seattle seven

This past week, per my Nashville 1/2 marathon training plan, it called for a 7 mile run. Usually when I put together a training plan I look at what weeks I have signed up for any races or am out of town and plan accordingly. Well, I definitely did not account for being gone this day so still put “7 miles” on the schedule. I had never been to Seattle so I had no idea what the running would be like there, but assumed it would be okay depending on what area we were staying. I easily could have:

A. Not ran and taken a week off.
B. Run on Sunday instead when I was back home.
C. Run on a treadmill in the gym.

But, I took option D instead – just sucking it up and running outside! I had walked around with my co-worker quite a bit so I was comfortable with the streets surrounding our hotel, plus it was like 5:30am when I set out (on a Saturday no less), so I was close to alone until the later part of my run.

One thing about Seattle that I never knew was that it is SUPER hilly! At least in the portion I was in. I started out heading down one of the Avenues toward the Space Needle since I hadn’t gotten the chance to go there so after a little over a mile, I was standing at the base! It was nice to see it from the ground, but I definitely wouldn’t pay the $19 bucks to go to the top. This portion of the run was mainly downhill.

I didn’t want to run past the Space Needle since I didn’t know what was behind it and it seemed a little more sketchy… but that could have just been the darkness too. I ran back up the same street (UPhill) and ended up finding myself going down a road that took me to the waterfront. Now this portion was nice! So scenic and FLAT – I really enjoyed it ;). I took quite a few walking breaks here however because I wanted to try and soak everything in!

Well I ran down the waterfront and realized I wasn’t sure how to get back across the street and to the downtown area, as there were a bunch of hotels/condos in the way. I saw a huge staircase with a walkway across, so I figured why not – just go up it and across. Man, those steps were tough! 50+ steps later and I was walking crawling across the walkway.

I then tried to find my way toward Pike Place Market and eventually did, after a few turnarounds ;). At this point the run was not so fun anymore. Really hilly and up and back on the same roads since I didn’t want to find myself too far away from the hotel at the end. Needless to say my pace was not ideal – mostly because of the hills and the stopping for red lights thing. It was the first day I tried out my new Garmin as well and I did not have it on the auto pause function. Even though the run was hilly and slow, I just love running in new places! The change of scenery is what I love. I wish there were more than two routes around my house I could go toward and that they looked different from one another…

When I got back from my run I went to the hotel coffee bar for a bananas to have with my instant oats in my room – I must have looked rough because the lady told me I could grab an extra banana or orange ahaha. But I was very sweaty (I had even stripped off my outer later around mile 3 1/2 so was only in a tank top!) and my face was quite red. It probably looked like I never worked out/ I was going to pass out ;). But I definitely took two bananas.

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seattle

I officially made it through my second business trip! My first one was during my second week of work in Sonoma, CA, so I really had no idea what to expect. This one I have been preparing for since January, so I definitely had a better grasp of what was going on and more personal responsibilities! I’ve been excited for the location since I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle, but a little nervous of the meeting in general. Luckily, everything turned out great and the meeting was a success!

It was a short trip – leaving Thursday really early in the morning, getting to Seattle by lunch and then leaving Saturday morning. My co-worker and I had a few hours free after we got in so it was very nice to get out and enjoy the nice weather and see some of the Seattle sights!

We walked to Pike Place Market.

Unfortunately didn’t see them throw any fish – disappointed!

But we did see the gorgeous mountains in the background. Why can’t Wisconsin have any of these?!?

We walked by the waterfront.

Saw possibly the first (?) Starbucks. It looked old anyways so I’ll say it was the first.

Our hotel was very nice – big comfy bed along with a separate sitting room.

And a view of the water!

And of the other downtown sights.

Thursday was the only day I got my camera out for fun pictures since by the time the meeting was over on Friday it was raining and almost dark. All in all, I am in love with the city and definitely want to come back! I’m thinking a trip that will take me from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland would be a great getaway :). Luckily the plan is for me to keep coming back for this meeting every year – so I should be back soon!

More on my HILLY Saturday morning run in my next post!

nashville 2012: week 5

This past week was crazy! I had a work trip to Seattle on Thursday and got back home last night, so I have had way more than enough time changes within the past few days (since it’s Spring Ahead and all 😉 ).

Sunday: Yoga Body Bootcamp™
Monday: 4 mile run + workout A
Tuesday: Insanity Cardio + Resistance
Wednesday: 4 mile run + workout B
Thursday: Rest/Travel day
Friday: workout C
Saturday: 7m run

Last Sunday’s Yoga Body Bootcamp was by far the hardest class thus far! I was definitely feeling it after the fact for a couple of days… My abs and shoulders were worked well in that hour!

Monday was the first day of the Best Body Bootcamp (obviously I’m loving the Body Bootcamps right now!). In the morning I completed my 4 mile run for Nashville 1/2 marathon training, and then after work I did workout a*. I could definitely feel the burn as I have never been good at keeping a decent weight routine!

Tuesday I did an Insanity DVD at home (not taking an extra rest day again like last week haha).

Wednesday morning I ran the 4 miles for training and then workout B* was waiting for me when I got home from work. This one was very hard to focus on because I knew I still needed to pack and get ready for leaving the next morning!

Thursday was travel day! I woke up at 3am central time (yuck) to get to the airport to leave for my flight at 7. It was my first venture driving to the airport alone and find parking, but I figured it out no problem! The night didn’t end until after 10 Seattle time, so it was a LONG day. But, I guess I should put in that I did walk around the city from our hotel to Pike’s Market as well as to the location of our meeting the next day to set up.

Friday I completed workout c* in my hotel room! Luckily I had a semi-suite that had a long path from the living area to the bedroom so there was enough space for a couple of the moves ;). This one definitely kicked my butt and I was quite sweaty after I was done!

Saturday was long run day. Another 7 miles complete for 1/2 marathon training, but more on that run and the rest of my time in Seattle in another post!

 

*workouts A, B + C are from Tina at Best Body Bootcamp, so I can’t give any information on what the routines were, but they were all fantastic!

 

disney 2012: epcot + heading home

We had packed up most of our stuff the night before, so Monday morning was fairly painless (for packing anyways, it’s amazing how sore my legs still are!). Checkout was at 11 so we needed to have everything packed in the car before heading to Epcot. I couldn’t pass by another breakfast of Mickey waffles, so mom went down to the cafe in our hotel to order them and bring them up to our room. After getting ready, packed and having eaten breakfast, we started to load up the car. On the way back from the first load, Sister and I walked around the grounds for a little bit to take some pictures of the hotel – at least we remembered before it was too late!

We headed to Epcot and there were really only two things on our list to do: go on Soarin’ and go on GM test track. It ended up being a really good thing we didn’t have anything else on our list – the place was PACKED! The marathoners were out in full force today after they rested the day before (or Epcot was just more popular today than Hollywood Studios had been the day before). Waiting in line for Soarin’ took almost an hour, but it was well worth it! Soarin’ across California is always nice :).

After we made it through that ride, we headed over to GM Test Track. the line for single riders was only 20 minutes vs. 45-50, so we gladly took the shorter route. Many other people had decided that as well, but it was still not a terribly long line. GM Test Track was not as great as I had remembered – fairly boring anyways, maybe the novelty had worn off? We definitely didn’t feel the need to go on it again.

With our two planned items off the list and not a whole lot of time left, we decided to go to the Coca-Cola refreshment station that has free samples of foreign soda. I know, I know, one of my goals for 2012 was to give up soda, but this was more of a special treat rather than actually drinking it as a beverage haha. I had a cup of the Kinley and some Mezzo Mix – Mezzo Mix is my absolute favorite and I’ve had it in Germany before. You can easily make it at home too, by just mixing half cola and half orange soda – sounds super weird but it’s awesome!

I saw these huge candy buttons in the store too – so cute!

We decided to get on our way then and spotted Bambi on the way out – Disney finally seems like they’re getting rid of their Christmas decorations and putting up some normal ones instead!

Our last day would not have been complete without our fourth and final trip to Sweet Tomatoes. I can’t wait until we can come here again!! After filling up on salads, sweet potatoes and frozen yogurt, we started heading to the airport to get checked in for our flight. The GPS ended up taking us on this super out of the way path that resulted in a dead end… it was great… We finally made it and got our rental car returned, and then checked in to the flight and through security. It was very painless and I didn’t have a mysterious medal toe like I did on our flight here (my toe had to get patted down by security – seriously?!).

I mostly read on the way home and once we got back to Wisconsin, we were greeted with extremely cold weather, but also adorable and excited Crosby so it wasn’t all bad to be back home! Until our next adventure…

disney 2012: hollywood studios + downtown disney

I have officially been a half marathoner for a week – can you believe it? This week was crazy busy at work so I didn’t have the time to finish out my Disney vacation like I had planned – nothing like a weekend to work on the blog! I already updated my about page and races page and will hopefully continue to recipage my recipes page! And of course finish out the Disney trip and then get on to more new and exciting things ;).

Now back to Sunday. This was our only full day to spend in the parks, but we still didn’t get going incredibly early. It is so nice to have relaxing mornings! My legs were still feeling it from the half marathon, but mostly when I went from sitting to standing/walking… continual walking seemed to be better and helped loosen them up a little bit so it wasn’t a horrible thing to be at Disney! We decided to go to Hollywood Studios again because they have the best rides and the most things we wanted to do.

We got there around 10, and we came across some marathoners still running the course. They were at mile 23 and the only thing I kept thinking about was that during the half marathon, the last three miles were the worst. Pretty sure anyone yelling “you’re almost there!” to the runners was risking getting punched. Although the crazy part in me was looking at these runners and was incredibly jealous of where they were. Mile 23 of a marathon? These people are going to finish and get that incredible Mickey medal – some were even going to get a Goofy! This group was finishing between 5 and 5 1/2 hours, and I just got to thinking that it really doesn’t matter the time you finish in, what matters is that you finished, and I can definitely finish a marathon one day – running, walking, crawling or a combination of all three. And next year just so happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Disney Marathon

Anyways, back to Hollywood Studios. We wanted to head straight to Tower of Terror to get in line, but we had to cross the marathoners. It was still a constant stream of runners and we didn’t know how we would manage to get across. Well, Disney is full of geniuses as well as imagineers so of course they had a spectacular plan in place. The running path was split into two paths with a small median in the middle. A group of the spectators/park-goers would group together, go across the path that runners weren’t going on to the median, and then the runners would switch paths while the walkers kept crossing. It’s hard to explain, but it worked like a charm.

Once to Tower of Terror we saw that there was only a 50 minute wait, but we still grabbed a fast pass first for a second trip. We got in line and it only took us about a half an hour to get to the “hotel” and through the ride. Immediately after we got off, we used our fast passes and went again. And then when we got back from that the line was so short we went a third time. We ended up going on Tower of Terror three times in under an hour – it was fantastic!

After we had enough of the Twilight Zone movie (why can’t there be a fast pass that goes straight to the ride?!) we headed to grab a fast pass to Rock ‘n Rollercoaster. We had some time to spend before coming back on that ride, so we decided to go to the 12:45 showing of Beauty and the Beast – mom’s favorite! It was a really cute show and it was a nice perk to be able to sit down for a bit. But getting back up was painful! I really should have worn my medal so that people knew I had an excuse for walking funny… ;).

Once Beauty and the Beast was over, we headed to grab a bite for lunch. We ended up at Studio Catering Co. near the back of the park and Kinley and I shared a turkey sandwich on an EnerG bun and a greek salad (how have I forgotten how much I love feta cheese?!). Disney was fabulous with dealing with the food – a manager came over, took our order and then saw it through from start to finish. They even offered to grill our sandwich between parchment if we wanted or get it cold – we opted for the grilled and it was devine.

After lunch, Kinley and I went back to Rock ‘n Rollercoaster when mom went to go stake out seats for the afternoon parade. Kinley and I hustled and got right to the ride. I had forgotten how much fun this ride was! I especially like the take off at the beginning!

We then hustled back over to where mom was saving seats (right in front of the American Idol experience on the steps) and ended up grabbing ice cream before the parade started. They parade was okay – it was filled with Pixar characters and even though I love Pixar, the parade was pretty boring. The same tiring tune over and over again, but it was still nice to be off my feet.

The parade pretty much finished us up for the day. We had spent a good 5 or so hours at Hollywood Studios, and in combination with Friday had done everything we wanted to do. We decided to go to Downtown Disney for a little bit to get some souvenirs and our last stop at Babycakes – I am going to miss these doughnuts so much!! I ended up getting a Mickey mug and decided to pass on everything else – I had already gotten the long sleeved t-shirt and track jacket from the race expo as well as the marathon goodies (my XS but still big tech T and race bling!) so I was pretty well set already!

We went to bed early tonight. One more day at the parks tomorrow and then heading back home! Vacations always go by too darn fast.

disney 2012: epcot

After we got back from the post-1/2 marathon Mickey waffles, it took awhile to get showered and ready for the day. Showering felt so nice on my sore and fatigued muscles, but standing up getting ready was not as pleasant! There were plenty of breaks where I just sat down on the bed before continuing haha. By the time we were all ready it was time to head for lunch. We decided on Sweet Tomatoes again for the unlimited salad bar :). I didn’t end up having much of an appetite and my eyes were much bigger than my stomach, so about half my salad went untouched, as did a little bit of my potato. By the time we were done eating, we headed toward Epcot to get some park time in.

Even though Sister and I had already ran 13.1 miles today (and mom had a traumatic event of her own 😉 ), we figured the afternoon was perfect for walking around the Epcot showcase. We started in Canada and continued around the world toward Mexico. On the way, we stopped into shops in both the UK and Germany to look for sweatshirts. They didn’t have any that looked that nice and I decided not to spend $50 on just an okay sweatshirt – I’ll find something better to buy with that money :).

The only country we stopped in for more than just taking pictures was the 360’ movie in China. We had seen it on one of our past trips, but it was neat to see it again!

After we got around all of the countries, we decided to stop in the Land building. There was no wait to go on the boat ride through there so we figured we could go on it to see if that had changed at all. The beginning was the same, but going through the greenhouse was really neat. All of their new growing techniques make everything look so cool.

After the boat ride we stopped at Seasons for a quick snack. We decided on hard boiled eggs, potato chips and an unsweetened black iced tea. I needed caffeine but have been good about my no soda resolution so the tea was a good option!

We were pretty set at Epcot for the day, so we decided to leave around 5. We drove to Downtown Disney because we were offered a free meal at Portobello’s because of the crouton incident with the salads on Thursday night. The manager called mom checking on how we were doing – Kinley wasn’t feeling so hot on Friday but is unsure whether it was from a crumb or just the unhealthy eating we had the previous day. He wanted to make good with us and show us how they can deal with allergies, and how they train their servers to do so. We decided to go back and give it another try, especially since the manager was very adamant that we take him up on his offer. It is a really good thing we had reservations and a “VIP” table – the wait was hours long by the time we got there and we only had to wait a few minutes for our table to be ready. We were seated and the waiter came over and explained that all of their pasta dishes could be done with gluten free penne pasta. I had my eyes on the rigatoni calabrese (Italian sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, escarole) and it could easily be made gluten free. The chef even came over to our table to assure us that everything was being made without cross-contamination. She has a son with a gluten intolerance so that made us even more comforted! After she talked to us she headed back to make the homemade gluten free pasta!

Let me just say that I am so glad we returned! I didn’t know that gluten free pasta could be made in a restaurant and it was so delicious! I only wish they would have served some kind of gluten free bread with their roasted garlic that looked oh-so-good. I ate almost my entire bowl of pasta, and then we headed back to the hotel and very quickly went to bed. Dinner did end up taking longer than expected because the chef made fresh pasta for us (and the place was packed!), but it was well worth the wait. We were all very happy to be back and in our beds finally after a whirlwind of a day!

race recap: walt disney world 1/2 marathon

I can’t believe my first half marathon is OVER! Training seemed to fly by and the past week has just flown. We woke up at 2am to drink coffee (lots and lots of coffee!), eat something (half a bagel with PB2) and get dressed and ready to catch our shuttle.

We got on the one from our hotel (a perk of staying at a Disney property!) at 3:50 and headed toward the parking lot of Epcot where the start/finish line was. It took about 30-40 minutes to drive the short distance. The roads were packed with half marathoners. We were urged to take Disney’s own transportation, but for people staying off-property or who live in the area there wasn’t a way to take it. When we finally got to the area, we got off the bus and walked close to 10 minutes to find the port-o-lets. Too much coffee! Each port-o-let had a huge line, so we got in one and made our way up. Mom came with us for this part. Originally we were thinking we would need sweaters in the morning from the chilly air, but not this morning!

When it was closer to 5, mom left and headed to the spectator spot at Cinderella’s Castle. She got a ChEAR squad package that let her have special access to front-row viewing. I think she’s glad she did that, and got a t-shirt and blanket to wear as well! There was a spot for bag drop-off. We didn’t need to do this since mom would be at the finish, so we passed on by and headed into the cluster of people ahead. There were more port-o-lets on this side with even longer lines, and somehow we funneled through them in the crowd to start getting into the corrals. This walk was super long! Along the way we got on an off ramp with more port-o-lets and decided to take the opportunity to go again before waiting to run.

We finally got to my corral (I was C, Kinley was B but decided to hang back to run together). At 5:30 the wheelchairs went and then were followed every 7 minutes or so by another wave. We took this time to take a few pictures, obviously :). They had large screens up so we could watch Donald and the gang count down for each corral. Each corral got a countdown, and each corral got a fireworks show. Of course the first fireworks were the best and biggest, and scaled back from there. In no time, it was corral C’s turn and we were off! We were stuck in a hoard of people, not able to keep anything better than a 12:30 average, below what we were wanting. Some were dodging left and right, weaving in between runners, but that was difficult then we were running together and didn’t want to sprint to pass by others. We thought it was going to thin out, but it never did…

The first part of the race went pretty well except for incredibly slow. Probably why it felt okay! It was all on roads/highways so there was no scenery until we reached mile 5 – 5 1/2 and got to Magic Kingdom. We had to go through a few tiny doorways to navigate around to actually get in the park, that caused even more traffic back-up. I loved running through Tomorrowland. It was still really dark out and it was nicely lit up with a ton of music blasting – just what I needed to give me motivation! (Side note: I decided to run without music for this race and I never missed having it! I still had my iPod on to track my time and splits but only looked a few times since it was clipped on my bra.)

Right before getting to the 6 mile mark, it was time to run through Cinderella’s castle! This was a really neat experience and definitely the highlight of the run. Right after we got through, we managed to spot mom yelling at us from her ChEAR squad station and decided to go over by her to get a picture of us. We were stopped for a couple of minutes and I also handed her my back bib because I had already sweated through it – whoops!

After the short diversion, we went on our way again through Frontierland and then out of the park. Again. The next 6 miles were on a highway and/or a backlot of Magic Kingdom. It was tough. After the 10k point I realized no race I had ever done is further than that, so I was headed somewhere I had never been. The miles between 8 and 11 are the dimmest for me, I think I was partly zoning out, largely freaking out, and tired from navigating through all the people. At one point along this stretch Kinley asked if we wanted a picture with Chip and Dale. Even though it would have been nice to stand and wait in line and rest a bit, the line was also 10+ people deep so it would have meant making it to the finish even later. I tried to not be concerned with time during my training runs, but I still had some expectations. Within the first mile of the race I dropped all expectations and just wanted to cross the finish and get my medal, but I thought stopping at Chip and Dale would have made the last stretch harder than it already was going to be.

Lovely Disney decided that at the 10 1/2 mile point they would send us up three hills, that would last for a good mile and a half to the finish. I remember Kinley and I were headed up the exit ramp and she looked over and said if we picked up our pace we could finish in 2 1/2 hours. That was tempting and even though I had nothing left in me, I prepared to run up the hills at a faster pace than the rest of the race. It was tough, and I was mentally and physically drained. I knew I could cross the finish, but I didn’t think I could make it in 2:30. I stopped and walked to catch by breath a few times, but I managed to keep my legs moving. The last half mile was in Epcot and I barely remember running this at all. I got really cold and shaky and felt lightheaded and the finish line was not getting any closer. There were so many twists and turns I kept thinking “at the next one, I’ll see the finish!”, but it never happened. There was no long straightway to the finish, only one filled with twists and turns. Right before the finish line came up, Kinley grabbed my arm and practically pulled me across the finish line. We somehow managed to get the exact same time. 2:30:54. With 6 seconds to spare in the 2:30’s.

Once through the finish line, I was real lightheaded and tried to keep my legs moving to go forward to get some nutrition and one of the blanket things to help me warm up and get rid of my chills. We stopped by the medical tent to see if they had Powerade, but they only had water and no salt packets or any electrolyte recovery anything. We kept on our way and I had to stop along the side for a bit, being yelled at to “keep moving” from one of the volunteers. Sorry guy, but if I move I might pass out so just give me a second. I got my race medal, and yelled at Kinley to get her own when she was about to walk away without one. Dork.

We then encountered multiple huge lines of people waiting for food. We passed these by, but I grabbed an orange while walking – sorry to bud in front of you person, but all I wanted was something fruity and to get out to sit down. We saw mom in the distance and were yelling at her, and she was looking in every direction that was not us, so we had to get out quickly so we wouldn’t lose her. We got there, and I promptly sat down and ate a couple slices of my orange. I was feeling weird, and not really like I wanted to be eating so I just sat there for a bit, looking at my medal :).

We took a few finisher pictures here too since we went around the Disney photographers to avoid yet another line. I still can’t believe I have finished a half marathon. It seems surreal and if I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain today I wouldn’t believe it :). Once we got back to the hotel, mom went and checked at our cafe to see what they could make gluten free. Turns out they could make special Mickey waffles with Bob’s Red Mill mix! They also used applesauce and apple juice (probably for kids with dairy allergies too). Disney is awesome with allergen-friendly cuisine and we will definitely have to go back for these waffles again!

With the race starting around 5:45 for us, finishing by 8:20 and getting back to the hotel by 9, we still had most of the day ahead of us!

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 Hogwartsâ„¢ 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 Hogsmeadeâ„¢. 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 Honeydukesâ„¢, 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!!