Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Let's play catch up. (long post with lots of pictures)

I have been completely MIA.  And it was through the best part of my journey, training and Disney!!  Training proved to be difficult, especially since I was running a couple long runs in snow and freezing weather.  I'll admit that I did not stick to the plan I had set out for myself, but it worked in the end.  I stuck with the long runs on the weekends (minus the weekend I went snowboarding), but I definitely didn't do enough short runs during the week.  But that was because, at the time, I did not have a gym membership so running outside wasn't always the easiest option.

On to the trip to Disney!!!
Thursday morning I woke up bright and early since our flight was scheduled for like 7:30 AM.  The Atlantic City airport is nice, though, because it's so small - we were probably one of two planes waiting to board in the whole place.  I thought I'd get a nap on the flight, but I didn't, I was too excited!  We landed around 9:45 AM.  We got our bags and headed to the Magical Express!  We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, which we had never been to before.  The resort was gorgeous!  Our room wasn't ready, but they found us a different one.  It was on the completely other side of the resort in Magnolia, but we were right next to the East bus depot which was great!  We had ordered from Garden Grocers (best idea ever!!) so we had the bell hop bring it to our room.  It was great having two cases of water, snacks, and bagels on hand. 

Once we had our groceries and we were settled in the room, we headed out to Animal Kingdom.  My mom had never been here before because the last time she was in Disney was probably 1996 (ouch)!  Now let me start by saying my mom is NOT a ride person, especially roller coasters.  We headed to Dinoland USA and grabbed lunch.  We decided that there were going to be NO diets in Disney.  We got bacon cheeseburgers and loaded up on the toppings - lettuce, tomato, friend onions, mushrooms, and pickles for me.  We hit up the Dinosaur ride, she loved it!  Then we did A Bugs' Life and after headed to the Safari.  It was amazing and totally worth the wait we had.  I made her do Everest, she didn't appreciate that ride, but I was proud of her for doing it!  She wanted to do Dinosaur again so we did.  We headed back to the hotel to try the cafeteria.  So many options and such good food!!  I don't even remember what we got, I just remember it being delicious!

Friday we woke up and planned to go to the Expo.  We got there right before it opened, but the line wasn't bad.  We moved quickly inside and went to get our bibs.  This was a piece of cake - got my half bib and both my mom's and mine for the 5K in about 5-10 minutes.  The rest of the expo did not go so smoothly.  I headed for the Official Merchandise area.  My questions is why they made it so small!  I went in by myself but couldn't handle it so I ventured out to find my mom and we went back in together.  This was the best strategy because she could stand in line and I could go look at something.  Once we had a plan of attack, it wasn't too bad.  I got a black zip-up, an "I Did It" shirt, and a mug.  After we made it out of there we went to go pick up our shirts.  This was the real mess and made me angry.  They apparently had a separate line for each size, which is great, if it were organized the right way.  At one point we had no idea if we were still in the right line because we hadn't moved in what seemed like forever.  My mom went and got our 5K shirts in a matter of a couple minutes while I continued to stand in line.  As we got closer we saw that there was another line for the medium shirts coming from another direction.  The staff should have properly marked lines and kept up with it.  I also felt bad for the vendors that were completely surrounded by the lines, it didn't look like they were getting much business and that wasn't fair to them.  Once we finally got everything, she decided that she wanted to make a sign for me, so we did then and then headed out.  Our plan was to drop off our stuff at the hotel and go to Hollywood Studios.

We started with the great movie ride.  I had to get a picture with the horse from Mary Poppins, of course, since that's my dad's nickname for me.  We did the Little Mermaid show.  And then I convinced my mom to head to Tower of Terror.  She wasn't too excited, but she knew this was coming because I love rides.  This was probably the longest times we waited for a ride, but it's one of my favorites!  Once we got off this ride, we headed to Rockin' Roller Coaster.  We waited a while again because there was something wrong.  We ended up towards the back, which is definitely better for my mom.  After we got off she told me that she clenched her teeth the entire ride and was holding on for dear life!  Now in my defense I did not remember this ride having loops, so I told my mom it wasn't too bad.  But I felt so bad!  The Toy Story ride had an outrageous wait so we decided to skip it, even though we both were looking forward to it.  We shopped around a bit and then headed back to the hotel.  We had dinner back at the hotel and laid down for a bit.  Then we went to Magic Kingdom to souvenir shop.  When we got there one of their light shows was starting so the street were packed!  We both bought some things and headed back home.  We knew we had to be up early the next morning so it had to be an early night!  It was hard setting the alarm clock for 3:00AM, but I was ready to have a blast!!

Saturday's early start went better than expected.  The excitement kicked in and I forgot the insane hour that I was awake.  I made us matching tutus and shirts.  My friend actually did the Minnie head on the front and I did the back.  A couple years ago I got her a necklace with two hearts saying "Mother Daughter Friends Forever" and I knew that would be a great idea for the shirts!  And I put the date of the race on the sleeve.  She got more into the idea of dressing up than I thought she would.  We did get a lot of compliments on the shirts so that made me happy!  The bus was pretty much full by the time we got on and everyone was so chipper in the dark hours of the morning.  We headed to our corral when we got off the bus.  I had B and she had C, so I moved back to be with her.  We waited for a while, but getting to see all the awesome costumes and our excitement made time fly by!  When the first corral got to go to the start line everyone in the corrals were so pumped up!  The fireworks went off and off they went.  We did that again for Corral B and then it was finally our turn to make our way to the start line!  Our countdown began and our fireworks went off and it was time to go.  It was so crowded that even if we wanted to run, it would have been very difficult.  My mom has bad knees we our plan was to walk the 5K anyway.  We made our way through Epcot's parking lots and through the back areas.  All the workers that we passed were so nice and cheerful, they definitely made the run even more magical!  We finally made our way into the back of Epcot.  We decided to pass up the first character stop - Belle.  I convinced my mom to stop for Aladdin and Jasmine because we were there for fun and I heard that they really don't sweep for the 5K.  After the picture stop my mom got this burst of energy and she wanted to run a little!  We did a really short distance but I was so proud of her!  We did that a couple times and before we knew it were at mile marker three.  We decided that we were going to run across the finish line, together.  I could not have been more happy to have her by my side at that moment.  She's my rock and I'm so blessed that she took this journey with me!
We got our medals and walked to the finisher area, getting our water or Gatorade on the way.  We got our picture with our medals and then our goody box of snacks and a banana.  I was pleased with the snacks they gave, except the seed mixture, which luckily my mom liked.  We saw that Mickey and Minnie were there to take pictures with.  We figured since our bus wasn't there we'd get in the line for Minnie.  It wasn't as long as a wait as I had anticipated.  We got back on the bus to our hotel and we had planned a pool day since I had the half marathon the next day.  We grabbed lunch and then changed into our bathing suits.  It was pretty nice out, but I had a fear of getting burnt (that would not have been comfortable to run with!) so I only stayed out there for about an hour.  We showered and got ready and headed to Downtown Disney, which I don't think my mom had ever been to.  We walked around the shops and grabbed some dinner.  I can't believe they have an entire store dedicated to Disney Christmas stuff - oh if I were rich... We stopped to get Ghirardelli's ice cream before we decided to head back so I could get to sleep early.  I made sure everything was ready to go for the next morning while my mom planned her route to follow me!  Finally, although it felt weird being so early, I drifted to sleep.

I never thought I'd have to set an alarm for 2:00AM, but alas that is what came about Sunday morning.  I was actually texting friends that were still up from their night out and here I was starting my dad.  I kind of felt like I was in a daze for a little bit.  I rolled out of bed, started the coffee and got my bagel and banana.  As I ate I got my outfit ready.  When I first made my tutu, I wasn't pleased with it, but I added some pink ribbon and found a darker purple tulle to add to it, and now I was so excited to wear it!  I was slightly afraid that I would be annoying and I'd have to lose it sometime during the race.  I made sure to add my pink and purple flowers in my hair (so Rapunzel) and my tiara headband.  We were soon out there door, and I was getting more and more nervous.  I think my mom was just as nervous as me.  She's not great with directions and now here she was, trying to follow me along the course by herself.  I told her to follow everyone else, they were probably trying to do the same thing she was and she'd be fine.  I didn't need to check a bag since I had my SPI belt and my mom had a bag that I could throw things in.  She and I hung out in Epcot's parking lot for somewhere between a half hour and hour. Around 4:30 I hugged my mom and I made my way to the corrals - I was in E!  The walk was nice, I got to clear my head and prepare for this new journey.  I got into the corral and started stretching, I sat down and relaxed since it was still pretty empty at this point.  As it got closer to the start of the race, the runners started pouring in.  The official race start was finally here and we were all so excited.  The fairy godmother sent off the first corral and fireworks went off.  It was another half hour before my corral was up in the front, ready to go!  I kept telling myself to stick with my intervals (2:1) and have fun!!  The same routine went off for our start and I was so nervous and excited.  I ran through my first walk break because I was overcome with adrenaline.  I did a bunch of weaving, and little did I know about the bottle necks to come about later in the race!  The first photo op was pirates - and they're not my thing so I skipped it.  I saw the princes, maybe around mile 2.5-ish and that was the one photo I told myself that I needed.  The line was long, but I didn't care.  As I was standing in line, the winner passed us!  It seemed so insane that she was almost done and my race had only just begun.  Of course the one picture I wanted badly came out blurry, but I still have it.  I also decided that I would stop my Garmin for my picture stops and what not.  But what I didn't anticipate was it going into power save mode because I can usually hear the beeping, but I couldn't over all the excitement.  So I had to start the run over, and I wouldn't have an accurate time for myself.  I was disappointed, but you live and learn.  I made a stop at the port o potties - of course I pick the slowest line.  And managing a tutu was not easy!

I ran towards Magic Kingdom and this was the first time that I could have seen my mom, but no luck!  I saw the balloon people (I think) around mile four or five, but I zipped right past them and never saw them again.  The moment I saw Main Street and turned the corner towards the castle, I was so incredibly happy.  I didn't see my mom this time either, but it was still overwhelming with the huge crowd.  I found a photographer to snap my picture and was off again.  I was looking forward to running through the castle, but by the time I got there it was pretty much at a stand still.  The princesses had to walk (which means I didn't have a castle picture), and most importantly I missed the experience of actually running through the castle.  After running through some more of Magic Kingdom  we were on the back roads.  I was surprised at how well I felt, the crowd and adrenaline definitely help push you during a half!  I saw the best shirts - Rapunzel and Rapunzel's Dad, it was so sweet!

I saw a picture opportunity that I wasn't expecting - Mary Poppins!!  That is my dad's nickname for me, so of course I had to stop.  A couple stopped in line behind me dressed as Mary and Bert, adorable!  The long stretch of back road was boring, but looking at all the costumes and scenery held me over.  Once I hit the exit ramp - around mile 10, I think? I knew it was almost over and that I almost completely my journey!  I was dreading this "hill" but it wasn't bad at all!!  With my walk/run intervals it was easy-peasy.  I started to hit a wall right before I got into Epcot, but I told myself that I just had to push through it.  I ran towards the big ball and was surprised when I saw a really short line for the Fairy Godmother!  I must say, I look pretty decent for running almost 13 miles in this picture!  As I made my way around the little time we had in Epcot, they moved some cones to change the course slightly since people were starting to arrive.  But alas I saw the finish line.  I throw my hands up in triumph because I just did something I never thought I'd be able to do - run a half marathon!  I went through the finisher's chute and got my medal and Gatorade and snack pack.  I made my way to the family tent to wait for my mom.  She greeted me with the biggest hug ever and said she was so proud of me! :)  I was on cloud nine.  We made our way to our bus and all I think think about was getting a nice cold shower.  Running in heat and humidity was definitely different than the cold, 15 degree weather I trained in!  I opted for skipping a nap and we headed straight back to Epcot.  I knew I wouldn't last long.  So we first got a fast pass for Soar - my mom had been looking forward to this, and got lunch.  We made our way back across the park and did Test Track and Mission Space.  We had some time to kill before our fast pass so I got some coffee and we just sat and talked.  I was fading faster than I thought I would, but waking up at 2:00AM will do that to you!  Finally it was our time for Soar.  As soon as the ride was over we headed back to the buses and I crashed.  Woke up for dinner and then went right back to sleep!  The big day was finally over, and I couldn't have been happier!

Good thing about going to bed so early, is being up early.  We planned to get one "Disney" breakfast and today was the day.  We got up and ready for our last day in Disney. :( Our hotel had amazing food for lunch and dinner so of course the breakfast was just as delicious.  I had to get a Mickey Waffle!  We saved the best park for last - Magic Kingdom!  We got there before it opened so we saw the show with the characters on the train.  That was a nice surprise.  We headed straight for Space Mountain because we wanted to get there before the crowd.  We did that, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (I won), and Stitch's Great Escape in Tomorrowland - all really quickly.  Then we headed to Fantasyland and to the one ride that my mom had been waiting for the entire trip - the tea cups!  But of course they broke down right as we got in line!  So we opted for the Brainstormer and on the way back the teacups were fixed!  She had the biggest smile while we were spinning around like crazy, which made me equally happy!  We ventured off into the new Fantasyland.  We saw the awesome new castles, but everything had a super long wait so we decided to come back later.  We got a fast pass and made our way to Liberty Square to go to the Haunted Mansion.  Then we walked to Frontierland.  Splash Mountain was closed, but that was okay because I don't think my mom really wanted to go on a ride to get wet, and I can live without that feeling, too.  So we did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad instead!  Then we made our way to Adventureland!  Pirates of the Carribbean was up first.  Only bad thing about this ride, was the wait - we had the couple in front of us that couldn't keep their hands off of each other, it was gross.  After that we headed to the Jungle Cruise, which is always a good time.  And as silly as it was, we did the Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride.  We had good timing because it was almost time for our fast pass!  We did Mickey's Philharmagic and Peter Pan's Flight.  And we were going to be done but we decided to give in and wait for It's a Small World.  We conquered a lot and we headed back to the hotel.  Got our last dinner and indulged in dessert.  We packed everything up.  Tuesday our flight left at 10:45, which means we caught the Magical Express around 7/7:30.  We got back home around 12:55 and the magical vacation was officially over.

Marathon Foto didn't do the best job capturing me running, but I did get a couple good ones.
Overall - the journey was fun and magical and I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

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