RunDisney Wine and Dine Race Weekend 2023 has officially come and gone but we are still reeling with excitement and pride here at Mira Manor. A lot of prep and training goes into a race weekend and we always tell people that a Race-cation is much different than a typical Disney Vacation but is just as fun – only way more exhausting lol!
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When they announced the race themes just a few weeks before registration opened I knew I wanted to redeem my failed attempt at the Disney Princess Half Marathon when I saw that the W&D Half Marathon theme was Encanto, one of my favorites. I had also learned a lesson that while I am still getting to the bottom of some health issues, I shouldn’t push myself three days in a row for the challenge like last time BUT there was no way I could skip out on the Alice in Wonderland-themed 5K. So my goal was to walk the 5k on Friday and redeem my half marathon on Sunday. When I shared this plan with two of my friends they were both so supportive and encouraging and the next thing I knew they wanted to do the 5k too!
This was our first time having friends accompany us on our crazy adventure and this crazy adventure started way back in March of 2023 at registration time. A lot of people say the hardest thing about a Disney race weekend is the registration – if you can get through that you can get through anything. It was a tense morning while all 4 of us were signing in and waiting in the queue of over an hour. Unfortunately, we all got in at different times and some races were already sold out so we just had to wing it. Our goals were that all the ladies would do the 5k together, Mark and our 2 friends were going to do the 10K as well and myself and Mark would do the Half Marathon allowing Mark to do the challenge (10k&Half) and we would all be doing an assortment of 2 races each. However, by the time Mark and I were able to register – our friends had managed to get the 5k and only one of them got in the 10k and Mark and I could only get the Half Marathon because everything else was sold out – thanks Figment for the chaos LOL! I was so sad that I missed out on the 5K since it was my idea and my favorite theme… but that sadness lasted only a split second when I realized I have always wanted to run for a charity so I started looking for charity bibs.
RunDisney 5K’s are one of the hardest to get into – they sell out so quickly because entire families and younger children can participate with no race time limit requirements. They can also be one of the hardest races to find charity bibs available due to the same reasons. I was excited to come across Team RMHC of Central Georgia – they had a $500 fundraising goal with a $250 entry fee bringing my total to raise to $750. Because of all of your support I was proud to raise $800 that contributed to the $80,000 raised overall by all participants for Wine and Dine race weekend 2023!! I absolutely loved going this route and Mark and I both hope to continue doing charity bibs in the future.
The next step to any race weekend after registration is knowing which days you will be running – then jumping on a hotel reservation immediately before those are gone too!! Because the registration had been such a fiasco and we knew we needed to go to the Expo on the first day which is the day before our first race (5K) we were in for the long haul and needed a resort reservation for Thursday – Monday… and guess what… most of those were already gone too!! Mark worked his magic and got us a booking for Art of Animation – one of the last Lion King Family Suites… sheeww that was close but it was official. We had the races and the hotel booked – now the “easy” part – Training!!
Once again I followed the Jeff Galloway RunDisney training plan that is listed on the RunDisney website and followed the 19-week Half Marathon training plan. I was super proud of myself for sticking to the plan and never missing a run – I even started early to allow myself time in case of injury or illness (remember last year’s broken toe UGH) but luckily things went really well and I even did a bonus 10 mile run before I tapered down for race day.
Like most things, the time between March and November seemed to drag on and on, and then the next thing I knew it was here! We headed to the Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports that Thursday morning to collect our bibs and shirts that come with your race registration. I popped into a meet and greet with Team RMHC and met some of the wonderful organizers and heard stories of kids and families in need that once again made me so proud to have helped this charity – they gave us snacks and a swag bag and filled my heart to the brim with good feelings. Then we joined the queue for the official RunDisney Race Merchandise and had a couple of Figment-themed beers and hung out until closer to our 3 PM check-in time.
I bought my Vintage Alice in Wonderland shirt from Etsy!
Art of Animation is only a 3-minute drive down the road from ESPN so we headed straight there and checked in to our Lion King Suite. Don’t worry – I will be giving this lovely resort a blog post all of its own very soon! Once we got settled in our suite we got cleaned up and headed to Disney Springs for a nice carb-load dinner at Terralina Crafted Italian and tried to get to bed before 9 PM because we had a 3 AM wake-up call for the Alice in Wonderland 5K the next day!!
When the alarm goes off at 3 AM you instantly re-evaluate all your life choices. But once you put on your race outfit or costume and race bib and head to the buses your adrenaline and excitement take over. Looking around at all of the creative costumes, groups of friends, couples, and families spending time together, it clicks again why you put yourself through it.
The 5K was lovely and a great way to honor the recent passing of our girl, Alice. We dressed with nods to the Mad Hatter, the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar, and myself as Alice holding my Cheshire Cat under my arm. We started the race in the last corral and took our time walking the course and having fun with the RunDisney photographers along the way. Our Caterpillar got a lot of attention and I couldn’t stop laughing – such a good memory. The 5K distance is the only race of the weekends that is not timed with the 16:00 min per mile pace and there is no fear of being swept as long as you finish within reason. We were done and back to our room by 8 AM – ordered breakfast in bed and hung out for a bit before spending the rest of the day eating and drinking around The World Showcase in Epcot. To say we got silly and delirious by the end of the day would be an understatement. We headed to bed by 8 PM and only one of us had to get up at 3AM again to complete the 10k and she did it – I was so impressed because I was exhausted for her!
I bought my custom Alice in Wonderland Minnie Ears on Etsy!
The 10K theme was Beauty and the Beast and it was LIT! As much as I would have loved to have gotten that medal and been there to support my friend I was glad to not have such an early morning and be able to relax before my Half Marathon the next day. The weather didn’t play along making it warm enough for a pool day so while she relaxed. The three of us did some skyliner resort hopping for some shopping and tried drinks and food at The Caribbean Beach Resort, The Rivera Resort, and Pop Century. Later that afternoon we scooped up our 10K’er and headed back to Disney Springs for dinner at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grille. Then it was back to the resort to turn in early.. or at least try… it’s impossible to sleep the night before a big race and to make things worse we had the worry of alarms not going off due to the Daylight Savings time change.
The morning of the Half Marathon was a groggy one – neither of us slept very well and ended up getting up long before our alarms went off. It gave us less anxiety to just arrive early and wait. Mark was in corral A for the very first time ever so he took an earlier bus than I did because I was once again in the last corral of E for this race. The Half Marathon requires a minimum pace of 16:00 min per mile and that is tracked by the final two runners to cross the start line after everyone else starts – they refer to them as the balloon ladies. If you fall too far behind the “balloon ladies” the bikers will sweep you from the course, put you on a bus, and escort you back to the finish line and you are considered DNF. This is what I did during the February Princess Half Marathon after I had 2 different medical emergencies on the course and I removed myself when I lost my vision and couldn’t continue. It was traumatic and scary, to say the least, but that is why redeeming it this time around was so important to me. After several doctor visits, I continued to train and take care of myself in hopes of a different outcome. Mark went out in the very first wave of Corral A and I went out in the very first wave of runners in Corral E, almost a full hour after he started.
Mark had a wonderful race! He has done one full Marathon and this was his 11th Half Marathon!! He took his time, had fun, and stopped for every character he could at my request! Knowing I am a slower runner that is dealing with unknown health issues and because I was starting in the last corral with only minutes ahead of the “balloon ladies” it was not going to be an option for me to stop for the fun stuff, but at this point, I was only there to prove to myself that I could achieve this goal and that I am indeed capable of doing anything I set my mind to. I stayed focused, stuck to my intervals of running/walking that I had trained, drank water at every water stop, and fueled my body with something salty or sweet every two miles. I broke down crying at mile 10 because I knew at that point I was definitely going to finish with no balloons in sight! I cried just writing that sentence!! It was such a big boost to my self-confidence and morale for life at this point. It’s been such a struggle and here I was, finally doing it! I texted Mark once I was officially two miles out and said with confidence that I was going to make it. He immediately got in line to buy me a glass of champagne to meet me at the finish line. As I approached the shoot to the finish line, out of all the hundreds of spectators, somehow I was able to hear and see my friends yelling my name and I just about lost it. To have people cheering you at the end is incredible but when you actually know and love them it is indescribable. I had missed this experience before, so it will forever be ingrained in my mind and I am so thankful for my support team.
Mark bought his Bruno shirt on Amazon!
We enjoyed a drink at the finish line then headed back to the resort to soak in the tub and take a nap. I absolutely swear by these muscle recovery bath bombs and it is what gives me the recovery to keep moving for the rest of the day.
I bought my custom Encanto Minnie Ears on Etsy!
The wine and dine race weekend is the only race weekend that has an after-party specifically for the half marathon and challenge runners and other guests can buy a party ticket to accompany their runners. We had never done this weekend or event before and had no real expectations. The ticket holders can enter as early as 5 PM but the exclusive party is from 10 PM to 1 AM and is closed to the public at 9 PM. They give you a wristband band and you have access to special character meet and greets that are not normally at the parks, a DJ Dance Party near Guardians of the Galaxy and ride access to all the main attractions with little to no wait times – especially the later you can stay. They did have an exclusive party drink and Wine and Dine Pin however both of these items ran out almost right away. Many of the wine and dine booths for the festival were also open late giving us plenty of options to refuel ourselves after a very long and exciting day.
Mark and I both bought our I am Not Fast Baymax shirts on Amazon, my Alice in Wonderland Tye Dye came from Amazon, and my Moana Food and Wine and I really wanna talk about Bruno shirts came from Etsy!
I will hold on to these accomplishments and these memories for a lifetime. I am so grateful and just can’t wait for the next adventure!
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