So we are back from an amazing week in Florida and in typical British fashion it has decided to pour with rain all weekend and be a whole 16 degrees celsius colder than it was in America! The winter jumpers have emerged from the cupboard and the heating is on. Holiday is officially over. Boooo!!! 😦
Anyway onto the race recap as promised. It’s hard to know where to start with this one, so many emotions still flowing through my head. I guess I’ll just go from the beginning and see what happens!
We arrived Thursday night to record November temperatures for Florida, and boy was it warm. They showed no sign of cooling off before the weekend so we decided not to worry ourselves over it, to just make sure we stayed super hydrated and make the most of it! It felt very hot, but at the same time (and I hope this makes some sense to anyone who’s ever been) it’s a different sort of ‘hot’ to the UK… it’s tropical, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing at this point.
We enjoyed the expo on the Friday where we picked up our bibs and got to meet Jeff Galloway (hero) whose plan we have been following. Jeff was so nice, he spent time chatting with everyone who queued to meet him. Genuinely lovely guy!
We brought a nice t-shirt each to commemorate the occasion and some cool rundisney wine glasses (which I shall be using later to drown some of my post Disney blues!) I picked up some clif shots to take to the race for fuel. It was a good expo and I’ll probably write a fuller post on it at some point.
Then race day arrived! We spend the morning at Epcot, enjoying some rides and the atmosphere. I broke the ‘don’t try anything new on race day’ rule and had a couple of bites to eat from the food and wine festival booths! Thankfully it didn’t cause me any trouble. We headed back to the room after a lunch of Mongolian beef and rice (so good) and ended up taking a 2 hour nap (it was not supposed to be that long). We then went down to the food court at the hotel and shared a turkey sandwich with fries before going back to the room and getting ready. Here is where I realised I’d forgotten to bring my gymboss interval timer with me! Doh!!! So we would have to use my phone to alert us of our run/walk intervals. This did not prove to be very useful as you will see if you manage to make it to the bottom of this (very long) race report!
We caught the bus to ESPN world of sports (where the race would be starting at 10) at a little after 7. There were already a lot of people in the staging area and rundisney had a big stage with music and the hosts interviewing people etc. They even had one gentleman propose to his girlfriend on the big screen (she said yes)!
We were sitting on the grass waiting for the start and I kept seeing flashes in the sky. I commented that I thought this was lightning (there was a chance of storms predicted on the weather). Gid thought it was possibly just the lights from the stage etc, but it looked like it was from behind the clouds rather than in front of them… I was sure it was lightning and whilst it was still a way off at that point I was starting to worry. I knew the race would go ahead rain or shine, except in the circumstance of lightning as it says on rundisneys website. It was already in the back of my mind that this could ruin things.
9pm came, and just as we should have been about to move to the corrals, the announcers came over the tannoy and asked everyone to immediately evacuate to the sports complex as there was lightening in the vicinity. 12,000 confused runners and their families made their way over to the sports complex to shelter inside and wait out the storm.
We stood inside the baseball stadium (under the covered bit) for around an hour waiting for some sort of communication from rundisney. We didn’t hear anything but then again we werent in the best part of the complex so I don’t know if communication was better in other areas. We were worried they were going to cancel the race. Time was ticking by and as it got closer and closer to 10pm we realised there was no way we were going to start on time even if we did get to run. My legs were already aching (never a good way to start a race) and we were feeling stressed, worried and tired from all the waiting around. Eventually after what seemed like forever, a collective cheer went up and the crowds started to move back outside. The storm must have passed and it looked as if the race would go ahead!!
12,000ish people rushed back outside and to the staging area where we were all held for a while before finally being allowed to go to our corrals. It was whilst waiting here that we started to get wind that it wasnt going to be the race that we had planned. People around us were talking, they had seen on the rundisney twitter page etc or heard from friends that rundisney were shortening the course. People were starting to get a bit agitated. Nobody really knew what was happening. We were hoping it was rumours but werent sure and couldn’t check twitter ourselves as we didn’t want to pay roaming charges.
When we finally got into the corrals, rundisney announced over the tannoy that it would be a shortened course due to the delayed start and would be roughly 10k in length. At the time we were positively devastated! We had trained for almost a year for this. This was our dream. To run our first half marathon at Disney World. We had travelled over an ocean to do it, and had raised money for charity for something which we now wouldn’t be able to complete.
I want to point out that we both completely understood why rundisney shortened the course, even at the time. They HAD to think about the safety of 12,000 plus people with storms and lightning in the area and more predicted for later that night. They made the best decision they could after weighing up the circumstances. They could have called the race off completely and upset 12,000 people but instead they let us run some distance even if it wasnt the full distance. We got to run disney, and I will forever be thankful for that even if it wasnt quite what we intended. Of course, despite this understanding, that didn’t really stop the feeling of devastation at the time. I completely got it, but I was still understandably upset about it.
The start was therefore rather less-than magical. We saw the fireworks, the corrals began to move forward until it was our turn. Then all of a sudden we were off!
It soon became apparent that the storms would not be the only hard thing about this run. Forgetting my interval timer was a big mistake – there were a lot runners, it was loud! We couldn’t hear my phone so we just kept running and we were clearly going to fast! I could tell that immediately even without anything showing our pace. We tried to slow it down a bit but the course was narrow until you got out of the sports complex and onto the main road and we were just swept along with the other runners.
We had gone almost a mile before we were out on the main road and decided to walk. The heat was INSANE! I was a sweat bucket already! It was a feel like temp of 28 degrees celsius with about 90% humidity. I don’t know how you natives do it!! I was dying already! All of a sudden I wasnt bothered that the course had been shortened, I was thankful! This was going to take everything I had in this heat!
The water stops were frequent. We took water and poweraid at each station and still felt horrific due to the heat. There was a good deal of walking for us, the set intervals were out the window as we couldn’t hear my phone. We ran when we could and walked when we couldn’t. It was slow going. The heat was just so intense.
We saw some characters but didn’t stop, we just wanted to make it to the end. The next mile marker after 1 we encountered was 8 I think. They obviously hadn’t had a chance to change them from the original course. Quickest 8 miles ever we joked! Ha!
So we had skipped the first part of the course towards, round and back from Animal Kingdom. We later heard the storm had gone right through there and made the path unsafe because of debris etc. I don’t know how true that is, but that was the part that was cut out.
We entered Hollywood Studio’s from backstage by rocking roller coaster and tower of terror and stopped for a quick bathroom break (thankyou nice clean park bathroom) and to splash some water on our faces! We then went down Sunset Blvd and through the park round the backlot and then finally ran through the part of the course I had been looking forward to the most – the Osbourne Lights!
It was amazing! And a much-needed boost when I was flagging! The lights really were magical, and I was so thankful to be running a race at all! After taking our time walking through this section to take it all in, we continued onto the final leg or our journey – out of Hollywood Studios and over to Epcot via the path past the Yacht and Beach Club resorts.
This part was rather crowded with people. Had we actually ran a full half course maybe people would have had a chance to space out more making it less crowded, but as it was it was very congested.
This part was nice though, as there were spectators around cheering and with signs. There was also a lit up Sebastian from the little mermaid by the entrance to Epcot which was very cool.
We entered Epcot from backstage, and at this point I started to feel a little dizzy. I managed to walk it off but I did start to feel very worried for a moment and seriously wondered if I’d have finished this race had it actually been a half marathon due to the crazy heat. As it happened though there wasnt much further so I pushed on. We ran through Epcot, past Spaceship earth (the big golf ball thing if you’re not a Disney nerd like me) and out into the parking lot to be greeted by the amazing sight of the finish line!!!
I was so so happy to have finished! It might have been a shorter race, but the heat had killed me and the sight of the finish line was a welcome one! We collected our medals (some seriously nice bling), water, poweraid, snack box, the most amazing wet towel to put over my head!! Felt so good!
We had done it. We had run Disney!! It may have only been a ‘half a half’ but we got to run something when it came very close to not going ahead at all and I was thankful for that! It was a slow one. Rundisney has since said the revised course was 6.72 miles and our time was 1 hr 38 mins which is very slow for us. Our average pace was something like 14’19 per mile, but in that crazy heat I’m not surprised it was that slow, and I will tell you that I could not have pushed harder if I had tried. I gave it everything I had.
On reflection, It was unfortunate of course that we couldn’t do 13.1 miles, but rundisney had to act in the interests of everyone’s safety. It was such a tough race because of the heat, and despite the fact that my medal says half marathon on it and we didn’t run a half marathon, I still feel like we earned a medal that night for finishing a race in such tough (to us) conditions. We ran the race put in front of us, which was all we could do in the end and I’m proud of us for completing something that felt incredibly hard on so many levels.
We wore our medals around the parks the next day and had some great conversations with fellow runners. I don’t think anyone I spoke to was truly upset. Everyone including us understood why it had to be shortened. And as someone who likes to look on the bright side of every situation, I was pretty pleased not to have achy legs!!
We have raised over £500 for Make-a-wish UK and we hope that if you did sponsor us that you understand that the circumstances of why we couldn’t do the full 13.1 miles were beyond our control. In the next couple of weeks, we are going to go out on our training route and do our 13.1 mile run – just so we can say we have! I feel I need to prove to myself that I can do the distance, just for completeness really!
And we are already signed up for the Cardiff World half marathon in March 2016 so the journey does not end here! We may have run disney, but we hope you’ll continue to follow along with us as we finally do manage to conquer our first half marathon race!!