disney 2012: race expo + hollywood studios

Friday morning started kind of slowly. We sat around the room for a few hours, had breakfast, got ready and then set out for the Run Disney Race Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports. It started at 9am and we got there around 10:30… along with thousands of other runners. We were in a slight traffic jam for a little bit due to a light and a ton of congestion, but we finally made it and found a parking spot! It was a beautiful day again – blue skies and in the 70’s. My idea of perfect weather!

Once at WWOS we followed the crowds into the building for our race bib pickup. Even though there are thousands of runners, this process went really smoothly. They broke it up into 5,000 increments based off your bib number (my first half marathon bib number is 35637 – will it be my lucky number?). In line I got my bib, a pin to write which Disney marathon number this is for me and the number for my bag if we were to use the bag drop off. After we got our stuff we headed to verify our bib tracking was working – mine went right away so hopefully it stays working! There was a small Run Disney store in that building (the only store there) and we thought it was the only option. They had a long sleeve track jacket that was really cool that Kinley and I both wanted to get. They only had two sizes left, so we got them and headed on our way to the Expo.

Turns out that is not the only Run Disney store! Once getting in the expo (which is HUGE!) we were led to the back to get our shirts. Kinley and I had gotten XS after reading some reviews and were somewhat nervous that they would end up absolutely tiny. We haven’t tried them on yet, but they actually look decently sized! After shirt/bag pickup we ended up in a huge Run Disney store. I found the track jacket in a better size and was able to easily exchange it, and I also picked up a long sleeved cotton shirt (the race shirt is a long sleeved tech shirt). So the combination of the track jacket, tech shirt and t-shirt I should be good! Now I only have to cross the finish line to earn wearing them!!

After we were done with the expo we headed to get lunch at the salad bar Sweet Tomatoes. We have been craving some healthy food since we’ve gotten here so this was the perfect place to go! I got a salad topped with butternut squash, tomatoes, chickpeas and some broccoli salad along with a baked potato and a baked sweet potato (carbo-loading?). For dessert was two bowls of frozen yogurt with homemade butterscotch sauce. So good! After that we headed to Hollywood Studios to spend the afternoon!

I wasn’t much in the mood for rides at Hollywood Studios since we had the race the next day. I also didn’t really want to walk around a whole lot to attempt to save my legs from feeling tired. We got to Hollywood Studios right at the start of a parade, so we found a back pathway to start walking around the back of the park. We ended up on the Backlot Tour ride/experience. At first we were all thinking we’d been on it before but that is definitely not the case. Not sure if it’s new in the last few years, or if they had just changed it a lot?

The line was not very long so that’s why we decided to queue up for it. We picked our line and listened to Michael Bay on the TV talking about the special effects he had in Pearl Harbor and some of the tricks they used. They led us from the line to this stage, that was a small version of one of the water tanks they have used in Titanic and Pearl Harbor. There was a ship on there and other barrels and things in the water. One family got roped into acting the story line, so they were out there and got drenched! There were “bullets” being shot at the ship, torpedos, fire barrels and many other neat special effects. After they were done “acting” they put the footage together with words/music and we got to watch it.

On from there, we were led into a props house. Most of the props were from unidentifiable shows (to us), but I did recognize Tim Allen’s Binford Tools lawnmower with motorcycle handlebars!

From the props house we went in a little trolly that took us around the backlot. We got to see the Mickey ears tower closer up and went through another thrilling stunt show with a semi truck with a bunch of water and more fire. All in all the tour was pretty cool and lasted 35 minutes – and the fact that we only had to wait for it for a few minutes was even better!

After the backlot tour we walked around a little more and decided to hit up the American Idol Experience for the 4:30 show. I have only ever watched a couple shows, but we thought it would be nice to see what it was like and it was more sitting time! The show was great, the stage was much smaller scale than the actual stage, but it was still very impressive. For each show they find three normal people who get to sing their chosen song in front of us, and they also have judges that tell them what they do well and what needs improvement. One of the judges was actually somewhat harsh, but for the experience it was definitely necessary! After the three performances and judging, the audience got to vote for the favorite. The winner then comes back for the 7:30 finale show to compete against the other show winners for a golden ticket to the front line of an actual American Idol audition.

After American Idol, we decided to get on our way back to the hotel to eat dinner and wind down for the night. It was near dark when we left and the lights were gorgeous! We “carbo loaded” on store-bought Udi’s bagels with cream cheese, Snyder’s Gluten Free pretzels and a doughnut from Babycakes. Trying to get to bed was tough – we hadn’t gotten up early enough today to go to bed when we needed to! But I was tired and fell asleep, only to be woken up a few hours later at 2am…

Oh, and we got this little surprise in our bathroom from the Disney cleaning crew!

disney 2012: harry potter + magic kingdom

The flight over on Wednesday night was luckily pretty smooth. We left Milwaukee around 6:30cst and arrived in Orlando by 9:30est (there was a massive tail wind!). Once we got to the airport we got our baggage and headed to the rental car counter and ended up getting a Toyota Rav 4 (Sister’s favorite!). We drove from the airport straight to our first hotel of the weekend, a Holiday Inn that was right by the front gate of Universal. When I first reserved the hotel room at Disney, I wasn’t sure if we would come on Wednesday or Thursday, so I only got the hotel room from Thursday – Monday. It ended up being a good thing with our Universal plans to stay so close (and we saved money on the hotel + parking for Universal and that’s never a bad thing!).

Thursday morning we got up and Sister and I attempted to find a Starbucks for our morning java. We first went in one that was in a hotel, but they wouldn’t take Kinley’s Starbucks Gold Card and we didn’t have enough cash on hand. Luckily, the manager told us of another Starbucks (just across the street in the parking lot) that was a normal Starbucks and would take the Gold Card. So we walked across the parking lot and found the real Starbucks – darn hotel Starbucks not being really real…

After our coffees, a light breakfast of some homemade muffins and peanut butter, we got ready and mom decided to hit up a grocery store to find some additional breakfast foods, plus water to refill our Camelbak’s. I then had a second breakfast of cocoa pebbles (not the healthiest, but gluten free!) with a banana on top. We were going to take our hotel shuttle over to the park, but it didn’t leave until 10 and we were ready by 9:20. We decided to bypass the shuttle and just walk over (around .8 of a mile to the gate).

The only reason we were going to Universal (Islands of Adventure) was for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That was the only thing I knew about the park and the only thing I wanted to do. I have a one-track mind when it comes to Harry. We got to the park, entered, and headed straight back to the Hogwarts™ ride since I have read and heard the line can get really long so it’s best to go there right away. The line was loong, and the wait was already over 100 minutes, but there’s not really a ton to do in HP World so it was worth the wait for me. We ended up being in a line full of morons – how does that happen?! The lady in front of us was with one of her kids (who was not tall enough for the ride) while her husband and other kids went who knows where. She kept looking behind (waiting for them to catch up?!) and not moving forward and was super distracted. The group behind us yelled at us at the start of the line because we tried moving around them when they weren’t even in the line yet (and waiting for other members of their group yet again). Their group ended up getting split up then because of the little fit to not let us move around, and ended up moving back in line after the ordeal. Seriously lady, either your group needs to be together or you need to let others in front of you. And if you make a fit? There’s no way the rest of your group is going to be able to move ahead… Courtesy is all I ask for.

The line went okay but then the entrance to Hogwarts was a disaster. Apparently you can’t have any loose items on you (even though my purse was not loose) so you had to get a finger print activated locker. After a brief losing of mom in the line, we got a locker, put in our stuff and then decided to go in the single rider line since there was no wait vs. the 45 minute stay in your group wait. Sooo incredibly happy we did that because you couldn’t even see the people besides you. I guess when kids can’t really go on their own ride single riders are out for families and that’s a majority of who is there! The ride itself was pretty cool, it was half real and half special effects with the seats moving like we were flying through the air on a broomstick! Once we got off the ride we went back out to the main street at Hogsmeade™. I had wanted to go into Ollivander’s to see the wand demonstration and possibly purchase a wand, but the wait for the demonstration was 45 minutes and there was also a line for the shop – seriously Universal, a line to get in a shop?! We bypassed on that, figuring I really didn’t need a wand and it would have just been clutter. One day, one day…

There wasn’t a line to get into Honeydukes™, so mom and I went in there, I got a couple of chocolate frogs and some jelly beans. There was a line to check out (of course), but along the way I spotted Pumpkin Juice! I had originally wanted to try Butterbeer, but it kind of looked gross and I think it sells for $11, so I went for the more reasonable $5.99 Pumpkin Juice. It ended up being quite tasty. It was a mix of apple juice, pumpkin and some spices – pretty close to apple cider consistency.

After that round of Harry Potter, we decided to circle around the park to find something for lunch. We ended up getting turkey legs, popcorn and potato chips (oh-so-healthy, right?!) in Comic Strip land. We decided there wasn’t actually anything else that we wanted to do, so we went back to Harry Potter to see if the lines had decreased at all. They hadn’t, so we went into Honeydukes again to get some fudge for dessert and found Zonko’s that was at the other side of the checkout line in Honeydukes. One thing that I found absolutely crazy about this section of the theme park was that everything was so TINY. There was barely any room for anyone in the shops, lines to get in the shops, the street was packed, lines for Butterbeer went up the whole street. I’m not sure if this was their plan for this park, or if they totally under-planned how many people would want to come to just this section. Kind of a disappointment, but I am glad we got to go!

After we were done at Universal, we walked back to our car and headed toward the hotel. We decided to stop at a Super Walmart on the way to pick up some food to have on hand at our hotel. Checkin at our hotel, Port Orleans French Quarter, started at 3 and we arrived shortly after. We moved all our stuff into the hotel and then sat around for a bit before heading out to our next destination. We decided to take the river boat Port Orleans offers to Downtown Disney because that’s where we thought the race expo was. Apparently the ESPN is not in Downtown Disney… whoops, so we walked around there for a bit and found Babycakes!

We ended up getting a mix of six different things because it saved a little money. We got a coconut doughnut to eat right away, and then a coconut doughnut, a chocolate crunch and a vanilla crunch doughnut for the next day, and a chocolate mint brownie and carrot cake cupcake for after dinner. The coconut doughnut was SO GOOD. We will definitely have to come back for more goodies later on this weekend!

We decided to pass on the expo for this day and go the next, and Magic Kingdom was going to be the next stop of the night for their nighttime show/fireworks. We’re not the hugest fan of Magic Kingdom, but wanted to see it so nighttime was the perfect opportunity. Before we found the bus there, we figured it would be best to get dinner at Downtown Disney. Bad choice… we ended up at Portobello where Kinley and I ordered caesar salads with chicken – telling them we were allergic to gluten, so with no croutons. Everything seemed fine at first, so we were eating and then all of a sudden a crouton falls onto my lap from my salad… rather than remaking a salad they had just picked the crouton off – leaving crumbs and pieces behind that had fallen to the bottom of the salad. Not okay! Luckily we got the salads without dressing so after looking further we saw the crumbs… if the dressing had been on it we probably would have ended up eating the whole thing. Needless to say we just left, both incredibly annoyed and disappointed that we had to put up with that ordeal on our first night here. Hopefully we didn’t eat anything, or not enough, to make it impact the race on Saturday…

We found a bus that could sort of get us to Magic Kingdom. We took the one to the Contemporary resort and then walked across the street to the park. We entered and then walked around. People were already lined up for the parade starting at 8. We tried finding a spot to stand, didn’t have any luck so we wandered around aimlessly, trying to go to Space Mountain (it was having technical difficulties) and then found an off the street spot to stand/semi watch the parade. The parade was pretty good – the floats were pretty with all their lights but the music played the same music over and over again. It got really repetitive. The castle was gorgeous with its icicle-looking lights tho!

We left shortly after the parade to head back to the hotel and go to bed. My legs were already extremely tired – not a good sign for the race since we still are headed to a park on Friday and not much rest is in store!

schedule for disney

I can’t believe we’re leaving tomorrow! All my things still need to be packed, and our shirt designs have yet to be finalized. Sister and I got matching purple shirts, but we’re designing a little something for the back. The original plan was to puffy paint, but the ease and greater graphicability won over for our new plan. No costumes for this race… I think I’ll save that for Halloween ;).

Plans for this vacation are still not set in stone, but here is the general schedule of our trip!

Wednesday

Flight to Orlando after work. Staying at a hotel near Universal Studios for the night.

Thursday

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I’ve been slightly obsessed with Harry Potter for the past 12 years and I finally get to visit Hogwarts! Plans for the day include going to Ollivanders and look at all the wands, drinking both Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, going to Honeydukes and of course going on all the rides they have there ;). Pretty sure I’ll be geeking out the entire time. And that reminds me… pack maroon + gold clothing…

At night we’ll probably hit up a Disney park for a night parade or something, not sure exactly what but we’ll probably be getting the 5 day pack for Disney parks. It seems to the best deal and that way we won’t feel stressed about not having enough time at the parks we want to go to! We will also be staying at a Disney property from Thursday-Sunday night so we will have to get checked in there today as well.

Friday

The race expo is Friday near Downtown Disney so we will definitely be stopping by to pick up our race bibs/packets and spend some time “Downtown”. A trip to Babycakes will also be in order! Gluten free heaven :).

We’ll also spend some time at a Disney park, possibly some hot tub time and early to bed!

Saturday

I’m hoping I will be able to successfully sleep for at least a little bit on Friday night. It’ll be an early wake up, so I’m not sure how that will go but I guess there’s no reason to worry about it now! I’ve heard the night before the night before the race is the most important night to sleep well, so Thursday is the night to hopefully pass out ;). We’ll be getting up around 3?am for coffee + rice cakes and to get to the start line. Mom’s coming along and she’s part of the chEAR squad and has a special pack of goodies to use to spectate during the race! It’ll be so nice because we can wear sweatshirts close to the start time of our corral and then give them to her when we’re queuing up.

The rest of the day will include showering, eating, stretching, sleeping (?) and spending some time at a park later on. At least for a show or something!

Sunday

This is the only full day we’ll have for a park, so we will probably spend as much time at one as we can! I’m thinking Hollywood Studios since it has my favorite rides and things to do, but I also want to spend a bit of time at Epcot. I guess only time will tell. And maybe we will go spectate at the Marathon for a little bit? Hopefully I’m not too wiped out – I’ll just have to get a couple shots of Espresso if need be.

Monday

We will be spending the morning/early afternoon at another Disney park. Not sure which one, but I’m sure it’ll be a blast :). We definitely want to get to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom isn’t a necessity so we will see what we feel like when the time comes! Our flight out is at 4:30pm so we will have a good part of the day to dedicate to a park. And then back to cold, snowy Wisconsin!

Man, it still blows my mind I will be a half marathoner in a week… definitely has not sunk in yet! Time to pack!!

snow run

Today was the first actual snowy run of the season. There was a light dusting on the ground during my first 9 mile training run, but it was hardly enough to see on the grass. This was a little more snow coverage and insane wind accompanying it, so it was not the most enjoyable run. I was scheduled to go four miles, the last definite run before 13.1 on Saturday. I have an optional 3 miles on Wednesday, but I’m thinking I will do an Insanity DVD instead. Looking back over my long runs over the past couple of months, it appears I do a lot better during the run when I have one or two Insanity’s during the week – something about the breathing and sweating so hard no run I have ever done even comes close to comparing…

That being said, I haven’t been so dedicated to Insanity over the holidays and my runs have definitely decreased in performance. We will see if it will help coupled with the excitement being in Disney will bring! I was going to do a DVD today, but I am still nursing my shoulder a little bit – loading up on Ibuprofen to decrease the swelling. It seems to be doing better, but I didn’t want to use my arms/back any more than necessary. I’m thinking a stretching/recovery insanity tomorrow and a regular one on Wednesday.

Anyways, the run this morning was so windy and cold, but I was happy to do it in the daylight! I was off of work today and slept in until 7, and then went for a run right away. Once I got back, vegging out ensued. Well, Christmas decorations were taken down and the house was cleaned first, but then I spent some quality time laying on my bed (flat on my back for my shoulder) reading a book that one of my co-workers wrote (she had me for Secret Santa and she gave me one of her books!). Even though outside was windy, cold and snowy, inside was nice and toasty and it felt like a snow day. After lunch I even baked up a half batch of the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I have ever had – reminds me so much of Carol’s Cookies!

I really can’t believe I have only two days of work and then I’m off to Orlando! I am really excited for this trip even though it seems to have come up so fast!

2012 plans

I have never made a resolution, or had any real goals for the year ahead. Sure, two years ago I was looking forward to studying abroad in London for a semester and last year I was gearing up for my last semester at college before graduating. This year seems somewhat dull in comparison starting out, but it is also the first year in awhile that I kind of know what to expect. I have a stable job that I have no plans to leave, and no major life changes are expected. Here are a few things I am hoping to do/complete during 2012!

1. Run my first 1/2 marathon (less than a week away!)

2. Go to Disney World (another one coming very soon!)

3. Buy the iPad 3 (this NEEDS to come out this year and I will be one of the first to buy one since I have been waiting for many months)

4. Make French Macaroons

5. Stay a night in 7 states other than WI (this was going to be just go to 5 states, but I think that’s a little too easy with some of this year’s plans)

6. Drive to Nashville

7. Run my 2nd 1/2 Marathon (Nashville Rock n’ Roll)

8. Start lifting weights consistently!

9. Get a PR for a 5k

10. Run a 10k in under 1 hour

11. Get my first iPhone

12. Stop drinking soda for good… Butterbeer doesn’t count 🙂

13. This sounds weird… but I need to stop chewing ice. I have a bad habit of chewing ice in my drinks and I should really save my teeth from this… Maybe I’ll start ordering my drinks “no ice”?!

14. Start abiding by my budget and only buying things I had planned for/need (and iPad and iPhone have been planned in my mind for years… so these are exempt from this plan!)

15. Read 4 new books – not a very lofty number, but some things need to be easily attainable haha

16. Start using more features on the DSLR – usually I just turn it on and shoot…

I’m sure many more plans will end up coming up in 2012, but as of January 1st this is the list!

eleven from eleven

I thought now would be a very good time to reflect on 2011 – seems appropriate to me as it is now a New Year! Lots of exciting things happened to me this year and some not-so-fun occurrences. Here are eleven of them!

1. Went to NYC with Kinley in January. This was the first time either of us had gone to NYC and it was fun to explore a big and bustling city. I loved every minute of it (okay, not the minute that I formatted my card and lost all my pictures and then spent $40 of a software to get them back…). We saw a broadway show (American Idiot featuring Billie Joe Armstrong), ice skated at Bryant Park (one of the main reasons we went in the winter), ate more cupcakes than days we were there (from Sweet Revenge and Crumbs), had my first Macaroon from Financier Patisserie (have not had one since but I have been completely obsessed with them and wanting to find/make them), ran in Central Park (so want to do this again!), went to Times Square at night and during the day, saw the Statue of Liberty, randomly walked by Jimmy Fallon as he was getting interviewed on the Today Show and pretty much walked around the entire city in the three days we were there. It was so memorable and I can’t wait to go back and see even more!

2. Got in my first car accident. Okay so this one isn’t so great, but I am lucky it was as minor as it was. It was rainy and I was on the highway and the lady in front hit her breaks SUPER fast in her brand new car (needless to say I couldn’t stop fast enough with the wet roads). Got a couple hundred dollar ticket and a banged up front of my car to drive around with for a few months. Lesson learned…

3. Graduated. This is one of the major milestones this year. I graduated with not one, but two degrees in May. My Bachelor’s in International Business, minor in German, and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing. I spent the morning of my graduation in court dealing with the points that I got from #2 (got them all cleared away at least!), but the night was all for celebrating!

4. Two month extended vacation. During the two months between graduating and finding a job, I was spending all my newfound “free time” searching for jobs, rethinking my life choices and hanging out with Crosby having some quality nap times every afternoon (he napped, I read many books and book series including The Hunger Games). I also started blogging again to try and find some purpose in my life and do something productive. Little did I know it would stick with me even after finding a job.

5. Ran my first 10k. This was my second race, and the first one that I actually enjoyed :). I will always remember the Bellin 10k and am already signed up to do it in 2012 and break my course time! I also ran two other 10k’s – in Madison (my current PR) and in Hawaii.

6. Found a job. I couldn’t believe it when this day finally came. Looking back I am really fortunate to have found a job within two months of graduating, and even more fortunate that after five months I still love what I’m doing. I have never been bored for a single day while being there and I am looking forward to what this next year will bring me!

7. Went on my first business trip. The second week of the real job I went on my first business trip to Sonoma, California. It was an awesome and busy trip and I get to go on that same meeting/trip next year when it’s in Virginia – and I am planning almost the entire thing!

8. First Surprise Birthday Party. I had always wanted a surprise birthday party, but had never gotten one before. I was definitely not expecting one this year, but Kinley somehow surprised me with a great 23rd birthday with family and friends coming to celebrate with me!

9. Went to Hawaii. This will always remain one of the best vacations ever. Hawaii is amazing and our time spent on both Kauai and Maui was fantastic. You can find all of my daily posts here.

10. Ran 5 miles in under 50 minutes. This was an awesome experience for me. I really didn’t think I was capable of running under 10 minutes miles for this long of time, but I did it during the Festival Foods Turkey Trot! Hopefully I’ll be just as pleasantly surprised with my performance at Disney ;).

11. Ran my first double digit run. I have never been a runner so it still amazes me that I can run an entire mile without stopping. Sure, I’ve had some discouraging runs and plenty of aches and pains along the way, but I hope to keep considering myself a runner from here on out! And many more double digit runs this year!

2012 has many things in store for it as well… look for my next post to see all the things I hope to accomplish this year!