Both the half and the full marathon started at 5:30 and as the half was the day before the full, my friend and I decided to use the half as a test run for full marathon. We woke up at 2:45 am (1:45 Chicago time), got dressed, grabbed our pre-run meal, and headed downstairs to the shuttle bus.
I had originally planned on wearing my arm sleeves but I ended up leaving them in gear check because of the abnormally warm weather last weekend (when we left our hotel room it was almost 65 degrees!). One of the nicest things about staying on Disney property was the free shuttle that we could ride right to Epcot. It was really nice to sit back, think about the race, and eat my rice cake with peanut butter without having to worry about driving and parking.
We got to Epcot with more than enough time to spare and ended up sitting down and enjoying the pre-race party for about 20 minutes before heading through bag check into the runners-only area. [One thing I have to say about the Disney races is that they were both SO well organized. Runners had to walk through bag check to get to the start/runner's only area and after the finish to get to the spectators. This made it so easy to check a bag and there were so many volunteers that I never waited in line. Amazing.] In the runners-only area, we used the porta potty and then hung out until we were cleared to walk the 20 minutes to the start area.
We arrived a few minutes before 5 am and I hightailed it over to my corral which was supposedly closing at 5:00. Once inside Corral A I sat down, stretched, had a Clif Shot (it had been 2 hours since I’d eaten) and then before I knew it we were off.
A lot of people complain that the Disney courses are boring, a lot of the mileage is on highways and back roads and very little is through the parks. However, I didn’t really seem to mind it. There was a lot of highway running but there were so many people running around me at all times plus the race had done an awesome job having some kind of exhibit, character (for pictures), or other entertainment at least every mile that I really didn’t mind the course. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t believe I was running in shorts and a tank top in January!
Like I mentioned, the race started in Epcot and then headed 5 miles north before we entered Magic Kingdom. We ran in through the main gate and then down Main Street U.S.A and into Tomorrowland. Main Street was all lit up and looked so pretty (it was still dark out). I also got a huge kick of energy from all of the spectators. We took a turn into Fantasyland, ran through Cinderella’s Castle, then went into Liberty Square, Frontierland, and then exited the park. We ran south another 5 miles, entered Epcot, ran to the lake, turned around, exited the park, and finished.
Besides having to pee for most of the race, I felt really good. I kept thinking to myself that I wished the marathon had happened first because I knew that I had a PR in my legs. I ran a strong half but kept my pace very comfortable so I wouldn’t be too tired on Sunday and even though I didn’t stop for any character pictures (I needed to run the entire half for a confidence booster after being sick all week), I was smiling for the entire race. It was an incredibly fun time!
My official finish time was 1:43:45 (7:55 min/mile,12 in my division). Which I think was the perfect pace for this race– it was fast enough that I really enjoyed myself but not too fast that it tired me out for Sunday.
I absolutely loved the half marathon and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun, relatively flat course. I think it would be a wonderful first half marathon to run or a great race to run with friends. The field is less competitive and more fun-oriented and the characters really make the time fly! Plus, you get an awesome t-shirt and a finisher’s medal!
The bling makes it all worth it :).
Also, the course/race was incredibly organized, the volunteers were super friendly, there were plenty of porta potties and good post-race snacks. What more could you ask for?
After the race, I sat down, put on my compression socks, and my mom and I waited for my friend to finish. Once she was done, we headed back to the hotel and relaxed for most of the day. I tried to put recovery first and even wore my compression socks down to the pool– I was starting to get really nervous about the full marathon!