Race: Disney Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon

Running the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon October 2011 Look how fast he goes!Just back from a long weekend in Orlando for the Wine & Dine Half-Marathon, and I have to say I am pretty happy with the result.

If you take into account the way training had gone, and then the stomach cramps during the race to still get under the 1hr45mingoal I had been trying for the last couple of years to achieve was pretty good. It wasn’t quite the lofty goal of 1hr37min30secs that I had thought I might be able to achieve if everything had gone right through training, but there is always next time.

It was a completely alien experience to be racing so late at night, I am used to evening running, but not actually getting pumped up for a race, and certainly not starting at 10pm! As per usual the organisation was top-notch with lots of people being moved efficiently in a small amount of time, and come start time about 12,000 of us had made it into our corrals.

For the first time I was in the first corral to be let off (which shows the reasonably low standard at these events!), despite this though I was at the back and there seemed to be an awful lot of slow people in front of me. There must have been in the region of 1000 people in the corral, and I finished 225th, so that was a lot of overtaking, most of it done in the first mile on the grass, which always seems to be the case. I think in January I need to try and get closer to the front of the corral to avoid the off-roading I have to do.

It does seem to be a problem at Disney events that people either lie about their times to get further up the start line, or an awful lot of people have bad days or decide to take it easy on race day.

Anyway, the run was pretty uneventful for the first 5Kuntil we made it to Animal Kingdom, which was very interesting to see at night as the park is always shut when it is dark normally. For this race I had fiddled with my Garmin watch and it was showing me my current lap average pace as well as overall average pace, total distance and heart-rate. This made it much easier to gauge how fast I needed to be running. I was aiming for under 1hr45minso I knew I needed to be under 8min/mile pace to be close enough at the finish to go for it. Being able to see the pace for the current mile helped immensely as it meant I could speed up or slow down to get my pace a lot more even.

Leaving Animal Kingdom those doing the half-marathon relay peeled off to change over the runner. I was a bit confused as this was only at 5M, so one of the relay runners really got the short straw and had to run 8Mto the finish.

The course then looped back the way it had come from Wide World Of Sports, which is pretty much the same as the marathon, except you are on the other side of the road. It was on this bit with the rises to the overpasses that I first felt the cramping in my stomach that was going to get a lot worse quite soon. As with the marathon we went up the incline that had made me “hit the wall” 2 years ago, but it didn’t seem as steep this time, in fact I motored past a few people and got carried away sprinting down the other side.

We were then into the back of Hollywood Studios, but don’t ask me where we went as I was completely lost, we were in there for about 2.5Mand kept popping out at bits I recognised and then disappearing into back lots again. I was looking over the route on Google Maps last night, and I am still not 100% sure where we went, even walking around the place on Sunday wasn’t much help either.

Anyway, it was whilst I was lost in the depths of the park that my stomach really began cramping badly and I knew I needed a toilet break. I had slowed in the mile before hand, and I was struggling to keep to 8minpace. I eventually dived into some restrooms by the Toy Story ride. I won’t go into details, but I felt a lot better when I came out. The problem was I had lost about 1 minute, maybe more in the loo, plus the slow down of the mile or so before. The average pace was up to 7:58, and I knew it would be close to get under 1hr45min. Especially as I didn’t know if just the loo break was going to make me feel well enough to run that fast.

As it turned out, I felt 100% and was able to knock off 3 pretty quick miles, 7:27, 7:39 and 7:10. The field had really thinned out by the time I hit the Boardwalk and it was quite a buzz to be going quickly (for me anyway) around there and have people cheering you on and you are the only one they can see!

We turned left as we came up to the entrance to Epcot and went round the back of Epcot that I have never seen before and finally popped out, quite unexpectedly at the finish that was on a tight little bend surrounded by trees that I wasn’t expecting. I was pretty knackered by the time I finished as the last 5Khad really been a sprint and I was 73 seconds inside the time I was aiming for. Basically I made the difference in the last 5K, if I had continued at 8minpace I would have been just outside!

So as I said at the beginning I have to be happy with it and it was a really enjoyable experience. The best bit was probably after the finish and getting changed, grabbing a free drink and then walking through the special entrance into Epcot for the runners. I was the 207th person over the line, so there were only a handful of runners milling about, and most of them had stopped for a drink, so I was the only one walking through the entrance, there must have been 300+ people lining the way clapping and cheering as I walked up. It was the ultimate buzz! Even if at the end of the day I had only lived up to the name of this blog and been ambitiously average!

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