Posts Tagged by boardwalk

The Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge Part I – Disney Enchanted 10K

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When your flight gets indefinitely delayed the afternoon before you are about to take on a back to back race challenge, the panic begins to set in.  Will I make it?  Will I have to forego my registration for the first race?  Most importantly…will my vacation be cut short?!?

I found myself in this exact predicament on the Friday before I was about to take on the Glass Slipper Challenge during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  A thick fog had rolled into White Plains, NY and no planes were landing or taking off from our tiny little airport.  Our plane was diverted to Syracuse and we were patiently waiting for the fog to clear so it could come pick us up and take us to warmer climates.  Sigh…  After about 5 hours of waiting at the airport and frantic texts to Amanda who was waiting patiently to pick us up in Orlando, B and I finally got on the plane and headed south.

By the time we landed, grabbed a bite to eat, got to our hotel, unpacked and settled in, it was about 11:30 pm…MUCH later than I would’ve liked given that my alarm was set to go off at 3:30 am the next morning for the Enchanted 10K.  Luckily we had thought ahead and I had Amanda pick up my race packet earlier that day…phew!

We wearily rolled out of bed, got dressed in record time and headed over to Epcot for day 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Because we didn’t have time to stop at the store the night before, I didn’t have any food to fuel up with that morning and I was starving.  Thankfully there were food trucks!  I grabbed a banana and was good to go…I don’t know how that egg and cheese bagel would’ve sat during a 10K!

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We arrived very close to the start time so after inhaling the banana and making a quick pit stop, we headed into our corral.  I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling great about this race.  I had hoped to be better rested, but things don’t always go as planned.  So we decided that we were going to tackle the Inaugural Enchanted 10K with smiles on our faces no matter what!

All of a sudden, our corral was moving, fireworks were going off and the race had begun!

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The first half of the course was boooooooring.  These are always the most difficult miles for me as I get moving and all I kept thinking about was how I couldn’t wait to get into World Showcase.  However we did see Elsa from Frozen soon we left the starting line…

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And the sight of  thousands of runners pouring out of the Epcot toll booths was pretty cool…

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But that was about it until…

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Yay!  World Showcase Lagoon!  Can you see the humidity in the air?  Yowza

From here on, the race was a blast!  There were sights to see and characters everywhere.

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I even snuck in a photo with my favorite character Marie without standing in line!  Amanda has all the tricks 😉

A quick tour around the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake made for very tempting pit stops…

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I said hi to a few friends, including my girl Cindy, in front of the Beach Club before heading back into Epcot and back out into the parking lot for the big finish.

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And like that we were done!  It started sprinkling very soon after we crossed the finish line, so we grabbed our medals and made a bee line for the car.

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This was my first 10K at Walt Disney World and I really do love the distance.  I’m so glad that they have added this to many of the race weekends.  It’s challenging and can be completed fairly quickly, but there really needs to be some sort of entertainment added to Epcot Center Drive…that long stretch was painfully boring.  Plus with the shorter distance, you still have a fair amount of energy left over to get some good park touring in after the race.  I headed over to Animal Kingdom for a few hours to say hi to some animals and get in some fun character time.

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Later that day we headed to the Osceola County Fair to support Amanda’s daughter at the steer auction.  It was actually a really fun experience for this Northeast city girl!  The big bonus was that I got to hold her 2 week old goat!!  I look like a crazy person…

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After the fair we went to Splitsville for dinner where the service was severely lacking, but the food was good.  We also stopped in the new Fit2Run store in Downtown Disney for some KT Tape.  That place is nice…definitely check it out next time you are in the area.

Day 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge complete!  We headed to bed fairly early to get ready for day 2…my 3rd Princess Half Marathon!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

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Dopey Challenge: Four Days of Disney Running

When the Dopey Challenge was announced last March, I have to admit I was a bit shocked.  48.6 miles in 4 days…that sounds insane to me!  But over 7,000 took part in the challenge over Marathon Weekend and I have to admit, it looked like a blast!  Kristina is one of those Dopey runners who took on the challenge and as you will see, she loved every minute of it!  Plus, she has some great tips for any of your future Dopey runners…enjoy!

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Months ago, back in April 2013 if I remember correctly, I anxiously awaited the registration date for the 2014 Dopey Challenge. In my head I knew the prospect of running 48.6 miles over four days, waking up when some people are just going to bed to stomp pavement through four Disney parks was going to be a challenging task, but my heart was without reservation.

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This year marked my third year running in the Disney Marathon Weekend. My first year I ran the half marathon and last year I ran the Goofy Challenge.

So now on to the races. Wednesday night I was in bed before 10:00 pm to wake up at 4:20 am for the 5k race. This was “sleeping in” compared to the mornings for the 10k, half and full marathons. I caught the 5:00 am monorail to EPCOT and made it to Corral A by 5:45 am. Shortly thereafter, we were taken to the starting location.

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The race went by so quickly! We were on the roads then back in EPCOT, which is always so much fun to run in! I didn’t stop for any character photos because the lines were really long. I found the double edge sword of the Dopey Challenge was weighing the benefit of going slowly versus the benefit of getting off my feet quickly. For this race my decision to run slowly was overcome by my excitement and I ran a little bit too fast. But, I figured the 5k would not detriment me when running the full marathon.

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Tips for the 5k: run the race you want. If you want to be speedy, be speedy. If you want to walk, walk. If you want every character picture, go for it. This race, compared to the heavy training for a marathon, should feel like a walk in the park. 🙂

Thursday night was another early to bed night. The 10k race packs a little more punch as it’s double the distance of the 5k and more comparable to a training run. This race  was fun because my mom and two sorority sisters ran this race. The one sorority sister also ran the Dopey Challenge!

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This was a great first year for the race. I loved being able to run the boardwalk side of the Boardwalk Resort, and to run the Yacht and Beach Club side as preparation for the full marathon.

A downfall of the 10k was the waiting time in the corrals. I started back in Corral C with my friend and the wait was slightly aggravating. This was echoed by my mother who was in Corral D and felt her muscles tightening up waiting for her corral to start. I don’t know how or if Disney can fix this because the course is very narrow in some locations and I’m sure they planned the start times accordingly. Perhaps Disney needs to implement smaller and more corrals next year to combat this problem.  Another issue with this race, but something that can easily be fixed, is the lack of Powerade at the water stops. Because the race, like all Disney races, is early, my friend got hungry on the run. One Powerade stop would have been helpful.

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Tips for the 10k: treat this race like an easy training run. There were plenty of character stops, port-a-potties and water stops, but one stop with Powerade would have been nice. The distance is definitely manageable for someone running a marathon, but it’s best and safest to treat this as a training run in preparation for the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. It’s good to give your muscles a rest.

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On to the half marathon. This race is no slouch. 13.1 miles even after months of marathon training is a long distance. This race was really important because it marked my sister’s first ever half marathon! I was so excited for her!

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My friend from the 10k was also running making this Saturday half marathon such a special time. I was in Corral C, my friend was in Corral E and my sister was in Corral F, but we all decided to join my sister in Corral F to make the waiting more enjoyable.

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The corrals started much faster for the half and that was appreciated. We started off with a nice easy pace. Even though this was the third time I’ve run the half marathon, I still got teary eyed entering into Magic Kingdom! There is nothing quite like seeing the mass amount of people along Main Street! I even spotted my friends parents so we stopped for some pictures!

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During the race I accidentally separated from my sister and friend. However, after two miles of solo running I met a wonderful lady named Dawn. She was great! We ended up chatting for about two miles. Meeting people on the course is one thing I love about runDisney races! Good luck getting your Boston Qualifier, Dawn!

I received an update on my sisters progress around the 9 mile or so mark. I realized if I sped up a little I’d be able to catch her. I gradually increased my pace and met up with her around mile 11. It was awesome to be able to finish the last two miles of my sister’s first half marathon with her! We got some really cute pictures together too 🙂

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Tips for the half marathon: if taking the 5k and 10k slowly is not your style, I, without a doubt, recommend making it your style for the half marathon. 13.1 miles is not an easy distance and running it hard will not make for much fun in the full marathon. The phrase “slow and steady wins the race” should be applied here. Run the race conservatively – about as slow as an easy run – unless you want this race to be the race you push yourself in to get a PR or a good half marathon time. When you approach a water stop, I am a big proponent of running to a cup, then running to a location off in the grass so I can walk while drinking. I have not effectively mastered the running while drinking. Nine times out of ten I end up with water up my nose, water down my shirt and a sip in my mouth. Not the best way to hydrate. Enjoy the sites because there is nothing quite like seeing Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom or running down Main Street with the crowds roaring with applause for you! Also, the walk to the half marathon start is about .7 of a mile. I always walk on the grass. It takes pressure off the feet, ankles, knees and hips and gets you to the start a bit faster.

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Finally, the full marathon, the last leg of the Dopey Challenge! Granted this is also more than half of the overall 48.6 miles. When my alarm sounded at 3:00 I was out of bed and ready to roll. My dear friend Chrissy, who was on the trip with me and my family, was kind enough to come to the start with me. I needed the company and the distraction. I was close to tears waiting for the monorail. I think all the excitement I felt from the races was about to pour out of me.

I followed my half marathon tip and walked on the grass to the start. But, I had to use the restroom. My goodness were the lines long. And, they only grew as I got closer to Corral C. So, I parked myself in a line and waited about 20 minutes to use a port-a-potty. By the time I got in Corral C I had five minutes until the official start. Talk about cutting it close! I found the 3:35 pace group and decided to hang on with that pace for as long as I could. I met another lovely runner named Andrea waiting to start the race. It was so wonderful talking with her for a few miles. I felt badly that I didn’t see her at the finish because I wanted to tell her I made it to the finish sub 3:35.

Back to the race, though. It was not easy. From the moment we took off I felt like I was running too fast. I kept thinking this isn’t going to end well. I’m going to hit the wall way too soon. The run through Magic Kingdom was a great boost as it always is and I took my first gel just after running under Cinderella’s Castle. By the time I saw my parents at the Grand Floridian, just after mile 7, I thought the crash was going to come. Fortunately, it didn’t.

The next point of near crash potential was at Animal Kingdom. I saw my sister and friend Chrissy, but not my parents. I felt defeated a little at that point. I later learned the transportation was a nightmare and my parents were stuck on a bus.

Anyway, I continued along at whatever pace felt comfortable, keeping the 3:35 pace group in sight. I got a resurgence of energy on my way to the wide world of sports complex. I felt good and knew that I had less than a half marathon left. I kept thinking in terms of training runs and knew I could make it across the finish line. The wide world of sports complex was filled with such great energy too!

I kept my pace steady and plugged along to Hollywood Studios. Making the right turn into Hollywood Studios is an exhilarating feeling. There are just over three miles left. A distance so manageable, but these usually feel like all the other miles combined. I don’t know if I hit a true marathon wall or if I was just so tired from the cumulative effect of all the other miles. I couldn’t feel my arms, my eyelids were heavy, my breathing was more labored. Not fun. Then, I heard the shouting of my name! It was my sister and Chrissy again! What an awesome surprise! Spectators deserve a medal for being such great support! Chrissy told me I was right on pace for a BQ (Boston Qualifying time) so I pushed on and knew I could do it if I made it through these last two and change miles.

They were the hardest miles of the race but certainly the most rewarding. I came into EPCOT and pushed as hard as I could to the finish. I crossed the line in 3:34:33 and met another great lady named Melinda! She told me I got the Boston time! Woohoo!!

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Tips for the marathon: I heard a number of people say they planned to take the marathon slowly. In my opinion if you’ve had a great bout of training, go hard in the marathon. I also followed the half marathon advice and walked after the water stops. It doesn’t significantly hurt the overall running time and it’s a far better way to hydrate. But, it’s important, in my opinion, to walk in the grass near the trash bins. Walking down the water stop aisle can be a recipe for disaster. A non-running tip is to MAKE FRIENDS! I had such a blast talking with so many different people this weekend and would highly recommend chatting it up on the course. One thing I love about running is how friendly the running community is to others in the sport. Whether your goal is a time goal, to do the race without walking or to just finish make sure to have fun! If you’re considering the Dopey Challenge, don’t let the fear of the 26.2 mile distance keep you from running it. This is a race in the happiest place on earth!

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Big congrats Kristina on finishing the Dopey Challenge AND qualifying for Boston!!  Wear those rad shoes with pride!!

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Kristina Drnjevich is an assistant prosecutor in Northeast Ohio. In her free time, she loves to run, do yoga, read and spend time with friends. She ran her first half marathon in 2011 and her first marathon in 2012. She’s run, including the races from the Dopey Challenge, six half marathons and three full marathons. The runDisney Marathon Weekend has become a tradition for her family ever since she ran the half marathon in 2012!
Find Kristina here:   Twitter   Instagram

Inaugural Walt Disney World Minnie Mouse 10K Race Recap

10Ks are a great race distance.  More challenging than a 5K, but not as big of a commitment as a half marathon.  It’s a great next step for beginner runners who are looking to take it up a notch.  I’m so glad runDisney added this distance to the race roster and Ashley is here to give us a recap of the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K over Marathon Weekend.  It looked like it was a great time and I love those Minnie medals!

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Soon after running the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I started signing up for more-and-more long-distance races, and I nervously signed up to run the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon. At the same time, I was excited to see that the weekend was featuring an inaugural 10k spotlighting Minnie Mouse herself! I knew I had to do it. (Hubby and I each picked 2 races for the weekend. He chose to train for the Goofy Challenge.)

I was looking forward to every aspect of our trip: the flight, the Expo, the 10k, Magic Kingdom, the half, Downtown Disney, the full, and a celebratory dinner at ‘Ohana, all of which I’ll be recapping on my blog, Running MOMmentum. Check back for updates!

{What I ate} Although we had made 3 ADRs for our trip, we didn’t really have plans for dinner Thursday night other than finding something at our resort, Pop Century. After a full day of traveling and walking around ESPN for the Expo, we were ravenous! As luck would have it, Wide World of Sports was offering a runners’ special of chicken alfredo penne pasta with a side of bread – just steps outside of Expo in the HP Field House and where Jeff Galloway was speaking! The food was quick, yummy, affordable, and the perfect carb-load! On Friday morning, I opted for a Zone bar and some Gatorade that my husband had whipped up from an airport-friendly powder mix.

{What I wore} I bought a new hot pink tank from Lululemon and paired it with purple C9 running shorts that I found on clearance at Target just in time for the race! I also sported a purple SweatyBand thin glittery headband, pearl earrings, hot pink Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s, a black and hot pink SPIBelt, and Brooks running socks. Oh and loads of (pink) KT tape on my feet.

Call me crazy, but I woke up at 2:30 on race morning to STRAIGHTEN MY HAIR. If you have curly hair like me, you can relate. (But of course, in the humid Florida air, it was curly again by the time the race started!)

Catching the shuttle from Pop Century to Epcot was no problem – I was at Epcot by 4:07 AM. I’m not sure how they assigned the corrals for this race, but I found mine pretty easily (there were only 5, A-E). My sister was in a different corral with her friends, and I headed over to wish them luck before the race. I ended up deciding to tag along with them for the run, knowing that they wanted to take it super easy before the marathon on Sunday. I knew it’d be more fun to run this race in a group.

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Just before it was our turn to run at 6 AM, I got a phone call from the superintendent of the school system where I work as a School Counselor. He was calling to notify us that schools were on a 2-hour delay due to icy roads! I had to laugh to myself, as I wore my shorts and tank top.

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True to the character of runDisney, each corral started with a beautiful crisscross of shimmery fireworks.

We were off and running! The group was taking it slowly to save energy for the marathon, so I took their cue and used the time to enjoy the race. I ran holding a camera in each hand – my Canon S90 in my right hand, my iPhone in my left. These helped me remember specific details, mile markers, and times.

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Despite holding two cameras, there wasn’t much to photograph until Mile 3 at Epcot. Most of the race before Epcot was all highway, with one photo stop with Peter Pan and Wendy that we skipped. Soon we were entering World Showcase, which was a photo op in-and-of itself! We stopped to admire the gorgeous golden lights reflecting from World Showcase onto the lagoon.

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France is still one of my favorite backdrops in World Showcase. I remember stopping there for chocolate croissants last year with my family and then-7-month-old son, whom I nursed on a park bench outside the patisserie. I just love the fountains!

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Goofy was positioned soon after, but we didn’t stop to wait in line. He was, oddly enough, wearing a football uniform. (Reason?) After finishing Mile 5, I scoped out the Epcot resorts sprinkled around the boardwalk, toeing the sand and once again not believing my luck that I was not back in icy Virginia!

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The race path took us under the monorail line and behind a photo spot with Chip ‘n Dale, whom we’d see after both the half and full marathons later that weekend. Spaceship Earth came into perfect view and Mile 5 turned into Mile 6 right afterward.

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At that point, I recognized the large puppets from the Princess Half, which were leftover from the Mile 20 celebration at Disney Marathon Weekend 2013. I spotted Genie and Lumiere, but not Sebastian. The gospel choir was also conspicuously missing from the 10k, although they reappeared for the longer races.

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I’m always excited to see the finish line, but Disney races are so exciting that it’s also sad for them to be over! We began the final 0.2 mile stretch toward the finish line and decided to cross all together in a straight line. And finish we did! We were handed our medals, which felt very unceremonious to me.

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We met the rest of our boys at the finish line – they had found each other after finishing the 10k leg of Dopey. runDisney had food for us – bananas, a food box (with handles!), water, and Powerade. The food box selections remained identical for every race over the four-day race weekend. It contained: Ocean Spray Craisins, a FreshNap wipe, a tub of Hickory Farms White Cheddar, Skittles (almost my whole bag was yellow!), a Builder’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar, almond pops with blueberries, and sea salt corn chips.

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I took one picture of Minnie after the race but decided to bypass her line, since I knew I’d see her at Magic Kingdom later that day. We soon hopped onto our shuttle back to Pop Century so that we could shower and snack a bit before reapplying our sunscreen and heading out to Magic Kingdom for the day!

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I’m so excited to be writing a race recap for Running at Disney today! I’m Ashley, and I blog over at Running MOMentum. I’m an elementary school counselor by day, but when I am home, I’m a cloth-diapering, nursing, babywearing mommy to my sweet boy. My husband and I are living in a toddler’s world! Blogging is my way of processing and reflecting on my experiences and relishing in the loves of my life – my faith, my family, my friends, and my experiences!

I ran cross country in high school but took a hiatus after a spinal fusion, and only recently returned to running about a year before my son was born. My favorite races have been at Disney – the 2013 Princess Half Marathon, the 2014 Inaugural Minnie 10k, and the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon! You might also catch me taking pictures, writing, finding freebies, attempting to cook, attending Bible study, scouring Pinterest, and scrolling through Bloglovin. Virginia has always been home to me, my husband, our son, and our sprightly Jack Russell Terrier, Scout.

Long Branch Half Marathon Expo and Pre-Race Shenanigans

I signed up for the Long Branch Half Marathon only a few weeks ago because  had been looking for a flat, fast course where I could improve my time and this seemed perfect!  I grew up in this area and my dad still lives there, so I had a place to stay and I was fairly familiar with the course.  The finish line was also very special to me because it was right where B and I got married.  So with little training and my fingers crossed, I signed up for my 5th half marathon!

The race was on Sunday, May 5th so B and I drove the 2 hours to the Shore on Saturday morning so I get to packet pick-up.  The race expo was held at Monmouth Race Track, which was also the starting area for the race.  The funny thing about this day was that the track was showing the live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby and the windows were open to take bets.  Needless to say the crowd was an interesting mix of athletes and well, non-athletes… 01 LB Half_Monmoth ParkI had been to Monmouth Park many times in my youth as I used to love to watch the horses, but I guess I blocked out how small and dark it is in there.  Kind of seedy… 02 LB Half_Expo1The expo had a good mix of vendors, but the area was very crowded so I just headed straight towards packet pick-up. 03 LB Half_Expo2 As usual, I forgot to bring my waiver so I had to look up my bib number.  Unlike Disney where you do this yourself on a computer, here they had a booth where someone did that for you.  It was all very easy.  I then headed to pick up my bib, get my spectator parking pass and my shirt. 04 LB Half_Packet Pickup 05 LB Half_Race BibThe whole process took less than 10 minutes.  It was very well organized and a hassle free experience!  We didn’t stay long because we were famished so I did a quick browse of the merch and took off.

We met my friend Stephen on the Asbury Park boardwalk for lunch.  Considering all of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, I was surprised to see that the boardwalk and some of the business were open.  A good portion of the boardwalk had recently been replaced and you could even smell the new wood. 07 LB Half_Asbury BoardwalkI had wanted to get tacos at Pop’s Garage, but sadly that hadn’t reopened yet.  So we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant called Stella Marina.  YUM!  I was so hungry that I forgot to take pictures, but I had a wonderful roast pork panini with arugula salad…perfect pre-race lunch!  I definitely want to return here for a nice dinner one day.  Oh and check out these awesome chandeliers! 08 LB Half_BottlesAfter lunch we made a quick stop at the grocery store for my morning supplies of bagels and bananas and then headed to my Dad’s to relax a bit.  We all love to cook so everyone had a hand in dinner.  We put together a healthy, pre-race meal of grilled BBQ chicken, roasted potatoes & cauliflower, tomato salad and avocado.  YUM!!! 09 LB Half_PreRace MealAfter dinner we watched Silver Linings Playbook (which was one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time!) and I headed to bed around 11.  That 4:30 am alarm was about to come way too soon!

Full race recap coming up!

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 2

Part 1 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap left off just outside of Animal Kingdom.  I was halfway through the race and still feeling really good.  My friend Katherine (KO) found me just as we were leaving the parking lot at Mile 14.  It was really great to see her and have someone to talk to.  My iPod decided to die right when I turned it on, so I had been running with no music and no one to talk to this whole time.

We made our way onto Osceola Parkway and began the trek to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS).  I had run Osceola during the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon so I knew I was in for a long haul.  What I didn’t expect (since those 2 races are run at night) is how bad the sun was going to be during this stretch.  It was almost 9:00 am and the sun was at full blast over the trees and there was barely any shade.  We continued on with the 3/1 run/walk pace for a while, but I found that I needed to walk for longer periods of time.  Osceola also has a ton of overpasses which means hills…not fun!

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

B and my mom were meeting me on Osceola right before we made the turn into WWOS and I couldn’t wait to see them!  Just knowing they were there was making it easier to push through the heat.  B took some fun photos while he was waiting…those cups are quite the sight!

Mile 17 Water Stop...cups, cups and more cups!

Mile 17 Water Stop…cups, cups and more cups!

Seriously awesome costume That hat must have been hot!

Seriously awesome costume
That hat must have been hot!

Oh...here I am!

Oh…here I am!

I immediately dove into the bag I packed and grabbed more body glide to lube up under my sports bra (TMI again??).  I was trying to avoid chafing at all costs…I have no shame and did that right on Osceola Parkway in front of thousands of my friends.  I also switched out my sweaty headband, gave B my dead iPod, restocked my Gu, filled my water bottles and grabbed some crackers.

Diving into my bag of goodies

Diving into my bag of goodies

Look it's Katherine...in the cutest Aurora costume I might add!

Look it’s Katherine…in the cutest Aurora costume!

B said I was looking good at that point…totally the opposite to what I was starting to feel.  I really wanted to just jump in the car with them and go grab a beer, but no…KO and I took off into WWOS.  As we entered the complex there were sponges…ooohhh sponges!  VoluntEARS were handing out sponges soaked in water that were the most amazing things EVER!  I have to admit that when I first saw there were sponges on the course, I was a little grossed out by them but I was totally wrong…the cold water was perfect in that heat.  I just wish I would’ve kept it for later in the race.  Fail!

I won’t go into much detail about WWOS because the whole 3 miles spent in there was my demise.  I really didn’t enjoy this part of the course.  There was barely any shade, it was hot, humid and most of all it was boring.  Around mile 18, my legs started getting sore and I was mentally starting to break down.  This was the farthest I’d ever run (we won’t get into my lack of training here…that’s for another day) and the heat was beating me down.  At least this guy was here to cheer me up a bit…

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We ran through Champion Stadium and on to the mile 20 spectacular we heard so much about.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I felt like the spectacular wasn’t all that spectacular.  Yes, the giant sized puppets were very cool, but I was more blown away by them when they were out during Wine & Dine when they were all lit up.

Mile 20 Spectacular

Mile 20 Spectacular

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Giant Tigger!

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Goofy, Mickey and Donald waving and greeting all of us and the 20 mile banner was pretty cool.  I just think that between the heat and the oncoming exhausting I was looking forward to a SPECTACULAR and I just got a small party.

Look who made an appearance!

Look who made an appearance!

Mile 20

Mile 20

Ok, all that was left was a 10K…I could totally do that.  It was a mental battle from here on out.  Yes, my quads were screaming and I was starting to feel some blisters forming on my feet, but I could push through that.  My goal was to just get through the next 2.5 miles to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I knew that I could easily get through the rest.

These 2.5 miles sucked.  You know that wall you always hear about…well I hit it here.  I had nothing left in me.  There were buses set up at mile 21 for people to get on who couldn’t go any further and I seriously considered hopping on, but I sucked it up and kept trucking.  I had people counting on me to finish…I was counting on me to finish!!  I need to thank my friend Cindy who was virtually cheering me on for the entire race…her encouragement really helped here!!  How awesome is she?!?!

Thanks Cindy xoxo

Thanks Cindy xoxo

I was glad to see my favorite green army men on the on ramp to World Drive…they always make me laugh.  Some runners were doing push ups with them which was awesome…I would’ve loved to partake and show off my hard work from CrossFit but I just didn’t have it in me.  My friends Jenn & Danielle did though…bad ass ladies, bad ass!

Yes sir!

Yes sir!

Our friend Carrie caught up to us here and it was so great to see her!  She was struggling as well, so we all tried to motivate each other to get through this last stretch of HOT highway!  At the mile 22 water stop, I really slowed down to refuel.  I don’t normally drink Powerade, but I knew with this heat that I had to make it a priority.  From the beginning of the race I was taking a Powerade and a water at every stop and mixing them together.  Early on I also took a salt packet at the recommendation of my CrossFit coach (thanks Jay!) and I think the combination of all of that really kept me hydrated through the race.  I just had to force myself to keep drinking.  Carrie & KO were a ways ahead of me and I motioned for them to keep going….I didn’t want to hold them back and I really needed to get my head back in the game.

Finally, my favorite hotel was in sight, the Hollywood Tower Hotel 🙂  This meant we were entering the Studios, this meant we were in the home stretch!

The Studios!

The Studios!

Just as we entered, there was a food station with chocolate!  Normally I would’ve loved this, but I just couldn’t bare the thought of eating that in the heat.  I would’ve loved an ice pop or something!  We weren’t in the Studios for long, but it was just what I needed.  Running down Hollywood Boulevard was amazing!  The park was open to guests and they were cheering us on!  We hadn’t had a good cheering squad since Champion Stadium and the energy here was perfect.

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

As I was leaving the Studios, I got a text from B checking in on me.  People were coming across the finish line severely dehydrated and he wanted to make sure I kept drinking.

Awesome hubs :)

Awesome hubs 🙂

Apparently, I wanted to die because that’s the second person I told.  Ha!  Well something happened after this text…I got some sort of second wind!  I popped my last Gu and headed down the the pathway to the Boardwalk.  At the mile 24 water stop, the volunteers were giving “Dasani showers” by just pouring the bottle over our heads.  BEST!  This must have rejuvenated me because I picked up my speed and started really running again!

2.2 to go!!

2.2 to go!!

Love this guy!

Love this guy!

I was shocked to see Carrie and KO again as we passed the Beach Club…someone really lit a fire under my ass!  I think they were just as shocked to see me too.  KO decided to start running with me and Carrie just encouraged us to go on.  We passed the last water stop and finally, we were in Epcot.  This was it…I was almost there!

Entering World Showcase

Entering World Showcase

We had run into our friend Todd just before Epcot, who is part of the WDW Radio Running Team and he said the whole group was right in the UK cheering.  And man were they cheering…that was awesome!  My friends Jillian and Kelly were also there…I’m sure I looked to be in a very different state from when they saw me earlier in the Magic Kingdom.  I almost ran over and grabbed Jillian’s beer, but I had to focus on this last mile.  I was very close to the 7 hour mark and was determined to finish under that.

World Showcase was horrible.  If you’ve ever walked around there on a warm day, you know it can be like the Bataan Death March.  Now try doing that after running 25 miles…WORST!  It felt like it was going on forever and ever and ever.  But finally, we made it to Future World and I knew what was in store…my favorite gospel choir!

A beautiful sight!

A beautiful sight!

As I rounded the corner towards the Epcot parking lot for those last .2 miles, I was in shock.  The amount of people who were there cheering was insanely overwhelming.  It was nothing like I had ever seen before.  It literally stopped me in my tracks and I became overwhelmed with emotion.

Look at all those people!!

Look at all those people!!

Even MORE people!

Even MORE people!

And there she was…the finish line.  I had made it all 26.2 miles.

The Finish Line!!

The Finish Line!!

I crossed strong with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe I actually just did that and to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.  Running a marathon never seemed like a possibility to me.  I’m an ex-smoker, I have ulcerative colitis, I’m clearly overweight…people like me don’t run marathons.  Well guess what…I DID!!

26.2 DONE...BOOM!

26.2 DONE…BOOM!

I staggered over to the medal area to find my friend Aurora who was giving out medals.  She actually found me first and put that beauty around my neck.  She gave me a huge hug and I just started balling.  Aurora had given me my first half marathon medal at Princess less than a year before and now she was giving me my first marathon medal.  Couldn’t be anymore perfect than that.

I grabbed my food, a Powerade, 2 waters and set off to find my family.  People were dropping like flies all around me from dehydration and the heat.  They had a health official right after the water making everyone who passed her open up a bottle and take a drink or she wouldn’t let them pass.  It was a little scary so I just kept on drinking to be safe.

I found my Mom first and she gave me a huge hug.  I can’t say enough how important it was to me that she was there supporting me…it really made what I just did worth while to see the smile on her face.  And then there is B…sigh.  I can’t write this without tearing up because he has been the most amazingly supportive husband through this whole journey.  He listens to all my craziness about running and travels with me to these races.  He listens to me complain when my legs are sore and pours ice in my recovery bath even when I protest.  He’s my #1 cheerleader.  Oh and the best part, he had a beer waiting for me after the marathon 🙂

Post race beer...hellz yeah!

Post race beer…hellz yeah!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer...I look exhausted!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer…I look exhausted!

The family reunion area was hectic, but I did manage to run into Andy from Attractions Magazine.  We had been talking a lot before the race since it was a first marathon for both of us, so it was great to see him!

50 Post Race_2

Hey Andy!

We got on the bus back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was get in an ice bath and a shower!  My official time was 6:55:13, almost an hour longer than I had hoped.  But with all the challenges I faced (being sick, heat, humidity, etc…) I am just happy that I finished!  I’m not sure I will ever do this again.  The distance was just too long for me, but we’ll see.  All I know is,  I can officially say that I’m a marathoner and that’s pretty awesome 🙂

MARATHONER!

MARATHONER!

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

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