So, I bit the bullet and was determined to do the Coast to Coast Challenge, which is completed when you do one race Disney race in Florida at Walt Disney World and one race at Disneyland in California - all in one calendar year. My race choices were the Princess and Tinkerbell Half Marathons.
Despite my girlfriends expressing some excitement and interest in this trip, it was strictly solo for me which was exciting and a little scary at the same time (hubs would have loved to go except he couldn't dodge his crazy work schedule).
In summary, my itinerary was as follows: EARLY Saturday morning flight to Orlando, go to Expo, explore some, rest, EARLY race on Sunday, eat, nap, explore on Monday, fly home, go to work the next day.
Saturday - The Expo and my first glimpse of Walt Disney World
Part of staying at a Disney resort was the Magical Express shuttle, which picked me up directly from Orlando and took me to my hotel. There was some maneuvering involved between the terminals but I quickly found my way to the shuttle line where I waited for only 10 minutes.
Hopping on the coach bus, our driver welcomed all of us to Walt Disney World, turned on an intro film and we got going. Some folks began a series of Disney sing-a-longs and before we knew it, I was at the Pop Century Hotel.
I quickly got into the check-in line (as I had only a backpack) and receive a plethora of information, including a magic wristband with my name on it (I didn't know about this so I was dorking out pretty bad). By chance, my room was available early so I was fortunate to be able to check in, drop off some stuff and head over to the expo.
The expo was at the ESPN World Wide of Sports complex and for those of you who don't know, requires a shuttle bus to get to. The wonderful thing about my hotel is that the shuttle buses are right outside; I seldom waited more than 10 minutes for a bus so it was pretty fantastic and convenient.
Arriving at the expo, I went into the line (waiver pre-printed and in hand) and received my bib in less than 10 minutes, which include my bib, a gear check bag sticker and the official event guide. There was a small merchandise tent but arriving on Saturday meant that everything was pretty much gone. I quickly gazed over the empty racks and made my way to the "real" expo, which was just a building down.
You receive your shirt and clear bag at the actual expo. They have a t-shirt exchange table, too, which was nice. I wandered around and fulfilled my guilty pleasure of picking up freebies (hair ties, nuun samples, bananas, KT taping, etc). After hanging around for about 1-2 hours, I decided it was time for lunch and a little downtime back at the hotel.
For dinner, I caught a shuttle to Downtown Disney (which has no entry fee). I had a pasta dinner down there and quickly retired to my hotel for the night.
Sunday - The Day of the Race
I got up at 2:45am with a goal to get out the door by 3:20am. It wasn't as hard as I thought; I mindlessly put on all my gear, put a tiara on my head, pinned my bib up and was out the door. The shuttle line was very long (200-300 people when I came out) but buses were coming every few minutes so the wait was not long at all.
I'm trying reallllly hard to smile in this photo
Epcot was glowing purple when we arrived and everyone was starting to get excited. Disney was not kidding about the walk to the corrals; it was just over a mile long! I got there right before the corrals closed but had to wait 30 minutes for the race to start, plus another 30 minutes for my corral to get going. But all par for the course.
Fireworks went off for each corral(!) and then we were off! Though I could relate to complaints of "empty patches" along the race course, entertainment was plentiful and there was something going on at least every 0.5-1 miles (character photo ops, aid stations, marching bands, etc).
The first 7 miles of the race seemed to go by seamlessly but as soon as we left Cinderella's castle, the energy dropped significantly. Many runners at this point were walking and the direct sunlight was taking its toll. But 8 miles became 9 miles, which quickly became 10, 11...12... and suddenly 13!
The post-party seemed pretty straightforward and easy to me. I grabbed my bag, medal, and goodies before heading over to the massage tent (which I highly recommend). After hanging out for an hour, I hopped on my shuttle, returned to the hotel, showered and napped.
The Rest of My Trip
A perk of running the race is the "Happily Ever After" party in Downtown Disney. Though it wasn't exactly a real party, most of the stores were giving away free items or offering discounts for those who ran the race. So with that in mind....
Yea, I've got no shame.
Part 1 of the challenge complete!