The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon turned out to be half of a half marathon and that was perfect!
Upon arriving at Walt Disney World, we immediately hit the expo. Unfortunately most of the gear was already sold out. They did have the blue runDisney shirts, blue capris, pink jogging bras and pink running capris. This gear is available at every runDisney event, so if you like it, make sure to look for it at the next runDisney race you attend.
I also decided against the runDisney jacket due to the color, which was a dark maroon.
We grabbed our race numbers, shirts, toured the expo and were ready to go.
The race took place on Saturday, November 7 and the high was 90 degrees with 60% humidity. For some reason it felt like 100 degrees with 100% humidity. It was hot, muggy and miserable. The Rock-n-Roll Savannah Marathon was that same day, in the morning, and the course was diverted and cut short due to the heat. A tragedy struck and a 35-year old man from Georgia passed away on the course.
Even though Wine and Dine was later in the evening, it was even further south where the heat and humidity were oppressive. RunDisney rated the race a “High” on the Event Alert System, meaning that conditions were dangerous.
The day started early for my roommates who were running the 5K. They got up at 4:30 a.m. to hop on the bus and head to Animal Kingdom for the Jingle Jungle 5K that started at 7:00 a.m. I slept in until 6:30 a.m. and ran around the Caribbean Beach Resort. Check out the Caribbean Beach Jogging Trail for the great path you can run! Each loop around the lake was 1.29 miles and I ran it 6 times, equating to 7.74 miles. I came back to the room just as my roomies were coming back from the 5K, so we showered and got ready to head to Disney Springs for lunch and shopping. Disney Springs was packed, but we ate a healthy lunch at Earl of Sandwich, bought ornaments at the Disney Christmas Store and picked up gifts for my kids at World of Disney. We headed back to the resort at 2:30 and then pulled the curtains shut and dimmed the lights to take a three hour nap before heading to the race. I rested quietly, but couldn’t actually sleep.
I packed all my gear for the race, which included my Camelbak, PowerAde Zero, Garmin, Race Bib, iPhone, SpiBelt, Clif Shot Blocks, change of clothes, sweatshirt and protein bar.
We headed out for dinner at the resort at 6:00 p.m. The resorts have a great selection of healthy snacks and dinner options, but I was perplexed on my pre-race nutrition for a nighttime race. I debated having cereal and a banana, but felt that I may need more calories given that the race wasn’t until 11:00 p.m. I ended up with rotisserie chicken, black beans and rice, which may have been too heavy. We hopped on the bus around 7:00 p.m. and headed to ESPN Wide World of Sports.
We checked our bags at gear check and then sat down on the lawn to wait to go into our corrals. Around 9:00 p.m. we noticed the wind howling, planted trees falling down and raindrops hitting the pavement. We looked at each other and noted that a storm was definitely brewing. A few minutes later the runDisney officials came over the intercom and asked everyone to calmly and quietly make their way to the Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We joined the hoards of thousands of participants and waited for the decision to cancel or proceed with the race. We pulled up the weather on our phones while waiting and saw that there was a band of storms approaching for the south that looked pretty nasty, but it seemed to break up as it approached our area. Disney must have made the same observation, as approximately one hour later they announced that we could make our way to our corrals.
Once we arrived at our corrals we learned that the race was going to be cut short by six miles, eliminating the Animal Kingdom park. We later learned that trees had fallen in Animal Kingdom due to the storm, which is why they cut out that section of the park.
I was grateful that the race was not cancelled and that Disney had our safety top of mind! Even through an unpreventable situation, Disney gracefully managed the situation and had an emergency plan in place. I was actually extremely grateful that the race was shortened by six miles because of the heat and humidity.
The race kicked off at approximately 11:00 p.m. with the wheelchair start and a three-minute intermission between each corral. Disney sets off fireworks for each corral, so it’s so exciting! With the spark of the fireworks for our corral, we were off!
We seamlessly cut from mile 1 to mile 8 of the race and simply cut out miles 2-7. It was wonderful to look up after only one mile and see that I was already at mile 8! The course wound its way through Hollywood Studios and we ran through the Backlot Tour, which was sheathed in black fabric and decked with strobe lights.
We then came upon the Osborne Spectacle of Lights, which was spectacular! I actually walked through this entire section, removed my headphones and took in the sights and sounds. The view of the Christmas lights makes my heart happy! There were many characters out and about, including The Country Bears, Woody and Jesse and more.
We made our way from Hollywood Studios to Epcot via the Boardwalk. We ran past Yacht and Beach Club and entered Epcot through the back of World Showcase.
Running through Epcot is always my favorite experience, as I admire the countries from around the world. The ran came to a close in the Epcot parking lot and I was elated to have the beautiful medal around my neck.
The mental component is a tremendous component of racing, and the uncertainly of the race continuing, coupled with the delayed start, caused anxiety which translated into my performance. Additionally, the late start time, heat and humidity all made for a tough physical challenge as well.
Immediately after the race I went to the medical tent to get ice to put on top of my head and I stood in front of the cooling fans for ten minutes. I then slowly made my way to Epcot, retrieved my runDisney snack box, and my bag from gear check.
RunDisney hands out snack boxes at every race and for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon it had a small container of vegetable cheese, tortilla chips, gluten-free blueberry crisps, a chocolate chip Clif bar, Almond Roca and a wet wipe.
I waited inside Epcot for my friends, Christie and Tracy, who also ran with me, and Julie who ran the 5K that morning.
I started to feel ill after the race and I ran to the bathroom and threw up. I didn’t want to ruin their experience though, so I kept that to myself. We walked around the World Showcase and I felt worse and worse…I tried to eat, getting the Chilaquiles de Pollo in Mexico, but I couldn’t stomach anything. I wasn’t able to eat a thing and the smell of the food was overwhelming. We headed back to the hotel at 4:00 a.m. and I immediately showered and fell asleep. I woke up at 11:00 a.m. and headed out for a six mile run to make up for the mileage that I missed. I was feeling sluggish, slow and still sick…but I was determined to finish my run.
After my run I took a shower and everything went black and I saw circles of lights in front of my eyes. I chalked it up to low blood sugar, since I had not eaten prior to my run, and I headed to the food court at Caribbean Beach Club. I didn’t see anything I wanted to eat, but I had been craving ice cream so I got a cup of soft serve.
We went to Animal Kingdom that morning and I was still feeling ill.
I tried to tough it out and we went over to the Kilimanjaro Safari, but as we waited in line I was waning. After about 15 minutes I started sweating profusely and I knew what was coming next. I excused myself and RAN to the bathroom and made it just in time to throw up violently. I staggered over to First Aid and told them I was ill. They were super nice and invited me to come in and lay down on the cot. I laid down for about ½ hour and started to feel a bit better. I met up with the girls and told them of the unfortunate incident. Luckily we were leaving the park for dinner at Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was hoping that I would feel better and would be able to eat, but the moment we stepped into the restaurant I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach anything. I sat on the balcony and watched the animals while the girls ate and prayed I wouldn’t throw up on the savannah. After we left Boma I regrettably informed them I was going to have to go back to the room to lay down. I was more concerned about ruining their time than I was about my getting sick. They were extremely understanding and gracious and they drove me back to the resort after Boma.
I called mousekeeping to bring four extra blankets and I wrapped myself in them like a cocoon. I fell asleep by 8:00 p.m. and slept until 9:00 a.m. the next morning. I woke up drenched in sweat and felt 1000% better. I was ready to hit Magic Kingdom the next day.
I believe I suffered from heat exhaustion. This makes me even more grateful that Disney cut the race in half. If the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon would have been the full 13.1 miles who know how it would have ended up?
I’m thankful that I’m feeling better now, but it’s a reminder that no matter how many races you’ve run, listen to your body and be careful running in the heat. Even though I followed all of my own tips for running a night race, my body rebelled against the heat.
Has anyone else run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon? Did you run it this year? What did you think?