffled into a line to get our one free drink...a choice between Bud Light and Sangria. As I reached out with my left hand to get my sangria, the volunteer knocked my iphone into the ice filled drink barrel. Ugh. The horrific look on his face was priceless though as he dug into the ice to retrieve my phone, but I'm not sure Jeff was laughing. For some reason, I seem to be abusing my phone ever since we've returned home from Louisville.

At the after party
After changing our clothes, we finally made it to the Wine & Dine After Party. My knee was still pretty tight, but I was confident it would loosen up by morning. Our picture with Geppetto and Pinocchio turned out kind of blurry and while a bummer, it also seemed kind of appropriate for the night. With the half marathon behind us, it was finally time to enjoy the WINE part of the Food & Wine Festival.

As we walked around the parks, I nearly mauled a "Cinderella" who was wearing her three Disney medals signifying she had completed the Coast to Coast Challenge. My competitive spirit started to rev into overdrive. By the end of the night, Cindy, Cheryl & I were all ready to sign up for the Coast to Coast Challenge in 2013. I think that item just got bumped up on my Fitness Bucket List.

Amazingly, with the exception of my knee, my body really did not hurt at all. My running has not been consistent since completing IMLOU. I've had a hard time figuring out when to work in my runs while teaching 12 classes per week. When we returned to our resort around 4 a.m., I started applying the BioFreeze hoping it would help. I've never used any type of pain relief product before so I was pretty skeptical. Waking to pain in the knee at 9 a.m. did not make for a very happy morning. At that point, I truly began to worry.

With my minimal mileage leading up to the race, I was worried I hadn't kept those muscles strong enough and had torn something. Since I knew everyone was going to be moving slow that morning, I took the morning to try and loosen up my knee bending and straightening as much as I could. By the time everyone was ready to head to the park around 1 p.m., my knee felt much better and I felt like I could walk with a nearly normal stride again. We had just one more day at the parks to enjoy all of the incredible tastes and flavors, but most importantly the Disney Magic.

I think we'll be back again next the final race in the 2013 Coast to Coast Challenge and then I will be strutting all three of those medals around the park making everyone else jealous instead. Look out!! 2013 Race Calendar is already getting full!

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