Two weeks ago I flew across the country to run my first half marathon at Walt Disney World. After 6 months of excitement leading up to the race and many weeks of seemingly constant training runs, I crossed the finish line with a better time than expected and felt great doing it.
As a big fan of Disney Parks, I knew this was the perfect first race to keep me alert and motivated through 13.1 miles, with entertainment every mile and 2 big milestones to look forward to: running through Magic Kingdom around the halfway point, and finishing at EPCOT. I was a bit nervous in the weeks leading up to the race because of a knee injury, but it turned out to not be a problem at all when race day came.
I was really surprised at the end that everything had gone so well, and then I realized that’s what all the training was for. It’s not like I decided to take a shot in the dark and find out if I could run a half; I had already pretty much done it in training. The more impressive thing was waking up at 3am Eastern (earlier than I usually go to bed Pacific time) two mornings in a row for this madness.
Speaking of which, the scale of runDisney races is impressive, with 25,000 runners in both the half and full marathon, and an additional 10,000 in the Family 5K (which I also did to run even more in the parks).
I’m already registered or hoping to register for a number of other races this year, including the Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll SF Half, Bay to Breakers, WIPRO SF Half, Big Sur Half, and of course the Disneyland Half (and inaugural 10K, together making the Dumbo Double Dare). But it’s not all coasting for those, as I have 3 more goals in mind for this year: learn to toe strike, be able to tackle hills without total exhaustion (SF Halves, I’m looking at you), and improve my time. As I ran this half with 1 minute of walking for every 4 or so minutes of running, most of my time improvement will probably come from attempting to run continuously for longer periods of time.
The big question I’ve been asking myself is whether I want to try a full marathon at WDW next year, or even the Goofy Challenge (half marathon and full marathon in 2 days). It was certainly on my mind a lot after seeing so many people walking around with their fancy Marathon and Goofy medals. For now I’m planning to focus on improving my half marathon abilities, which should keep me well-occupied.