It's been two days since Wine & Dine Race Weekend ended and I'm still sort of wrapping my head around it all. From not knowing if I would even be able to participate to closing out one of the most wonderful running weekends I've ever had – I'm up to my ears in life lessons and gratitude.
Fall Feast 5K
You guys…I had NO IDEA what I was walking into on Friday morning. I set my alarm for 2 a.m. and just prayed.
(And as an aside…praise my friend for letting my kids sleep over after trick or treating – but having other trick or treaters ringing my doorbell and exciting my dog all night was BRUTAL. I won't be disappointed if I never have another race the morning after Halloween.)
After my injury flared up in July I'd barely run. Getting out of bed in the morning was painful. I just figured I'd listen to my body, move slowly to keep it low impact, and just walk it out if necessary. Whether or not I attempted the other two races just depended on how this one shook out.
Talk about an exercise in humility – but also an incredible experience!! I always start the 5Ks at the front of the first corral, sprint through them, and grab all of the PhotoPass pictures so I feel less obliged to stop for them during the longer races when losing my momentum is harder. This time I started at the front again – but because I wanted every minute of this race even if it was untimed.
The simple verdict was that I got through it. I was sore but I took it really slowly and only stopped for one character. It seems silly since it was “only” a 5K…but that finish line was as emotional for me as any Dopey Challenge. Just getting out there and sweating and feeling my blood running through my veins was wonderful.
My only non-personal comment on this 5K is that…while it was a blast…I do hope that it returns to Animal Kingdom at some point. If it doesn't it's not the end of the world – but I did love that this was the only runDisney 5K that *wasn't* in Epcot. Running through Animal Kingdom at dawn was so beautiful. (Of course you still get that at the half – but it was such a relaxing 5K.)
That said…it's hard to be anything but grateful for these sorts of predawn views.
Wine and Dine 10K
After getting through the 5K, I was really just excited for the weekend. I knew nothing was a given – but knowing that I could get through it if I took things carefully was such a huge relief. I'd planned to run with a good friend who was also injured – so we just figured we'd be gimpy and gimpier on the course, relax, and enjoy it. If we weren't going to PR our time (and really – you aren't getting your money's worth if you PR a runDisney race, anyway) then we were going to PR in fun.
And we totally did.
Also? This was the beginning of the INCREDIBLE characters that were out on the course this weekend. If Wine & Dine is becoming the place for rare character opportunities, then I'm all for it.
After the race, we carried on the tradition of visiting Magic Kingdom to see the Christmas decorations that went up overnight.
And then it was time to get some rest because….
Wine & Dine Half
Then it was time for the half.
You guys. The weather was so beautiful. We so loved the extra hour of sleep from the overnight time change. And all in all – we had so much fun.
Last year I ran this race with 2 other ladies from my running team and we had a blast stopping for every single character – and this year we did that memory justice with a relaxed, happy race full of CRAZY rare character stops!!
I so love that this first half of the race season is becoming such a traditionally fun event. And it was all the more this time around because we went in just grateful to be out there and knowing we weren't setting any records on the pacing front.
Also? Huge, huge gratitude to my amazing running team. I'm so proud of everything that they do for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and how much we all support each other out there. Knowing that I'm running to them at the Boardwalk always makes the race so much sweeter. If you're interested in joining us, check us out at this link: http://www.wdwradio.com/running/.
If you've ever doubted for a second that running is a team sport, I'm going to question whether you've ever been out there.
Because the way we got this done this weekend was together.
Now that Wine & Dine is in the morning, it's always hard to find the energy to drag ourselves to Epcot for an afterparty that goes until 1 a.m. (By the end of the party I had legit been awake for 24 hours….) But we're always so glad we did.
Celebrating the incredible weekend with my race team and dear friends was a blast. Hearing Wild Thang blaring on the speakers throughout Epcot was surreal and hilarious. Also?? MORE CRAZY CHARACTERS!!!
If you know me well, you know that When You Wish Upon a Star is special to me because my dad sang it to me every night when I was a baby. It's the reason for the star in my logo. And it's the reason why this meant the world to me.
At one point during the half marathon, we passed a group of runners pushing an amazing athlete in a racing wheelchair. She was fighting the fight that my father lost. I felt a lump in my throat – and at that moment Thunder Road starting playing on my AfterShokz. I had to stop for a moment and get a few tears out. And then we were back on the course.
I'm so grateful for this weekend. For the amazing miles. For friendship. For the fact that my feet carried me when I thought they couldn't. Each and every person who reached out on the course or online over the course of the weekend meant the world to me.
We laugh about Wine & Dine Race Weekend as a sort of quirky event that's been trying to find its identity ever since it stopped being a night race a few years ago. But honestly? I don't care. I don't care that the hodge podge of themes and characters doesn't make sense or that the courses are crazy during all of the construction at Epcot. Because it is consistently one of the most fun weekends of the year – and this year I'm just glad I was able to be a part of it.
Next stop? DOPEY 2020.