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: 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!

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!!