Posts Tagged by breakfast

A Race Retreat From The Cold

I’m often asked if Race Retreats are worth the extra cost.  While I’ve haven’t experienced one first hand, every time I see what they entail I think it might be in my future for an upcoming race.  Besides the warm area to wait for the race to start, there is tons of food, character photo ops and a stretching area.  

You might remember Jenn recently from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler weekend where she covered the Villain’s Bash and gave some great tips on prepping for a night race vs. a morning race.  Well she’s back with a look inside the Race Retreat from this year’s Walt Disney World Half Marathon!  I’d love to hear what you think about the Race Retreat and if it’s something you will be doing for a runDisney race.

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Well, another fantastic WDW Marathon weekend has come to a close. Marathon Weekend is my favorite race in Walt Disney World. The excitement is palpable throughout the entire weekend, and I love how every runner is so supportive of one another. I have attended these weekends for 3 years straight, and I have experienced something new each time; and this year was no exception. First, I attended as a ChEAR Squad participant, watching my husband run his first half marathon. My second year, I attended both as a runner and a ChEAR Squad Member; there was no way I was ready to run 26.2 miles with my brave hubby! This year, I attended as a runner in the half marathon.

If you have been to any Disney races, you may be aware that many of them feature a Race Retreat. This is an optional extra that runners can purchase, and space is limited. The Race Retreat is open to runners and Platinum level ChEAR Squad participants, and I must say, it offers quite a few perks!

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First, a description: the Race Retreat is in essence a very large, climate-controlled tent. It is set up near the finish line, and it is open for both the Half-Marathon and the Full Marathon. This option is not provided for the Family 5K or the 10K. Within this space, there are several different areas, each providing comfort and convenience to the runners and spectators who have purchased access. You notice tables and chairs set up throughout the space, and as you may imagine, there is a nice spread of breakfast food available.

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The retreat also features changing areas, gEAR bag check, and private port-a-potties – and if you’ve ever participated in any race, Disney or not, you know how important port-a-potty access can be!

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The retreat opens at 3am for runners, stays open until 5am when the runners head to the corrals, and then re-opens at 5:30am for Platinum ChEAR Squad Members and runners. It stays open until 10am for the half-marathon, but of course, it’s ope later for the full. There are real-time updates on the runners available for spectators, as well as, you guessed it – food!

Speaking of food, you may be wondering what exactly is served. Before the race, runners can enjoy bagels, fruit, juice, coffee, water, and hot chocolate. There were mini-Cliff granola bars scattered on the tables, and muffins were also placed out about an hour after the retreat opened. And don’t worry – if you, like my mother, will only eat a toasted bagel, there are toasters available! There is also an assortment of jams, peanut butter, and cream cheese available as spread for your bagel.

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Of course, you are running in Disney, so there is bound to be some Disney magic, right? Right! Each year, the Race Retreat features character meet-and-greets! This year, in honor of the release of Toy Story 4 this coming April, we got to meet Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Bulls-Eye!

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There were also some Green Army Men running around posing for pictures. One of them was particularly enamored with my husband’s fake Capt. Jack Sparrow dreds.

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Fair warning: the line for the character greet can get long, so you may want to do this first thing when you arrive.

Another fabulous area is a relaxation center, which features a TV and bean bag chairs. You can view a Disney movie in comfort here, and it is a popular space for kids once the ChEAR Squad is permitted to enter. It was completely full by 3:30am…runners like bean bag chair too, apparently!

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Of course, you are actually at the Race Retreat to run, so Disney has thought of many conveniences for race prep. I have already mentioned the private port-a-potties, which are located just outside the tent, but it is worth adding that there were no lines for this amenity. They also featured a hand wash station in addition to the hand sanitizer, which I personally appreciated.

One of the amenities inside the tent is a First-Aid Self-Treatment area. The table has an array of handy items, like band-aids, Bio-freeze, Tylenol, Vaseline, Skin Lube, and sunscreen.

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So if your gEAR bag is missing some important item, there’s a good chance it is here at the self-treatment station.

In addition to the First-Aid station, there is a Stretch Area. You can see in the picture that there are small tables around the perimeter. That is because this area is also utilized after the race for massages; you can pay $10 for a 10-minute massage.

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The stretch area got pretty full at around 4:30am, since that is prime time to check gEAR bags and prepare for the walk to the corrals.

Speaking of corrals, let’s talk about the walk to get there. The Race Retreat is a convenient distance from the finish line, which I definitely appreciated after 13.1 miles, but it is a solid 10-15 minute walk to get to the corrals. Since runners are supposed to be to the corrals by 5am, you need to plan accordingly to ensure you are on time (and to make sure you can use the non-private port-a-potties, if necessary).

By this time, it’s just about race time!

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As I mentioned earlier, the Race Retreat is actually closed to all runners/spectators from 5-5:30am. It then re-opens with an additional spread of food. This spread is more substantial than the pre-race goodies. Scrambled eggs with cheese (and salsa or ketchup, if you like), breakfast potatoes, turkey sausage, oatmeal with accompaniments, muffins, mixed fruit, granola, and greek yogurt are all available.

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Of course, there is also coffee a-plenty – thankfully! Juice, water, and hot chocolate are also available. The food is tasty, and the workers do a great job keeping it replenished.   Speaking of the workers, they are fabulous! They are friendly, helpful, and just all-around good people.

It is worth noting that Race Retreat runners get a “goody-bag”. This year, it was a drawstring bag promoting the new Disney movie, “MacFarland U.S.A.”, Champion socks, and a marathon sweat towel.

So, is it worth it? In my opinion, it absolutely is! Particularly this year, with temperatures in the upper-30s, it was fabulous to be warm while waiting for the race to begin. In other races where I have not utilized the retreat, I remember how long it felt while waiting in the corrals. I can only imagine how long that felt this year with the cold! I also liked that I didn’t need to worry about remembering to buy my pre-race food the evening before. It was nice being able to eat at a leisurely pace, and I was able to time it nicely with my start time.

Without the Retreat, I sometimes feel like I am forced to eat earlier than I otherwise would prefer to. The food offerings were exactly what I like to have, and so it took the guesswork out of my morning preparations. My parents enjoyed the Retreat as ChEAR Squad Members, and they were grateful for a warm place to sit and watch the finish line.

I am so glad that I was able to take advantage of the Race Retreat this year, and honestly, I will always purchase it from here on in – especially since next year MAY just be my year to brave 26.2!

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Jenn has been a lifelong Disney fan.  Her passion for the Mouse has only increased throughout the years.  She visits Disney Parks 2-3 times per year, often in conjunction with Disney Races.  In addition to being a fan, she plans Disney travel for others, hoping to share the Magic with everyone.  Through her Disney-themed blog & Facebook pages, she regularly tracks new and exciting changes to the Disney parks so she can share them with others.  Check out Jenn’s blog DISining Memories and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

RAD Recap for April 13, 2013

I’m entering my last week of work and I am full of anxiety and excitement!  There are so many mixed emotions but I finally feel charged for the first time in a long time, yet there is still a lot of work to do.  I’m ready…I think! 🙂

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Something I can say I’m very excited about is the new medal that was revealed today for this year’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon!  I absolutely love the design and the fact that it’s a spinner makes it even better! This will be my next runDisney race (so far away!) and I’m really looking forward to celebrating the 5th anniversary of the race and getting some new bling!

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If you’re wondering why I’m not running any races until November, well it’s because I signed up for the Disney Fit Challenge in September.  I’ll be in the scaled division and giving it my all!  I’m really excited to try something different and kick up my training.  This weekend I attended a weightlifting clinic where we focused on snatches and clean & jerks.  I’ve always loved clean & jerks, but snatches are tough.  It was great to get more practice in and learn a ton of tips on how to improve form and strength.  I really love lifting heavy things!

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Also this week, Reebok came out with some fun superhero inspired versions of their CrossFit Nano 3.0. Even if you don’t do CrossFit, these are a great all around cross-training shoe. They are actually my favorites just for walking around the Disney parks!

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Once again I played my favorite monthly game of Kill, Refurb, Marry.  This month’s topic was Animal Kingdom Drinks and I came up with the best idea ever!  What do you think?

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And keeping with the culinary theme, I took a trip out to Disney California Adventure and reminisced on one of my favorite breakfast’s of all time at Flo’s V8 Cafe.  However I am now seriously bummed because someone commented they are no longer serving breakfast there…I am devastated 🙁

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Since the next few weeks (months actually!) are going to be rather hectic for me, I’m still looking for guest contributors to RAD.  Whether it’s a story idea or a monthly column idea, I want to hear from you!  Email me at sarah@runningatdisney.com if you are interested!

Hope you have a great week!

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Breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Disneyland

Mmmmm breakfast…one of my favorite meals of the day!  I particularly love when you can find different and unusual breakfast options.  So when I first saw the menu at Flo’s V8 Cafe, I knew I had to have breakfast there when I went out to the west coast for the Disneyland Half Marathon!

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Nestled in the back of Carsland and overlooking the amazing Radiator Springs Racers, Flo’s V8 Cafe is like stepping back in time.  Back to the neon and nostalgia of the 1950s…it’s SO FUN!

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I went in knowing what I was going to order.  Ever since the restaurant opened in June 2012, I knew what I was going to order…Chicken Tamale Breakfast please!  This is a chicken tamale with scrambled eggs, salsa verde and pico de gallo.  Right up my alley! The only problem with that dish is that I can’t eat eggs..sigh.

Oh well that was no problem!  They took the eggs out and let me substitute for a side.  WIN! Obviously I went with the amazing hash browns for my side…I mean, how could you not get that for your side?!?

As I was waiting my special order, I noticed the fun beers they had on tap for the later crowd.   Now I don’t like IPAs, but the Racer 5 IPA looks intriguing enough for me to try!

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We waited a few extra minutes and got our meals…oh man!

The chicken tamale (sans eggs) with a side of potatoes was beyond amazing!  Honestly, I still dream about this dish…

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B went with the more traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and a biscuit.  Oh man was that biscuit good!!

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We grabbed a booth overlooking Radiator Springs Racers and went to town on this meal!

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I have to say, even without the eggs, this is a meal I crave to this day!  That salsa verde is SO GOOD!!  Wait…did I already say that?! 😉

As a Walt Disney World regular, I can’t help but be sad that this is not an option over here.  That “California cuisine” needs to make it’s way east because it’s amazing!!

Have you eaten at Flo’s V8 Cafe for breakfast?  What is your favorite Disney breakfast?

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The Family Reunion Breakfast Experience

For all of the runDisney races I have run, I have never done the Family Reunion Breakfast or a Race Retreat.  I honestly never knew what exactly was included and if it would be worth the money.  So when Stacy told me she was going after the Inaugural WDW 10K, I had to have her write about it!  

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It is a well-known fact among my friends that I am a Disney nut.  I find the Disney service to be (mostly) unparalleled, so I am willing to splurge on Disney experiences from time to time. I have run eleven runDisney events and am always looking for something new. When I saw that Disney was offering a “Family Reunion Breakfast” after the inaugural 10K I thought it would be fun to attend!

I want to start my review of the breakfast with my finish to the race.  I am out of running commission at the moment due to foot surgery four weeks ago.  I couldn’t go to Disney and NOT participate in an event, so I decided to walk the 10K with a friend.  (I deferred my half marathon registration to next year.) That said, we were far from the earliest of finishers at this race.  The corrals were sent off exceedingly slowly at the start, and it was nearing 8:00 a.m. before we crossed the finish line.

Once we crossed the finish line and collected our medals, we asked a volunteer where the Family Reunion Breakfast was.  We asked another volunteer.  And another.  Finally, the FOURTH volunteer tracked down a runDisney employee who also did not know! She was able to get the information, and send us in the right direction.  This whole process ate up another 10-15 minutes of the breakfast that was already halfway over.  For those of you who have attended a runDisney event with the Race Retreat, the breakfast was held in the same tent.  However, the tent was not labeled in any way for this event.  You would never have known anything was going on in there without going right up to the entrance.  There was no information about the location of the breakfast in any of the printed material other than it was “at Epcot.”

Once we arrived, we decided to do the character photos before getting some food.  The theme of the breakfast was “Monsters, Inc.” In typical Disney fashion, they did an outstanding job with the theming!  The character photo station was very well done.  It was a scene right out of the movie complete with large doors and lots of Monsters.

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Once we had indulged ourselves by acting like “big kids,” we decided we should get some food.  There were two long buffet tables set up.  These were also runDisney themed with cute “running Mickey” cutouts at the end of the table.

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The buffet selections included both hot and cold choices.  There was a fresh fruit salad and an assortment of pastries at the beginning of the buffet.  The hot selections included sausage, breakfast burritos, an egg casserole and French toast sticks.  There was also a beverage station with water, orange juice and iced tea.  I felt like even though this was only a 10K, there could have been more choices for “recovery” foods such as bananas, bagels and Powerade made available.

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When we sat down with our food, the Monsters, Inc. theming continued with packages of Monsters fruit snacks left on the tables!

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While eating our breakfast, we noticed that the employees started to take down the buffet and drink station.  I looked at the time on my phone and noticed it was 8:18 a.m. at this point.  The breakfast was supposed to run from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.  By this time it was admittedly un-crowded, but I still felt like it was premature on Disney’s part to start taking it down.  After having rushed to find and get to the breakfast, this made us feel somewhat rushed while trying to eat.  They did leave up one table of each so everything was still available, it was just more the feeling of having the “clean-up crew” right there while we were eating that we disliked.  (It took them all of five minutes to complete their clean-up, so it would not have seemed like a huge deal for them to wait until 9 a.m.!) The food itself was nothing remarkable.  Nothing was terrible, but it was all average-at-best in a place where I have come to expect higher quality.

There were a few nice features of the breakfast, depending on your family and needs.  There was a kids area set up with a large tv and bean bag seating area. There were also small tables set up with crayons and pictures for coloring. This area even got a special visitor at one point during the breakfast!

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There were doors located at the far end of the building leading to private bathroom areas.  They even had separate areas for men’s and women’s bathrooms.  They were still just port-a-potties, but they were kept at least a little bit cleaner than the ones “on the outside.”

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There were also several lounge areas that would have been very comfortable to hang out if you were waiting for a family member to finish the race.

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In thinking about whether I would do this again, my personal answer would have to be no.  However, this does not mean I might not recommend it for some of you! I think the reasons that this event was not a great fit for me was the fact that we got there on the later end of things and we only had two adults (and no children) in our group. This breakfast would be a great option for families that are waiting for a family member to finish the race.  It would be a lot more comfortable for small children to wait inside this venue than at the extremely crowded finish line.  It might also be a great treat for a first-timer to running, runDisney or Disney World in general.  I am glad I tried it out, but in the future I think I will save my money toward actually running an additional runDisney race or to splurge on a great meal elsewhere at Disney! 

Have you attended the Family Reunion Breakfast?  What were your thoughts?

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Stacy is an avid runner and fan of all things Disney, but especially runDisney! She has has participated in eleven runDisney events over the past several years. She is the co-author of a fitness blog, http://fitfemmes.wordpress.com

Friday Feast: Kouzzina Breakfast Revisited

A few months ago, B and I had our first breakfast at Kouzzina.  I became instantly obsessed.  This is by far the BEST breakfast on Walt Disney World property and totally worth the trip over to the Boardwalk Resort.

Since our first visit, I found out that I have a severe sensitivity to eggs.  I was crushed to find out that I couldn’t have either of my 2 favorite dishes.

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs & Arugula Salad

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs & Arugula Salad

Spinach, Tomato & Feta Scramble with Sweet Potato Hash & Bacon

Spinach, Tomato & Feta Scramble with Sweet Potato Hash & Bacon

I had recently reached out to Sarah over at Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free in WDW (a GREAT resource if you have food allergies!) to see if she had any suggestions for breakfast items in WDW.  I’ve also cut gluten out of my diet so that was an added challenge.  Sarah told me about these allergen-free Mickey waffles that are available at most restaurants and I got really excited!

So off to Kouzzina we went.  I told our server that I had a few food allergies and he got the chef right away.  I absolutely LOVE how accommodating Disney is with this.  The chef will always come to the table and discuss the menu with you and recommend what you can and can’t eat.  I asked him about the waffles and he said he could definitely make those for me.  They would come prepared as the regular waffles on the menu with marscapone cheese, pecans and honey…YUM!  I asked for all of this on the side as it sounded a bit sweet for me, but I wanted to try it anyway.   He also confirmed that my favorite sweet potato hash would be a safe option for me, along with the chicken sausage.  I also got a side of banana and blueberries.  Look at this feast!!

Allergen Free Waffles & Chicken Sausage

Allergen Free Waffles & Chicken Sausage

Sweet Potato Hash & Fruit

Sweet Potato Hash & Fruit

I have to admit that I was skeptical about how the waffles would taste, but they were DELICIOUS!  I think I might actually like them better than regular waffles.  I’m glad I got all of the condiments on the side so I could use as little or as much as I wanted.  The hash was fantastic as usual and I would recommend getting this on your next visit no matter what.

I was so excited about this meal that I did a little happy food dance of joy  🙂  Kouzzina still tops my list for best breakfast on property and it’s a great spot if you are dealing with various food allergies.  Now if they could just work on the service!

Have you had the allergen-free waffles in WDW?