I’m so excited to finally write these posts! It’s taken me a while because I returned to work right after we got back from vacation, and I’ve had a lot of things going on with the start of the new year. This will be a 6-part series of posts- this one being the beginning of our vacation and trip to the expo, 4 will be devoted to each individual race day, and one last post to wrap up vacation and our trip back home.
We left for Florida on Tuesday Jan 6. It was cold, with a snow system due to move into our area early in the morning. Fortunately for us- we had to be at the airport EARLIER than early in the morning. Our flight was due out at 6:15 am, which means we were on the road to the airport around 3 am! Once we got parked and dropped off at the airline’s check in counter, we realized that the counter didn’t even open until 4:30 am. So, we joined the line and waited. We chatted with a lady behind us, who was also going to Disney Marathon weekend so her daughter could run the marathon. We felt right at home telling running stories.
Finally we were able to check in our bags and headed over to security. My bag was pretty heavy, and my husband offered to put some of my stuff in his bag to re-distribute some of the weight so we wouldn’t have to pay over-weight fees. Both bags came in under 50 lbs, and we moved on our way. BUT my husband’s carry on bag was pulled while going through the security line. Apparently, at the last minute he decided to take my 3 bottles of G2 Gatorade out of his checked bag and put it in his carry on to save some weight. Security told him he wasn’t allowed through (as I knew!) and he would have to lose the bottles. WELL, I was not having it! Anyone who runs knows how important specific food/fuel and drinks are for a race (or four).. and who knows if I would be able to get my hands on some more at Disney!? (Disney carried Power-aid, which I do not use, and I only drink the low-sugar version of Gatorade) So, he begrudgingly checked his bag.. thinking all the while I was nuts. (Which I may be… but it was his fault for taking out of his checked bag to begin with!)
ANYWAY.. we chatted with Dawn and Tony at the gate (we had the same flight out) before boarding the plane. Take off was a little nerve-wracking for me. While we were in the airport, it had begun snowing outside. It was coming down pretty good and the runways were covered already. Our flight was “on time” but we did sit on the tarmac a good 30 minutes while we were waiting for and being de-iced. When we were finally cleared for take-off, I saw the runways were still snow covered. It made me a little nervous that we would be driving at 500 mph for take-off on a snow covered runway. (Plus it doesn’t help that we had recently seen the show “Why Planes Crash” either!) But, we took off fine, and the rest of the flight was smooth sailing.
Once in good old MCO, we picked up Mike’s bag (The others had Magical Express tags and would be delivered right to our room… LOVE Disney) and hopped on the Magical Express bus to our resort, Art of Animation.
We were able to check in and were directed to our room. There are 5 sections of rooms in the AoA resort. Finding Nemo is the section immediately when you walk out of the main building. That, along with the Cars and Lion King sections are all family suites. We had booked a standard room, which was located in the Little Mermaid section- all the way in the back of the resort. Not only was it a 10 minute walk to the section itself, we were the last building all the way in the back.. on the fourth (top) floor… all the way at the end of the hall. Yup.
In our room, we had double beds. When I booked, I was kinda mad at myself for not thinking to request a single king bed, but after I thought about it, the double bed thing was good, because now we had a place to put all the running stuff! Otherwise, there really wasn’t a lot of space to put stuff. There was only one nightstand between the beds, so I took one of the chairs from the table and made it into a makeshift nightstand. The room was good for 2 people, but not much more than that.
The rest of our luggage had not arrived yet, so we decided to get some lunch and set out to the parks. One thing I can say, was that the resort restaurant, Landscape of Flavors was great! Lots of food choices from burgers to make-your-own-pasta. My favorite was the make -your-own omelets at breakfast and the chicken burger. You could even choose a side of fries or a side of cole-slaw, letting you decide how healthy or unhealthy you wanted to be. One new thing I noticed since the last time I was at Disney, was the programming of the beverage cups. I had saved my morning cup and tried to put soda in it later, only to be rejected from the soda machine. I have since looked into it a little bit and read that the cups have RFID chips built into them. For the souvenir type- you pay for the amount of days you wish to refill the cup. For the disposable paper kind, the RFID expires after an hour, or a maximum of 3 refills, whichever comes first. The soda machines will only dispense beverages if it senses the RFID. Sneaky sneaky Disney! BUT, I was able to refill my cup with coffee or hot chocolate.. both of which have the traditional pull-down levers. It was also fun to watch other unsuspecting guests try and figure out how the machines worked :-p The one complaint I had regarding this quick service restaurant was the prices. Not so much for an entree, which while expensive, was very generous in portion and good quality. But for the other, every day things like pieces of fruit and bottles of juice/water etc. the prices were a rip off. They didn’t even include the milk when you got a bowl of cereal, you had to buy that separate. (And REALLY Disney… 1.75 for ONE banana!?!?! We can get a whole bunch for that price at Wegman’s!)
Continuing on, the first thing we wanted to do after lunch was to have avocado margaritas at La Cava Del Tequila. It’s a little hole in the wall (most people don’t even know it’s there!) tequila bar inside the Mexican pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. They serve all kinds of authentic Mexican tequila there and many different types of margaritas. I had a hibiscus one once.. but our favorite is avocado! (Tastes so much better than it sounds!) They are a bit pricy at 14.99 for 1, but they are our must-do splurge every time we make a trip!
From there, we meandered around the world showcase.. not looking to do anything in particular, but just enjoying being at Disney. We saw a lumberjack show in Canada, checked out the Christmas decorations in France, and even shared some caramels in Germany.
We left Epcot and headed over to Magic Kingdom. My uncles who moved to FL last year were going to meet up with us there. By the time we caught up with them though, they were in line for Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train, and the wait was over 70 minutes long! So we let them stand in line and we hit up some other things nearby.
By the time we finally DID meet up with my uncles, it was late and the castle was all lit up. We sat and enjoyed coffees and ice cream, then we watched the fire works from behind the castle.. kind of a neat view point for those who have been-there-seen-that several times.
We started off Wednesday with a nice carb-load breakfast (character waffles!) and set out for the heath and fitness expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. All Dopeys had to pick up their race packets on Wednesday because the 5k was on Thursday. We tried to meet up with Dawn and Tony, but we had to wait 20 minutes for a bus. Then we had a long walk from where the bus dropped us off to where we had to go for our stuff. By the time we got there, it was getting pretty crowded. I picked up my packet and waited for Mike to pick up his for the 10K. Then I got in line for my shirts. My 5K shirt ended up being too small, so I got in another long line to exchange it, only to find out that the line was only for the challenge shirt exchange. Sigh. I followed another runner looking to do the same thing back to the original shirt pick-up line. Luckily, we just asked someone off to the side if we could exchange the shirts, and it was pretty quick. Side note- the race shirts were really nice. In 2012 and 2013 I got unisex shirts that were too big because they were unisex, and the material was a dry, waffle-like weave. THIS year (and I think last year) they offered woman’s cut shirts and the material was a nice smooth material. A+ runDisney!
We left packet pick up and met Dawn and Tony briefly before heading into the expo. I had a few things on my list to get and the expo was the place to be. First, we picked up Mike’s 10K shirt (Goofys and Dopeys picked up their stuff in the same building as packet pick up, everyone else had to go into the Josten’s Center where the expo was) and then I headed to the Raw threads booth. The shirt I had bought for the marathon was too big and I read they would do expo returns, and I wanted to return it. Unfortunately, I read it wrong and was told I was not going to be able to do the return. But then I was directed to the owner of the shop and she graciously let me exchange it for something else of the same value. Because the shirt was cheaper than their usual prices, all I ended up being able to get was a headband.. but I was really happy she was letting me do it, so, I got a cool headband :-p Other items I was able to procure included KT tape, a race belt to hold bibs, a yellow Sparkle Athletic skirt for my 10K costume, a 48.6 magnet for my car, and a 10K magnet for Mike’s car. Once we were done we realized it was lunchtime. so we headed back to the room to unload our stuff and have lunch before venturing out to the park.
After lunch we headed back to Magic Kingdom. My sister, brother-in-law, AJ, nephew, Trenton, and niece, Gemma, were meeting up with us that afternoon. (They live in Orlando.) I hadn’t seen the kids since our wedding in October 2013, so I was so excited to spend some time with them! We roamed around, did some rides, and a good time was had by all!
We got back to the room a little later than I wanted, after all, I needed to be up super early for the 5K Thursday morning. I also didn’t anticipate how much all the walking around the parks would take a toll on my legs and feet. I was worn out and I hadn’t even run a race yet. Needless to say, I was a little worried. I took an Epsom salt bath and wore my Tommie Copper recovery tights to bed, just to be safe.
Stay tuned for my next chapter- 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend: Part 2- 5K!