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Princess half marathon weekend, day 3

Friday, February 28, 2014
Day three was the day before race day. We wanted to have a busy morning but then wanted to take it easy in the afternoon since the next morning was going to be so early and tiring.

We spent the morning at Hollywood Studios. We got there at park opening (which was an hour early thanks to extra magic hours) which allowed us to ride all the big things once before we even had to start using our fastpasses. We made a bee-line for Toy Story Mania since that is the ride with the craziest wait times and we didn't have a fastpass for it (had to pick between that and Rockin Roller Coaster). We kept our partners from the previous competitive games and made it the tie breaker, which Christine and I won.

Then we went and hit up Rockin Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror with little to no wait, and then a little while later with our fastpasses. I think we rode Tower of Terror 3-4 times in all. I love how the drops change a little each time you do it, and we had some fun with the mid-ride camera. The first time Kimmie got a finger in her eye during the first drop (see arrow below).

We rode Rockin Roller Coaster the first time through the single rider line because it was so much shorter, and so we got a good chance to capture each other's mid-ride photos, and we got this little gem:

And we went and rode Star Wars too even though it wasn't fastpass time because there was no wait. We had done everything we really wanted to do before lunch. We grabbed some turkey legs and soft pretzels for lunch and decided what we wanted to do next. We just happened to be sitting right by the American Idol Experience and maybe it was the subliminal messaging embedded in the commercials we watched over and over on the gigantic TVs screens while we ate, but we decided to check it out. I had never done that before, but it turned out to be really fun. We got to feel like we were in the actual Idol audience and watch three park visitors perform and vote on our favorite. And the winner from each day actually gets a front of the line ticket at a for real Idol audition. One of the ladies we watched was running the princess 10K and half marathon that weekend and was the best singer of the bunch, so we had to vote for her.

Then it started to drizzle so we put on our ponchos and decided that was a good sign to head back to the resort for some afternoon R&R. The weather that afternoon was pretty schizophrenic it would be sunny a few minutes then rain a few minutes. During a sunny spell we decided to go explore the pool area, which is how we wound up like this:

The pool looked really fun, although we never made it off our lounge chairs. After a restful afternoon, we were super excited to go visit the Polynesian resort for dinner at 'Ohana. It was yet another spectacular dining experience and worth a post all it's own, and let's just say thanks to an amazing waiter we left with a loaf of bread hiding in an extra-large water cup and lid.

After dinner we went back to the room and laid out everything we needed for race day: racebibs, tutus, spybelts, assorted Gu, sweatybands, body glide, and all the other necessities when you are going to travel 13.1 miles in a tutu. 

We laid down to try and go to sleep about 8 that night and set our alarms at an alarming 2:30 am. I know I tossed and turned a while in anticipation and was still awake to hear some kind of fireworks go off in some park or another, but eventually fell asleep.

Try the grey stuff, it's delicious

Thursday, February 27, 2014
During the Disney trip last week, we were able to snag a coveted Be Our Guest Restaurant reservation for Friday night. Sometimes you worry that a restaurant cannot possibly live up to the hype it has gotten, but oh my goodness this one did.

The setting of beast's castle was amazing outside and in. And the little details that only Disney would pay attention to including were incredible. I mentioned before that it started drizzling right after we walked up and got our little pager to hold until our table was ready. Well they quickly realized that we were getting a wet (although like good girlscouts we had brought ponchos) and let us inside to wait in the armor room. Pretty cool to get to hang out in there for a little while. But before we knew it it, the pager went off and we were ready to head to our table.

The hostess comes to get you with a candelabra and gives it to you to walk with as she shows you around the place. There are three different dining rooms you may be seated in. We got to eat in the West Wing and it was spectacular. The pictures do not do it justice. This is where the rose is kept which continues to lose petals throughout the night. The room is dark and it thunders claps every 7 minutes or so, so they tend to not let small children eat in there. When it thunders the lights in the room flicker and a torn picture of the prince on the wall briefly flashes to a picture of the beast.

The West Wing

The main dining room

The side room

The food is amazing. Kristen and Christine got the Salmon, while Kimmie and I got the shrimps and scallops in a pastry shell. It was all good. We also got a side of the mac and cheese to share since none of our meals came with it and it was really good too. And when you are dining in France a toast with a glass of wine is in order.

Then there was dessert. I had to get the "Grey Stuff" because where else do you see that on the menu? It was basically a cookies and cream mousse on a brownie. The mousse was really good, the brownie was definitely not. The other girls got other desserts so we could share and try different things and theirs were overall better. But I'm still glad I tried the grey stuff.

After our meal we made our way to the castle study where we came face to face with our host, the beast. He was huge!

It was such a fun dinner! I can't wait to go again and take Andrew and P this fall!

Princess half marathon weekend, day 2

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We spent all day last friday in the Magic Kingdom, and it was amazing. We got there at 8:30, a good 30 minutes before the park opened and stayed until nearly 11 at night. But in those 14 hours we did almost every single attraction in the park, including three rounds on space mountain, two on big thunder mountain, and a couple more in the haunted mansion.

Kristen, Christine, Kimmie and me ready for a magical day.

And of all the drawstring bags we each own, three of us decided to bring Hot Chocolate 15K bags. Thankfully they were each slightly different from one another, otherwise that could have been confusing.

I love how uncrowded the parks are early in the morning and late at night, you can get so much done. I think we rode 5 different things within the first 30 minutes of being in the park. For no particular reason other than it was listed first on our touring plan, the first thing we did was the tea cups. And it wound up being one of our favorite memories of the entire trip. All four of us crammed into one little cup (which was totally unnecessary since we were almost the only people on the entire ride) and proceeded to spin as fast as humanly possible. We laughed and screamed, Kimmie wound up curled in a fetal position and none of us could walk straight afterwards, but it was so worth it.

Then we went and rode the Barnstormer, Dumbo met Christine's princess, Ariel, and rode her attraction.

We got a quick bite to eat for lunch at Casey's corner, where I fell in love with the corn dog bites, or maybe I was just really hungry, but they hit the spot. And then we went and rode the Carrousel, the Magic Carpets, and met Jasmine and Aladdin. Kimmie was excited to meet her princess and prince charming.

And then took a spin on Buzz Lightyear where Christine and I got even with the other two for beating us on test track the previous day.

Lines were really not that bad until mid afternoon when we took a break for an early dinner reservation at Be Our Guest. This turned out to be really timely since it was beginning to sprinkle some rain. I think that dining experience is worth it's own post it was so incredibly awesome, and besides this post is getting a little long.

After dinner we went and met Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

And with that we had met all four of the princesses we were running as during the marathon. Check! We got into the habit of asking characters to give us a pose to do. I think it makes for cuter pictures than just standing there smiling in picture after picture. We rode a few more rides before calling it a night. It is a sign you need to go to bed when you fall asleep in the haunted mansion (ahem, Kimmie). But since the other girls didn't have park hopper tickets we had to get every drop out of our Magic Kingdom day, and I think we did.

Princess half marathon weekend, day 1

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This is the first of several posts about the last week I spent at my home away from home, Disney World. It was an incredible trip. So much fun and got to share the experience with so many sweet friends.

Sunday I ran the Disney Princess half-marathon. I have never been a "runner." It has never come easy or naturally to me. And to be quite honest I had never run a solid mile in my entire life until I started training for this race, not even during those terrible presidents physical fitness tests we had to do in elementary school.

But I really do like making and achieving goals and running 13.1 miles through Disney World seemed like a really good one. Not to mention a good way to get in shape after having a baby. So I signed up and started training. I had a long way to go and was way behind all the other girls I was going to run with, but eventually built my way up to a 5k, 10k, 15k, and a half marathon. And went from a non-runner who just had a baby to finishing a half marathon in less than 14 months. And that is an awesome thing to be able to say.

At Disney, I stayed with Kristen, Kimmie and Christine - genetic counselors by day, princesses by night. Emily and Paige ran the race too and brought their husbands along for a no-kids couples trip. Our rooms were almost next door to each other at the Caribbean Beach Resort. So fun!

We made it down to Orlando early Thursday morning thanks to an overnight stay in Birmingham with one of Paige's relatives. Kristen et al drove down from Georgia early that morning too. As soon as we landed in Birmingham we put on our Magic Bands and were ready to go. I have read so many critiques on the Magic Band system, but after two trips with them I am definitely a fan and they worked swimingly.

First stop after checking into the hotel was packet pickup and wandering the marathon expo. 

Pickup went super smoothly and the expo was not as crazy as we feared. The longest lines were for buying official disney marathon merchandise. Prohibitively long.

We are all running as different princesses on Sunday. Me as Cinderella, Emily as Rapunzel, Paige as Aurora, Kristen as Belle, Kimmie as Jasmine, and Christine as Ariel. 

As we walked into the expo, I found my footmen.

We were prepared and brought our costumes and everything else we needed for the race so we didn't spent too long at the expo - we were ready to get to the parks. First stop - Epcot.

We had fast passes for Test Track, Mission Space and Spaceship Earth and in between wandered the World Showcase and rode some other "b list rides" like Nemo, Living with the Land, and Maelstrom. We really wanted to do Soarin' but couldn't get a fastpass for it and Test Track so we waited until just before park closing to hit it up once the lines were nonexistent. That plan worked out really well.

We also got to meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy with almost zero wait. We had a blast goofing off with them for a little while.

We also learned that Disney cast members like to take selfies on your iphone camera while they are taking pictures for you.

Test Track has been re-done since the last time I was there and made more interactive, and more sponsored by Chevrolet. We worked in pairs to design our own car and then test it. It got a little competitive. Kristen and Kimmie's car did way better than mine and Christine's. They got to gloat for a while but we would get them back in a day or two. Apparently the ability to build a fast race car does not also come with a superior ability to shoot lasers in space or play 4D midway games.

The weather was spectacular and it was a perfect night to wander around the park. Kristen got to meet Belle, her princess for the weekend.

We had dinner reservations at Biergarten, the sit-down restaurant in the German pavilion. It was an all you can eat german feast and it was so so fun to try all the different foods without having to commit to a single dish. We also got entertained with live music and dancing while we ate.

It was such a fun first day. After dinner and a quick ride on Soarin', we headed back to our home away from home for some rest before a wonderfully long day in the Magic Kingdom on Friday.

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