Tag Archives: Hollywood studios

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

Standard

In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.

Advertisements

Andy’s 1st Vacation

Standard

Call us crazy, but the first vacation we took our son on was to Walt Disney World. And if you want to call us crazy, just keep it to yourself. You see, I know that Andy won’t remember anything from this trip. After all, Andy turned 6 months the day we left on the vacation. But Walt Disney World is a place I feel very comfortable in travelling to. This blog started as one about “Walt Disney, Running and my Dad.” Those three things all tied together for this “first vacation” as we we brought Andy, who was named after my late father, to Disney World…Dan and I ran in the Star Wars First Order 10km & Half Marathon Challenge…and on the day we left it was 14 years since my father passed away. So to go to Disney with baby Andy and run a 10km and half marathon one day after another while surrounded by the memories of the trips my family made together in the past makes sense!

Is traveling to Disney World with a 6 month old for everyone? Probably not. Like I said above, I have been to Disney a lot. I could take the time to count the individual trips but I believe I am now over 20. I am familiar with the resort enough that I figured it would help ease the stress of travelling with an infant.

And trust me…it did.

The first airplane ride was going to be a challenge no matter wheee we were going. I booked the tickets before Andy was born, and in my head I figured a red eye would be ok because “he would sleep.” Well. He maybe would have slept better if Dan and I hadn’t tried to stick to our “plan” so much. We assumed that having him in the Ergo chest carrier would be just fine while we flew. But really, he got too warm and was PISSED. He did better the second portion of the trip after our connection because we just swaddled him in his blanket and laid him across us. So rule #1-don’t stick to what you think will work best, because ultimately the baby will tell you what does!

One thing I was anxious about in the general travelling issues with this trip was travelling with breast milk. I was bringing about 2L of frozen milk in a soft sided carrier (Dan’s personal item for onboard) and then a few bottles of fresh milk. We had no issues going through security and customs. So easy!

Pumping while flying is a different story. I had originally wanted to keep my fresh supply the same as normal, but after the terrible red eye flight I was so tired and worn out. I had thought I would pump in the Priority Pass lounge in Toronto but I forgot to pack my ID card and couldn’t remember my log in information on the app. So I pumped in some sketchy corner of the airport. Instead of worrying about pumping at the airport in those conditions, I should have just breastfed. I’m not 100% confident in my breastfeeding abilities, which is why I stray away from it, and I don’t like not knowing how much he intakes during a session. But doing this on the flight did help calm him down and also made it easier than dealing with pump parts. If you are a breastfeeding mama who does give the baby a bottle with expressed milk, I strongly encourage bringing frozen milk on a trip because once we arrive to our resort I stored the milk in the fridge. The frozen milk was thawed slowly and used within two days. This gave me time to build back my fresh supply from pumping. It also allowed us to be relaxed on the trip and not have our plans dictated by a pumping schedule.

Going to the Disney parks with Andy was definitely different than any of my previous trips where I’d gone with family or friends. I knew that we’d have to definitely do it in pieces with an afternoon break. As the trip progressed we really did listen to Andy on when it was time to go home. For instance, our second Magic Kingdom day we had a Splash Mountain fastpass after lunch. Andy was getting tired, and if we did the fastpass we would probably be adding on another hour to our day before getting to hotel. While Andy did fall asleep in the stroller or chest carrier on this trip his naps in those positions weren’t of high quality. Getting him back to the hotel for a proper nap was key. It also allowed us to enjoy the evening more. What worked for us-we’d get back to the hotel for his nap. I would pump and dan would get him settled. Dan would take a nap too and I’d go to the pool. We could usually count on 2 hours of a nap for him in the pack and play, so he’d be ready to go for a short evening at EPCOT then!

Andy did a handful of rides: at Magic Kingdom he did People Mover, Dumbo, Small World (ate a bottle during 3/4 of it), Peter Pans Flight (asleep in chest carrier the whole time), Voyage of the Little Mermaid and saw Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre (unimpressed but good). At EPCOT he did Nemo (just wanted to stand up the whole time), saw fish at Living Seas (was wide eyed), Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Ride in Mexico (loved it and did great) and Frozen in Norway….whoops, sorry Andy for scarring you for life! He was getting tired during our fastpass time but I strapped him to my chest and we road anyway. What the picture doesn’t show is that he is wailing so loud as we go down that little hill. It was too loud and too much for him. He screamed as Elsa sang “LET IT GO!”

At Hollywood Studios the only thing he did was get pictures with Minnie & Mickey. And at Animal Kingdom he road Kilimanjaro Safaris and went on the Pangani Forest Trail. Andy is happiest in the morning so we made sure to do the safaris first thing. I was nervous since it’s a 20 minute ride, but I had him in the chest carrier looking out and when he started to fuss we distracted him by giving him solid food (those dissolvable crackers for babies). Worked so well! One of the moms in my Mommy Connections class suggested those so I’m glad we bought them before the trip.

If you go to Disney and want to do the rides, using Baby Swap/Rider Switch is a must. I knew it existed, but did not really understand how to best utilize it. A friend and her husband explained it to me a few days before leaving and it was well worth using! You could also plan fastpasses a bit better if you wanted to try to do more rides and do rider switch, but we just stuck with our original plans. The key component is that rider switch is good for up to three guests. If you have a fastpass, your whole party & Baby go to fastpass area to check in. (They need to see you actually have a baby!!!). The ones who want to ride first go through. Since Dan and I would ride together first we scanned our fastpasses. Grandma waited with Andy. We receive a ticket (like the old paper fastpasses) to use at any time during the day. We always had Grandma ride it right away after we were done, but you could leave the attraction and go back to it later if you’d like. The awesome thing is that 1.) either Dan or I could ride again with my mom when she went and the other person stayed with Andy 2) my mom did not need a fastpass booked for this ride. Just return to fastpass queue with rider switch and they let you through. This could be extremely beneficial in trying to get difficult fastpass rides like Flight of Passage. You can basically use rider switch/baby swap on any ride in Disney that your baby would not be able to ride with you. If you have more rider switch questions, feel free to message me and I can try to help or direct you to someone who can explain better.

Dining with Andy went pretty well. We had one reservation a day. Some meals he slept. Some meals he was awake. Some meals he lost him mind. Just have food for baby and a sense of humour if you are bringing to meals at Disney. And really, having a baby crying at a dining reservation in Disney is the best place for it to happen! There are toddlers having tantrums and grumpy adults all around…a cute 6 month old with tears isn’t too bad. One thing we did change part way into our trip was our final dinner time. We had a 7:45 pm reservation, but Andy had been falling asleep at night by 7:30-8:30 pm. Changed it to 5:15 pm. Smartest move ever.

I could talk more about this trip, and I will in two other posts. Those posts will be recaps on the 10km and half marathon. But to end this post, taking Andy to Disney at 6 months worked for our family. Having my mom down there with us in a connecting room was a HUGE part to why the trip was a success and generally went smoothly. If it was just Dan and I down there with him I am not sure we would have enjoyed it as much. I know not everyone has that luxury to have a grandparent travel with them on vacation to help (she watched him in the mornings we did the races and on Sunday night when we went out) and we won’t have her on other family vacations. But for our first trip it helped tons! It was awesome seeing my mom spend time with Andy and getting him to giggle and smile. The pictures we have from this trip will be something we cherish.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2017

Standard

Well.  It’s almost been a month since the WDW Marathon Weekend…about time I do a little recap I think!  I could do a really, really long one and go on into great detail….but I am going to try and spare you all from that.  I’m going to try…TRY…and keep it condensed!

I arrived in WDW on Tuesday, January 3rd.  This allowed me to enjoy the days leading up to the events, which would be on the Saturday and Sunday.  My mom had arrived earlier that morning and I met her at the hotel.  My best friend Ali was arriving the following day, and she got there without a hitch….well, her Magical Express bus from the airport almost needed to be hitched by a trailer and towed away because it broke down a few miles away from the hotel.  But she got there safe and sound!

Even though these are from different days, here are some “enjoying WDW” pictures that aren’t race related!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

My mom and I went to the expo on Wednesday, January 4th.  I would go back to the expo the next day with Ali so she could get her race bib, but I knew I wanted to make sure I got some certain race merchandise items.  So arriving at expo open was key.  I did not like that the expo didn’t open until noon.  It was an upcharge by Disney if you wanted to get into the expo and hour or two (can’t remember which one) earlier than general opening.  Money grab if you ask me.  But since we arrived at Wide World of Sports at 11:30, we queued up and were let into the expo floor by around 11:45.  Straight the the merchandise, we had no problem getting the items I wanted.  I also bought Ali what she was requesting.  We did a little tour of the expo floor where I bought quite a few other items.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the other building where packet pickup was…that line was never a stand-still, but when I eventually made my way up there I had to go back and forth and back and forth until I got into the building.  Thankfully, my race shirts were in that same building to pickup…otherwise I would have to go BACK into the expo hall…and that line was ridiculous.  I don’t know if it was just that every person in an event that weekend (5km, 10km, half, full, goofy, dopey, kids races) showed up, but the crowd was crazy compared to what I remember in 2014.

 

 

 


Day before the half marathon, the weather didn’t look great.  RunDisney started issuing updates early afternoon, telling us runners to stay tuned for up to date info.  At around 7 pm on Friday night, they cancelled the half marathon.  This was due to a huge storm coming through in the evening, that called for thunder and lightning.  At first, it was a huge let down that the race wouldn’t be run.  But, RunDisney did the right thing.  I did, however, mention to my mom and Ali that “It better fucking STORM!” because otherwise you know people on social media were going to lose their minds even more…and for the record, and it storm.  All night, and then at 7:45 AM we heard a huge CRACK.  It would have been chaos if 20,000 + runners were out there on property running and this happened.

 

 

(For the record, RunDisney offered four different “reimbursement” options since they cancelled the event.  This information came out later Friday evening.  And, they didn’t have to do this.  That’s what it says in the fine print whenever you sign a race waiver.  It was great of them to do this.  I opted for the reimbursement of the cost of the half registration in form of Disney Gift Card…which I gave to my mom.  She paid for my registration to begin with.  Now, she has $185 to spend on her Disney Cruise this June!)

So, Saturday came.  Race was cancelled.  I had already heard of people talking about getting the miles in somehow that day, be it treadmill or waiting until weather cleared.  RunDisney was still giving everyone their half marathon medal, so it wouldn’t really feel right to take the medal (and then my Goofy Challenge medal the next day) and not really “earn it.”  My mom, Ali and I were taking the boat to the Studios for 9 am park open, and the weather was already starting to clear.  We saw runners on the Boardwalk, on the promenade in front of Yacht & Beach, on the walkway to the Studios….tons of runners were out there, wearing their race bibs…some in their costumes too….getting in the miles.  I immediately knew I had to get my 13.1 in.  I messaged Alyssa & Drew, who had mentioned they were planning on getting the 13.1 miles in that day.  They ended up meeting my at the Studios at 11:45 am and we did our “Unofficial WDW Half Marathon.” We got the 13.1 miles in, and honestly had a blast doing it!  At around mile 11, when we had looped back by the Studios, we even went in and were able to get a photo with Donald….which was appropriate since he is the ‘mascot’ for the half marathon.  It may not have been the way I imagined Saturday would be, but I am always going to remember that “race.”

 

 


So then the weather went from one extreme to the other by Sunday.  It was cold.  Wehn Ali and I left the room at 3 am to go to the busses, it was around 40 degrees fahrenheit.  I was grateful my body was conditioned and used to cold weather, as the poor Floridians were freezing……hahaha!  Neither Ali or I packed much for layers…I had packed a throwaway long sleeved shirt, but didn’t think about sweats or hats.  I fashioned us some gorgeous garbage bag ponchos (which for some reason I thought to pack) and then got creative with Disney towels.  I figured using Disney hotel towels and dumping them before a race on Disney property would be OK….I mean, they’d get them back if they wanted them?

 


After the long wait that is the start of a RunDisney race, Ali and I were off at around 6 am.  The official race start was 5:30 am, so with us starting in Corral I, that’s not to bad.  I did only remind Ali once or twice that I could have already been to the Magic Kingdom (I was able to start in B).  I don’t know if she cared for my sarcasm.

Race began and we kept moving with the pack the best we could.  I kept reminding her we needed to just try to stay with the pack and not get stuck with all the other people behind us, as it would make Magic Kingdom even more crowded.  I made it my mission to take a photo of each mile marker (which I did) but I won’t post those all because, well…it’s boring.  I kept texting my mom, who was at Magic Kingdom on Main Street.  When we got into Magic Kingdom, we stopped quickly to talk to her, get a photo, and on we went.  That was at mile 5.

 

 

The next stretch to the half marathon mark was a bit of a challenge.  Lots of people, narrow part of the course.  Kept having to remind Ali we were almost to Animal Kingdom, and then we’d have more to see.  We even stopped quickly for a photo with Meeko, from Pocahontas, before we entered Animal Kingdom.  It was fun seeing people jumping in line for Expedition Everest, as it had just opened.  We weren’t in the park all that long, or at least not long enough for Ali….because before we knew it we were in the back lot and heading towards the parking lot.  I knew she was dreading the next stretch of open road, as we’d be logging in the miles 16-21 before getting back into the parks.

 

 



I’m happy to say we are still best friends after that stretch, because man….our friendship ending was a possibility.  Ok, not really….but I think Ali wanted to beat the shit out of me during Wide World of Sports.  I forgot how much turning and winding you do during that part!  I tried to distract her by talking her ear off, and I do think it helped when we got to mile 20!  Mile 20 was right on the ball diamond, so I made Ali stop for a picture there.  I reminded her now we just had a 10km to go!  It also helped motivate her when we were heading down the road away from WWOS that we saw the “Balloon Ladies” (the sweepers) who runners must keep ahead.  We were definitely going to stay ahead of them, so it eased our minds going in the final stretch.

img_5012

20 miles!

img_5002
While the morning started off cold, the sun had came out and was hitting your body pretty good. I knew I would have an epic racerback tanline after this was all said and done.  As we made it up the hill with the Green Army Men yelling at us, down a final descent of non-descriptive WDW resort road way, we finally made it into the back entrance of the Studios.  There were people everywhere, as by now it was late morning and thegeneral public were all going about their days at the parks!  It was awesome to have people around us in the park, cheering us on, encouraging us.  We exited the Studios (after our fourth bathroom break of the day) and took the walkway to Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and then the back entrance of EPCOT.  I think Ali thought we would have a lot of backstage running to do before entering the park, but before we knew it, we were entering World Showcase at the United Kingdom pavilion!  And then over the first bridge we hit the mile 25 sign!  Only one mile was between us and the finish line…well, and a Grand Marnier Orange Slush in the France pavilion for Ali!



The last mile was a lot of fun.  Ali got her drink (I think the alcohol hit her immediately), which an older lady with a solid Boston accent bought for her, and we saw other runners enjoying beverages from World Showcase.  I got a picture with Jasmine, we took a selfie by Spaceship Earth, saw the gospel choir at mile 26.  Then it was the final stretch!


Ali had some fire saved up in her, as she started sprinting down to the finish line.  We finished!  Ali had finished her first ever full marathon!  I finished my 10th official* RunDisney race! (11 if you count the unofficial half from the day before!)  This is going to be a memorable race weekend for years and years to come, and I will cherish those memories!

 

 

Recreating Memories

Standard

Some people like to recreate photos with their siblings or friends to model after photos of the past. I, on the other hand, enjoy taking photos resembling some iconic poses from my dad’s past.

These photos may not be important to anyone else but me and my mom. But being able to now go 11, 12 years later and take the “same shot” is priceless in my eyes. And there is no other place better to do this than Walt Disney World.!

My first attempt was last August 2013, when I went on my #16days extravaganza trip to Walt Disney World. My dad loved Buzz Lightyear; I have noted this before. I had to get my photo with Buzz! So, I waited in line solely for the purpose of this shot:

20140720-120139-43299320.jpg

That was really my one “goal“-to recreate a photo next to Buzz. But this July, I had a second opportunity presented to me! A Photopass Photographer was in front of the Star Wars Starspeeder. The photo of my dad here was not only taken the same year as Buzz, but within a 20 minute period of one another. My mom and him were waiting outside of Star Tours for me that year and wandering around and she took both those pictures then! (She also got pooped on by a bird during that time. Don’t have a photo of that though!). Anyways, with that being said, I had to take a picture!

20140720-121215-43935019.jpg

If another chance ever arises for me to “recreate” one of my dad’s “iconic” poses, I will certainly rise to the occasion!

Disney Wine & Dine Race Recap—-The Race and the Party!

Standard

Just last week, I was down in Disney World for my first RunDisney event, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I already wrote about the day leading up to the race, so now onto the main event!
20131116-153236.jpg

My friends and I went out to the shuttle by the Yacht Club at 7 pm, and were on one of the first buses. The shuttle system was smooth and we arrived at ESPN Wide World of Sports in no time. Now, I was expecting large crowds, as I knew there was anywhere from 12,000-14,000 runners, but I guess it was still a shock to see the large masses congregating in the field that evening. We headed over to bag check and then proceeded to a line up for a photo with Chip & Dale.
20131116-153356.jpg

After that, we enjoyed the pre-race DJ and even rocked some dance moves during warmup. While the evening air felt cool for Florida standards, even just dancing around for a few minutes caused me to realize the humidity was lurking. Had to stop! At about 9 pm, I parted ways from Teresa and Kristen, got in the porta potty line up, and then headed to my corral.
20131116-153731.jpg

This was a night race, with the first corral starting at 10 pm. There were Corrals from the letters A-L. Runners were placed in corrals based on prior race time submissions. I was fortunate enough to start in Corral A, and was also lucky enough to be positioned right next to the main stage before the race! While I was standing over here for approximately 40 minutes, time flew by as I had tons to watch and listen to. I was just soaking it all in!
20131116-153613.jpg

20131116-153546.jpg

Pretty soon after the National Anthem, the countdown started. Less than 2 minutes….1minute….30 seconds…..Runners, Setttttttttttttt……..GO!
20131116-153823.jpg

I barreled out of the corral and my net time ended up only being 4 seconds off of gun time. I had the motivation and mindset to aim for my PR, beating 1:41:07, and even going sub 1:40. Going to say right now, I really thought I could. But within 2 miles I could feel sweat pouring off my body like I was in a sauna with a fan on me. I was still going to give it my all though!

I knew from looking at RunDisney pictures, videos and other blogs online that the entertainment on course would be awesome. Yes, it is a little different on the highway portions since it is pitch black night outside, but as you neared each mile marker, bright lights and music welcomed you. Whenever there was a character meet and greet on the roadways, there would be giant lights by them, and you could see these blocks away. I just kept my head forward and eyes on the next “icon” coming up at all times.

This race goes through three of the four Disney parks—-Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Going through Animal Kingdom at night was awesome as a Disney parks fan, since it is usually only opened each day until 5 or 7 pm! The big loop around the parking lot on our way out was visually tough and deceiving though—-felt like I would never be back on the road! When we got back on out, we headed to Hollywood Studios.

All the volunteers at water stops on the course were so friendly and excited. Since I was dressed up in costume, it was fun to hear the delayed reaction to that I was Mary Poppins! I think some people only got it when they saw my back!
20131116-155001.jpg

For as small as Hollywood Studios is, RunDisney really gets you to wind a lot through the park! I was very excited to see the Osbourne Christmas lights, as I have never been to Disney during the season. After exiting this park, in my eyes you were in the home stretch. The reason why—-you hit the path that takes you to Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin and Yacht & Beach. This pathway is of extreme symbolic importance to me, as they built it when I was in high school, and my parents and I would often walk it to the Studios instead of taking the boat. I even wrote a blog reminiscing how my dad and I tried to “Beat the Boat.” You can find that here:
Beat the Boat!

With those memories in my mind, I mustered the energy to keep on trucking, even though that by now I knew I wouldn’t be making 1:40. My eyes swelled up with tears as I ran on the wooden walkway in front of Yacht Club, Stormalong Bay, Beach Club, and in around the backside of EPCOT’s World Showcase. As we entered into EPCOT next to Journey into Imagination, I knew I could push myself this last bit. It was very cool to run through Future World, because while running through the other parks and on property was awesome, you didn’t have the spectators there yelling for you. After running past Spaceship Earth I knew the end was near, since we were exiting and heading near parking lots. I couldn’t wait to finish!

Coming down the dark straightaway to the music blaring and the crowds screaming was incredible! The photo below was taken as I crossed the line, and I have ordered a collage from Marathon Foto capturing four on-route moments, two of which I included in this post. I finished with a 1:44:33, which is my second-best half marathon time.

20131116-154353.jpg

I was hot, sweaty, tired, shaking and a ball of emotions. My first RunDisney event was complete and I couldn’t have been more impressed. From the Expo, to the transportation between venues, to the entertainment and pre-race fun, the route itself, the medals, the swag…..it was definitely magical!
20131116-154536.jpg

20131116-154507.jpg

The Wine & Dine Half caps off with a runner celebration in World Showcase, deemed as part of the “Ultimate Runner’s Night Out.” I changed in the provided change rooms, picked up my complimentary beverage, and wandered back to World Showcase. Since I was done rather early, I didn’t have much trouble making it to the back of the park, but anyone who ran this race will know that the “crosswalk” created to manage flow of traffic through the race was quite stressful. When I got in the back of the park, I texted Teresa and Kristen that there was no way I would be able to make it back to the front to find them when finished, as I made it to the point of no return. I told them to tell me what country to meet them at when finished.
20131116-154629.jpg

I could talk tons about the after party, but instead I will post the video created by RunDisney. As I waited for Teresa and Kristen, I wandered from Canada to France and back, where I got photos with the penguins from Mary Poppins, enjoyed some food and drink at the booths, and was interviewed by RunDisney! They had shot me greeting the penguins, but it wasn’t until after I had gotten a Leffe Brune beer from the Belgium booth and was texting Teresa when they approached me for an interview.

Click here to see my 15 minutes of fame—-my drinking, running and Disney “career” is now basically complete!

So what if the first thing I say is “I love beer!”? I do have to note that this whole “Beer, Disney, Running” mantra was written to me via email from my husband on Friday of the trip. He had said, quote “Booze, running and Disney. This crap really is tailor made for you.”

Cheers to a fantastic Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2013!

20131116-153922.jpg

Disney Wine & Dine Recap—-Before the Race!

Standard

It is 12:23 am on Thursday morning. The school bell rings at 8 am. I got home to Lethbridge Tuesday morning at 12:15 am. I was in Disney World for my shortest trip ever (approximately 72 hours) this weekend. And I am still wired on how wonderful life is. So I have decided to start recapping my past weekend. And I am doing you all a favour by breaking it into two parts—–before race…..and then the race itself. So here is the lead up….

I participated in my first ever RunDisney event on Saturday night, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This event was an after-thought registration after signing up for Dopey Challenge, as I had a friend who I used to work with at Badgerette Pom Pon express interest in doing a half. And she is a total Disney freak. So we convinced each other and were signed up.

I arrived in Disney on Friday afternoon, after flying in on a red-eye from Calgary, Alberta. Teresa and I met in the airport and were able to take Magical Express to our hotel, Yacht Club. Holy shit….this will be for an additional blog….but I haven’t stayed at anything except Pop Century while visiting Disney since I was 18. And I’m never going back.
20131114-004830.jpg

Anyways, after getting checked in and getting our MagicBands (which I was pleased we could individualized credit credit cards to!) we head to the Expo, it was very easy to access with the provided transportation, and once we arrived, it’s as very easy to maneuver. Now….I don’t know what it was like in the morning, but at 3:30 pm on Friday it was great…..and if we missed must-see merchandise that morning we didn’t even know, since we didn’t know what we missed and the crowds were very manageable!

20131114-004950.jpg

20131114-004724.jpg
I participated in a breakfast on Saturday morning put on by Megan and Krista from “The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World”. I had found out about this event via social media (Twitter!) and got to experience Toy Story Mania first thing in the morning (first riders!) and a private breakfast in the “Prop Shop” at Hollywood Studios. As a true Disney parks fan, this was awesome!

20131114-005102.jpg

20131114-005130.jpg
There was only about 40 of us there, so it was a very semi-private function. I enjoyed the buffet breakfast, and got to know some great people at our table! Heather and her mom were fantastic! And the men from Georgia and Tennessee were a hoot (they were there waiting for their wives and one other guy friend to get back from the Jingle Jungle 5 km held that morning.). They were hysterical because while one of the guys already there had done the Dumbo Double Dare, he had no clue how his friend found out about this meet up. As a side note, I ran in to them at the after party that night at Epcot, and the following day (also while at EPCOT) and both times they yelled to me saying “CANADA!!!”

I got to meet Christine and Pam (daughter and mother) of We Run Disney while at the breakfast on Saturday, and that was great! I have been following them on Twitter the last months since I got set up on Twitter. It was great to meet up with them at such an awesome event! I loved that such fans of Disney (like Megan and Krista) had the capacity and energy to put on such an event….as a true Disney parks fan, and a fan of running, this event was the perfect way for me to start my day as I lead into the Wine & Dine Half Marathon!

20131114-005230.jpg

More to come…Always knew I loved Disney, so it is natural I would love to RunDisney!!…..

20131114-005356.jpg

16 Days of Disney Shenanigans are About to Occur…

Standard

20130727-183540.jpg
I have visited the Walt Disney Resort on 14 vacations – 6 of these vacations have been with my parents, 3 of them were with my high school dance team, 3 of them were just my mom and I together, and 2 of them have been with one of my best friends, Maureen. On August 1st, her and I will be heading on our third trip to WDW, but this time we aren’t messing around—we are going for 16 days!
20130727-183452.jpg
We knew about a year and a half ago we were going to be heading on a WDW trip together in August 2013, and originally we thought maybe a week. We are great travel partners and most importantly, the way we both want to tour the ‘world’ is the same—–early morning alarms, be first at every gate to enjoy a rope drop, cry tears of happiness at every possible moment, eat tons of food, and overall do every possible thing we can.
20130727-183338.jpg
So why are we going for 16 days? Simple answer—because we can. But, it really isn’t all that simple. Maureen and I are both teachers, her back in Wisconsin and myself up in Alberta. Summer trips work best for both of us. And historically, the WDW Resort has value rate pricing in mid August, so it makes hotels more affordable. The last two trips together, we stayed at Pop Century—we like to refer to it as Pop Century Resort & Spa…..but it’s anything but. I’m not going to knock it—it serves its purpose. It’s a Disney value resort on property, with a solid location and good bus service. You can get pretty low rates during value season, and if you get a AAA rate like we did the last two times, it makes it even better. Add on to it that we split the room cost and it makes it really affordable. We swore the last trip, though, we were staying moderate the next time. Maybe even a non-monorail deluxe resort! We just couldn’t handle the craziness of this resort again….
20130727-183614.jpg
…flash forward to our planning for this trip. Maureen has a friend who works part time at WDW and he offered to use one of his family and friend rates for us for our stay. Well, lets just say the discount is ridiculous. So, it was either we stay at a moderate for 7 days OR we go back to the Pop Century Resort & Spa for 16 days for basically the same price….

We chose to go back to the “spa.”
20130727-183848.jpg
So from August 1-16th, Maureen & I are moving in to Pop. We joke we need to do a change of address with the post office….we are going to be gone for a about 1/24 of a year….but this is a time in our life where we both still don’t have kids, so we can manage and afford to go away for this long. And since we are both Disney fanatics, there is no discussion ever of going anywhere else together.
20130727-183304.jpg
Expect random updates and entries the next few weeks, but they will probably all be Disney related. So if you read this just for running, you will have to wait until my Spartan Race 5km on August 18th in Calgary. Actually, there may be running segments in my posts, as I run after getting a fast pass after rope drop to meet Maureen across the park at a different ride! This trip is the first step to my RunDisney experiences, however. I have been so pumped for this trip, and then it gets me equally excited for my trip in November for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon and my January trip-of-a-lifetime when I compete in the Dopey Challenge during Disney Marathon Weekend.
20130727-183246.jpg

Disney Scrapbook 2003

Standard

With my mom here in town, I have been lucky enough to have someone at my disposal who is willing to talk about Disney World pretty much non-stop. I have been addicted to watching any videos I can find to do with RunDisney events—official RunDisney videos and fan’s unofficial race recaps. I have made my mom watch the WDW Planning DVD in anticipation of my 16 day bonanza with one of my best friends, Maureen, which starts on August 1st. She is back in Wisconsin, and we talk daily about our craziness we have planned. She makes video clips like the ones below (full of our inside jokes that stem back from our first trip in 2008) which make me almost pee myself with laughter:
Disney Preview #16Days

Whenever my mom comes and visits me in Canada, I always get sentimental and reflect of past trips to WDW with her and my dad. Our last trip in Spring 2003 was one with so many great memories. I know I will touch on this trip lots over the course of this year, but what I wanted to talk about today is a scrapbook I made from this trip. My senior year in high school was 2002-2003, and I was fortunate enough to get into the highly sought-after photography class. It was not a digital photography class, but a “SLR camera then develop your own film in a darkroom” class. I am assuming that by now my alma mater has revamped this course and sadly made it in to just digital—-being able to develop black and white film in the dark room in the science hall was fantastic! Our final project for the course was anything we wanted it to be, and since my family was going to WDW during Spring Break, I got approval for my project to consist of a scrapbook of our trip. I purchased black and white film for my point-and-shoot camera, loaded it up, and off to WDW we went.

20130707-145922.jpg
Before the trip, I was lucky enough to find an unused scrapbook from the 1930s in my parents basement. It was with all the old Stengel family photos, and even had the little black corner pieces to hold the photos. I decided to make my theme of the project to be old-fashioned, and I ran with the whole black-and-white theme.

20130707-150242.jpg
The pages in the scrapbook consisted of things outside the parks (hotel, Downtown Disney) and details within each park. In looking through this scrapbook, I only have one photo with my parents, and the others are either landscape and surroundings, or myself in front of iconic pieces. Here is the intro picture of myself and my parents:

20130707-150646.jpg
Each section that focused on a Disney theme park had a header page with the icon for the park. I decorated the area around it in a white ink design.

20130707-150852.jpg

20130707-150905.jpg

20130707-150919.jpg

20130707-150933.jpg
I also had pre-planned three photos to do as “flashbacks”, where I would reenact a pose in the Magic Kingdom from our first family trip in 1991. I put the colored photo from 1991 side-by-side with the black-and-white photo from 2003.

20130707-151039.jpg

20130707-151053.jpg

20130707-151105.jpg
That is the gist of the scrapbook! There are many more photos and entries in each section, but I thought I would just show the highlights and cover pages. I want to do a form of a scrapbook for my RunDisney Dopey Challenge in January 2014—-just not really sure what direction I plan on going with it! If you have suggestions or ideas for scrapbooks, let me know!

20130707-151240.jpg