Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 WDW Half-Marathon Race Recap!

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly… and the Fantastic!

My second half-marathon is now in the books and I’m happy to say I not only finished – I really, really enjoyed it!  

Even if I did proclaim  for about two hours post-race that I’d nevereverever do another half again.  (Uh, yeah – I will be doing another.  In, oh, four-ish weeks…) 

The Good…

  • Corrals - I think the changes runDisney made in regard to smaller, more plentiful corrals helped course congestion a lot.  Don’t get me wrong; the course was still full of people, but I felt like I was in the right place for my pace and always had room to maneuver if I wanted to pass slower runners/walkers.
  • The weather – high-60s/low-70s and almost 100% humidity, but no appreciable rain… perfect for this Floridian!
  • Our hotel – we stayed at Disney’sYacht Club Resort and it was a great choice.  Turns out Yacht is the first stop for the race buses servicing the Epcot resorts, so I had no problem quickly getting on buses to the expo and race.  When we pulled into the Beach Club Resort, there was a looooong line of folks waiting to board, but only room on the bus for a small number of them.  Glad I wasn’t there.
  • My performance over the first five miles – my goal was to stay under a 14:00/mile average pace for the first three miles to allow for some serious slow-down later; I wanted to take pics!
    Made it to the Castle!
    Mission mostly accomplished: 13:45 mile 1, 13:32 mile 2, 14:43 mile 3 (when I stopped for a pic at the Magic Kingdom tollbooths), 13:25 mile 4, 13:53 mile 5.

The Bad…
  • Confusing directions - from the staging area to the corrals.  Signs indicated we needed to turn left when, in fact, we needed to bear right.  It wasn’t a big deal; we figured it out and course-corrected, but things could have been made clearer.
  • The expo – note, though, that I did not place this in the Ugly category… that’s improvement! There really wasn’t anything wrong with the expo*, other than the fact that it was big, and loud, and crowded.  I easily found the items I needed and wanted, but I just plain hate race expos and this was no exception.

The Ugly…

  • IT Band Syndrome** – yes, again.  I went into this race concerned about my hip, but it was fine.  After rocking through the first five miles, taking time for some pics, then trying to speed back up, ITBS ripped into my other knee around mile 10. 
    Don't let the smiley fishies fool you - my knee HURT!

    Out of nowhere.  Given that I’m plenty flexible, pass all strength tests with flying colors, and foam roll like a boss daily, my guess is that the lack of hill training, (thanks to the hip issues), did me in.  I probably would have been fine had I walked the overpasses, especially the descents, but I didn’t.  So I paid for it by having to walk the last three miles.  But all was not lost… (see The Fantastic)

    **UPDATE: A visit to my chiropractor (AKA Dr. Miracle), shows that it's likely not ITBS - my IT Band is plenty limber and not creating tension at all.  My knee, however, was out of alignment, as was my ankle, leading to a similar issue with friction at the outside of my knee.  In any case, it's a Rx for rest, stretching and massage for me.
  • My race photos – I think I’m a reasonably photogenic gal; I’m never one to shy away from having my picture taken.  But 90% of my race photos are atrocious! 
    It doesn’t matter, since I refuse to pay the exorbitant prices charged by MarathonFoto, anyway, but they definitely fall under the heading of “ugly.”

  • Spending time with a terrific team of fellow runners -  It was so nice to finally meet a whole bunch of folks in person after chatting with them online for many months.  I’m something of a loner and tend to avoid group activities because I get very overwhelmed, but it was a real joy to hang out and chat with such a diverse, interesting, encouraging and supportive group.
  • Quality time with my son, Leo -  Leo is incredibly understanding of my need to flee the house to run regularly, but I know he sometimes wishes I’d skip a Saturday run and snuggle with him on the couch.  He was a real trooper as I dragged him to the expo, ran my race, asked him to get my ice, and parked myself in one spot to cheer for the Marathon for several hours: he more than earned some time with me riding rides and just plain being silly.  Not to mention $20 I gave him to shop the Japan pavilion gift shop in Epcot.

  • Cheering at the Marathon – it’s possible I had more fun doing that then I did running my own race!  I was there mostly to cheer for my team, but I quickly realized that my endless commentary of “Looking good!”, “Good job!”, “You’re almost done!” and “Finish strong!” made an impact on total strangers, too.  I can’t begin to express the feeling when a runner who looked worn out, in pain and really just over the whole experience broke into a smile because of a few words from little ol’ me.  There were many times when I felt tears well up in response and I found myself feeling really thankful for the opportunity to connect in that way.
  • Finding the Magic in Disney racing – If you’ve read my previous runDisney race recaps, you know that I’ve not been one to stop and enjoy the very things that make a Disney race “Disney.”  And I’ve often been disappointed in my performance.  Well, not so this time.  I made a big effort to stop and smell the Disney this time.  I stopped to take pics.  I even posed with a character!  

    I pulled out my headphones and listened to what was going on around me.  I engaged in conversations with other runners.  I forgot all about my time and just enjoyed myself when knee pain forced me to walk. 

And I figured something out…  My body might not be made to go fast and long.  And that’s okay.  There’s no need to compete with anyone, including myself, and it’s perfectly okay to run and/or walk long distances because I enjoy the distance, regardless of pace.  Coming around to that realization brought with it a profound sense of peace; I can be the runner I want to be, that I’m comfortable being, without feeling like a failure for not meeting some kind of time goal.  That’s a big, big jump in thinking for me.

The neat thing about Disney races is that they practically cater to runners who don’t give a rat’s ass about time goals.  Which is why, despite my currently injured state, I’m super excited about my next runDisney adventure, the Glass Slipper Challenge: the Enchanted 10K on Saturday, followed by the Princess Half-Marathon on Sunday. Oh, and there’s also the Cinderella Royal Family 5K on Friday… which I just added to my schedule.  That’s a total of 22.4 miles over three days.  A Triple Crown, if you will.  Four weeks from now.  And I’m ready to go slow and enjoy every Magical Mile. 


  1. Thanks for a fantastic recap! As a newbie, your words always inspire me, and make me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to. I so very much appreciate being able to read along and learn from you as I make my way into becoming a runner. Another rD 5K is next for me, and then- I hope- a 10K. Bring it on!

    1. You are always so sweet - thank you! (((HUGS))) You've totally been bitten by the rD bug - awesome! We MUST connect someday soon in The World. :)

  2. Congrats!! Loved your report and I'm excited to run my first half at the PHM! See you there! *waves*