Monday, March 17, 2014

runDisney 2014 Princess Half Marathon

The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon was my third Princess weekend.  It's may favorite race weekend of the year!  This race was going to be different for me--it would be the first that I ran with a group of friends.  Typically, I prefer to run along--to take in the sights and sounds with no distractions.  This year I was going to be different.  Our plan was to stay together, take lots of pictures, and have as much fun as possible!

Race morning started like every other runDisney race-early! I woke up at 3:30 am, just in time to be at the Contemporary monorail stop by 4 am. I tell you, the monorail is fastest, most fun, most Disney way to get to the race start.  The view of the staging area from the monorail really gets me pumped and ready to run!  I met up with my group of friends just in time to walk to the corrals.  It was a very long walk to the corrals.  You can feel the excitement, the anticipation building.

This year runDisney tried out a new corral system.  There used to be five to six corrals, corresponding with letter A-E or A-F.  This year, there were many more, but smaller corrals.  I don't know the exact number of corrals this year, but I was in "I" and started somewhere right in the middle of the pack.  In amazing runDisney style, each corral got their own special send off from the Fairy God Mother, a "ready, set, go" and fireworks!

It was a warm, humid morning. The 90% humidity level could be felt even before the race started. I could see other runner struggling early. This was going to be a tough year. For the first
two miles, it was just Jackie and I.  Heather started several corrals ahead of us.  The plan was for her to get in the first character line and we would catch up to her there.  Jackie and I could see a character stop ahead--but who was it?  It was the Princes--Aladdin, Flynn Ryder, Eric and Hercules. Jackie and I found Heather and the long wait in line started.

The sun was rising as we run under that Magic Kingdom parking entrance sign.  I always love this part of the race--its the half way point to the Magic Kingdom!  It was my turn to sprint to the next character stop.  Next up were the villains--Evil Queen, Cruella Devil and the Queen of Heart!  This is a picture I have always wanted but never would wait in the long line for. The girls caught up to me, but we still had a long wait. Right before it was our turn, the Queen of Hearts left.  Bummer, but it was still an awesome picture.

Right around the corner was the Ticket and Transportation Center.  This is a really fun area to run through because there are always lots of spectators there cheering on the runners. After ticket and transportation, we got a glimpse of the Contemporary Resort.  With the thick, heavy fog we could barley see the top of the resort. Then it was under the water bridge.  Next up--the main event.  Next up was the Magic Kingdom!

Runners entered the Magic Kingdom from a back stage area, right between Tony's and the Confectionery.  The best part of every runDisney event is the second you turn the corner and you see it for the first time--the castle!  It's the most magical part of every runDisney event if you ask me. Running up Main Street USA is one of the most fun parts of the event.  There are hundreds of spectators cheering you on--we are talking parade level number of spectators--all cheering, clapping, holding fun signs.  Disney knows how important getting that perfect castle picture is, so there is always lots of friendly cast members and volunteers there to take your picture.

Magic Kingdom is full of character stops!  We got pictures with Buzz Lightyear and the White Rabbit.  As we got to the castle, there was Minnie and Mickey dressed in their royal wear.  The line for Minnie and Mickey were the longest we had seen all day, so sadly we skipped that picture stop.  The disappointment faded fast though, as it was time to run through the castle!  Well, it was more like walk through the castle....everyone stops for pictures, everyone slows down--to really soak up the experience, take it all in.  We stopped for some castle shots, and then it was on through Frontierland.  We stopped for a quick bathroom break and to get a picture with Woody.

We exited Magic Kingdom through a back stage area.  Princess Aurora was there with her three good fairies and her prince, but we knew we had to keep going to keep time. This is always the toughest part of a Disney race for me.  The race was only half way done, but the best parts were behind us.  It would be a long five miles back to Epcot. To ease the let down, runDisney lets runners vote on a mile seven song.  This year the song was "Let it Go" from Frozen of course. Over the next two miles we got some more fun pictures--Lilo and Stitch, the Genie, and the Disney golf cart. By then the runners around us were starting to panic.  We keep hearing rumors that the sweepers were right behind us.  No big deal--it just meant no more character stops.

With the sweepers on our tale, we got moving.  By this time, we were close to mile 10.  It was time for the toughest part of the race--the mile 10 overpass.  To me, the incline is not the tough part--the tough part to me is that the road way is banked.  Having one foot constantly several inches about the other really hurts my knees.  Along the road were the "green army men" from Toy Story giving drill sergeant like orders to the runners. At the top of the overpass we could see the Epcot ball!  By this time in the race, I was struggling. It was SO hot!  I had an awful blister.  And I was hungry!  But, knowing there was only about two miles to go kept me going.

Finally it was time to enter Epcot.  By this time, we had put a nice distance between us and the sweepers.  We could enjoy the last mile of the race.  Right before mile thirteen was an amazingly awesome gospel choir.  They gave me the inspiration and energy to run the rest of the race hard!  After one more turn, we could
see it--the finish line!  I ran hard and finished strong!  It was time to get my THREE hard earned medals.  First, I got my Princess Half medal.  Next up, I got my Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  Last I got my Coast to Coast medal.  After that, it was time to get to my traditional friends breakfast at the Akkershaus.  It was time for some good food and more pictures with Princesses!

The runDisney Princess Half Marathon will always hold a very special place in my heart.  It was my first half marathon.  I worked so hard to training for it, and I was so proud of myself for actually doing it.  I hope this race is one I keep doing year after year.  Maybe one day I can do the race with my daughter.

A dream is a wish...


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry Giveaway!

As you guys know, I am a blogger for the Hot Chocolate race series!  I am so excited about this! Hot Chocolate races are springing up all over the county.  The basic idea behind the Hot Chocolate race series is for runners to run their choice of either a 5k or a 15k, followed by a crazy fun after party with all things chocolate.  Think hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and so much more.  Now, that is worth a good run if you ask me!  What is a better combination than running and chocolate?  I can't think of one! 

Hot Chocolate races are also know for having the best goodie bags!  Runners receive a warm hoodie as their goodie bag--in either women or men specific sizes. I will be an ambassador locally for the Philly race on April 6th, but I have a special discount code to share with everyone doing a Hot Chocolate race in the US.  My code is PumpkintoMUG.  This will get you a free travel mug when you use the code at registration.

To celebrate my partnership with the Hot Chocolate race series, I am doing a giveaway!  Up for grabs is a Hot Chocolate Race Series Race Entry!  Follow the entry directions below to enter using the Rafflecopter app.  Good luck!  I hope to see everyone in Philly running for chocolate!  

A dream is a wish...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k

My Ariel costume!
The morning of the inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10k started like every other runDisney event--early!  Staying at a monorail resort allowed me to sleep in a little, but still--3:30 is early! Taking the monorail torace morning added a of extra magic.  Riding up to the race area and seeing all the people just added to my excitement--this was my first every 10k in Walt Disney World!

Heather, me, Jackie

I got to Epcot and headed toward the start area to find my friends.  Before heading to our separate corrals, we checked out each others costumes, took some pictures, and wished each other luck!  Our master plan was to start in our assigned corrals and meet up in the picture lines.  The goal for this race was to have fun and get lots of pictures.

Queen Elsa! 

The race started out in the Epcot parking lot.  For the first mile we ran toward the Magic Kingdom, away from Epcot.  On top of the first over pass we ran under, there she was--Queen Elsa from Frozen!  She, along with her sister Anna, are the two hottest Disney character rights now. At the first mile marker, runners made a sharp turn around, back toward Epcot.  The first three miles were all highway.  They were kind of boring, but we know Epcot and the Disney Boardwalk area were ahead of us--so we keep going strong.

Right after the 5k mark, we entered Epcot--near the Germany area.  By this time, I was running with my friend Jackie.  Jackie and I ran into our friend Heather in line to see Tiana and the Princess and the Frog characters.  That is the best part of runDisney events--running with friends and getting character pictures!  Once we made it into the park, we saw lots of characters.

Half way through Epcot's World Showcase, we left Epcot for a whirl around the Disney Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk is one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World.  It feels so much like an actual Mid Atlantic Boardwalk, yet is still very Disney.  The Disney Boardwalk is a most idealistic version of the a real Boardwalk, as Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom is an idealistic version of any main street in America. In line to see baseball Goofy at ESPN Zone, our friend Allison caught up to us. Together, the four of us ran the one mile trial around the Disney Boardwalk, past the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and past Disney's Yacht and Beach Clubs.

We got into our last half mile as we reentered Epcot.  Runners were treated to something very cool there--giant Lumiere and Genie parade floats. They were very neat to see.  After a few more character stops, there was mile six!  Only .2 left to go!  The four of us ran the last .2 miles to finish strong.  Our official race times were nothing to brag about, but running with friends makes a slow time so very worth it.   After crossing the finish line, I collected my beautiful medal and then got it line for my Glass Slipper Challenge bracelet.  After some water and snacks, I headed to Hollywood Studios for a fun filled Disney day, and a ride on Toy Story Mania.

A dream is a wish...


Sunday, March 2, 2014

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Expo 2014

I have not posted much lately.  Life has been kind of crazy lately--I have so much going on!  I have joined the Patient Advisory Board at my local hospital to represent NICU parents, taken a bigger role in my NICU parent support group, cub scouts, my kids and of course my duties as a travel agent.  I am so happy to take on these new ventures--but they keep me busy!  Thankfully, my travel agent business has been going well, but it is a lot of work. I think I have things under control now, a new routine--so I am ready to get back to blogging.  Thank you for sticking with me in my little hiatus.

This past weekend was my favorite weekend of the year!  It was runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend!  For the first time, Mike and I got to go to Princess weekend kid free.  We hoped a plane very early Friday morning.  We were all checked into our resort (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary) by 10 am.  Right away, we headed to the race expo.  I could not wait to get my race bib, see all of my new runDisney shirts, pick up my pins and Sweaty Bands.

Last year's Princess expo was a disaster!  It was crazy crowded--you could not even walk around because there were people everywhere.  This year was nothing like that!  I walked right in to packet pick up and got my bib, then my shirts.  After that we went to the main expo.  I had a chance to check out the official runDisney merchandise booth, the SparkleSkirts booth, Sweaty Bands and a few other booths I wanted to see.  My last stop was the runDisney booth.  I was hoping to find early registration for Wine and Dine Half Marathon, but no such luck. After picking up some free yogurt at Dannon and some Chiquita bananas, I was ready to head to the parks!

I will be back soon to tell you all about my amazing five day weekend in Walt Disney World!  The Glass Slipper Challenge, Disney Quest, Typhoon Lagoon, and all of the Disney theme parks.

A dream is a wish...