Tag Archives: magic kingdom

Andy’s 1st Vacation

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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.

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Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2017

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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.

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20 miles!

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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!

 

 

Getting Pumped for Revisiting 1991….

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How am I going to do that? Well, a Disney trip of course!!!

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Next week, my mom and I head down to WDW for 7 nights. We will be staying at none other than Disney’s Polynesian Resort. We have not stayed at this resort since our first family trip in 1991! Since our stay at Polynesian, we tried “Moderate Resorts”, like Port Orleans French Quarter, “Value Resorts”, like Pop Century, and other “Deluxe Resorts”, such as Yacht & Beach Club.

Our decision to try Polynesian again now some 23 years later was definitely rooted in nostalgia. This was the resort that started our family addiction to Walt Disney World! The location on the monorail is ideal for visiting Magic Kingdom at a come-and-go pace, and with all the new attractions in New Fantasyland, we will be focusing on the original gate a lot!

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The Polynesian Resort has gone over lots of refurbishments the past 2 decades, so the views of the quiet pool and the general resort footprint won’t be exactly the same. The photo above is an aerial shot of the Polynesian in 1991. I hope they sell new ones in the gift shop, as I would like to see the change! Another big change from our first trip is that the original main pool that my dad and I spent tons of time in has also been overhauled.

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Our dining choices in 2014 will be somewhat different than the choices in 1991…In 1991, the big dinner we did was the Mickey Mouse Luau at the Polynesian Resort. We ate family style, watched dancers and learned the hula. Have to admit, my mom will not be partaking in this again, but we do have our own special dinner booked at Victoria & Alberts and Narcooses, both found at the adjacent Grand Floridan Resort & Spa.

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We both cannot wait to experience this resort for the second time. It really puts a gold seal on our “Disney Passport” as we have now gone full-circle, so to speak…back where it all began!

Photo Recaps on Dopey Challenge Events…Pros, Cons & Highlights…& a Teaser for the Next Chapter…

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Hi everyone! I know I posted a bit during the event, and I did my post about the full marathon, but now that I have access to the professional photos shot by the people at Marathon Foto, I thought I would do a mini-photo montage/review of each event that was part of the Dopey Challenge. For each event, I will list some pros (the volunteers were AMAZING every race!), cons, and my personal highlights I experienced. I will also include some of my favorite snapshots from the events!

Family 5km Fun Run-Thursday, January 9, 2014
This event began with the first of 5 corrals being let off at 6:30 am. The course went from the EPCOT parking lots, through a backstage area, into World Showcase, looped through Future World, and ended back out in the parking lot

Pros Fun short distance anyone could enjoy, no “sweepers” or “balloon ladies” to worry about on the course if you couldn’t keep the minimum pace, walker friendly

Cons Very crowded corrals, starting in last corral with my mom meant we had to wait about 40 minutes until we started, very crowded at times especially at narrow points, not as much entertainment or characters as I expected for a “family” fun run, found out I really didn’t need to keep the minimum 16 min/mi pace even though it was timed for us in the Dopey Challenge (would have stayed with my mom and husband)

Personal Highlights My mom ran her first 5km!

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Inaugural Minnie Mouse 10km-Friday, January 10, 2014
This event began with the first of 5 corrals being let off at 5:30 am. The course went from the EPCOT parking lots, out through the front gates out onto the roadway, then through a backstage area, into World Showcase, out onto the Boardwalk and past Yacht & Beach Club Resort, looped through Future World, and ended back out in the parking lot

Pros Longer route allowed for spreading out on the course, route past Boardwalk Resort area was awesome, more characters, started in Corral A with Dan so had no issues with crowding ourselves

Cons First two miles were uneventfully boring with little entertainment on the roads, corrals still crowded

Personal Highlights Running a 10km in Disney with my unsure-about-Disney husband, seeing him sweat his shirt off because he didn’t understand the power of Florida humidity (made me laugh!), running around the Boardwalk while it was still dark and all the hanging outdoor lights were on! AND got Dan to take a photo with a Disney character! Something he swore he would not do!

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Walt Disney World Half Marathon-Saturday, January 11, 2014
This event began with the first of 16 corrals being let off at 5:35 am. The course went from Epcot out onto the highway through the Magic Kingdom gates, past the Ticket & Transportation Center, into the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street USA. Headed through Cinderella’s castle, through Frontierland, back on service roads past Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts, and back on the roads to EPCOT.

Pros Short corral wait for me since I was in B, short to no lines for any characters too. The characters that were out were very rare too! Goofy in golfing gear, Darkwing Dark and Launchpad McQuack to name a few!

Cons HUMIDITY! (I know this was beyond anyone’s control), no Mary Poppins photo op at Grand Floridian like past years!

Personal HighlightsRunning down Main Street USA for the first time in a Disney race! (there were tears!), and also seeing my mom and husband twice in the Magic Kingdom for photos. Really took my time running in the humidity with a friend from our Facebook group (#wangnation) and we stopped at tons of photo stops!

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Walt Disney World Full Marathon-Sunday January 12, 2014
This course followed the same route as the half marathon for about the first 7 or 8 miles, then went down onto the Disney Speedway, on back roads to and through Animal Kingdom, down the highway to ESPN Wide World of Sports, back on the roads to Hollywood Studios, through the park, on the route to the Boardwalk Resort area, behind World Showcase, through Future World, and ending in the parking lot outside of the main gates.

Pros. Get to run through all four parks! Plentiful water and medical stops! Lots of characters in the parks. Fast and flat course. COOL FLORIDA BREEZE! (thank you weather God!).

Cons. Not much to see on the long stretches of roads between parks

Personal Highlights. Castle lights were lit up today and it was gorgeous in the dark morning! Getting a photo with Buzz Lightyear dressed as Buzz Lightyear! (Had to do this for Dad!), Running through Hollywood Studios right when the park was about to open to public was energizing, as were the crowds of people cheering near the Boardwalk resorts and in EPCOT. Ran a marathon personal best of 3:50:52, even after eating like junk, getting no sleep, and running three races the three days prior!

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The Dopey Challenge was an experience of a lifetime! I am so grateful I was able to take part! This years’ journey was about finding myself and running for Dad. But it is not going to stop now. Never! Stay tuned in the next couple days when I talk about what is next for me!

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The Big Bang…(in a few short words)

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Wow.

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 has come and went. I prepared all year for this week….training, fundraising and reflecting…I haven’t even been home for more than 48 hours and I still can’t figure out how to take it all in. I know that as the days and weeks pass, as I start to sift through all the professional photos taken by MarathonFoto, after I look at our Disney Photopass pictures…..after I watch more race video recaps and read fellow bloggers’ recaps,…it may start to sink in how big this weekend was….

….until then, I wanted to share some highlights from the final day of Marathon Weekend—the full marathon. 26.2 miles, which took us through all four Disney theme parks! The first three race distances (5km, 10km and half marathon) went as planned…I went out for them slow and stuck with the game plan. I ran my half marathon 50 minutes slower than my October personal best, in order to conserve my energy and have some juice left for the full. I had it in my mind I could PR the full. So when my 2:45 AM alarm went off for the fourth day in a row, I rolled myself out of bed and started pepping myself up. I needed to be on the ball for this race today, as this was the big one!

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I timed arriving at the race start well, so all I had to do was head straight to the corrals. I got to corral B at about 40 minutes before the official start. The weather was ridiculously better than the previous day—a cool breeze and hardly any humidity. I knew I had to go for my personal best.

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After the official start, my corral was next to the start line. When we were set loose, I flew out of the gate and was going for broke. My first four miles were solid, but a little too fast. I was caught up in it all, but I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want to slow down.

My eyes swelled as I ran down Main Street USA…not to the same extent as the day prior, when tears streamed down my face…but I was still getting all worked up. I didn’t even pull my phone out to take photos, because I was on a mission to beat my 3 hours and 56 minute time. I took a short 5 second stop for a photo with Buzz Lightyear and in front of the castle (literally, 5 seconds tops each) and Marathon Foto captured these.
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This is where my mind started playing tricks on me.

It was still dark out and we had left Magic Kingdom. I knew the area from the day before, but I started to slow my pace and question if I really should be pushing it like I was. For a solid mile or two I kept going back and forth if I should slow down and just take photos and not go for the PR. Then, my stomach started acting up. I mean, imagine that….it’s the fourth day of four early races, and I’m eating and drinking vacation food, me also shoving sugar and electrolytes in my system….I took a two minute bathroom and banana stop—now I didn’t know if getting the PR would be possible.

I saw fellow Dopey Challenge “Team Wang” runners before this stop, Dan Tinney and Jason Perez. They were cruising! The brief time I s a w and chatted with them motivated me to keep pushing forward—-I had trained so hard all year for this, i just couldn’t slow down.

Animal Kingdom Park went fast and soon enough we were back on the highway heading to Wide World of Sports. The morning sun rising got me nervous that the heat would kick in, so I didn’t want to slow down and get caught in the heat. I pushed through to WWOS and just kept trying to smile the whole way. On the highway back from WWOS, I had reached mile 20. The first 20 take talent, the last 6 take heart. That’s the mantra I had going through my head.

I knew that once I got up the hill by the green army man, it would be all recognizable paths to the finish. I got into the Studios, and was grateful for the fruit snack stop. I then started talking to a girl who looked about my age, doing her first ever marathon. You could tell she was starting to struggle and may have wanted to slow. She didn’t have a Garmin or GPS watch and wasn’t sure if she could break 4 hours. I knew that even though she started in corral C, she was on pace to break it. We both were, and by the last 5 km I was still set to break my 3:56.

We wound down to the Boardwalk, past Yacht & Beach and into EPCOT. Dopey was standing near the World Showcase gate welcoming us in (I managed to get a photo with the bugger later as we walked back to our resort,) and I knew I had to keep on pushing.

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I spotted my mom and husband in the stands as I ran in, and the emotions were released. I finished with an official time of 3:50:52. And I felt awesome. I can’t even put it into words how I felt! Even with this being the fourth race in a row, I still had energy-the adrenaline was flowing! I went and picked up my marathon finisher medal, got my wristbands verified for the Goofy and Dopey medals, and then met up win my husband and mom at the family reunion area.
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“I am so proud of you.” This is in fact what both my husband and my mom said to me. And I know my dad said it to me too. He was with me this race, and he pushed me to achieve something I didn’t know would be possible at the end of four days of races. This was truly the most amazing race experience I have been part of thus far in my life. TO INFINITY & BEYOND!!

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Throwback Thursday….Disney Style

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In anticipation for my RunDisney experience of my life, the Dopey Challenge, I decided to ask my mom to dig through the old albums and find a handful of “ugly” Disney photos from my trips back In the day. Now, her response immediately was “I don’t want to do this tonight….” Followed by “You weren’t ugly!” Then I restated it as “awkward” and she decided to do the searching.

She sent me 7 photos, in no particular order. However, I will sort them by years in order for your viewing enjoyment. The first photo is from my first Disney trip in October 1991. I was 7.

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This is fun and funny because 1.) I have a coordinating lavender and white tank with corduroy shorts. 2.). I have on a giant fanny pack with I am sure just a mini pack of Kleenex and room for my autograph book. 3.). My Mickey Ears don’t fit over my Afro. But I still love the cuteness and innocence of it all

Next up is also from October 1991. Enjoy me posing like a loser on the bridge in the Japan Pavillion at EPCOT:

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After 1991, we went again in 1993. That trip provided these gems:

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From what I can gather by looking at these two photos….I enjoyed wearing MC Hammer Pants, windbreaker, hats that fit over my Afro, fanny packs were still cool, and I still enjoyed coordinating colors and plaid shorts. :::sigh::::

1995. Family trip #3. Short “Jerome” haircut that fits nicely under a hat, big bad glasses, and a cheesy grin. I think the Evil Queen says it all:

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1997 brought the times of shortalls and plaid tank tops. Did I think I was country? Or southern? Or cool? Sweet big pewter LOVE earrings too. This photo makes me smile, though, as it catches my dad and I sitting on the now defunk Mike Fink Keelboats. My Afro is grown out and I’m sporting a middle part. And dad is sporting an embroidered Disney Muscle shirt like it’s his job!

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After 1997, my looks and attire got less awkward. Who knows…probably in 5 years I’ll be laughing at crap I wore this year. But at least I grew out of my short Afro hairdo and bad glasses and fanny pack stage. Please note….my mom DID NOT send any photos including shots of her back in the day with us. I think I got my fanny pack skills from her 🙂

In closing…2000. Now in high school and too cool for posing for photos, so instead I’ll sink into the tube at Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club!

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The Picture So Bad, it is Epic.

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Behold….20 years ago….almost year to the day….my second trip to Walt Disney World.

I was downstairs getting my carry-on bag from the closet for my trip tomorrow to Drayton Valley, Alberta, for Cross Country Provincials, when I found my Disney photo album I made some years ago filled with highlights.
This picture caught my eye.

Take note of the duel fanny packs my mom and I are rocking so casually. I have cords on my sunglasses. I am wearing a coordinated tank top and plaid shorts. And my dad……terrible Speedo tank top.

But this moment, as retched as it may look and laughable as it is now, it is priceless. I get to go to WDW in about 20 days for my first RunDisney race and in January I will go again for the race of my life, the Dopey Challenge. I will be able to run past this very spot during that half marathon and the full marathon.

Maybe I’ll wear a fanny pack.

16 Days of Disney Shenanigans are About to Occur…

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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!
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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.
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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….
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…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.”
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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.
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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.
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RunDisney Costume Prep & My First Run Since Surgery

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I apologize for not having a post out yesterday like usual—-my mom came in from Wisconsin on Saturday night. We stayed up until 2 am, didn’t sleep in, went to the horse races, and were exhausted! She didn’t think it would be possible to fall asleep when it was still light out at 9:30 PM up here in Alberta, but she proved that wrong!

We were up until 2 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning 1.) because we were wide awake after getting back from the train station and 2.) I was making my mom watch RunDisney videos on YouTube. My husband was out of town golfing until later today, so I wanted to get all this Disney talk out before he came back—-he is a Disney beginner and doesn’t care to humor me when I want to show him pictures, talk about my races down there, show him other peoples’ videos, etc. Also, I was rather pumped because since my mom had just arrived and unpacked, she had “gifts” for me, and a few we’re RunDisney related!

My first RunDisney race is this November 9th when I run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. My friend Teresa and I are running it together, along with her boyfriend and her sister-in-law. Teresa and I already discussed we want to wear costumes. She said even if hers just amounts to a giant tutu and Mickey ears, she will be rocking something ridiculous. I decided already I want to have a character costume, and the character I set my eyes in is the under-advertised but awesomely important Mary Poppins. I love, love, love Mary Poppins—she is the one character I will always wait in a line for to get my picture with in WDW! Love the movie, love the songs……dislike the lack of merchandise….but I knew I had to be her for my half.

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I decided I would replicate Mary Poppins when she is dressed in her “nanny” clothes. I opted for this outfit versus the white dress in the Jolly Holiday scenes because I thought it would be most runner friendly. First thing I knew I needed was a sparkly blue skirt to wear over some spandex shorts. There is a demand for running skirts like these in the women’s running world, and yes, you can order them online. But that costs around $30 plus shipping—-and shipping to Canada is never cheap. That is where my mom came in! She found a $0.99 pattern, listened to my ideas, and made me a Mary Poppins approved skirt for about $7 total!

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Another costume piece that has been completed is the hat. Now, I didn’t really want to be wearing a full fledge hat for 13.1 miles, so I improvised. I went to Michaels and bought blue pipe cleaners, fake daisies and berries, and got to work. if you were wondering what I did for 2+ hours one of the days in my medical leave, this is the answer

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So far I have the skirt, a top, a bow tie and a hat. I am planning on getting some white compression socks so they can act as white tights, and I am also going to go a bit over the top and make a green parrot head over to it on the bottom of an umbrella! I figure if I buy a cheap black dollar store umbrella and make some tighter backpack-style arm holes to attach to it, I can carry it on my back. Mary Poppins needs an umbrella!

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I will be making other outfits for the races in the Dopey Challenge in January. I plan on being Mary Poppins for the half portion of that race also, but the 5km, 10km and full will have different pieces put together. As I train for these races and get myself pumped up, I now have my new RunDisney “In Training” hat to wear! I bought this online two months ago, had it sent to my mom’s house in the states, and she brought it up to me this trip. I wore this today as I set out on my first run since my septoplasty surgery!

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I was planning on doing a mile run very slow today. I have made a very slow and easy “get back into training” schedule for this month, as when I get back from my two-week WDW trip in August, official Dopey Challenge training will start. I hadn’t ran in two weeks and it was ridiculously hot even by 9 am. I set out on my route to the LDS church by Sunridge, but I am apparently an idiot because when I got there and my watch beeped for the mile, I didn’t realize I then had to turn around and run another mile back. I had only planned on doing a single mile today! Oops—must have just been anxious!

Thanks for reading today, and to all my Canadian readers—-Happy Canada Day! And to the American readers—-Happy early Independence Day!!

Disney Photo-Ops…It’s Tradition!

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There is always something new at WDW no matter how many times you go. It may be a ride, event, show, merchandise, restaurant or hotel. But there are always things you have to do each trip. This may be eat at a certain restaurant, see a certain show, go to a specific park first when arriving. It may also be taking the same photo as you do every year. In the same pose. In the same spot. With the same people.

Photo-op traditions have become more significant to me as the number of Disney trips I have gone in has increased. Family trips to Disney World with my mom and dad total 6, however, my overall total is much more. I went to Walt Disney World 3 times in high school with the Franklin High School Pom Pon Squad as part of the Badgerette All-Star Talent Tour. My mom and I have gone together 3 times since my dad passed away. And my friend Maureen and I have gone twice together. And this year I am getting an annual pass, since Maureen and I are going for a crazy 16 days in August of this year…my mom, husband, and I are going for the marathon weekend in January…and my mom and I will also go next July for a week. So yes, the current visits total 14 times, but after this year I will have been to my favorite place on Earth 17 times. Insanity!

Photo ops with my parents didn’t get that crazy until in later years when I started to feel nostalgic. I started making my mom take photos of me in the same pose as older photos probably in Spring 2003. That was the year I was in Photography class in High School and we could do whatever final project we wanted. I did a family trip to Walt Disney World scrapbook, where I used black and white film and captured moments from our final family trip to WDW. I put them in an old-timely scrapbook, wrote our captions, and decorated it appropriately. It was at the end of this album that I did a few “flashback photos.Below is one example I did, where you have a photo of me in October 1991 on our first trip, on the carousel, and a second photo of me in 2003, attempting to strike the same pose.

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Cute, right!?!? So now I make a point of doing photo-ops like these on trips I go on now. I love the nostalgic feeling and it reminds me of the great times we had on initial trips as a family. Another photo-op most people who visit WDW take part in is a photo with the wooden stockades as you enter Frontierland. I have a photo from every trip in this said stockade. And it all started with this solo photo in 1991:

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Please take note of my style and height. I am 7 years old and rockin’ a lavender and white tank top and corduroy short set. My fanny pack is gigantic, so I can fit my disposable camera and autograph book comfortably. I look to be in much pain, as I can barely reach the head hole. Go forward two years later, and it was a little better:

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October 1993. Again, matching tank tops and shorts must have been a thing, or at least it was for me. I upgraded my fanny pack to a gigantic pink one. Who the hell knows why? The only extra thing in there had to be my EPCOT “passport” that got stamped in every country. I didn’t do a good job of keeping it in there, though, as I left it in the United Kingdom bathroom. It did get recovered, thou. Phew! After 1993, it seemed like a good idea to add something to these annual trip photos. My dad:

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I am still a “style icon” with more patterned shorts and a coordinated tank top. However, the fanny pack has been ditched, since it is not cool anymore (Was it ever cool?). And I now do reach the stockade openings with no effort. But the addition of my dad in 1995 was glorious. He had his triple bypass surgery in June 1995, so this was a big trip for us three. In photos other than this one, you notice how thin he is, compared to his built-bulky-strong self we were use to. He never could fit his arms through those tiny openings, but he enjoyed posing with me anyway. May 1997 was the same old news

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Um, please…why didn’t someone tell me that my middle part in my hair was bad, that my ‘short-alls’ were ugly, and that I was a soccer player so I shouldn’t be wearing those Adidas shoes?. My dad was wearing his usual WDW garb-a muscle shirt, athletic shorts, sandals, and no sunscreen. Could it get any better?….

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Well, in June 2000 we messed up our positions, with me on the other side. But now I am back to what I was so good at back in the day-wearing patterned shorts and a matching tank top. Blue Hawaiian floral was so hot in the millennium…and I had a navy tank top to match. My dad coordinated with me well too, going for the American look of a red muscle shirt and navy blue shorts. Little did we realize his shirt coordinated so well with my unnecessarily massive red purse. Why do I always carry gigantic bags in WDW? In the heat nonetheless? I have to work on that.

So then there was one more family trip left. Spring break 2003. Little did we know this would be the last opportunity for a Dad-Daughter stockade photo. Even at 18 years old, I had to get this done. It was a tradition!:

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This one isn’t a total fashion disaster. Actually, we look pretty put together if I do say so myself. I now have jean shorts on and a crazy top, and dad has on his go-to athletic wear. I am hiding my gigantic purse somewhere, and we don’t look like idiots. We are happy to be in the stockade together.

Ever since this last trip I still always get a stockade photo taken, either by my mom or by Maureen. It has to be done! And this year maybe I can get Dan to start taking them with me, when we go down for the marathon. There are so many other photo-ops and traditions that occur on my WDW trips now, but this one is a personal favorite.

Below are three newer stockade photos, from August 2008, Spring Break 2010 (both trips with Maureen) and from August 2010 (with my mom). My mom has the photos from May 2004 and Spring Break 2006 at home, so I will need her to scan those for me…..hint hint Mom!

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and for one last final thought…lets take this full circle….Spring Break 2010…almost 20 years after the first carousel picture…

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