January 13, 2016

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Highlights

While a marathon recap will be forthcoming, sharing some of the fun from the weekend seemed like a good place to start.  After receiving an email from American Airlines with upgrades for my flights to Charlotte and Orlando, my trip was off to a great beginning. Everything went like clockwork and I arrived in Orlando ahead of schedule! The Magical Express ride to the recently renovated Polynesian Hotel was quick and my room was ready for my bags and me.

The updated Grand Ceremonial House and my room location for the weekend

I ate a quick lunch and then found Megan and Brent who would join me at the expo. We hurried over so we could catch the talk by Tara Gidus Collingwood, the runDisney nutritionist and Olympian, Paula Radcliffe, who also happens to have won 7 major marathon races, with 3 at NYC, 3 at London, and 1 in Chicago.  As such an accomplished runner, it would be great to hear her speak at the expo.  Both she and Tara gave some good nutrition and race day strategy advice as well as some fun little things about being mothers who run.  Tara gave us a laugh talking about her pre children PR's and post kid PR's and Paula was so proud of her daughter Isla who ran her first 5k on Thursday.


After this inspirational start to the weekend, it was time to get our packets, check out a few vendors and get off our feet.  In two days we would be running a marathon!

Bibs in hand, ready for Sunday! (photo courtesy of Megan)

Little did I realize this would be a hard fought medal
Saturday was probably my favorite day of the weekend because it included spectating the Donald Half Marathon and there is nothing in the world better than spectating a race except running one yourself.  I was tracking 6 runners on my phone and managed to see all but one of them.  Spectating next to the Polynesian just past mile 7 is a great spot since the runners seem to really love the encouragement and support with a long stretch of highway ahead of them.

First female on the left achieved an Olympic Qualifying time- very impressive
Two runners from my local running group were participating in the half and I knew Colin would be cruising through in the very first group of runners.  I yelled his name after spotting him and he was shocked to see me as a wide smile crossed his face.  He finished in 28th place overall and 4th in his age group.  Paula Radcliffe followed shortly behind Colin and soon packs of runners started coming through as daylight arrived.  Several other familiar faces came through and I handed out hugs to Tara, Danielle, Cyanne, and Natalie. This really put me in a great mood for my race Sunday but it was time to hydrate, eat, and rest before the Mickey Marathon.

Saturday night included a wonderful dinner in Epcot at Via Napoli with a group of seven.  Large pizzas and pasta were quickly devoured at our table with a lively conversation about what else but running and the race.  We left in a downpour, but not until we had gotten a photo of the girls under an umbrella next to the restaurant.

Courtesy of Megan
This weekend would have been perfect except for my race and injury. But as with every life situation, there was something to be learned from the experience. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts about the race and my unexpected injury.
(Pam)

29 comments:

  1. What a nice weekend so far! Looking forward to the rest, injury and all, but I hope you are feeling better, take care!

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    1. Thanks Maggie. Each day I am feeling better and all the support has been fabulous.

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  2. I'm glad you had a great time with friends and spectating the half is an amazing way to boost your runner spirits! Love the highlights!

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I absolutely love spectating races, only second to running one!

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  3. We stayed at the Polynesian when I ran WDW half in 2011! I also stayed there as a child, and it is a wonderful place.

    I'm so sad to hear that you were injured. Anxiously awaiting your race report...

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    1. We love the Poly, but honestly the new entrance was disappointing since there are no longer birds and all the foliage in the lobby. It's pretty but I liked the old lobby better.

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  4. Sounds like you had a great time watching the race and meeting up with friends, some of the best things to do on a race weekend! I am so excited to check out the Polynesian in February.
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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    1. You will love the Poly Karen. Being in the Niue building was great because it is right next door to the Grand Ceremonial House. Can't wait to follow along on Kaitlin's first trip to Disney World.

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  5. Oh... sad to hear about an unexpected injury :( I'm glad you managed to have fun before that though. Spectating the half sounds like it would have been great and I'm sure the runners appreciated it!

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    1. Thanks Chaitali. It was a fun weekend and I am looking at it much more fondly now that I am recovering well at home.

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  6. Out of all of the Disney hotels, the only ones I have never stayed at are Poly and Art of Animation! hopefully I will stay there soon.

    it looks like you had a great time with friends though!

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    1. I love the Poly and you will too Juliana. Unfortunately we do not change things up alot. While I have made many trips to WDW, the Poly, Beach Club, and Port Orleans Riverside are usually our hotel choices!

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  7. So jealous you got to meet Paula, I have always wanted to meet her. I ran a marathon she was also in once, and hoped to catch a glimpse of her (even though I knew I wouldn't) but of course no such luck. I've always admired her! She has a hilarious story about when she was pregnant with that same daughter who did the 5k, about how she was slowing down in a race because she was so pregnant and she was still passing all the men, of course slowing to her was like 7 min miles LOL anyhow they were all looking at her like, how is this fully pregnant lady passing us. It's a funny story and I love it!
    Looks like such a fun weekend. I was thinking about you guys as I started seeing the IG Disney pics come up.
    So sorry to hear about an injury though:(

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    1. Wow, that story about Paula is so funny. She flew by me when I was spectating and that was fun too. As a 44 year old female runner, she was near the front pack of runners, but her finish time was not published she I think she excluded herself from award consideration. (I don't know that for a fact, but somehow think that happened). After all, she has championship winning medals from Boston, NYC and London...she doesn't need a Disney award!

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  8. How was staying at The Poly versus staying at The Boardwalk during a race weekend? I stayed at Boadwalk for W&D and LOVED it. My mom wants to stay there again for marathon weekend 2017, but I wanted to maybe try somewhere else and I've never been to the Poly.

    Looks like you had a lovely start to the weekend!

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    1. Jamie, stay at the Poly next year. It is so convenient for marathon weekend with just a monorail stop away from Epcot and the race start. We love it for that particular race weekend, especially if we are doing a challenge with consecutive days or early morning wake up calls.

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    2. Is it just as enjoyable as staying at Boardwalk? Sorry to ask so many questions, I just want to make sure my mom will be happy there, too! Thanks!

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    3. I think the property is beautiful You don't have the convenience of walking to Epcot or HS, but I do like the laid back atmosphere, especially for a race weekend. I think both are great places to stay though. We stayed at the BW in November for our very short girls getaway to see the Osborne Lights one last time.

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    4. Thank you so much for the input, Pam!

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  9. I ran the marathon in 2014 and I loved spectating at the half! It was so fun to watch not only the leaders, but the wheelchair racers blew my mind! So much fun!

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    1. I forgot to mention the wheelchair racers, but yes, Nikki they are inspirational athletes.

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  10. Sounds like you had a fun weekend, minus the injury. Hope you feel better soon, Pam.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn, it was a wonderful weekend minus the race injury!

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  11. Sounds like a blast! I LOVE Via Napoli!!!

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    1. That was my first time at Via Napoli. I had been to the other restaurant in Italy so it was fun trying someplace new.

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  12. Usually on a post like this I can't wait to read more, and I do want to hear about it, but I'm sorry it's not good news!

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    1. Thanks Coco, life goes on and good medical treatment has me on the road to recovery.

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  13. So cool that you got to meet Paula Radcliffe! Such an inspiration! So sorry to hear about the injury!!!

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  14. So glad I spotted you on the course! Thanks for cheering!

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