Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wine 'Em, Dine 'Em...

After returning from my first runDisney event, the Disney Princess Half Marathon, earlier this year, I couldn't wait to go back and experience it with my husband. He must have had a moment of weakness, because he actually agreed to do it with me! We signed up for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which was to take place during EPCOT's International Food and Wine Festival. One of the most inspiring things about the Princess half was just all the women who you probably wouldn't classify as "fit" out there walking the course and just doing something positive for their health. Adam's mom loves to travel (and would LOVE EPCOT), so we invited his parents to join us in joining us, walking the race if they wanted to. Much to our delight, they both signed up and booked their trip! 

Now, Adam's not a runner, but he is one of those people who picks everything up immediately. We wanted to provide a proof of time so we didn't get stuck in a corral with all walkers, but since he had never run a race before, the first order of business was to get him in a race. Hospital Hill was coming up, so he signed up and ran the 10k (the minimum distance required for valid proof of time). He ran it with no training at all, and ended up running under a 9-minute mile. Unfortunately, this may have made him a little cocky because I believe his exact words were, "I think I could go out and run 13 miles right now without a problem." Oh, how the mighty are humbled.

In July, Adam and I started our training plan. It was similar to the one I used for the Princess half. We ran 3 days a week, with 3-4 miles twice a week and then a long run on the weekend. On one of our first training runs together, as I put in my headphones, Adam said, "Oh, you're listening to music? I thought this was something we could do to talk and spend time together." He changed his mind after a couple days of running with no music. I love my husband, but I hate talking while I run. Fortunately, he learned pretty quickly that he felt the same.

Unfortunately, at Labor Day, we found out that Adam's parents were no longer going to join us for the trip. So, we changed all our dinner reservations (yes, you need these...well in advance if you don't want to eat dinner from a kiosk every night) for 2 and got ready to go! 

The best part about the Wine and Dine race is that yes, there's wining (not whining) and dining involved!   Since it feels less pathetic to drink at night, the race starts at 10pm, and it ends at EPCOT, where runners get their own finishers' party, complete with food and drinks from all over the world. We flew in on Friday night and just went straight to bed. On Saturday, we got up and went over to Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets. We stayed at had lunch and watched some college football games and then went back to the hotel to try to nap before the race. Adam was a nervous wreck...not because of the race, but because Nebraska was playing Wisconsin that night. Unfortunately, we weren't going to be able to watch it. We got on our shuttle at 7:45 and drove over to Wide World of Sports. This time the corrals were very close to where we were dropped off, so we didn't have to walk really at all, but the down side is that there wasn't much to do for the hour and a half we were stuck there before the race started. The line for pictures with Mickey and Minnie was absurdly long, so we walked around a bit and then sat down. The concrete wasn't that comfortable, so we had to get a little creative. 

Soon we got up to go to our corral (B...yay!!) and got ready to start the race. The fireworks went off, and soon so did we! I have to admit, compared to the Princess half, I was completely underwhelmed with the amount of entertainment along the course. We passed one band and the guys on stilts before making it to Animal Kingdom at mile 3. We spent miles 3-6 running around/through the park, but the course narrowed so much and was rather uneven through the park, which made it really difficult to do anything other than try not to get hurt. Probably because of the animals, the park was not lit much at all, so we really couldn't see much of it at all. I was honestly glad to get out of the park and back on the road. The road went back the same route as the first 3 miles, so we passed the band and stilt-men again, and then after a Clif shot (chocolate...yes!!) it was on to Hollywood Studios. We came in near the Aerosmith ride and then past Darth Vader himself! I got a little disoriented after that, but we remained in/around the park for quite a while. I got slightly distracted by the huge room where all the costumes are cleaned and tailored. Sequins and ruffles and colors, oh my! 

We had run the entire way, but at around mile 11, I started to get a little delirious. The darkness was making me feel claustrophobic, and I had a minor mental meltdown. Soon though, Adam leaned over and said "only 1.5 more miles" and that got me going. We picked up the pace and started passing people left and right. The last mile took us through I think the Boardwalk resort. It was really pretty, and there were a lot of people there to cheer us on. After what seemed like a lot more than a mile, we finally came around the corner to the finish line. Maybe it was the endorphins, but we win the cheese-ball award, as we crossed the finish line hand in hand. I was hoping for a 2:10, but we found out later that our time was close, but I'll take it! Based on our RunKeeper, we ran 13.4 miles anyway, so I'll call it a victory.

We ate all the snacks they provided and then changed clothes in these large changing tents. Oddly, after 13 miles, modesty heads right out the window. In dry clothes, we headed into EPCOT to redeem our drink vouchers. Unfortunately, that meant Bud or Bud Light...not a glass of wine like the name "Wine and Dine" would have implied. Not to be callous, but I think they sold too many spectator tickets for the finishers' party because it was pretty crowded. We started walking around World Showcase to pick out our dinner, but we got distracted when we came across Donald Duck in the Mexico pavilion. 

I don't think I ate enough during the day, and I was starting to feel really sick, so we left without actually eating anything (although Adam did have some sort of dark beer at the Germany pavilion). We made it back to the room and went to bed around 3:30. Adam is physically incapable of sleeping past 8am, so I was a little scared that he'd be crabby for our magical first full day at Disney, but somehow we both slept until noon. We grabbed lunch and then went back to EPCOT to relax and enjoy the festival. I had lunch at Singapore (beef rendang and rice...delicious!), and then we went on some rides. With FastPasses, we never waited more than 20 minutes for anything. For dinner, we had fish and chips with beer at England, and for desert, I went over to France and had creme broulee with a glass of merlot. Pure heaven!

We saw the fireworks show, which Adam said was the coolest thing he'd ever seen ("just wait until Magic Kingdom," I thought). Monday morning, we went to Animal Kingdom to see it in the daylight. My favorite part was the safari!

In the afternoon, we went over to Magic Kingdom. This was the only park where I was concerned that Adam would get impatient and grumpy, but all in all, he did pretty well. We went on Space Mountain and then to dinner. After dinner, we staked out a good spot for the fireworks show. I don't think Adam understood why we were there so early, but he found out soon as the crowd really started to grow.

If you haven't seen the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, it's an absolute must-do, along with the show right before it, "The Magic, The Memories, and You." There are no words! The park was open late, so we went on the rest of the rides after the fireworks. I have to admit that Splash Mountain made me very nervous, but it was kind of cool in the dark. I was SO excited to have Adam go to the Haunted Mansion. **SPOILER ALERT** At the climax of the pre-ride section when the lights go completely out, some woman had her cell phone on and was COMPLETELY oblivious to the fact that she ruined that moment.

Since I'm ob-sessed with the Grand Floridian but didn't have the $500/night required to actually stay there, we booked breakfast reservations there on Tuesday morning. It was a beautiful day, so we walked around the property for a while and then hopped on the ferry.

We spent a few hours at Hollywood Studios, and just my luck...Adam's favorite ride was the Tower of Terror - the only ride that truly scares the bejeezus out of me! And even worse, the wait was only 5 minutes, so we went on it at least 3 times. Here we are in the little room where you watch the Twilight Zone clip.

The Muppet 3-D movie was more my speed.

Finally after a long few days of Disney, we took a bottle of wine to the hotel room and relaxed a bit before dinner. We took the water taxi to Downtown Disney, where we had dinner at Paradiso 37 and put down another bottle of wine, completing the "Wine and Dine" weekend in style! 

Adam and I get so busy during the year that it was really great to spend a few days together. Even after all the running, stroller dodging, line-waiting, shuttle-riding, and riding "It's a Small World," we had an amazing time. But, I think we'll hold off on going back to Disney until we have kids...who are old enough to not need a stroller. 

For those of you considering any kind of a race (5k up to full marathon), I highly recommend considering a runDisney event. They put the same thought and detail into organizing these races as they do into everything else they do. Even if you've never been a runner, take some time and make your health a priority. Remember that the journey of 1,000 miles (or even just 3.1) begins with a single step!

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