WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Marathon and Dopey Finish

Day 4, here we go!

Woke up feeling tired but had taken it super easy the day before so my legs felt tired but not worn out and I was ready to run this marathon. I had already decided that if my body felt good in the first 5 miles then I would take it up a notch and really try to race this bad boy. It had been awhile since I had set a course PR here and I wanted to see what I could do.

This was my 5th time running this marathon and my experience and increased endurance showed this time around. But I’ll get to all that.

Woke up, threw on my clothes and was on a bus just after 4am. Met up with my Australian friends and we made our way to the corrals. It was chilly but a good running temp (~50) and I was excited to run. We got into corral E and chatted and stretched until it was time to go. Carissa and Rudy were great announcers as always as we impatiently waited for our turn. We were in corral E again and they efficiently moved through the corrals and we were sent off about 10 minutes after the official clock time.

The beginning of the course is the same as the half marathon and the characters in this part were identical to the day before. I decided I was feeling good so I said goodbye to my friends around mile 2 and kept going. Made it up to the castle and it was just as beautiful, really it never gets old.

We then wound around seeing similar characters out as the half and then were back out on the roads. We made our loop around the race track (which is super cool) and then started the journey to Animal Kingdom. It was around here that my legs started feeling sore but not sore enough to slow me down, so I grabbed some Tylenol to help my . We looped through that park and then started the slightly longer journey to Wild World of Sports (WWoS) where it is endless looping. They fit about 2.5 miles into WWoS and you just… keep… running around. It’s a bit nutty. During this part I got some pics with characters I'd never gotten before.

We finally broke free of WWoS and made our way to Hollywood Studios and the final stretch of the race. I LOVE the final miles of the WDW Marathon. I would go as far as to say it’s the BEST last 5k of any marathon I’ve ever run. You run through the studios, then the Boardwalk/Beach/Yacht area, and then through Epcot. People are cheering the whole way and there are so many distractions and it’s just great and gives you a nice burst of adrenaline to kick it up for the last stretch.

My legs were tired but not completely gone so I just kept pushing, I was on pace to come well under 4 hours and I was thrilled about that. I was about to SMASH my previous course PR of 4:11. The final mile turned into my victory lap. Picked up some magic from the Fairy Godmother just before mile marker 25, waved to the crowed, waved to the pricesses, grabbed a hug from Duffy, and then set off on the last .25 mile or so to the finish!

We wove through the final turns and there it was, the finish line. I was ecstatic. I ran across with a goofy looking grin with an official time of 3:48:22.  I had not only set a new PR but done so by 23 minutes and beaten my previous Dopey marathon time by a little over a half hour. Crazy!

I had a blast at the marathon this year. Not only did a set a course PR but stopped for pictures and really just had a blast out there. I really fell in love with the WDW Marathon course all over again and also felt invigorated by completing the Dopey Challenge on such a strong note. I really proved to myself how far I’ve come this year and a little bling never hurt either.

The Dopey Challenge is a uniquely challenging experience and, I think I’m hooked. Last year’s Dopey Challenge left me drained but this year I faced the challenge as a stronger more confident runner and LOVED it. I cannot wait to push myself further next year and do it again!

Cheers until next time runners!

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Half Marathon

I woke up ready to run! I was so ready to be unleased from the Epcot area routes from the previous 2 days and actually go somewhere. I felt like a bird that was ready to fly! Get me to the castle pronto!

My legs were starting to get a little tired but it was the 2 previous early mornings that were sucking most of my energy. Today’s plan was similar to the ay before. Enjoy the run and stop for pictures when we wanted to.

For anyone that hasn’t run the WDW Half Marathon or Full Marathon or the Princess Half Marathon, be aware there is a walk (~.3 miles) to the actual corrals. The path to get to the corrals can be pretty crowded too so it can be a slow pace. Give yourself time. Also, there are LOTS of port-o-potties once you get over to the corral area. That’s the one thing runDisney does really well. They have port-o-potties EVERYWHERE! It’s a runner’s dream.

Anyways, back to it. We walked over to the corrals made one potty stop and then headed into corral E. I had tried to figure out how quickly the early corrals would be released but couldn't really find the information so I figured maybe every 5 minutes. I was wrong, it was closer to 2. We were released about 10 minutes after corral A.

This course has become very familiar to me, you run around Epcot on the roads and then up to the Magic Kingdom, going through the parking toll booths, and then through the TTC parking lots. This is where the characters usually begin. (See below for a “complete as I can remember” list of characters)

Once you run through the TTC you run up the roads, under the water bridge that connect Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, pass the Contemporary, and enter the backstage areas of MK just after mile marker 5 (ps the largest building in the back of that area is where the outdoor ice cream carts get their ice cream, imagine all the Mickey Bars back there!). You enter the town square near Tony’s and then turn right up Main St. BAM! The castle in all its icicle/frost/frozen glory. So beautiful.

Once you run up Main St you take another right, over the bridge to Tomorrowland and then hang a left into Fantasyland. Through the castle and then another right into Liberty Square. Through Fronteirland and then backstage where there is usually a parade float (now an old parade float) and a water stop. You then head back out onto the roads passing the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian and then take those roads back to Epcot. A quick jaunt up to World Showplace and then back out to the parking lot (passing the gospel choir) for the finish!

Characters on the course:

  • Jack Sparrow and Capt Barbossa – Pirate Ship set up as you run to the Magic Kingdom toll booth
  • Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph – Magic Kingdom parking lot (near race track)
  • Jack Skellington and Sally – Magic Kingdom parking lot
  • Queen of Hearts – MK near Tea Party
  • Mime Thug (Tangled) – Near Winnie the Pooh
  • Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff – On Castle balcony
  • Louis (Princess and the Frog) – Liberty Square across from Hall of Presidents
  • Woody – Frontierland Country Bear Jamboree entrance (I think)
  • Mary Poppins, Bert, and Penguins – Grand Floridian
  • “Bachelors” – Across from the wedding pavilion
  • Golfing Goofy – Golf Course (I believe Mickey and Donald also made appearances)
  • Genie, Abu, and the Carpet – Past hotels on the way back to Epcot where parking lot roads merge
  • Army Men – Turn around point before coming into Epcot parking lot
  • Phineas and Ferb – Epcot near Innoventions

We ran it in 2:18 and enjoyed every minute. The half marathon distance is nothing to sneeze at but we chatted and laughed and had a great time out there and that’s what it’s all about!

WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 4: Hollywood, Hoop Dee Doo, and Halloween Fun!

Sorry all for the unexpected hiatus. Holidays and life were just taking up more time than usual. Thinking about eating turkey and then eating turkey really distracts a girl. Anyways on with the next installment from my Orlando trip report!

Thursday we woke up bright and early because we were meeting up with my kicka$$ Bia boss who was in Orlando to get some watches in the Fit2Run stores (whoooo hooo!). We told her we'd meet her at 9 at Disney Hollywood Studios. Plan for the day was early to DHS, back to the resort to chill, then Hoop Dee Doo and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party. It was going to be a long, but AWESOME day!

After a bit of a delay at the resort we hopped a bus and were at DHS in no time. First stop? Rockin' Rollercoaster!

Disney Hollywood Studios Highlights:

  • Tower of Terror is always great even if it does take all of my courage to get on it. Maybe one day this won't scare the bejesus out of me. Wookie enjoyed the different drop profiles!
  • Rockin' Rollercoaster - LOVE THIS RIDE!
  • Star Tours - still the best way to blast throughout the galaxy and the update is still awesome!
  • Great Movie Ride - Really glad the rumor is this isn't going away! This really is the classic ride for this park
  • Overall - really sad at how empty this park feels now. I can't wait for them to officially announce all the rumored plans!
Your days are numbered...

After just a few rides I convinced Wookie it was time to go grab some lunch and hang out for awhile at the resort. I knew we had a long night in front of us.

We opted to get dropped off at All Star Sports and grab a bite to eat from their food court and just hang out there. The pool area at AS Sports is really awesome, the surfboards are a great touch!

We headed back to the room changed and then headed back out. I wanted to show Wookie Wilderness Lodge and the pathway from WL to Fort Wilderness that I had run oh so many times while working at WDW.

Transportation: Bus to MK -> Boat to Wilderness Lodge -> Walk to Fort Wilderness

We were running slightly behind so I was a little anxious but logically I knew we had more than enough time since I had planned it that we would get to Pioneer Hall 45 min early.

We got off the boat at Wilderness Lodge and was immediately met with construction. The whole pool area was being redone (totally missed that note) and what was most weird was they didn't really have it walled off. You could really see what was going on in the pool area. IS THERE A PART OF WDW THAT DOESN'T HAVE CONSTRUCTION WALLS?

We looked at the lobby, I showed him the spring that "fills" the pool, and then found the path to Fort Wilderness.

If you've never walked from WL to FW, you should! It is such a retreat from all the hustle and bustle of the parks. We even met a few friends!

You even get to pass the Tri-Circle-D Ranch!

We made it over to Pioneer Hall, got our picture taken and then waited to enter for our dinner. I had reserved category 3 seats for the 4:30 show but was hoping to get "upgraded" since the show didn't look too full, and low and behold, we got GREAT seats.

They were category 2, all the way in the back, but dead center. It was awesome!

All you can drink sangria, yes please!
Our view of Pioneer Hall!
All the grub!

I LOVE this show! Seriously. The best bang for your buck on property. The food is delicious, the drinks are flowing, and the performance is amazing! Our waitress was also really great, very attentive, I wish I could remember her name!

Do you like food? Do you like laughing? Do you like a little cheese in your theater performances? If you have said yes to all of these, you need to get to Pioneer Hall PRONTO! This is my favorite "hidden" gem in WDW.

So after eating, drinking, laughing, and having a great time, it was time to say good bye to Pioneer Hall and head over to the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween party! I think the show/dinner ended around 6 and we were in MK by 6:30 just in time for the party. We stopped at the Fire Station to get the Sorcerer's card and get Wookie set up with a SotMK game and then we were off. First stop? Space Mountain!

Here are my notes on the party that night, I'll include my full MK thoughts (attractions and whatnot) when we spend a full day there.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party:
  • The atmosphere can't be beat but the music in the areas was very loud and for some reason made me anxious and was just sensory overload for me.
  • It was VERY crowded. There were just people everywhere and combined with the loud music, it just made it feel even more chaotic in my mind
  • The trick or treat stops were often and offered up a lot of candy
  • We only took a picture with the "Old Hag" (aka the Evil Queen in disguise) but the character meets looked fun!
  • Boo to You! - The parade was amazing as always, this is a don't miss part of the party!
  • Celebrate the Magic - This is a great show, I love the projection shows on the castle. It plays so many tricks on your brain!
  • Hallo-Wishes! - Wow! Just wow! This show is AMAZING!!!!! Be sure to stand back towards/on Main St so you can see ALL the fireworks.
  • Merchandise was okay, some cute pins but everything else was just "okay".
  • Villians Mix and Mingle - It's been a couple years since I had seen this show but it was short and ending with the Queen of Hearts dancing alone on stage was a weird way to end it.

Looking for a "head" out :P

Overall, this party is tops! It's so much fun and everyone is in costume. I really enjoy it and recommend everyone to try it out if they've never been.

After a final ride on Seven Dwarves coaster (more on that later), it was time to drag our tired feet home. We were both pretty spent by the end of the night and I was getting a little cranky. I was excited to get into my bed and dream of more WDW adventures to be had the next day!

As always you can see all the pictures from our trip here: Universal/WDW Trip October 2014

Katherine' Orlando Picture Pinterest Wall!

I'll be posting a lot of pics here as I explore Universal and WDW on vacation! Come along and check in regularly because I'll be updating this frequently!

We'll be doing all of Harry Potter (both parks), Hoop Dee Doo, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Food and Wine Festival, and a ton more! Come along for the adventure and fun!

Check out this page for updates: Universal/WDW Trip Pics (Oct '14)

Post WDW Half Marathon

Post Walt Disney World Half Marathon

After the half I tried to sleep but it wasn’t quite working, I just couldn’t power down. So instead I just relaxed in bed with my feet up. I wanted to go back to the Expo to pick up a few things and I had a friend who was running the marathon with me who needed to pick up his stuff so I decided to head out and get some stuff done.

Saturday was so nice at the expo, it was still a bit crowded but not nearly as bad as it has been in the past.  The thing I really wanted to get was my first ever Sparkle Skirt to wear with my new Dopey tank from Raw Threads for the Marathon. I just love these 2 companies. Raw Threads makes ridiculously soft apparel which is perfect for my sensitive skin. I just love their stuff. I really can’t say enough!

After getting my skirt, I then looped around the other vendors to see what was what. I didn’t end up buying anything else, I was trying to be good and not blow all my money. J
Then I got a call from my friend saying he had arrived so I went with him to get his race stuff and get his shirt. We made another lap around the expo but he wasn’t really interested in buying anything, so it was time for some park touring.

Originally, I had said I wanted to go to Hollywood Studios because it’s a smaller park which means less walking, but because I passed the exit, we went to Epcot instead. We rode Nemo, Journey Into Your Imagination, Spaceship Earth, Grande Fiesta Tour, Maelstrom, and finally Ellen’s Energy Adventure. After getting off of Ellen’s Energy Adventure (where we were all falling asleep, sorry Ellen) we decided to call it a day.

We dropped my friend off at his hotel and then made our way back to our hotel. I put my compression socks on (love my 2XU socks), made dinner, and was laying out my clothes and getting into bed around… 7:30. I was exhausted. I ended up falling asleep around 9, completely jazzed for the final race and my 3 am wake up call!

One more race! One more race! One more race!

Remembering My Princess Half

Hello all,

This week was an okay week for running. Got a hill run in with co-workers and did a track workout and pulled of a 3:25 800m at the end of my workout which is my fastest time to date other than a Middle School track time. For some reason my run Saturday was rougher than expected and my run today was slow and I was sore. It's okay though since I needed to take it easier for the SF Half next weekend to finish my Half It All Challenge (and hopefully hit my 1:45 goal)!

This week's workouts:

  • Mon: Rest
  • Tues: Track Workout (5 miles: 4x800m's with a 400m job in between + 2.25 miles in warm up and cool down)
  • Wed: 3.6 mile hill run here: Stanford Dish
  • Thurs: Rest
  • Fri: 3 easy miles
  • Sat: 5.5 miles through the neighborhood
  • Sun: 11 miles

With the open registration for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend right around the corner I thought I'd do a cliffnotes of my experience back in 2012.

The expo was nice. I went with my friend after work so we kind of had to rush around to get our stuff. They had the expo split between a field house (not the usual one for the WDW Marathon weekend) for packet pick-up and then the normal Expo floor in Jostens for t-shirt and goody bag pick up. The expo was fun, very "chick" oriented, and not as busy or large as the WDW Marathon weekend expo which I liked. I get easily overwhelmed at expos.

I did both the 5k and the half marathon that weekend and both were very fun! Lots of great characters and a really great energy the entire weekend. I love this race weekend! It's so fun and friendly!

The 5k was on Saturday and my friend and I were there an hour before the race start. We weren't going to go too fast, just run/walk it and get lots of pics with characters! The characters at this 5k were awesome and some of my favorites of all 5ks! They had them out in trios which is more fun!

 We are ready to rock! (Me on left, friend on right)

This was super fun, I think we might have passed one character photo-op but it might have just been Mickey in his tux in Future World. I love the 5k races! They are so fun and I love being in World Showcase early in the morning and seeing the sun rise. It's beautiful!

Spent the rest of the day resting in preparation for the half!

The morning of the half, I drove to the start and per my usual for all Disney races got there VERY, VERY early and arrived around 3 or 3:30. I'm always nervous there is going to be traffic, so I always give myself plenty of time. I don't like having to rush to the start line or worrying about not getting to the race.

The start area was super fun. The usual DJ, characters, and tents before going beyond the bag check. I LOVED the bibs for this race! They put your favorite princess on them, color coded them to your princess and also put your name on it, I was Princess Katherine! So cute and a great touch!

Note: I did not run with a camera for the half so there is going to be a lot of text following.

The start was fun, the fairy godmother was out to see us off with a 'Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!' and away we went. We wound our way up to MK through the TTC Parking Gates and through the parking lot. Before we got the parking toll booths there was a hunky group of princes. I believe it was made up of Tarzan, General Shang, Flynn Rider, and John Smith (I think there were more but I'm blanking now). This is one photo-op I sincerely regret not having a camera for.

There were lots of characters throughout MK, the usual from what I remember. Buzz in Tomorrowland, Jessie and Woody in Frontierland, Princess Tiana and Naveen in Liberty Square, and then the castle float in the backstage area with Sleeping Beauty and Princess John as you exited.

Then the run back from MK to Epcot. This is such a dull stretch. The day was muggy and cloudy all morning so it was dull, hot, and flat until we got to Epcot. I lost a lot of steam here and I was not feeling strong or energized at this point. It wasn't until after the ramp into Epcot that I started feeling better (with the finish line so close it's hard not to).

We did the loop from the Epcot entrance up to the World Showplace area and back out to the front with lots of cheering cast members and volunteers lining the way! Very fun! Then those final few turns and down the home stretch. I finished in 1:56 which was a good effort for me at that time, but this race definitely took a lot out of me and I wasn't as prepared for it.

Crown and tutu still intact after 13.1 miles :)

So if you are on the fence about signing up, I would encourage you to just go for it! It's a great weekend and a very friendly race crowd. It's very relaxed and it's a great race for a "girls weekend" or a newbie racer looking for a fun half. I loved it and I hope you will too!

My top tips for the Princess Half:

  • Get there early!
  • Take a camera!
  • Enjoy the fun and dress up!
  • Have a blast the whole weekend!