Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Disney Wine & Dine race report! (short race, long post)

Last year Ron, Danny and I all raced the Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Disney and loved it so much we decided it was worth doing again!  The only thing that could have made the race better last year was if it hadn't been absolutely pouring buckets.  So Ron said, "I feel like we need to sign up for this race again so we can have a do-over with better weather.  Because there's no way we could have weather as bad as last year".  <--- Famous Last Words.  Well, Danny's trigger finger wasn't quick enough and he got shut out of the registration before it sold out, so Ronnie and I were the only ones racing.  We made a family vacation out of it and had a great week, but Danny was definitely missed!

We arrived Thursday morning and stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort on Disney property.  This was a beautiful property with a southern/bayou theme and is connected to the French Quarter resort where we stayed last year.  

Andrew and I rested for a bit after our early flight, and then headed to Disney Springs for dinner at Fulton's Crab House and then Cirque du Soleil.  

I was so excited to meet up with Coleen while we were down there!  

Friday morning we decided to go for a short run just to shake things out a bit and acclimate to the temperatures.  It was well above average, with highs in the 90's and 100% humidity.  It was the thickest air I've ever felt!  What I expected to be a very, very easy 2 mile run resulted in me being positively drenched with sweat and gasping for air.  The only upside to this was the amazing sunrise.

I was praying for lower humidity for the race Saturday night.  After a quick shower we headed to the Animal Kingdom for a full day of animals and rides.  By the end of the day, my watch had calculated more than 12 miles of walking throughout the day.  Probably not the smartest way to lead up to a race!  I won't put tons of Disney pictures in here but maybe just a couple of my favorites.  Like this one, taken at Expedition Everest.  You know how they put the hidden cameras at the most thrilling part of the ride so they can catch you looking scared/crying/vomiting/some sort of ridiculous?  Well, it appears we were sitting behind a family of corpses.
Friday night we headed back to Disney Springs to do a little shopping and then a late dinner at Raglan Road.  Because who doesn't go to an Irish Pub the night before a race, after walking 12 miles?  We had a good meal and some good live music, but I think we were all pooped by the end of the night.

Saturday our plan was simple.  Go to the race expo right when it opens, get in, get out, and then relax with the feet up for the rest of the day.  Ronnie and I got to the expo right at 9am when it opened.  There were large crowds because of events happening at the ESPN complex, but the expo itself wasn't busy.  

One of the cool things about Disney races is how much of an elite runner it makes me feel.  Numbers are assigned by corral and by times based on previous races.

"I'm faster than ALLLL those people"
Ronnie said next time he would take a picture of me taking a picture of them, to prove that he's even faster than me.  Such a one-upper!

There was a cute little photo-op where people were just being lame and taking normal pictures.  We turned it into a sport.

"Baguette fighting at the Wine & Dine race expo!"

Unfortunately, the expo was pretty much sold out of all the good Disney race merchandise.  We spent the day relaxing, napping, sitting by the pool, and I had a "dinner" of chicken fingers at about 1:30.  All day I kept hoping for a cold front to blow through, but the humidity didn't budge, and my feet were uncomfortably swollen.  

We took Disney transportation to the start of the race, which stated that buses run from 7pm to 8pm.  We got in line at 7pm and didn't get picked up until after 8pm, finally making it off the bus close to 9pm.  There were tons of delays because of traffic and road construction, which caused a bit of stress.  Luckily we didn't have to check a bag.  We just headed straight to the porta potty line, while both taking note that the wind sure had picked up in the last hour.  After standing in line for at least 10 minutes, suddenly huge masses of people started moving away from the start line.  We realized we were being evacuated due to a severe lightning storm nearby!  Some stubborn folk decided to take their chances and stay in line for the porta potty but eventually all people were ordered out of the field.  This is what 12,000 people running for cover looks like:

We had to take cover in the ESPN field houses and await further instructions.
camping out on the floor
A lot of confusion ensued, with people hearing various things via social media and looking at the radar.  Meanwhile, Andrew, Donna and Chelsea were having the time of their lives at Epcot, which was closed to the public and open only to race spectators at that time.  They basically had the park to themselves and were completely unfazed by the weather.  Finally at close to 11pm we were told that the race would go on and we had to start making our way to the start corrals.  At this point the announcer was really rushing us along, and I could tell that there would be tons of people that wouldn't make it to their corral in time.  We also started hearing that the course would be shortened, and then the announcer confirmed that we would be skipping the Animal Kingdom and losing 6 miles of the race.  While I can totally understand why people would be upset about it, especially if this was their first half marathon, I honestly didn't care.  I was so tired, the race adrenaline had worn off, and it was so disgustingly hot.  I just wanted to get to the finish line party!  Ronnie and I were in different corrals so we split up heading to the start.  My wave started about 8 minutes after his.  It was pretty funny when we passed mile markers because of the altered course.  I specifically remember passing the "10 mile" clock at 1:00 hour and thinking I should take a picture of that.  But my hands were too sweaty!

I started off very slow.  I didn't really care about my time at that point, the humidity was killing me, and it was super crowded.  Lots of people passed me in my first mile.  However, every mile after that I got faster and they got slower, and I ended up passing tons of people  right up to the finish line!  When Ronnie found me at the finish he said, "you will not believe what your son is wearing".  I couldn't think of what Andrew could possibly be wearing that would be so strange.  Until this snuck up behind me.

After the race it was quite the process to get our free beer, unlike last year where it was very accessible after the finish line.  Eventually we made our way into Epcot for the important part: the party!!  I was going to take pictures of everything I ate and drank but it got complicated with not having enough hands.  So there's just a couple.

Spanikopita and wine from Greece
Chelsea and I sipping champagne in France
Eventually as more and more people finished the race, Epcot became very crowded and the food lines were a good 50 people deep!  Finally we decided we'd had enough and headed back to the hotel.  I was showered and in bed by 3:45am.  That was a LONG day, and Andrew and I were meeting up with Jaimee in the morning to head over to Universal!

The rest of the week went like this:  Sunday at Universal, Monday at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and Tuesday was Disney Springs for lunch and shopping before our flight home.  In fact, we had an extra park day that we never even ended up using on Tuesday because we were so worn out and tired of the thick crowds.  

So, would I do it again?  Hard to say.  I do love the race but it has its drawbacks.  It's a heck of a production getting there.  There are lots of crowds both at the race and at the Disney parks during the trip.  I think if I did it again I'd do things a little different.  I'd probably fly in a day later, skip going to a park the day before the race, and then spend the rest of my trip at Universal after the race instead.  Universal was surprisingly empty when we went on Sunday, possibly because there was so much happening at Disney with the food festival.  I know I'm definitely not in any hurry to go back to another park with long lines and tons of strollers.  I also know that I will never, ever sign up for a race uttering the words "it couldn't possibly be as bad as last year" again!  I think my new approach will be: plan for bad weather, and be pleasantly surprised if it's not.