Race Report – The Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Yesterday I ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I can thank/blame runDisney for my interest in running. In September 2011, the desire to run an untimed 5k through Disneyland got me off the couch. I’ve been running ever since. I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon in September and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November. This is my third half marathon race.
I signed up for this race ostensibly to assuage the guilt that came upon me after booking my last half marathon. Some of you may recall that last November, my wife and I dropped the kid and the dogs off at grandma’s house, flew to Orlando for the weekend where I ran Disney’s Wine & Dine Half. Click here for a link to the Race Report over on RWOL.
This time, we brought the kid with us to Orlando. Grandma got the dogs. Instead of staying just for the weekend, I’ve turned this trip into a Disney World vacation. I booked a hotel room, Disney dining plan, and theme park tickets for the three of us for a week.
Do Races and Vacations Mix?
My experience at the Wine & Dine Half greatly shaped my approach to this race. Last November, I tried to use my corral placement and seeding as a psychological device. At the Wine & Dine, I was moved up to Corral B at the expo: with the ‘real runners’. My approach there was to shatter my eight-week-old personal best via peer pressure. I planned to take this 44 year old and 50 lbs. overweight body and run with the svelte twenty-something gym crowd.
I kept pace with the fast folk for about 5 miles. Then the tendon that attaches my left hamstring to my pelvis said no more. I strained that tendon and spent the next eight miles walking in moderate pain to the finish line. I then spent about an hour in the medical tent. It was a less than magical experience.
In the weeks that followed, I asked myself, do races and vacations mix? I plunked down several thousand dollars to race the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, only to spend the post-race time in Orlando and flight back to SoCal in pain with a pulled hammie. Was this really such a good idea?
Since I’ve got several thousand dollars sunk into the WDW Half, staying in Florida for a week, and am still somewhat recovering from the hamstring strain, I’d prefer not to repeat the mistake of the Wine & Dine. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the vacation by running the WDW Half all out only to spend the rest of the trip in the hotel room with an ice pack strapped to body part.
I’m going to treat the WDW Half Marathon like a fun run. I’m going to run at a moderate but even pace. I’d like to pick a pace and hold it. I’d prefer to avoid the fade at mile 10 or that snapping sound at mile 5 that I’ve encountered at other races. My half marathon personal best is 2:27:20. I’m not going to try to shatter my personal best here. I’ll save the Herculean effort for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. I’ll have eight more months to recover, train, and cut weight. Also, Disneyland is my home turf. As a resident of Southern California, I’m familiar with Disneyland, the streets of Anaheim, and the area hospitals.
The WDW Half Course starts in the Parking Lot of EPCOT and runs on EPCOT Center Drive. It turns north up World Drive, through the Toll Gates into the Magic Kingdom, past the Contemporary Hotel, in and through the Magic Kingdom, south past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Hotels, back down World Drive, through EPCOT ‘s Future World finishing in EPCOT’S Parking Lot.
I got on the bus from my hotel at 3:45 am and got to the starting area at 4:10 am. Disney had lots of busses moving people, but between all the cars and busses and having half the roads closed, traffic was really bad. After the Pacebook Running Club group photo, I made my way to the corrals. RunDisney said that this was a 20-minute walk, but because of the poor layout of the walking path to the corrals, it took me over an hour to get to the corrals. I never heard the national anthem. I was assigned corral C, but by the time I got to the starting line, corral C was gone. I started near the back of corral D.
Welcome to the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
The Pacebook Running Club. I'm in there somewhere.
There goes my corral!
The gun went off and I took off running into the darkened fog. It was 65F and very humid. This is the same humidity level and only a little warmer than I’m used to training in. RunDisney issued a heat warning, stating that this might not be the best weekend to attempt to break a personal best. Glad I’m not doing that here.
Much like the Disneyland Half Marathon and unlike the Wine & Dine, the WDW Half had lots of on-course entertainment. In the center divider of World Drive (the six lane highway between EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom), Disney had placed a replica of the Black Pearl, a guy in a Capt. Jack Sparrow costume, and were blaring Klaus Badelt’s soundtrack from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. That’s good run music! Disney also placed marching bands, disc jockeys and dancers in the center divider. In the blink of an eye that was closer to a half a hour, I was through the tollgates and soaking up the adulation of the crowds at the Transportation and Ticketing Center.
Mile 1- 10:42; Mile 2- 10:43; Mile 4- 10:36
I passed across the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, the Contemporary Hotel and entered the Magic Kingdom through a backstage entrance. I entered Main Street, to the thrall of a crowd and the splendor of an illuminated Cinderella’s Castle. It was incredible! The only problem I had is that I had to pick through the crowd because a great many of my fellow runners decided this to be a good place to stop for a photograph. The racecourse then wound through Tomorrowland and through the castle. The race almost came to a complete stop exiting the castle, as the course was very narrow. I exited the Magic Kingdom through a back stage gate near Liberty Square, turned south towards the Grand Floridian Hotel. I stopped to use a port-a-poty near the mile 8 marker.
Mile 5 – 10:35; Mile 6 – 11:11; Mile 7 – 10:42; Mile 8 – 10:59
As I head south down World Drive, I noticed that the on course entertainment had simply moved to the other side of the street. I was treated to the same entertainment running away from the Magic Kingdom as I was running towards it. The only real difference is that this time, I see the performers under a dawning sky.
It’s starting to get hot and unlike my native Southern California, the humidity level is not dropping. I’m starting to tire. I tell myself to hold the pace, and keep running. Now that the sun is up, I’m able to look at my Garmin watch.
At Mile 10 I encounter the hilly section of the course: three highway overpasses. Disney placed their Green Army Men from Toy Story at the top of the first overpass with a bullhorn to ‘encourage’ runners up the hill. Thanks Disney!
Mile 9- 10:29; Mile 10- 10:30; Mile 11- 10:30; Mile 12- 10:38
Mile 13 & the Finish
The course then re-entered EPCOT, did a loop around future world and ended in EPCOT’s Parking Lot. I’m really tired now. The mantra running through my head is hold the line, keep the pace. As I pass the Gospel Choir at the Mile 13 sign, I pour it on, pick up the pace, and run faster.
Mile 13- 10:38; the last tenth – 2:29 (9:39 mm pace)
Final Time per runDisney: 2:21:11
Across the Line!
I met the goal of running an even race. With the exception of the congestion leaving the castle in mile 6 and the port-a-potty stop in mile 8, I ran a rather even race, with some mild negative splits. I’m rather pleased with my performance. I attribute this to raising the volume of running in training from the newbie half running plan I used for the Disneyland Half to 38 to 42 miles per week and a long run of 14 to 15 miles. By exceeding the race distance in training, I grew accustomed to running the distance. By experiencing mile 14 and mile 15 in training, I was not surprised by the pain and misery that most newbie half marathon plans save for race day.
Even though I did not run all out or even think about my personal best, by running an even race, I knocked six minutes off my half marathon personal best.
The Mickey Mile
In the middle of December, my ten-year-old daughter said she wanted to run a race at Disney World too. I asked her if she thought she could run a mile, and she said yes. I signed up my daughter for the Saturday running of the Mickey Mile kids race.
After the Half Marathon, I headed back to my hotel to take a shower, change my clothes, and get some breakfast. Then we headed over to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex for the Mickey Mile. The race is at 12:30 pm. It is hot, humid, and shade less.
I’ve never been involved with the kid’s races at WDW, so imagine my surprise when I hear the announcement that all kids and their ‘running parent’ need to report to the starting line. Running parent? You want me to run this thing too? I just took a shower. I’m not dressed for this. I don’t have my Garmin! A few moments later, the gun sounds and off we go.
Dad and Mr. Andrew Jackson encourage child to pick up the pace
Finishing the Mickey Mile
Even though it was hot and humid and I was not dressed for it, we had a good time.
My next race
My next race is the Surf City Half Marathon in my native Huntington Beach. I’m not going to run this race. Instead my wife and I are walking the 13.1 miles along Pacific Coast Highway. My wife has cardiac issues that preclude her from running. We plan to walk it together. Since the half marathon is co-located with a full marathon, the Surf City Half Marathon has an extremely generous six-hour time limit. This should be an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of my family.
Much better outcome than your Wine and Dine experience! Congratulations on a great finish and sticking to your plan
Congratulations to your daughter on completing her race. Has she gotten the racing bug, too?
Congrats on meeting your goals, despite the obstacles. I'm sorry it was so congested getting to the start. I did this race many times with my walking buddy, and we never experienced that. They must have really increased the number of participants, to make it that crowded. Glad you and your daughter had fun!
ETA: Oh. I just looked at the results. 23,000+ finishers?? When we were doing it, there were more like 12-15,000 finishers. Wow. Yeah, I can see there would be problems, if they haven't adjusted some things.
Don't call me Buttercup!
"As a resident of Southern California, I’m familiar with Disneyland, the streets of Anaheim, and the area hospitals."
This made me chuckle.
WHOOP! On a hot, humid, icky day, with race congestion and a porta-potty stop, you got a 6 min PR?! That is so awesome!!! Thanks so much for sharing this report with us! Congrats! And Congrats to your daughter. Did you really give her the $$? LOL
Slow and steady wins the.... wait a second! I've been lied to!
Congrats on the PR! I have to do a Disney race someday. Sounds like you had a blast.
PRs: 5k: 27:22 (5/13) 10k: 56:06 (4/13) HM: 2:13 (4/12) M: TBD (9/13)
Congrats on your PR and a great race! I'm so glad you had a better experience than at the Wine and Dine. Thanks for such a great RR. I hope to run Disney at some point, so this is great info.
Congrats to your daughter as well! I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful vacation too!
Covenant Health Knoxville 5K 4/7/13 (and cheering on DH for his 1st Marathon!!)
Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon 7/21/13
Tower of Terror Ten Miler 10/5/13
Agent of CHAOS!
Nice job on the PR, Richard! Glad you had a far greater race than the W&D! Nice job getting it done with the kiddo as well.
Run till your hat drips!
Joined the Sub-30 5K club on 3/23/13
Goal Race: Savannah RnR Half Marathon on 11/9/13
Huge congrats on getting a PR you weren't even going for! Personally I would attribute your success at holding pace through the end of the race more to your overall higher miles, and the effect of more cumulative miles, than on a 14 or 15 mile long run, but either way, keep doing what you're doing and I'm sure you are going to keep making big fitness gains. You ran a smart race, especially given the external factors of the family vacation, and when you can PR even when you're not 'leaving it all on the course', you know you've definitely got another big PR in you when you're ready to really go for it.
Congrats on the PR Rick! Nice report.
Great job, Rick! Looks at those even splits. Looks like you really nailed this race despite not going all out. Good stuff, Rick!
Congrats on a great race!! Thanks for sharing your experience in so much detail - I really enjoyed it!! I hope you and your family have a wonderful vacation at Disney!!
But The Smile That I Sent Out Returned With You.
Very nice race, even splits and a PR, congrats!
Seems like what the say is true, more miles=more faster, and you proved them right!
PRs: Marathon (2:56xx; '13) Half (1:25xx; '12) 10k (40:26; '11) 5mi (29:23; '13) 5k (18:31; '11)
Great job! Love all the pics!
5K (6 total) PR: 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K (2 total) PR: 1:05:02 (5/19/13) 4M (2 total) PR:44:46 (4/7/13) [yet to "race" one of these all-out] HM TBD 10/12/13
Capitol Hill Classic 10K 5/19/13
Baltimore 10 Miler 6/15/13
NY Giants Run of Champions 5K 6/23/13
Goal Race of 2013:
Baltimore Half Marathon 10/12/13
Great job! I really enjoyed reading your RR and seeing all the pictures.
5k - 25:15 (11/18/12)
HM - 2:06:12 (3/24/13)
Everything you need is already inside. [[Bill Bowerman]]
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