Last time I left off after finishing the Jingle Jungle 5k. After the race Kevin and I went back to the hotel to change. Then we picked up mom and headed to downtown disney for some food and shopping.
After lunch we shopped even more. I don't know what it is about Disney but I spend so much time shopping there! Kevin and I also had fun going around to cast members and trading pins.
After that we headed back to the hotel with the intention of resting, however we ended up mostly just strolling around the resort. Finally it was time to go to the race. This time we took the official disney buses as the park was still open.
Once we arrived at Epcot, Kevin hung out with me and my mom for a little bit until it was time to go to the start. Kevin had registered for the race, although he wasn't allowed to run (he had gotten mono before the trip) so he was still admitted to the post-race party and the poor guy had to wait there for hours while we ran/waited for the race to start. To say I was nervous for this race would be the understatement of the century. My asthma had not been doing well at all. I'm talking attacks in my short training runs every single time. I had just been having a really hard year for my asthma (probably because it was a bad year for allergies in my hometown). I wasn't prepared and I didn't want to get swept, especially because I was nervous that mom would quit if i had to. Needless to say, saying goodbye to Kevin and hopping on the bus to the start area felt like my last goodbyes. I was starting to freak out more than a little.
Here's how the pre-race stuff works: You get to Epcot via any means you want (there are buses at host resorts, and any disney property should have buses to the start at least). Then you line up for buses to the start line which is at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Once the bus arrives there you line up around a track and wait for the start. It was nice that you didn't have to walk a mile to the start line for this race. It was freezing again ( I haven't been warm at a Disney race start yet! haha) but Mom and I grabbed a quick blurry pic before the race.
I'll get to my overall thoughts on the race later, but I will say now that every single race photo looked blurry like this one. This is not the race for stellar race pics.
Soon the fireworks were igniting and the corrals started to begin racing. Mom and I began the race slow and steady as planned and things only got slower from there thanks to me and my super duper lungs. I honestly don't have that much to say about the first part of the race because until the parks I was very distracted by my asthma and the complications I was having. I usually have problems with muscle cramps when my asthma is bad but this race they came very early on and they were strong. My feet cramped up so bad that I was limping and my knees were aching from my resulting bad form by mile 3. I knew then it was going to be a long race. I texted Kevin at every mile marker to let him know where we were and when to expect us at the finish. He was very supportive and sweet the entire time and I looked forward to seeing his texts :)
Speaking of Kevin, he told me a little about the race party area from his perspective. He said that at first the park was fairly crowded (we arrived technically before the party started) and soon Disney CM's were closing down rides and kicking out regular patrons. After only those permitted were left the rides opened back up, however the majority of the stores didn't and only the food and wine booths were open. There was a dj playing music the entire time and according to Kevin "plenty of drunks". He was blown away to see that many drunks at Disney. Lots of people fighting and even getting sick from being so drunk. By the time mom and I got there all of that was cleared out and it was really fun for us. On the other hand he did say that there was absolutely no line for the rides and it was fun to ride soarin' over and over.
Back to the race, soon we were nearing the Animal Kingdom. Along the way there we saw ride floats and other fun things, but it wasn't until we got into the park that the really neat stuff was. The route followed a similar path to the morning's 5k. I stopped for quite a few character photos although none turned out.The giant glowing bones may have been my favorite part of Animal Kingdom at night.
Mom and I spent a lot of the race discussing the differences between the normal disney running experience (such as at princess and wdw weekend) and this night race and unique course. One of the big differences was that there were less characters at this race, however I think there was a lot more to look at at the time spent felt shorter (despite being in a lot of pain). The race was winding and in both Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios you can't see as far ahead as in Magic Kingdom and Epcot so mentally it felt like you were making more progress when you were continually seeing something new rather than the same view in the distance the entire time.
Before we knew it we were out of Animal Kingdom and headed to Hollywood Studios. This was a rather long and relatively boring part of the race, but Disney did a great job of including lots of happy race supporters along the way along with fun things to look at like Light Up Floats with characters. I also thought this part went by faster than the usual MK to Epcot route, but maybe that's just me.
Before we knew it we were in Hollywood Studios. It was really pretty to see Hollywood Studios at night and it gave me a much greater appreciation for the park I most often overlook. In my mind I thought I knew the route we would take through the park and I was completely off. I kept thinking that we would be to the Osbourne Lights any second and then we would make another turn again. It was really fun. Through the park we ran past the Tower of Terror, saw Woody and Buzz near Toy Story Mania, and even ran past the backstage areas that are featured on the Backlot Tour. It was so cool to be able to look through the glass a little closer at night. Finally we made it to the osbourne lights.
Sorry for the crappy picture, but holy cow it was beautiful. I like the lights any time because I love christmas lights in general but during the race it was breathtaking. Mom and I were mostly just staring wide-eyed throughout this part of the race.
Soon we had to leave the lights and we passed one of my favorite Disney characters and I stopped to challenge him to a quick fight!
He didn't like that. haha. Now the last part of the race totally confused me. I am a HUGE Disney fan, particularly of the parks. I know that area like the back of my hand because I literally grew up at the parks. However I am not nearly as good at estimating distance as I thought. With Princess Half, I never felt surprised with where we are going but with this race I kept thinking differently. I kept saying to mom "And then we will have to turn here because there's not enough miles left in the course to go the other way" and then we'd turn a corner and I'd be proven wrong. haha! It was amazing to me how much they crammed in those last few miles.
We ran past some of the resorts in the boardwalk area, ended up in the UK area of Epcot. From there I thought we would run straight towards the finish line, but instead we wound past wonders of life and then through the exit. The finish line area was awesome! I was really in pain at this point both of my knees were screaming and I had even cried at one point because my asthma was so bad. I wanted to finish so badly. Kevin was waiting at the finish area and cheered us on. Once I got through and got my medal I just wanted a hug but there was a long path that we were blocked off from spectators. When I finally got to him I just sat down and cried. I was glad to be finished and so glad to be able to rest. The pain was pretty awful in the last mile or so and I really wanted to be off my feet. At least I had my medal and my hug.
After I got over my whining we we went to the post race party. The post race party was really cool. We ended up walking all the way around world showcase and I tried a few of the yummy food and wine foods using the gift card we got for entering the race. I thought this was a huge perk for the race and it was really fun. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I were capable of moving without wincing haha! There were also a lot of rides open but considering the shape I was in and the fact that Kevin had been there for hours we decided to head out before riding any rides.
Overall I loved the race. I thought it was really fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. There were some good and bad things about this race, esp when compared to other Disney races to think about however.
- Different Course - The course is through 3 parks rather than the usual 2 and it's a very different course. It was very fun and fast. I really felt like the time flew by and was amazed by the amount of scenery that was crammed into that race.
- The Perks - Other disney races don't have an after party or the gift card included. I thought the after party was a really fun experience and I wish I had been feeling a little better to enjoy it even more.
- The spectators - I had never really considered spectators before at races because most halves I've done my family wasn't there (aside from my mom who was also running) but this race provided a really fun place to hang out and plenty to do for those who were waiting. I was grateful Kevin wasn't stuck in a parking lot all night waiting for us.
- Your day isn't shot - At a normal disney race unless you are crazy like me, you want to go back to your room, shower, and relax a little before going to the park. At the night race you have plenty of time during the day to spend doing what you want. Plus EVERYONE is smelly after in the parks ;)
- Photo Ops - A lot of people run disney races to take their pics with Disney characters. This race was not so good for it. Disney doesn't have the best night lighting for portraits esp for quick shots taken while running a race. Disney provided plenty of characters but both my personal photos (taken on an iphone 4s i use for every race) and the official race photos were awful due to lighting. I understand this can't be helped and it was only a tiny bummer for me, but for those running their first disney half if commemorative photos are important to you, you may want to take that into consideration.
- Narrow Paths - This course had more narrow paths than usual and there were a number of times you were trapped at a stand still because of course narrowing.
- Drunks - Don't get me wrong, I do like to drink and have a good time. However, no runner I know wants to work that hard and then watch someone throw up. Nasty. I did see a few obnoxiously drunk people, however it wasn't bad when I got there which was very late in the party. Kevin said when the first runners were finishing it was a lot worse, however Disney security did a great job of kicking out anyone acting inappropriately.
- 5k and Half Schedule - Disney you know a lot of us like to do both. Why would you put them on the same day?
My mom and I talked a lot about whether we liked this one more or less than the usual Disney morning race. We both really enjoyed it. My mom still liked the morning run better, however she thought it was a really fun course. I am still torn. There is nothing like the feeling of running down main street and through the castle, but the miles flew by and the after party was great at the night run. I really don't think I could pick a favorite between the two!