On Saturday, January 12th, I ran the 2019 WDW Half Marathon. It was my 37th half marathon, and I ran it as a pacer for the 3:15 finish time. As far as runDisney races go, this was my 7th race at Disney (not counting the 2017 WDW Half that was cancelled due to weather).
Even though I’m now living in Winter Garden, which is about 40 minutes away from Disney, I opted to stay in Kissimmee with my parents race weekend. That made my drive via Osceola Parkway about 30 minutes. Not too bad really, less for the early race time of course. 🙂
With runDisney events, the races start at 5:30am, so you have to arrive on property by 4am. This means a way too early wake up call. I’m a bit used to it from training for my marathons here in Orlando, and doing other Disney races, but it’s never truly a fun thing at the time that the alarm goes off.
I picked up my race packet the day before, and it’s a very in and out experience at Wide World of Sports. You pick up your bib in one building, then walk over to the expo for your shirt and any merchandise you may want to buy. I don’t even print my race waiver until I get to pickup that day, and never have any real wait involved in getting over to a computer to get it printed. Super fast and easy.
On race morning, I had my alarm set for 2:40am. Got up, dressed and was out the door a bit after 3am. Parking at EPCOT was a little slow momentarily, but Disney parking attendants got folks moving and parked fine. I then grabbed my stuff and began my walk over to the race starting area.
I arrived at the Galloway tent by 4am and greeted my fellow pacers. During WDW Marathon Weekend, runDisney provides a tent for Galloway training program members, and it’s great. We have a couple of port-o-lets, some tables and chairs, coffee and other refreshments available. The perk of this tent is one of my favorite things about running Marathon Weekend.
At about 4:25ish, my co-pacer and I left the tent and began the walk to the starting corrals. It is a walk, but also kind of a good little warm up before the race. The only downside is, we were in corral G, so once we got to our designated corral, we would have almost an hour of waiting before we crossed the start line.
I crossed the starting line at about 6:15, and was ready to go. We already had a good number of folks running with our pace group, so that was nice. I was definitely happy to start the race, so I’m sure we got out of the gate a little fast, which happens with races. It didn’t take long though to settle into our comfortable pace of just under 15 minutes per mile.
When pacing, I love getting to know some of the runners. I get the chance to talk to the ones that run near me, and I got to know a few of them a bit during the 13.1 miles. Some of them were Florida locals, while others travel down to Florida for runDisney race events. The one thing I notice during Marathon Weekend is that we always have a few Dopey and Goofy runners in the group. I love hearing if this is their first challenge weekend, marathon or what have you.
I felt great the first half of the race, and we had a great pace going. Did start feeling a bit more tired by the time mile 8ish came along. It was also feeling a bit warmer out temperature-wise, so I’m sure that made a difference. That starting temp of low 50s began getting warmer as the morning wore on. It was definitely a good weather morning though, couldn’t have asked for better honestly. In 2018, it was super cold, and Wine & Dine was hot, so 50s-60s was great IMO.
The only real mental and physical challenge I faced was the last two miles of the race. I have been dealing with this weird rush of adrenaline at the end of my half marathons the last few months. It’s like too much energy surging through me or something. I’m now carrying my inhaler since I have exercise-induced asthma in the winter months, and used it when I was feeling off. I also worked on calming my breathing as much as I could during those brief periods. Most of all, I prayed.
I prayed for God to continue to give me the strength that I know I have with His help to push through. I have done amazing things through Christ who strengthens me. So, while I don’t understand why I have started to have this issue the last few months, I know that I can get through it with God’s help. I’m also keeping my doctor aware of it, so I’m staying smart about it. I am thinking it may be my new Fibromyalgia medication that I started last October.
My co-pacer and I crossed the finish line at 3:15:16 per the official results. I was so happy, that finish line always puts a smile on my face! I was so focused this race on achieving my goal (after my Wine & Dine issues), that it made me feel amazing. Definitely a high to hit your goal at a race, no matter what it may be.
I love running the WDW Half Marathon, and hope to run and pace it again in 2020. I think it’s my favorite runDisney race weekend. 🙂