I can hardly believe I’m typing this, but after months of training, I finished 13.1 magical miles this weekend at the runDisney Walt Disney World Half Marathon! We had a large group of friends in attendance for one special lady’s 40th birthday – that fell ON race day.
Our experience started the day before the race at the runDisney expo. This is a huge event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Not only do you pick up numbers and shirts here, but there are also rows upon rows of vendors with everything from sparkly tiara headbands (of course I bought that!) to KT tape demonstrations.
On race day, we were up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 AM to nervously get ready (while tip toeing around in the dark). At 4:00 AM we were walking out of Polynesian to catch the monorail to the start line! Now, the race didn’t start until 5:30 AM for the elite runners, so there is plenty of time to sit around after arrival. I loved meeting up with some of my fellow Glass Slipper girls!
After a lot of nervous dancing around and chit chat, it was finally our turn to cross the start line. Fireworks signal the beginning of each corral.
The first few miles were in the dark and easy. We talked, laughed and enjoyed the entertainment along the course – bands, djs, characters, etc. Around day break we were crossing under the Magic Kingdom sign!
The most magical part was approaching the Contemporary Resort and winding through most of Magic Kingdom.
I kept my phone out for most of this part because it was just beautiful and magical. In all of my runDisney 5k and 10k races, I never had the honor of running through Magic Kingdom.
After Magic Kingdom, the course continued by Grand Floridian and Polynesian. There were lots of spectators out by the resorts cheering on the runners. Many had really funny signs that kept our spirits high. After that, there were too many miles of highways. Disney did continue to have bands, music and characters out, but man, that stretch felt loooong. Finally, we reached Epcot for the last bit of the race. While Jess, Courtney and I stuck together for the majority of the 13.1 miles, the rest of the group went at their own individual paces. I loved seeing this pic of Honey pop up.
Feeling better than I would have expected, before I knew it I was hugging necks of some of my favorite Disney characters just steps away from the finish line.
And, 13.1 magical miles later, I was ALL smiles! I did it! This was a real athletic stretch for me, and a goal I made for myself during the year I turned 40 but could not complete. It was surreal to cross the finish line after many months of training on a dear friends 40th instead, and just shy of my own 43rd. I think it was meant to be.
These girls made all the difference in crossing that finish line. We are neighbors and friends and never, ever let another one in our group get discouraged. It was a first for ALL of us, and quite probably a last for me :-)
If you’re curious, we used Hal Higdon’s half marathon walking plan to train and fast walked the vast majority of the course. Disney requires a 16 minute/mile pace for the duration of the 13.1 race and we trained consistently around 13.5 – 14.5 minutes/mile all the way up to the end. We live in a part of town with insane hills, so the flat Disney course was like a dream. We started and finished with a group of run/walkers and our pace stayed lock step with theirs – we’d fall behind then catch up, and so on and so forth. The beautiful thing about runDisney events is that you will see people of all shapes, sizes, athletic abilities, etc. out there giving it their best. It is a judgement free zone and the perfect place to put yourself out there!
We each went our separate ways with our families after the race. After a celebratory cocktail and lunch at the Polynesian, my family took a nice long nap before heading into Magic Kingdom for a ride and ice cream.
Afterwards we hit the hot tub back at Polynesian with Courtney’s family and then retreated to our room for a luxurious room service feast that came in at #2 for my race weekend memories. :-)
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9 thoughts on “runDisney Walt Disney World Half Marathon”
soo so awesome! CONGRATULATIONS!
A huge congratulations to you, Amanda! That’s amazing dedication!
Congrats on all your hard work! That is such an achievement. I love your outfit and I absolutely love your finish line picture. You have so much to be proud of. It looks like the weather was perfect too. Good for you!
Congratulations! You are amazing! 💚
Thank you so much! <3
Congratulations. 13.1 miles is an awesome accomplishment,
Thank you Deborah!
Congrats on your race!
You make running actually look fun hehe :P
Just wondering if you guys ever do the Disney Dining plan. We always go back and forth as to whether or not it is worth it. Maybe you could do a post about it?