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April 13, 2015

Trip Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

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In response to one of my recent half marathon blogs, Kristyn sent this comment:

Enjoy your RunDisney posts. I am looking for recommendations on two topics if you can help me, Laura. I am doing my first event this fall at Wine and Dine. Can you do a blog on how you prepare for a nighttime race as most of us are used to the early morning runs. Also, not sure if it has ever been covered, but how to plan on where to stay and how to get to to packet pickup and the event if you don't have a rental car. Would love some advice on how to plan for a RunDisney trip. Thanks.

I'm hoping there are others of you that are interested in this information, too. So here are some of my thoughts on how to plan a trip for a runDisney race.


7-9 months in advance

Choose a race weekend and a race or races.

The first decision you have to make is which race weekend you're going to attend, and which events are you going to participate in. This could be influenced by a number of factors, including work/school schedules, potential weather conditions, and race theme.

As I write this, runDisney offers seven different race weekends in Florida and California, with most race weekends including 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. (There's no 10K for Wine and Dine Weekend; and WDW Marathon Weekend also features the WDW Marathon, which is the granddaddy of them all!)

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

So, what's it going to be? Decisions, decisions. WDW Marathon Weekend in early January offers all four race distances, in addition to the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. This is also the largest runDisney race weekend and has the most participants.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Is The Force with you? Then you might want to choose Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, which is also in January, a week after Marathon Weekend. There are 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as the Rebel Challenge, where runners do both the 10K and the half marathon. Races at Disneyland have smaller fields since the resort is smaller - this tends to make for a more pleasant race experience, but it also means they often sell out faster.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Are you looking for a "Girls' Getaway"? Then you might be interested in Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World or Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Both of these race weekends are women-focused. That doesn't mean that men are not allowed, but in the last few years women have outnumbered men by about 11:1 in the half marathons. Both race weekends offer 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as a 10K/half marathon challenge. Princess Half Marathon Weekend takes place at the end of February.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

This year Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend has been moved from January to Mother's Day Weekend in May. We'll see how that works out - many of us (myself included) think that's a poor choice for a race weekend, especially one focused on women. Getting up really early to run a half marathon is not the kind of pampering that most moms are looking for on Mother's Day!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is held over Labor Day weekend, and also offers 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, and includes the Dumbo Double Dare 10K/half marathon challenge. It's pretty warm in Anaheim at this time of year, but a race weekend is a great excuse to visit Disneyland, if you haven't been out here before. The City of Anaheim really comes out in support of this one, with lots of high school bands, cheerleaders, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community dance groups. And then there's the classic cars!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Do you want to run a race and party afterward? Then the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon might be for you. This is my favorite WDW race: it's at night, it's a different course that goes through three theme parks, and there's an after-race party in Epcot until 4:00 a.m. The Food and Wine Festival food booths are open, as well as some attractions, and there's also special entertainment. The race weekend takes place in early November. There's no 10K for this one, just the 5K (which takes place the same day as the half marathon - but early in the morning), and the half marathon. But the 5K is also slightly different, since it's held at Animal Kingdom and not at Epcot like the others. This half is also a smaller field than the other WDW races.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

If you want to bring out your inner super hero, then how about the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland? In addition to having the longest name, this is the last runDisney event of the year, and takes place the week after Wine and Dine. There are 5K, 10K (new this year), and half marathon races. With the introduction of the 10K, there's the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Weather-wise, this is a terrific time for a race in California.* In addition, the parks are fully decorated for the holidays. making it a special time of year for a visit to the Disneyland Resort.

*Last year's wind event during the half marathon was an anomaly.

Now that you've decided on a race...

Race registration opens 7-9 months in advance, (you can visit the runDisney web site to sign up for a reminder email) and many of the races sell out quickly (sometimes in under 30 minutes!). I highly recommend that you be prepared to register the minute that race registration opens (typically at 12:00 eastern time) so that you don't get shut out. The 10Ks and race challenges are usually the earliest to sell out, because they allow fewer participants. If you are an Annual Pass Holder or DVC member, there will be a pre-registration opportunity about two weeks before regular registration opens. A limited number of registrations are available during this time, and they also tend to go quickly. The good news is that if you qualify for this you get two shots at registering, and if you don't get in via pre-registration, you can try again during open registration. (In the past pre-registration was also available to Disney Visa card holders, but I do not know if this is still the case.)

RunDisney uses active.com as their registration site. If you don't already have an active.com account, then it's a good idea to set one up in advance. It doesn't help with pre-registration, but during open registration it will speed the process if you have an active.com account you can log into.


So you're registered...what's next?

Time to make some additional decisions about the race weekend. Are you going to turn it into a vacation, and add on some days before and/or after the race? Where are you going to stay? How are you going to get around? Some of these considerations are slightly different depending on whether the race is at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, so I'll address them separately.

Since most of us travel to WDW or Disneyland we want to spend some extra time there apart from the races to give some added value to the trip. I personally recommend adding more of the time on after the race and not before. You'll still want to arrive at least a day or two before the race so that you have time to visit the Race Expo and pick up your race bib and shirt, etc., but once the race is over it's nice to have some time to relax and enjoy the parks.

At Walt Disney World, if you are staying on-site at a WDW resort, then race transportation and where to stay are kind of all rolled together. For each race weekend, there are multiple Walt Disney World resorts that are designated "host resorts". Race transportation is provided for runners staying at these hotels - this includes free transportation to/from the Expo in addition to transportation to/from the races. So, between using Disney's Magical Express for airport transportation and normal Disney transportation to the parks, then if you're staying at a host resort you probably don't need a rental car. For Marathon and Princess weekends, all WDW resorts are considered host resorts and offer race transportation. For Wine and Dine, the resort choices are more limited. You can visit the runDisney web site and go to Travel->Walt Disney World and then select the race weekend you are interested in for more information on the host resorts.

At Disneyland everything is much more compact, so from any of the Disney hotels and from many of the hotels in the surrounding area you simply walk to/from any race weekend events. The Expos are held in the convention center at the Disneyland Hotel, and the races all start/end near either the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier Hotel. (This makes the race morning logistics a WHOLE lot easier than at WDW - no bus ride required!). There are some designated host hotels that are further away which do offer Expo and race transportation, so that's also an option.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's no "Magical Express" equivalent at Disneyland, though there are a number of reputable shuttle services that provide airport transportation to all area hotels. You'll have to pay for it, but balance that off against the price of a car rental. Also, most hotels (including the Disney hotels) charge a fee for parking, so that's another thing to keep in mind. The two most popular airports to fly into are John Wayne (SNA) and Los Angeles International (LAX). SNA is a whole lot closer to Disneyland, but doesn't have as many flights. Long Beach (LGB) is another airport option, but it's very small, and few airlines fly there.

There are only three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, and they are all high-end, so Disney depends on their "Good Neighbor" hotels to provide the more moderate and budget-priced options. You won't get the Disney theming, but the accommodations are just fine, especially if your biggest requirement is a place to sleep and shower.

And did I mention that a lot of them are walking distance to the race events and the parks? :-) i can not stress enough what a huge benefit that is when running a race at Disneyland. You can find some additional information, including links to the hotel web sites, on our Good Neighbor Hotel FAQ


2-7 months in advance

Train for your race(s). I'm not going to say too much about this, since everyone has their own strategy, and what works best for them. But I will address Kristyn's question about Wine and Dine, and how to prepare for a nighttime race: I personally don't do anything differently in my training. I typically run one evening a week, but the first time I ran Wine and Dine I wasn't doing that, and it didn't make a difference in my performance. I think that if you've done your training, then your body knows what it needs to do, and time of day doesn't matter. If anything, I find it a little easier to run at night because it's dark and I don't have the sun beating down on me.

This is also the time period where you'll be able to submit your "Proof of Time". This is a race result from some other race you've participated in during the past couple of years, which runDisney will use in determining your placement in a start corral. This is done via a web page. You can use another runDisney race, but most of us don't have our best times in a runDisney race. :-) You'll need to have the race information, including the name of the race, date, location, distance, your time, AND a URL where runDisney can find the race results. If you run a different race and get a better time, you can go in and modify it. But you will not be able to modify your proof of time within about 3 months of the Disney race date - the cutoff date will be posted on the page. You are not required to submit a proof of time, but if you don't have one runDisney will assign you to one of the later corrals.

For WDW races, starting 6 months in advance you can make your Priority Seating arrangements for dining. So if it's important to you to eat a particular kind of food - or at a particular place - before a race, it's something to consider far in advance. And of course there's probably other restaurants you'd like to enjoy after the race - we often have a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on Sunday night of race weekend.


60 days in advance

At Disneyland it's time to make your Priority Seating, though this isn't nearly as critical as it is at WDW. The exceptions would be for a special dining package, such as Fantasmic! viewing, or if you're booking for a large party.

For WDW you can make your Fastpass+ selections, if you are staying at a WDW resort.


1-4 weeks in advance

Race waivers will be available on the runDisney web site. You must complete a race waiver and present photo id to pick up your bib at the race Expo. While there are print stations at the Expo, it's a lot easier and faster if you print the waiver in advance and bring it with you. This is also how you find out your bib number, and you can determine your corral placement from that - otherwise you'll have to wait until you pick up your bib, as the corral will be printed on that.

Make a packing list. Don't forget things like gels, running belts, and throwaway clothes. If you use a particular nutrition product bring it with you - don't count on being able to purchase it at the Expo. If you're planning to run in costume, make sure you list all of the pieces. If you can do a test run in the costume to make sure it's going to work that's great, but I'm sure most of us (myself included) don't do that.


The week before

Obsessively stalk the weather channel. Ok, maybe that's just me. :-) But honestly, you want to know what to expect so that you can bring the appropriate clothing, both for running and park touring. And be aware that the weather can change drastically, even a day or two before the race (though this is more often an issue in Florida than California). Predicted starting temps in the 60s can suddenly turn into the 40s (or 30s!), or 50s can turn into high 60s, with finishing temps in the 80s. And rain is always a possibility. I've had experience with all of those, and they all have their own challenges. If it's chilly, the worst part is all the waiting around before the race. In that case, those little chemical hand warmer packets and some cheap throwaway gloves will go a long way to keeping you more comfortable. I ALWAYS pack a LARGE trash bag in my suitcase - it comes down past my knees and really helps me retain body heat while waiting.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend


Race Weekend

Yay! You've made it to your destination, with your running gear and waiver in hand. Next up is the race Expo. If you want first chance at the race merchandise, then you need to arrive EARLY on the day the Expo opens and be prepared to wait in line. This is the one situation where it's easier if you have a car since the buses don't start running until 30 minutes or so before the Expo starts. Also, remember that bib pickup and merchandise are in separate areas - you can choose to go to merchandise first and later pick up your bib or vice versa. If you don't want to wait in a lot of lines and are willing to take your chances on merchandise, then I would suggest visiting the Expo sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon. I've never encountered much in the way of lines at that point in time.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Be a little cautious about trying the samples that are available at the Expo. That energy bar might contain some ingredient that doesn't agree with you - and stomach issues are not something you want to deal with on race day.


The day before the race

It's really difficult to stay off your feet when you're at Disney, but it's a good idea the day before a race, especially if you're running the marathon. Even with a half marathon, being on your feet for hours the day before will tire you out to some extent. We try to do some limited touring in the morning, and then take an extended break back in our room in the afternoon, before venturing out in the early evening for dinner. And you should be drinking water throughout the day - not drowning yourself, but if you're running a half or the marathon then you want to be well-hydrated.

When you're out and about, pick up whatever it is you're going to want to eat in the few hours before the race. This might be a bagel or a banana, or yogurt - or maybe it's an energy bar that you brought with you. Your choices the morning of the race will be very limited, so if you already have what you need that's one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

When it comes to dinner the night before, just about everyone has their own idea of what works best for them. Some want pasta, others pizza, and some swear by Chinese food. At this point, you should have done enough long training runs to know what you need to fuel yourself for the next day. You definitely do NOT want to gorge yourself the night before, but you should eat a good dinner, with some carbs and protein. I like chicken and rice, with some vegetables or a salad, though my go-to meal the night before a Disneyland half marathon is four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.

For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, since it's a night race, we do things slightly differently. We still do some touring in the morning, and then we'll try to have our big meal of the day around 1:00-2:00 in the afternoon. And by "big meal", I don't mean gorging on an all-you-can-eat buffet - I mean your largest meal of that particular day. I recommend something similar to what you would eat for dinner the night before a morning race. Then around 6:00 have a light (and I do mean light) meal or snack.

In the couple of hours before the race, whether it's in the morning or the evening, you'll want to have something to eat. Again, from your training, you should be familiar with what works for you. You may want to eat in your room, or you may want to take something with you to the start area.

The Disney resorts usually have some kind of quick service option that's open very early on race mornings where you can get coffee and light fare such as fruit and bagels. At Disneyland several locations in Downtown Disney are open early on half marathon mornings, like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.


Race Day

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

And...you've made it to race day! Get out to the start line and have a great time on the course!


What about the rest of you? What are your suggestion on planning for a runDisney trip?

Learn more about runDisney from Laura on this episode of AllEarsNet TV



January 11, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 2 - Half Marathon

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To paraphrase Lao-tzu:
"A journey of 39.3 miles begins with a half marathon."

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Part one of the Goofy Challenge successfully completed - the marathon is tomorrow. That's the REAL challenge.


As they always do, our race morning began far too early - 2:30 a.m. Or 11:30 p.m., as my Garmin informed me. We had breakfast in the room, and tried to prepare ourselves as best we could for the cool conditions. It was 46 degrees, and was supposed to go down to 44 around 6:00. Nice conditions for running, but difficult for waiting around. I'll take it over the heat and humidity, though.

We left about 3:30, and had decided to drive to Epcot. We were actually hoping for a bit of traffic so that we could sit inside our nice warm car, but there was very little, and we were parked by 3:45! We still sat in the car for a while before donning all of our warm clothes and heading to the start area.

No photos, because I was too bundled up, but I had my running skirt and shirt, a throwaway cotton t-shirt, calf sleeves, arm sleeves, and gloves. Also a new running jacket that my niece and nephews gave me for Christmas (that wasn't a throwaway; I thought I might need it later in the race if the wind came up). And over all of that a trash bag that went down to my calves. I also had "Hot Hands" to put in my gloves. Was I warm? Mostly, and I was fine while we were moving, but the last 10 minutes in the corral I was starting to shiver. (Remember, I am a native of southern California, and I have very thin blood!)

We had to go through bag check to enter the race area - trying to dig my running belt out from under all of that was a challenge, and I lost a glove in the process. Oh well, it was a cheap throwaway, and I still had the hand warmers that I hadn't yet opened. The bag check line moved well, and we were soon into the pre-race area.

It was already about 4:30 by then. We said hi to some friends, and made another potty stop. It seemed like there were a lot more porta-potties this year, both in the pre-race area, the runner's only area, and near the corrals themselves, and the lines weren't nearly as long as they usually are.

By 4:40 we were on our way to the corrals. This was a much more pleasant trip than it has been in some years. We could walk, and didn't have to shuffle along shoulder-to-shoulder - though this morning that might not have been so bad - it would've been warmer! :-) The path also seemed much better lit than previous years.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had some cheerleaders and a DJ to entertain us along the way - first time I've ever seen cheerleaders in body suits and earmuffs. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

By 5:05 we were in Corral J - only 25 minutes until the start of the race! I was surprised that it wasn't more crowded - we were not too far from the front of the corral. We settled down on the ground to wait and rest our legs and feet a little bit.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We were too far back and not near one of the big video screens, so really couldn't see any of the pre-race "show" with the characters. A male vocalist sang the National Anthem at 5:25, and then the fireworks went off at 5:30 when they started the wheelchair racers, followed closely by the first corral.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

While we were waiting for our corral to begin moving we chatted with some runners around us - Richard, a mutual acquaintance, was right behind us. And hello to Michael, an AllEars reader who was next to us.

Once our corral started moving forward we found a break in the fence and left it so that we could make one last potty stop - the cold weather shrinks the bladder! There's no lines at that point, so it's pretty fast. We nipped back into line at the back of the corral, so we didn't lose any time in starting - well, except that we were at the back of the corral.

I'd removed my trash bag by then but that was all. Oh, and in the meantime I'd found a discarded glove to replace the one that I lost. :-) Lee was down one layer: he'd removed his lightweight pants and put them in his running pack.

Finally we were close enough to see the start line!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The race announcers were on-stage, though all of the characters had left by then. We were Corral J, and they still had to get all the way to P. At that point there were sending them off every 3 minutes, though I think for the larger corrals in back it's 5 minute intervals. As it was, the race had been underway for almost 30 minutes when we started. It's over an hour for those in the back.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was a relief to be running, and have the opportunity to start getting warm! I had the hand warmers in my gloves, and those helped.

The course is the typical half marathon course that goes from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back. With the usual narrow one-lane places. I didn't feel that we were unpleasantly crowded this time, but still, it was a relief to get to the first really wide section about about mile 1.5. When we were almost at the mile 2 marker the first elite runner passed us going back! That was about 50 minutes into the race for him, 23 minutes for us. Our plan was to do 4:1 run/walk intervals, and maintain an easy, steady pace since we still have to run a marathon tomorrow.

There were a number of character photo stops along the way to Magic Kingdom, but the lines were long and we didn't stop. I still hadn't discarded any clothes - it seemed like every time I'd start to think about doing that and unzip my jacket we would turn into the wind and I'd have to zip it back up. I'd taken my gloves off and put them in my jacket pocket but I still carried the hand warmers in the palms of my hands. That helps a lot to keep my hands warm.

About mile 5.25 we entered Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, where there were lots of people to cheer us on, including Beci and Bea!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We had to stop near the castle to have our photo taken with the beautifully lit ice castle in the background.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We ran around through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Anna, Elsa and Kristoff were hanging out on the balcony at the castle - guess Disney realized the lines would be unmanageable if they were actually available on the course.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The course goes through Liberty Square and Fontierland, where the mile 6 sign is placed. We were almost halfway through the race, and still feeling pretty good. Lee had thrown away his outer shirt, but I was still wearing all of mine.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After exiting Magic Kingdom the course goes down the infamous "Cone Alley" for over a mile, past the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. It was not as crowded for us this time, but I think that's because we hadn't stopped for any character photo lines and were still in the top 40% of runners. Most everyone around us was running a similar pace.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Our friends Gail and Julian were cheering in that section, and it was wonderful to see them.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Around mile 8 we found Laura, another of our friends who was cheering the runners.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were also a series of signs giving us some "Fun Facts" about Donald Duck, like the names of his parents and sisters, movies he'd been in, etc. Appropriate since Donald is the mascot for this race.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee broke out his dance moves when we passed one of the many high school bands who came out to cheer us on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There was a nice runDisney banner on the course, but the wind was blowing it around so I couldn't get a good photo.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The sun came up - it had ended up being a nice clear morning. It was still only 48 degrees but it felt warmer once we had the sun on us. I could've gotten rid of my t-shirt at that point, but it was going to be more trouble to take it off than to continue wearing it. I'd been wearing my running belt with my race number on it under all of those clothes, and at least I finally moved that to the outside. My poor race number is already pretty beat up, and I still have another race to run!

Mile 10 is always a milestone for me in a half marathon - once I reach that point I know that I can do a 5K, even if I have to walk it. Mile 10 is at the start of a series of overpasses, so that two-mile section is a little challenging at the end of a race. Once we get to mile 12, in the Epcot parking lot, it's all flat from there.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Our friends Eddie and Phill had finished quite a bit earlier, but had come out to cheer for the rest of us. They were enjoying a well-deserved adult beverage. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We ran into Epcot and did the loop around, stopping for a picture near the fountain. I always tell Lee that "there's no sprinting in Goofy", so we didn't sprint the last .3 miles, but we picked up the pace.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As we were crossing the finish line we got a nice shout out from race announcer Rudy Novotny, and Lee high-fived Mickey Mouse.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

The nice volunteers gave us our Donald medals.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was surprised that they were not handing out the runDisney mylar sheets at the finish area - it was still 48 degrees, and I started to get chilled pretty quickly once we stopped running.

We made our way through the refreshment area and picked up water/PowerAde and the runDisney MRE boxes. (I was happy to see the Goldfish crackers inside.) There were signs directing Goofy and Dopey runners off to one side, so we were expecting them to check our photos to make sure we were really the person who had picked up the bib, but they didn't do that. I guess that'll be tomorrow.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

As I mentioned, it was chilly, so we didn't linger, and pretty quickly went back to our car. We'd both brought dry shirts and jackets to change into, and those felt very good!

My official time was 2:33:35. I was hoping to do 2:35, so that was right on target. We felt pretty good, though I can't say that I'm really enthused about doing double the distance tomorrow. After we returned to the room I took a cold bath (though Florida water is not that cold). My legs will thank me tomorrow. :-) We went to our traditional post-half marathon lunch at the Dolphin Fountain - they make an excellent turkey burger. We relaxed in the room the rest of the afternoon - even took a nap, since neither of us has slept well the last two nights.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

It was a really good race for us. We didn't experience most of the things that have made me write more negatively about this race in the past. The pre-race experience, especially the walk to the corrals, was good, and the on-course crowding wasn't bad at all. There were plenty of water stops, and all of the wonderful volunteers and cast members. Thank you to all of you, and to everyone who came out and cheered on such a cold day.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Tonight will be another short night, with another early wakeup call. The weather will be a lot warmer tomorrow. It's supposed to be 56 at the start, with very high humidity, and will be in the 70s by the end of the race. That's pretty warm. We're hoping to get a lot of miles in while it's still cool. Looking forward to running through Animal Kingdom and the Studios!

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura


January 10, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend, Part 1 - Expo and 10K

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2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee and I are back a WDW Marathon Weekend to participate in the 10th Goofy Challenge. An anniversary year - and that means special bling! :-) We opted not to run the Dopey Challenge again this year - just couldn't take the getting up early 4 mornings in a row. Besides, that gave two other people a chance to run it. Yeah, that's why we didn't do it. Total altruism on our part. :-)

I've been stalking the weather all week trying to figure out what to pack for this weekend. Started off looking warmish, but as the week went on the predicted highs and lows kept going down - though of course the warmest day is still supposed to be the day of the marathon! But it looks like we will be standing around waiting when the temperature is in the 40s and low 50s, so we had to bring some throwaway clothes and trash bags, and also packed calf and arm sleeves. Once we're running we should be ok in shorts and short sleeves, but it's the waiting that's hard. We still managed to get everything in carry-on bags, and they weren't even overly stuffed! (Had to leave room to come back with at least the three new race shirts!)


Thursday, January 8 - Arrival

Alaska Airlines now has a non-stop flight from San Diego to Orlando (and vice versa), and this was our first chance to try that. Best flight experience I've had in a long time. The plane wasn't full, so Lee and I had a row to ourselves. And it's a newer plane with the less bulky seats, which felt significantly more roomy. The people in front of us didn't recline their seats on top of us, and there were no screaming children around us. Fairly smooth flight, and only 4 hours and 40 minutes! The service was good - they came around with the beverage and food carts twice, and in between asked if we wanted coffee or anything else. I hope the flight home on Monday will be as pleasant.

We arrived about 6:00, and since we only had carry-on bags went straight to the rental car area. Had a glitch with the rental car reservation, but finally got that straightened out, and we were on the road by 7:00. It was a chilly (for Orlando) 57 when we arrived. It was downright cold that morning for the 5K - 38 at the start, with a wind advisory. The wind of course made everyone feel colder. In watching the posts of our friends on Facebook, we were pretty happy we hadn't run Dopey this year!

At the Boardwalk we had our first issue with the Magic Bands. We'd brought five (have to color coordinate, you know), but only one of them would open our room. On our way to dinner we stopped by the Concierge Desk, who verified that they were all linked and active, but she re-encoded them, and now they all work.

After dinner at the Dolphin Fountain we came back to our room to unpack and try to go to sleep. We're on the fourth floor overlooking the hotel entrance, and we could actually see some of the IllumiNations fireworks.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend


Friday, January 9 - 10K and Expo

I was awakened about 4:00 by the sound of the announcer way over at the 10K in the Epcot parking lot. Sound carries. I could hear some of the words and the music. I got up a little bit before 6:00 and put on warm clothes, since it was only 48 outside, and went out to a spot near the Boardwalk Bakery with the Mickey Milers to cheer the 10K runners. That area is just over 4 miles into the race, and there were already a lot of runners going by when I arrived about 6:10. And it was still very dark.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was very surprised that the Boardwalk Bakery wasn't open yet - they opened at 6:30. Once they opened a lot of the spectators went in, and even some of the runners went in for coffee and pastries!

It was a cool morning for the run. I saw lots of people who were wearing the long-sleeve yellow Minnie race shirt - several of us commented that it seemed like there were more people wearing the race shirt than we have ever seen.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were lots of costumes, and it was fun to see all of the creative ideas people had. There were a LOT of Annas and Elsas and Olafs - many of them running together in a group. The Olaf costume was seeming like a pretty good idea given the weather - it's a little warmer. (How ironic is it that a snowman costume would be warm?) The oddest combination I saw was Anna and Elsa running with Darth Vader, though. :-)

I saw a couple of groups where all of the runners were dressed as Snow White. I'm not sure what the term is for a collection of Snow Whites! A blizzard of Snow Whites?

There were also a lot of people dressed as Dalmatians, enough that they must have been some kind of a group, even though they weren't running all together. It was fun to see a few of them running with a Cruella, or with a Cruella not too far away from them.

I think the most unique pair I saw were the couple dressed as Mary Poppins and Mr. Banks.

Cheering was fun, though I wish I'd brought gloves! And a cowbell. Next time...The final runners followed by the bikes and the carts came by around 7:30. We visited with our fellow cheer-ers for a while before getting some breakfast at the bakery. There was no line there, which really surprised me!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

After breakfast we grabbed our race waivers and drove to the Expo. Very little traffic and we were able to park close, so our walk was shorter than if we'd taken the bus from the Boardwalk.

I always like seeing the race banners near the entrance to Wide World of Sports - it's a a very nice photo spot. This time there was a cast member there to take photos of people - not a PhotoPass photographer, just a regular guy who used our camera.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We went to the Field House first to pick up our bibs. Bib pickup for Goofy, Dopey, 10K, and 5K runners as well as Kids Races, was upstairs. So at this point almost everyone up there was a Goofy runner, since the others had already picked theirs up.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

When we picked up our bibs they told us that we needed to get our photo taken while holding our bib number. This is a new policy, and has apparently replaced the wristbands they have used to identify Goofy/Dopey runners in previous years. The policy was in place at Avengers for Coast-to-Coast runners, but it was iffy as to whether the volunteers knew to tell runners about it, and we also had wristbands there. We'll see how well it works on Sunday when all of the runners have to be looked up on a computer instead of just showing a wristband.

Anyway...there were signs directing us to the area where they were taking the runDisney mug shots. I do have to say that this was very efficient. There were multiple photographers and backdrops, and someone at the head of the line to direct us to the next available backdrop. Mine really will look like a mug shot, since the photographer didn't tell me to "smile" or anything - just took the photo. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We still had to go downstairs in the Field House to collect our shirts. They had already shut down the merchandise area there, but the bib pickup for the half marathon and full marathon were still going on.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I like the graphic design on this year's shirts, but I think that the Goofy shirt is an awful color. I don't like orange to begin with but with the colors they used Goofy barely shows up on it. I really like the Donald shirt, but I wish the Mickey shirt was a lighter color. The fit and fabric are still very nice, though - I still am SO happy to have a women's shirt that fits me!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

When we'd seen images of this shirt on-line we though that the graphics were a lenticular or metallic, but they aren't.

In addition to the shirts, our bags had this odd item in them (this is both of ours, so I can show front and back). It's the size to hold a gel packet, but it has an adhesive strip on the back, and I'm not sure what you're supposed to attach it to - I certainly wouldn't trust it to hold during a race.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Next we went over to the Josten's Center to visit the main Expo - especially to see what was still available for Official Merchandise. It was just after 9:30 and it wasn't too crowded yet.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Though the Merchandise area was pretty busy - lots of people in the aisles. There still seemed to be a good selection of merchandise available - I was particularly surprised at how much Dopey merchandise there was. Plenty of stuff for the half and marathon, and still quite a bit for Goofy.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had all of the "I Did It" shirts, also, though they were down to only smalls and mediums in the Goofy shirt - and there were only 5 mediums. This one didn't appeal to either of us - we have other "I Did It" Goofy shirts.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I was still able to find the things that I wanted: the Goofy Challenge magnet, and the mini-medal pins for Goofy and Coast-to-Coast. Lee and I both bought the new Coast-to-Coast shirts - I like this particular design. My other Expo purchases (from other vendors) were a pair of throwaway gloves, since tomorrow is colder than I was expecting, and a pair of black and white tie-dye calf sleeves, which will go much better with tomorrow's half marathon outfit. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Lee bought the new runDisney vinylmation, but we were dismayed to find that they are no longer selling the little medals that go around Mickey's neck. The runDisney rep we asked said that they didn't sell them for Avengers, either.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

Short line to checkout, but it moved quickly, and as Annual Passholders we received a discount. That's always nice.

After we shopped we visited some of the other booths. The runDisney booth had the usual collection of medals, though we were hoping to see the new Pixie Dust Challenge medal, and it wasn't there.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

I again admired the Castaway Cay Challenge medal - I really hope they will offer that in conjunction with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon this year!

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We visited some of the other vendors and picked up a few items before leaving the Josten's Center. This year there are more vendors located around Champions Stadium. Given the cool weather that's probably not a very favorable spot this year.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

They had some fun cutouts to pose with over there, though.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

There were a lot of people still arriving as we were leaving, so we'd timed it pretty well. On our way back we stopped at the Hess Station near the Boardwalk to buy water and yogurt. Four containers of yogurt and 1.5 gallons of water was less than $11 - at Disney, just the water alone would have been more than that! So we're set for food for tomorrow morning - we also brought some bagels and almond and peanut butter from home.

This afternoon we finally went into a theme park. :-) Our Magic Bands functioned just fine, so whatever issue we had with our doors either didn't extend to the park passes, or was fixed when they were re-encoded.

We had lunch at Katsura Grill, and we were able to sit inside - it was still chilly outside, only 52. Hot food tasted good!

After lunch we finished our circle around World Showcase. I was surprised to see that the Christmas decorations were still up in all of the pavilions that decorate for the holidays. I guess the "undecorators" haven't made it that far yet. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend
2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

In Italy, the Magic Disney Screening Shrubbery is not doing a very good job of hiding this large tower. :-)

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

We also stopped in the Karamell Kuche for some caramel goodness. Yum.

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend

At one of the two shops at the entrance to World Showcase we were surprised to see a pretty nice selection of Star Wars merchandise, in addition to all of the Anna/Elsa/Olaf stuff.

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We'll spend the rest of the day relaxing a little bit, visiting with friends, and then going into Epcot to have an early dinner.

And then we try to sleep before our very early wakeup call tomorrow, so we can go out and run 13.1 miles! Doesn't that sound like fun? :-)

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

You can follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura

January 13, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Part 2 - Half Marathon

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Today was the first 13.1 miles of our 39.3 mile "Goofy" experience - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. We tried not go to out too hard or fast, since we have 26.2 more to do tomorrow, and finished in 2:32:58.

Our day started very early - we'd planned to get up at 2:30, but neither of us slept very well (combination of the three-hour time change and nerves), and we got up at 2:15. I had to laugh, because my phone is still on west coast time, and said that it was still Friday night! We'd gotten everything ready to go the night before so it was mostly a matter of having some breakfast and preparing our water bottles/nutrition.

We made it out to the bus stop a little after 3:00 a.m., which is when the buses started running. One bus had just left, but another one quickly arrived and we were on our way to Epcot. For a change there was no traffic getting into Epcot (like there is when we've left closer to 3:30 or 4:00), and we were quickly dropped off and walked over to the staging area. It was about the same as always, though it seemed like they had a lot more porta-potties this year, so the lines weren't so long.

2013 Marathon Weekend

Team AllEars had established a meeting point, and we found several of our teammates already there, and others soon followed.

2013 Marathon Weekend

At about 4:15 Deb Wills gave us a pep talk and we posed for a team photo.

2013 Marathon Weekend

They had started sending runners to the corrals (at least a .5 mile walk) about 4:15, so we headed that direction about 4:25. And met a wall of people. Who weren't moving. After 20 minutes we had gone maybe 50 feet. Finally we broke free a little bit, to where we could at least shuffle along.

Lee and I didn't get to our start corral until AFTER the national anthem and AFTER they had sent the wheelchair runners off at 5:30. It took an hour to get to our corral - and there were a lot of people who were still behind us.

Fortunately we were in time for the start of the race, and got to see the fireworks. We were in Corral D, so couldn't really see the start line fireworks, but there was a very nice display right behind us!

2013 Marathon Weekend

We were really far away from the start line, but there were large screens up so we could see a little bit of what was going on - like the characters in their running suits you were at the start line.

2013 Marathon Weekend

This year they sent the waves off about 6 minutes apart. There were some fireworks over the start line for each wave.

2013 Marathon Weekend

Finally it was our turn - we crossed the start line 24 minutes after the race had started.

2013 Marathon Weekend

The Mile 1 sign is the only one I took a photo of this time.

2013 Marathon Weekend

Not long after that were some of our team members cheering us on.

2013 Marathon Weekend

They had this great pirate ship on the course, but the line for photos was very long. That was the case the entire race - most lines we saw were 20-30 deep - it wasn't until after mile 12 that we saw two short lines.

2013 Marathon Weekend

There were about 27,000 runners entered, with 23,126 finishers. That made for very crowded conditions on the course, and it was really almost dangerously congested in the areas where the course throttled us down to only one lane. There were far too many of those, in my opinion. The course seemed narrower than it was when we ran the half two years ago. We didn't really get to where we could run "in the clear" until about mile 8.

Because of the conditions I took very few photos - it was just too narrow to stop or the lines were way too long.

2013 Marathon Weekend

We were into the Magic Kingdom just past mile 5. Cinderella Castle was still covered with ice lights, and very pretty.

2013 Marathon Weekend

More of our Team AllEars cheering section was at the hub. Our cheer people are the BEST - they cheer for everyone!

2013 Marathon Weekend

When we ran through the castle - we came to a stop. There were just too many people, and we ended up WALKING down to Main Street. That was very disappointing - that's one of the highlights of the run!

2013 Marathon Weekend

I didn't take any more pictures until we ran into our last AllEars cheering section at about mile 11.5. It was great to see them there - and also great that we only had about 1.5 miles left! We were still feeling pretty good - we'd planned to hold back a bit today anyway, but the crowds forced us to do that even more than we had planned.

2013 Marathon Weekend

Finally, inside Epcot, we found a character with NO line - and it was actually Stitch! We had to wait a couple of minutes "while Stitch went to get a snack", but he came back and we got our photo.

2013 Marathon Weekend

We finished strong, with a time of 2:32:58, which was about what we'd planned today - except we had thought that would include a lot of stops for photos.

2013 Marathon Weekend

We made our way through the finish area and got our Donald medals. (I think Donald looks a little lonely and needs someone to keep him company - Mickey and Goofy, perhaps?)

2013 Marathon Weekend

For refreshments runDisney is still giving out those silly boxes. But hey, they also had bananas and small packets of gummy candies! (Really??? They can't do better than that???) At least they had plenty of bottles of water and PowerAde.

2013 Marathon Weekend

I'd been concerned about the "heat advisory" but it ended up being ok for us. It was about 62 when we started and still under 70 when we finished, though it was quite humid. We'll be out there a lot longer for the marathon, though, and if the sun is out it will get very warm very quickly. I'm hoping for clouds during the marathon!

This afternoon was our big Team AllEars Meet where Deb revealed our fundraising total for this year. $78,651!!! Thank you to all of you out there who donated - and if you didn't donate and would still like to, please visit Deb's Avon Walk page. What we all do really does make a difference.

2013 Marathon Weekend

So tonight is very much like last night - get the running gear all ready, set the wake-up call, and try to sleep. Though at least tonight we're pretty tired so we think we should be able to sleep!

It'll be a much longer day for us tomorrow, but we're looking forward to getting out there and seeing the new marathon course. We're hoping that it won't be quite as congested, but since the first 8 miles are identical to what we did today, and there are about 25,000 signed up for the marathon, we expect it to be about the same. Oh well...it should clear out a bit at that 8 mile point again.

Wish us luck!

January 10, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Preview

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It's that time of year again - Walt Disney World Marathon weekend! Lee and I are "going Goofy" again, and will be participating in the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. We've had a good training season, and we're as ready as we're going to be.

This is the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon, so there are some special things this year. And of course, the one that is most appealing to me, all-new bling! It's a striking and rather different Mickey medal this year.

2013 Marathon Weekend

There are two spinning elements in the center. The Mickey head features a more contemporary Mickey on one side, with a black and white pie-eyed Mickey on the other. The ring around it also spins. On one side it says: "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." And on the other side: "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - it was all started by a mouse."

The marathon course is also slightly different this year - it still starts and finishes at Epcot, but rather than going around Epcot for the first few miles, runners will head directly toward Magic Kingdom. After leaving Magic Kingdom we'll take a lap around the Walt Disney World Speedway. We'll also be running through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, including the stadium there (I wonder if we'll be on the Jumbotron like we are when we run through Angel Stadium during the Disneyland 1/2 marathon?). You can see a map of the marathon course HERE.

There's also going to be some special entertainment at Mile 20, though according to the map the entire mile from 19-20 is the Mile 20 Spectacular. I'm looking forward to that - that's usually the point in the race where things get pretty hard for me, and a little diversion and something to put some energy into me will be appreciated!

Later that day from 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. is the Downtown Disney Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney Westside. It's open to anyone at no charge and will feature the awards ceremony and entertainment.

It's not just the marathon going on this weekend, though - there's a number of other events, too. Thursday-Saturday is the Health and Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. That's where all race participants pick up their registration packets and goodie bags. At the Expo you can buy all kinds of running merchandise - including lots of things you never knew you needed! :-) There's always a pretty good selection of official runDisney race merchandise as well - we never seem to escape with less than a couple of shirts...

On Friday there's the Family Fun Run 5K at Epcot at 6:30 a.m.. On Thursday afternoon and Friday and Saturday mornings are the Kids Races at ESPN Wide World of Sports. There are events for kids 13 years of age and under, with variable-length "dashes" open to specific age groups (including a Diaper Dash for crawlers!), and the Mickey Mile which is open to all kids.

Saturday morning is the half marathon, starting at 5:30 a.m., which will include somewhere between 27,000 and 30,000 participants.

One of the highlights of the weekend for us will be hanging out with our fellow Team AllEars members. This is an amazing group of people - so inspiring! The Team Meet on Saturday, where we'll all get together, and often meet each other in person for the first time, is a really special experience. That's also when Deb Wills will unveil how much we have raised in the fight against breast cancer. This is last year's team photo (click on the photo to see a larger version):

2013 Marathon Weekend

Read more about Team AllEars.

I'll have more as the weekend progresses - and you can also follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura.

Do you have any questions about Marathon Weekend? Use the "Comment" or "Feedback" links below and I'll do my best to get the answers for you.

January 9, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - Half Marathon Day

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Saturday was half marathon day! In case you didn't read the update I made in yesterday's blog, we finished in 2:35:49. Which was faster than we anticipated, and we felt good afterwards.

One thing we don't like about Disney races...they start so darn early. The alarm and the wakeup call came almost simultaneously at 2:45 a.m. Neither of us slept well - between jet lag and nerves we only slept for about an hour and a half. Still, we woke up pretty well.

We'd gotten just about everything ready the night before, and had set aside the clothes we were wearing, so it didn't take us long to get ready and we were out the door a little after 3:00. There are special buses at each resort to transport all of us to the race, and one was already there and mostly full - in fact it started to pull away before we were seated!

As if running 13.1 miles isn't enough, there are also several lengthy walks to get us from place to place - first was the walk from the bus drop-off over to the race staging area. The weather was actually pretty nice - not very chilly at all - it was about 53 when the race started.

We had paid for the Race Retreat, so we headed there. This is a big (heated) tent with lots of tables and chairs. They serve refreshments - there was plenty of bottled water and PowerAde, as well as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. They also had bagels, muffins, cream cheese, bananas and oranges, peanut butter, and jam. It also has its own baggage check area, and its own men's/women's porta-potties and changing rooms. Really nice not to fight the crowds for those.

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We hadn't taken the time to eat in our room because we knew we could get something at the Race Retreat. It worked out well - it gave us a little more time to relax in the retreat. We found a whole table of Team AllEars folks and enjoyed chatting with them.

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They also had characters in the Race Retreat - it was cool to get my photo taken with Buzz, Woody, Jessie and Bullseye all at once!

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At about 4:15 we headed out to meet more of Team AllEars and pose for a group photo, and then began the walk to the Start Corrals. I say "walk", but it was really barely a shuffle. There were about 27,000 runners, and it takes a looong time to move that many people, especially since a lot of it was on a narrow road backstage. We eventually made it, though, and took our position in Corral D.

They started the race in waves, 6 minutes apart. That did help to ease the congestion a little in the early going. And each wave got their own send-off with fireworks, flames, and characters. Of course it also meant that we were already over 18 minutes behind the leaders by the time we crossed the start line.

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Sunrise wasn't until 7:20, so it was still very dark in the early going. Deb Wills was cheering for us (where did she get all that enthusiasm so early in the day?) just after mile 1.

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I said the congestion was a little better - that was true, until we got to the one lane roads, and then it was pretty slow-going. That was a problem for the entire race - I'm used to them being congested early, but then it gets better as people get spread out. This never really did that. It's a good thing we weren't running for time, because we would have been very frustrated at not being able to get clear so we could run our own pace.

Because it was so dark there wasn't much in the way of character opportunities until we got past mile 5. The Pooh characters were out about mile 2, but had a huge line, so we didn't stop. There was this really cool Epcot balloon along that stretch, though!

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By the time we arrive in Magic Kingdom, about mile 5.5, the sun had risen and it was getting much brighter. We stopped to pose with the Alice in Wonderland characters - Alice thought it amusing that we both greeted the Queen as "Your Majesty".

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While we were waiting for them we saw Al Roker run by - he finished with a time of 3:16:52.

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There were quite a few characters behind the castle, but the lines were long except for the Fairy Godmother. We asked her for some magic to give us a good race, and she sent us off with a "Bibbidi, bobbidi, boo!"

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They had a really neat pirate ship with lots of scurvy pirates just as we ran back behind Splash Mountain but that was a HUGE line so we didn't stop.

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The worst part of the race was after we left backstage and ran towards the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian. It was again down to one lane, and it was late enough in the race that a lot of people were getting tired and were either walking or running slowly. Because it was so narrow it was hard to get around them. Once we got back beyond the car care center it was multiple lanes and a lot better.

Oh, one cute thing - near the Wedding Pavilion there was a wedding singer - a Barry Manilow impersonator. He was singing Copacabana as we went by. Lee was cursing whoever had hired him about a mile after that because he couldn't get the song out of his head. :-)

Just past mile 11 Tinker Bell was out with a couple of her pixie friends - they were very cute.

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And not long after that we found Deb and some of the AllCheers team again - and we both got big hugs from Deb.

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We were still feeling pretty good, and actually picked up the pace for the remainder of the race - we even sprinted the last .3 miles or so - or as much as we could trying to dodge slower runners.

I high-fived Mickey and Minnie, who were standing to the side just before the finish line - no photo, though, since I didn't want to stop at that point.

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Into the chute, where they handed us a mylar emergency blanket (the morning was a bit cool), and we got our shiny Donald Duck medals. 13.1 miles down, 26.2 to go. I hope we feel as good tomorrow as we did today.

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We were hoping to meet one of our West Coast Roadrunners teammates from San Diego, but she had started and finished before us, so she was already gone. We chatted with a few Team AllEars people before we went back to the Race Retreat.

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After the race they had a hot breakfast for us - scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, hash browns, fruit, and muffins, and of course the usual beverages. That tasted pretty good.

Our Team AllEars co-captains, Michelle and Mike, were enjoying some relaxing moments along with a few other teammates. It's really a very nice way to end a race. (Massages were available, too, but there was a long line for that.)

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We were still feeling pretty good, so we decided to walk back to the Boardwalk through Epcot (we'd brought our park passes with us) instead of taking the bus. It was about a mile and a half. We'd been up for hours, so it was a shock to realize that it was just barely 10:00 and World Showcase wasn't even open yet!

After showers and a short nap for Lee we went in search of lunch. We'd planned to eat at the Dolphin Fountain, but it was packed with conventioneers, so we went to Big River Grill at the Boardwalk instead. Even there we had a 10-15 minute wait, but we could sit down so it was ok.

This afternoon we drove over to Ft. Wilderness for the Team AllEars Meet at Trail's End. This was THE meet that they really wanted everyone to come to. It was fun to meet some more people and share our half marathon experiences.

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Deb got us all together and introduced the people who helped make Team AllEars and AllCheers all that it was this year - Michelle and Mike, Amanda, Brad, Jamison, Melanie and Julie.

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And then she announced the funds raised for the fight against breast cancer - with money still coming in it's up to $46,677!

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Deb also had a very special gift for all of us - more bling! Our very own, very exclusive, Team AllEars 2011 medal! That was very unexpected, and really awesome!

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We posed for a group photo, of course. :-)

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Lee and I decided to drive to Wolfgang Puck's Express at Downtown Disney to get takeout for dinner - gotta get some more carbs on board before tomorrow.

And now the race preparations start again - what to wear, what to set aside - it should be easier this time, though. :-)

We're tired enough that I hope we will sleep better tonight - the alarm is set for 2:45 again.

So here's Donald...hopefully Mickey and Goofy will be joining him tomorrow!

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Wish us luck with the marathon - I'm sure we can do it, but I'm also sure we'll be hurting at the end.

I'll post our time here after we finish.

Ok, we finished, and it went pretty well - we were able to run/walk the whole thing, and still have time for photos with a lot of the characters. Our time was 5:23:24, which is actually almost 20 minutes better than when we ran the marathon five years ago - and we only ran the marathon that weekend.

We're tired and hurting a bit, but nothing that rest won't fix. Very happy it's over, but I love my Goofy medal! :-) Thanks to all of you who sent positive thoughts our way today - I know they helped!


January 8, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - Day 1

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We're back at Walt Disney World (yes, less than a month after our last trip) for Marathon weekend. As I mentioned several months ago, Lee and I are planning to run the Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge this weekend. That means that we run the half marathon on Saturday (which is today for many of you reading this) and the full marathon on Sunday. Something that you have to be, well, Goofy, to do. I think there are about 3000 of us entered in both races this year.

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To prepare for this we trained for the last six months with a group in San Diego called the West Coast Roadrunners. We've trained with them before when we ran our first WDW Marathon - it's really a fun group of people and they have years of running experience. So there's lots of support and training tips and coaching available. Those long training runs are a lot easier to do when you're running with a group. Some of the coaches and group members had run Goofy before, so we picked their brains about strategy and training. Since we are only trying to "finish in a vertical position" and are not trying for any personal bests, our strategy is to take it easy during the half marathon - stop for pictures, do some walking, don't push the pace when running - and then just try to do as normal a "long run" as we can on Sunday. If we have to walk a lot, so be it - we have 7 hours to finish, and even if we didn't run at all we could do that.

We've been doing the walk/run thing (as recommended by Jeff Galloway, Disney's running consultant) for the long runs, with a 4-minute run/1-minute walk interval. I think it's really helped me a lot. Though you don't always realize it, you use different muscles when running than when walking. So that walking break allows my running muscles to rest and recover a little bit, and I'm not quite so tired at the end of a long run. We plan to do that for both races this weekend, though it's really hard to slow down to a walk during the first few miles when the legs are still fresh! But you have to do it from the start for it to be effective.

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As for what else has been going on...After we arrived last night we went to Epcot and had dinner at the Tangierine Cafe - that's one of our favorites, but we didn't have a chance to eat there last month - partly because the seating area is like a breezeway and it gets really cold - and it was cold enough last month without eating in a wind tunnel. Anyway, after dinner we walked about World Showcase lagoon, getting some hot spiced wined and some caramel corn in Germany, and then we watched Illuminations. The globe was seriously misbehaving last night - first it didn't turn on, and then it wasn't spinning, and then it kept going off and on. The middle of the show is pretty boring if there's no globe! At the end it didn't open up which worried us - but someone must have hit the "emergency abort" so that the fireworks inside it didn't go off. It made the finale not quite so effective though. Hope they get that fixed soon!

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This morning we took the bus over to the Expo, though first we met up with some of our Team AllEars teammates. It was nice to put some faces to some names!

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The packet pickup was pretty uneventful - as "Goofy" runners we had our own pickup area and there really weren't any lines.

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Down in the merchandise area there were more people and the checkout line had a lot of people in it, but they kept it moving quickly. There was a much better selection of merchandise than I remember from past races.

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The Expo was in a separate building, and it was a lot more congested than it was when we ran the marathon 5 years ago. That's where we picked up our "Goody Bags" which had our shirts in them. As "Goofy" runners we got *three* shirts - the regular half marathon and marathon shirts AND a special Goofy shirt.

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We did a little shopping and bought a few things that we will use both this weekend and in the future.

Geico is one of the race sponsors - and the Geico gecko was there. :-)

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HP had a booth and would give you a photo for free, so we did that. We really weren't at the Magic Kingdom. :-)

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As we were leaving they had this banner overhead:

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Taking the bus to the Expo was really a good thing - the traffic getting in there was pretty bad, so it was a lot easier to take the bus. The bus was serving all of the Epcot Resort hotels, so we got off at the Dolphin and had lunch at Picabu. Lee had a dinner with lasagna, mac and cheese, and creamed spinach (getting started on that carb-loading!).

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I had a bowl of chicken and pasta soup - it was very good. We like Picabu - it's close to the Boardwalk AND we get a 20% discount by showing our DVC member card.

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We had a short break back in our room before the AllEars meet at the Belle Vue Room this afternoon. I don't know how many people were there, but it was quite a turnout. Lots of the Team AllEars members. And it was wonderful to see old friends like Gail and Julian Robinson (from the old RADP days!).

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And we met some other RADP people, too - Linda McCollough introduced herself, and we'd met Ed Russell back in December. (Ed ran the 5K this morning, just six months after open heart surgery, and got his first Disney bling! Woo hoo Ed!)

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Team AllCheers is going to be out in force cheering us on this weekend (which really means a LOT, especially late in a race), and they even got custom cowbells for it! I love these.

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Our plan for tonight is go go have dinner at Seasons in Epcot (yeah, probably more walking than we should be doing, but at least we haven't been in parks all day like some of our Team AllEars teammates have!), and then get as much stuff ready and laid out tonight as we can.

And then comes the really hard part - trying to sleep. Complete with pre-race jitters (this will be my 11th half marathon, but I still get nervous before a race), and knowing that the alarm is going to go off insanely early (like 2:45 or so). The buses start running at 3:00, and our goal is to catch a bus by 3:15 or so, so that we have time to get to Epcot and enjoy the Race Retreat (that's a special tent that's heated, with chairs and refreshments and its own porta-potties - we paid extra for it, but I think it'll be worth it!) before we have to walk to our starting corral.

The weather looks like it'll be really good - no rain, some sun, and temps in the 50s. That may sound chilly, but it'll be pretty nice for running.

Hopefully as you are reading this, especially if you're on the west coast, we are already done with the half marathon, since we should be finished by 9:00. I'll post an update to this blog right here once we're back at our room.

And we're done! It went really well - I finished in 2:35:49 and Lee finished at 2:35:47 - not sure where he picked up two seconds on me, though. :-) We feel good.

Now, please think good thoughts for us for Sunday's marathon!


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About WDW Half Marathon

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the WDW Half Marathon category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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