Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The WDW Marathon

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

Believe it or not, my morale the morning of the marathon was infinitely higher than before the half marathon. The great sage Nicole had told me many months ago that once the marathon rolled around, you were just ready to finish this thing, and she was so right.

And so I popped out of bed, dressed, and prepped with a comparatively light heart. Originally I had planned to drag Pat out with me for the marathon, but he had unexpectedly been saddled with a giant project at work. I determined that he should sleep in and work on that in the morning in favor of watching the parade and fireworks that night. It's all about priorities. He would come out to see me run later in the race.

The line for the buses was unexpectedly long (the past three mornings I had boarded a bus immediately or almost immediately). It stretched out far behind me, but I luckily had come early enough that I didn't have to wait too long. The traffic was definitely worse, though - I guess because more roads were blocked? - and by the time I had hit the port-o-potties and walked to the corrals the national anthem was already in the air.



After some furious texting I found KRaut and KVac by our usual marker, the man with the giant brown Afro wig. As with the half, I found that the corrals moved up with surprising speed, and I was totally caught off guard when corral J was next to go! We were so close to the front of the corral as to be practically on top of it, and my Garmin still hadn't found a location when we started; indeed, we were about a quarter mile in before it did. No big deal, as I was really only using it as a barometer. I CERTAINLY WAS NOT about to use Dopey as an attempt to set a PR. Another shocker: I shed my throwaway outer layer before the start. A WDW Marathon weekend first!


One fun bit when we started: we were on the side of the corral, so we passed right by the video cameras. We all waved and made ridiculous faces for the big screen, naturally.

So yeah: we were off! Once again I started up my music, and once again I found myself using it less and less. I'd say I ran maybe ten miles with it on total. Partially I was concerned with draining my battery and being unable to find Pat in the spectator area, but a lot of it was that this race was about something new: camaraderie. Usually I am an inward-focused runner - even when Moon and I run we do so mostly in companionable, music-driven silence - but Dopey was about survival, and survival is easier with a team. KRaut and KVac kept me moving!

The opening volley of roads was the usual uneventful. The first item of any note was, of course, entering the Magic Kingdom. We ran up Main Street and into Tomorrowland, stopping off briefly in a nook to take some photos with the castle. Then we circled it around through Fantasyland and under the castle, pausing to say hi to Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff, who were hanging around on the balcony. (Hi! Hello! Hello! Hi! Hi! - Everything the Frozen Characters Were Allowed To Say)



We continued on to Frontierland, where we stopped for our usual bathroom break. I was in crazed time-saving mode, and, terrified of being left behind, I zoomed through my business, bolted out of the bathroom, and saw... no one. I bounced from one foot to the other and frantically scanned the crowds - had KRaut and KVac abandoned me??? One text message and thirty seconds later and I found them behind me; I had been the first one finished. Whew.

Crisis averted, we hopped back onto the course and were quickly out of the Magic Kingdom. We continued one past the monorail resorts before heading back out onto the road. Next landmark: The Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Which we reached in short order, stopping just outside the Speedway entrance to take some pictures with the fancy pants cars parked outside. KRaut and KVac warned me about the ramp into the Speedway, and boy were they right - it was scary! It's a SUPER sharp angle downward, and I practically walked down it. Then we blasted up the ramp and were onto the Speedway itself, lined almost all the way with more fancy pants cars and their owners. Nifty.



Fa Zhou? I didn't know he had a son!
 Our next passage of roads had one bright spot: a photo op with characters from Robin Hood! The queue was pretty minimal, and we grabbed a shot with Robin, Little John, and Friar Tuck.


That was great and all, but I'd say it was the next part that was the highlight of my race: right outside the Animal Kingdom there were SO. MANY. ANIMALS. I LOVE ANIMALS!!! I wasted probably as much as ten minutes taking pictures with two owls, a goat, a donkey, and a pig. Like the horses of the Tinker Bell Half, I consider it time well spent.




Around this time I had been texting with Pat, who was done with work for the morning and ready to head over. He originally planned to come spectate at the Animal Kingdom, but as I hit the park he still hadn't managed to get a bus. The bus situation was evidently a mess, to say nothing of the insanity of traffic with all the road closures. We agreed he'd just find me at Epcot at the end; it seemed the safest proposition.

We ran through Animal Kingdom, eschewing a ride on Everest but stopping to take a photo with... um... somebody. Marie? I honestly don't remember the character, but I know that KVac and KRaut remembered the handler from touring the parks the day before, so they were all excited. Another stop for a photo with Jiminy Cricket and we were out of the Animal Kingdom.


And settled in for the long road. The portion of the course between Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports was not what I would call exceptionally exciting. There was of course music at the halfway point, but I forget what song. Oh, and the grave diggers livened things up (hah!), although the Katherines were surprised to see them at so early a mile.


Also we took a picture with the Country Bears at some point, but as I can't recall when exactly I'm just going to mention it here. It happened!

Anyway, after several thousand years of running we made it to the Wide World of Sports, which was frankly not that much more exciting. They had some soccer and volleyball and frisbee games and the like going on, but I personally found this minimally entertaining. Also it started to rain, though it did slack off with reasonably speed. Regardless, this was my least favorite part of the race. Although I did receive and eat probably the best banana of my life (I was insanely hungry during this race, I guess because of all the running beforehand).

The road portion between the WWoS and the Studios was characterized by damage control. For starters, I needed to pee. My yammering about finding the first bathroom in the Studios became more and more incessant until I'm quite confident the Katherines would've liked to have shoved me into the nearest woods. Of course, if they had done that, there would've been no one around to assist in tricky Vaseline application. Then KVac suffered a protein spill, but luckily she felt fine afterward. No Man Left Behind, that was our motto!

Finally we made it into the Hollywood Studios, entering behind the Tower of Terror and running past a bunch of areas that did not have bathrooms. It took a trip through the Backlot Tour costume tunnel (from the opposite direction as the Wine & Dine? Right? Am I crazy?) and a trip past the Lights! Motors! Action! stadium to find a restroom. As I went to exit the course, the feelings of relief already welling up inside me, I was stopped by a cast member: "You can't use the bathroom." My mouth dropped open and my eyes grew wide. ???? But the CM laughed and told me to go ahead. VERY FUNNY, CAST MEMBER.

Meanwhile, Pat was riding Mission: Space. Would that we were all so lucky.

Post-bathroom break, we ran through the Streets of America, which was considerably less exciting without the Osborne Lights, and then I think around past Muppets and Star Tours? Yes? Maybe? Well, we definitely ran out of the Studios and onto the pathway between it and Epcot.

This was a major spectating session, full of cheering people with signs and lots and lots of people offering exciting candies. I can't say I was feeling good at that point per se, but it was definitely nice to have all that support, to say nothing of the high fives.

We put the Boardwalk area behind us, ran through the International Gateway, annnnnd... it started to rain! Yay! Like, real rain this time, Wine & Dine style. Which was sad, because I had wanted to get a picture of Mulan, but we were almost done and I wasn't about to stop to hang out in the wet.

Another denizen of the World Showcase I did not stop for: a guy wearing his Dopey shirt spectating and drinking a glass of sparkling wine. Now, he didn't have a medal on, so it's possible he borrowed the shirt or slept through the race, but I suspect that he had already finished and I hated him for it.

But! Like I said! We were almost done! We exited the World Showcase under slightly less extreme rain conditions and ran down the bridge and past the fountain. Pat had texted me that he was in this area, and I almost thought I'd missed him when I spotted him under Spaceship Earth. Success! A quick hug and kiss and he sent me on my way, promising to meet me at the finish line.

Which was, but that point, SOOOO tantalizingly close. Like, we were practically on top of it, that's how close it was. Like, we were running past Spaceship Earth. Like, we were running past the gospel choir. Like, we were formulating our finish plan (EVERYBODY HOLD HANDS!). Like, WE WERE RUNNING UP TO THE FINISH LINE AND THEN UNDER IT AND THEN WE WERE DONE.

WE WERE DONE! Oh, and it had stopped raining!

We grabbed our marathon medals, then got our backdrop photos taken before entering our respective challenge tents to be photo-matched. KRaut and I accepted our Goofy and Dopey medals and KVac got her Goofy medal. Then we headed over to the food and beverage areas to collect much-needed sustenance. We also received a "cooling towel" instead of a space blanket, which was interesting and reusable but not warming. Someone told me later that a lot of races are moving away from space blankets for environmental reasons, but I really think we need something heat-trapping post-race. Maybe a cheap fleece blanket?


The Katherines and I spent some time thanking each other for sticking with us, and then we argued a bit over who, exactly, was the slowest one, with everyone vying for the crown. Regardless, I was and am wildly grateful for their company; I would never have gotten through the experience so pleasantly without them. KRaut and KVac, if you're out there - THANK YOU!

I will have more Dopey takeaways in a later post, but for now let me just say that I was, in that moment, super happy to have done it and super happy to be done. The Katherines headed to the merchandise tent to look around (I hear the selection wasn't much), and I headed over to the POR bus stop, meeting Pat along the way. The race was over, but vacation was not!

Up next: more Magic Kingdom!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/10/15

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

So... funny story about this post. I had almost the whole thing written, went in later in the evening to finish it, and somehow - I'm still not entirely sure how - I pressed buttons that deleted the whole thing and wouldn't let me undo. I REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW IT HAPPENED. But internet research advises me to, ahem, let it go, so this is written from memory. Luckily I only just wrote the original, so it's fairly fresh, but if it's a little more disjointed and/or vague than usual, apologies!

Back to the trip report itself. I got back from the half around 9:15AM, which was considerably earlier than I had originally expected. This gave me time to not only take a shower but also a brief nap while Pat got some work done.

Eventually we got it together, hit up the food court for coffee, and hopped on the bus for the Animal Kingdom. By the time of our arrival our first FP+ had already opened, but we still took a moment to admire than kangaroos before heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris. It was a little late in the morning for very active animals, but it was still a good experience. Highlight: a Watusi cattle scratching her hindquarters with one of her horns and making a truly doofy face in her ecstasy. I'm super sad I was on the wrong side of the truck for a proper photograph.


Snack time! On our last trip to the Kusafiri bakery, what Pat had really wanted was a paw print brownie, but they were out. It was time to rectify that situation. I was pretty post-race hungry and the paw print brownie was on to-eat list, so I ordered one too. We took our treats on a quest to find seating, eventually finding a table on the path between Africa and Asia. More on this later. Spoiler alert: YESSSS.

We had also purchased coffees,which we took with us on a Pangani Forest Trail adventure. Which, to be honest, was not that exciting. I mean, hippos are nice and all, and I guess gorillas are kinda cool, but I've never been much for the monkey/great ape end of the spectrum. They look too much like people. I much prefer Maharajah Jungle Trek (TIGERS TIGERS TIGERS).

Our Expedition Everest FP+ slot was now open, so we, y'know, did that. And the bird of prey was back! I am seriously so confused on this subject.


Then it was back to Africa for Festival of the Lion King. On the way we got distracted by a drummer and sitar player setting up on the stage where the Indian deejay and dancers usually perform. We watched the sitarist (spell-check says that's right!) tune until a guy came up and announced that they were just sound checking; the performance wouldn't be for another half hour or so.

Which is how we wound up power-walking to New Harambe, jumping into the FotLK FP+ line with a mere five minutes to spare. Naturally we did not have first pick of seats, but I managed to find us a spot with clear sight lines on the end of the warthog section. I feel like this location didn't garner the same kind of audience interaction that being in lion or elephant does, but we had a magnificent view, and that's what counts.


Fun fact: Pat spent about a decade practicing high-level gymnastics. He says he thinks it's sad that the only job gymnasts can get post-career is as a tumble monkey. Also he hates their costumes. So there you go.

That about wrapped up our Animal Kingdom-oriented goals for the day, and we headed over to the bus stop to move on to the Studios. We were not the only ones with this plan - a huge line awaited us. We managed to get onto the second bus to arrive and found ourselves in the Studios a short time after.

Our first act - now and for as long as FP+ is in operation, I imagine - was to find a FP+ kiosk. The one on the end of the boulevard was shut down for some reason, but the station between Rock 'n Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror was operational. We managed to find a miracle RnR slot for mid-afternoon.

Next up was a ride on Star Tours, which predictably had a very short wait. I can't remember where we went, but happily they were places we hadn't gone before. I want to say Boba Fett was in the second one, and the first one... was... um... something...

Since we were nearby, we ducked into the Muppet Stuff store to see if they had restocked the Animal shirt Pat liked. Unfortunately they had not, and he decided to just go ahead and buy his second favorite. He later decided he liked it even better, so that worked out well.

We were getting pretty hungry again, so we decided to be brave and try the specialty hot dogs from Fairfax Fare. I'll do a full review later, but I want to highlight an exchange I had here. I asked for my hot dog without the chips, as I didn't want them. "I can't do that," said the cashier. "Yes you can; I do it a lot," I said, because YES YOU CAN I DO IT A LOT. I did it at Columbia Harbour House two days previous. I've done it countless times over many trips. It's TOTALLY A THING. And yet the cashier looked at me blankly and said, "It's not coming up." And as I took in her expression, I realized: it was the exact same cast member who had refused me an egg sandwich at 10:31AM in November. Why does she hate me??? I took her stupid chips, but I NEVER ATE THEM. Ha!

But things were about to look up. We took our tray into the seating area but had some trouble location a table. There was a guy eating by himself who randomly suggested that we share with him. We plunked out tray down and proceeded to chat with him while we ate. Turned out he was a retired military guy who enjoyed touring Florida's parks in his free time. He finished his food first, we thanked him for his table and company, and he wandered off.

Only to return 30 seconds later with a stack of paper FastPasses, the kind good for any ride in the designated park until the end of the month. "Here, you can use these," he said, and we hardly had time to thank him before he skittered off again. Suddenly our options had increased considerably!


Pat wanted to use a pair immediately on Tower of Terror, but I needed time to mentally prepare. I reminded him that the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular started soon, and hadn't he said he wanted to see that? Yes, he had! So we went over to the Indy stadium.

The show was unexpectedly weird. Well, mostly it was normal. I liked that the planted stunt guy was from Morocco, as it made it less obvious that he was a plant. Pat enjoyed the tumbling passes of the bad guys. But the cut the show off early, ending with the truck catching on fire. The entire plane scene was cut. I overheard someone asking a cast member about it, but the response was completely rote; something about how, oh, sometimes the show changes. You don't say! I wonder what was up?

Our Rock 'n Roller Coaster FP+ time had opened up, so we paid another visit to Mr. Tyler before running right back to the FP+ kiosk and getting a slot for Fantasmic.


Then we - sigh - used two paper FastPasses for Tower of Terror. I was LESS anxiety ridden than last time, but it was STILL NERVE-WRACKING. Quit randomizing the drops, computer! How can I brace properly otherwise?!


We had time for one more quick ride on Star Tours before Fantasmic. Important note: as you may have observed, the decreasing temperature of early evening had driven me to switch out my usual gray beanie for my tiger hat. Whoever operated Star Tours must have liked it, because... I WAS THE REBEL SPY. "EEEE!" exclaimed Pat and I as my face came up on the screen. "Hey, that's you!" said the guy on the other side of me. AND IT WAS ME. I am kicking myself hard for not buying the shirt. I may need to consult ebay regarding this problem.

It was time for our Fantasmic FP+, and we joined the hordes of people shuffling into the amphitheater. The cast members tried to herd is down to the far end, but this displeased me as I wanted us near the exit for a speedy getaway. We saw that another section in that area had just opened up, so we doubled back and took a spot closed to the top and on the end of the bleachers. (Incidentally: Architect Pat says the lack of exits at both ends is a major design flaw. I am inclined to agree.)

The pre-show consisted of various Disney quiz-show questions directed to members of the audience (the front-and-center ones, anyway). My favorite was the little boy who was asked to complete a line from "Kiss the Girl" and had NO idea what he was hearing.

Fantasmic was good as always, but we popped out of our seats and headed to the exit the second it ended. This was the only way to ensure we didn't get caught in a ginormous crowd. We managed to get out ahead and hopped in a bus back to the resort in decent time.

We hadn't had dinner yet, so before retiring for the night we stopped by the food court for make-your-own pasta. As far as I could tell this is exactly the same as the station at Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation. I don't think it warrants a review, but it was fine and the cheese on top was a nice touch.


Thus fed, it was time for our nightly ritual: I prepped for the race and went to sleep in Pat's hoodie; Pat worked. One more early morning wake up call...

Up next: THE MARATHON.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/27

JENN: How's your training lately?

MOON: It's been good! I actually have news.

JENN: Oh?

MOON: So, I've been alternating between running one day, doing something else the next day for a few weeks. This is because I have been having pain in my legs. For some reason, even though I am not tired, it was hard for me to run two days in a row.

Well, I updated my shoes. Was planning on just trying out the fit of a few a buying later, but you know how that goes. Because I bought shoes, I got a discount on socks, so I bought a pair of compression sleeves.

JENN: It's hard not to get swept up in sneaker excitement.

MOON: Ha, Christian got a pair, too! He found some asics that fit well. :D No more bleeding toes!

Back to the sleeves-- they are great! I had no pain the next day! I'm actually really excited to go running today.

JENN: Yay! New gear is always a huge motivator for me.

MOON: I know, I often feel guilty about it...At the same time, at least my hobby is healthy and it supports a community of runners, riiiight?

JENN: Absolutely!

MOON: That might be reaching a little bit, ha! How was your week?

JENN: Fine - busy, but fine. Moving this week made things a little difficult and I had to do some of my runs in the early morning before work which I HATE, but I got in three and that's okay for now.

The view from my new balcony. What up, NIH?

 I guess I'm arguably still in Dopey recovery mode so there's no need to push it?

MOON: Absolutely not. I find that after a break I run better, anyway!

JENN: Which reminds me - have you chosen your next runDisney race yet? :D

MOON: Haha, it's only been about 15 hours since you last asked me! I'm leaning on a January/February race, though.

JENN: We could maybe do the Princess again? The course for the WDW Half is exactly the same but it kinda gets overshadowed by the marathon/Goofy/Dopey, by my way of thinking.

MOON: November is a big month for some interview and academic stuff, so I should probably keep that open. Princess was fun!

JENN: Things to ponder. ^_^ I'll keep an eye on registration deadlines!

MOON: Awesome!

JENN: Whew, okay. Time for the first roundup of the new year - much backlog!

- It's a Marathon AND a Sprint has info on discrepancies between course length and GPS stats.
- Live, Run, Grow has suggestions regarding race travel recovery.
- Run Eat Repeat highlights cheap running gear.
- Fairytales and Fitness fights against soreness.
- We Run Disney offers track workouts for speed. Which I should try but probably won't.
- Elbowglitter discusses the weirdness that is cheating at runDisney races.
- Running at Disney describes the medal distribution experience.
- Disney Food Blog has resort-available snack suggestions for your runDisney needs.
- This Happy Place has the lowdown on our Art of Animation suite.
- Capturing Magical Memories runs an interesting Disney transportation experiment.
- Tackle the new FastPass+ system with the help of the Disney Tourist Blog.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The WDW Half Marathon

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

I'm not gonna lie, guys - throughout the entire Dopey Challenge, my morale was never lower than right before the half marathon. Prior to the 5K and 10K, I could think to myself, "Well, at least this will be over quickly." A little less or a little more than an hour respectively and done; a hot shower and park time were right on the horizon. The half, however, inspired only thoughts of HOW LONG THIS WAS GOING TO TAKE and OH MY GOD I HAVE 26.2 MORE MILES THE NEXT DAY UGH.

At least I was learning, though! After a freezing 5K and a decidedly chilly 10K, I had stopped trusting the run itself to warm me up. This time I layered a tank over a long sleeved tech shirt, pulled my fleece cap over my head, AND - guys, pay attention here because it was totally the kicker - I finally had the smarts to wear my gloves. Cold, stiff hands no more!

Thus armored, I threw my space blanket over my shoulders (with the hope that I would really be able to toss it this time) and headed down to the buses, which deposited me in short order at the start line. I was sad to see that the White Tents of Warmth were now in use for other purposes and no longer available for runners, but I regrouped, hopped in the bathroom line, and headed over to the corrals.

Katherine (hereinafter referred to as KRaut) and I were now in the same corral! Yay! And she had brought her hotel buddy, Also Katherine (hereinafter referred to as KVac and the reason why we have these designations, clearly). Through a series of texts I found them toward the front of corral J near that bastion of consistency, The Guy in the Brown Afro Wig. A few pleasantries and an anthem from the emcees and the race was off!

Although we were obviously much farther back in the corral lineup, the corrals seemed to take off much faster than during the 5/10K. In all the excitement I made the questionable decision to toss my space blanket and regretted soon after. KVac to the rescue! She pulled a discarded fleece top from the fence and put it on, encouraging this recycling behavior in others. Two minutes and another corral shift later and I was wearing a neon orange sweatshirt while KRaut girded her arms with fuzzy Mickey pants. Much better.


Shortly after that it was J's turn to go, and we gently took off down the highways of WDW. I initially, as per usual, put on my music, but having running buddies rendered it less and less necessary and I found myself turning it off as the race wore on.


This race follows the same pattern as the Princess Half, so there were no surprises for me. We ran down aforementioned highways for awhile before entering the Magic Kingdom a couple miles in. I reluctantly tossed my sweatshirt here so that my bib would show for pictures and found that, surprise, I was an okay temperature! Yay! Running up Main Street was a thrill as per usual, and the music in Tomorrowland never fails to make me happy. We stopped for a brief bathroom break in Frontierland before heading into Fantasyland and through the castle.



Not long after that we exited the parks and ran past the monorail resorts. Then started the boring part - the many miles of roads between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Sure, you have the promise of Epcot to sustain you, but you know there are SOOOOO many miles before you get there and when you do it's pretty much over, so it's not much more motivation than the regular finish line, at least for me.

Right, so, anyway. Highways. Yeah. I will give runDisney credit - they put effort into livening things up. There were deejays and entertainers at various stations, with the halfway point marked by stereos blasting Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" - the version sans rap, which pleased KRaut enormously. There were also several character stops, but the lines tended to be fairly long. The only one we deemed worth featured Mary Poppins, Bert, and the penguins, just like when my mom and I went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This Bert, however, looks awfully young, no?


From there on our race was fairly uneventful. We plugged away at a Dopey- and Goofy-friendly pace until mile 12; that mile marker was Frozen themed and KRaut was dressed as Elsa, so we stopped for the photo op. Then it was on through Epcot and the weird out and back up and down the bridge, past the gospel choir, and finished!

I picked up my medal, snacks, and drinks, thanked the Katherines for sticking with me, and hopped a bus back to the resort. I was pleased to be done, but there was still the marathon to tackle in the morning!

Up next: back to Animal Kingdom and the Studios.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/09/15

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

Thanks to a much improved bus situation during the 10K, I got back to the room a good twenty minutes early than the day previous. And since I wasn't quite so DEATHLY COLD, I didn't take a forever-long shower, either (although let me say here that the max heat in the POR showers needs to be increased). It still took a bit of time to cajole Pat into getting out of bed - the man is no morning person - and we still had to make a coffee stop in the food court, but we managed to make it into Epcot around 9:30AM.

Brief note here because I'm not sure where else to put it: the South Depot bus stop in POR had a video monitor showing approximate bus arrival times. This is the only place I recall seeing such a thing. I like the idea but it didn't prove to be entirely accurate - on this occasion, for example, the Epcot bus arrived very early, which was nice for us under the circumstances but not, y'know, correct. I hope they do work the kinks out and install them everywhere the bus system runs because I think even knowing you had a 20 minute wait ahead of you is better than the uncertainty of the current Disney bus crap shoot.

Anyway! We had actually made it to the parks earlier than I expected, so we still had awhile to wait for our first FP+. Rather than perform said waiting, however, I went ahead and swapped it for an earlier slot. There remained some time to kill, but less!

To murder that time, we wandered over to Test Track and deemed the 30 minute posted wait time manageable. Once inside the design lab, Pat proceeded to design a truly ridiculous... truck... thing... which would've been even crazier if he hadn't run out of time selecting paint jobs and other extras. Just know that the below WOULD have been covered in a delightful star pattern if we had our way.



From there we headed over to Mission: Space to cash in our first FP+ of the day. Naturally we went with the Orange Team, because we are More Intense. I was even super nice and switched positions with Pat so that he could take on my beloved pilot role. Totally worth it, because he really liked this one - the experience, the many warnings that maybe you shouldn't experience the experience, and the fact that Gary Sinise's forehead never moves.

On our way out, we paused briefly to take in a Jammitors performance before heading to the Fountain View Starbucks for snacks and coffee. We took our coffees over to Innoventions in the hopes of designing our own coaster in Sum of All Thrills; we were so invested in this plan, we were even prepared to endure the posted 40 minute wait time. Sadly, though, we were turned away by a cast member who said we couldn't bring food or drinks into the queue. "But the wait time is 40 minutes," we said. "By the time 40 minutes has passed, we will have easily finished our coffees." Alas, he wouldn't budge on the matter, so we were forced to move on.

Ah well, our Soarin' FP+ was approaching anyway. We wandered over to the Land pavilion, chucked our now-empty coffee cups, hit the bathroom, and got in line for Living with the Land. "Line." They hadn't even posted a farcical 5-minute wait time - the sign read 0. Truth in advertising!

Post-greenhouse boat trip landed us just ahead of our FP+ time slot. Time for an experiment. Earlier we had overheard one cast member explaining to another that FP+ times are good not only up to 15 minutes after they close but five minutes before they open, too. Intriguing! We tested this theory and found it to be good, although we couldn't entirely understand why. The 15-minutes-late buffer makes sense for those who might be caught in traffic or stuck on another ride or what have you, but if you're early why can't you just wait those additional five minutes?

What I'm getting at here is: we rode Soarin' and it was fun. Oh, and at one point while we were being sorted one of the cast members said "You'll hear shortly from your flight attendant Patrick." I forgot that the flight attendant in the pre-show is named Patrick! So I told Pat to please go ahead. He recommended that everyone not buckle their seat belt and flail their arms around while in the air; keep that in mind next time you're boarding your glider.

Speaking of early, we decided to be so for Pat's sole non-ride related request of the trip, our Coral Reef ADR. About 30 minutes early, in fact. Not only did they let us in shortly after our arrival, we got our requested tankside seat. Success! I've reviewed this restaurant before and my assessment hasn't changed, so I'm not going to do a food post on the experience, but it remains a pleasant way to pass the time. Unremarkable meals, excellent ambiance. We got some great photos of the spotted eagle ray and one or two of the shark.

 
Next up: our FP+ for Spaceship Earth. Rome burned as per usual, and Pat very much enjoyed some technology that Judi Dench happens to know about.


That closed out our FPs and our plans for Epcot; we hopped the monorail to the TTA and then grabbed the express to the Magic Kingdom. Since it dumps you out on the end of Main Street anyway, we took the route through the Emporium to check for the Animal t-shirt. This did not appear, but Pat did find some acceptable pajama pants.

First things first: a stop at the Tomorrowland FP+ kiosk. The pickings were slim, but we did manage to snag a Haunted Mansion time. All this activity whet our appetites, so next we stopped in at the Confectionery where we were dismayed to locate exactly zero packages of Goofy sour gummy worms. We soothed our disappointed souls with some jelly beans but it wasn't quite the same.

Being optimistic creatures, we decided to swing through Tomorrowland next, just to see, you know? And indeed, I happened to notice that Autopia had a posted 10 minute wait - a little low for that attraction. It occurred to me that this was likely caused by the afternoon parade, so we hustled back to Space Mountain to see if it had been similarly affected. We were left frowning at a 40 minute wait time... that magically changed to 25 right before our eyes. Ta da! We hopped in line at rode the left track in the back this time, and unanimously agreed that a) the left track is better than the right and b) back is better than front. Discuss.

Space Mountain: a great place for naps and jazz hands alike.

Our Haunted Mansion FP+ opened up, so we hopped in line for that and chatted about our dinner plans. I suggested we grab an early dinner at a monorail resort, and as Pat has fond memories of the Contemporary we settled on the Wave. The only ADR available on the website was for 6:55PM, far later than we wanted, but we decided to take it anyway, show up early, and see what happened.

We paid our visit to the grim grinning ghosts, we pondered a stop in the Hall of Presidents, but wanted to get another FP+ beforehand. After some wandering about lost, we finally located a FP+ kiosk (why does it seem like they're trying to hide some of these?). Nothing exciting popped up, but we did grab a Jungle Cruise FP+.

All that lost-getting rendered us too late for Hall of Presidents, so we wandered around the Christmas shop for a bit before using our FP+. Our skipper was pretty good, both in delivery and personalization of the spiel. The ride was still labeled and partially decorated for the Jingle Cruise, but aside from one half-hearted crack there was no mention of the holiday. Favorite original skipper joke: "You probably think the elephant's trunk is full of water. But it's not." (Say it out loud!)

This ended our Magic Kingdom needs for the day. Aside from a quick photo stop, of course.


Then: dinner time! We took the walkway to the Contemporary and I marched right up to the Wave podium; Pat grabbed seats at the bar just in case they couldn't seat us early. No need - they could and they did. I'll review the meal in greater detail later, but in short: really good!

After a quick exploratory spin through the gift shops, we took the path back to the bus stops and jumped onto the waiting bus. Back at the resort we checked the general store for gummy worms, but they were out too! This was our first inkling of a growing epidemic.

We passed a screening of Meet the Robinsons on the lawn as we traveled back to our room, but it was so chilly very few families were partaking. Even if it had been balmy, though, I had no time for such trivialities - it was time to get ready for ANOTHER race.

I put my stuff for the next morning together while Pat tried on his new pajama pants, declared them to be cut weirdly in the crotch, and went down to the gift shop to exchange them for something else. Despite having tossed his receipt, they were perfectly nice about giving him a pair in a different size and style, so that worked out fine.

And then, after setting my usual several thousand alarms, I drifted off to sleep to the familiar sound of Pat working on his laptop. To paraphrase Li Shang: Tomorrow, the real work began...

Next up: The WDW Half Marathon!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The WDW 10K

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

The weather predictions for the 10K weren't nearly as horrendous as the 5K the day before, but the early morning was still far from balmy. I scrapped all my earlier clothing plans in favor of putting my long-sleeved shirt on again (don't worry, it never saw sweat thanks to the 5K's all-too-tactile tribute to Frozen). I did put on my running capris since my long pants have any annoying habit of sliding down as I run, but I did top it off with a throwaway sweatshirt and donned my fleece cap once again.

Thus protected, I ventured out into the chilly early morning and boarded a bus bound for the race start. The area was a little more lively - the deejay was having a much easier time finding people who were willing to dance it out - but I still made a beeline for the warm tents. I found Katherine and Kinley in the same tent as before by our pillar of consistency, the man in the brown Afro wig (if you're out there, sir, thanks for providing us with a landmark!). We passed the time talking about nothing of import before volunteers shooed us out of the tents and toward the corrals.

Like I said, it wasn't nearly as bad as the day before, especially with my extra sweatshirt protections, but it wasn't exactly puppies and rainbows either. We shivered our way over to the corrals where I once again said goodbye to the K-names at B before heading into C. The wait time between corral starts once again felt unusually long, but the chit-chat between was mildly amusing - it's always nice to see Sean Astin, Official Mascot of runDisney.

Finally, we were off! With a sense of deja vu! Because basically the 10K is the 5K only with more time on the highway! (Poetry!) Or anyway that was what it felt like to me. I mostly zoned through the entire street portion, playing Tangled's "Kingdom Dance" on repeat and choreographing a ballet in my head. I did briefly stop on an overpass and observe what appeared to be an endless stream of runners behind me. These races truly are crazily massive. I can feel the lottery coming and I fear it.


Just outside Epcot I reluctantly tossed my sweatshirt with the knowledge that I wanted the photographers to be able to capture my bib in case by some miracle I had become a photogenic runner (this is unlikely to happen EVER but a girl can dream). I didn't exactly delight in the chill that hit my slightly sweaty frame the second it was exposed, but then neither did I curse every decision that had led me to that particular moment in time, so again, better than the 5K.

I love Epcot, but as I noted above the route through it was exactly same as the 5K. Given the amount of running I still had to go in the coming days, I couldn't quite drum up the usual enthusiasm. Indeed, my outlook was primarily one of "... but I just DID this..."

All the same it was a hell of a lot more fun than any of my usual routes at home, so don't feel too sorry for me. I put the World Showcase behind me at a slow but steady rate - so far so good on pacing - and passed by Spaceship Earth and a pair of gigantic puppets before crossing the finish line and accepting my much more substantial medal and the usual food and beverage supply.



Unfortunately, after stopping I felt the loss of my sweatshirt keenly. I skipped all the post-race festivities in favor of the bus line, which was mercifully shorter this time. I boarded the second bus I saw and headed for POR. Two down, two to go!

Up next: Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/08/15

Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I'll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let's go!

Since it took so long to get a bus from the 5K finish, I was behind schedule for getting us to the Studios before rope drop - but I was SO COLD that I didn't care. I asked Pat if he minded terribly if we got to the park a bit late, and as that meant he got to sleep a little longer, he readily agreed.

I immediately took what probably turned into close to a half-hour long shower and dried my hair before waking Pat up again. On our way out we stopped at the food court for coffee before picking up a bus which shared stops with POFQ and make me miss Pop. The multi-stop system is bad enough without adding other resorts. Dear Disney: people at moderate resorts should not think wistfully back to amenities from value resorts. Please quit it with the bus sharing.

We got to the Studios around 9:45AM and I did some quick calculations, determining that if there was no line (there wasn't) we could easily fit a spin on the Great Movie Ride into our morning and still make our first FP+ window (which we did). We got the gangster, because I always get the gangster for some reason, but both the host and Mugsy were actually decent actors for once, all things considering.

For some strange unknown and unknowable reason, Pat is a big Alien fan, so we struck a deal. Pat is in the process of quitting smoking, and we agreed that if he promised not to bum cigarettes off anyone all week, I would - GASP - keep my eyes open during the Alien portion of the GMR. I NEVER DO THIS. I get as far as the audio-animatronic Sigourney Weaver and I am OUT. But the deal was too tempting, so I watched the whole segment. I survived but the one coming out of the ceiling freaks me out. (The one on the side only seems to do anything if you happen to be in the back of the train.)

While hanging out waiting for the 5K, I had mentioned to Katherine that I had, at Pat's behest, made FP+ reservations for Tower of Terror. As I had refused to ride this in November, Katherine was aghast at the idea that I might do it without her, and she got her own overlapping FP+ so we could ride together. We met her by the entrance and rode it and once again I survived but UGH SO MUCH ANXIETY. Stupid randomizing computer! Set up a pattern so I can brace myself properly!


By that point it was snack time. Katherine had an emergency rice krispie treat to sustain her while Pat and I shared a turkey leg from Fairfax Fare. Thus fortified, we all ran over to MuppetVision 3D, where the Swedish Chef reported that der machinen is going floomy-floomy.



Pat is a big fan of Animal, and so we went into the Muppet Stuff store in an effort to track down a t-shirt. The selection of such was decent, but even after a cast member checked in the back they didn't have his favorite in his preferred size. We resolved to keep an eye out as we wandered the parks; you know how random merchandise selection can be.

From here Katherine split off for her Toy Story Midway Mania FP+ while Pat and I went to cash in the same for Aerosmith Rock 'n Roller Coaster. You know how in the pre-show sometimes the cast member will shout out a really lackluster and clearly scripted line about backstage passes? Our CM did not. What he said as we exited the pre-show area was this: "Congratulations on your backstage passes. That never happens every three minutes." We enjoyed that. Oh, and our stretch limo soundtrack featured "Love in an Elevator" AND "Walk This Way," so that was fun.


We ducked in a couple stores to check for the Animal shirt on the way out, but no dice. Then it was time to pick up the bus to the Animal Kingdom, where we immediately hit up the FP+ kiosk and picked up a Dinosaur slot. Then it was a quick walk over to Everest where the standby line posted a 55 minute wait. Pass.

Instead we hit up the Kusafiri bakery in Africa for a brownie and a cupcake (more on this later), which we sat on a bench and ate while Burudika regaled us with their song-and-dance number to Shakira's "Waka Waka." I love audience participation when no one is making me participate!


After our sugar shot, we traveled back into Asia for Maharajah Jungle Trek. As on my last trip through the ruins, the bats were for some reason not out, but the tigers were! <3


By that point our Dinosaur FP+ had opened up, so we skipped over to Dinoland USA and took a trip in a Time Rover. Pat thought this ride was both awesome and hilarious and immediately began planning the bored and unconcerned faces he would make for the carnotaurus ride photo in the future.


Primeval Whirl was right there and had minimal wait, so we hopped in line. It was here that Pat had his first experience with everyone's favorite park phenomenon: the Line Stragglers. There were three or four people initially in the group ahead of us, but by the time they reached the front of the line and additional five or six people had 'scuse me'd their way through and joined them. I will give a pass to people traveling with small children, but there was no one younger than fifteen among them. I think the general rule should be: either everyone gets in line or no one does.

It was getting late in the afternoon and the Animal Kingdom closed at 5PM that day, so we wandered over to Everest again and got in line despite the 30 minute wait. Luckily the Everest queue is reasonably entertaining; it wasn't too painful. And the ride was such a hit with Pat that we immediately got back into line upon exiting.



Note about Everest: remember how Estelle and I discovered that there was suddenly a bird of prey before the backwards drop on Everest? Well, Pat and I reached the top of the hill and I pointed his eyes in that direction. And then... nothing happened. No bird. Is this variable? What the heck?

Animal Kingdom was closing by then, so we hopped a bus home, passing the time by chatting with the people near us. We debarked at the main depot and swung through the gift shop for water and some Vaseline; despite having checked this off in my packing list mine didn't seem to have made it into my suitcase. We also tried to find Pat some pajama pants as he'd forgotten his at home, but nothing quite struck his fancy.

We went back to the room briefly to drop off our stuff before heading to Boatwright's to see if they had any walk-up availability, which, as it happened, they did. More on this later.

And so ended our day. I did some race prep, set a billion alarms, stole Pat's hoodie again (although we'd turned up the heat; I just wanted it), and went to sleep to the sound of him working away at his laptop.

Next up: 10K time.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!