My husband and I participated in the last ever Expedition Everest challenge at Disney on May 2nd. I was extremely excited for this race for a few different reasons. 1) This is the first time I’ve been able to talk my husband into doing a RunDisney event with me. 2) I was looking forward to doing the scavenger hunt and receiving our awesome compass medals. 3) I was excited to wear my Russell costume. (this was the first costume that turned out the way I envisioned it AND I didn’t have a break down about something not being right)
Since this is a night race we had a good portion of the day to do whatever we wanted. We stayed the night at Coronado Spring’s, and since our room wasn’t ready and it was a beautiful day, we hung out at the outside bar and had a few drinks. I know, not the best of plans to get a PA on a race, but we were just doing this for fun. After our room was ready we hung out there and watched TV for a few hours before our dinner reservation at Maya Grill.
Before dinner we stopped at the bar in the lobby because I was eyeing a drink called Pomegranate Pop. Why was I eyeing this drink you ask? Not only did the contents of this drink sound delicious, but the glass was rimmed with crushed pop rocks! Yes, you read that right, and it was fabulous!
Dinner at Maya Grill did not disappoint either. The service and ambiance were great and the food even better. For entertainment they had a guy playing his acoustic guitar and walking around the restaurant. He was really good and it added a unique flair to dinner. We stuffed our faces and headed back to the room to get ready for the race.
It was perfect running weather at the start of the race and everyone was eager to get on with the challenge. Like every RunDisney race they had some photo opportunities and a DJ at the start. This race was a little different than other Disney 5K’s. They had 3 obstacle courses spread throughout your 3.1 mile run. The first were a bunch of hay bales to jump over. This made me feel like I was in high school jumping hurdles again. Next one you had to army crawl under a rope net. I didn’t par take in this one, I spent way too much time on my costume to ruin it. The last obstacle was to run through a bunch of tires.
I enjoyed the course and the characters out for photos. It was really neat to see Animal kingdom lit up at night.
After crossing the finish line we were given our first clue.
Clue 1: “Only time will tell if you make it to the summit of Mt. Everest. If climbing for 24 hours straight, how many times will at least 3 digits in the row be the same on your analog watch? This is not boot camp so don’t use military time.”
Answer: 34. (1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, 11:10, 11:11, 11:12, 11:13, 11:14, 11:15, 11:16, 11:17, 11:18, 11:19, 10:00, 12:22, times two)
This was one of the most frustrating clues ever! Way to much thinking this late at night and after running. We could not figure it out and just ended up guessing until we got it right.
Clue 2: “When climbing, you don’t want to spin in circles. But for this clue you must in order to solve it. Start with C and turn from there the number of years Expedition Everest has been run. Continue spinning for the solution.”
Thank goodness I noticed the est. date of Everest on the flashligh they gave us.
Clue 3: “When dressing for your expedition it is important to layer with the right thing on top.”
ERS INE NTA MOU
Clue 4: L + live + A + Sh + N = _____________________________________
Clue 5: "We have finally found the Yeti and you will too, but where? Solve the word search and you will know where he is hiding. Use this cipher and the previous four answers to help you in this quest.
Clue #1 x 3, Clue #2 x 4, Clue #3 x2, Clue #4 x 3
The leftover letters will tell you where the yeti is and what you need to do at the finish line."
Leftover letters spell: Go find the hidden clue card and hold it up at the finish
Once we got to the finish line I was looking around for the hidden yeti and the volunteers were telling people to get off on the side of the course to find the last clue. At this point we were a little annoyed with this “scavenger hunt”. This was a little too much of a mind game and not enough scavenger hunting. Finally I looked down at the second clue card and there he was, a Yeti starring back at me. We held the card up, crossed the finish line, and got our medals.
At this point it was way past our bed time so we decided to skip the after party and head back to the hotel. We ate our left over dinner, had a glass of wine, and went to bed. It’s a little bittersweet saying I completed the last Everest race, but on the plus side I bet they have another awesome race in mind to put in its place! Bring on the inaugural medal!
When RunDisney announced the 5K was going to be Frozen themed this year, I knew I had to sign up. So 10,000 of my fellow princesses and princes braved Queen Elsa’s freeze she had put on Disney World. No joke, it was one of the coldest mornings I’ve ever experienced in Florida. Good thing the cold never bothered us anyway! Sorry, I had to do it.
I was so happy to be in corral A, so I could get running and get warmed up. This was also the first time I’ve ever been in corral A, and most likely the last. Finally, the fireworks went off and we were on our way. The first character stop was Minnie, around the half-mile point, somewhere in Epcot’s parking lot. The line was super long, since it was the first photo op, so I decided to keep going.
We entered Epcot in Mexico and started our journey around the world. The next stop was Norway where I got my picture with Pluto.
Next up was Mickey in America. I originally stopped and got in line, but shortly after, he went to the back, and I didn’t feel like waiting for him to come back out. While running through Epcot they played “Let It Go” in different languages, over and over and over. Talk about overkill!
The next character was a little past the two-mile marker, which was Goofy in Canada. This line was super short; I was in line one minute, max.
Last, but certainly not least, they had our favorite Frozen friends on a platform in front of Spaceship Earth. This was a great way for everyone to get pictures with them and not have to wait in line forever. I must say, Disney has these people trained well, and they stay in character the entire time. While getting my picture there was a man next to me in normal running clothes. Kristoff looked at him and said, “Your Sven costume is spot on. He would be so proud.” The guy then responded with, “I’m not wearing a costume.” Kristoff was like, “awkward.” It was so funny! Then another runner’s name was Anna (which was on her bib) and Anna from Frozen was like, “Your name is the same as mine, but backwards.” Good times :)
Then, we ran past the Epcot ball and into the parking lot to the finish line. After the finish line, they had one more photo op with some ice cutters.
It was such a fun race and how do you not love the Frozen shirt and medal!?! Did anyone else participate in the Frozen 5K?
This was certainly a race to remember for many reasons. First, I did what I do best, and did not properly train for this race. Luckily this was not my first half marathon, so I knew I would be able to finish, but I also knew it was going to be extremely hard. Second, the week before the race was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. My father, at the age of 54, lost his brave battle with ALS. Even knowing this outcome would eventually happen, it was still devastating. Thirdly, it rained the ENTIRE race! Hence people calling it the Splash and Dash half marathon. Anywho, enough complaining and on to the good stuff!!
Race weekend fell the weekend before my wedding anniversary, so my husband and I decided to splurge and stay two nights at the Boardwalk. The plan was for me to run the race Saturday night, hit up the food and wine festival all day Sunday, and head home on Monday.
We checked into the hotel around noon to try to make sure I had ample time to grab food, relax, and get ready for the race.
We decided to head down to the Boardwalk to stroll through the shops and find a place to eat. We decided to try Big River Grille & Brewing Works for a late lunch and a cool beer to start our weekend off.
Afterward, we just went back to the room and relaxed out on our patio. Before I knew it I had to start getting ready. I kept my costume simple and just got a tank top that said “Run Now Wine Later”, I thought it was appropriate. I also wore my I Run 4 Annabelle temp. tattoo (more on her later). Around 7:30 my friend met up with me in the room and we headed down to the buses. As the start time got closer and closer, I grew more nervous, especially with the looming rain clouds overhead.
The rain held off until we were in our corral, waiting to start. They decided to start each corral only 5 minutes apart (I can only assume that was to help us finish and get out of the rain sooner). By the time we made it to mile 3, I was already soaked to the bones, and I knew this was going to be a very long race. Not too long after mile 3, we entered Animal Kingdom, which was something I was very excited about. Although, due to the rain and slippery walkways, I didn’t get to take in the sites as much as I would have liked. One of the highlights of doing a Run Disney race is the entertainment on the course. Cleary this was very limited because of the rain, although I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to stop anyway.
The rain lightened up a little, once we entered Hollywood Studios. This was the first time I’ve seen the Osborne Lights, and they were amazing! This was also the first time I could take my phone out of its protective plastic bag for some pictures.
After leaving Hollywood Studios, we headed toward the Boardwalk area and then to our final destination, Epcot. By this time, we were both so wet and freezing that we couldn’t wait to finish.
Part of the fun of this race is that you get to walk around Epcot and enjoy food and drinks from the Food and Wine Festival after you have finished the race. With a heavy heart we decided to head back to the buses because we looked like drowned rats and were freezing. Once I got back to the room, I soaked in a hot bath (possibly too much information) and ate the leftover pizza from my husband’s room service. It took me forever to thaw and fall asleep.
The next day, we walked over to Epcot to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Food and Wine Festival. I love wearing my race shirt and medal and seeing all of the other runners, showing off their accomplishment. I was very excited to see Baloo and Rafiki hanging out at Epcot, I felt like I at least got a couple fun character pictures.
I was walking around Epcot like a penguin all day because my hips were hurting me, but it wasn’t anything a few drinks wouldn’t fix. ;) My husband and I pigged out all day, and fully enjoyed ourselves.
Like all good things, the weekend came to an end and we had to go back to our normal lives. I will say the location for the Boardwalk resort is amazing if you are going to spend the day at Epcot. Also, the restaurants and entertainment at the Boardwalk itself make it a worthwhile splurge. As for the race, I will definitely be doing it again someday, so I can fully experience it the way it is meant to be experienced.
Did any of you run Splash and Dash 2014?
I figured with princess registration opening up I should get my princess booty in gear and write up my recap from the 2014 Princess Half Marathon weekend. I know when I was training, and even before registration, I read lots of recaps to help stay motivated and give me an idea of what I was getting myself into.
My friend Amy and I decided to spend Wednesday night in Orlando so we could get up, bright and early, to get to the expo. We didn’t want all the good stuff to be gone. I’d like to say this was a great idea, the lines were soooo much shorter first thing in the morning, and everything wasn’t picked through yet! We decided to be festive and wear tiaras and sashes that said Princess in front of our names. They were a hit, everyone kept asking where we got them.
I have to admit it was hard to not go on a shopping spree and buy everything in sight! It was really neat walking around, seeing all of the different vendors, and finding some new things I want to add to my running gear. We stopped at the Sweaty Bands booth for a few headbands; Raw Threads, which are my favorite tank tops to run in; SparkleSkirts just to browse, since these are my “go to” shorts; and SportHooks to pick up my new medal rack I’ve been dying for. I enjoyed seeing all the other people that were going to embark on this journey with us, each runner having their own story to tell. I felt like we were all connected somehow.
My alarm went off at 2:30 a.m., so I had time to shower, get dressed, and get to the buses by 3:30. I thought getting up that early with such little sleep would be hard, but I was so excited I didn’t even notice. The reasoning behind my insane, early wakeup call is because of all the horror stories I read about buses getting lost and runners getting to the starting line late! I must say Disney had those buses rolling, in and out, one right after another. We only waited in line a few minutes. Once we arrived, started to see everyone’s costumes and loosen up to the DJ’s tunes, I could barely contain my excitement.
Finally, we decided to get in our corral and work our way up to the front. While we were stretching, my friend’s husband texted her and said he saw them setting something up that looked to be Frozen themed. Now we were really excited!! Before we knew it, the Fairy Godmother was sounding us off and the fireworks began!
It’s very hard to not fly out of the corral, as fast as you can, with all the excitement and adrenaline going, but I knew I had to keep a slower pace so I didn’t tire myself too much for the half marathon the next day. Very shortly after the start of the race we heard “Let It Go” playing, and could see Elsa up in the overpass above. Her costume looked great and they had a microphone on her so she could talk to the runners as they passed. She kept asking if we wanted to build a snowman, or if the cold bothered us. It was by far my favorite part of the 10K. It made me feel like home, since I’m originally from Michigan.
The first character stop was the White Rabbit, around mile 1, and shortly after that was Pocahontas and Meeko. We headed into Epcot, between Norway and China, and it was beautiful to see the World Showcase all lit up!
Jiminy Cricket was in Italy, and then Tiana, Naveen, and Louis were at the American Adventure, with quite a line. Then there was Marie in France, which had a very short line, so we jumped in.
The course then exits Epcot at the International Gateway and loops clockwise around the Boardwalk. This was my very first time at the Boardwalk and I couldn’t help but stare at everything. They had Goofy set up in front of ESPN Club in a baseball outfit.
Just before heading backstage to Epcot again, they had huge, light-up Genie and Lumiere puppets that were handled by people.
We came back into Epcot at the Imagine Pavilion, and at this point, were probably less than a mile from the finish! We crossed the finish line, received our medals, grabbed a snack pack, and headed back to our rooms to conserve our energy.
After showering up and resting a bit, we all headed to the Polynesian for a breakfast fit for a princess!
Just as it had before the 10K, my alarm went off insanely early, this time 2 a.m. since we knew this race had thousands more runners. I was so nervous all night that I’m not entirely sure how much I actually slept. I was scared since this was my first half marathon and training did not go according to plan, so I hadn’t run even close to that distance yet. I was also freaked out I would sleep through my alarm! I was so nervous getting ready that I actually woke my husband up to try and calm me down because I thought I was going to throw up. After talking to him a bit and getting reassured that I could do this, I finished getting ready and headed to the buses.
Once we got there, I headed to the Race Retreat (more on this in another post) so I could use the private restrooms and grab some food, since we still had a couple hours until race time. Sitting around for a few hours with nothing to occupy my brain with was dangerous! So I kept eating food, which could have also turned out to be dangerous. Finally, it was that time, so we took one more potty break and headed off to the corrals. The walk to the corrals felt like an eternity. Honestly, I have no idea if it was really that long of a walk or if I was just still ridiculously nervous.
We worked our way to the front of the corral and waited for the magical countdown and fireworks to begin. I must say, Disney knows what they are doing. Each corral is sent off with the same amazing fireworks display, regardless if you are an experienced runner in the first corral or a walker in the last corral.
One of my favorite things I saw during the race was near the beginning (and close to the end); they had people flying these large kites and they were playing “Let’s go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins. I have no idea why I enjoyed this moment so much, but the music was stuck in my head for days.
The first characters I saw were around mile 1 and it was Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbosa. Next up were a group of princes, which included: Aladdin, Flynn Rider, Hercules, and Prince Eric. Both of these stops had very long lines and I was too nervous to stop that early into the race, plus we would be seeing them on the way back if I felt the need to get a pic.
Around mile 3 or 4 they had a villains group, which also had a long line. They had a villains’ chair for the first photo opt and then a group picture with Cruella, the Queen of Hearts, Malificent, and the Evil Queen.
At this point, you know you don’t have far before you get to Magic Kingdom. It was truly amazing running down Main Street with all the lights and people cheering. We saw my friend’s husband and her kids along Main Street; it was nice to see a familiar face. Then, through the fog, the moment we had been waiting for…THE CASTLE!!
They had a few characters between Main Street and the castle, although we didn’t stop for any. They had Buzz Lightyear, the White Rabbit, and Royal Mickey and Minnie. We decided to take a quick bathroom break, since we knew this was an opportunity to use real bathrooms, and freshen up to the best of our ability before our castle pic. The line for the women’s restroom was long, so we ran straight into the men’s room. (shhhh don’t tell anyone!) We were in and out in a flash, and ready for our castle pic! When we got to the back entrance of the castle, they had men dressed up in royal attire, playing long horns to greet us. This was it, I knew to stay to the side so you can easily be seen by the photographers, and of course smile! Well needless to say, there are SO many people who just stop in front of the photographer, my picture didn’t turn out quite as well as I would have hoped. : (
Once you get through the castle, they allow you to funnel into lines in front of the castle for another professional photo. All the girls in line in front of me were jumping in the air for a cool action shot. Well, when it was my turn, I was waiting for him to tell me to jump, and before I knew it, he said, “next!”… I was so disappointed. As you all can see, I look like a dork and am super sweaty!
On our way out of the Magic Kingdom they had Princess Tiana with Louis, and also Woody, from Toy Story. The one place we did stop for a picture was at the railroad, since it had no line.
Running through the Magic Kingdom gave me a second wind, which got me through the next few miles. Near mile 7 they have a selected song to help motivate us. They let the runners’ vote ahead of time and of course “Let it Go” from Frozen won. It was fun to have everyone belting out the words with the music.
Miles 7- 10 were a bit of a blur to me; I was starting to get tired. I know I saw Lilo and Stitch, Mrs. Incredible, the Genie from Aladdin, and guys in tuxedos with a glass slipper on a pillow. We also ran past the pirates and the heroes again. At this point, I knew I had barely taken advantage of any of the photo stops, but I was just too afraid to get swept, so I pushed on. They had Sarge from Toy Story near a hill and yelling at people to keep pushing and to drop and give him twenty. If nothing else, it made me smile.
Sometime after mile 10 we started our way around Future World, and I knew we were getting close. They had Ivanna Dream, the pink fairy, (a wannabe fairy godmother) with a microphone encouraging people and making funny jokes. It was nice to have something to distract us at this point.
We made one quick stop at the last mile marker and rounded the corner to the finish. While running the last leg to the finish line I was overwhelmed with all the people cheering and the emotions that were going through my head, but most importantly I was looking for my husband who I knew was somewhere near the finish. He was such an amazing amount of support for me throughout my months of training and not training, my numerous attempts at failed costume tries, and he never lost faith in me once. He truly is my prince charming.
After crossing the finish line we were sprinkled with pixie dust and handed our medals. After grabbing our snack packs I headed to the family reunion area to find my husband. When I found him I lost it, and started bawling like a baby. I think it just hit me, I had done something I NEVER in a million years thought I could do, and for the first time in a long time I was actually proud of myself. Since this was an occasion worth celebrating we ducked into the race retreat and got a couple glasses of celebratory champagne.
At the family reunion area they had a few photo opts with Ariel, Belle, and Rapunzel, but I decided to get in line for the buses and go to the room to relax. We had an early dinner reservation at Be Our Guest, so we just relaxed and watched TV until then. Of course I wore my “I Did It” shirt and medal to dinner. It was great to see all the other runners walking around the park with their medals, each congratulating one another.
Dinner at Be Our Guest was different from a normal, fast-service lunch; we had to make the reservation 180 days in advance for crying out loud! The atmosphere was nice and I heard the master might join us for dinner too. Everything was delicious and we even got a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion. After dinner, I couldn’t resist the chance to get a picture with the Beast, although it was dark and my cell phone didn’t take the best picture.
The next morning we finish my magical weekend by having breakfast at Ohana. They have a character breakfast family buffet style. Instead of waiting in a line and grabbing food that probably has been touched or sneezed on by kids, they bring your food out on a big platter to your table. It was a pleasantly good breakfast experience, and not to mention some friends stopped by :)
I must say this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and something I highly suggest you put on your bucket list. One thing I learned that I would do differently though is to not freak out about getting swept and enjoy the race and photo opts. Trust me, I bought a special camera to run with and am no longer afraid to get swept, so be prepared for lots of photos on my next recap! I must thank my dear friend Amy for most of these pics and for keeping me going through the race. Love ya girl!
I had to stop for one more picture to take before heading home….
I love the RunDisney races so much, I signed up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November and the 2015 Princess 5K in February! Will I be seeing any of you there?