Posts Tagged by polynesian resort

Running Her First Marathon in This Year’s Goofy Challenge

The Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is just that…a BIG challenge!  Well imagine running your first marathon as part of the challenge…well that’s just Goofy!  Well that’s exactly what Gabby did this year and she killed both races!  Check it out…


This year, during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend I completed the Goofy Challenge. Side note: this was also my first marathon! When runDisney released the Goofy Challenge 10 year anniversary medal I fell in love! I had already been considering the full marathon for 2015, but never considered Goofy until I saw the medal. I showed it to my husband and he then proceeded to convince me that not only could I complete it, but that he would do it with me (he had never run a half at this point), along with my best friend Em.

So we signed up in April and the three of us began our training in July. We modified the Jeff Galloway plan on the runDisney website. Our longest back-to-back run was 10 miles Saturday and 20 miles Sunday. Though the original plan had called for slightly longer distances, this worked for us and felt like enough training to get us to the finish line.

Half Marathon

Saturday morning finally rolled around and we were up at 3:30 a.m. for the half. We stayed at the Polynesian so that we could just hop on the monorail to Epcot at about 4:15 a.m. We stopped at the porta-potties and then made the cattle crawl to our corrals, while the National Anthem was being sung. I dropped back to corral M so that I could run with Em. We had about a 45-50 minute wait until it was our corrals start time. Despite the weather being colder than anticipated, I was so ready to run. I knew once I got going that I would warm up and that’s exactly what happened. I dressed up as Mr. Smee, but had to add a long sleeved shirt and capris to the outfit.


The plan was to take it easy during the half to save our legs for the full marathon the next day. Em and I felt great after running 2:45 at Wine and Dine so that was our goal. We always run at least the first mile straight at Disney races so that the crowd thins out a little, before converting to our 4:1 run-walk intervals. Well, the crowds didn’t really thin liked we’d hoped it would after a mile (spoiler alert: it was like this the entire race!). Unfortunately, we ended up having to do a lot of weaving and dodging to get around people the duration of the race.


These guys did a great job cheering. “Pumpin Up the Party” was playing and I find that song so catchy!

My favorite part of the half marathon is miles 4-7. You go under the Magic Kingdom sign and then through the transportation and ticket center. The energy level of the spectators there was incredible! Definitely a highlight from the races on both Saturday and Sunday. People had some hilarious signs at the TTC that also kept me chuckling. I gave out lots of high fives here.


Then we then came up on the tunnel that takes you to the Contemporary. The DJ on top of the bridge is pretty awesome and keeps your energy level up. Then before I knew it we entered a backstage area and were headed towards Main Street USA! I couldn’t believe everything was still decorated for Christmas!



The crowds were ok until we got to the castle where we had to walk because people just weren’t moving. I took the opportunity to get a shot looking down Main Street from the Castle.


We headed past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian and back down World Drive. I really enjoyed the music that they were blasting between miles 11-12 prior to entering Epcot. They had a large screen with cartoons on it that kind of went with the music.



We didn’t stop for a picture with the Mime or Genie and Abu because the lines were crazy, but here are some random people with them.


Right before entering Epcot there was a DJ blasting “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston and that gave me a huge burst of energy and I was ready to finish strong! We dashed through Epcot in what seemed like a few seconds, passed the Gospel Choir and there it was – the finish line! We finished in 2:59:32 and were feeling great! One third of the Goofy Challenge was now complete. After lots of stretching we headed back to the Poly to relax for the rest of the day.



Full Marathon

We once again woke up at 3:30 am, but were definitely dragging a little more than the day prior. After getting dressed and going outside we were pleasantly surprised that the weather was much warmer than the day before! So we walked to the TTC and boarded a monorail directly to Epcot. I was a ball of emotion the day of the marathon.

The first 8 miles of the course are the same as the half. I was excited to see what the speedway had in store for us. First of all, I was not expecting the steady decline that was immediately followed up by a steady incline to get onto the speedway. Overall, the speedway wasn’t bad. I just had no idea just how huge it would be from the inside!





Mile 11 brought the smelliness of the water treatment plant on Disney property. I found it hilarious that they had signs with fun facts all along the road where the treatment plant was. I guess they thought it would occupy our minds from the smell.

Next up was Animal Kingdom! Outside of Animal Kingdom they had some animals with signs/bibs on. It was adorable! It felt like Animal Kingdom went by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, we were crossing the split timer for the half marathon!


Miles14-17 lead us to ESPN wide world of sports. Around mile 16 there was a DJ blasting the best songs at the top of a slight hill. Cameron and I loved this part of the race! My husband teaches 3rd grade and his kids love Phineas and Ferb. When we saw them around mile 16 with no line we knew we had to stop. (I’ve never even seen the show, haha!)


ESPN was pretty boring, which I had already mentally prepared myself for. Around mile 18 I started to struggle which continued through mile 22. There was a weird hill/slant combo between miles 21-22 that was awful. My legs just weren’t having it and hurt pretty badly.



When we got to Hollywood Studios I was expecting there to be a mass amount of people cheering, but it turned out that not many people were in the park at that time. The disco tunnel had flashing lights, but no music playing which was really strange. Leaving Hollywood Studios there were a lot of people lining the course outside of the park which was awesome! I love this part of the course when we get to run around the boardwalk and towards Epcot. I saw two girls from #TeamSparkle cheering by the slight uphill heading toward Epcot. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the last portion of the race.


Photo Credit: Sparkle Athletic

We saw the mile 25 sign and I told Cameron I just wanted to run the rest of the race and he agreed. Epcot was a complete blur I just wanted to see that finish line so badly. When we hit the 26th mile marker I was holding in tears because I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe if I started crying. We crossed the finish line and all of the built up emotion hit me and I broke down. It was an incredible moment.





Goofy Challenge Overview

Doing the Goofy Challenge as my first marathon was definitely risky. Prior to the start of training the longest run I had ever done was 14 miles. Luckily, my body adapted well to running longer distances. I feel that if you train properly (logging enough miles, stretching, icing, foam rolling) then Goofy Challenge is an attainable goal, even as your first marathon. Just be prepared that your life will revolve around training on the weekends. Completing the runs scheduled for Saturday and Sunday is the key to completing Goofy Challenge as it preps your body for what is to come.

Something new this year with the Goofy Challenge is that they took your picture with your bib at the expo. Then after you finished the half and full you also had your picture taken as proof of finishing (along with your time). After the full marathon they used a computer to type in your bib number and verify that you qualified for the Goofy medal. Dopey Challengers did the same thing. This replaced the prior armband system.

Overall, WDW Marathon weekend was an awesome experience and I’m so lucky to have been present two years in a row! The feeling of being surrounded by so many people who have the same passion that I do is indescribable. I now wonder what it would be like to run a marathon on fresh legs…hmmm. Hopefully I’ll find out someday!



Celebrating with Goofy was a must!


My name is Gabby and I blog over at The Running Goober. I live in Virginia and work as a Registered Nurse. Running and strength training are my favorite ways to stay active. I started distance running in the fall of 2013 and ran my first half marathon at Disney World in January 2014. Since then I have completed 5 more half-marathons and 1 full marathon.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel

With the news of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto coming to the revamped Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort next year (BEST NEWS EVER!), I thought I’d take a trip out to Disneyland and visit one of my favorite places, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.  This was a must do for me when I visited Disneyland for the first time last year.  I had heard it was like a combination of the Tambu Lounge and the old Adventurer’s Club, both favorite spots of mine in Walt Disney World.


Located in the Disneyland Hotel, this adventurous watering hole is the home of Trader Sam, head salesman of the Amazon Jungle. You may know him from a little attraction called the Jungle Cruise… Anyway, after decades of traveling through the jungle, Sam has collected tons of artifacts and perfected the art of mixology.  He’s now set up shop and one of the most unique and entertaining lounges was born!  We set up camp here for quite some time on a hot afternoon and just had a great day.  It is small, dark and full of adventure!





Wait…are we in the South Pacific??  Sure looks like it…  It’s amazing how you feel completely transported to another place!  And it’s not just the atmosphere that does that, but the food & drinks fit right in.  The menus are so unique and SO delicious!  Let’s start with some cocktails…

Hands down, our favorite drink was Ginger’s Pear-adise.  This is pear vodka, ginger liquor, organic agave nectar and fresh lime juice served straight up with cherries.  This is so good, it’s dangerous!


Make sure to ask for extra cherries, then let them sit and marinate in your drink 😉


I also tried the Shrunken Zombie Head.  I mean, Sam is known for shrinking heads so it only seemed right.  This is reserve and aged rums, tropical juices, falernum and cinnamon.  You can get this in a regular glass OR in a souvenir shrunken zombie head.  That’s an obvious choice, no?


This was good, but a little too sweet for my taste.  However I was a big fan of the twisty straw it came with. Oh and speaking of souvenir mugs…they have various limited edition mugs that you can buy!  They are all really cool and I almost bought them all, but the zombie is the only one that made it back to CT.


Like beer?  Watch out because whenever you order something from the tap, it angers the gods a bit…


After a cocktail, some snacks are definitely in order and Trader Sam’s doesn’t just offer your typical bar fare.  The menu is awesome!


We had eaten lunch not to long before that, but I knew I had to try the Fish Tacos.  O.M.G.  These were SO GOOD!  I mean, I’ve never really met a taco that I didn’t, but these were fantastic.


Next time I think I’m going to try the Ahi Poke and the Kalua Pork Flatbred…YUM!

The bartenders are really fun and have a great time with all of the guests.  I think I might have mentioned that I really liked the bendy straw…so I got a bunch of them with my water.


Don’t be surprised if you get sprayed with lava when someone orders the famous Uh Oa…Watch Out!

What’s going on with that guys chair?


Yes, he’s shrinking!  A few of the chair around the bar actually shrink while you are sitting there.  At first you start to wonder if you’ve had too much to drink, but no, it’s just the fun bartenders playing a trick on you…


So small…

I just LOVE this place!  It is so much fun and the news that it is coming to Walt Disney World just made my day!!  Now, I just need to convince B that we need to get points at the new Polynesian DVC Resort so we can just stumble back to our bungalow 🙂

Have you been to Trader Sam’s?  Are you excited it is coming to Walt Disney World?

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RAD Recap for April 6, 2014

Two weeks down and two more to go until I am make my dreams a reality…I can’t wait to get started!  I think my new arm candy says it all 🙂

Oh and speaking of arm candy…I’m SO excited that my Walt Disney World Annual Passholder MagicBand came this weekend!  I might just wear it all the time 😉


Apparently it’s been a big week for my wrists.  Seen enough yet??

Big Disney news this week was that the media preview invites for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train have been sent out!  The event will be April 30 – May 2 which means the actual opening isn’t far away now!  I’ve been SO excited about this opening and can’t believe the time is almost here.  The details that have been coming out are amazing…

And while we’re on the topic of new construction, I can’t even deal with this progress update on the Polynesian DVC construction from Tikiman Pages.  I don’t just want to stay there, I want to LIVE there!  B doesn’t know it yet, but we are totally adding on some DVC points at the Poly when that becomes available.

I can't...I just can't contain my excitement!!  Photo Source

I can’t…I just can’t contain my excitement!!
Photo Source

Also this week, I had two great guest posts here on RAD.  The first was from my friend Danielle over at Live, Run, Grow who has started a new series here on Yoga for Runners!  I am so excited to have her here because not only is she a great writer, but she also has some amazing tips on how to improve your running with yoga.  It definitely helped her to complete the Dopey Challenge this year!

Dopey Medal Photo

Next Ashley returned with a recap of the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon.  I love her positive outlook and how excited she was to run this race.  I love that she rode Expedition Everest during the race 🙂  Big congrats to Ashley for crossing this off of her bucket list!

Ashley Bartley - Marathon 09

I know I promised so Disney eats this week, but clearly that didn’t happen.  This week for sure!  I’m really missing some Disney food.  Maybe we’ll even take a trip out to the West Coast…hmmm.

What fun things did YOU do this week???

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The runDisney ChEAR Squad Experience

I’m not shy about how much I LOVE spectators at races.  They are always such a huge help in getting through those tough miles.  runDisney spectators have the added option of purchasing ChEAR Squad tickets for an extra special experience. I’m excited to have Stacy back on RAD (check out her post on the Family Reunion Breakfast!) to give us the low down on being a part of the ChEAR Squad!


Originally I was planning to be a participant in the Disney Half Marathon but had to defer due to unexpected foot surgery. My husband was still registered to run, so I decided if I was going to be a spectator I was going to do it “right.” I purchased the Platinum Cheer Squad package so that I would be sure to have a place to sit (and be off my foot) at the finish line as well as an easy place (the race retreat) to meet my husband once he finished.

Picking up my Cheer Squad gear at the Expo was simple. There was a separate pick-up counter that had no line when I arrived. Included with the Platinum Cheer Squad package were a t-shirt, a Mickey “clapper” and a folded blanket with a handle. I was also provided with a wristband for entrance into the race retreat.


Having done this race many times, I went into it very familiar with the course and the various vantage points for spectators. I mapped out my “plan” the night before the race and decided to hit the Magic Kingdom as my first viewing location. The park opened to spectators at 5:30 a.m. I was surprised just how busy it was when I arrived around 5:20 a.m. I felt like I was arriving for a day in the park with crowds flooding in the gates, yet it was hours before the park was due to open. Once in the Magic Kingdom you can line up anywhere along Main Street and near the castle. I was told there would be a separate Cheer Squad area, but no one seemed to know where this area was located.  I asked several Disney employees who just told me “all the viewing was on Main Street” and didn’t know anything about a separate viewing area for those that purchased the Cheer Squad.  I was planning to watch with a friend anyway, so I had really just wanted to find the area to evaluate it for this review.  After spending about ten minutes looking, I gave up and joined my friend who was standing on the left side of Main Street, right on the bridge approaching the castle. We felt like we had an outstanding viewpoint.  I am still not sure where I was “supposed” to be, but can’t imagine it was much better than where we were located.

After seeing my husband pass by, I decided to hustle and see if I could catch him again at the Polynesian. This viewing point was marked as being for “guests of the Polynesian” but I had asked at the Information Booth at the expo and was told that anyone could go there. The viewing location at the Magic Kingdom is only a little over 2 miles before the Polynesian, so depending on the pace of your runner, this location change is tough.  From the Magic Kingdom I boarded the resort monorail and headed to Polynesian. I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare and was able to surprise my husband who didn’t expect to see me again until the finish line.

A lot of people seemed to use the Polynesian as a stop to grab a quick snack or cup of coffee since you have a decent amount of time (again, depending on the pace of your runner) before needing to be at the finish line. It seemed like some families had even conveniently booked a character breakfast there while waiting for their runner! The Polynesian is at approximately mile seven, so what you do while there depends largely upon how quickly “your” runner will complete those last six miles. From the Polynesian it was very easy to hop back on the monorail and head over to Epcot.

Once I got to Epcot, I realized I had plenty of time before my husband’s expected finish time. After exiting the monorails, most people veered to the left toward finish line.  I decided to head to the right and try to catch him one more time just before mile 12. This is near the area where the trams go outside of Epcot. For those of you familiar with the course, this is just at the bottom of the overpass “hill” every runner dreads, so it was a great place to encourage your runner!

After that point, I had to hurry over to the finish line area. I had heard the Cheer Squad had its own entrance, but this was not the case. You still had to go though the same entrance to the finish line as everyone else. I feel confident this was because of the bag check tables, but it seems that with the upcharge for the Cheer Squad they could put another baggage check area at a separate entrance. I found this to be only a minor inconvenience, but there were a lot of Cheer Squad people that were very vocal in their complaints about this.


I was actually extremely disappointed with the location of the Cheer Squad bleachers. They were located just BEFORE the finish line, which made it impossible to get a “finish line photo” of your runner. There were actually better located bleachers for “free” spectators. However, the “free” bleachers were completely full. There was not a seat to be found, and I am guessing the people who had prime seats were there hours earlier to save their place. If you are planning to spectate and ONLY stay at the finish line, I think the free viewing would be more than sufficient. The Cheer Squad was nice for someone viewing like myself that wanted to show up at the last minute and still find a seat. If you are choosing a seat in the bleachers, I would suggest NOT choosing a seat in the first few rows.  Spectators line up all along the fence, obstructing the view for those in the first few rows.


The Cheer Squad bleacher section had “private” porta-potties, a drink station (coffee, tea and water) and two tables with signs and lots of markers to help cheer your runner on.




Once my husband finished, I headed into the race retreat.  The race retreat was located in a large climate-controlled tent.  There was a breakfast buffet, beverage stations, “private” porta-potty and changing areas and a character meet and greet.  Platinum Cheer Squad members can enter the race retreat anytime after 5:30 a.m. — in other words, immediately after the race begins and the last of the runners has exited.  This feature alone could make it worthwhile for some.  If you have small children or members of your group that are not mobile and do not plan to race all over the World to spectate, this would be a GREAT place to hang out until near the time when “your” runner will finish.


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,

RAD Recap for January 26, 2014

Has everyone recovered from the past two weekends??  Who wants to do it again??

If you missed some of the great coverage, here’s a quick recap for you!

Vilay shared all of her delicious eats from Marathon Weekend…let’s just say the Dole Whip was the star of the show 🙂


Angela took us to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo and compared it to the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo craziness back in August.


Ashley ran the Inaugural Walt Disney World 10K and recapped all the fun for us!

Picture 10 - Minnie 10k - Ashley

Chris stayed Club Level at the Polynesian Resort over Marathon Weekend and covered all of the goodness.  Sigh…I’m a bit jealous…

Pic 16-Poly-Concierge

To close the week, Kristina gave some great tips from her experience running the Dopey Challenge.  Oh and did I mention, she qualified for the Boston Marathon while doing it?!?  Amazing!


Also on RAD Living this week, I looked at how body types can dictate your sport and I also shared what I learned at a double under and pull up clinic this weekend.  Yes, I learned how to more efficiently jump rope.

Other great posts from around the community include:

This week I have even MORE coverage of these race weekends coming up including the Cool Down Party over WDW Marathon Weekend, a comparison of the Tinker Bell races & the Dumbo Double Dare, a look at the WDW Marathon Expo, a full recap of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, and a look inside the Family Reunion Breakfast during the Inaugural WDW 10K.

Thank you again to all of the guest bloggers for sharing your stories!  It’s been so great to get different perspectives on these race weekends!

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