2019 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Report

Official Time: 2:48:20

Overall Place: 9,406/18,415 (Top 51%)

Gender Place: 4,510/10,614 (Top 42%)

Women 45-59 Place: 461/1,193 (Top 38%)

Time in Motion: 2:27:14 (My Garmin stats)

Wow, what a day!

Going into this race, I wanted to put down a push pace effort while in motion while still stopping for characters. Therefore, my plan was to come in under 3 hours, limiting myself to 3 Photo stops. Wreck-It Ralph would be one, the Castle shot in the dark would be the second, and I had a wild card for the 3rd. I wanted to shoot for at least an 11:30 minute pace throughout, depending on how I felt and what the weather would do.

When I got up at 2:00 am, I was struggling a bit. A long day before with meetups and social media networking challenged this introvert. I had a great dinner with Gerald and Karen at Rose and Crown around 5:30. Fish & Chips sounded really good…oh my goodness it was amazing!

But organizing myself in the morning was tougher than usual. I had a misfire on my coffee, and I had a bagel on the way to the start line. Usually the coffee “gets things moving,” but it never really did until after I started running. I hit the start line with some friends, but made my plans clear, that I was running this on my own — little video, only a few pictures and stops. So I took off and didn’t stop until Mile 3, where I took on water, hit the toilet (stop one), and Wreck-It Ralph (stop 2). Everything felt great so far and I was concerned I went out too hard. I kept trying to ease off. I got into Magic Kingdom, and because of Corral placement (D) and my pace, it was the darkest it had ever been when I ran up Main Street to the Castle…It was so pretty with all the lights! I passed up characters and didn’t worry about Photopass. I just kept running. Coming through the castle, I was obviously surrounded by first timers who were very excited about where they were at that moment. I whooped and hollered with them! Down the ramp I took a left to get my Castle Shot (stop 3), then realized I needed another bathroom. Mile 6 port-o-potties (stop 4), then kept on trucking back toward Epcot.

It was at this point I realized there weren’t many people walking, and I was overtaking pace groups along the way who had passed me during my stops. Being out ahead of the walkers really helped me keep a groove in the narrower sections of the course. In past races, I stopped enough to get to the back of the pack, and it was harder to recover and get ahead again.

I knew I had given myself one more character photo, which would be someone for whom I’d never stopped before. Chip and Dale and Clarisse were out looking adorable, so I made that my last Character stop…or so I thought at the time. I mere half mile later, Donald and Daisy were out. I was dressed as Donald, so I HAD to stop! Just as I was coming up to get my picture, Donald had gone off for a break, leaving Daisy who LOVED my costume. Totally worth the stop!

Okay, time to crush the rest of this race. There was little left to stop for anyway, and the course opened up to 3 lanes wide and a slight uphill into the sun. It wasn’t horrible, but with nothing going on it started to become a mental challenge. I would have liked to get some music going, but had left my earbuds in the room. I dug deep and just kept the pace going up through the cloverleaf which is always a challenging on-ramp.

The rest of the race, I just tried to maintain pace. I never walked except through aid stations, and I didn’t take water at all of them. I took some Sport Beans at Mile 8, which was just enough. I never took one of my gels, and I felt great!

When I got into Epcot, I started getting emotional. This was going to be my best RunDisney Half. Not because of the time, but because of the effort. It was a benchmark run — a chance to see what I could maintain right now at this point in my training. I felt fantastic! When I got into the crowds I encouraged them to get louder. I was killing it across the finish line, and I couldn’t believe my time.

As far as time is concerned, it only my second fastest Half Marathon at RunDisney. The fastest was my first: 2015 Superheroes Half at 2:46:50. However, I didn’t stop for anything in that race. That was just the best I could do after the 5k and 10k and all the park time the day before. For Saturday’s race, I stopped 7 times, clocking only 90 seconds slower than that 2015 event. One less bathroom break and I would have set a RunDisney PR. Which is why I chose to leave Auto Pause on for this race. I wanted to compare my actual running time to the clock time, and a 2:27 for an effort that wasn’t full blown race pace, is pretty dang good in my opinion.

I love coming to sea level. I just feel like I could run for days. The effort was definitely a push, but it didn’t hurt. I was dazed afterward, and took a hard nap after breakfast, but it was truly an amazing day! It was a victory I needed, and a place to hit the restart button, and an AWESOME way to kick off the New Year!

For more highlights, check out the video. If you ran at Walt Disney World this January, how did it go?