When I signed up to run the Disney Princess half marathon in the middle of winter, I don’t think I realized just how badly I would need an escape from my first winter in Boone. I’d been uncomfortably cold for months. After six months of training, I was so ready for this race and for the four-day Disney vacation that came with it!
After waking up at 3:30am (let’s call this a practice wake up call for race day) and driving for 10 hours, we checked in to our hotel. The drive was long, but we didn’t mind. We love Florida. We miss Florida. Driving to Florida felt like a breath of fresh air and sunshine after being trapped in the mountains for nine months.
When we arrived at our hotel in Orlando, I was feeling good and confident. Our first stop was the expo where I collected my race bib, t-shirt, and picked up some running essentials and Run Disney merchandise! I had never been to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports before, so it was fun to see that venue.
…but my knee started to hurt after walking around the Expo and the hotel. I checked my phone and realized that I’d already walked several thousand steps and 6 flights of stairs… which is more than I’d been walking since my injury. The pain I was having was significant but not overbearing. I was mildly concerned, but it did not stop me from enjoying our night at DISNEY SPRINGS (formerly Downtown Disney), though.
We had a 8:30pm dinner reservation that we were both really excited about at an Irish-themed restaurant called Ragland Road. We were tired (we’d been up since 3:30am!), but happy to be there. Dinner was perfect! To start, our server brought us the most delicious soda bread. He said it made from Guinness beer and brown sugar, and we dipped it in a honey balsamic glaze. We devoured it. It was heavenly and exactly what I needed to feel good and awake again.
For dinner, Bret ordered the Shepard’s pie and said it was fantastic, and I had the Ragland Rosoto which was greener than I expected (I was happily surprised – lots of peas) and it tasted great with my pear cider.
The food was so, so good. And there was entertainment throughout the whole meal and I didn’t feel tired when we left… just cold. I forgot that Florida gets cold at night, too, so the walk back was chilly. But worth it!
My knee felt a lot better after a good night’s sleep, so I attempted a full park day as planned. Bret and I had an amazing morning together in Epcot. We both kept saying how good it felt to be ‘home’ and we enjoyed visiting The Land, the Nemo ride, and walking around the world showcase. In the afternoon, we connected with my friend Brandi and some fellow half-marathoners. We walked around world showcase and rode Spaceship Earth. Then, Bret and I had an amazing sushi dinner in Tokoyo! I was craving sushi and it was really good. We shared this platter and a piece of green tea cake for dessert!
Walking up the stairs to dinner was extremely painful and I was really worried about my knee at that point. Thankfully, Bret found the elevator so I didn’t have to walk DOWN two flights of stairs (walking downstairs hurts more than walking upstairs right now). I really wanted to ride Mission Space and watch the Illuminations show, but after dinner, we decided to go back to our hotel so I could ice my knee, and we committed to a full rest day on Saturday.
Our “rest day” didn’t disappoint. We spent the morning enjoying a fancy buffet breakfast and sitting outside of the Boardwalk soaking in the warm weather and scenic views. We decided to take a bus into Disney Springs for a couple hours, but we took it easy: we browsed the Christmas shop, sat at a little tea bar and drink some delicious tea, and shared a pretzel. Other than that, we spent the day lounging around our Caribbean Beach resort. My knee was feeling pretty good.
We had an early dinner at our resort, and I had all of my clothes laid out and was in bed by 7:30pm! One of the tips I have for long-distance races is to wear a FlipBelt or something that can hold your phone, ID, and anything else you need without bouncing around while you run. In my flipbelt, I had:
- Gu (think: chocolate pudding with amino acids)
- My cell phone (for pictures and to find Bret afterwards)
I may have forgotten my wallet and ID in the morning (oops!), but this wasn’t a problem. On the back of your race bib you write your name, allergies and medical info, as well as phone numbers for your emergency contact and doctor. And then I went to bed at 7:30. I knew I’d have trouble falling asleep that early so we brought the noise machine, I wore a sleep mask, and we listened to a podcast. Bret scratched my back. Magically, I was asleep before 9pm.
AND THEN IT WAS RACE DAY! I’ll share all of my race photos in my next post!