November 7, 2015
I knew this weekend was going to be crazy. I was goaded into running months ago by some of my best running pals. In their defense, I am easily persuaded when it comes to races and spending time with my friends that I really only see at races. Since I also became a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder this year, I planned to hang out with some of my pals in the parks between races. I’ve never really done this before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Add in the fact that Mother Nature is being brutal to central Florida this November, and the amount of crazy that this weekend became was beyond what I could ever have imagined.
After running the Jingle Jungle 5k this morning and sweating buckets, I went back to my room and showered so that I could meet some of my pals at Hollywood Studios. I was in slow motion while cleaning up, so I was hurrying to make it to an early-ish lunch. I was texting with my friends and they secured a table at the 50’s Prime Time Café. I didn’t think I would make it but they encouraged me to hurry my tail up, so I kicked my butt into gear.
Of course, the bus to Hollywood Studios was the last to arrive at the bus stop at my resort. I waited about 15 minutes or so until it finally arrived. While waiting, I watched two Magic Kingdom buses, a Disney Springs bus (Disney Springs is the former Downtown Disney), and one Epcot bus arrive and depart. Actually, the Hollywood Studios bus and the second Magic Kingdom bus arrived about the same time.
Once I was on the bus, the ride was only a few minutes to the park; less than ten minutes. Since I knew my friends were at the restaurant and had a table, I took a quick peek at the menu via the My Disney Experience app while I was riding the bus. I was able to scroll through the menu and find something small that I could eat; I didn’t want a large meal since I’m meeting another friend mid-afternoon for an early dinner. When the bus arrived, I was off and headed to the security line. The line wasn’t super long but it did take a couple of minutes since there was only one security check where I was entering.
One of my friends had texted me while I was on the bus to ask what I wanted to drink. As I was walking in the park, my phone rang; it was my friends asking what I would like to order. I don’t know where the Prime Time Café is exactly but I had located it on the park map on the My Disney Experience app as well so I could have a general idea. As I’m walking, I am now talking to the waitress; my friend gave the waitress her phone so she could take my order. I have an entire conversation with the waitress as she’s trying to determine where I am. She is standing outside the restaurant waving at me as I arrive. Meanwhile, as I was walking, I ran into another of my friends and she walked with me and we giggled as I talked to the waitress and tried to find the restaurant. It was seriously comical.
We enjoyed a nice meal at the Prime Time Café. This was my first time eating there and I will definitely go back. After we finished, a couple of the people in our group had to hit the expo to get race bibs and such. Others had fastpass times for rides. A small group of us went to ride Rockin’ Rollercoaster on our fastpasses. This was great fun since one of my friends was terrified to ride it. She wanted to ride in the front row and we got it. She was literally crying! It was great and when we finished the ride, she said she would do it again!
We left Hollywood Studios and headed to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest. After we finished that ride, I had to head over to Art of Animation to meet my friend John for an early dinner. By the time I arrived there, it was a little after 3 PM. The day seems to be flying by.
John and I ran together at Dopey in January. He’s such a nice person and I really enjoyed running with him. He lives over in Tampa so I see him on occasion outside of races but it still isn’t often. We catch up while we have some pasta; the create-your-own pasta bar at Art of Animation is fabulous! While we’re chatting, he mentions that he has no place to stay tonight and tells me the story of how his plans fell apart. He also has no place to go until the race tonight so I invite him back to my room. I have a pull-out couch that he can take a nap on.
He takes me up on the offer so we head back to my room after we’ve finished dinner. I ride with him since he’s just driven over from Tampa this afternoon. We relax awhile and watch some football. Actually, I think he watched while I slept. He’s been sick so he’s coughing a ton but I think he was at least able to rest and relax even though he didn’t get any sleep.
My alarm rings for me to get moving. John and I take turns using the bathroom to get ready. I had planned to run in a costume tonight but it’s just too hot. So, I’ve opted for some of my favorite Nike capris and a running tank top. It’s muggy outside and I think the costume I was going to wear would just bother me once I get super sweaty. I’d rather be safe so I think this is a wise choice even though I’m bummed about not wearing my cute maid’s costume.
John wants to make the group picture meet-up for the sub-30 club and I am planning to meet up with some of my girlfriends. We leave the room in plenty of time to walk to the bus stop; which is by the main building; and to get over to the Wide World of Sports Complex. The line is long for the bus. Really long. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be moving much.
I think we waited almost an hour for the bus. I’ve never waited this long for a race bus and I wonder if there just aren’t many buses for this resort. We passed the time chatting with the folks behind us. The three of them had bib numbers with double digits! They are from New York so we chatted about the recent NY Marathon. They didn’t run that but are planning to run the Philly Marathon in a couple of weeks. They plan to do the race tonight at about marathon pace and anticipate being finished in about 1:30. That’s just amazing. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the 2:40 John and I will probably run! HA!
We finally got on a bus and the ride to the Wide World of Sports Complex was anything but quick. Traffic, of course, was heavy so it took a good bit to get there. When we finally arrived and got off the bus, we knew we had missed our respective meet ups so we were going to head towards bag check and our corral. Or so we thought.
As soon as we got off the bus, we were directed towards the buildings of the Wide World of Sports Complex. The race site was being evacuated because of lightning in the area. This is a definite first for me. We head up towards the buildings and find a place under the cover of Champions Stadium, the baseball stadium. I’m trying to find all my friends and John is trying to find some of the folks he knows. Eventually, we head to the HP Field House. We find some of the folks John was trying to find and I find my group of girlfriends.
We hang out in the Field House for about an hour or so before people start filing back out. There was never an announcement for us to leave. But, as we were walking, runDisney sent a tweet that the race would begin at 10:45 and the course would be shortened. A couple of minutes later, the directions for the shortened course were tweeted.
I find John again and we head to our corral. Everything is moving very fast now. It’s just before 11 PM when the first corral is released and the time between corrals is about two minutes. It isn’t long before our corral; corral G; is in the start block. The gun goes off and we’re sent on our way. Man, it is hot.
We head out of the Wide World of Sports Complex towards Animal Kingdom. Before we get to Animal Kingdom, we turn right and head towards Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom, and about 5 or so miles of the course, has been eliminated from the race route.
It is super hot and I’m pretty thankful I decided to ditch my costume in favor of comfortable running clothes. We’re running 1/1 intervals but there are times when it’s really hard to run any kind of pace because the course is so crowded. Since a huge chunk of the course was eliminated and the corrals were sent out rather quickly, the course never really thinned out like it generally does. So, going through some sections of the course where the course is narrow is kind of difficult.
We had already planned to take our time and to stop for pictures in Hollywood Studios. This is supposed to be the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights so we wanted to take pictures. And we did just that. Lots. Of. Pictures.
After Hollywood Studios, we head to the Boardwalk and into Epcot for the final stretch. The finish line is just outside of Epcot in the parking lot. We cross the finish line in 1:38 and we hear the announcers say that the official course distance was 6.72 miles.
We make our way through the finisher’s chute, collect our medals, some water and Powerade, and some snack boxes and then head to sit down. I have crampy legs and I’m kind of cranky. John wants to wait for his brother and sister-in-law. There were a couple of corrals behind us.
We find a spot of pavement and sit down for snacks. Most of my girlfriends are already enjoying the after party but there are a couple of them still running. John’s brother and sister-in-law come in a short time after us but somehow they missed us. By the time we figured out where they were and started heading to meet them, we were able to see the balloon ladies finish the race.
As we went to go meet them, we walked through the line to get our free drinks; we both opted for soda! They were waiting outside the main entrance near the parking lot. Since John and his family were going to drive back to Tampa, and I was feeling kind of cranky and just wanted a shower, we all opted not to go into the park. John and I headed towards the bus so we could go back to the hotel. His truck is parked there and he can clean up a bit in my bathroom before he drives home.
I’m glad to get back to the room. John finishes cleaning up and I say goodbye to him. I will see him again in January for marathon weekend. I am happy to take a shower and put my pajamas on. And, when I crawl in bed, I am asleep in nanoseconds.
My alarm wakes me so I don’t sleep the day away. I’m meeting with my friends at Epcot to enjoy a little of the Food and Wine Festival before we all have to leave. Also, we’re going to get some group pictures in front of Spaceship Earth.
I like this race; I really do. But, I don’t think I’m going to run it again. I’ve done it three times and I’ve never really taken advantage of the after party. When I ran in 2011, my friend, Christy, was with me. She was waiting for me inside the park when I was finished. We walked around the after party but never rode a single ride and never got a single thing to eat. The lines for the food kiosks were so long that we ended up leaving. When I ran in 2014, it was the epic rainy Wine & Dine. By the time I was finished, all I wanted to do was shower. It was cold and wet the entire race. I finished the race and never even went in the park. This year was warm and muggy and I, once again, didn’t go into the park afterwards.
I have to say, runDisney did a great job executing their contingency plan. The weather could’ve caused the race to be cancelled. But, runDisney monitored the situation, evacuated everyone as necessary, and then took measures to still give runners a race, albeit a shortened one. Was it ideal or what everyone wanted? No, probably not. But, runDisney doesn’t control the weather and they did what they thought was best to keep runners and volunteers safe. For that, I commend them.
For me, I’m just not running well right now. I’m struggling with training and I know I’m just not in good running condition. I’ve got to figure things out and quickly. I am running a full marathon in a few weeks and I am running Dopey #3 in January. I’m not really sure why everything is just so meh to me right now, but I know if I don’t get some miles on my legs, I will be one miserable runner come January.
Wine and Dine costs:
Registration (both races including Active fees): ~$273
Race Pins: $34
Food: ~$52 (does not include my $100 reload to my gift card that I’ve been using at the Food & Wine Festival – I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve spent on F&W Fest so far!!)
Kennel: ~$221 (included grooming this time too)
Costumes: ~$17 (and I didn’t even wear them!)
Souvenirs: ~$258 (I bought a bracelet and some earrings that are made from recycled park maps and I bought a bunch of trading pins and lanyards – this is a new problem for me!!)
Until next time…gotta run!