Tag Archive: disney world


After passing mile 5, we reached the most iconic portion of the marathon at Disney World.  Magic Kingdom.  I have a deep love for the Magic Kingdom. Perhaps this is because I was born the same month and year that the Magic Kingdom opened.  Or maybe it’s all the happy memories I have of the time I’ve spent there.  Regardless, this is a special part of the race.

After leaving the Contemporary Resort behind, you enter a backstage area which puts you in the Magic Kingdom near the hat shop.  You soon turn right and find yourself running down Main Street, U.S.A with a glorious view of Cinderella’s Castle.  There are tons of spectators along Main Street, including my dear friends Deanna and her new husband Neil who gave me a big hug and some encouragement.

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About as iconic as a Disney World picture can get!

We turned right and headed towards Tomorrowland and then headed back towards Fantasyland.  And then the BIG run through Cinderella’s Castle!

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A slightly blurry picture of Mickey and Minnie greeting guests before the runners headed through the Castle.

I didn’t see the usual troubadours announcing us as we ran through the Castle but otherwise this was the same amazing experience I remembered.

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This might not be a flattering picture but at least I look really, really happy!

On the far side of the Castle we waited for a group photo.  This was delayed due to a bathroom stop.  Which seemed to take a long time.  Which lead to some inappropriate comments about knowing a good urologist.  It went downhill from there. One plus side to waiting around is that I ran into someone I knew and was able to take her picture in front of the Castle for her.

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Without the bathroom goers….

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With the whole group.  Now everyone will know who needs a urologist…. 😉

We re-entered the race and headed towards Liberty Square and then Frontierland.

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“You’ve Got a Friend in Me!”

As we headed past Splash Mountain and towards the backstage area, I missed an opportunity to lay across the train tracks but we got this picture instead.

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We briefly ran past Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (I suppressed an overwhelming urge to wait in a long line for a picture) and headed towards the infamous Cone Alley. For those who are unfamiliar with “cone alley,” this is a special part of the Disney marathon (and many of the half marathons) where you run past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian.  The road is one lane in each direction and the runners are separated from on-coming traffic by a line of orange cones.  The running path is one lane wide (which is to say that it’s super narrow) and there may be traffic on the other side of the cones.  It’s a frustrating spot because it’s difficult to pass people and it’s especially challenging for those doing run/walk intervals.

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You can see the crowd of runners to my left.

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Donald was playing golf while we ran by.

This was also a bittersweet portion of the course for me because two years ago, when I ran my first full marathon, my family – including my mom – was watching me in the area.  We had stayed at the Grand Floridian and my family cheered right here.

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Last year, for the 20th anniversary of the marathon, Disney changed the course to include a portion in the Speedway.  The entrance to the Speedway involves an insanely steep ramp but the rest of the Speedway was fun.

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The sun was coming up but it never got uncomfortably warm this year.

After exiting the Speedway, we headed along the stretch of backstage roads to Animal Kingdom.  In previous years this was my least favorite part of the race but this year I had fun people to entertain me.  Makes ALL the difference!

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Eddie tried to get a decent Villians picture for me but it wasn’t mean to be.

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Posing with Merida.  Who inspired my outfit. One of my running mates had dressed as Merida at the Princess Half Marathon compete with red wig.  He definitely put my outfit to shame!

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Here are 3 Disney dogs and the music? Who Let the Dogs Out! (Groan…)

It was along this stretch of road that several funny things happened.

1. This is the stretch of road where you go past the sewage treatment facility.  The scent is quite…aromatic.  So we took a picture with us holding our noses.

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2. Since most of my running-mates were part of Team All Ears and I’ve been a member of Team Studios Central, I was asked about my Disney running team.  I was explaining how nice and small the team is and how supportive.  I was also saying that I’m one of the older members of the team and often feel a bit like the Team Mom (or one of the team moms).  I explained that since I’m “only” 42 years old, it’s funny to me that I’m one of the old people on the team.  My dear friend Rich looked at me at said, “You’re only 42? You B****!” Intentionally or not this was said loud enough for many people to overhear. Which led to many funny retorts.  Hilarity ensued.

3. I finally managed to get a picture laying across the train tracks in dramatic fashion.

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And we also ran past miles 11 and 12 before entering Animal Kingdom…

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Next up? Animal Kingdom and the best roller coaster ride of my life!

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Running the Princess Half Marathon was a bit of a surreal experience for me. I was coming off of running the Goofy which left me with lots of endurance but also some nagging injuries. My training was short on speed work but I managed a 12 mile run at a decent pace. I felt pretty good going into the Princess and thought I might have a chance to PR. But I also knew that spending several days touring Disney World with 3 kids – not to mention the 4:20am wake up the day before for the 5k – would likely take a toll. And in the days leading up to the race it became clear that the cold front that had plagued Florida at the beginning of the week had turned into a heat wave by the time of our arrival. I thoroughly enjoyed vacationing with my family in 80+ degree weather in mid-January but I did a poor job of hydrating and a terrible job of resting my legs. By race morning I had come to the realization that while a PR was possible, it wasn’t probable.
Race Morning came early. By the time my kids were asleep and my race gear was ready, it was after 9pm. And I woke up before my alarm (which was set for 2:30am). I was more nervous about the logistics of getting to the race than the actual race. A week before the race I had arranged for a car service to take me to the start. Since we were not staying on Disney property, I didn’t want to strand my husband and kids with no car. The day before the race I called the company to confirm and they started giving me a song and dance routine about road closure. Since they were planning to charge me an arm and a leg to get me to the start, I guess I should be grateful that they bailed on me! After much research we realized that my family could take a hotel shuttle to Epcot in the morning for $7 per person. I was likely to finish before they arrived which would give me time to re-hydrate, change clothes, and prepare myself for a day of park touring. After running 13.1. I don’t often drive around Orlando (we either use Disney transportation or my husband does most of the driving) although I had been the designated driver two nights in a row leading up to race day. I left the hotel before 3am and was parked at Epcot by 3:10am. What really annoyed me is that there was a clearly labelled spot for “runner drop-off.” The car service could have easily brought me to the race. Good money saved! I debated checking a bag or just leaving my stuff in the car and wisely chose the latter (Not that I’ve ever had trouble with bag check but I was parked super close to the race area – which did not make my husband happy when we had to walk from the front gate of Epcot back to the car after dinner that night. It was a LONG walk with 3 tired children!!!).
I know you aren’t supposed to do anything new on race day but I actually drank a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade in the car while driving to Epcot. I felt that I was poorly hydrated and race day weather reports were worrisome. I met up with some friends while waiting for the corrals to open and took advantage of the port-a-potties before long lines formed. The minute they started calling for runners to head to the corrals, I wished my friends luck and headed off. Many of my friends were starting in Corral C and I heavily debated starting with them. I ultimately decided to run my own race and went to Corral B. It was over an hour wait from the time I got there until the start of the race. As the race start was approaching, I realized that I needed to use the potty again. I followed several other women who hopped the fence and headed to the woods. When I returned to the Corral, I realized that my clothes were now covered in teeny, tiny little burrs. Some nice woman helped me find the burrs and remove them (I found several on my shoe laces last week!). She also offered to take a picture of me:

I was starting in the front half of Corral B and it wasn’t too much longer before we were off!
I had planned a run 40 sec/walk 20 sec strategy as it had worked well in my October race where I PR’ed. Unfortunately my body just didn’t agree with that. My right shin that had been injured at the end of the Goofy was bothering me. Not terrible pain but discomfort. It was fairly warm and very humid. My first 2-3 miles were just bleh. I wasn’t in a groove at all. I tried to take a picture of the mile markers but I missed Mile 1 because I hit the on/off button instead of taking the picture. Oops!

I had heard that the Princess was the same course as the January Half but with more entertainment. I guess there were additional character stops but I didn’t think it was that much different. Some things – like the pirate ship – were almost exactly the same. After mile 2 I decided to change my run/walk interval to a run 30 sec/walk 30 sec ratio. This is actually Jeff Galloway’s preferred ratio and the one I use most often in training.

I know I take this picture each and every race!

As I crossed the 5k mat, I waited for the text message from Disney’s runner tracking to let me know my split. I didn’t watch my Garmin super carefully to know my time as I crossed the mat. The text never came. This was worrying me a little bit but I decided to let it go. (My official 5k split is now 35:57.) After the first 5k I started to feel much better. My shin pain went away and never came back. I think the 30/30 ratio was perfect for the day.
We entered the Ticket and Transportation Center and, while there were lots of spectators, I didn’t see anyone I knew.

We then followed the narrow road to the Contemporary before making the turn to head to the back stage area leading to Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom is always the highlight of the race. It is magical each and every time. The crowds and the castle. And just running down Main Street U.S.A which is still one of my favorite places on Earth.

As we headed toward Tomorrowland I saw a dear friend and he got a very sweaty hug. It’s so motivating to see people you know!!! (Thank you Sam!) I really tried to let me sense soak in all of the sights in Magic Kingdom. I didn’t take many pictures because I just wanted to enjoy the moment. Starting in an earlier corral had one unexpected advantage – much less crowding as I went through the Castle which meant I actually got to RUN through the Castle instead of walking and trying not to crash into people!

And then we exited the Magic Kingdom to start the journey back to Epcot.
When my 10k split arrived I knew there was a problem:

The text message said my 10k split was 1:21:52 with an average pace of 13:10. I had maybe run one mile above 12 min/mile and most were well under 12 min/mile. I tried not to get distracted by this and just kept going. (My official 10k split is now 1:12:50 or about 11:45 min/mile).
And so I entered “cone alley” – so named because they divide a 2-way street in half with cones. Runners are on one side of the cones and traffic on the other. It’s narrow and crowded and not particularly interesting. It’s especially challenging for run/walkers like me because we change pace so frequently.

I thought a lot of the characters here were identical to January and I didn’t really take any pictures at all.

Although I didn’t know my official time, I knew by my Garmin that I’d have to speed things up if I wanted to PR. I also realized that during my run segments I was definitely feeling the weather and I didn’t want to push too fast yet. Especially since I wasn’t sure what would happen if the sun came out (one saving grace is that it was overcast all day).


(I think the 15k marker was backwards in January, too!) My texted 15k split was 1:58:13 or 12:41 min/mile. I was NOT happy but also knew that I couldn’t fix it until after I finished (official 15k split: 1:49:11 or 11:44 min/mile).
I figured I’d try to speed up after the 10 mile mark but also realized that I wasn’t going to be able to go fast enough to PR.

We then took the cloverleaf up to the overpass and were greeted by my favorite Green Army Men. I got a high five and a salute!

The view from the overpass is impressive. Miles of runners down below!

I was a little sad to realize that I would fall short of my goal but I kept pushing pretty hard to finish strong. I knew I had run negative splits again and I felt good about my performance.

And, really, how could anyone feel disappointed when this is the view you have?

I enjoyed our jaunt through Epcot and still felt pretty good. And I love that Disney has this right before mile marker 13

The Gospel Choir gets me each and every time!

I ran across the finish line and gave Goofy another high five (we share a special bond since my January race!). I was texted my finish time: 2:41:12 although my Garmin was closer to 2:33. I was pretty upset that my finish time was wrong. I collect my medal and grabbed my water, powerade, and snack box (I even thought to get 3 packages of fruit snacks for my 3 kids). I tried to talk to a runDisney person about getting my finish time fixed but nobody could help me. Even though 2:33 isn’t a PR for me, it made me sad that I ran a much better race than my “public” finish time would suggest (not that 2:41 is a bad time at all – it would still be a total respectable time for me – but I worked hard for my finish time and I wanted the correct one!). I also realized that my finish time reflected clock time (the time from when the first runner crossed the starting line) instead of chip time (the time from when I crossed the starting line). I was so distracted by the finish time issue that I forgot to get a picture taken until I was at my car.

By this point my family had arrived at Epcot so I managed some gymnastic feat to change clothes in the car without flashing the world. I was caked in salt and looked rather special but soon was ready to hop on the monorail to Magic Kingdom.


I emailed runDisney about my finish time issue. They got back to me much faster than I expected. Less than a week after the race a runDisney rep let me know that they were able to find me through pictures and videos and they would be able to update my finish time. Another week later and I had a new official finish time – 2:32:10. This is a little faster than my Garmin time but I didn’t stop my Garmin right away after crossing the line (I forgot to stop the time) so it is probably correct. It’s less than 3 minutes slower than my PR. More importantly I’m super proud of my performance and love my newest medal! I was very impressed with runDisney for how they handled the error.
According to my race certificate, I finished 5165 out of 22,734 runners. And in my age division I was 594/2706. I’m getting there one step at a time.
Overall I had a good race and an even better trip to Disney World. My family and I had a magical time at the parks and participating in the 5k. I really hope we can do this one again!

Today my family participated in Disney’s Royal Family 5k. This is an untimed “fun run” and not a race. I decided to register for the stroller division because I didn’t think Zachary could walk 3.1 miles. Jessica, Nathaniel, and Tom were going to have to manage on foot.
I was a little nervous going into today’s event. For starters nobody in my family had trained AT ALL. I wasn’t sure that anyone, except maybe Tom, could finish 3.1 miles on their own 2 feet. Secondly, we needed to leave our hotel around 5am this morning. This required a very early morning wake-up call. And finally I was worried that nobody (except me, of course) would enjoy the experience of participating in a Disney race.
Last night I prepared all of the running clothes. Bibs were pinned on shirts. Outfits were laid out from the shirt to shoes. And snacks were packed as well. I woke up by 4:20am (before my alarm went off). I took a shower and got dressed before waking anyone else. Once I was ready to walk out the door, I woke my husband followed by the 3 children. Zachary was upset that he didn’t get a race bib but we managed to get over that problem quickly. By 5:15am we were in the car and on our way (only a little bit later than my hoped-for 5am!). The drive to Epcot was pretty easy and we were parked before we knew it.
Once in the Epcot parking lot it was a short walk to the starting corrals. We stopped and used the port-a-potties on the way. Tom and the big kids were assigned to Corral D but got permission to start with us in Corral E. Corral E is the designated stroller division and runDisney holds a banner at the front of the corral that prevents any stroller participants from going faster than their 15 min/mile pace. No running with the strollers! Thankfully before we started the race, I reviewed a meeting spot in case we got separated during the race. I told Jessica and Nathaniel to find letter “R” in the family reunion area. I highly recommend having a meeting spot!
While waiting for the race to start we all enjoyed the DJ and had fun dancing and taking pictures. We ran into one of my Team Studios Central buddies who was walking the 5k with his family. And then we waited. And waited some more. Corral A finally started and then B, C, and D. Somehow there was then a LONG delay before they sent us off. Many people finished the 5k before we started. Although we were at Epcot by 5:15-5:30am, we didn’t start until well after 7am (maybe 7:20am?). Obviously the stroller division was full of children who were none to happy with the long wait.
When the fireworks went off for Corral E, we started walking. Jessica immediately announced that we were walking WAY too fast and asked us to slow down. And Nathaniel took off at a run, never to be seen again. I was torn between making this a “family event” and trying to keep Nathaniel within view. Ultimately I accomplished neither. Tom went slowly with Jessica. Zachary and I were somewhere in the middle. And Nathaniel eventually ran in front of the Corral E banner and ran to the finish well ahead of the rest of us.
The first mile of the race was quite uninteresting. We walked through the Epcot parking lot to a Cast Member parking area and backstage area. There was absolutely no entertainment and not much in the way of visuals. After the 1st mile marker we entered Epcot next to the Mexico Pavilion. Soon thereafter was a water stop. Zachary and I each took a cup of water. Mulan was hanging out in China. We then saw Snow White in Germany (and stopped to take advantage of indoor plumbing). There were several topiaries out in preparation for the upcoming Flower and Garden Festival. Jasmine was in Morocco and Belle in France. Marie was also in France. We exited the International Gateway and turned right to re-enter Epcot via a backstage area. We re-entered in England and saw some amazing Peter Pan topiaries. The course headed into Future World and we made a loop around the front of Epcot. Finally we made a left to exit the park back into the parking lot where we found the finish line. Zachary was thrilled to get his medal. We grabbed some PowerAde and snack boxes. I especially loved that they had Jake and the Neverland Pirate fruit snacks for the kids.
I was super nervous about finding Nathaniel and things were very crowded. We headed to the Family Reunion area and the letter R. There was Nathaniel just hanging out. A runDisney representative was waiting with him. Apparently she had tried to call me (I didn’t hear my phone) and managed to reach Tom to let us know that Nathaniel was safe. When Nathaniel finished he asked one of the volunteers where to find the Letter R. The guy didn’t know but got this runDisney person to help him. Amazingly enough she waited with him until I arrived. I must say that I was very impressed.
Jessica struggled with finishing the race but Tom got her across the finish line. Nathaniel, Zachary, and I were there waiting from Jessica and Tom but we cheered for them! Nathaniel immediately announced that he would happily do this again. Jessica was a little more skeptical but willing – with more training – and Zachary was perfectly happy in the stroller.
Overall I truly enjoyed finishing a 5k with my husband and 3 kids. Having never done a runDisney 5k, I was a teeny bit disappointed in a few things. It took way too long to start the 5k, especially considering the number of children involved. The first mile of the course was blah. I thought there would be more fanfare with the character stops. Things I liked about it: It definitely was a fun race. A relaxed pace with no pressure to go fast. It’s fun to see the park before it opens. And I love World Showcase. I love that this was a great way to introduce the kids to the love of running. The race was far enough to be a challenge but short enough to be manageable.
In short I think we would do it again!

The Mickey Medal, Part 4

I think that in a full marathon this is really where the race begins.  Especially with this particular race where the sun was now up and the temperatures were climbing.  The next 11.2 miles are where you need to dig deep and find out what you really have.  It was definitely getting hot, despite being really good about dumping water on my head at each water stop.  I had kept up with my fueling and I was feeling pretty good.

The stretch between Animal Kingdom and Wide World of Sports was another stretch on the highway.  As we approached WWoS there were cones dividing us from those who were exiting WWoS.  I didn’t understand at the time that we had several miles in the Sports Complex before we reached their point of the race.  And apparently there were several reports of people skipping the entire WWoS part of the race (I think it was about 3.5 miles or so) and jumping the cones.  I personally didn’t witness this and there was a timing strip on the ground at Mile 20 to “prevent this.”

I will take a moment to comment on this type of “cheating.”  I really, truly don’t understand it.  I’m never going to be an elite runner.  I will probably never even be a fast runner.  And I’m ok with that.  Given that I’m not running for any prize other than a finisher’s medal and the pride of knowing that I accomplished something that about 1% of the population does, why cheat? I don’t understand the benefits of cheating.  Skipping WWoS might have changed my finish time from a “just sub-6 hours” to a “just over 5 hours” but who cares? I’m not comparing my finish time to other people.  I’m comparing my finish time to myself.  Did I live up to my own expectations? Was I really able to run 39.3 miles in 2 days? Did I really finish my 2nd marathon?  I can’t even judge people who would cheat at a Disney race.  There are many, many reports that Disney gives medals to people who get swept (if you can’t keep the 16 min/mile pace you are at risk for being driven to the finish area on a bus).  So you don’t even need to cross the finish line at a Disney race to get a medal.  What benefit is there to cheating???

Mile 17 is an awesome place for one simple reason.  They hand out wet sponges at mile 17.  These are like Manna from Heaven.  Especially  on a hot marathon day.  Trust me.

And then we entered a long stretch of Hell known as Disney’s Wide World of Sports.  This was a much anticipated part of the race for several reasons.  First, Disney had promised a “Spectacular” at mile 20.  With all the hype it would be hard for the Spectacular to truly seem spectacular.  And second this whole part of the course was new.  We had run various parts of the course during the Tower of Terror 10 miler and the course had not been particularly popular.

The Sports Complex.

Once again the course was a bit narrow and crowded.

Did I mention it was getting HOT?

We did run around the track at the Complex.

There was a lack of entertainment during this part of the race.

The beginning of the Mile 20 spectacular.  Genie.

From Monsters, Inc.

Sebastien.

Donald, Mickey, Goofy.  Just like the medals.

The Mile 20 archway

The Mickey Medal is on the archway.

The Mile 20 bit wasn’t very spectacular in my opinion.  I think Disney made a mistake by hyping it up.  Nobody was terribly impressed.  It was fine but not exciting.  Nevertheless getting to mile 20 is a huge accomplishment and a big milestone in the race.  It has been said that the marathon can be divided in 2 parts.  The first 20 miles and then the final 10k.  So the 2nd “half” of the race was just beginning!

4:30:36 at the 20 mile mark.  13:32 min/mile.

 

 

The Mickey Medal, Part 3

At this point in the race begins the long, boring and often stinky stretch of road that leads to the Animal Kingdom.  This year was a new course which put this stretch of the road earlier in the race.  I much preferred this aspect of the new course.  It’s a long stretch of asphalt which heats up in the sun.  And when you’re already feeling the long miles, the spectator-free and entertainment-lacking portion of course isn’t helpful in keeping you motivated.  The course takes you past a water treatment center which smells like a dump.  Not an exciting part of the course!  This is definitely a point in the race where having an iPod is helpful because there’s not a lot going on.  I must have been really focused on my iPod and my intervals because I totally missed mile marker 11.  When my Garmin read about 11.33, I realized my mistake! Oh well.  So I was able to photograph 25 out of 26 mile markers!!!

I did get a picture of these folks:

2 hicks in a motorhome making funny comments as we ran by.  They were there last year, too.

That’s not a giant tortoise.  It’s a treasure chest full of Captain Hook’s gold doubloons.

The 20k mark was as we entered into Animal Kingdom.  There were animal handlers with animals along the way.  I didn’t get any decent pictures but it  was cool!

Mount Everest looming in the background.

Forgive the sun glare but here’s mile 13.  Dawn had definitely arrived by now! Last year I was already quite overheated at this point in the race but this year I was feeling pretty good.

Apparently Mickey is taking some friends on Safari!

This made me laugh out loud!

One of the Gravediggers from the Haunted Mansion was ready for us!

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney

Another 5 miles down! More than halfway done….

13.1 mile split? 2:57:23.  13:32 min/mile