A little over two years ago, we did something we never knew we were capable of. We ran a half marathon!
Mind you, we weren’t runners – yet, and Isabella was due a mere two months before the race. These things didn’t faze us because it sounded like fun, so we sent in our registration and booked a resort.
We started running and walking more and more, including about 6 miles of hospital halls the day Isabella was born. Obviously, there was no half marathon training plan that takes into account having a baby 8 weeks before the half marathon, so we just did the best we could and had a longest run of only 6.5 miles before we left, figuring that we’d do the rest of the mileage by walking if necessary.
There are a lot of recaps of this race already online and things might have changed since 2012, so we’ll just give a brief synopsis of our experience, along with a few tips we learned.
First, be prepared for it to be VERY CROWDED – at the expo, on the buses, in the corrals, and along the whole race course.
Second, read as many trip reports as you can so your expectations are in line with your experience. And try to read the reports from people who pay their own way and aren’t given extra perks (eg race retreat tent) by Disney (unless you are lucky enough to be receiving them or are paying the extra fees for them).
Third, buy some throw away sweats and gloves to put on over your running clothes. It can be really cold standing in a corral for an hour or two waiting to start. As the race starts, shed the thrift store priced sweats and they will be donated. Along with the sweats, bring one of those silver emergency blankets. It was the key to keeping the night chill off of us while we waited to start.
Fourth, have someone at the finish line with warm clothes and food. You will receive a banana and a little snack box, but the food inside was kind of odd. Dried edamame, hummus, dry tasteless crackers. We had quite a wait to get on a bus to leave and got chilled and hungry standing there waiting.
Fifth, just because everybody else is standing outside in a line with hundreds of people in it at 3 AM doesn’t mean you need to.
We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside. The buses pulled up right outside the main lobby. We stood inside the lobby and watched person after person go out into the cold and stand in that line for over an hour waiting for a bus only to then stand in the cold in a corral after getting to the start. We waited inside watching until the line got down to a few people and then headed out and got on a bus. As long as there was still a line that hadn’t been transported, it seems inconceivable that Disney would stop the buses even if it got later than the 4 AM cut off time.
Sixth, bring your own coffee/food/etc. for the pre-race morning because Port Orleans did not have anything that early if you needed to purchase a beverage or food.
Seventh, be prepared to surprise yourself! Although neither of us had ever run that far before and Elizabeth was a brand new Mama, we ran all but about 1 mile and finished much faster than we expected. While you are not running through the parks for much of the race, there is still a lot to see and an energy boost from running with 15-20,000 other Disney fans that is hard to match.
Would we do it again? Absolutely, but maybe next time, we will try for 26.2 instead of 13.1!