WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - 10k

This was my first “real” day of running. Once again my dad and I arrived pretty early, we hopped on a bus just after 4am and it was cold but not as cold as the previous morning so people were a bit more lively in the pre-race area. My dad made a beeline for coffee as I went off to meet up with my friends for the race.  I was running with my Australian friends, starting in corral A, so I wouldn’t have to wait around as long letting my legs get tired and cold as I did the day before. It also meant that were were dressed up as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf which was super fun and people seemed to really appreciate our outfits.

With the countdown from Rudy and some festive fireworks, we were off! We took the run at an easy pace and stopped for some fun characters. At the first stop a runDisney photographer came up and asked us to stay with the White Rabbit for a picture that would end up on Facebook, but then it never ended up there. Bummer.

We ran, chatted, got some pictures and had a really great time. We didn’t run into too many crowded areas (again we were in the first corral so our experience is different than others) and we finished in 1:09. The course is okay. Not great but just okay and it's very similar to the 5k course. The first 3 miles are pretty much all outside the park on the roads around Epcot.

Characters on the course included:

  • Anna and Elsa - standing on an overpass
  • White rabbit - Just before the bend on the highway outside Epcot
  • Lilo and stitch - Just after the White Rabbit
  • Mushu - China
  • Genie - Moracco
  • Mickey - Boardwalk EPSN Club
  • Tweedles - International Gateway
  • Chip and dale - Epcot West breezeway
  • Large puppets - backstage before exiting Epcot to the finish line.

We got our medals and then went to walk through the Dopey tent but nothing happened there. We just walked through. We weren’t really sure what was going on or how they were verifying the races. We grabbed our snacks and then headed back to our respective resorts to shower and nap.

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - 5k (aka the race where my feet went numb)

So as you probably already know because you were either there or read on social media, the 5k was cold. Like really cold. For anyone who has visited WDW when it’s cold, 30 degrees feels waaay colder in WDW than anywhere else. There was wind. There was cold. There was darkness.

My dad and I got ready and headed to the bus around 4:30. We waited for a little bit and then hopped right on and were at the race in no time. We then followed the huddled masses to the main area where normally everyone is dancing, laughing, chatting, and taking pictures but not this time. It looked like a barren waste land in front of the DJ because everyone was huddled around buildings to keep warm.

My dad and I decided to brave the cold in search of coffee and came across the massage tent which they had opened up for people to keep warm in. This was amazing and thank you so much runDisney!!! We never did find that coffee though.

The start of the race was at 6:15 and my dad and I were starting in corral F, the very last corral. We waited until about 6 to go to our corral and then tried to huddle close to others but the wind just whipped into the group and we froze. This year they had changed where the start line was and honestly, I thought it was fine. Lining up there was fine. I don’t really see a large advantage but if runDisney thinks it works better than I’ll defer to their judgment since it didn’t really change my race experience.

Since we had to wait for all the other corrals we didn’t get to cross the start until just before 7 and so it was a very long and cold hour of just standing there. My legs were stiff and my feet completely numb by the time we started. I actually let my hair down to keep the back of my neck warm which is big for me!

When we got to the first mile marker, my feet were starting to thaw as we walked at a fairly fast clip. The best part of the 5k is the sunrise in Epcot. It is just beautiful looking over World Showcase lagoon and seeing the sun peaking up. Beautiful!

Characters on the course included:

  • Princess Atta (It's a Bug's Life) - Before the cast parking lot
  • Daisy Duck - Norway
  • Pinocchio - Italy
  • Chip and Dale - Japan
  • Marie - France
  • Donald Duck - Canada

How cute?!

We didn’t stop for characters, in hindsight I wish I had waited in line for Chip and Dale in Japan but I was just too cold! They changed the course slightly this year and I thought it was nice. No better or worse that the old course that looped us up to the very front of the park rather than through Future World West.

We crossed in 48:51 and then hurried over to our very long bus line. More waiting in the cold. But the bus team assembled and got more buses working on the Pop Century/Art of Animation loop and we never had a problem for another race. Kudos!

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Intro and Expo

Well another WDW Marathon Weekend has come and gone and what a weekend it was! I fell in love with this race weekend all over again and after the marathon I was on cloud nine. I have really found my personal favorite mixture of Disney fun and “real racing” that has me crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

Let me set up the weekend for you before we jump into it.

I was in WDW January 6-13 and stayed at Art of Animation with my Dad. This is a great resort and I really find it to be a great value. It’s the quintessential Disney resort in that, if you told someone you were going to WDW and staying at a Disney resort, this is what they would picture in their head. I LOVED it! We stayed in the Lion King section and I just loved all the little touches.

I was attempting my 2nd Dopey Challenge, the previous year I had run in the inaugural challenge and came away happy, but exhausted and sick and had sworn I would never do it again. It was just too much. Then an Australian friend from my College Program days who I had run races with saw my pictures and said she wanted to come and run the challenge. The idea of having people to run with made me happy, so there I was signing up again to do 48.6 miles and I’m so glad I did.

This time around I came away much happier with my performance and I’m actually excited to do it again next year should it all work out.

Going into the weekend I my nerves were starting to get the best of me. My final long run/Dopey dress rehearsal had gone great, however, on January 1st I had driven through the night to Boulder, CO to start a new life there and so felt very removed from my final training runs and generally tired from moving. As I was unpacking my boxes, I was already dreading having to repack for race weekend.

However, as always happens, I got there and was totally ready to tackle the weekend. My plan was to walk the 5k with my dad, jog/run the 10k and half with my Australian friends and then depending on how I felt on marathon day, maybe race it, but knowing that Dopey can be draining, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.

So with that let’s get to the expo!

Expo

runDisney has got this weekend down pat. It’s grown a lot since my first marathon back in 2011 and there have been some road bumps but this year ran like butter, in my opinion. I know there are disasters for some people at every race weekend, but for me, it went so well. They are still trying to figure out the best way to prove that a person fully ran a challenge but I applaud their efforts to try new things.

Buses were running frequently, the expo floor felt more open and less crowded and bib pick up was fast and efficient.

I had flow in late Tuesday night, so my dad and I decided to take an easy morning and go to the expo Wednesday afternoon. We were in no real rush and there was no merchandise that we were “do or die” about. We arrived sometime between 12:30 and 1 and went and got our bibs quickly. I printed my waiver and picked up my bib and maybe took 15-20 min total, that place is big and there is a lot of walking. I then had to go downstairs to get my t-shirts which was new this year. Usually they put all t-shirt pick-up in the main expo but Goofy and Dopey challenge participants (maybe other too?) picked up their goodie bags and any pin pre-orders in the same building as the bib pick-up. Again, super quick and easy.

We went over to the main expo, got my dad his 2 shirts and then quickly grabbed an “I Did It” Dopey shirt and a runDisney wine glass (which I love). Neither of us were really looking for anything else that day so we did a quick lap and then left. In totally we were at the expo for maybe an hour.

I did end up going back the next day to grab a couple things to complete some running outfits/extra layers but it was not too crowded and everyone was extremely efficient.

Great job runDisney!

Let's get to the races:

WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 6: Hollywood, Animals, and Downtown Disney

Welcome back all!

If you need to catch up you can read Part 5 here!

Today was a pretty chill day. After a late night at Epcot we took the morning slow and headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS) for some thrills and chills. We rode a few rides including a spin on the Great Movie Ride and a stroll through the animation gallery. Unfortunately we didn't end up riding Toy Story Midway Mania this trip :(

Additional thoughts:

  • I'm thrilled the Great Movie Ride is getting some TLC from TCM! This ride is a bit dated but it's still great and a great anchor to the original theme of the park.
  • The art in the animation gallery is so nice. I love seeing all the art and we got a peak at the Big Hero 6 art. Love!
  • The Wandering Oaken area is really cute. Love the specialty drinks and the snow. Very cute!

Snow!!!!

We then headed out in the late afternoon and then went back over to Animal Kingdom for a couple spins on Everest and a ride on Kilimanjaro. This park is really beautiful. 

We then headed over to Downtown Disney so Wookie could catch the Giants game (World Series!) and we could just chill out. We took the bus to Coronado and then hopped a bus to Downtown Disney from there.

We then wandered around some stores (DStreet is a dangerous place to shop), grabbed some chocolate samples from Ghirardelli, and then headed to Splitsville to eat some food and watch the game. Downtown Disney is a mess but Splitsville is super cute. I really enjoyed chilling there.

It started getting late so we compromised and headed back to the room to watch the very end of it. Super chill day to make sure we were ready to the Magic Kingdom the next day!!!!

WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 5: Animal Kingdom and Epcot After Hours

Hello all!

Here we go with Part 5 of our epic trip to WDW/Universal from October!

You can catch up on Part 4 here: Part 4: Hollywood, Hoop Dee Doo, and Halloween Fun!

So Thursday was jam packed with fun and we were out late so I had planned for a lazy morning followed by Animal Kingdom and then heading over to Epcot for a little more fun and then the Epcot After Hours at the Rose and Crown!

We caught the bus and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom around 10am, first stop Dinosaur! Here are our thoughts from our day at DAK:

  • Dinosaur: When did they move the Carnotaurus to the other side? This attraction really needs some TLC in general. Still fun but could really be so much more.
  • Everest: Wookie still talks about this attraction. Such a great ride!
  • Festival of the Lion King: I love this show. So spectacular and the new theater and area is really beautiful.
  • We went on some of the trails and the animals had already started going in for the evening which was a bit of a bummer. We also missed the safari because they closed earlier than I expected.





After a few hours there, it was time to head over to Epcot! More Food and Wine! We hurried in grabbed some drinks and food and just chilled. We ended up grabbing some beer at the craft beer building (the snacks they gave out there were quite tasty) and then grabbing so "real sized" beers in Germany and then hanging out on the steps of Italy, it was perfect. We just chilled and chatted and it's surprisingly quiet in the evening in that pavilion. We decided to skip Illuminations that night and caught the last show of the American Adventure. I love this show so much!

The show went later than I expected and by the time we got out it was 10:30 (the park was open until 10pm that night) and the World Showcase promenade was empty. It was awesome but we had to hustle over to the Rose and Crown for after hour drinks.

We had a cozy little corner booth and enjoyed our snacks and beer. It was really nice to just hang out and chat, it truly was a wind down for us.




We finished up and by this point it was very late (honestly we had drunk a lot of beer so I have little recollection of what time it was, whoops!) and the park was empty. It was so nice to wander out (with our to-go Strongbow) in a completely empty park. We made our way over to the bus area which was empty and we got our own private bus (or chariot) to All Star Music. It was a magical evening for sure.

Next time I want to check out Tutto Gusto for the wind down, but I highly recommend checking this dining option out!

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

Continue to Part 6 here!

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



WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 3: Around the World

Welcome back friends!

I thought what better way to rest my feet before my next runDisney race than by writing a new blog post so we will continue my WDW trip report!

When we last left off, we had just checked in to All Star Music and we were ready to start our WDW adventure. Well here we go!

You can catch up on Part 2 here: WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 2: You're a Wizard!

So we settled in pretty late and after the days of travel, the time change, and running around Universal I planned to start the morning a bit slower and head to Epcot in the late morning.

We got up, got ourselves together, and were on our way around 10:30am. We got to Epcot and I immediately headed over to the FastPass+ kiosk to make our reservations for the day. We were delighted to find out that we could hook up Wookie's silver pass to the system and make our reservations ahead of time and using the app! Score!

We made a few arbitrary reservations, knowing we wouldn't really need them. The park was quite and the attractions with a real wait were already fully booked.

So thoughts on Epcot from this day:
  • Food and Wine is the best time of year at WDW. It's just so fun/delicious and we really enjoyed getting our booklets stamped at each booth we went to! The merchandise was pretty awesome too!
  • They didn't have Food and Wine beer glasses this year but they did have cute wine glasses, we saw them at the first booth we stopped and then discovered they were at every booth, ack! Let the search begin!
  • Not a fan of the 6 oz beers. These were seriously annoying. I get that they are trying to curtail severe drunkeness, but these little dixie cups were annoying.
  • Biergarten is the best! So much fun and great beer. I wanted to start off our trip by eating here because Wookie loves Germany. I also really enjoyed their Oktoberfest beer!
  • Turtle Talk is so much fun. You need to take a minute to go check this out!
  • Mission: Space - I hadn't been on this in a while and I forgot how fun this is. Great attraction!
  • Lamented the closing of Maelstrom :(
  • Illuminations - I still love this fireworks show. We had the perfect spot to view it from and no annoying people nearby to ruin it. It was magical and one of the highlights of the trip!


This is my kind of dragon. (aka made of chocolate)

Polka time!

The only troll for me!

After Illuminations, we decided to take advantage of Extra Magic Hour. First stop? Grande Fiesta Tour! We then hopped on Test Track and made a hideous car that was only 10 points short of the record for the day and decided to call it a night. We had a day of Disney Hollywood Studios, Hoop Dee Doo, and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party in front of us!

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)