Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2015

I have been wanting to do Wine and Dine half for years. The timing has just never been right to do it. Typically, some other Disney race has been too close to W&D to be able to travel to both. I finally got to run it this year and it was quite an adventure. Lots and lots of words and pictures ahead. You've been warned.

That glass of champagne is almost big enough for me.

If you've been to a runDisney event at WDW, then you already know the ins and outs of the expo, so I won't go into too much detail about that, except to share this picture of me in front of my favorite beverage and to whine about one annoying change in the pick up procedure

My only complaint about the Wine & Dine expo was the change they made for picking up the commemorative items, like pins and necklaces. After you picked up your packet, you had to stand in an additional line to pick up the pins. I think we waited in that line for over an hour. I was seriously peeved after that. I'd been having issues with my lower back and standing around like that was really irritating- to my mood and my back. If I hadn't already paid for the pins, there's a good chance I would have said f**k it.


Anyway, I walked the 5K with my mom that morning and we had already been park hopping Thursday, Friday and Saturday (including a trip to Universal Studios), so my legs were already tired and all of the standing around in lines really made my lower back sore. So I went into this half marathon with a genuine concern for a DNF for the first time in my racing history. Well, I was a little worried during my first half about being swept, but since then, the only time I thought maybe I would DNF was during the 2014 NYC Marathon when I ran with an injured knee. Well, it turned out that the weather was going to help me out of my predicament.

I met some friends at the corrals- Abby, Emily, Sarah, Pam and Michelle. I knew there was no way a PR or even any sort of respectable time was in the cards, so I decided to have fun and take pictures with my friends rather than run hard. Sarah and Michelle were using this race as a training run for another race, so my plan was to stick with Abby, Emily and Pam and have fun. I've run a few races with these girls before, and we always have a blast.

As we were checking our bags and getting ready to head to the corrals, the wind picked up. There had been lightening off in the distance, but considering the fact that it poured down rain during last year's race, it didn't occur to me that there might be any sort of rain or weather delay.

This is what the staging area looks like after an evacuation.

The DJ's music suddenly stopped and they announced that we would need to make our way to the ESPN buildings and "not to be alarmed" which just seemed weird, considering it didn't seem that stormy out.

Look! A herd of runners stampeding towards the ESPN complex!


I have to hand it to runDisney- they handle things better than most events. Herding thousands of runners into two buildings and the baseball stands for cover is no easy feat.

Not ideal if you are claustrophobic...

It was taking so long just to get everyone inside the buildings that we attempted to stay outside, along with a large number of other people. It was a perfect time for some selfies.



Finally, we were forced inside. Disney takes safety really seriously. I still didn't understand what all the fuss was about at that point. Living in Arizona, we have spectacular lightning storms and this didn't even come close to what we have here. But then I found out that that particular county has one of the highest air to ground lightning strike rates in the country. I also found out later via social media, that the first water stop was completely destroyed by the wind and that the volunteer crew couldn't get everything back up in time for the runners.

Where's Waldo?


As much as sitting around, waiting to start a race with an already late start time, was annoying a bunch of people, this is why people like Disney. They make safety a huge priority. At this point, we had no idea if they were even going to have the race or if it would be cancelled. I was having flashbacks to the 2012 NYC marathon when I heard the news of the race being cancelled via social media while en route to the expo.

Text from a friend sitting up in the stands...


Truth be told, I would have been disappointed if I didn't get to experience W&D after all these years, but it wouldn't have been as disappointing as training all those months in extreme Phoenix heat for NYC only to have it cancelled.

They finally released us to the corrals and as we were making our way to there, it was announced that a significant portion of the course would be cut. At that point, we weren't exactly sure just how much would be cut, but we guessed we would still we running about 10 miles.


In a weird way, it was kind of exciting. I mean, everyone was chatting with strangers and this was an unprecedented move by runDisney. Personally, I was thrilled that the race course had been cut. I was tired and my back hurt. I did feel bad for several people that we talked to that were supposed to run their first half marathon that night. What a bummer.


And we were off. We saw the first mile marker and the first aid station. Apparently, the original course (I was unfamiliar with this course since the Donald and Princess Half marathons have a different course) goes through Animal Kingdom first and that was completely cut out. The next mile marker we saw was mile 8.

Why does it look like I'm groping Emily?


Some Country Bear action.
Wow, I'm am short.


Basically, we shuffled along for the entire race. We took a bunch of pictures with characters. I was really excited to finally see the Osborne Lights. I had never seen them, so when we hit that portion of the course, we were basically tourists just snapping pictures. I think that alone added a good 20 minutes to our time.


And then we were close to being done. I was grateful for the shortened course, honestly. My back was killing me and my feet hurt. We saw the mile 13 marker and we were almost done.


Mickey was at the finish line, so I definitely needed a picture. I don't usually stop right before the finish line, but why not, right? This race was already way out of the norm, so I needed a Mickey picture.


The official course measurement ended up being 6.72 miles. They announced it at some point, maybe as we crossed the finish line?

We dragged ourselves over to get some ice and then picked up our checked bags. I missed the free wine tent (sniff, sniff) as we headed to Epcot for the after party. Now since I've never done W&D before, I have no idea if it is normally as insanely crowded as it was this year or if it was jam packed because the race was shortened and more people finished earlier than usual. Whatever the reason, it was crazy packed. We made our way to a real bathroom and changed into dry clothes.

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures during the after party, which is a bummer. We all met back up again after wandering around, trying to find a food line that wasn't a mile long. Finally, I noticed that the restaurant in the American pavilion was open and relatively unnoticed by the mob, so rather than enjoying something from one of the kiosks of the Food and Wine Festival, we had regular burgers, fries, chicken tenders, etc. I was starving so I didn't care.

The after party lasted until 4am and we shut the place down. My mom and I were staying at the Boardwalk, so I could walk there from Epcot. I said my goodbyes to Abby and Pam, which was sad because I never see those girls except at races. But I also decided to register for Tinkerbell that night because then we could have a reunion and Tink wasn't yet sold out.


Since this post is already way longer than anyone is probably interested in reading, I'll wrap it up and save the rest of my Wine and Dine 2015 musings for another post.

All in all, it was a fun and interesting time. Who else ran the Inaugural Wine and Dine 6.72 miler?



Monday, December 28, 2015

Jingle Jungle 5K 2015

Of all the Disney races I have run, this is only my second Disney 5K. I'll be honest- I'm really not a fan of the runDisney 5Ks. They always seem disorganized and crowded. Plus, it's typically impossible to actually run them. But to be fair, I'm not a fan of the 5K race distance in general.


The reason I signed up was for this particular 5K is that a couple of years ago, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She had been bugging me to go on another Disney vacation (the last one we did together was the Disneyland Half in 2012 and my mom, my sister and I did the 5K and I did the half) and so I told her when she was done with all of the treatments, we would go and I would walk the 5K with her. She is now in remission, so coming to WDW for a racecation was a planned celebratory trip.


I enjoyed spending time with my mom, so I'm glad we signed up. We waved to Mickey and Minnie on our way across the start. I suggested to my mom that we dress like Minnie and she was so excited to wear a costume. It was cute.



Animal Kingdom has a lot of construction going on, so many attractions are behind walls. AK is not really my favorite park, so I was excited to see the beginnings of the new Avatar land going up. I also got nostalgic with memories of the WDW marathon (my first marathon 2013) when Everest came into view.


It seems like every time I race at WDW, there's record breaking heat. This time was no different. It was so humid and toasty. It even looks hot in this picture.


I would be running the half marathon that night, so I was a little concerned about walking so much that morning. My legs and feet actually bother me more when I walk long distances than when I run and by the third mile, I was definitely ready to be done.


After the 5K was over, my mom and I made a bee line for the park to ride the Kilimanjaro Safari. Then we rode Dinosaur! and decided to fuel up.

And this guy is cute.


We headed to Rainforest Cafe for some breakfast and coffee. I've only run one other night time half (RnR Las Vegas) and that one started around 5pm, so I really wasn't sure how to fuel before a 10pm race. I figured my biggest meal should be breakfast and then I'd have small snacks after that.


So even though I don't love 5Ks, the Disney 5Ks are a really good way to include family members in the runDisney experience. My mom will never be a runner but she loves the hoopla of going to the expo and getting her number. She loves her little rubber medal and race pin. So that makes me happy to do it with her.

Am I the only one that loves (for the most part) runDisney but doesn't typically enjoy their 5Ks?


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

December is always a really crazy month for me. Our biggest event at work takes place the first weekend in December every year. There's a huge conference and trade show where we write a ton of deals. By the time we get through all of that and all the paperwork is submitted, suddenly Christmas is only a week away and I'm drained and exhausted and not at all prepared for the holidays. That sort of takes the fun out of Christmas for me.


Because everything is so rushed, I feel like I don't get to just relax and enjoy the holiday. I'm scrambling to get presents together and wrapped. I still have to work and take care of my horse. This year, I tried to really enjoy the holiday and the few extra days off of work.

On Christmas Eve, most of my barn mates got together and dressed up the horses for a Christmas picture. Louie looks seriously adorable in his reindeer gear, doesn't he?

The cutest


My trainer, Kristy, and me


Me and Kelly discussing something important. Like if we should have mimosas that early.

That night, I spent Christmas Eve at my mom's house with my aunt, sister and brother in law and their two kids. My niece is going on 3 and she likes to help me pass out presents.

How appropriate

My dad and step mom went on vacation for Christmas and my sister was going over to her in laws on Christmas Day, so my mom and I went to see Star Wars. The theater I like going to is awesome because you can buy assigned seats in advance and they serve full meals and have a full bar. I know there's lots of theaters like that now, but what I like about this one is that the ticket prices are the same as a regular theater. They don't have the lounge chair type seats, but the seats are comfy enough.

For Star Wars, they had a special menu and special drinks. How fun is that?


I really enjoyed Star Wars. I'm not a super fan, so I don't know every detail of the Star Wars mythology, but I am a nerd, so I loved it. Even non fans could enjoy it as long as they appreciate some aspect of sci-fi. It was certainly an enjoyable way to spend Christmas that didn't involve running all over to various houses.


Then last night, we had a girls night out to celebrate my friend, Kelly's, birthday. We went to a new restaurant called Buck & Rider, which is totally appropriate for a bunch of horsey girls.

Me, Kelly, Kristy and Katie



So basically, my entire weekend (and pretty much entire December) was filled with eating and drinking. This morning, I saw a post in my Facebook feed about a challenge to run 1000 miles in 2016... I'm considering it. I turn 40 (YIKES) in 2016 and while I'm living a happy and fun life, I could certainly make a few changes to have a healthier one, too.

Blogging really does help motivate me, so I'm trying to catch up on that. I have the Jingle Jungle 5K recap done and I'm working on the half (well, half of a half as it turned out) recap, so those should be up soon.

Did everyone have a good holiday?



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

In A Nutshell...

Wow, my last blog post was October 8th. I guess that means keeping up with my blog should be a New Year's Resolution, right?


Life has been insanely busy. I mean, I'm always busy but lately, it has been more insane than usual. I still have my Wine and Dine recaps to do and all sorts whining about how I'm not heading to WDW for Marathon Weekend, which I have decided is one of my favorite race weekends. I better add that race weekend to my calendar for 2017.


So here's what I've been up to, in a nutshell.

The first thing that happened was the Dressage Regional Championships. I had been training with Regionals in mind for months. Sadly, the championship did not go so well, but I did win a regular class, so that was good.

The next weekend, I went with a group of friends to Las Vegas. And yeah, we saw Britney Spears in concert. And it was super fun. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Oh, Britney.


Then my mom and I headed to Orlando for Wine and Dine race weekend. At some point, I'll get my act together and recap it, but right now...baby steps.

You'd have to have been living under a rock in the runDisney community of you haven't heard how that race went down. Still a great trip was had by my mom and myself. She's already begging me to go back and who am I to say no?


I came home from Florida and we had our Arizona Dressage State Championships. And that championship also did not go well. This is becoming a theme. I did, however, get my highest score I've ever gotten in a regular class and I won it, so the weekend was still successful.

How cute is this horse?!


Then I was back in Vegas for a work conference. This happens to be the biggest time of year for the equine pharmaceutical market, so work has been stressful. Luckily, I got to spend time with some fun clients and that was a blast.

The view from the top of Mandalay.

All that took place in two and half months. Whew. I'm seriously exhausted. Things will be back to normal soon...just in time for New Year's and all of the resolutions I'll be making that I will most likely break.