How to Finish a Half Marathon

Medal worthy

Congratulations to everyone who competed and finished the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Epcot this past weekend.  I was one among the over 14,000 runners, many of them also running in their very first half marathon.  Marathon running is not my thing, full or half’s.  I was signed up for the race by my runner boyfriend and truly wasn’t looking forward to 13.1 miles.  I have never run more than 7 miles at one time in my life!  How do you get through 13?!  But if I didn’t run, I’d never hear the end of it about how chicken I was.  And sometimes you never find out how strong you are until you push your limits.  I pushed my limits on Saturday night and won!  Before we get to the actual run, let’s start with how I prepared for the race.


Leading up to the race the foods that you eat are important and not just on the actual race day.  I supplemented my diet with tart cherry juice and real ginger in the two weeks prior to the race.  Tart cherry juice and ginger are said to help alleviate inflammation.  When you take them before a major sporting event (that you are participating in, not watching), you’re said to have less inflammation than just taking them afterwards.  I was worried about my knees during the race so I made sure to add the juice to my water bottles and snacked on ginger candies.

On race day my meals were as follows:

     Drinks: Lots of ph balanced level 8 water and coconut water

     Breakfast: Sprouted wheat toast with peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, and just a touch of honey.

     Lunch: Shredded chicken, plain hummus, guacamole, kale, chard, spinach, cranberries, lentils, and two small pieces of pita bread.

     Snack: Salted soft pretzel with coconut oil.

     During the Race: Carried gummy bears but I didn’t touch them.

Tart Cherry Juice and Ginger Chews


For me, my fitness routine was a complete fail in terms of marathon training.  Disney is awesome and sends you a 12-week prep guide on logging mileage before the race so you are ready for the final 13 miles.  I had planned to start following it after my sprint tri-athalon, in the end of September, but it never caught on.  I did try to incorporate more runs into my normal work out schedule and mastered the 6-7 mile run.  I was even able to improve my 5k distance time.  However, I never found time to train and run the practice runs of 9, 10, 11 or 12 miles, pre-race.

Two weeks before the race, there was an utter breakdown of my routine and I hate to admit it, I didn’t work out.  Now it’s one week out from the race and I have to get back on track.  The race was at 10pm Saturday night.

     Monday- skipped

     Tuesday- 1 hour swim, followed by 30 minutes running on the treadmill.

     Wednesday- skipped

     Thursday- 1 hour swim, followed by 20 minutes running, 25 minutes weights and core work

     Friday- skipped

     Saturday- RACE DAY!

I started in the F corral because I had no previous run times. (again I remind you, I’ve never participated in a race longer than a 5k).  The weather was chilly and our group had to wait an extra 25 minutes after the official start of the race to begin.  Waiting there in the cold, I was about over the race before it even began.  Finally, we started at a nice slow pace.  My time was considerably slower than my usual times because I was afraid I’d hit the runner’s wall after mile 7, and into uncharted running territory.  I had the race broken down into 5 parts.  3 miles to get to the Animal Kingdom, 3 miles around Animal Kingdom, 2 miles to Hollywood Studios, 3 miles around Hollywood Studios, and then the final 2 miles to the finish line.

Happy and Sore!

Running at Disney is so much fun!  Everyone has on their costumes.  People are taking pictures and running with their whole family.  It’s quite a different atmosphere from most athletic-driven races.  I think that helped me calm down, enjoy the first 6 miles, and really have fun running.  There were no expectations because I didn’t know what to expect and my running felt great.  I had fallen into a nice groove.  Around mile 7, I did notice that my right knee was starting to get a little sore.  It was at that time that I took my first sip of water and one Tylenol. I wanted to be preemptive in any additional discomfort.  Just a note on pain medications- runners are advised to only take an acetaminophen leading up to, during, and after the race.  An ibuprofen has been shown to cause harm to the liver during a race.

I reached mile 8 and knew that I was successfully 3/5 of the way complete.  It felt so much more satisfying then saying I was just past halfway.  Only 2 legs of my journey left.  Running through Hollywood Studios, I saw behind the scenes of the dress making workshop and ran through the Christmas Display of Lights.  I didn’t notice that I’d past my personal record for most miles run at once.  I did notice that I was passing a lot of other people though.  Especially as we approached and passed mile 12.  It seemed as if everyone else broke the race down into four 5k’s plus an extra mile.  Because the end goal of the last 5k was so close to the finish line, that last extra mile was even more painful for many.  In my mind though, I was only on a 2-mile run at that point.  From mile 11 to 13, I disregarded all the previous mileage and said I can run 2 miles!  Piece of cake!

Most of mile 12 was a sprint to the finish line.  As fast as I could, I wanted to be finished and post a good time.  2:17:40 was my official chip time!  From a running stand point, I felt amazing.  Never once did I hit a wall or want to quit.  Around mile 8, I even got my runner’s wind and started going faster, with negative splits.  I don’t know what overcame me that night- the excitement, the cold weather, the lack of pressure to do well, but through it all I pulled out an awesome race time for myself!

Did you run in the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon?

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