Now, when I saw we completed the half, we did just that-completed it. Did we run the entire 13.1 miles? No. Did we train like we should have? No. BUT, we did it, and while we finished in a little over 3 hours and in 19,420th place-Ha! . We finished it..... and we still beat out some 6,000 other participants. I tell you this to show you that anyone can complete a race if you put your mind to it. 5 years ago if you told me I would LOVE doing half marathons, I would've laughed in your face-but I really do love them.
Am I fast? No. Do I feel like I'm going to die as I cross the finish line? Absolutely. But, do I feel amazing afterwards? Yes! Yes! and Yes! Races really are an absolute blast- especially at fun places like Disney- AND you walk away feeling like superwoman. Seriously friends, sign up and do one- you'll be hooked!
Back in July, we decided to sign up for the race. Our minister at our church and his wife were planning on going down to do the half and full respectively and we decided it would be fun to complete it with them! Had we known the absolute nightmare that was going to plague us for months on end with getting our house complete and that I was going to end up in the ER 4 times over the next 4 months, we probably wouldn't have signed up to go, but alas, we were signed up and since the race is non-refundable, we decided that we simply had to go- sans training in all.
We flew down to Orlando on Thursday evening via my favorite cheap way to get to FL airline, Allegiant. I joke and call it Ghetto Air, but I really do love this budget airline. It has gotten me to and from FL 5 times in the past couple of years for less than $200 per flight. Every plane is large, the flights are direct and their prices are definitely unbeatable! Our flight left on time and 1:35 minutes later we touched down at Sanford's Airport (the smaller Orlando airport about 45 min drive to Disney). As we walked to baggage claim, we were greeted with a gorgeous sunset, warm weather, and palm trees. Bliss.
We headed over to the Alamo building to pick up our car that was booked for $13/ a day via Hotwire. Again, my absolute go to for renting a car- in fact, I NEVER rent a car any other way except through Hotwire. We booked a compact car, but were excited to learn that they were low on those, so we got a free upgrade to a mid-sized car, a Dodge Dart (excellent car-love it- would definitely consider buying one). Had we booked directly through Alamo, we would've paid at least $50 a day for the same car. We hooked up our GPS (we bring our own to save the extra $10 a day they charge to use theirs) and headed to our hotel.
|We LOVED our little "white stallion"|
Now, I would tell anyone going to Disney to stay on property if your sole plan for being in Orlando is to visit Disney. Their resorts are top notch-truly amazing, they offer free airport shuttles, you get your own entrance to the parks, extra park hours etc. It really is the way to go if you can afford it (and their budget level resorts are VERY affordable). However, if you are on a tight budget, or like us, had plans other than simply being at Disney, staying elsewhere works as well! Since we had to live at the Residence Inn all summer while our house was being completed, we racked up some serious frequent guest points (to read the benefits of signing up for frequent guests cards read HERE.) We had enough to cover our entire stay, plus some, so we decided to use those and stay for free!
We booked the Courtyard Mariott in Lake Bunea Vista Village and we were very happy with our location, room, and hotel pool. Our hotel was literally a 5 min drive from Downtown Disney and a 2 min drive to the outlets. We fell in love with the entire Mariott corporation this summer since they took such great care of us and this time, it was no different. In our "village" there were 3 Mariott hotels- a Courtyard, Fairfield and SpringHill suites. As a guest at one you had access to each hotel with your key card which allowed for visiting different pools, restaurants, etc. In typical "I'm getting ready to be a real official travel agent" fashion, we scoped out all the other hotels and they were all nice. The Courtyard had the best pool- very tropical resort feel, but the Springhill is all suites so it definitely had larger rooms and would be great for families.
|LOVE the new panoramic picture feature on the iPhone :)|
We dropped off our luggage, took a quick shower and headed out to Downtown Disney to meet our newly engaged friend, Tiffany, for dinner and wedding talk! I LOVED throwing on a strapless top and open toed shoes in January! We carb-loaded with pasta at Planet Hollywood (good food, but overpriced) and then enjoyed walking around Downtown Disney. We stayed for an hour or two and then went back to the hotel to prepare for our big day ahead- Animal Kingdom and the Race Expo!
|So excited for the bride to be!!!|
We woke up around 8 on Friday morning, headed to Chick-Fil-A for some chicken minis and a fruit cup (did you know that it's only 300 calories for a 3 count and a fruit cup?) and headed to Animal Kingdom. It was our first time at this park and thanks to the extra income from my second job as a Thirty-One Consultant, we were able to visit the park. Tickets to Disney parks are $89.00 a day for an adult, and while you can get discount tickets by going to time-share presentations and such, we decided to just pay at the gate. If you're going to be there for several days, you can get discount multi-day passes via AAA, but I highly discourage going through "ticket brokers" as they just cant be trusted. IF you buy tickets from a 3rd party, make sure they are licenced through Disney. The last thing you want to do is be stuck at the gate with a ticket that turns out to be void.
We parked at the park ($14), walked right up to the ticket window, purchased our tickets, and went through security. You can save money by parking for free at Downtown Disney, but you will have to ride the shuttle to a Disney Hotel, and then take that transportation to the parks. While this saves you from paying to park, it takes about an hour to bus and tram hop to the parks' entrances. However, it's a fun way to see the resorts if you're not in a rush and want to save the parking money.
Animal Kindgdom was not packed at all which means we didn't have to use the Fast Pass system or our trusty Disney Wait Times App (free found in the app store). Both of these are an absolute MUST if going to the parks when they are busy! Our favorite ride was Expedition Everest and we also enjoyed the Safari. I've been on an actual Safari in South Africa and Disney has done an excellent job of making this ride very true to Africa! A Bugs Life was fun (but could definitely be scary for kiddos) and the Finding Nemo puppet show was so unique!
We ate lunch in the park and for two of us, our bill was $20. While this wasn't bad, I can see how eating in the parks with a family of 4 or more over several days could really add up! BUT, Disney lets you bring in your own food and we saw lots of families eating picnic lunches. Plus, Disney will also give you free cups of ice water and/or hot water so you can mix up your own lemonade, coffee, etc. Disney also offers free dining plans on occasion (if you are staying at a Disney resort) which is an AWESOME deal!! Oh, Mickey, you're so kind!!!
At around 3 or 4 we needed to head to the race expo and since we had already hit up all the rides, we headed to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex for the expo......
Race Expo and Race Day coming in Part 2!!