Running: It's actually more expensive than therapy
In honor of Princess Half Marathon weekend coming up I wanted to write a post about runDisney and give some tips so you have have a magical weekend.
Currently Disney World has 4 race weekends. Sadly Disney Land has cancelled their events as of 2018. Disney World Paris has their marathon weekend in September.
These events are extremely popular and do sell out. Make sure to register early and also make your travel arrangements when you do.
You can volunteer
Traveling with a group of non-runners? They can be part of the experience by volunteering. Volunteers are needed for things like packet pickup, handing out medals and food, water stop help, and more. Volunteering with get you a park pass also so that is a huge bonus. These spots fill up quickly though so register as soon as possible.
Be prepared to spend money
These races are expensive. The 5ks are around $85, 10ks about $125, the half marathons and full is close to $200, the Dopey Challenge for next year is $590. This only includes the races remember you still need lodging, food, transportation, park tickets if interested (runDisney registration does not include park tickets), and of course merchandise from the expo.
Everything is spread out
Disney is a huge property as you know so nothing is close together. The expos isn't close and usually there's a long walk to the starting line. I would probably recommend staying on property to take advantage of the shuttles. This can alleviate some stress out of your morning.
The expo/packet pickup
The expo is huge and wonderful. There is so much merchandise runDisney related and just running related in general. Make sure to give yourself ample time to enjoy all of it. Packet pickup must be done at the expo there is nothing on race morning. Also, you must pickup your own bib no one can pick it up for you and show proof of ID. Most races are more relaxed about this but not runDisney. It protects you from race bandits.
The early wake up call
Start times usually are at 5:30 am for these runs because they want runners out before the park opens to guests. They also recommend coming to your corral over an hour before at 4:30 am because they are crowded. With this, you're looking at waking up around 3:00 am! That's crazy early so make sure you do what you need to get enough sleep the night before.
If you expect to run in a beginning corral for the half or full, you need to submit proof of time before the deadline. If you fail to do that, you will be placed in the last corral which can be a bummer if you are a faster runner because it is crowded.
Disney warns you that you must keep a 16:00 minute mile pace or you will be swept and will not be able to finish the race. They do this for safety reasons and not to scare you but consider this before signing up.
Costumes are welcomed at this race. In fact, most people will be dressed is some sort of themed outfit. If you love dressing up for a race, you will not feel alone here.
Character stops may have long lines
Taking a picture with your favorite character can be the best part of a race, but keep in mind some of these have long waiting times so have a game plan going in.
The weather in Florida in the winter/fall can be tricky to say the least. It can be hot/humid, or in the low 50s. It also can change from one day to the next so you never really know until a few days out. Check the weather before you leave and bring plenty of backup clothes just in case things change. Be advised that they can cancel the race due to cases of extreme weather and not issue refunds, but this is extremely rare and most races have the same policy.
You get a beautiful finisher medal for each race you finish and a bonus challenge medal if you participated. The shirts are also very nice and high quality. They usually mail age group awards out to you after which are usually nice plaques.
The courses may be a let down if you are not prepared. You actually do a lot of highway running before making your way into the parks.
Most of all take some time to experience the magic of the races and the weekend. You earned it!
February 9th-10th 2019 was the Daytona Beach Half Marathon weekend. Things were a bit different this year. They added a night race on Saturday called the Beachin' it 5k on the beach near the Landshark bar with two opportunities for a challenge with the Dual 5k Challenge (Beachin' it 5k then the Lap the track 5k on Sunday) and the Speedway Challenge (5k Saturday night then the half marathon on Sunday). Last year I ran the lap the track 5k, but this year I wanted to do the challenge and a half marathon so I signed up for the Speedway Challenge.
Beachin' It 5k Recap
I went into the 5k race not wanting to go all out and save some energy for the half. I wanted this to be more of a fun run (plus my speed is not 100%). The night started out cold and windy with a chance of rain (luckily that held off). The first half of the race was pretty nice I made sure not to go fast at all (I didn't even bring my watch). The second half at the turnaround changed. We ran into the wind and it was the toughest I had ever felt in a race (and probably the hardest beach run of my life haha). I wasn't going fast but it was still an effort. I looked at the clock at the finish and I'm pretty sure it was one of my worst 5k times ever lol.
It really was super fun though and the party after was a great addition. It was the first time they put together this race and it ran so smoothly. I really enjoyed it.
Daytona Beach Half Marathon Recap
My initial plan was to run each mile around a 7:00 pace which is at the faster end of my long run training range. Parking was at One Daytona and the start was on the Speedway. We had to walk over the pedestrian bridge to the start so if you run this race make sure you allow time to walk to the start. During this walk there were plenty of restroom opportunities with no wait! That was a great bonus.
Before we lined up on the start I looked around and got so excited for the race to begin. The views were amazing I wish I took my phone out to take some pictures but I was worried about it not fitting back in my armband.
Miles 1-3 7:03, 7:14, 7:10
After the pre-race announcements we were off! Miles 1-3 ish were on the Daytona Speedway. It always amazes me when I get to run on it it's just a special feeling. The first mile was out of the wind and felt easy like I could have kept going at that pace forever then it changed after the first mile into the wind.
Miles 4-6 7:21, 7:14, 7:32
After the Speedway we made a right out into Daytona. This half of the race was all into the wind which made it pretty challenging but that's just a risk you take with a winter race. I kept glancing at my watch and knew my times were slower than I wanted but I also didn't want to push myself too hard for a training run.
Miles 7-9 7:55, 7:43 , 7:32
This is when things got real. Mile 7 I believe had the International Speedway Bridge. I really thought I would have to walk up it it was so difficult haha. I've driven over this bridge but never realized how steep it is. I looked at my watch and my current pace was well over 8:00 but I sprinted the downhill to get it in the 6:00 range to even it out. After the bridge we made our way to the beach. I like running on the beach. It only lasted less than half a mile probably (I'm not sure exactly) and the sand was soft. I didn't mind this part because it's the beach what can you expect.
Miles 10-13 7:36, 7:25, 7:28, 7:25
I was hopeful that I would see some relief from the wind on the back part of the race. I was right too. I felt like I wasn't going really fast and was pleasantly surprised to see my splits. I'm glad I held on to my pace during this pace even if it wasn't my planned pace.
Mile .30 7:12
This ran a little long at 13.30 miles but I'm fine with that. We finished at Victory Lane in One Daytona then proceeded to the after party which was filled with local vendors and very fun!
Time: 1:38:41 13.30 miles
Overall 31 out 736
Female 6 out of 382
Female 30-34 2nd out of 31
This race was great. It seemed even better organized than last year. Would I do this race again? Absolutely. Would I do the challenge again? I sure would.
A+ for the bling. Pictured below is the medal for the night 5k, half marathon medal, huge challenge medal, beach towel for half, and a challenge hat. The soft t shirts were also a hit.