The Casual Runner

WDW Half Marathon Review

Event: 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Half Marathon hosted by Donald Duck

Event Date: January 10, 2015

Event Location: Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Jennifer and Mike recently traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with nearly 60,000 other runners to participate in the 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  Jennifer completed the 5k and half marathon events, and Mike conquered the Dopey and Goofy Challenges, completing the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon events in 4 consecutive days.  We will be bringing you complete coverage, including YouTube videos, of all of the Marathon Weekend events:

– Pluto’s 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World 5k Mike’s review, Jennifer’s review, & see our all-along the course video

– Minnie Mouse’s 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World 10k & see our all-along the course video 

– Donald Duck’s 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Half Marathon; see our all-along the course video

– Mickey Mouse’s 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon (Part 1 & Part 2)

– Goofy’s “Race and a Half” Challenge (half marathon & full marathon)

– The Dopey Challenge (5k + 10k + half marathon + full marathon)

Mike had his chance to review Donald Ducks’s half marathon, now compare his experience to Jennifer’s as she gets her turn to review this family fun run event.

Why I decided to run this race

Honestly, I’m not sure what caused me to declare a year ago that 2015 would be my year to participate in every runDisney weekend, but once it was decided, all consideration of “why this race?” was removed and basically I had to do it.  But why the half instead of the full?  When we registered for this race last April, I was uncertain if I would be able to commit to train enough to complete a full marathon.  Plus, I’m still not sure I like running enough to complete a full…I kind of lose interest in running after 10 miles, so just talking myself through a half marathon can be hard enough.

Getting there/the lead-up to the race

This would be the first real test of my 6-months of coaching (check out Jennifer’s ongoing series of her experiences e-training under the guidance of Jeff Galloway: Part 1Part 2Part 3).  Could I improve my time from the 2013 Wine and Dine, and still feel good enough to do the parks for the rest of the weekend?

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The official husband of Jennifer’s Casual Running adventures, dressed as Lightning McQueen, Kachow!

I am a creature of habit and I get stressed very easily if something doesn’t happen on schedule.  So despite the fact that we were at Hollywood Studios the day before the race and that was the only day of our trip that Fantasmic (my favorite nighttime show) would be playing, my husband and I left the park early to get some dinner, have time for my pre-race rituals, and be in bed by 8:30.  Yup, I was at Disney World and went to bed early.  If that’s not a sign of getting old, I’m not sure what is.

The race Expo

Check my reviews of Pluto’s 5K and the Castaway Cay challenge (still to come!) for my thoughts about the expo.  The only thing I would add in retrospect is that at some point during the weekend my husband and I decided we would get pins commemorating our costumes for each race to put on our medals.  And for our Coast-to-Coast Challenge medal we’d put the official race pins of the two qualifying races on the medal ribbon.  However, we didn’t decide this before the expo.  So we didn’t get the Donald Half Marathon pin.  I know there are some extras at Pin Traders in Downtown Disney, so we’re just hoping there will still be some when we get there for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February.

Swag review

I wasn’t crazy about the colors of the half marathon shirt when they were first unveiled.  I really liked the color and design of the 10K and full shirts, but was a little dissatisfied with the two shirts I would earn.  However, as the weeks have gone onm the half marathon shirt has grown on me.  It’s a nice quality long-sleeve tech shirt that came in a female and a male cut.  Woo hoo!  A shirt that fits a girl!  I can get over a color that isn’t my favorite if the shirt actually fits me!

The gear

My husband and I decided we would be race cars from the Cars movies.  His choice of Lightning McQueen was pretty obvious, but there are few female characters in the movies, and only one who is a racer.  So I went with a little known character from Cars II: Brazilian race car Carla Velosi.  By the morning of the half marathon, the weather had warmed up significantly compared to the day of the 5K.  So I didn’t need to adjust my race costume.  In fact, I was almost a little too warm by the end of the race, but nothing that was too uncomfortable.

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Carla Velosi, checked in and ready to race.

Here is the rundown of the gear:

The costume: light blue Under Armour running capris, a long-sleeve lightweight OnePolar lime green shirt that we modified with custom graphics, a yellow and green Under Armour headband under a lime green Nike visor modified with custom graphics, two running lights attached to the visor to act as headlights, and two red shoe spurs for brake lights.

The rest of the gear: yellow Nike sports bra, Injinji socks, Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 shoes, Garmin Forerunner 620 and Gymboss interval timer, and Camelbak Marathoner hydration vest.

The pre-race

Mike headed off to meet up with some other friends near the stage in the runners village, but the music was a bit too loud for my husband and I to stay in that area.  So we headed directly to the port-a-potties near the corrals.  I usually need to visit the potties twice before a race, so I wanted to get in line before it was too long.

My husband was placed in a higher corral than me, but he usually drops back to mine so we can hang out before the race starts.  While I usually prefer running by myself, I really do appreciate that he stays with me pre-race since it’s nice to have someone to talk to.  It was a little chilly on the morning of the half, so we got out some trash bags to wear while we waited for the starting fireworks.

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Mid-course Magic Kingdom toll booth selfie!

While I enjoy cheering for each corral as they are sent off and I know the announcers are doing the best they can to keep the energy up while everyone is waiting, everything does become repetitious after a while.  But one thing I was pretty impressed with was the person who sang the National Anthem.  It was a beautiful and simple rendition.  With all of the slick production value Disney puts into its events, it was refreshing to honor the flag simply.

Along the course

I experienced a bit of a wardrobe malfunction at the beginning of this race, and I had to creatively fix it on the fly.  When I tested the pants on a run a week earlier, I wore a hydration belt that apparently was key in keeping them where I wanted them.  But for the race I wore a different hydration pack so as I ran my pants kept sliding down lower than was comfortable.  After the first mile of having to pull them back up after every run cycle, I was close to freaking out—I was not going to be able to do that for another 12 miles.  At the same time, the large graphics on my shirt inhibited some of the stretch so it kept riding up.

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Mid-course Magic Kingdom selfie in the Hub.

As my pants were going down and my shirt was going up, I was showing a lot more skin to the spectators than they needed to see.  For the next half mile, as I pulled down my shirt and pulled up my pants (and tried not to accidently switch them and pull up my shirt and pull down my pants…) I pondered my options: I could do nothing and drive myself nuts for the rest of the race.  I could take a safety pin off my bib and pin the front of my shirt to my pants but let my bib flap in the wind.  But luckily, I remembered that I’m OCD in my what-if? preparations and actually had a spare safety pin on my hydration vest!  So I performed some awkward arm gymnastics to get the pin off the back of my pack and then secured my shirt to my pants.  This one little change was enough to keep things in place and allowed me to get into my running groove (albeit a little later in the race than I would like).  Yes, my photos look a little silly since you can tell they are pinned.  But since I always look terrible in my pictures, this was not a huge sacrifice.  And it was worth it to not worry about my clothes falling off for the entire race.

The lesson, my fellow Casual Runners can take away from this incident (other than doing a full test of a costume on during training run, rather than testing individual pieces in varying conditions), is that establishing your priorities for a race will help you adapt to unexpected events as they arise.  If preserving the integrity of my costume were my priority, I could have walked the entire course (walking did not cause the clothes to shift, which is why I hadn’t realized the problem before the race started).  However, my priority was running comfortably, so I had to implement a solution that would allow me to do so.

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The finish line at the end of 13.1 magical miles.

Honestly, I was pretty pre-occupied with other things for most of the race:  The wardrobe malfunction, my ankle hurting every time I changed direction quickly, a pretty urgent bathroom need around mile 8…  So I don’t remember a lot of the course.  Of course I remember running down Main Street USA and through the castle, but I don’t think I appreciated the course as much as I should have.  On the bright side, apparently we run the exact same course during the Princess Half Marathon, so I’ll have another chance to pay attention to it then. If you want, you can check out Mike’s review for more details and of course Casual Runner’s Youtube video that takes you all-along the half marathon course, including strolls right up Main Street USA and through Cinderella’s Castle.

The SMOpinion

Disney does medals right.  I really like the silhouette of this SMO, which features Donald running (check out the main picture at the top of the page).  I was proud to wear this one around the park after the race and the next day, too.

The post-race experience

I was the last one in our room to cross the finish line, so pretty much as soon as I finished I met up with my husband and we boarded a bus to the hotel.  Again, there was almost no wait for the bus and it was nice to sit down after being on my feet for so long.  Mike had already gone back to shower and change, so we could take our turn getting dressed as soon as we got there.

Our plans called for us to go to Magic Kingdom for the day, where we had lunch reservations at Be Our Guest.  We had a little bit of time to kill before the reservation, which was good since we were all moving a bit slower than usual.  After a big lunch we rode a few rides, including the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which was beautifully and artfully designed, but the ride itself was a little lame.  Since we were done running, my husband and I headed over to EPCOT for some dinner and drinks around the world while Mike got to bed early for the marathon the next day.

Playlist Peak

Honestly, my playlist was pretty unmemorable at this race.  I used my usual shuffle mix on my iPod, but I can’t remember a single song or moment that the music contributed to.

Looking back now

I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this race—because I did enjoy it.  Maybe it’s because Disney races have such great reputations that anything less than a completely magical experience seems a little like a letdown.  Maybe it was all the distractions I had with my costume and ankle.  Maybe it’s that I didn’t perform up to my expectations.  Maybe it somehow seemed like my race was less important than all the people doing Dopey.  Maybe it was that I subconsciously just wanted to get through this race so I could get on to the cruise and then to Star Wars (my reviews of those experiences will be appearing next week).  Maybe it was a combination of all these reasons.  But I just don’t remember a lot of this race.  I’m not disappointed and I’m not regretting my decision to run all the Disney weekends—I’m actually really looking forward to the Glass Slipper Challenge at Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February.  But this race just didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

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