Somehow in addition to training for my 1st half marathon, I also was in charge of planning a trip to Disney for 7 people (+1 who joined us later). Although I am undoubtedly the “Disney expert” in my family, it’s hard to make decisions for so many people. Somehow it all happened. The half marathon is a Saturday morning race. Since this was January, I wanted to ensure that bad weather wouldn’t prevent me from running. So we left NY early on Thursday morning. The crew included my family of 5 plus my parents. We managed to arrive safely at the Polynesian after a quick grocery stop to insure we had plenty of race-friendly snacks (Cliff bars, gatorade, water, etc.). Our rooms weren’t ready so we headed off to the parks. Limiting your pre-race activity is slightly unrealistic when you take 3 little kids to Disney!!!

We tried for an early bedtime and 2 of my 3 were up by 5:30am on Friday. Normally this would annoy me but I considered it good preparation for my 3am wake-up for the race the next day. I was very grateful that we were staying Club Level so I could take the kids off to the lounge for some pre-breakfast snacks while watching Disney Channel and let Tom and Nathaniel sleep in a bit. We spent the morning at the parks and then I headed off to Wide World of Sports Complex to pick up my race packet.

I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Disney person. I was not prepared for the hugeness that is the Wide World of Sports. I really had no idea! And the mass of people there to pick up their race packets! It was exciting and inspiring!!! I think most people run a 5k or a 10k before venturing into a half marathon. Not me! This was my first race ever and the Expo was overwhelming and wonderful. There were 2 indoor stadium-type buildings involved. The first building had the race packet with your shoe tag (for timing purposes so that when you cross the start line 30+ minutes after the elite runners, nobody adds that 30 minutes to your race time) and your race number. I didn’t realize I would need safety pins for my number (luckily one of the booths had some or it might have been an issue!). I had to test my shoe tag to make sure it was working. I found a cute 1/2 marathon t-shirt that I purchased for way too much $$$. I headed over to the 2nd building to pick-up my t-shirt. I will say that Disney makes nice shirts. They were long-sleeved tech material. The half marathon medal is Donald Duck so the shirts had Donald on them. A very nice souvenir! I did buy a headband (I had made the mistake of getting my hair cut the week before the race and the front of my hair wouldn’t stay in a ponytail holder anymore – I recommend against last minute haircuts unless you already have short hair!). I choose the brightest headband I could find. Afterall if I’m going to run slowly, I might as well look cool! I honestly could have spent hours there but realized that I had left my husband and parents with 3 kids. All too soon I was back on the bus to the Polynesian.

That night we had dinner reservations at Kona Cafe – a Polynesian themed restaurant. Not the ideal place for carb loading but they did have a pasta dish that was quite tasty. The yummy pepper-crusted tuna would have to wait for another trip! I tried to get the kids to bed early but it’s hard to do when they are excited to be at Disney. I probably fell asleep before they did. My youngest did me a favor by waking up at 3:15am, before the alarm went off. I gave him my spot in bed and he went right back to sleep. I had put out my clothes for race day the night before (including pinning my number to my shirt) and dressed in the bathroom.

I put a few Cliff bars in my waist pack and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade before heading up to the Club Lounge to see what Disney had left us. I grabbed a banana and some vile coffee before heading to the monorail. I met a few fellow insane people in the lounge.

Part of the problem with a first race is that you really have no idea how the flow works. Add to that the fact that I choose a Disney race with 20,000-ish participants and it was a bit intimidating. Luckily everyone I met was incredibly nice and helpful. I figured out bag check ( and even checked my $6 “throw away” fleece instead of keeping it. My children were horrified that I would consider throwing away a perfectly nice fleece! It was quite chilly that morning but downright balmy compared to reports from 2010.

I made my way to my corral (letter F which means they expected me to be slow) and met some other new runners. Here’s me in the corral:

The general feeling was that of excitement, especially when the starts began. We had a ways to wait but enjoyed the starting fireworks:

Finally it was my corral’s turn to start. I had almost no experience running anywhere but the treadmill so I was worried about pacing. I took a deep breath and was off!