The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon holds a special place in my heart, and it is for this reason that I will probably run it every year until I die. Last year, 2011, was my first ever half marathon and afterwards, although happy that I had finished, I felt awful, could barely walk, and had to cab it back to hotel so I could crawl into bed to recover.
I entered this one to see if I could do better.
If you have been following this blog you know my training since Augusta 70.3 has been, let’s just say lacking I have had some serious mental let downs, so preparation for this race was not what it should be. Yes I did manage the weekly Team in Training runs each Saturday, but the weekly trainings were haphazard and sporadic, and not nearly what they should have been either in effort or in distance.
Even with all of that, I still entered the weekend pretty confident that I could not only do the mileage but do better that I had done the previous year. The weekend started out well … we go to the check in at a decent time on Friday which allowed us to get all of out information in order and walk through the expo, and still get back to the room in time for plenty of rest and relaxation. Disney is a great place to stay, but the only gripe I have is the dining. There is literally NO place to eat on site unless you make a reservation, so we ended up eating in the room every time. Not really a bad thing, but just irritating.
So anyway, Saturday was made up of the TNT festivities. They always have what is called an Inspiration Dinner, in this case a brunch, which started at 12:30. It is a great time to see the teams from other areas, here some really inspirational stories, see some stellar fund raising efforts (the guest honored speaker had raised over $50,000, which just is amazing in these times, considering I cannot get a $10 donation from the majority of my friends and family and co-workers) and the food was light and good. I didn’t eat much since I know my stomach and how it reacts, so at about 2:00 we sauntered back to the rooms to get off the feet, try to sleep (which I didn’t) and prepare for the race that night.
The Wine and Dine, for those who are not familiar, is run through three parks, starting at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, and winding through Animal Kingdom, Disney Studio’s, and ending at Epcot, where they have the park open until 4 AM for runners and their families. It’s a pretty nice event and is well orchestrated by the company. The best part id the number of volunteers out on the course, mostly Disney employees, standing in the parks cheering you on, along with the ever present “Go TEAM” ringing throughout the run.
We made our way to the buses around 7 PM. This is the hardest part of this event, the waiting. You get to the start line around 7:30 and wait until the corrals open at 9:45. It’s a long time to sit and wait, but made better if you are with a good group of people, as we were fortunate enough to have.
Once the race started I felt pretty good right from the start. I use the Galloway method of run/walk and it has worked for me since going to it last summer, at least to the point I could finish races and still function afterwards. For this race I set my race at a :30/:30 split, with the plan that I can run through more than one alert if I felt good, but walk for only :30 seconds at most. I broke a rule in that I had never tried this before, but I thought it would be ok since I could always go back to the regular split if I felt it wasn’t working. I wanted to take it slow until the last mile, and then try to push a good final 2 if I had any juice left. It’s all a learning process still and this would be a new thing, to actually have energy in the tank at the end of a long race to push faster than the pace up to that point. It worked during a 8 mile training run, so wanted to see if it would work again.
A Disney race is crowded, and it’s even more so when you enter the parks, especially Animal Kingdom. The race went of as planned. I was in the 5th corral so started at 10:15, with the goal of bettering my previous time of 3:13:03, which meant a 14:44 pace. I felt strong but made myself follow the splits, running at first about three-four beeps (2:00) and walking 30 seconds. I kept this up for quite a ways, forcing myself to stay in the 14:00-15:00 range, even though I felt I could go faster.
I won’t go into a mile by mile recap (you’re welcome) but will say this: one of my biggest frustrations in running like this is that my cardio and conditioning can handle it. never once did I feel like I was unable to handle the pace. It is my BODY that gives out, especially my feet. The same thing happens in Ironman races. The balls of my feet, by the end of the race, feel like I am running on bruises. The one good thing this year is that it happened later in the race. I was fine until mile 10. Last year I was hurting at mile 5. The other improvement was that even though it was hurting, it never hurt so bad that I couldn’t run. Last year the last three miles were essentially walking. This year I ran through the whole race.
I was able to stick to my plan and the last two miles I was able to run pretty good, increasing my pace almost 2:00 per mile. Although I was able to do this, I did not beat my time from last year. The weird thin is that my overall pace was EXACTLY the SAME, at 14:44, but my time was about 4:00 slower. This was probably due to my Garmin showing a race distance of 13.41 miles. I checked my spreadsheet and last year the Garmin showed 13.21 miles, so that explains the same pace but a slower time. Doesn’t matter. I know I improved by these three things:
- I was able to run the last two miles faster than my overall pace to that point.
- Last year I kept getting asked to move over so a runner could pass, especially the last three miles. This year I was asking others to move so that I could pass them.
- I not only walked into Epcot after the race, I walked all the way back to the hotel. Feet were hurting yes, but not to the point I couldn’t walk.
- My training after Augusta sucked, and I still could run a half marathon. This means to me that even with minimal training I can go out and run 13.41 miles. Last year I could never have done that.
So I consider this race an overall success, in a season that was overall disappointing to me. Only one more event left this year. I am looking forward to 2013.
Some random thoughts to end with:
- I got to meet Jeff Galloway at the Expo and talk to him for a few minutes. He gave me great advice on getting through the Goofy Challenge. This is a truly great man. Someone with all of his accomplishments took the time to not just meet and shake hands with people, but also speak with and LISTEN to each and every one. A true inspiration.
- Once again the Team in Training experience was stellar. Not only do you get some great insight on running from coaches like Teresa Dixon and Lyle Jacon, you get to meet some extraordinary people, some of who have over come tremendous odds to be where they are. The fund raising is hard, but the result at the end is worth the effort put in.
- Thanks to Lori, Natasha, Regan, and everyone on the team, but especially to my stalwart training partner Jennifer. She got me into this racing and triathlon thing, without which I know I would have quit by now. Things are different now with her living in Ocala, but she still drives down each weekend to train with my sorry ass. She rocks, and I could never repay all that I owe her.
- Thanks also to my Triathlon counterparts KC, Summer, Karen, Megan, Genna Beth, Kate, Sherrie, all of whom still show interest in my endeavors even when they are training for Ironman races and Half Ironman’s. Their support and knowledge are very important to me. Every time I think that it’s too hard or that I should just stop, I hear KC in my head saying something she wrote in an email to Jenny and I … “I never get mad, I get disappointed”. I don’t want to disappoint her, or myself, or anyone. I hope I haven’t to this point.
- And one last shout out, to my sister Kristi. When I started this she was not on board with it. She felt that I was taking time from my family, and my son, and was not very supportive or understanding about what I was doing or why I was doing it. I am not sure what happened, but she has not said one negative word in quite awhile, and has read and followed my blog and postings and has been in my corner. I am not sure if she really means it, or is just trying to be a good sister, but either way it is appreciated.
So that’s it for 2012 … another year in the books. I have a 50 mile “ride” on December 1st, but no racing until January when I will be attempting the Disney Goofy Challenge. If you have no idea what that it, it is a Half Marathon on Saturday morning (13.1 miles), then getting up Sunday morning and doing a full marathon (26.2 miles). Not sure I can do it, but I will try. All I know is that Sunday morning at the end of the race I know doing another 13.1 miles would have killed me. Lots of training in my future coming …
… let’s get started!!