Disney Fantasy Maiden Voyage

Disney Fantasy Maiden Voyage
Through the porthole on the Fantasy with the Disney Magic in the background

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 WDW Marathon Weekend Galloway Meet Up & Races

So this post is long over due, but this is the first chance I've gotten to sit down and write.

Our trip started with me realizing I'd forgotten my computer on the couch about 5 hours in to our 15 hour drive from St. Louis to Disney.  Oops!  Thankfully, that was pretty much the worst that happened throughout the trip - got it out of the way early.

Hubby and I enjoyed nine glorious days in Walt Disney World for the 2013 runDisney 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  We lucked out on the weather.  I know, I know.  Most people would say that we had horrible running weather.  Well, yeah, when you look at it that way, the weather wasn't ideal.  But for the two of us, it's more about the experience as a whole, not just the races.  Most highs were around 80 and the lows in the upper 50s.  Yeah, not great for running, but it was phenomenal park weather.

We arrived on the Thursday prior to the races, getting into Disney around 6am.  Imagine our surprise when we got to Saratoga Springs to check in and were told that our Treehouse was AVAILABLE!  We were beyond thrilled to get to take showers before heading to the expo after being in the car for 15 hours.  So shower we did, grabbed some breakfast, and then off to the expo we went.

The WDW Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo
The expo was the typical Disney expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.  Packet pick-up and merchandise were in the HP Field House, while shirts, merchandise and vendors were in the Jostens Center.  It was a madhouse.  We opted out of the merchandise for the first time ever, only purchasing one runDisney BondiBand (the black one with green writing).  For every other Disney race we have purchased the pins, but this year just didn't feel like spending the money on something that has a destination of a large bag that hardly ever gets looked at.  Maybe we will find them in the outlet stores in the future and buy them there.  (On the trip to the outlets this time, we saw lots of 2012 Princess Half Marathon pins, both medal replica & the pre-order, and tons of 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon necklaces at both locations.)

The 2013 WDW Marathon Meet Up
Friday morning started early with the WDW Marathon Meet Up.  The event announcement can be found on the Disney Parks Blog.  The event took place at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and started off with a bang.  We had a few photo ops with an empty Hollywood Blvd and the illuminated Sorcerer's Hat, which we all found particularly appealing - until the first round of guests showed up...

Mickey, Donald and Goofy all came out for pre-event photos with everyone! 

After the morning photo session, we were greeted by Bob Hitchcock and other Disney staff, introduced to our special guests (Jeff Galloway, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Desi Davila, Adriano Bastos, Frank Shorter, Dick Beardsley, etc.) and we separated into groups for the run portion of the event.  Bob Hitchcock & Adriano Bastos (10-time winner of the WDW Marathon) led the "run" group to what was supposed to be about a 9-9:30 minute/mile pace, but what ended up being closer to an 8-8:30 pace.  Jeff Galloway led the run:walk group.  The route took us down Hollywood Blvd, to Sunset Blvd down near the entrances to Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster, where we turned around and went back towards Hollywood Blvd and continued up towards the Hat where Minnie was waiting to cheer us on.  From there we went down Commissary Lane and through the Streets of America before heading back towards the Hat and into Animation Studios.  Here, Buzz and Woody were waiting for us for a group photo op.  We put the run on hold for a few group photos before continuing towards the Backlot. 

After another loop through Streets of America, we eventually ended up finishing the run in the stadium for Lights, Motors, Action! where the remainder of the event would take place.  Breakfast from the WWoS food truck was waiting for us there, along with coffee, water and juice.  Everyone then settled in to the bleachers for the presentation portion of the event.  Here we heard from some of the runDisney staff, met singer, dancer and actor, and now runner, Joey Fatone, heard about the designing of the awesome runDisney New Balance shoe from the NB staff,

had a Q&A session with the Perfect 20 runDisney’s official training consultant & Olympian Jeff Galloway, New York and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rogers, Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson, athlete/television host  Dick Beardsley, Runner’s World columnist Bart Yasso and Olympian Desi Davila,

Jeff Galloway, Bill Rogers, Joan Benoit Samuelson
Dick Beardsley, Bart Yasso, Desi Davila

Adriano Bastos
heard about the importance of cross training from NFL star Eddie Mason, met 10-time WDW Marathon champion Adriano Bastos,
Eddie Mason
and got a surprise appearance from Drew Carey! 
Drew Carey & Mickey Mouse

After all the formal stuff was done, it was picture time again - all the above were joined by Mickey, Minne, Pluto, Goofy and Donald for additional photo ops.  And we even got to see Donald and Goofy doing the Cupid Shuffle!

Of course, the real end was the goody bag we got - this time it included a one-day Magic Your Way park ticket, an iFitness fuel belt, some H20 products and a Clif MoJo bar.

The 2013 Marathon Weekend Half Marathon 
Goofy's Race & a Half Challenge - Day 1

Believe it or not, Saturday during the half marathon was my first day in the parks, despite arriving in Disney on Thursday morning.  This is far from normal for us.  It wasn't necessarily planned that way, but that's how it worked out.

I ran the half marathon with my friend Bob, otherwise known as my "running husband."  (His wife Kelly is otherwise known as my hubby's "shopping wife" for the damage they did shopping together for the Magic Kingdom's 40th anniversary merchandise a few years ago.)  Bob and I have done many a mile together at Disney - having run together for a good portion of the races over the last few years.  Today, my job was to keep him under control at about a 9 minute pace, as he was going to attempt to qualify for Boston the next day during the marathon.

It was definitely a bit tough to breathe out there and I struggled with that slower pace more than I anticipated because of it, but we got it done and in good time, finishing in about 1:54.

After the race, we hung out at the finish to check in with all our friends, then went back to get cleaned up.  My post-half/pre-marathon/mid-Goofy recovery included a G-Series Protein Recovery Shake (chocolate), a quick ice bath, and wearing my CW-X 3/4 length Stabilyx tights around for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

The 2013 Marathon Weekend 20th Anniversary Marathon
Goofy's Race & a Half Challenge - Day2
I had originally thought I'd try to Boston Qualify during the WDW Marathon, but as the weather forecast got warmer, my expectations for my finishing time changed.  Originally I thought I'd try for the 3:35 I needed for Boston.  (Or at least I thought I needed a 3:35, turns out, since I would be 35 when I'd run Boston, my time is actually 3:40.)  As the weather warmed, I decided to go for 3:50.  And then the forecast got a little warmer, so I thought I'd just try to break 4 hours.  After seeing how the humidity affected my breathing during the half, I decided I was just going to run and have fun.  I fell back to my "relaxed" marathon plan of a 4:1 run:walk method which has served me well in the past.

Overall, I had a great race.  I really enjoyed the new course design with the addition of the Richard Petty Speedway and a tour of Wide World of Sports added to the usual course through the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studies and, of course, though Epcot.  The Speedway was lined with classic cars, including Herbie, which were joined by Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.  At Wide World of Sports, we got to do a lap on the track at the Track & Field complex as well as a lap around the warning track where the Atlanta Braves do their spring training.  They also had a really awesome Mickey hot air balloon blown up within the complex.

Mile 19 at WWoS - saw my friends Grace & Mark here!
The Mile 20 Spectacular was as you left Wide World of Sports and headed towards Hollywood Studios.  It was pretty cool.  Mile 20 of the WDW Marathon in the past has been a very boring stretch of road.  There has been nothing but pavement between miles 18 when you leave Animal Kingdom and 23 where you enter Hollywood Studios in the past.  This year, they had lots of music, a stage which hosted Mickey/Donald/Goofy or Mickey/Minnie/Pluto (depending on when you ran by, for me it was the latter), and various other parade characters lining the street, as you ran under a huge banner with a picture of the finisher's medal you would receive upon crossing the finish line a mere 10k later.  I know many said they weren't impressed with this, but in all reality, it was a lot more than I would have ever expected and I thoroughly enjoyed it, after all, it was a great bonus on an otherwise very tough (mentally) section of course.

I ended up finishing the marathon in 4:18 and felt great despite the 70+ degree temps.  It was far from a PR, but I didn't set out with that goal in mind, so I wasn't at all disappointed in my performance.

As for my "running husband" that was attempting to BQ - well, HE DID IT!!  Bob's going to Boston!  Now, I just need to get my butt in gear and train to qualify to go as well.  I'm looking at trying at the 2013 Flying Pig Marathon with the 2013 Minneapolis Marathon as my back up race, four weeks later.  It looks like Minneapolis might be the easier place to do this, despite being in June, as I'll have two friends from the Belleville Running Club attempting the same goal.

Breaking the Rules of Racing
I have to admit I broke the rules of racing during this weekend.  I tried something new on race day.  In fact, I tried an entirely new kind of fuel.  I'd heard friends on the Running of the Ears forum talk about a product called Generation U Can, which is apparently the fuel that Olympian Meb Keflezighi uses.  It is a super starch that can fuel a runner for 2-4 hours of intense activity.  You mix it with water and drink it about 30-45 minutes prior to activity.  I tried the pomblue flavor, and it was pretty good for a fuel drink.  It was a bit chalky, but not nearly so much as I expected.  I didn't have any issues getting it down.

Overall, I was very happy with this test.  I had some oatmeal before leaving the resort around 2:30am on race morning.  I drank the UCan mixture starting about 30 minutes prior to the half marathon start, finishing it about 10 minutes prior to the start.  The fuel definitely worked.  Although I did carry a few gels "just in case" - I never needed them.  I never once felt like I was lacking on energy or needed something more to power through.  The only things I consumed on the course was a sip of water and a sip of Powerade at each aid station.

After success with the half, I tested the product again for the full.  I, once again, had a bowl of oatmeal before leaving the resort around 2:30.  This time, I started drinking my UCan about 45 minutes prior to the start, finishing it about 15 minutes before the gun.  It really seemed to do me well.  I had a banana when they were offered at 11.5, and followed that up with a Hershey's kiss which someone had as we left Animal Kingdom somewhere around the halfway point.  At about 18, bananas were offered again, so I ate half of one.  I finally broke down and took a gel between 20 and 21 just to make sure I had enough energy to finish, though I'm not entirely sure I actually needed it.  Of course, I had to take the chocolate (Hershey's Dark was my choice) as we entered Hollywood Studios just before mile 23.

I was very happy with the Generation U Can product and look forward to using it on future distance runs and races.  It definitely beats having to carry gels.

The Remainder of the Disney Trip
The rest of our trip was great.  On Monday, we celebrated our way around Epcot's World Showcase with our Running of the Ears friends, eating and drinking our way through the countries.

After that things were pretty relaxed.  We met up with the Owner's Locker crowd Tuesday evening and had a blast talking to everyone while watching Illuminations.

Wednesday, we moved from the Treehouses to a studio at Saratoga Springs for the remainder of our trip.  Our favorite thing about staying there is the ability to walk to Downtown Disney for lunch or dinner at Earl of Sandwich.  (Our other favorite place to dine at Downtown Disney is The Hole in the Wall Bar between Raglan Road and Cookes of Dublin.)  We also went to check out the new Disney Vacation Club Welcome Home Wednesday event at the Atlantic Dance Hall on the Disney's Boardwalk.

Other than that, those last remaining days were just typical park days.  Friday morning, we got up and packed the car for the drive home, stopping first at Earl of Sandwich for lunch and then at Epcot to get treats for the family from the Werther's caramel store in Germany.  Friday afternoon/evening we drove from Disney up to Chattanooga where we had booked a hotel for the night.  Stopped at a Georgia winery just across the FL/GA border.  (We were sorely disappointed with their wines - everything smelled great, but they had no flavor at all.)  Saturday, we made the drive from Chattanooga back home - again stopping for a winery, this time in southern Illinois, called the Purple Toad Winery.  These wines were AWESOME!

All in all - it was a great trip.  I can't wait to get back to Disney again.  Our next schedule trip is for a pre and post-cruising on the Disney Cruise Line Fantasy in September, but we may head back down in late spring for a bonus vacation.  The next Disney race we will be down for will be the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November, as I'm currently a legacy runner in that one (the ONLY runDisney race I have legacy status at, having run all 3 thus far).  Thankfully, we'll get a taste of Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival at both the cruise trip and the W&D half trip, since that is our favorite of the Epcot festivals.

See you all next time!


  1. Great recap Stephanie! I love seeing everyone's photos and reading about how the experience turned out for them! WDW Marathon weekend was definitely amazing and the heat was just fine with me! :)

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