Posts Tagged by boardwalk

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Race Recap

I hope you like photos because you’re going to see A LOT here!  What can I say, I get photo happy on Disney races 🙂

This race is by far my favorite runDisney race to date.  The atmosphere, the entertainment, the course and the after party were just great!  But let me not get ahead of myself.  Here’s how the day went…

Fueling for night races has always been something I’ve struggled with as far as timing and what to eat, etc…  We got some great tips from Jeff Galloway and Tara Gidus at the runDisney Meet Up the day before, so I was feeling a little more comfortable going into this one.  I decided to start the day off with a late breakfast at Kouzzina, one of my favs!  I got the spinach, tomato & feta scramble, bacon and substituted the potatoes with their yummy sweet potato hash and the toast with blueberries and bananas.  Great pre-race fuel!

Favorite Kouzzina Breakfast!

After breakfast, Amanda and I were headed over the the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Golf Tournament being held at Shades of Green to cover the event.  This was a lot of fun and a great way to spend an easy afternoon.  I’ll have more to come on the event soon.  Oh and look who I ran into there, I haven’t seen Donald since the Princess Half Marathon! 😉

After walking around for a while, we decided to head back to our room at the Boardwalk to rest our legs for the race.  But we made two quick pitstops.  First was a quick drive through the Walt Disney World Speedway to see where we will be running for the 20th Anniversary Marathon in January, followed by a smoothie stop at Landscape of Flavors at the Art of Animation Resort.  We stopped there for a small lunch and I was pleasantly surprised that they had a fresh fruit smoothie bar there.  Just was I was craving!

Blueberry, Banana & Mango Smoothie

Figuring we had a long night ahead of us, we took a nap to rest up before grabbing dinner.  There are many dinner choices at the Boardwalk, but I was looking for something that would fill me up, be gluten free, yet still not be too heavy.  After looking at menus, we settled on the ESPN Club for what we thought would be a quick bite.  I went with the Champion Chicken Sandwich with no bread and all the sauces on the side.  While the food was good, the service and the atmosphere were not so great.  It took forever to get our food and the crowd was a bit loud watching college football.  It probably would’ve been better to order dinner and take it back to the room to eat in peace.

Pre-Race Dinner

We started getting ready around 6:30 pm so we could get on the bus over the the start line at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS) in time since the last bus was at 8.  We headed down around 7:30 pm and were greeted with a HUGE line that wound almost back to the hotel.  This was very different from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler when we walked right on the bus around the same time pre-race.  There wasn’t any explanation for the delay, they just must have been short on buses, but we ended up waiting in line for about 40 minutes before we finally got on a bus.  Not the ideal situation for runners to be standing around this long before a half marathon.

Loooooong Bus Line

Amanda & I made it on the bus

We arrived at WWOS around 8:20 pm and the holding area was packed!  I headed straight to bag check and it was pretty chaotic.  The lines were long and the volunteers were yelling at us to hurry up and tie our bags properly, but wouldn’t tell us what that meant.  They all seemed very frazzled and didn’t instill a lot of confidence that my bag would arrive safely over to Epcot.  Once my bag was checked, we headed into the crowd to find our friends who were in the insanely long line for pictures with Chef Mickey.

Bag Check Area

Photo Line for Chef Mickey…he’s down by those lights!

Sarah-Irene, Carrie, Kevin, Amanda & I waiting for Chef Mickey

Since I had already had my photo taken with Chef Mickey at the meet up the day before, I was more interested in getting in the LONG line for the bathrooms and getting into our corral for a good starting spot.  I’m glad I decided to do this because we ended up waiting in line for another 30 minutes to use the bathroom.  This was turning into the pre-race of lines, lines and more lines.

Crazy Bathroom Line!

Sarah-Irene (Sid), Amanda and I moved into Corral C at about 9:20 pm and slowly made our way to the front.  Our friend Jim caught up with us and we all decided to stick together for the race and have a good time.  The four of us started this running journey together back in 2010 with the inaugural Mickey’s Halloween Fun Run 5K  and thought it would be fun to do this race together.

Moving Into Corral C

Before we knew it they were singing the National Anthem and Corral A was off with the usual runDisney fanfare of fireworks.  I popped a Gu and we started making our way up to the starting line….this is when the nerves start kicking in!  Or was it just excitement??  It’s really hard to tell the difference!

Starting Fireworks

Waiting at the Starting Line!

Then 10 minutes later we were off!  Here’s a quick video of our start 🙂

Right off the bat, I knew this race was going to be better than the ToT 10-Miler the month before.  The first character stop came less than a mile into the course right on Oceola Parkway with Chip & Dale all decked out in tuxedos in front of a sparkling piano.  Not far after that was a live band that had such great energy…I couldn’t help to stop and dance 🙂

Chip & Dale

Awesome Band!

Somewhere between mile 2 & 3 I saw a bunch of motorcycles and official runDisney vehicles coming down the other side of Oceola and I knew the leaders were coming down the road.  Now they were already between miles 6 & 7 at that point so they were MOVING!  I was hoping I was going to see the winner of the Wine & Dine Half from the past 2 years Anton Van Zyl, who I had the privilege of meeting the day before at the meet up.  We actually ran into him on the bus on the way to WWOS and I wished him luck.  He wasn’t the leader at the time, but Anton was hot on his tails in 2nd place.  I ran across the median to snap a pic and gave Anton a big shout out!

Wine & Dine Leader at Mile 6

We were making pretty good time at the 5K mark with a time of 43:10.  This is slower than I had hoped, but with all the excitement and photo breaks I was happy with that.  The mile 3 marker was by far my favorite with a bunch of fun people cheering and waiving Austrailian and New Zealand flags.  Each marker was themes after the countries represented at the Food & Wine Festival this year…clever.

Mile 3 Festivities

It was around this time that we headed into Animal Kingdom.  We were greeted in the parking lot by the fun spinning floats from the Main Street Electrical Parade and the sounds of Baroque Hoedown.  The floats were spinning around like crazy…I want to drive one of those some day!

Main Street Electrical Parade Floats

As we entered the park, there were giant tusks lit up along the path to guide us through the dark.  This was so cool!  I had heard about it from prior years, but seeing it in person was a whole other thing.  Rafiki was there for photos and a few of the puppeteers from Mickey’s Jamin’ Jungle Parade were on hand as well.  It made for a great entrance up to the Tree of Life.  This was my first time being in Animal Kingdom at it was breathtaking (and not just because I was running).

Giant Tusks!

Tree of Life

Amanda had separated from the group before we got to Animal Kingdom and we finally met up again in Asia.  The four of us went along like this for the rest of the race….one or two would either fall behind or move ahead, but we would all meet up again at some point.  This was my first time running with a group and I have to say it was A LOT of fun!  It was great to have someone to talk to when the going got rough or simply share a laugh with.

Leaving Animal Kingdom we were at mile 5 and headed back down Osceola Parkway towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The next 3 miles flew by for some reason, which was a ok for me!  And of course I had to stop for a little more dancing along the way 🙂

There’s always time for dancing!

My favorite hotel!
Entering the Studios…

I love the Hollywood Studios and I especially love it at night.  I hadn’t been to WDW around the holidays in over 10 years,  so I knew I was in for a real treat with the Osborne lights coming up.  We entered the park next to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and headed up Sunset Boulevard.  All of the holiday decor was up and it looked beautiful!

On Sunset Boulevard with Sid & Jim!

It’s amazing to me how much mileage runDisney manages to get into the Studios since it is such a small park.  They wind you around each nook & cranny and through a ton of backstage areas.  I was familiar with some of this since it was part of the course for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, but it still seemed to go on forever.  We even ran into Wreck-It-Ralph back there!

We’re Going to Wreck-It!

Oh the lights…the Streets of America were all aglow with the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (sans dancing).  I’m really going to date myself here, but the last time I saw the lights was when they were on Residential Street in the Backlot and I don’t recall they danced at that time.  These are so cool…definitely one of the highlights of the whole race for me.  Sid and I even took a second to stop and appreciate the spectacle 🙂

We were now on the home stretch.  Heading out of the Studios we were at mile 11 and about to head down the canal to the Epcot Resort Area.  On the way, there was this really fun live band parked on a few pontoon boats.  It probably was about 1:00 am at this point, but they were still in full swing as well as waiving and cheering for us…I LOVED this!

The walkway past the Boardwalk was a little tight, so we walked most of it.  This is a great area for spectators if you are staying around there and it seemed like a meet up point for many runners.  However, it did add to the congestion a bit, so if you’re a spectator the Yacht & Beach Club area might be a little better.  Since I was staying at the Boardwalk Inn, it was a little difficult to not make a detour for my nice comfy bed.  But that new runDisney bling was almost in my grasps and I kept on truckin’.

The Gorgeous Boardwalk Resort

The course bypassed the Boardwalk and went past the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.  I was amazed by how many people were still out cheering.  It was so encouraging…thank you to all of you strangers out there!  Someone did call it a night, but thankfully left my favorite sign of the race.

At this point the Fantastic Foursome were all together and we decided to stay that way for the last mile.  We were getting tired, but still having fun.

One Mile to Go!

The Fantastic Foursome!
Best running mates ever!

On to Epcot!  You know that overpass from the Beach Club to International Gateway??  Yeah, that thing sucked…  But we were rewarded with these AMAZING puppets.  There was Lumiere and Genie…super cool.

We went into a backstage area, past a ton of trash (phew!) and entered Epcot between the Land and Imagination Pavillions.  I was so excited we were able to run through Future World this year.  The past two years ended right outside the park, so this was definitely an added bonus.  Then to see all of the people cheering…whoa!  It was like running down Main Street USA for the Princess Half Marathon, but WAY more festive.  They only bad part was that no one handed me a beer…what up with that?!

That last mile seemed to go on forever.  I guess it was making up for how fast 5 – 8 went by.  I just felt like we were never going to get to that finish line.  Just before mile marker 13, we saw Sid’s husband John cheering us on, which was a much needed push to get us through.  Thanks John!  There was a really cool laser effect at Mile 13, which kept the actual finish line hidden from sight and felt like we were running into some foggy tunnel.  Definitely a fun perk of running a night race!

We rounded the corner and there she was…the finish line!  And who else was there to greet us but Chef Mickey!  I guess he finished all the prep for the After Party by that point 😉  The four of us grabbed hands and crossed that finish line together.  The perfect ending to a great race.

Chef Mickey!

Another Half Under Our Belts!

Oh and then I got this bad boy…

My official chip time was 3:25:07.  That’s a good 25 minutes slower than my last half in June and I know I could’ve subbed 3 hours for this race, but time didn’t matter.  As you can see, I had a blast with my friends and enjoyed all of the Disney atmosphere.  I’ve come to realize that for me Disney races aren’t about time, they are about the experience.  There are plenty of other half marathons that I can run for much cheaper and that are closer to home where I can set a PR and I really hope to do that in the future.  But when I runDisney, I want to enjoy myself and not pay attention to the clock.  Does anyone else feel this way?

After the race, I made a stop at the medical tent for some ice for my shins just to be safe.  They actually held up really well with the KT Tape (my favorite invention ever!) but I thought ice would be smart.  I picked up my bag which thankfully arrived safely and headed over to the After Party.  I’ll save that story for another post 🙂

Overall, I LOVED this race.  After my less than stellar experience at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler a few weeks prior, I was a bit skeptical going into this and was more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  There were a few hiccups with the transportation and bag check in the beginning, but those were minor issues considering how well the race was done.  runDisney has improved on this event every year and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for 2013.  I will definitely be back to do this again.

Did you run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon?  What was your experience?  Please share in the comments below…I’d love to hear from you!

 

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.

A RAD Wine & Dine Meet Up!

The Wine & Dine Half Marathon only 5 days away and a ton of us runDisney fanatics will be descending upon the World.  So let’s all get together for a Running at Disney Meet Up!  Here are the details:

Running at Disney Meet Up

Friday, November 9, 2012

1:00 pm

Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Outside Seashore Sweets 

Stop by, say hi and chat with your fellow runners.  I’ve been getting to know so many of you though the blog and other social media this year and I would LOVE to be able to meet you in person.  And look what I just got…Running at Disney Bondi Bands!!  5 lucky readers will have a chance to win one at the meet up…you know you want one 🙂

RAD Bondi Bands!

And of course there are RAD buttons for everyone 🙂

Visit the Running at Disney Facebook page and RSVP for the meet up here.  I hope to see you there!

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler: Race Recap

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler took place last Saturday on September 29th and I was so happy that I could be a part of it!  Be prepared, because this race recap travels directly to…The Twilight Zone!

After a whirlwind morning of cheering on the 5K runners and a fantastic lunch at California Grill for the Mom’s Panel Fan Meet, B and I headed back to the room to rest up before the race.  Jeff Galloway gave a few tips on nutrition the day before at the Health & Fitness Expo and recommended eating your final large meal around noon for a night race and then to snack throughout the evening, so we decided to forego the dinner we had planned for a nap and some snacks.  We slept for about 2 hours then got ready for the race.  Our friends Marc, Amanda, and her daughter Alexus met us at the Boardwalk and we all headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the shuttles.

Ready to Race!

On the bus…total photo bomb 🙂

We arrived at the Studios around 8:00 pm it was still very warm out.  This did not bode well for the upcoming race.  I checked our bag and we settled in for the 2 hour wait to the start.  If you’ve never been to a runDisney race, there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” involved, so be prepared to settle in for a while.  We found some of our friends from the Be Our Guest Podcast family who were also running and that helped pass the time with a lot of laughs.

B and I were in corral C and we decided to head in around 9:00 pm to get a spot close to the front.  A great addition to this race were the Porta-Johns and water stations in the corrals.  This was so convenient and something many of the runners were saying great things about.  I hope this continues for future races.

The race instructions stated that all runners should be in their corrals by 9:15 pm and they were serious.  At that time, volunteers promptly started moving the corrals out onto the road for the walk up to the starting line at the tool booth plaza.  It was quite a far walk and with all of the runners jammed into that area, it was hot.

Starting Area Map

Pre-Race Smiles 🙂

Walking to the Starting Line

The race started off with the wheelchair racers and then corral A was off at 10:00 pm!  In typical Disney fashion, each corral was sent off with fireworks which is so fun!  We were all cheered on by the enthusiastic announcers Rudy, John and fellow FitFluential Ambassador Carissa.  They had great costumes and the whole announcer booth was perfectly themed liked the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Begins!!

Corral C moving to the Starting Line

Starting Line Announcers…they must have been HOT in those outfits!

And finally it was our turn to go!  Check out this video from the starting line featuring B and my friend Debbie:

This was B’s first long race and our pacing is very different.  I stuck with him for about the first mile, but we both decided it was best if I go and run my race.  I’m thankful he is so supportive and I was excited to see what I could do with after all this training.  As soon as we got on Osceola Parkway, I kissed B goodbye and took off.  Osceola Parkway is a long stretch of highway leading to Animal Kingdom and there are many hills due to the overpasses.  When the race course was first released, I was not thrilled about this area of the course, especially since it was just a straight out and back to the Animal Kingdom parking lot.  I was hoping that Disney would’ve provided entertainment along this stretch and was very disappointed to not find any.  After experiencing all of the entertainment along World Drive and leading up to the Magic Kingdom for the Princess Half Marathon, this was a serious let down.  There was only a DJ, a few puppets from Animal Kingdom and character photo ops with the Hyenas and Dr. Facilier over those long 4 miles.

Mile 2…Animal Kingdom Toll Booths

Photo Op with the Hyenas from The Lion King

Just before mile 5, we turned down a dirt path to head into the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS) complex.  I loved the haunted theme of this area, but this was my least favorite part of the course.  It was VERY dark and there were large stones all along the path.  I walked most of this area because I was concerned about tripping or twisting my ankle.  Most of the runners around me had the same idea.  It’s funny that this was B’s favorite part of the course because he enjoys running on trails and grass much more than the road.  I think he’d make a good trail runner…maybe we should give that a try 🙂

On the haunted trail to EPSN Wide World of Sports

Once through the trail, we entered WWOS which was a lot of fun.  We ran all throughout the complex, including the track and around the bases at Champion Stadium.  The stadium was a great spot for spectators too!  There were some really fun signs there like “Worst Parade Ever!” which made me chuckle.  I also saw my friends Rora, Joell and James screaming my name in the stands…I really needed that push 🙂

Entering ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Entering Champion Stadium

Rounding the Bases at Champion Stadium!

Once throughWWOS, we headed down the long drive back to Oceola Parkway.  Sadly, there was no entertainment here either except for one photo op with the Big Bad Wolf.  This was a tough stretch for me as the heat was really starting to get to me and bordem was starting to set in.  I generally don’t drink Powerade when I run because it doesn’t sit well with me, but because I was sweating so much I started diluting it with 2 cups of water at each water station.  I’m glad I started doing this around mile 4 because I don’t think I would’ve made it much past this point.  The main thing that was keeping me going now was knowing that I wasn’t far from entering the Studios and I couldn’t wait to run through the park.  So I trekked on…

We entered the Studios just before mile 9 through a back entrance on the Lights, Motors, Action! stage.  This was really cool to run across, but there was a strong smell of gasoline in the air which wasn’t too pleasant.  From there, we ran down the Streets of America and once again disappointment set in.  I was expecting to turn the corner and see some of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights illuminating the street as they had for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon for the past two years.  Nope, the street was dark.  The only bonus was to see my friend Suzie cheering at the end of the street…thanks girl!

Lights, Motors Action!

Streets of America

After the Streets of America, we ran past the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, up to the hub and around the Sorcerer’s Hat.  There was a huge crowd cheering here as well which really picked up my pace.  I hope everyone who spends the time to be out there cheering on the runners knows how much it means to us.  You all are amazing!

The course then went into the Animation Courtyard and through Pixar Place.  I think this was the first time I haven’t seen a wait at Toy Story Midway Mania!  We then entered a backstage area and I knew we were on the home stretch because we were heading back towards the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  Soon enough, the Hollywood Tower Hotel and the finish line were in sight…I picked up the pace and finished strong!!

Coming up on the Sorcerer’s Hat

Heading into Animation Courtyard

Pixar Place and a gorgeous night sky

Finish Line and the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the distance…FINALLY!

Crossing the Finish Line!

Finishing in the shadow of the Hollywood Tower Hotel

It was so great to see my friends all waiting for me at the finish line, including Marci who has been such a huge supporter and inspiration this year.  Congrats Marci on finishing your first 5K!  I also got a big, sweaty hug from my friend Melissa who completed her first long race with a big smile on her face.  Best hug ever…I’m so proud of you!

So here is where the madness began.  After getting our meal boxes, bananas and water (I took 2 because I felt severely dehydrated from the heat!), we began to wind our way through backstage and into Fantasmic!.  There was a “lovely” giant hill we had to walk up and then the path narrowed into the photo stop area…not ideal for hot, tired runners.  If you’ve ever seen Fantasmic! you know how long of a walk it is to get to the stadium, well we had to walk out that path onto an insanely crowded Sunset Boulevard.  I’m not sure what a better route would be, but this definitely was frustrating.  Many runners were overheated and needed a place to sit and rehydrate, but the volunteers where very adamant about keeping us moving.  I didn’t witness any of this, but I heard numerous stories of people passing out and vomiting after the finish line.  A rest area was definitely needed.

I knew B was a ways behind me, so I decided to head over to to bag pick-up so he would be able to change when he finished.  Changing was also a huge priority for me as my clothes were literally dripping in sweat.  I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life…that humidity was no joke!  Bag pickup was located at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which is all the way over by Echo Lake.  When I got there, I was greeted by a long line and a giant set of stairs leading down to the stage where the bags were.  Sigh…  It was very cool to walk on stage and the bag pick-up itself went smoothly, but it was just a frustrating experience after a long hot race.

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular Stage

Bag Pickup

Changing tents were set up along echo lake, but they were more like saunas than changing tents.  It would’ve been nice to have some fans set up inside the tents to get air circulating.  I was already over heated from the race and couldn’t bare the thought  of changing in there, so I set off to find a nearby restroom.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this idea because the lines at all the restrooms were incredibly long.  So I suffered with my wet clothes, at least I could change into my flip flops…best feeling ever!

It was around this time that I got the text that B had finished the race!  I was getting worried about him because he wasn’t answering any of my text messages and feared he got swept.  I literally jumped for joy and headed back to Sunset Boulevard to meet him.  We immediately headed to Fairfax Faire for some ice water and I grabbed a Yuengling for a nice carb boost 🙂  We were also famished and craving salt so I grabbed some chicken nuggets and french fries from Rosie’s.  These were the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever had in my life!!

Chicken Nuggets & Fries…Post-Race Meal of Champions!

It was around 2:00 am at this point and we were both exhausted and needed showers, so we decided to forego the Villians Hollywood Bash and head back to the room.  I finished the race in 2:20 and my Garmin recorded 10.16 miles, an average 13:48 minute pace.  This was a slow pace for me, but I was happy considering the heat.  B finished in an impressive 2:53 for his first distance over 3 miles!  I am beyond proud of him for taking on this challenge!  I’m not sure he’ll ever do another race, but doing this one is more than most people can say they’ve done.  The medals definitely lived up to the expectation and they are by far the best part of running this race!

Red faced and proud of our accomplishment!

While I had fun, this was definitely not my favorite race.  The heat definitely had something to do with it, which was also an issue the first year of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon held the same weekend in 2010.  Maybe this is still too close to summer to have a race in Florida because the weather can be unpredictable.  The lack of entertainment on the course was also a big negative for me and I heard a lot of similar feedback from other runners about this.  There is a lot of room for improvement with this race and I hope runDisney will take all of our feedback to make for a better experience next year.

So now I want to hear from you!  Did you run the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler?  What did you think?  What was your favorite part?  What improvements can be made?  Leave your comments below and I’ll compile all of the feedback for a future post.  Collectively we can help make this better!

Congratulations to everyone who completed the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  You are all rockstarts for braving that heat!

Friday Feast: Big River Grille Drinks and Snacks

I’m currently waiting for our room at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas to be ready.  B and I have been up since 4:oo am for our 6:30 am flight to MCO.  We’ve been on the go since we got here…breakfast at Boma and two hours at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Health & Fitness Expo (more to come on that!).  We are now exhausted and just want naps and showers.  First world problem, I know.

So we decided to head down to Big River Grille to wait.  I’ve never been here and I’m always interested in trying new beers.  Hunger is at a minimum since we put ourselves into a serious Boma coma this morning.  We also have dinner reservations at Flying Fish Cafe, so we need to save room for that.

I decided to try the Southern Flyer Light Lager because I was looking for something light and refreshing.  I also got the chips and guac, which were good.  The chips were a little run of the mill, but the guac was good and fresh.

Southern Flyer with Chips & Guac

B went with his usual sweet route.  He ordered the cheese cake and a Grey Goose & club soda…lunch of champions!  He said the cheesecake was pretty good, but the raspberry sauce was incredibly watery.  Overall, not bad.

Cheesecake & Vodka

Not sure if I’d return here for a full meal, since the menu doesn’t really appeal to me, but I did enjoy the beer.  B is seriously falling asleep at the table…I hope this room is ready soon!!  Thankfully our friends just arrived to keep us entertained…I love them 🙂

 

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