Is This Real Life?

Ok, so it’s been a little while since I came back home from being stuck at Disney World. Then I went back in March with my kids for our family vacation. I won’t be posting a trip report from that visit but you can check out my YouTube channel to watch the vacation videos from that trip. But since I’m not doing a written trip report, there’s something important that happened that I did not get on video….

A couple of days before we returned from our family vacation, my kids hit me with shocking news.

They want to take a break from going to Disney World…

What the WHAT??!!

What the WHAT??!!

Yeah, so after I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming (a horrible, horrible nightmare) I asked them why. I wanted to know if they have grown to hate Disney World because we’ve gone almost every year of their lives, or if they just want to rip my heart out of my chest and smash it into the ground as payback for my bringing them into the world and loving them more than life itself.

My 17yr old said he still likes Disney World but that we’ve seen everything before and there’s no reason to go every year. Ummm….first of all, we have NOT seen everything. And second of all, I always ask them before vacation every year where they want to go and he tells me Disney World. Whatever.

My 12yr old said he’s tired of doing the rides and that we go 2-3 times every year and he’d rather stay home and play his video games. Correction, we try to go ONCE a year and haven’t even managed that. Plus he also has chosen Disney World each time I ask about vacation. In fact, he was the one who was more anxious to go because we didn’t end up getting to go in December. Again, whatever.

After a few more minutes of discussion about this bombshell they hit me with, they actually asked if we could go home early. Ummm…no. But I told them I would go ahead and allow them to still be my sons and live in my house once we got home. Although disowning them was pretty tempting. How are my own kids gonna tell me they want a break from Disney World? I’m still waiting for them to say it was all a joke…a long, long 3 month joke. :/

I’m chalking it up to their ages…but I’ve agreed to take them somewhere else next year and I’ll make a few short solo trips to Disney. We’ll see if they change their minds around vacation time next year.

See Ya Real Soon!

Stuck at Disney World Part 4

It’s time for the final installment of my Stuck at Disney World trip report! If you missed out on the first 3 parts, you can read them by clicking
HERE for part 1
HERE for part 2
HERE for part 3

Alrighty then…so after visiting and riding a few rides at Epcot and Animal Kingdom, I was ready to try my luck at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Because it was after noon, I knew I needed to get to Toy Story Midway Mania first. The line for that ride just gets longer as the afternoon rolls around.

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The Standby wait time was posted as 55 minutes. I couldn’t even attempt to book a FastPass+ yet, and really, the chances that I was going to get one for this attraction were slim to none. So I waited in line for a little less than an hour. Even riding alone, this was super fun! If I was more patient, I would have gotten back in line to ride it again. When I left Toy Story Mania, I noticed that it had rained while I was inside. Score one for not getting rained on for once! My next target was Rock N’ Roller Coaster.

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This line moved pretty quickly and though I don’t recall what the wait time was posted as, I remember that I was on the ride in about 20 minutes. There’s not a separate Single Rider line at Rock N’ Roller Coaster but you can sometimes get onto the ride quicker when you’re going solo. About the time that I got done here, my friend Kenn messaged me and let me know he was at Hollywood Studios too. So I waited for him to meet me and we got in line for RnR again. :)

Edited to add: My good friend Shari just texted me to mention that there IS a separate, legit single rider line at Rock N’ Roller Coaster. My bad…I have never tried riding this where the line was long enough for them to open it, I guess. During this trip, there was just the Standby and FP+ lines open and once I got past the ride’s pre-show, a CM was directing single riders to the far left into a separate, short line. Thanks for clearing this up Shari! :)

After I rode the coaster with Kenn, we went to get in line at Tower of Terror. This was another long wait. We waited a little over an hour and I was getting grouchy from waiting. Yes, I’m admitting that I was annoyed at waiting. I usually plan well enough that I don’t wait anywhere near an hour for most everything that I want to ride. But since Tower of Terror is one of my favorites, it was still worth the wait!

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Once we were done getting dropped a few times in our elevator car, we decided to go to The Great Movie Ride. I absolutely have no memory of the wait time for this attraction, which leads me to believe it was a relatively short wait. Otherwise, I would have remembered being cranky.

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I was hoping we’d get the Gangster scene, but we got the Cowboy scene. I’ve gotten the Cowboy scene the past several times. But at least it was a cute Cowboy. I would have taken a picture of him but I felt like that was just a little too creepy. :/ After our ride through the movies, Kenn and I got something to eat. We already discussed going to Magic Kingdom, but I was going back to my room first so that I could talk to my kids and rest a bit. I’d wanted to watch Wishes, but it was at 8:00pm and I knew I probably wouldn’t get to Magic Kingdom until around 9:00. So while Kenn headed on to Magic Kingdom, I headed back to All Star Sports.

I stopped for a selfie with Louie in the courtyard near my room.

I stopped for a selfie with Louie in the courtyard near my room.

After a nice little break, I was ready to head to Magic Kingdom to finish up my 4th park in one day. The park was only open until 11pm, so I wanted to ride as many attractions as possible since I was headed home the next morning. I met back up with Kenn and we started out with Pirates of the Caribbean. Then we rode The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain before heading towards Tomorrowland.

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I know we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and I have a vague memory of riding Space Mountain. I don’t remember for sure if we rode Tomorrowland Transit Authority (a.k.a the People Mover) but I love it so much that I feel like I probably made Kenn ride it before we it was time to leave.

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The park was about to close so we headed towards the entrance/exit so that we could get to the buses. And right as we began to pass Cinderella Castle, the best thing happened… The Kiss Goodnight started!! This was the first time that I ever saw the Kiss Goodnight in person! I’ve always left Magic Kingdom before it was done in an effort to avoid the long lines at the buses and ferry boat. That just made my night! I took video of it but of course no pictures since it would just show the castle. There’s a clip of The Kiss Goodnight in my Stuck at Disney Part 2 video on my YouTube Channel. I’ll eventually post the video of the entire show. Anyway,  Kenn and I said goodbye and went our separate ways and on to our resort bus stops.

Once I got back to my room I packed my bag and got ready for bed. I had to be up at the butt crack of dawn to catch Disney’s Magical Express back to the Orlando airport and finally head home. Getting stuck at Disney World was so fun! It was unexpected but it turned out to be such a great time!

See Ya Real Soon! °O°

First World Disney Problems

Yes, I’m going to post the final installment of my Stuck at Disney World trip report. But first, enjoy this silliness!

Stuck at Disney World Part 3

Well, my extra time being stuck at Disney World is ending quickly! If you missed the first 2 parts of this shindig, you can read them by clicking
HERE for part 1
HERE for part 2

Otherwise, let’s get going!

Tuesday February 24, 2015
So, I was lucky enough to have a park hopper ticket for one more day at the Disney World parks. I got up early and got ready to go to Epcot. I’d already made FastPass+ selections the day before for Animal Kingdom but I wanted to get to Epcot at rope drop to ride a few rides first. I also wanted to be able to visit all four parks in one day but my hopes of riding the attractions I wanted to ride were not very high. I hate waiting in long lines and I knew there might be some long lines if I was going to ride some of the things I like the most.

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In any case, I got going early and got to Epcot for the 9am rope drop . There were quite a few people there but about 5 minutes before opening, the Cast Members at the entrance opened some other entry stations. For some reason the majority of the people in line flat out refused to go to those lines so a bunch of us moved into those spots and I was almost right at the front of the line to get in now! I started chatting with the family in front of me and found out that they were from Texas too. They live in Houston but turns out they have family who lives in Lubbock which is only 13 miles from where I live! It’s a small world, after all. :)

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I usually take several pictures of Spaceship Earth

I usually take several pictures of Spaceship Earth

Anywho…once the park opened, I made my way to the first attraction I wanted to ride…Test Track.

Side note: I don’t love the new version of Test Track. It’s not as entertaining as it used to be, but the outside part at the end is the same and that’s my favorite part. So I still like to ride it each visit.

When I got closer to Test Track it showed a 30 minute wait. I’d hoped it was going to be about 15 minutes but I’ll take what I can get. It actually wasn’t until I got even closer that I remembered that there’s a Single Rider line! Yay! And there was literally no one in the single rider line yet…so I walked right on to the ride in less than 5 minutes. Gotta love that! I didn’t bother exploring the stuff in the lobby after the ride because I wanted to make it over to ride Soarin’. I checked the wait time on the My Disney Experience app and it was only 15 minutes!

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I hustled…or actually hobbled (my blister from the half marathon was hurting already) my way to the Land pavilion and got into the line for Soarin’. I was on it pretty quickly and afterwards I saw that Living With the Land had no one in line. I know a lot of people think Living With the Land is boring, but I still find it interesting, so I walked on to it. Once I finished at the Land pavilion, I tried to decide what to do next. I was doing really well on time, so I planned on checking out Journey Into Imagination with Figment before riding Spaceship Earth.

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Yes. I like Journey into Imagination. And Figment. I liked the Dreamfinder version the best, but I still enjoy the current version. Now that I’ve addressed that unnecessarily, let’s move on with our lives.

Ok, so Journey Into Imagination was a walk on, as usual. So after I was done there I headed for Spaceship Earth which was showing only a 20 minute wait. Once I actually reached the attraction, I was debating whether or not to skip it this time and get something to eat instead. I hadn’t had breakfast yet and I was starting to get a rumbly in my tumbly. Ultimately, I chose to skip Spaceship Earth and head to Animal Kingdom to get something to eat and use my FastPass+ I had for Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari and Festival of the Lion King.

It was a little before 10am when I headed to the Epcot exit. I decided it would be nice to ride the monorail over to the Ticket and Transportation center and then take a bus to Animal Kingdom. But I remembered that there have been some instances of the monorail breaking down mid-ride and I didn’t want to take the chance that I might get stuck and miss my Expedition Everest FastPass+. So I ended up just taking the bus from Epcot to AK.

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By the time I arrived at Animal Kingdom, it was about 10:30am, and since my FastPass+ wasn’t until 11am I decided to get something to eat first. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not a foodie. I pretty much stick with your basic counter service choices and since Pizzafari is kind of where my kids always want to eat while we’re at Animal Kingdom, I decided pizza was a good idea! It was a nice, relaxing breakfast and I ended up chatting with the family sitting a couple of tables away. That conversation was mostly about running shoes and cats. I don’t remember how it even got to that, but it did.

After my late breakfast, I had enough time to casually make my way to Expedition Everest.

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My wait once I arrived to Expedition Everest was less than 10 minutes which meant that once I was done I had about an hour to wait for my FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safari. I thought about the fact that I’d rather ride a few of the attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios instead so I talked to a Cast Member at a FastPass+ kiosk. I found out that if I cancelled my existing 2 FP+ reservations, I would not be able to make any more the rest of the day. Hmmm. But if I let them expire, then I could try adding FP+ for other rides at DHS later.

I decided to go ahead and head to the bus stop and make my way over to Hollywood Studios. So next time, I’ll be trying my luck at the popular rides there!

See Ya Real Soon! °O°

 

Stuck at Disney World -Part 2

After my return flight home was cancelled near the end of Princess Half Marathon weekend, I found myself having to stay at the Walt Disney Resort 2 extra days! If you missed the first part of my extended trip report, you can check it out by clicking
HERE for part 1

Monday February 23, 2015 (continued)
I walked into the lobby of All Star Sports and found it decorated with lots of balloons. A couple of people who had just finished checking in were carrying balloons away with them so I’m not sure if it was a special event or if the Cast Members were just handing out balloons randomly…but it was pretty festive looking!

Lobby of All Star Sports

Lobby of All Star Sports

I was helped almost right away and I got checked in quickly but the Cast Member that helped me went above and beyond by calling someone (in housekeeping, maybe?) and finding a room that was ready! That was such a big help and I was so glad that I could go ahead and get settled into my room! So once I received my room assignment, I headed out. I was in Building 4 which is in the Center Court area. Obviously it’s a tennis themed section. Here’s some of my views along the way!

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After the short walk to building 4, I found room number 4328 only to find that my MagicBand would not work to open the door. I double and triple checked the room number on my resort map that I received at the front desk and tried my band about 4 times just to make sure it wasn’t user error. But nope…my MagicBand had lost its magic….

This was the first time that I’ve ever had a problem getting into a room at Disney World. I’ve been lucky enough to not have had a faulty key card, Key to the World Card, or MagicBand up until this moment. So yes, I had to walk back to the lobby to get my MagicBand reprogrammed so that I could get into my room. But really, considering that all I had planned for the day was laundry and resting, I wasn’t too upset.

Once I got my MagicBand situation sorted out, I got into my room! Yay! All of the Disney Value Resort rooms pretty much look the same on the inside (except for slight differences in things like curtain patterns, carpet color, bedding patterns and such) but it had been several years since I’d stayed at Sports. It seemed like it had been remodeled since the last time I’d been there and of course the little mini fridge (or drink cooler…whatever you want to call it…it keeps perishable stuff plenty cold) was one of the newest things since those were added to all of the Values only a few years ago.

I took a few minutes to unpack my toiletries and I changed into my “I Did it!” race shirt because it was the only other clean shirt I had. I wanted to go wash my clothes so that I would have clean clothes for the next 2 mornings and just to have everything clean. I stretched my legs a little again before heading out to find the guest laundry facility.

I ended up going to the laundry room next to the main pool which is called the Surfboard Bay Pool. I got my clothes started in the washer and the posted sign informed me that the wash and dry cycles were 30 minutes each. Originally I planned to just sit and relax near the pool while my clothes were washing, but I’d already figured out that too much sitting down made my legs start getting stiff and sore all over again. So I decided to walk all around the resort while I waited for my clothes to be done. I don’t necessarily encourage anyone to leave their clothes unattended in the laundry room, there have definitely been times that people have had their clothing taken from the washers or dryers, but I didn’t feel too worried about my stuff getting stolen so I went exploring.

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I went to each section of the All Star Sports Resort before I went back to check on my clothes. I still had a couple of minutes to wait once I got back to the laundry room before I could move my stuff over to the dryers. Since I’d already walked around all of the Sports resort and I had another 30 minutes to wait for my clothes to dry, I decided to head over to All Star Music which is right next to Sports.

It was very nostalgic to walk around the Music resort because I stayed here so many times with my family when I was younger. I didn’t get around to all of this resort but I saw enough to make me remember the fun trips and good times with my sister and our parents! :)

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By now I needed to get back to the laundry room at Sports, so I made my way there. When I got back to check on my clothes, most everything was dry but a few things were still damp and I still had some time on the dryers. Once everything was done I got all of my clothes folded and neatly into the mesh bag that I’d received at the end of the half marathon the day before. I walked to Stadium Hall and made a stop at the End Zone food court to grab a few snacks before heading back to my room. I spent the rest of the day watching television, calling my kids and taking a much needed nap before grabbing some dinner.

It was a nice and relaxing day but I was excited that I was going to hit the parks one last time the next day. I already had plans to go to all four parks and since I’d be touring solo I knew it was gonna be easy to do!

See Ya Real Soon! °O°

Race Recap Video #2

Here’s the second race recap video from my weekend at the Princess Half Marathon! °O°

Stuck at Disney World

After all of the posts that it took me to finish the Princess Half Marathon Weekend trip report, I decided to make this part of my report a separately titled trip report. I’m not including any links to the previous parts here, so unfortunately you’ll have to scroll back to the previous post to get links to any parts you missed. Yes, I’m being that lazy. :D

Now, on with the show!
Monday, February 23, 2015.

I should have been picked up by Disney’s Magical Express on this morning to get to the airport and make my journey back home after participating and finishing my first half marathon, but there was an ice storm and my flight back to Texas was cancelled. The first flight that the airline could get me on was scheduled for Wednesday morning. So now, I’m stuck at Disney World for 2 more days.

Oh, darn.

Now that the initial shock of the situation had passed and I was sure that my kids were ok and being taking care of for the extra time that I was away, my excitement was setting in! I was going to have to check out of the room at Coronado Springs by 11am, but that gave me plenty of time to get my stuff packed and get some breakfast with Shari before I had to make my way to All Star Sports.

We took our time getting ready and Shari packed her bags since she was leaving later that day, then we made our way to eat at Pepper Market. I got French toast with eggs and bacon. Mmmmmm….bacon. Sorry, I pretty much never take pictures of my food so I forgot to get a picture before I began eating.

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French Toast, Scrambled Eggs and Bacon from Pepper Market

Before we had breakfast I walked with Shari to the front desk and Bell Services where she got her Magical Express info corrected and dropped her bags off. There were a few hiccups with this process as I recall. Shari overall ended up not being that impressed with Coronado Springs. Her breakfast was even wrong…. I have to say I liked it enough that I ended up booking the vacation with my kids in March here. :)

I’d already talked to a Cast Member at Coronado Springs and learned that the easiest way for me to get moved over to Sports was to just take one of the resort buses over to a park and transfer by bus from there to All Star Sports. The CM told me that I could check my bags with Bell Services and that they would transfer those over to my new room later in the day, but I only had a carry on and my camera bag so she said I was more than welcome to just take those on the bus with me. I decided I was going to take my carry on with me. I planned to check in early and then do my laundry and just sit by the pool or something similar while I waited for my room to be ready. Check in time isn’t until 4pm and I calculated that I’d probably get to All Star Sports around noon.

I said bye to Shari as she headed back to the parks one last time before her flight out later in the day, and then I decided to walk around the resort a bit since I hadn’t really seen the Dig Site Pool area or much else of Coronado Springs while I was there. My legs were feeling better but that stupid blister I got during the race was still slightly problematic.

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It was around 10am when I started walking around the resort. As you can see, it was cloudy but I still thought it was nice. I decided it was time to head back to the room to make sure I had all of my things packed and to just sit for a few minutes before it was time to check out and head to All Star Sports. Instead, I got lost and couldn’t figure out how to get to my room. :/ Coronado Springs is pretty big considering I have only stayed at the Disney Value resorts and I’ve grown accustomed to staying at Pop which is a lot smaller than Coronado.

I was just taking wrong turns every time thinking I was headed towards building 7B…but I’d end up at 7A or somehow turn myself around and end back up near the Dig Site. I’m not usually bad with directions but I couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong. I finally flagged down a resort Cast Member and asked which way to get to 7B, and I finally made it back to the room at about 10:55am. I double checked the room and made sure I had everything and then headed to the bus stop so that I could get to the El Centro bus stop.

I decided I’d just get on the first park bus that showed up, and that ended up being a bus to Magic Kingdom. I got pretty lucky and I didn’t have to wait for the bus from Magic Kingdom to All Star Sports for very long at all. Before I knew it, I was walking into the lobby of All Star Sports! Next time I’ll start with my check in there!

See Ya Real Soon!

Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend- Post Race Bad News…Or Not?

I’m wrapping up the end of my time at the Princess Half Marathon weekend! If you missed any of the previous parts you can read them by clicking
HERE for Part 1
HERE for part 2
HERE for part 3
HERE for part 4
HERE for part 5
HERE for part 6
HERE for part 7

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Well, I did it! I managed to finish my first half marathon and I didn’t get swept! It wasn’t pretty, I made so many mistakes, but I did it and now I was hobbling my way back to the bus that would take me back to Coronado Springs. Shari tried to wait for me to finish (she finished around 45 minutes before me) but they wouldn’t let her hang out near the finish line so she headed back to the room. Unfortunately Cynthia got swept at mile 8 but she was ok with it! She did really well considering this was the first race she’d ever done! She knows she can do a 5k or 10k now, but she was proud of how far she got! I was super proud of her too!

Once I got back to Coronado Springs, it hurt like hell to walk…or sit…or stand back up…or walk… You get the picture. My blister was enormous and I knew it was better not to pop it since we were going to go to Hollywood Studios and have lunch at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater. I changed, stretched a little and we all headed to the bus stop to make our way to the park.

Allow me to confess something…I don’t remember some of the details of what we did while we waited for our reservation at Sci-Fi Dine In. I was hurting so much. It was blatantly obvious by how much I was limping. Between the blister, my sore shins and calves, and my swollen Achilles tendon, I couldn’t help but limp. I wasn’t in the mood to take pictures at this point. I know we rode Star Tours…possibly Toy Story Mania…I know for sure that we met up with my Disney friend Kenn and chatted for a few minutes before our lunch. This was the only picture I took while we were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as far as I can tell:

Meet up with my friend Kenn

Meet up with my friend Kenn

 

But before we ate, I got a phone call from my mom.

I remember this phone call vividly. I answered thinking my mom was just calling to see how the race went. And although she did ask about the race, her main reason for the call was to let me know she got an email that my flight for the next morning was cancelled due to an ice storm in Dallas. My mom booked my airline tickets for me and used her email address, so they sent the cancellation notice to her. It’s a good thing though, because when we got the Magical Express info at our room that morning the time for my pick up was not listed. I thought that because I’d scheduled Disney’s Magical Express so closely to when my trip was that the info just never got entered or something so I’d decided to figure it out later that evening.

I freaked out for a moment. This was not an ideal situation. My mom was going to have to work from her end to get me on another flight mostly because my phone service at Disney World is always hit or miss and I needed to work on getting a new flight ASAP. She told me she’d call the airline to get my new flight booked. I tried not to worry about it and went to have our meal at Sci-Fi.

I love Sci-Fi Dine in Theater! It’s fun, it looks cool…the food is good in my opinion. But then again, I’m not a foodie and I just ordered a burger and fries… But it was yummy! The fact that I was tired, hurting, and worried about my flight situation made me not have as much fun here this time as I could have. I was ready to go back to our room. Shari and Cynthia weren’t really ready to go back to the room so they did their own thing and I headed back to Coronado Springs.

I’d already contacted my travel agent friends Tina and Don with Destinations With Character and asked them to find me a room at the value resorts just in case I had to spend an extra night at Disney World. By the time I got back to our room, my mom had messaged me to let me know the first flight she could get me on was on Wednesday morning. WHAT???

Crap. I’d only made plans for my kids and for missing work through Monday. Now I had to make arrangements for my mom and dad to help with my kids until Wednesday and I had to leave my job short handed for 2 extra days. I ended up talking to my mom on the phone and she let me know she’d make it work with getting my kids to school and all. I contacted one of my bosses and let her know I was stuck at Disney and wouldn’t be back at work until Thursday. Tina and Don had a room reservation on standby for me and they got me booked quickly and easily once I told them I was stuck at Disney until my flight on Wednesday.

I did some more stretching and decided to try to nap. All I kept thinking about was how I couldn’t believe I was stuck here for 2 extra days. But then I was like “Wait…this really isn’t that bad. I’m stuck. At DISNEY!” My kids are still being taken care of and I had another flight booked. O.M.G. I’m stuck at Disney World! This is the best bad news ever!

I didn’t go back to any of the parks the rest of the day. We all had to get our stuff packed because we all had to leave Coronado Springs the next morning. Cynthia and Shari would be flying home, but I was going to have an extended, and unexpected, stay at the Most Magical Place on Earth!

See Ya Real Soon! °O°

Princess 1/2 Marathon Part 7- Race Day Continued

I’m about to dive back into this trip report! But if you’ve missed any of the previous parts of my adventure so far, you can read them by clicking
HERE for Part 1
HERE for part 2
HERE for part 3
HERE for part 4
HERE for part 5
HERE for part 6

Alright…so I was getting close to Magic Kingdom but I was completely unsure of what my pace had been and even how long I’d been running. I decided that the adrenaline from running down Main Street and through Cinderella Castle would allow me to make up some time…even if I didn’t know how much time needed making up. In a backstage area before getting to Main Street there was this big metal looking wall type of structure that looked like it might belong at It’s a Small World. Right in front of that was Snow White! That’s my favorite character! The line to take a picture with her wasn’t as long as some of the other character meet and greet lines and I would have LOVED to have a picture with her, but I wasn’t confident that I was on track enough to lose the time waiting in line. I tried to get a run by picture or video but I couldn’t get my camera to open on my phone. :/ Ugh.

As expected, once I turned onto Main Street I got pumped up with excitement! There were people cheering the runners on and just the entire atmosphere was amazing! I made my way towards the castle and the course was taking us around to the back of the thing…you know, setting us up for a magical path to run through it…when all of a sudden something unexpected happened. The pack of participants just stopped. Up on a balcony at the back of the castle stood the characters of the only Disney movie that I have a huge love/hate relationship with…

That’s right, it was the cast of Frozen.
Anna, Elsa and Kristoff were standing there saying Frozen related stuff and being so gee golly cute that they brought this entire crowd of mostly adults to a complete standstill. Almost everyone was stopped trying to take pictures of the characters, trying to get selfies, taking video, screaming and passing out from excitement….ok, so maybe not screaming and passing out…but definitely causing a huge traffic jam.

My horrible picture of Anna, Elsa and Kristoff

My horrible picture of Anna, Elsa and Kristoff

A big chunk of us, myself included, tried going around the pack to get on through the castle and on our way, but the flow just completely stopped. Those of us interested in actually moving along with our lives slowly crept into the walkway tunnel thing through the castle and finally, for the first time in forever, I was able to walk through to the front of the castle. Here there were tons of people trying to take a giant group photo but obviously you know I was thinking “Let it go! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Or at least I didn’t have time for that….I felt like now I was even more behind and I was seriously concerned that I might get swept if I didn’t get a move on.

Shortly after leaving Magic Kingdom I encountered the halfway mark…It was a mix of emotions because I was happy to be half way done, but I was freaking out because I was only half way done. Then about a quarter mile after I passed the 7 mile marker, I became deathly aware of a problem. I was getting a blister on my big toe. This was when I was first started talking smack to the universe. And a lot of that smack was mumbled aloud…

“Are you serious?”
“No freaking way…”
“Why do you hate me?”
“Are you freaking kidding me?”

I was mumbling stuff like this for the next few minutes because I had never gotten a blister before in training, or at all since I began running 2 years ago. And I definitely didn’t need to deal with this during my first half marathon. So I kind of adjusted my step so that the blister wasn’t hurting anymore when I landed on that foot. Then shortly after mile 8, things began to go downhill for me. :(

Somewhere between miles 8 and 9 I began getting severe cramps in my calves and shins. I’m pretty sure it was due to dehydration. I’d only been drinking half a cup of the water and sports drink that was at the water stops along the race course and all of my previous mistakes of the day were catching up to me. I stopped 3 or 4 times to stretch and relieve the cramps, but almost as soon as I started to run again, I’d get another cramp in the alternate leg. It was horrible. I was in pain and very close to full on crying by now.

Several people along the way asked if I was ok and encouraged me. That was actually pretty helpful and I was able to push through and keep going but I was having to do a lot more walking than running at this point. When I was close to passing the 9 mile marker, my worst fear began to come true.

I noticed that suddenly, back here with the crowd of participants who were mostly all walking like I was, there were a lot of people really picking up the pace and trying to get going. Like they were trying to get away from something. Before I could even complete the thought about wondering what was going on, I was like, “Sh#$! No way!” and I turned back to look for balloons. More specifically, I was looking for the Balloon Ladies.

I mentioned previously that there are pace keepers on bikes as well as the Balloon Ladies that you must stay with or ahead of to avoid getting swept, or picked up by a bus that takes you to the finish. Well, as the name implies, the Balloon Ladies have balloons with them. I assume the balloons are there as a visual landmark to let participants know how close or far they are from the required 16 minutes per mile pace. If you see these ladies during a runDisney race, you better get a move on!

Balloon Ladies. They nicest people you never want to see.

Balloon Ladies. They nicest people you never want to see.

So as I see all of these people suddenly picking up their pace, some running as fast as they can, I glance back and look for balloons to see if the Balloon Ladies are hot on my trail. I actually don’t even see any balloons but I’m hearing the chatter about how the Balloon Ladies aren’t far behind and that there’s going to be a hard pick up (aka, sweep) at mile 10. Oh, of course there’s going to be a sweep in about a mile….when I can’t even run without getting severe cramps in my legs.

I’m not gonna lie…my eyes were starting to fill with tears now. The number one thing I worried about like crazy was getting swept. I tried a couple of more times to go ahead and run only to be met with painful cramps. By now it hurt so bad that I was limping really hard core. I decided I was going to have to walk as fast as I could, pain or no pain, to make sure I wouldn’t get swept. With at least more than half a mile left until I got to the 10 mile marker, I glanced up to see balloons bobbing up and down a few feet ahead of me on my left!

Holy freaking cow! Is this real life?

Ok, no big deal, I thought. All I have to do is keep up with the Balloon ladies and get a little ahead of them. Well that proved to be easier said than done in my current state. I was struggling just to walk fast. In a matter of minutes those shiny Disney Princess balloons got further and further away from me. I started trying to reason with myself.

I can do this!
Ummm, actually no I can’t.
Wait, no…I can’t give up!
Well….maybe I should just give up. It hurts too much.
NOOOOOO! I will NOT get swept!

Then, as extra motivation, the pacers on bikes ride casually up next to me and I hear one of them saying that the Balloon Ladies are a little ahead of pace so all of us next to the bikes are about 30 seconds from being behind pace. They reiterate that there WILL be a hard pick up at mile 10 for anyone who is behind the balloon ladies. And right now I am too far away from the Balloon Ladies for comfort. So I took several really long strides in order to stretch my legs and prepare to run because I can’t give up!

I start out cautiously running and pain shoots through my right leg almost immediately. I just kept telling myself “I can’t get swept, I can’t get swept, I can’t get swept…” and I ran with what felt like the most awkward and painful form ever until I caught up to the Balloon Ladies. I got 4 feet or so ahead of them and decided that I’d be able to walk again and stay with them. But nope, the cramps got even worse once I stopped running and the pacers caught up to me in seconds. I struggled to keep up with them and by now I was walking with one of the Balloon Ladies right next to me. I continued to struggle and before I knew it I was about 10 feet behind the balloons. Now I could also see the 2 buses waiting on the side of the road right next to the 10 mile marker about a quarter mile ahead of me.

Crap.

Then, because I’m not on a big enough emotional roller coaster ride already, the Balloon Ladies suddenly step off to the left and stop walking. What? What is going on? I pass the ladies and keep looking back and in answer to everyone’s question about what happened, a pacer on a bike rides up quickly to tell us that the Balloon Ladies are stopping for a few seconds because they were getting even more ahead of pace. So to be fair, they stopped long enough to get back to actual pace. Thank God!

I decided that just to be safe I needed to run all the way to the 10 mile marker. So I braced myself for the impending doom and ran until I got to Mile 10, and then I ran 10 steps more. And then I cried. I was really upset with myself that I didn’t prepare properly this morning and that I was struggling so much because of all of the mistakes I made. And I still had 3.1 miles to go until the finish.

I got my emotions in check and tried to focus on staying with the pacers, who by now caught back up to me and were just behind me. Others who were next to the Balloon Ladies were asking if there was another sweep at mile 11. The ladies just kept saying “You’re not safe until you cross the finish line!” But then a minute later, one of the ladies said, “You’re not safe until you cross the finish line, but if I were you, I’d hurry up and get to mile 11.”

Most of us took that to mean that there were no more hard pick ups after mile 11. It actually made sense because after mile 11 there was not really room for a bus or truck to come onto the narrow road. This was a good thing for me because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep up with the Balloon Ladies after the 10.5 mile point or so. I pushed myself to walk as fast as possible until I got to Mile 11. I had a gamut of emotions from mile 10 to mile 11 and I talked to a few people who were struggling and in as much pain as I was. I remember the most detail of mile 11 til the end of the race because by mile 11 I knew I wouldn’t get swept. But I also knew that I wasn’t going to finish in 3 hours like I originally hoped to.

This was the first mile marker that I felt compelled to take a picture of.

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Maybe because I knew I was going to finish the race without getting swept, I got pumped up again when I was about to enter Epcot. I was actually even smiling and cheering on the other handful of people at the back of the pack with me. The spectators cheering us on inside of Epcot made me cry with joy. I went from feeling low for being one of the last people finishing the race, to feeling happy that strangers were cheering me on to finish. I actually kind of got too happy and I was posing for the race photographer a little too hard.

When I passed Spaceship Earth for the second time and headed to the backstage area to get to the finish line, a lady whom I’d been walking next to for the last mile and I decided that we would run the last straight away to the finish line. By now I was excited to be so close to being done that I didn’t even think about my pain until after I finally crossed the finish line.

I screamed as loud as I could and as I got my medal I broke down and cried uncontrollably for a minute. A woman who was possibly a race volunteer walked over and congratulated me and gave me a hug. I was happy, hurting, and proud. My finish time was 3:59:52. A far cry from the minimum of 3 hours that I had hoped to finish in, but I finished and I learned from my mistakes. I’m already training and I plan to run this race again in 2016 without all the preparation mistakes and with a finish time of 2 hours and 45 minutes or less. I know I can do it!

Now that the race is over, I’ve got some park time to get in at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…and some bad news is coming. Check back for the next installment of my report to find out what goes wrong now. :)

See Ya Real Soon!

Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend Trip Report Part 6- Race Day!

It’s FINALLY time for the nitty gritty! Race day during Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World Resort!

If you missed the first 5 parts of this trip/race report and want to read those first, just click
HERE for Part 1
HERE for part 2
HERE for part 3
HERE for part 4
HERE for part 5

And now, without further ado….

Sunday, February 22, 2015. 2am.

I had my alarm set for both 2am and 2:15am but I was so excited and nervous that I had no trouble waking up at 2am. Shari, Cynthia and I got up and started getting dressed for the half marathon. We needed to be at the bus stop at Coronado Springs at 3am to head to the race start location. I have to be honest, I don’t remember much of any conversations that we had in the room as we got ready for the race. I was so nervous. All I could think about was the fact that I did not want to get swept. All I kept thinking (and possibly saying) was that I did NOT want to get swept.

In case you’re not familiar…getting swept is the term for what happens when a participant in a runDisney race does not keep up the required 16 minute per mile pace during a race. At certain checkpoints, those who are below the pace (which is kept by pace keepers on bikes as well as by The Balloon Ladies) are not permitted to continue the race and are loaded onto a bus and driven to the finish. I’ll talk more about this later.

Like I was saying, I was worried about getting swept. I think this set the tone for my race. I was already psyching myself out and I was doubting myself way too much. This was not race mistake #1, but it was a big mistake.

I was so nervous that I felt nauseous and I knew that if I ate my peanut butter sandwich that I was going to be sick. So I didn’t eat anything. I count this as race mistake #1. I actually didn’t even want to drink anything because I was worried about having to stop at a port-a-potty and getting set back with the lines there. Mistake #2. :/

Once we were dressed, we headed to the bus stop. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt in my costume. That was a good thing because I was worried I was going to be majorly distracted by the collar on my cape. The apple was fake, but yes, I carried it the entire time. My hands tend to get numb when I run unless I’m holding something so having my phone in one hand and the apple in the other kept my hands from getting numb.

My Evil Queen Running Costume

My Evil Queen Running Costume

Apparently not everyone takes the “be at the bus stop at 3am” suggestion seriously. There weren’t that many runners on that early bus headed to the race. Once we got to the pre-race area in the Epcot parking lot, I was feeling a little less nervous. There weren’t all that many people there yet and we were trying to scope out where the corrals were set up. After a few minutes we figured out that the corrals weren’t in this area. But we took in the atmosphere and took some pictures.

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Cinderella and possibly another character besides Pocahontas were available to take pictures with but the line for Cinderella got insanely long and there was no way we were standing in the line to take a picture with her. After looking around for a few more minutes we decided to figure out where the corrals were and we walked over to them.

Once we found the corrals, we went to get into corral M. Shari was actually assigned to corral L but she opted to give up her spot in L to start back with me and Cynthia in corral M. As we waited we were able to see a lot of the costumes that people came up with. That alone was super fun! There were so many creative costumes!

As we stood waiting for the race to begin, I actually saw a few people with whom I’ve met in Disney related groups on Facebook but sadly, not everyone was up for saying hello to me when I spoke to them. Eh…whatever….I’ll chalk it up to nerves. But now it was finally time to start the race. Every few minutes another corral was sent off on its way with an awesome countdown and fireworks! Corral M was finally up to the starting line and after our countdown and fireworks, we were officially on our way!

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For months leading up to the half marathon, Cynthia and I told Shari not to wait for us during the race because we knew she was faster than we were. She kept telling us that she was staying with us and that was gonna be that because we were in it together. Well, less than a mile into the race I started to feel like I had never run a day in my life. I immediately regretted not eating my peanut butter sandwich. This was bad. I told Shari I was going to have to make my walk interval longer than expected. I told her to go ahead without me and I was going to try to catch up. Cynthia was still with me but she told me not to wait for her. So less than a mile in, we’d split up completely.

A few things happen now….one thing is that I managed to get myself going again with my run/walk/run intervals. However, I didn’t set my interval timer and I was just going along with some runners in my vicinity who were signalling the run and walk intervals for their group that was running together. A second thing was that I was getting caught up in the race entertainment and the cheering that everyone was doing about now. Any time that there was photo opp with a character of some kind or music along the course I got pumped up and started running more even if it was supposed to be a walk interval. I’m gonna call this Mistake #3.

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I think my favorite thing on the way to Magic Kingdom was that 2 out of 3 monorails that passed us along the race course honked their horns at us in support! It made everyone scream and cheer and something about that made me a little teary eyed.

Anyway, the last thing of significance that happened on our way to Magic Kingdom is that I realized that not only had I not been keeping up with mile markers, I also wasn’t keeping track of my time and pace. Super duper Mistake #4.

I remember seeing the mile marker for Mile 3, but after that I didn’t pay attention to a mile marker until Mile 6. I’ll go ahead and post some pictures I took along the course because soon I’ll have a lot less interest in taking pictures.

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My run by selfie fail...

My run by selfie fail…

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Right around now I’m about to enter the Magic Kingdom by way of the off stage areas of the park. I could not wait to get to Main Street and Cinderella Castle! But since this post has gotten way long, I’m stopping for now. I’ll post the rest of the race within 24 hours!

See Ya Real Soon!