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By: Cruisin’ Diva

If you read my first article on how I even got to this point, then you’re all caught up! If not, please check it out here first. When I first began this journey, I ran at night, so the Wine and Dine Half Marathon was the first one I wanted to do from the very beginning. It changed to a morning race not long after I made that decision, which made many runners not happy at all, but it didn’t deter me from pursuing my dream. I’m not a morning person at all, much less a morning runner, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I have experienced a typical race morning, and they are very different from every other morning; endorphins and adrenaline are running rampant (with maybe a little bit of nausea). This trip was going to be very different from my previous vacations over the past 12 years as I would be traveling with my parents and not my husband and my children. As unfortunate as that was, we were able to plan the weekend around the races and things I absolutely wanted to experience, and to be there from Thursday, when the expo opened, through Sunday night, when the after party was, and leave on Monday morning.

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I knew I wanted to get to the expo on the first day because of the exclusive runDisney merchandise and exclusive runDisney New Balance shoes! I have admired these shoes from afar for so long and I wanted desperately to get my hands on a pair! After we checked into our hotel and had grabbed a bite to eat, I headed over to ESPN Wide World of Sports to packet pick up and check out the merchandise. Diva Tip: Always have your waiver printed before you get to the expo. There are only a select number of computers available to print them out and the line is usually extremely long.

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I walked up, picked up my bib and my shirts, and headed over to the vendor area of the expo. I was pleasantly surprised to see how uncrowded these areas were. From what I understand, first thing in the morning is absolutely craziness, so I am glad I waited until mid-afternoon to go. I headed through the expo to see some very cool vendors. Sweaty Bands (which I know Run Diva loves and I have used for the past two years), had some really cute headbands, but my first goal was to make it to the New Balance booth. I did, and luckily, had no line and no wait and what’s even more lucky, is that they had my size. I unfortunately have a huge, and wide, foot. I am not able to wear women’s shoes comfortably, if they even came in a size 12, so I usually stick to the men’s sizes. I was totally stoked to get the Mickey inspired running shoes, but had no idea if/when I was going to use them, but I had a pair and was totally stoked!! After walking around the rest of the expo, I found The Tube Wearable Waistband booth. I have been looking everywhere for a band that would hold everything I needed it to, from keys, to cards, to supplements and gels, and most importantly my iPhone 6s Plus. This was the answer to my prayers, as you’ll see in pictures later. I found some other interesting booths (I never made it back to Sweaty Bands), that I can’t wait to revisit in April at the Dark Side Challenge, but I was mainly focused on the runDisney merchandise. I went back into the runDisney official booth and began shopping. Here’s my haul below. The only downside about waiting until the afternoon to hit the expo is they might not have your size in the items that you want, but besides a tank top and a jacket that I saw, I was happy with my goodies.

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After leaving the expo, we had just enough time to make it to our dinner reservations at Trails End Restaurant, and I hate to tell you, that I was not impressed; review to come. We had all day Friday to relax and enjoy the day, so after doing some shopping in the morning, we headed over to Magic Kingdom to ride a few of our favorite rides, and then head to an early dinner reservation at Turf Club, located at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, which happened to be where we were staying. I took zero pictures, so I won’t be able to write a review, but I can tell you that it’s one of my favorites and it was fabulous! We had an early reservation because 3 am was going to come much sooner than I wanted it to. So after a fantastic dinner celebrating my sweet friends’ birthday and anniversary, on to bed I went, and I could hardly sleep. I could feel my heart pounding from excitement and just being nervous. I believe I woke up just about every hour until my alarm went off, but when it did, I was up and ready to get going.

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Since the first race was a 10K (6.2 miles), and started and ended at Epcot, I skipped out on riding the bus and had my parents drive me over. We were encouraged to be on the bus or on the way over around 4 am, so that’s what I did. Once I got to Epcot, the general atmosphere was intoxicating and electrifying. It was an overwhelming feeling of sheer joy and utter disbelief. I made it. After everything I had been through, I had overcome all the obstacles and made my dream a reality. I was there a good hour before the race even began, so instead of standing in line for characters (I know, I know), I had to go to the bathroom (even though I went back at the hotel, but nerves gets me everytime), and those lines were just as bad as Frozen Ever After!! I was in Corral B, so I didn’t want to be late to the gate! One thing I didn’t realize about Disney was that every corral get their own fireworks for the start line, which I thought was pretty awesome!

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10k-map

{Photo Courtesy of runDisney Event Guide}

Once my corral started, it was a slow start, and I knew it would take me a good bit to be able to even start passing people. I also knew that it was mostly highway, which I wasn’t look forward to, but I knew it wouldn’t be completely boring, and I was right! Running out of Epcot through the Epcot parking attendant booths, we ran for a little over a mile and then U-turned to head back around the Epcot Parking lot to enter Epcot through a back entrance in the World Showcase between Norway and Africa. I believe this is where I was able to take my first “character” shot. I didn’t take many character pictures during the 10K because I was afraid of how long the lines would take, but there was only one person waiting for this pic, so I went for it.

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There were many Cast Members cheering us along the way. We ran around the World Showcase, crossed the bridge at France, and exited Epcot through the World Showcase entrance and ran our way around the Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Here is where I actually found a friend of mine that volunteers at most, if not all, runDisney events! We actually used to work together and she has seen me transform through my entire journey! (Insert quick chat and taking of supplement-probably could have had a better time, but I was having fun seeing my friend!)

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We re-entered Epcot through another cast member entrance (Disney nerd inside me loves seeing places that many people don’t see) into United Kingdom (next to the red telephone boxes) and continued through the rest of the World Showcase and toward Spaceship Earth!! Oh, how beautiful that ball was!!!

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The entire time we were inside Epcot, Photopass Photographers were almost around every corner. Diva Tip: Get the Memory Maker and find all the green tents while you are running and run toward them!! All of my favorite photos were captured!

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As we ran past the Dancing Fountain, then Spaceship Earth, around the fountain at the Front Entrance of the park, I was so excited to be almost done and completely devastated to be almost done. I was having the time of my life running. I know how much of an oxymoron that is, but it’s true! I wasn’t running for a personal record, or even to run the entire race, I was running because I wanted to have fun and because I COULD! It’s not every day that you get to run around your favorite place in the world and get rewarded for it!

My only finish line pic from both races, and it’s epic!

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The fanfare at the finish line was phenomenal! Music is playing, fans and volunteers are cheering, and immediately, you are escorted to get water and sustenance, and of course, your medal!

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 You can skip the line for pics, but there was no way I was missing a picture with my first runDisney medal!

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Once you finish with pictures, you walk back to the area where you first arrived, and here are where the characters are. I only got one picture, with my medal, made with Remy and Emile from Ratatouille, and that was thanks to finding my friend after the run and her letting me get in line!

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Here is my actual live video and my reactions from the race!!

 

I will forever be grateful for Walt Disney and his dream. He told us to dream, and dream BIG. Although, I may not have always pursued my dreams, or at some times, believed they could ever become a reality, I never gave up on them once I did believe. Once I realized dreams do and can come true, I never quit, because it was never an option.

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If you are wanting to plan your vacation around a runDisney experience, please check out our travel agent, Patricia Payne from All Dreams Travel, and get a FREE quote! Make sure to check out our other runDisney event articles here, and how to get the coveted Coast to Coast medal, which is high on my bucket list! Stay tuned for Part 3, which is all about the Half Marathon!

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Kai and I live in Alabama with my husband, Joey and three beautiful boys. I work as a Work from home Mom and I love all things Disney! I've been going to Disney World my entire life. My husband was introduced to Disney through me and now has more knowledge than I do! We joined Disney Vacation Club on our honeymoon and we are so thankful we did. Our oldest sons love the Disney Channel (we do as well, shhh!) and collect every Disney movie possible. We try to go to WDW at least once a year and try to throw a Disney cruise in there somewhere as well. My dad is a retired cast member, so Disney is in my blood. I fear my passion for Disney is as huge as the love for my family!!! It's my second home!!