Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Monday - Why Don't We Go On A Cruise?!

With Sam's and Adam's arrival at Disney World, the family was almost complete - Mathieu had to stay behind to start classes. We were all together (almost) for Part Deux of this vacation - Lindley's 5th Birthday Disney Cruise!!  We had originally booked this cruise about a year ago, and had planned it for last Thanksgiving. But things didn't work out, so we changed it for the week of Lindley's birthday, which was certainly okay by her!

So around 9am we all assembled in front of Boardwalk to wait for our van to take us to the port.  Lynnette and Molly had regained use of their legs after their trek yesterday, so it looked like we were all good to go. We had an uneventful trip to the port, checked in with little effort, and sat down to wait to board the ship. Which we soon did. We ate lunch (coincidentally our lunch server would end up being our dining server for the week) and then everyone went their separate ways to do whatever they wished - play, nap, unpack, whatevs.

This cruise goes to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay and is only four days long. But it will be a fun rest from the weekend. Bon Voyage!! (to me, anyway!)
Today is a gift because: great van and driver to port (although the a/c was on overdrive); getting our key cards fixed; great concierge team members; rooms ready early; meeting our serving team

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Marathon Sunday - For Some, Anyway

Nope, I am not doing this race. Been there, done that, no plans for a repeat. Nevertheless, there are those that I love who are doing this, and so I will participate - as race support. And that's where our story begins ...

Lynnette and Molly are doing this 26.2 miles of madness. The plan is for me to meet them at certain pre-arranged spots to provide things like chips, snacks, and drinks if needed. And to provide encouragement if needed. Of course, if I am to do this to the best of my abilities, I must go with the troops, even if it means getting up at the even earlier hour of buttiest-crack-o-dawn. And so I did.

I think we met in the lobby at 3:45am to catch the 4am bus. Lynnette and Molly were in their race attire, complete with sock gloves (we got a value pack) and I was in my warmish clothes and my bag-o-goodies. We boarded the bus and headed to the start line at Epcot. Lynnette and Molly headed to the start corrals and I headed to the monorail to get to my first stop - Mile 4 at the ticket center at the Magic Kingdom.

I arrived at my location about two eons before they (or any other runners) would be there. I had gotten warm on the bus to Epcot, but it wasn't long before I was cold again, waiting outside. I met new friends and we chatted while waiting for the race to start. I even saw Volunteer Aisling in her volunteer position across the way!! Eventually the race started. First the wheelchair races came by and in a bit were followed by the lead runners. It's amazing how fast they go, and look like they're just taking a stroll in the park!

Soon, as I was cheering runners along, I see Lynnette. She sees me and makes her obvious victory pictorial, and then starts yelling, "Applesauce!" Of course, I am trying to make sense of this, wondering if (a) it's some sort of code that I don't understand because I missed a planning meeting, or (b) Lynnette has already gone crazy at mile 4, or (c) she is saying words that neither of us understand. One reason I am so confused is because this is Mile 4 - nobody was supposed to need anything at Mile 4!! Anyhow, at some point, I regain some brain cells and realize that she wants a pouch of applesauce that I have in my bag-o-goodies (because she had somehow dropped her somewhere in the previous four miles). I rummage around, find the desired applesauce, and off she goes.

Next came Molly, whom I almost missed. Luckily she shouted and waved and I caught a picture of her as she zoomed past. Luckily she didn't (a) lose her applesauce (mainly because she didn't pack any), (b) and didn't need anything from my bag.

My next planned stop would be in front of the Polynesian Resort, seemingly a short walk from my present station. However, once I started on this "short" walk, it kept getting longer and longer until I decided that I needed to skip this stop so I could get to the next stop - Animal Kingdom. I texted the girls that I would be skipping this one, just in case they read their messages, so that they would not be looking for me.

A bus was at the ticket center that went directly to the Animal Kingdom, so I boarded it with other spectators and off we went. I arrived in plenty of time to see Lynnette (this was just after mile 13), who needed pretzels. I had just enough time to go into the park to get more pretzels in case Molly needed them and then see Molly (but forgot to take a picture).

My next stop was supposed to be the Wide World of Sports, but after an everlasting wait for a bus and then an even longer everlasting bus ride, I decided to head for Hollywood Studios (and texted the girls of my plans). I ended up at Mile 23, right as they entered the back of the park.

First came Lynnette, which gave me time to call Maribeth to get Lindley, Everley, and Steve on the Boardwalk to cheer Lynnette on. And guess who was the biggest cheerleader of all?!

It wasn't long before Molly arrived at Mile 23, and I had just enough time to catch a bus to the finish line so I could see her finish (helped by her stop in France for a glass of vino with Katie, also not doing this race). I got a stranger to yell her name, which sort of startled her, but kept her going to the finish. And finish she did, all 48.6 miles of the Dopey Challenge this weekend.

So in the end, everyone completed their agenda. Some ran, some walked, some sat. It was a good day!!

Today is a gift because: Molly and Lynnette finishing the marathon; chatting with fellow spectators/supporters; seeing Aisling at Mile 4; Steve and Adam arriving at Boardwalk

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Woo Hoo! It's Saturday!!

It's just amazing, isn't it, how sometimes days just seem to fly by! Anyhoo, in case you've missed it, today is half-marathon Saturday!!

For today's race, it's Steve, Molly, Katie, and me. Since Steve is participating, we were able to take the car. The fun part was that we had to walk past a very long line of runners waiting for the bus to the start of the race. Several gave us the stink-eye, perhaps thinking that we were headed in front of them to break line. But no, we were just headed to our car! That was the easy part. Once we got in the car, we got into race traffic, which moved at a snail's pace - sort of like I do in races. We plodded along (again, like I do in races) until finally reaching Epcot and the parking lot.

Once there, we sat a bit before going to our corrals. Then once we got into our corrals, we sat a bit more until our corral was eventually called and off we were! Today was still a little cool, and we shared our fancy sock gloves with Katie. And yet there were still the fast runners with their itsy bitsy race clothes!

Once we started, Steve, Katie and Molly headed off. I kept my usual pace - slow - and eased up a bit as the miles wore on.  There are many special moments in a Disney race. There are those moments when you meet certain mile markers (for me, it's sort of like every one), there are those moments when you know you're headed home (when you round the bend and pass the Grand Floridian), and there are those moments when you know you're going to make it (Mile 12 when you're headed into Epcot). And then there are those unexpected moments, like the one I had today. Here's how it went ...

Just after you pass the Contemporary Resort, you pass Mile Marker 5.  You make a sharp left and head into the back/cast member entrance to the Magic Kingdom. You're actually backstage until you enter the park right between Tony's Town Square and the hat shop. As I as wogging along in the backstage area, I happen to pass a lady who was looking up and around with a huge smile on her face. I heard her say, "This is my first time here." I wasn't sure if she meant her first time ever, or just her first race, but I could fully appreciate her joy and sense of wonder. I said to her, "Just wait until we get into the park and make that first right turn." I knew that the castle would still be lit up and that the view was amazing. I then said to her, "There are volunteers all around - be sure to stop and get your picture!" We got separted with the narrowed course and many runners, but I saw her again one last time. She had indeed stopped to ask a volunteer for a photo - truly one she will never forget.

And that's why I do Disney races. I try to ignore the haters who think we woggers are pond scum and somehow demean their own personal runs. I try to forgive the runners who want to shove past me without a word. Instead I cherish those moments when I see a first-time racer who is so excited to be here and so excited to finish and receive that medal. I cherish it because I know how they feel - I still feel it every time I lace up my shoes and head to the start line!
Today is a gift because: starting and finishing the half; first-time lady at MK

Friday, January 9, 2015

And Now It's Friday!!

Today's race? The 10K, of course! Our race friend Katie and her mom got into town yesterday, so Katie joined us for this race. Nancy (Katie's mom) will hopefully be in her cheering position on the Boardwalk (she was).

While today wasn't as chilly and windy as yesterday, it was still pretty cold. We huddled together waiting for the start (since Steve needed the car for work this morning, we had to bus it with the rest of the crowd). It was amazing to see runners (and I mean real runners) in their shorts and singlets. And goose bumps and shivers. Nevertheless, eventually our corral was called and off we went.

And of course, Katie and Molly took off and I didn't see sight of them after Mile 1. Eventually I rounded Epcot and through the Boardwalk, and saw Nancy, who told me that Katie and Molly weren't "that much" ahead of me. Wasn't she sweet to say that? No matter, eventually I ended up at the finish, and guess who was giving out medals - Aisling, of course!! It's always so fun to see her, although I'm not sure if she was trying to strangle me or eat my medal .. Molly and Katie waited for me at the finish line, so we all got on the bus together and headed back to our hotels.

Molly and I showered and changed clothes and met Lindley and Lynnette for a ride to the MK to get to the Grand Floridian. They had a date there to go the the Princess Tea Party. Molly and I were going to spy on them until they actually got into the tea party, which we did. Of course Lindley was adorable in her Merida outfit, and it looks like the tea party was a success. Once Lindley and Lynnette left us, Molly and I headed for the Magic Kingdom to join Nancy and Katie for some roast beef mac and cheese (and yes, it's just as tasty as it sounds). I'm sure it's not as fancy as tea and crumpets with Sleeping Beauty, but we forgot our ball gowns anyway.

Once we were done with the MK, we headed back to our hotel. Tonight Maribeth and Everley arrive. And some of us have a half-marathon tomorrow. That begins at 5:30am. Oh well, at least I carbo-loaded with mac and cheese!
Today was a gift because: 10K with Katie and Molly (sort of) and seeing Nancy on the course; watching Lindley and the other princesses at the tea; Maribeth and Everley's arrival

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Moving Right Along ...

Today was the 5K. And it was soooo cold!  Especially for Orlando, and for those of us who were not prepared for the cold. Yesterday Steve and Molly made a Wal-Mart run and bought tube socks for us to wear on our hands (apparently gloves were nonexistent). Molly and I were so grateful for those socks, as the temperature was in the 30s and the winds were blowing like crazy!

Molly and I drove to the start, so we were able to stay in the car for an extra 30 minutes before heading to the corrals. It was sort of a madhouse, as everyone was cold and huddling together. We managed to get into our corral just as the dude was beginning the national anthem. Since we were in Corral E, we had time before we started and had a fun conversation with some lady who was wearing the same Alaska Disney Cruise jacket that I was. Except that I had actually gone on the cruise and she had bought hers at the Disney outlet.

Anyhow, finally it was our corral's turn, and as we headed to the start line, who did I see but my friend Aisling. Of course, we were both too cold to do anything but yell a "Hiya!" and keep moving before our extremities turned to ice. The really fun part was that the course passed the stop for the buses, and of course there were several runners there waiting for their hotel bus - runners who had already finished the race, and we weren't even at Mile 1!!  I guess there's a penalty for being fast!!

Eventually we finished and headed back to the car which would take us back to the hotel for a warm shower and a nap. Lynnette and Lindley will be arriving this afternoon, so we certainly want to be ready for them! Oh yeah, and there's that 10K tomorrow ...
Today is a gift because: Doing with 5K in the freezing weather with Molly; seeing Aisling at the start; Lindley and Lynnette's arrival at Disney