Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recap: Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Race Day: Saturday, November 11, 2012 at 10pm

Race Day – 2: Travel Day

Well, I got up this morning at 4:30am to start getting ready for my drive to the Lubbock airport to catch my flight to Orlando. Darn this time change…first we get the extra hour with the time change and then I lose it again having to cross the border and eventually to the Eastern time zone. I’m traveling on my crutches with a post-op walking shoe and my foot wrapped  in an ACE wrap. Let me tell you, trying to drag my suitcase and carry on backpack to the car was not easy!

Once I got on the road things were much better. I decided to park in an off airport lot so that they could shuttle me to the terminal and I wouldn’t have to deal with  except to get it to the check in counter to have them put the tag on the bag. As I headed to the security check point it took me forever to get everything ready to place in the bins.  I stood next to the chair while I was getting everything settled and allowed probably over  a dozen people to go by me.  I grabbed some breakfast (bagel, cream cheese and a Sprite) then headed to the customer service desk to get a blue tag for early boarding. Nice bonus for having to use crutches!

This was a direct flight to Orlando with a short stop in Austin to take in more passengers. We arrived just a little early at about 2pm and I went to grab my one bag (I had carried my race gear with me as my carry on).  With that done fairly quickly, we were able to arrive a little earlier than anticipated. Once I picked up my bag I headed to the transportation area to catch the Magical Express to the All Stars Music Resort. Unfortunately that was the wrong side to check in. The bus driver was kind enough to drive me over to the other area so I didn’t have to mess with my bag and crutches. I finally made it through check in and was able to board the bus within about 10 minutes. The drive to the resort was pretty much like I remembered it. The driver dropped people of at several other stops before getting to my hotel.

Check in at the hotel was a joke! I had done the online check in so that it would be much faster, but it turned out that there was no one manning the online check in area. The three concierges eventually took the first 3 people in line, but after that they began working with people in the concierge line. I took pics of almost each line to show you what I was talking about…I hope that this is not an every day occurrence! Eventually a single clerk came out and started helping the online check in waiting line which by then had blossomed to about 6-8 people/families. People who were waiting for the regular check in actually finished about 10 minutes fast than me and I was the first one in the online check in!
All Stars Movie Resort - Love Bug 6 where I stayed.

For me this was the first stay in a Disney resort of any kind. The room was decent with 2 double beds which was comfortable (only slept in one), a full tub/shower, sink outside the bathroom, a table or 2 and a mini-fridge which didn’t have a freezer. There were no microwaves or coffee makers in the room. The bathroom/sink area was nice because there was a curtain separating the sink area from the sleeping area. That way if you have an early riser in the group (or runners getting ready for an early morning half or full marathon) the rest of the non-running group can sleep.

For the rest of the night I found out how to make the trek to the Shades of Green (SoG)  military resort to shop for some breakfast and snack items. Just FYI get on the bus or monorail to the Magic Kingdom then either take the monorail to the Polynesian exiting through the main enterance and following the walkway and signs. The walk is about a quarter mile. From the Magic Kingdom you can also walk past the monorail entrances and catch the Shades of Green bus that stops where all the other non-Disney buses stop...this is maybe a 10 minute ride once the bus leaves. One quart of low fat milk, 2 pints of chocolate milk, 3 large individual serving cups of Frosted Flakes, a regular bag of Keebler cookies (not a mini bag),  a large bag of beef jerky and a couple of other things came out to just over $25. The prices there were basically the same at any military convenience store.  After getting back to the room (it took about 20-30 minutes each way) I put everything away and headed for the Food Court which reminded me of a college cafeteria. I got an individual sized pepperoni pizza and a bottle of Sprite which came out to about $14. took my pizza and my expensive food and headed back to the room to eat and chill out.

Race Day – 1: The Expo

After about 6 hours sleep (the longest stretch of sleep in a long while), I got up just before 6am. Of course I spent nearly an hour or so playing on Facebook before getting ready for breakfast. The expo wasn’t opening until 10am so I decided to go to the food court because I needed spoons and while I was there I also realized that I needed some bananas (the SoG didn’t have any fresh fruit that I saw) as well as some orange juice. So, I broke down and bought them in the food court for $1.49 for each banana (got 3) and $3.50 for each individual serving of Simply Orange orange juice (got 3).  For those 6 things and tax the total price was just shy of $16!! OUCH!! I was trying to resist the urge to get anything else but for some reason pancakes just sounded good so I ended up with 3 lid sized pancakes and 2 slices of bacon for about $12. I headed back for the room to chill for a while as the first bus to the expo wasn’t until 8:30am. Some TV and Facebook later I headed to the pick up point at 8am because I didn’t know how crowded the line would be. Fortunately, it wasn’t totally full and I was able to get a front seat. BTW, I had ditched the crutches but was still wrapped in the ACE wrap and using the post-op walking shoe.

There was a bit of a waiting line to get through the entrance to ESPN and then another line to wait for packet pickup. Once I got in I headed to the line for my bib number, or what I thought was my number. Thankfully, I looked at my waiver again and I was supposed to be in the line to the left of me which was much, much shorter and moving much, much faster! Score! I got my packet about 10 minutes after I moved to the correct line and made a beeline to the official runDisney store. OMG, the line for the cash registers was LONG. I mean long enough that it snaked through the merch store and was going nearly halfway into the stadium. Thankfully it was moving fairly decent so I was probably in line only for 15 minutes or so. I walked out with only buying 2 tech shirts (I for the event itself and one for the Coast to Coast Challenge). I then headed over to the Jostens Center where we were to pick up our race shirts and where the actual expo was being held. I walked around a bit making sure that I found the SparkleSkirts booth where I would be volunteering the following day so that I could introduce myself to the owner, Leah. There was plenty to see or do but not enough money to do it all! I did buy a new handheld Nathan hydration bottle (I have an Amphipod one that I hate), a couple of sports bras (one was a bold, bright yellow that I’ve been looking for forever) and a few other things as well as a few freebies.
After the expo I decided to head to Downtown Disney for some dinner and maybe walk around. I headed directly for my absolute favorite Disney restaurant…Poole’s Dublin Fish & Chips to crave my fish & chips craving. Then I headed out to my next favorite place Ghiradelli’s Soda Shop to get a brownie sundae. YUMMO!! I was ready to call it a day so I did absolutely no looking around instead heading back to the room on the resort shuttle and setting out my outfits for the Saturday. I set up my camo SparkleSkirt and black tank to wear while working the expo and then my cheap, but functional Eeyore outfit. I did have a sweet tooth attack so I headed to the food court for a snack of a great chocolate croissant, something I haven’t had for years. The rest of the night was spent just chilling and watching TV. I even managed to fall asleep sometime after 9pm and had a really nice extended 8 hour slumber.

Race Day

I woke up at about 5:30am without the alarm after getting a full night’s sleep, something I hadn’t had in a very long time. After doing my ritual of playing on Facebook for awhile before having my standard breakfast for the trip of Frosted Flakes, banana, milk and orange juice. I got dressed in my camo outfit for the SparkleSkirts booth at the expo and headed out the door to catch the first shuttle to the ESPN center. The shuttle was running about 15 minutes late and I even checked with a taxi to see how much it would cost for the trip and for less than a 5 minute ride it was going to be about $15! So, I waited for the shuttle. It finally came at about 10 minutes until 10am and I ran for the Jostens Center so that I could get in before the expo opened. I had to sweet talk the older gentleman who was limiting access since the expo hadn’t actually opened yet to let me in since I didn’t have an exhibitor badge. I arrived at the booth (after quickly making an appointment for a massage after my shift) and introduced myself to the other girls who had volunteered to work the booth as well as to Leah Powell, the owner of SparkleSkirts. Now, realize that the last time I had worked retail was back in high school when I worked at Sears. It was like I had stepped right back into that mode. I was showing people the shorts under the tech skirt and the huge pockets on each  side, the fact that these shorts NEVER ride up, then there’s the 12” zippered pocket on the waistband and the fact that they are made in the USA. I was pushing the new SparkleSkirts MuddBuster shorts and capris made especially for those ladies who love doing mud and obstacle runs. The wicking material for these items is newer and better than the older model, has double paneling front and back so nothing shows through when your soaking wet, has a zip pocket on the back waistband and best of all has 2 large four inch mesh pockets on the legs that will allow water/mud and any junk that may end up in the pockets to drain. I also was pushing the original SparkleSkirts which are just cover skirts that you wear over your own shorts, capris or tights. I swear I love this brand of running skirt and will likely start getting more of them versus some of the other running skirt brands that I use.

I have to say that I had a blast working the booth and hope to do this again at another expo. For my time, just short of 4 hours, I got a $100 store credit which I was able to spend on the spot. I got a Minnie Mouse tech skirt, a brown and multicolor paisley tech skirt and a new medal rack since my current one is completely full. I did go over my $100 by $40 but still that’s not bad for some time and 2 skirts that were normally $65 each and a medal rack that was normally $35. The Minnie Mouse Skirt and the medal rack were on clearance prices of $60 and $20 respectively. After I picked out my stuff, I walked around the expo again until it was time for my massage. It was only a 25 minute massage for $25 but I really needed to loosen up my legs from just beginning to bear full weight again. After that I headed back to the resort to get ready for the night’s race.

The two SparkleTech Skirts and medal rack that I got for
working the SparkleSkirts booth,
plus I paid an additional $40 since I went over my earned credit.
It was about 4pm when I got back to my room so I freshened up a bit then began to get dressed. Now, I was dressing up as Eeyore in just a simple costume: a periwinkle (light purple/blue) running skirt and tank, a felt chest piece, Eeyore ear headband and a tail. It was a pretty tacky costume, but it’s a Disney race…you have to (not really) dress up in a costume of some sort to run. I grabbed my gear bag headed out to the food court to get the last of my carb loading done with a plate of spaghetti with meatballs. By the time I finished eating it was 6:40pm so I headed out to wait for the first bus to the starting line.

The outfit looked better just laid out on the bed!
And yes, there's a tail, you just can't see it.
The bus was full of people chatting away and you could feel the excitement building. I tried looking around the bus for people that I knew but with no luck. So when we got dropped off at the waiting area I headed directly to the port-o-jons  for last minute emptying and then to dropped off my bag at the gear drop tent. Since it was only about 7pm, I went up near the stage area where they have the “entertainment.” This was really just an extremely energetic emcee/deejay who got the crowd riled up and dancing/stretching. I joined in with the dancing and singing from time to time (getting tired and sweaty even before the running started) and at other times was walking around to find people I knew. It was during this time that I probably lost my $10 gift card that was for the after party…I was just so ticked at myself for that, but eventually let go of the self anger. I did bump into some ladies that I’ve met from my online running groups or run with at other races (most at the Tinkerbell HM).

Finally at around 9:30pm the announcement was made for everyone to start heading to their appropriate corrals. Earlier I had decided to start one of the further back corrals, like in C or D; but at the last minute I was feeling pretty confident and stayed in my assigned corral B. I did try to stay to the back of the pack but as they were asking people to move forward in the corrals I ended up in the middle of the pack. We waited, and waited, and waited some more until finally the 10 minute mark was announced. Everyone started warming up with earnest and at 9:55pm the wheelchair racer was on his way. Five minutes later corral A was released to the loud cheers, music and fireworks. Then it was my corrals turn…we got the same cheers, music and fireworks…and as we crossed the starting line I forgot about the worries of my foot and began running. I took off too fast as usual going at about a 10:38-10:48  pace for the first 3 miles or so. I finally slowed down and by mile 6 I was in my usual pace range of 12:30 - 13 :30.

Blurry pic of the starting line...sorry!
We headed through the Disney Studios, went back on the road to the Animal Kingdom then onto Epcot. The course was mostly flat with several overpasses that weren't bad at all. I can't really say that it was scenic since it was on the major roads on the Disney Property so it's usually lined with trees, canals and such but since this is a night race you didn't really get to see the scenery.There were the usual photo ops with Disney characters, but I’m not a huge Disney fanatic so the character pics really didn’t mean anything to me. Call me jaded, but I just think it’s because I grew up going to Disneyland almost every summer when I was growing up and even then I was not a kid who really wanted to take pics with the characters.

These pics are of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

The finish line was at Epcot, we had to actually go through one of the buildings and then under the overhang on one side of Spaceship Earth before heading to the back lot and finally the finish line. After crossing the line I was relieved to finish uninjured…I didn’t even care about my time. Just the fact that I finished after 4 weeks of absolutely no training and only a day and a half with partial/full weight bearing was good enough for me. I got my finisher’s medal then grabbed a banana and a post race snack box (a piece of Almond Roca, nut/raisin packet, crackers, spreadable cheese, hard energy candy and some other small stuff) definitely not anything special. I headed over to the Coast to Coast medal booth to pick mine up then got my bag at gear check. It was kind of hard to find a place to sit. At TinkerBell there was a large area right next to the finish that you could plop down just about anywhere, but at this race it seemed that they had blocked off the waiting area so that we couldn’t sit there. Instead there was just a small block of ground maybe the size of a small 1 bedroom bungalow that everyone was sitting. I had brought my usual post race replenishment and sat there eating beef jerky, 2 pints of chocolate milk and the banana. By the time I was done taking pics of the medals and eating I was too full to even consider heading over to the after party where different booths were serving different drinks and foods from all over the world. Instead, I hopped on the bus back to the resort, took a cold bath, then a warm shower before going to sleep at nearly 6am.

Almost there! Really!
Less than a mile to go!
Laser light show during the last quarter mile.
The finish line, finally!!
Race Day +1

Oddly enough I woke up just before 10am which is fairly normal for me but I had taken a Xanax when I went to bed so I should have been out for a couple more hours. I did my morning routine: Facebook, breakfast and shower and decided that I’d do my laundry before going home. So I spent from about noon to 1:30pm doing laundry, having another chocolate croissant and repacking the suitcase.  Around 4pm I decided that I needed to eat a late lunch/dinner…the dilemma was where to eat.  That was pretty easily solved considering that my favorite Disney restaurant is in Downtown Disney so off I went and caught the shuttle back over to DTD and headed straight back to Poole’s for my fish and chips and then over to Ghiradelli’s for another brownie sundae. This pretty much ended up my short stay in WDW on a very happy note. All that I had left to do was make sure my reservation for the Magical Express (airport transportation) was all set for the next morning and I donated my crutches to the front desk where they bring left behind strollers, wheelchairs, etc. into the baggage hold room and give them out to people who need them while at the resort. I went to sleep pretty early, before 9pm and slept great aside from some really weird dreams that seemed very realistic…not nightmares but just outrageously nonsensical dreams.

Race Day +2

I woke up at 4:45am and took my shower, finished packing the tech clothes that hadn’t been all the way dry after being washed on Saturday and had breakfast while playing on Facebook. At 5:15 I rolled my suitcase over to the front of the hotel where they would do the airline check in. They printed up my boarding pass and took possession of my bag and made sure that it got on the plane. One less bother to worry about on the trip home. My pick up time for the Express was at 6:15 and they arrived right on time.

We arrived at the Orlando airport at about 7am and since I was already checked in, I went straight to the security line and slowly made my way through. As I got to the TSA agent, she saw my military ID and told me to go to the priority line. I asked if she was sure since I am only a dependent but she said go ahead. I moved over there and showed the agent my ID and again asked about me being allowed to use the priority line. She replied that as long as on an “operation” military could use the priority line. So I guess the TSA doesn’t get any training on what the different ID cards for the military indicate, so I just went with it and was through the security checkpoint in less than 5 minutes. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to try that again, but it would be nice if it was true and correct.

After getting on the shuttle for the gates, I noticed a guy who was vomiting near constantly. My first thought was, “I hope he’s not on my flight.” I got to the gate I plugged in at a charging station (surprise, surprise) and waited for boarding to start. Once I got on the flight, somehow managing to wrangle an aisle seat even though I was within the last 35 to board. The flight to Austin was a little bumpy and within the first 30 minutes I began to hear the retching and vomiting…it was the guy from the shuttle gates. Joy. Within another 20 minutes or so a guy in the front row began vomiting as well. Oh joy…again. I just tried to sleep and ignore the vomiting going on. When we finally landed in Austin I found out that I didn’t have a boarding pass for my connecting flight. I picked one up at customer service and just waited.

My drive home was as boring as usual and it didn’t help that I was stuffed and getting sleepy. Once I made it to town, I put on all three medals again and stopped in m husband shop to let him know that I was back and do a little bragging!! :D My drive home was as boring as usual and it didn’t help that I was stuffed and getting sleepy. Once I made it to town, I put on all three medals again and stopped in m husband shop to let him know that I was back and do a little bragging!! :D

 Oddly enough the flight to Lubbock was totally full but at least it was a smooth, short trip. Lubbock is a small airport so baggage claim was no big deal. I caught the off airport parking shuttle and picked up my car.

Since it was about lunch time I decided to see if any restaurants were serving free Veterans Day meals since Monday was the federal observation of the holiday. I found several places that were doing the Monday offer so I first headed to Golden Corral which I found was only doing a dinner special from 4pm-9pm. I then decided to try Texas Roadhouse where I got a great grilled pork chop, green beans, loaded baked potato, 4 dinner rolls and a soda…enough to fill me up and put me to sleep at the same time!

My Disney Coast to Coast Medal and qualifying medals.
TinkerBell Half Marathon & the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.
Official time: 3:27:22

What did I like about this race?
This is a fun, no pressure Disney race. This is one of those races that unless your a really hardcore runner you don't mind making extra stops for character pictures that sometimes have long lines.

What I did not like about this race?
Primarily the cost. All Disney races are expensive even if you sign up early. Since the race goes through the parks, there are times that the course gets quite narrow and congested but that's what you get for running in the parks! They weren't built with road races in mind. Lack of runner etiquette, even though in the final instructions and race program they review proper etiquette few seem to follow it. I tended to stay on the very far side of the course right next to the cones or curbs yet I almost got knocked over 2-3 times by runners passing where there was not enough room yet on the other side there was plenty of room to pass. That's not Disney's fault, but still something I dislike in any race.

Would I do this race again?
Yes, maybe. Because these are such expensive races my goal is to run all the half marathons and the marathon at least once except for Tink which I plan to go legacy (run it for 5 straight years). I won't do any of the shorter races unless I'm already in the area for some reason. Maybe I'll do this with my husband once he starts running his half marathons...hell could freeze over by then!