2011 Austin Half Marathon Race Recap

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Yesterday started with the usual pre-race fueling: tall glass of water, cup of coffee, and PB & Banana on wheat toast

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I arrived downtown at 6am, one hour prior to the start. I decided not to check a bag since my car was parked only one block from the gear check tent. I later learned I might as well have checked a bag, but we’ll get to that.

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The start line was interesting. No wave start – 18,000 runners and walkers started all at once. It took quite awhile for me to cross the starting mat after the initial fireworks went off. As you can see below, the 9-10 min mile area is where all of the runners from two lanes merged together. I think that’s what the holdup stemmed from.

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I decided to do run/walk intervals, the opposite of what I did at 3m. The first six miles were pretty much all hills, and I was cursing the race directors the whole way. At the starting line, the announcer mentioned the intense winds would be at our back the whole race. He was a big fat liar. LIAR. We were running up hills, into the wind. This pic below is looking back down a hill on South Congress.

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I think this was around mile 3, and it was also when we were running past dozens of restaurants. All I could smell was bagels, pizza, and breakfast tacos. Pure torture. I wanted to throw in the towel and go have a delicious meal.

Combined with the hills was suffocating humidity, warm temperatures, and a whipping wind. Not ideal race conditions.

Once we hit Ben White and were on our way to South First, I was pumped. For a couple miles we’d get a break from the inclines.

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After heading over the 1st Street bridge back into downtown, we made a left on Cesar Chavez. Just past Lamar Blvd, we hit Mile 9 – The Yellow Mile. The crowd support was amazing! They had written inspirational words on the road in chalk to help push us along as we ran. I was focused on just taking it all in, and didn’t snap any pictures of them. The one below is from an Austin Marathon email I received.

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I know I had a smile on my face for the entire length of mile 9, so a BIG thank you to those who cheered us on!

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Another hill, surprise surprise.

At this point, I realized the turn on Enfield was coming up and I’m not gonna lie – I started to freak out a bit.

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THE hill, the one that would destroy whatever was left of my strength, was just around the corner. The one that someone (who had clearly been drinking) decided would be a good idea to place at mile 12 of a half marathon.

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It looked like the runners were seriously running towards the sky. My heart started to race.

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I tried to distract myself by looking at something other than the hill I was about to crawl up.

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Ok yeah, there was no avoiding it.

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I approached it running, hoping I could just focus and get myself up it. Halfway up, my legs felt like lead and I slowed to a walk. Walking up it was the equivalent of climbing stairs, lots and lots of stairs. Nearly everyone around me was walking.

One of the spectators was yelling that it was “all downhill from here” but I knew better. I had studied the elevation chart, and we still had two more hills to tackle before it was over.

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After a grueling two hours and forty-eight minutes, I finally crossed the finish line. I received my medal, grabbed a bottle of water, and made my way to get my finisher’s shirt. I started having flashbacks to the disastrous Wine & Dine finish.

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So as you can see, the Finish Line goes: Medal –> Water –> Gatorade –> Food –> GEAR CHECK –> Finisher’s Shirts.

Well what if you didn’t leave your bag at Gear Check? Too bad. You were stuck waiting in the sea of people who did. It took a good 30 minutes to move half a block. All I wanted to do was stretch out my poor legs, but the crowds did not allow for such a thing. Once I grabbed my shirt, I hightailed it out of there. I was getting really claustrophobic and just wanted to get the eff out of there.

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I’ve done a lot of complaining on Facebook, Twitter, and text about the race course. HOWEVER, not once did I say I would never do this race again. That wouldn’t be true.

I 100% plan on running this race next year. It was a very well run event, great swag bags & expo, and although it was challenging, the course really was a fun run through Austin. I’ll be back, and I’m dragging Carly with me!

2011 3M Half Marathon Race Recap

The coffeepot was pre-programmed to brew this morning at 3:15. I crawled out of bed just after 3:30, grabbed a large bottle of Smart Water, and poured myself a cup of coffee. And then I got back in bed and pondered how I insane I am for waking up so early to go run and inflict pain upon myself. After the coffee hit me, I remembered how much I enjoyed racing and began gathering all of my necessities.

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I packed a peanut butter and banana sandwich in a Ziploc bag, and then threw a few extra Ziplocs in my gear check bag. (I ended up putting my cell phone in one, and my camera in the other).

Speaking of the camera, it completely failed me today. I tried to take a photo of the starting line this morning, standing completely still and it came out blurry. Eight times. I was so angry I decided I wouldn’t take any pictures while I was running either. If standing still can’t produce a good shot, action photos will only come out worse. Therefore, this will be the most photo-less race recap ever.

I decided last night I was going to wear UA compression capris with a pair of Tempos over them. Then this morning when I saw the 95% humidity at 6am, I decided to wear only the Tempos. This would have been fine, if I had remembered to use Body Glide. Enough said.

I also decided to race in my compression socks, rather than regular UA heat gear socks & compression sleeves. The foot part of the sock is actually A LOT thicker than the socks I usually wear, and by mile five my feet were feeling incredibly cramped in my shoes. I ended up with terrible blisters.

Parking for the race was abundant, which is always a plus. I dropped my bag at gear check, and made my way to the starting line.

It was a sold out race, capped at 5,750. The course was never crowded, and I really enjoyed that aspect. Water was available at every two miles, and Powerade (in addition to water) every four. I would have appreciated Powerade at all of the water stops, and water stops at every mile. Easy fix: run with my own next time.

The left earbud on my headphones decided not to work today, so that was pretty annoying. All of the songs sounded weird. Ah, first world problems.

Usually when I’m racing, I’ll run a majority of the mile and then walk for a minute or so to recover, then repeat. Today I completely forgot about my routine and ended up running the first seven miles straight. Which is “hooray!” because I’ve never ran seven miles without taking a walk break before, but also “you’re an idiot!” because I completely burned myself out in the first half of the race. Rookie mistake. Grr.

Here are my splits:

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One minute slower than Rock n Roll San Antonio, but still faster than Wine & Dine. I walked most of miles 11-13, but really picked it up at 12.5. I was running a 10-10:30 pace (best pace 7:35) right past the mile 13 marker, and crossed the finish line at 9:25 pace. I was trying to at least to tie my San Antonio time, but I picked up the speed too late. If I had started speeding up considerably once I hit mile 12, I could have done it. Ugh.

This “fast, downhill race” was incredibly tough for me. It was 64 degrees and 87& humidity at the starting line, and it only got warmer. Around mile ten, the sun came out and further compounded the miserable conditions. My lackluster training didn’t help the situation either. I couldn’t have expected to PR coming into a half with my most recent “long run” being only 6 miles.

Overall, I really enjoyed the race and I look forward to doing it again next year – properly trained, of course!

2010 Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot Race Recap

This race was an interesting one.

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1. The temperature at the start was 80 degrees and HUMID. What happened to the cold front & 38 degree morning we were supposed to get?!IMG_0477

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2. I left my water bottle at home, and couldn’t find water to drink before the start. There were cases & cases of it behind the registration table and at a couple stands, but none for the runners/walkers. When I asked a volunteer for one of their bottles I was told “sorry honey, those are for the employees. They have some for the runners somewhere, but I have no idea where.” And with that, she turned her back to me. At this point, I had already done two laps around the place with no luck.

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3. The start line was an absolute disaster. It cost extra to run the timed race, and us timed runners all had blue bibs. When it was time to line up at the start (in the Timed Runners corral), it was basically a free-for-all. We were surrounded on all sides by bibs which were not blue. I understand this is more of a mild race than a half marathon, but how does it make sense that the people who paid more have to bob and weave around the walkers and slower runners? If you want to save a few bucks, please at least line up where you are supposed to. It was pretty frustrating.

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4. Let’s talk about the course, shall we? The map of where we were supposed to run was different than the course we actually ran. Apparently at one intersection, the runners were supposed to go left, but the APD motorcycle brigade brought them right instead. The pacer car had correctly gone left, but at this point the rest of the runners were just following the crowd – in the wrong direction. The result? The total mileage for the race came up at just over 4.5 miles.

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We brought Bo along with us to the race. He a giant ball of energy, and he loves to run when he is surrounded by people. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity really got to him that morning. He (like a runner!) started off way too fast, and dragged us through our first mile in nine & a half minutes. After that though, his pace dropped considerably. Just after we hit the mile 2 marker, we were slowed to a walk. I didn’t mind it though because it was really hot and I couldn’t seem to rehydrate enough (that bottle of water pre-race probably would have helped…) to recover. We took a mini-break at every water stop so Bo could rehydrate also

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Turkey legs!! 🙂

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Our official chip time was 1:18:15. We were walking slowwww haha. Oh well, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition so I’m glad we all finished together 🙂 After we were done, Bo cooled off in the lake

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Overall, we had a great time. I just hope the race next year is more organized!

2010 Rock n Roll San Antonio 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Saturday morning I made the drive down to San Antonio to hit the Expo (aka the money sucker). I arrived at the Alamodome just before 11, and the crowds weren’t too bad yet, I will say, however, I was less than thrilled about paying $10 to park. I’m sure if I was more familiar with the area I could have found somewhere cheaper. I mean, we’re paying enough money to participate in the race – I don’t think we should be charged to pick up our race packet!

 

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The Expo was absolutely massive; it totally blew the one at Disney Wine & Dine out of the water. Pretty much anything you could ever want or need before a race was being sold there. And, most importantly, there was plenty of freebies! You best believe I stocked up on the free stuff after I was robbed for parking 🙂

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Of course, I didn’t have the willpower to get out of there without buying something. I invested in these guys:

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I had them in my hand, and then put them back about three times because 1) I didn’t want to spend the money on them and 2) the line was ridiculously long. I was planning on buying these eventually anyway, so I rationalized it like this: they were 20% off at the Expo AND I wouldn’t have to pay shipping. Essentially I would be saving about $20. I’m so glad I did, because they helped immensely on the 90 minute drive home following the race!

After I left the Expo, I met up with my friend who I was staying with for lunch, and then we did a quick Target run so I could grab bread/peanut butter/bananas for my pre-race breakfast. Of course in the rushed morning I managed to leave all my supplies at home.

At 6, I headed to Chris Madrid’s to meet up with a few Operation Jack supporters, as well as founder Sam Felsenfeld. Since I had a chicken sandwich for lunch, I wasn’t in a burger mood which was unfortunate since their burgers are extremely popular. I ordered some nachos, which were just okay, but the company was great 🙂 Back to my friend’s house I went, and I was in bed by 9:30.

The alarm went off at 2:45, and I immediately snoozed it and went back to sleep. Carly texted me just after 3 to make sure I was up, and then I decided it would be best to get out of bed and get moving! I had breakfast and started getting my hydration on with a 33oz bottle of water.  I dressed in a red tech shirt, UA compression capris, and a throwaway fleece.

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I got to the satellite parking lot super early, as you can see above. The shuttles to the start line began at 4, but I wanted to make sure I got there early enough so I wouldn’t have to wait in line. It was 56, which seems fairly bearable but there was a wind whipping around that made it feel much, much chillier.

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The shuttle ride to the start took about 15 minutes, not too bad. I met up with a few gals from Twitter: Marci, Megan, and Cassie. Here’s a photo from Marci’s phone of us livin’ it up in Corral 26 (and actually the only pic I have of me on race day!) Seriously, I am a midget.

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I was initially in Corral 20 but I moved back so we could all hang out pre-race. Smart move, considering the first corral was released at 7:15 and we didn’t even cross the start line until 8:02. We kept each other company!

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We ran past the Alamo! I’m pretty proud of this picture because I didn’t realize it was there until I had passed it so I tossed my camera over my shoulder and snapped a pic. Not bad, right?

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Somewhere after this point, I want to say probably near the end of mile 8, I decided it would be a good idea to stop to hit the port-o-potty. I figured I would have to stop eventually, so might as well get it out of the way now. Big mistake. This added a little over 5 minutes to my time. And THEN when I tried to start running again, my legs just weren’t having it. They were rebelling hardcore, and they felt like lead.

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Heading towards the Alamodome for the second time…

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So just when you are breathing a sigh of relief when you see the mile 13 sign, you see this up ahead of you:

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Yes, that’s an uphill finish. Are. You. Kidding. Me.

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Annnd the finish line!

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And the medal? Oh yes, it’s beautiful. It’s sparkly and glittery and I love it.

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Here are my splits:

Mile 1 11:12

Mile 2 11:36

Mile 3 11:58

Mile 4 11:37

Mile 5 12:23 <—hill!

Mile 6 11:58

Mile 7 12:12

Mile 8 11:12

Mile 9 13:04 <—here’s where the wheels fell off

Mile 10 12:39

Mile 11 13:15

Mile 12 13:23

Mile 13 13:25

Mile .1 1:03

I finished in 2:47, a 25 minute PR – hell yes! Would I have been more pleased with 2:42 (or less) had I not stopped at the restroom? Of course. But there was no avoiding that. A PR is a PR, and I’ll take it! Plus, it makes it easier to PR in my next race 😉

Post-race, in order to get your bag from gear check you had to walk down one large flight of stairs and then up another. Just what we were all in the mood for, stair climbing. I contemplated having my free celebratory beer after the race, but honestly I was ready to get the hell home. I took the shuttle back to my car, slipped on my compression socks, and spent the 90 minute drive home overcome by a little thing called runner’s high. Gotta love it 🙂

Half marathon number two is officially in the books, and it’s time to start training for the third!

2010 IBM Uptown Classic 10k Race Recap

Packet pickup was quick and painless. I headed over to Amplify Credit Union on Friday after work and received this:

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Dare I say the contents of the bag were better than what we got at the Wine & Dine 1/2? Yes, that is 100% correct. Swag bag contents aren’t incredibly important, but I was surprised that this small race gave its runners more than a Disney one. Especially if you think of it like this: $35 10k versus $135 1/2 marathon. A little weird.

I woke up at 5am this morning, and had a cup of coffee while I got ready. The road right near the start would be closing at 7 so I wanted to get there before then, even if it meant standing around until the 8am start.

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Once I had parked, I had a Lemon Zest Luna Bar, drank some water, and did a little bit of light stretching. After I pinned my race bib to my shirt, I made my way to the start.

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Thank god they had a bouncy house, they are my favorite 😉

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The race had either 2000 or 3000 runners; the announcer said both numbers but I’m not sure which was accurate. Either way, the average runner age was 39, which I thought was pretty interesting. It’s great that people stay active as they get older because some people just write it off as “Well, I’m old so I can’t run anymore or stay in shape”.

Here’s a few pics from the course:

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Oh why hello there LV…

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After running through the Domain, the rest of the course was pretty boring. We basically ran the perimeter of the IBM complex and on a few roads. Luckily my iPod playlist kicked ass and really powered me through the miles.

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In the home stretch!!

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I crossed the finish line at 1:13:20. I am ecstatic with my time, considering I haven’t put in a single mile since the half. I felt amazing as I ran through the finish chute and the announcer called out my name. Loved it 🙂

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I grabbed a chocolate Muscle Milk Light and I’ve got to say – it was pretty damn tasty. I heard someone complaining that it was chunky, but the people handing them out instructed you to shake it well before opening. Apparently he wasn’t in the mood to follow directions. Another plus: Muscle Milk = milk-free. That’s a win in my book!

The race directors were really on top of things – they already were posting runners’ times! I appreciated that, except my page wasn’t posted yet. I had a rough idea from my Garmin, so I figured I would just check the website later.

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After I finished stretching, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait in line for a massage. It was already kind of long, and I was in the mood to get the hell outta there.

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All in all, I really enjoyed the race. The course was decent, the weather was gorgeous, my iPod playlist kicked ass – I was in the zone 🙂

After I got home, it was time for a (of course) cocktail!

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Now I’m off to take care of some important business: FOOTBALL!

Happy Sunday!

Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

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Well, first things first: we finished our first 1/2 marathon!! When I initially stumbled across the race website back in May, I knew we were meant to run it. Our wine nights, whether in person or via Skype, are frequent. We love to cook and enjoy delicious food. The Wine & Dine 1/2 was calling our name!

We trained separately for five months, her in Florida and I in Texas, and we met up in Orlando on October 1, 2010. Our first stop? The Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.

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Obviously since neither of us had done a race this large before, we had never experienced an Expo. Needless to say, our wallets were not pleased by the time we dragged ourselves out of there.

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The Expo was pretty well organized, and there was minimal chaos. It might have helped that we showed up the first day, only one hour after it opened. You pick up your number, check your D-Tag, and pick up your swag bag (not impressed with the contents, I will say though). Quick and painless!

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After picking up all of our race supplies, we grabbed a glass of Prosecco and began wandering around. We both invested in iFitness belts, a Wine & Dine t-shirt and wine glass, and I purchased a BondiBand. We also saw Jeff Galloway speaking on stage about running the race using the Galloway Method.

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That evening we headed to Café Tu Tu Tango for dinner and drinks, followed by a trip to a dueling piano bar and a nearby dance hall. Probably not the best pre-race day lineup, but the race wasn’t until 10pm the next night. Vacation mode was in full-swing!

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Saturday was fairly uneventful, as we rested up for the big night! Lots of eating, napping, and watching tv. Around 5:30pm, we began getting ready:

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and headed to the food court for a pre-race snack: almond butter & bananas on whole wheat toast:

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We boarded the bus at 6:30 to head over to the start line. In hindsight, I probably should have brought this food with me. It was WAY too early to eat that, with a 10pm start time. We were fully stocked with Gu, but something substantial closer to the race would have been much more beneficial.

Here we are at the pre-race party:

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Around 9:45 we were all herded towards the starting line. We were in Corral C, but the race didn’t start in waves, which I thought was a little odd. Everyone started at once, and it made certain stretches of the race really cramped.

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And we’re off!

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This is what a lot of the race looked like, extremely dark and on back roads. I know there is only so much we can run in the parks, but the rest of the course was pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong though, there was a bit of entertainment:

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And after running all of this:

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… it was a HUGE relief it was to see this:

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After running through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and a couple hotels, we were about to cross the finish line in Epcot – thank god!!

We finished in 3:12. We walked probably about 50% of it, but we were completely okay with that. Our goal was to finish, and that’s exactly what we did 🙂

After crossing the finish line, we were handed a bag with a banana, muffin, granola bar, etc. in it. Then we got in line to receive our medals, and headed to pickup our bag from bag check. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

We were all funneled through four separate doors, which we assumed would lead us to four separate lines for bag pickup. This was not the case; the four doors emptied out into one large building, which had little to no airflow. Cramming hundreds of hot, sweaty runners into a small confined area only minutes after finishing a half marathon? Massive fail. People were passing out left and right. Disney definitely dropped the ball here, although it was pretty surprising since they put on numerous other endurance events throughout the year.

After grabbing our bag, we entered the Finish Line Party. Basically, it was the Food & Wine Festival setup. This party was open to the 11,000 runners, plus family/friends of the runners who purchased tickets for it (at $35, if anyone is curious). Now imagine all of those people in line at 25-30 food/drink kiosks. Pure pandemonium. The last thing you want to do after running a half is stand in line waiting for food. Especially when you enter the party with only about an hour to enjoy to it! We hit the champagne kiosk,  which had a bearable line. Then we went to Puerto Rico for frozen mojitos, and Carly had some soup. We snagged a spot on the steps of the Mexico ride, and then we decided we needed to leave ASAP. After grabbing a beer from the 15 Beers for 15 Years kiosk, we headed towards the exit.

A place where I expected Disney to fail was the transportation back to our hotel, since there were SOO many people at Epcot. However, we were able to board a bus right after we arrived at our bus stop. We arrived at our hotel, and then it was time for this:

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Happiness 🙂

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Overall, we had a GREAT time! I mean, we finished our first half marathon together – how awesome is that! Would we run this race again? Definitely. The logistics at the bag pickup/finish line party need to be worked out on Disney’s end, but it was the Inaugural year so we can’t complain too much.

Hopefully we’ll be back for the 2011 race!

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