Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Wine and Dine Half Half Marathon

It looks like there is a curse on the past two Wine and Dine races. Last year was renamed to the Splash and Dash due to the amount of rain, and this year the race had 6 miles cut off due to strong weather around us. But more on that later.

The Tower of Terror 10 miler has been my race of choice of the past 2 years, and I was looking forward to running it again, until they announced that it wasn't going to happen in 2015. I like the night races, so far the 5 Disney races I have ran have been at night, so I set my goals toward the Wine and Dine half. Really what's 3 more miles? Last year I trained from the day I registered until the day before I went to Disney. I haven't ran but a hand ful of times since my last run in May with my sister. So saying I was unprepared is an understatement. 

I left Thursday morning for the lonely drive down. My wife would join me with some friends on Friday night due to work conflicts. We stayed in Art of Animation in the Finding Nemo suites. There were no host resorts available and this was in walking distance to Pop Century, who was a host resort. 

I was able to make it Orlando and check in by about 3pm, and I wasn't sure that my room was ready as I had gotten a text earlier that it in fact wasn't ready. As I pulled up to security, I got the text stating my room number and that I was good to go. After settling down for a few minutes, I got ready to go into the parks. My only concern that night was seeing Osborne Lights. 

I made to Hollywood Studios and renewed my Annual Pass first thing. Walking into the park, I saw what I had been waiting to see all year, an unobstructed view of the Chinese Theater. Every other time I had been down, either a stage, or plants were placed in front of the view. I was able to just take it in for only a few minutes. I walked back to the Streets of America, where I strolled down to the intersection and just watched. Looking over I noticed Mike from the BOG podcast and walked over and talked for a few minutes before walking around a little more. A couple of things that I enjoyed were the tribute to Jenning Osborne and how much they put into the lights this year. You could tell that they wanted the last year to be big. I bought a pass holder shirt for the Osborne lights and was out of there. 

After seeing the bus line for Magic Kingdom, I decided to go to Epcot and hop on the monorail to see Wishes. I arrived at the park just minutes before the show started. The only place I could find to stand, without going to far down Main Street was the top of the train station. And I couldn't see a thing. But the advantage to this is that I got to people watch and see the reactions of the small kids and older couples. Something I had never done before. It really gives you a better appreciation for what Disney tries to do nightly. 

I made my way to the Hub to take in the completed expansion and I have to say it looks great. I love the additional turrets they put up. It makes you feel like you are more involved with the castle itself. The outer ring helps with getting around the crowds that have gathered for whatever parade or show that happens to be going on in the hub at the time. My favorite Disney World parade, Main Street Electrical, happened while I was in the hub, so I obviously got my spot and watched. It was only after the parade when I noticed that the shirt I had bought for the final year of Osborne had fallen out of my pocket or taken out of my pocket. Either way someone got a free Disney shirt.  I didn't do any attractions that night in Magic Kingdom but loved walking around and taking everything in. 

Friday was a busy day for me. Animal Kingdom had extra magic hours so I took advantage of it, I went to ride Everest, my usual morning rollercoaster. Upon getting to the attraction, the line seemed unusually long for it to be open. A castmember let us know that some of the crew didn't make it in on time so they were still running tests and they would be open in twenty minutes. Unlike some around me, I waited patiently, better be slow to open and safe than quick to open and have harm come to someone. 

I had a couple of fastpasses in Epcot, mainly Soarin, made my way over to the park and took my ride and a stroll through the park. We are collecting the "You Are Here" mugs from Starbucks, so I picked up the Epcot version and headed to Beach club for a ride over to the expo. 

Having gone to 5 or 6 expos before, I didn't think anything of this one. However I made it to ESPN only minutes after the expo officially opened. This was a new experince, long lines everywhere. I waited about 30 minutes for my bib and around an hour for my merchandise purchases. But that's all I wanted and got out and back to the parks pretty fast. 

I headed back to Epcot for just a few minutes and walked around the world showcase. I didn't spend much time in Epcot due to the official lighting of Osborne Lights that I wanted to attend. The weather started to look like it could be bad, so I stopped in ABC for a quick bite and then head to Streets of America once the weather lightened up. It was only an hour before the official lighting, so I walked around for a little bit and got a spot front and center for the presentation.  I had never seen the offical lighting before, and was glad I got to experience it for its last year. The show included a lucky family, Mickey, and Santa Goofy all with some jokes and magic. I really wish I hadn't waited till now to see it. I only stayed for a couple of songs before heading out.

My wife and friends were suppose to come in pretty late that night, so I decided to spend some time in the movie theater so I would stat awake. So going over to AMC at Disney Springs and see Spectre. Seeing the latest show possible, I figured that I would be fine to get out of the movie and walk around a little bit before heading to the resort. As I was casually walking back to the bus to go to the resort, I got the text saying they were mere minutes from the resort. So naturally nothing works for me, a crowd comes from no where, the bus I needed left as I was walking up to the bus stop, and traffic was horrible when I actually got on a bus. Once I was at the resort, I was surprised to see that they hadn't made it. I ran in to grab something, and came back out to see them at the lobby.  After making our way to the room, we all collapsed and got some sleep before our big adventure on Saturday.

Savannah and I had been planning Saturday for over a month. She and her boyfriend hadn't been to Disney in a very long time, so she wanted to make the day the most it could be. There was extra magic hours in Hollywood Studios, so thats where we started. Amazingly we were able to get on Rockin Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours all under an hour. Our original plans were then to go to Magic Kingdom, but with the extra time we had just gotten, we headed to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest. The wait was a little longer than posted, so once we got off, it was to close to our lunch reservations at Sannaa, so we stayed and met Mickey and Minnie, and then watched It's Tough to Be A Bug and rode Dinosaur.

We made it to Sanaa just in time for our lunch reservations. This was our first experience at the restaurant. As I have stated in the past, I am a picky eater, so it goes by no surprise that this was a hard restaurant for me to eat. The first thing we did was order the bread service. After the countless podcasts and blogs I have listened to/read this was the reason I wanted to go. While I didn't try all the sauces, I did try all the bread and we were all loved what we had. Beth had a chicken sandwich, Savannah had a burger, Brice (Savannah's boyfriend) had the salad sampler, and I had a steak. The service was great and the food and experience even better.

It was the time that Savannah and Brice (mainly Savannah) had been looking forward to, the Magic Kingdom. I was about to get ready to go back to the resort for a quick nap and then get ready for the race, but as we walked on to main street, the Festival of Fantasy parade was about to start. We were lucky enough to find a good spot, and watched it. Walking around the park for a few minutes, we rode Haunted Mansion, and then I had to go. I told Beth to meet me at the finish line and to just have fun. This would be the first race that she was with me, and she didn't follow me for support. They went on to ride a good bit of rides, and watch the fireworks from Beast Castle and then the Electrical Parade before coming over to meet me after the race.

As I walked to Pop Century to get on the bus to go to the start line of Wine and Dine, I realized that I was not ready for this race. I hadn't prepared at all. I hadn't run but maybe 10 miles all year, and here I am about to run 13.1 in one night. The one thing I had going for me was that I had been placed in a higher corral than usual. I grabbed a couple of bananas and a power aid to get something on my stomach. After some stretching, I heard the dreaded announcement, please go to the corral area. While all the runners were getting ready to head to the corrals, the wind started to pick up. The group started to move, the ones toward the back (myself and many others) thought we were headed to our respective corrals, however runDisney had decided to delay the race, and was moving the runners inside the World of Sports to take cover from potential bad weather that was heading our way. I stopped near Champion Stadium and waited for the lines to die out.

It had been about 30 minutes, and they hadn't told us a thing. I decided to walk around some and see what was going on.  I ran into our friend BamaGirlRuns by the Johnston Center and talked with her for a while before we got the go ahead to return to the start line. She had gotten a phone call from her mom, a volunteer at the medical tent near Animal Kingdom (about mile 4) and was told that they were cutting that section of the course so that everyone would have time to finish the race. It was still hush hush through the majority of the runners until the announcers came out to officially announce the change. Kristin and I parted ways, and to my surprise she was in the last corral. I told to stop and say hey before she passed me.

The modified course was only 6-7 miles ( a half of a half marathon), I felt a little more confident in myself as I had ran about 4 miles the week before and did an ok pace. Boy was I wrong. I sent my normal intervals (1 min jog 1:30 walk), and when we got the go ahead fireworks, I started to jog. I usually jog for as long as I can so that the crowd can disperse a little bit. Once I stopped I listen to my intervals and was going to try and keep them. But when the next jog period happened, I landed wrong and it killed me to even walk. However, I pushed on, with a very slow pace. The course took us out of ESPN world of sports and then to Hollywood Studios where we would exit at the entrance and run the boardwalk to EPCOT for our finish. Kristin met back up with me just out side of the Boardwalk Inn, she actually passed me while on the phone. So I jogged back up and met her, and resumed the walking pace I had. She was gracious enough to walk with me till about a quarter mile left,  where we both jogged to the finish before she split to get a picture with Mickey at the finish.

Beth, Savannah, and Brice were all at the finish line, looking warn out, and tired. While it took us a few minutes to find each other, we eventually made our way to EPCOT to go ride some rides and have fun. The main draw to the Wine and Dine after party is the alcohol around the world showcase. This wasn't an interest to us, so we were happy to see that the lines for the E-ticket attractions were literally walk ons. The only rides we cared about were Soarin' and Test Track. So that is were we went, because everyone was more worried about the Food and Wine Festival activities that were open, the ride wait times were near walk on. We wanted to meet back up with Kristin before we left, so we walked back to the Germany Pavilion, where Savannah and Beth promptly put their head down and "rested". Kristin met us not to long after and we all walked out of the park, while talking about the race and event.

We made it back to the resort at about 4 am. A long day was had, my longest day in the parks since the 24 hour event that May.  The weekend ended with us heading to Disney Springs and then the drive home. Overall it was a great weekend with great friends.

I know last year wasn't a great year for us, on the blog side of things. We will be trying harder this year to put a post out a few times a month. Thanks for sticking with us and being supportive!

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