Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon - Nov 10, 2012

I am not a big fan of Disney. I have nothing against the place, but it's crowded, loud, and full of tourists. I rarely make my way to that side of town because it's a) too far and b) full of tourists. I know they bring money into the community.... but jebus.

Anyway, so I made my way to packet pickup (which was surprisingly disorganized) and back that night for the race. Starting at 10PM, the race ended at Epcot, and runners were allowed to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival touting treats from around the world. I had heard good things about this event but never been. Yes, like I said, I avoid Disney like the plague. Because of the tourists, you see...

We parked at the finish line and Disney bussed us back to the start at the Wild World of Sports Complex. This was very well-organized... even with the hundreds of buses needed (there were 12,000 runners, but I could have sworn there were 12 million). The starting line festival was great and the crowd lounged around the grass awaiting the late-night start. We were split into corrals, and I found myself in the first one. I could only assume that was because Disney races are great for the less-serious runners, so they showed up in force. My expected finish time put me closer to the front. So, I entered my corral and patiently waited for the gun.

People who know me are aware that I'm not a particularly friendly guy. I'm funny and personable, yes... but I don't talk to people. If I end up in a conversation with someone, it's because they talk to me. Well... when a cute little runner from San Diego chats me up at the start line, who am I to argue? It's just too bad Kelly was flying back across the country at 8 AM the next morning. But... I suppose that's reason for me to find a destination race to run with her.

Anywho, I digress. The cannon/gun/bottle rocket fuse was lit (by some cartoon character, I'm sure), and we were off. An interesting thing about Disney races is how phenomenally boring they are for vast stretches before overloading you with brightly-lit goodness. We ran down dark side streets before turning into Animal Kingdom (sadly, a park I've never actually been in. You know.. cuz I hate tourists) and running around the park. Playing the guessing game of 'is that animal or racer feces that I smell' is a good time. It was a nice mile or so in the park, and it's here that Disney shines. You see what makes it a special place, and they even run you through some of the back lots to make you feel special.

Then, it's back onto a dimly lit road... usually the same one (as was in this case) that you ran down to get to the park. We turned into MGM Hollywood Studios next, and this is really where Disney kicked ass. The lights on the main streets were illuminated and were fantastic. I actually gasped as I came around one corner. It was really impressive. Well done, Mouse. That mile went by far too fast.

And, again back into the dark woods. Here, I started to run low thanks to an upset stomach. Thankfully, those 'newbie' runners that I mentioned before bring a lot of course support for them. So, we were still a significant distance from the finish line when herds of people appeared lining the course. Friends and family cheered, and I assumed it was for me as I always did. Only once have I actually had someone waiting for me at a finish line, and her encouragement was more along the lines of 'hurry up, bum' than 'you can do it!'

I wasn't at the optimal point in my training, so I chose not to push too hard. Still, I came around the corner to the fog and laser light to cross the line in 1:58:06, a respectable time and one of my top 5s.

Though I had planned to head straight home (it's midnight, by the way), I ventured into the park and partook of some good eats. I couldn't meet up with any of the three people I knew to be wandering the park, and I didn't stay long. Still, it was nearly 330 AM when I eventually reached home, tired and disgusting. Thankfully, I had taken an extra shirt and my TAC pants with me (love those things... so useful).

A great race with good scenery and organization. Given how much I ended up enjoying the Food and Wine Festival afterward, I can say that I will likely run it next year if my schedule permits. I admit this because - after a race - almost all of us are tourists.

I still have every intention of avoiding the area during normal business hours.

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