Sunday, October 23, 2011

Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon - My First Ever! (Part 2)

I knew I would need walk breaks as I ran. It was how I was trained and I needed to stick to it. I just couldn't stand the thought of 3:1 intervals though! See? Stubborn! So I decided to walk when I felt I needed too and always at water stops. The nutritionist I listened to at the Expo, Tara Gidus, said to take Powerade at most stops. She's the nutritionist for the Orlando Magic, she must know what she's talking about! So I took Powerade and water at almost every stop. At about Mile 1, I saw the trucks go by with all of our bags. That was kinda funny! The first three miles are all highway to the Animal Kingdom. As we neared the park and turned in to the parking lot, the songs I had programmed for Animal Kingdom (Hakuna Matata, The Bare Necessities, etc.), began. It was exciting that, so far, the playlist was working! As we headed in thru the main entrance of Animal Kingdom, I ran past Jeff Galloway and his wife - they were walking. Once thru the turnstiles, we were greeted by a path lit up with animal tusks! I then rounded the corner to see the Tree of Life all lit up in the dark night sky. Animal Kingdom closes at dusk, so this was quite a sight to behold!
Blurry picture but you get the idea!

Tree of Life at Night
All throughout the park, cast members were posted clapping and cheering us on. My most favorite part of Animal Kingdom was rounding the bend and seeing Everest all lit up. It was absolutely breathtaking!

The first character stop for pictures was also in Animal Kingdom, but way in the back in DinoLand, USA. It was Pluto! I had to stop!

 Then it was out of the park and back on to Osceola Parkway for the journey to Hollywood Studios. My iPod continued to belt out tunes. For the highway run, I had a variety of tunes that were inspiring ("I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan) and fun ("Fabulous" from High School Musical). I hit Mile 7, the farthest race distance for me since June. This is where I also started to take photos of each Mile Marker sign. One thru six somehow just were not as important as 7 - 13!!

We headed up the biggest "hill" on the course to the encouragement of our very own drill sergeant from Toy Story. He said I was doing great multi-tasking as I ran and took his picture!
Then it was time to head in to Hollywood Studios. We ran up World Drive to the cast member entrance. The very same entrance I used to use when I worked at then Disney-MGM Studios way back in 1992. And miracle of ALL miracles, perfectly timed on my playlist, the Twilight Zone theme played in my years as I entered in the shadow of the Tower of Terror! I couldn't believe just how perfect it was! I yelled out an exuberant "YES!"

This was also Mile 9. My furthest race distance EVER was 9.3 miles in the Gate River Run. I was about to pass that! As I passed by the Tower, I headed to the Rockin' Rollercoaster with Aerosmith joining the party as "Dude Looks Like a Lady" played. I was grinning from ear to ear. We ran down Sunset Blvd. turning left onto Hollywood Blvd. and past the big Mickey hat. Next character stop, Buzz Lightyear!

I was now also past Mile 10 at this point. At about 10 1/2 my legs started to yell at me. I ignored them. I guess that was my "wall." We ran thru the back of the park and onto the Backlot where we ran thru the Costuming Tunnel. I had read that last year it was horribly hot in this spot. In perfect Disney form, they had fixed that this year by having fans on. Perfectly pleasant! I passed Mile 11 somewhere around here and had officially crossed into the point of longest distance EVER!! Then it was onto the set of Lights! Motor! Action! where I made sure to ham it up for the video camera!
The best picture of the night was also taken during my run thru Hollywood Studios. It was also the character stop with the longest line! I love this one!!!
I tried to look mean too, but couldn't stop giggling!
The race course then took me out of the park near the entrance. I ran right past my old store, Mickey's of Hollywood. I should have stopped for another picture but chose to keep running. I did get a little emotional at this point remembering my old life. We rounded the bend to the lagoon that separates Hollywood Studios from Epcot and onto the walkway that winds thru the Beach & Yacht Club hotels. Mile 12 was a tight walkway but I still managed to stop and take a quick pic! I was in amazement at this point. I was really doing this! I had run 12 miles and was almost finished!!!

"Go the Distance" from Hercules came on my iPod and it was hard not to tear up. The song fits me so well. As I got closer to Epcot, the "Entrance Melody" (yes, I actually have that on a CD - I am a total Disney nerd!) started to play. It seemed a little early but I also knew I was close. At that point I think I stopped really paying attention to the songs in my ears. I was so overcome with the fact that I was almost finished with my first Half Marathon! I was tired and my legs felt heavy and sore but I ran the entire last mile point one to that finish line. Cast members were EVERYWHERE at this point with funny, encouraging and crazy signs. The cheering crowds were amazing! I hit Mile 13...
Yes, a cornucopia of food, wine and celebrating was one tenth of a mile from me!!
As I ran towards the finish line, Disney was playing the theme from Rocky. Could there be any better song for what I had just accomplished? Nope. I don't think so!
Never been happier!!!

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