Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/31

Oh my God, this workout log is so boring. WINE & DINE WILL NEVER COME, I JUST KNOW IT. *sobs dramatically*

Sunday | ran 10.26 miles outside in 1:45

Monday | walked 2.35 miles outside in 40 minutes; 65 minute ballet class

Tuesday | ran 5.24 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes
Stupid rain ruining a perfectly reasonable running temperature. :(

Wednesday | ran 5.21 miles outside in 55 minutes
Well... it didn't rain.

Thursday | walked 2.06 miles outside in 35 minutes; 65 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 5.18 miles outside in 55 minutes
So cold my phone died at mile 3. :( Clearly I need a new battery...

Saturday | rest

So you may recall that I have been deeply suspicious of my GPS watch's reports for some time now. I like to think I am indeed getting faster, thanks at least in part to increased training outside on hillier terrain, but some of my data seemed almost too good to be true. When my watch tallied well over 28 miles during the WDW Marathon, I decided some research was in order.

I ran across a post on the Garmin message boards that suggested many things, some of which seemed too technical for me to get into. But if you're running across a similar problem, the two primary steps I took were a) make sure you regularly sync your watch on the computer and get all the latest software updates and b) once your watch gives you the satellite connection all-clear, DON'T just take off - give it a minute or so. Stretch or something. Let it ponder.

Maybe these are completely obvious and I'm just an idiot, but I think the last couple of runs have seemed to garner more accurate data. I'll continue to keep an eye on it.


run geek rundisney covers Athlinks, a race results aggregator. I tried it out and it's pretty fun so far if you like looking at your own stats!
Just Me & My Running Shoes offers a glimpse of runDisney's kid races. Call me when they start a puppy bowl.
easyWDW reviews WDW's Disney After Hours hard ticket event.
Disney In Your Day scrutinizes FastPass priorities at WDW.
The Main Street Gazette attempts to pin down Disney parks' powerful emotional hold on us.

Disney Nerds checks out the food offerings at Shanghai Disneyland.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Caring For Giants Tour

Sooooo I totally interrupted this trip report with a trip report of my WDW Marathon weekend trip. Let's jump back to the December 2017 trip, cool? If you need a refresher, you can see all the posts in this report here.

I have been trying - and failing - to book a Dining with an Imagineer reservation at Sanaa for years. I'm especially desperate when my mom's coming to WDW with me, as she loves animals as much as I do. Alas, no dice. The stars have never aligned for me.

Lucky for me, a new animal experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom dawned just as I was starting to make my plans: the Caring for Giants tour, featuring a backstage viewing of Disney's elephant herd. With tickets in the reasonable $30 area, I signed us up without hesitation.

Our journey began at the check-in desk near Kilimanjaro Safaris, across from the fruit stand. We were given lanyards with name badges on them and signed a waiver that basically stated that if we were up to and including trampled by the elephants it would not be Disney's fault. Not that we would be getting anywhere near them really but I'm sure Disney's lawyers nurse a healthy paranoia about life, the universe, and everything.

I had signed us up for the last tour of the day, and there were only two other people accompanying us. A Cast Member escorted us backstage with the strict admonition that we not take any photographs. Not that there was a ton to see from a strictly aesthetic perspective, but as a WDW enthusiast it was nifty to observe the goings on.

We were loaded into a van for our trip down to the elephant area; as we drove our CM driver regaled us with some elephant facts - things like how much elephants eat (lots), how long they gestate (long), etc. Our guide assured us that we are the only groups allowed down this particular road to the elephant viewing area aside from relevant employees.

There was a brief delay when a maintenance truck was found to be blocking our path, but they soon cleared out. The reason for their presence was soon apparent, however; as we drove up to the viewing platform we saw a busted water pipe right by the enclosure gate. Several of the elephants, being intelligent and inquisitive creatures, were supervising the work.

Happily for us, they weren't all enthralled by the plumbing. We ascended the viewing platform and were greeted by... oh shoot. I'm pretty sure the mother elephant we saw was named Donna. I know her baby was Stella, and another one of her more grown daughters was there - Luna. Stellaluna!

We had a lovely vantage point on the opposite side of the savanna from where the safari ride trucks drive through. Stella was of course adorable, nursing and then wandering about. Donna and Luna munched hay and hung out for the most part, although by the end of the tour we had lost them, too, to the fascinating maintenance work.

But we saw them most of the time, and while we watched another CM told us about them - their names and history and such. He also showed us an "elephant collar" which a scientist used to record all the sounds and reverberations elephants make in the hopes of understanding them better - apparently most elephant noises are not detectable to the human ear. (Some smart aleck should point this out to Mufume at Festival of the Lion King. Not me, mind you, but somebody.)

We were then handed over to a CM who was if I remember correctly from Namibia. She told us a bunch of stuff about elephants' part in the ecosystem of the area. Evidently they are not super popular with farmers, as they are known to both steal and trample crops. In an effort to scare away the elephants without causing them harm, the latest tech is... bees!

Yes, elephants fear bees, and so a trip rope fence can be installed around crops; when the elephants jostle the rope, the bees come out and scare them away. Plus the farmers can collect the honey, so win-win!

After a bit more elephant viewing and some photos, we were given elephant pins and bused back to the park proper. All in all a very satisfying experience.

A few days later I received a survey from Disney specifically about this tour and how valuable I found it. Obviously I said very very - but I would strongly encourage anyone reading to book it, too. 100% of the proceeds go to Disney's conservation fund, and we want to encourage them to continue doing that! Plus they could add tours for other animals, too, which would be awesome.

Have you gone on any of DAK's tours? Thoughts?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

In Which Jenn's Marathon Photos Will Blow You Away

Mini trip report! Read all the posts in this report here.

Did I say I was finished with my WDW Marathon trip report? Just kidding!

See, I let my Annual Pass lapse because I knew I wouldn't be taking enough trips in the allotted time frame. No doubt I'll get another - after all, I think we can all agree I have an addiction and I can only be strong for so long. But in the meantime I'm tragically devoid of parks... and perks: restaurant discount, merchandise discounts, and of course, free photo downloads.

Therefore I thought I was out of luck for my marathon photos, BUT - enter the magnificent Kellie, an official MDE buddy who kindly downloaded and forwarded them along. And so I am able to present them to you, on the off chance you want to know what a running Figment looks like, if Figment went through a goth phase.

On that note, I'm going to start with the last photo first, because it is my favorite, and here's why: my Figment ears have a lot going on in terms of surface area, and enough wind kicked up throughout the race that I had to grab for them a solid five or six times. I was on top of it, and they never got away from me... except for THE VERY SECOND I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE.

And I loved it. Clearly!

More race photos, coming up:

What's your all-time favorite runDisney photo? Share!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/24

Awww, man. No more post-marathon break time. Although I did allow myself a slightly reduced ramp-up week. Roll tape:

Sunday | ran 5.27 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes
I was still in NYC for a conference; the hotel gym sucked and the treadmill kept shocking me, but I hopped back on that horse. Also I got to hang out with the super-awesome Estelle and her husband and we had empanadas and craft beer and it was amazing. :D

Monday | 5.27 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes
How's that for consistency? 

AND! I went to the NYC Disney Store on my way back to the train station and subsequently talked myself out of and then into buying the cutest Mickey and Minnie tank top. It was a glorious Twitter saga involving need vs. want, sale prices, and adorable victory. I'm mad at myself for not taking more photos so I could blog it, honestly. Next time!

AND AND! The NYC Macy's is as big as you've ever seen. For example, here is approximately half the cosmetics section:

Tuesday | walked 2.28 miles outside in 40 minutes; 65 minute ballet class
Back home. Meh.

Wednesday | ran 5.12 miles on the treadmill in 50 minutes
First speed run in... in... uh, a long time, certainly.

Thursday | walked 2.27 miles outside in 40 minutes; 65 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 5.32 miles outside 55 minutes
First outdoor run since the marathon! It was a delightful 25 degrees, and I saw a dude running in shorts. COME ON.

Saturday | rest

I dunno, guys. I'm tired. My next WDW trip isn't until November. I need hope and inspiration!

Here's what I do have: some possible races on my radar. Some new Disney running gear coming in the mail (!). And the certainty that when the Wine & Dine registration window opens, I'll be right there to sign up.

Oh, and I have the roundup, of course:

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Afternoon Tea In The Grand Floridian

Mini trip report! Read all the posts in this report here.

We finish out my WDW Marathon trip report with a review of afternoon tea in the Garden View Lounge.

I have probably had afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian than I have had any other WDW experience. Off the top of my head I've done it at least six times, although admittedly not since 2013.

Naturally many changes may occur in the space of that many years, but that's not I made my ADR for one the day before the marathon. No, I made it because a giant pot of tea and baked goods sounded like a fabulous way to hydrate and carb up for a long run.

For those unfamiliar, afternoon tea takes place in the Garden View lounge on the main lobby floor of the Grand Floridian. The views are not astounding and the room is open to the sometimes chattery lobby next door, but it's a pleasant enough setting. I do wish the tables weren't so close together, but what can ya do.

There is always a long list of teas available, and while you can make a la carte food purchases it's much more efficient to purchase a set tea menu. This can range from tea sandwiches and pastries to a full cheese plate spread and champagne to top things off.

I say it's more efficient; I do not say it's a good value, at least on the face of things. I swear I remember getting one of the fancier teas for $35 as recently as 5 years ago, the one that included a glass of champagne. Well, no more; the standard tea spread itself is now $35, and you'll need to rocket up to $50 if you want that glass of bubbly.

Ah well. We do not go to Disney because we feel that it's a bargain, no? I ordered the cheapest, basic $35 Bedfordshire spread with, after some deliberation, the caramel rooibos tea (normally I get cassis but I wanted something herbal so it wouldn't be dehydrating).

The tea came out first; my server poured my first cup, then ensconced the teapot in a tea cozy. The caramel rooibos had a rich flavor that was enhanced by the addition of sugar cubes from a little sugar bowl, tongs and all.

The first course was the finger sandwiches. Interestingly enough, every online menu I've consulted says they are accompanied by berries and cheese, but I don't remember seeing that and I definitely didn't get any. 

Sandwich flavors included cucumber, cheese spread with roasted tomato, pear and Gorgonzola, egg salad, an onion tart, and, always my favorite, curried chicken salad. All are good but, with the potential exception of the curried chicken salad, none of it stands out as a mind-blowing culinary triumph. Totally a sucker for curry. I kinda want to tell them to bring me only that...

Once my sandwiches were done my server brought out my final two courses, which is interesting because they were formerly delivered separately, in true course style. Admittedly that little tier thingee is neat, but it does take away some of the luxuriousness of a drawn out experience, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I started with course two, the jam tart and scone with accompaniments. The jam tart is basically shortbread with some thick raspberry jelly in the middle. It reminds me of a very high end Pop Tart. Can I get some frosting up in here?

The scone is freakin' delicious - it's got currants in it, which are like raisins but not and that's a little weird, but the scone itself is soft and buttery, like a biscuit but without the crusty elements. I'm way into it.

Accompaniments have changed a lot over the years. This time around there was apricot jam (eh), butter (good but could've been softer), and the most recent addition, lemon curd. I have no idea why the last one exists because I don't think it does much for the scone itself, but I will sure as hell eat it with a spoon.

The one tragic loss is the Devonshire cream, which was like butter RIGHT before it becomes butter and it is DELICIOUS. But apparently some people didn't like it, because it peaced out. :( Please come back, Devonshire cream!

For the dessert course, in the Bedfordshire tea, you have three choices: trifle, strawberries and whipped cream, or a selection of pastries. For years the trifle was ALWAYS strawberry, but a couple years ago they started to do seasonal flavors. This time around it was blueberry-lemon, but I don't like blueberries so pass on that. On rare occasions strawberries don't agree with me, so pastries it was.

Back in the day you got to choose a couple from a tray, but that's changed too; now you get what they give you. Normally one of those things is a chocolate covered strawberry, but see above note about strawberries. My server was kind enough to double up on the pastry swans.

Those pastry swans were excellent - the choux pastry or whatever that made of the swans didn't have a ton of flavor, but the mousse was something nutty... I want to say hazelnut? Very light but with an assertive flavor. The macarons were just that - macarons - good, nothing special. Looking around I saw flavors other than what I had, so that seems randomized. 

All the while, I sipped my tea and read a book and messed around on my phone and relaxed, and that was fantastic. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone wants a light but filling lunch where you can chill. Just come prepared to drop a little money.

I think I might do this again before next year's marathon. Who's in?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/07

Mini trip report! Read all the posts in this report here.

We pick this day up right after finishing the race. Having finished much faster than expected, I indulged myself in a trip to the official race merch tent. After all, I couldn't very well not have a souvenir from my all time best marathon, could I?

Indeed not. I did a few laps before finally settling on a marathon jacket I hadn't noticed the day before with a much cuter design than the one I had seen and rejected. It was ridiculously overpriced, but every time I wear it it'll make me happy. That's where Disney gets you: right in the nostalgia gland.

I didn't want to lollygag too long, though; I had finished much faster than normal but I still had a late checkout to make. I caught a bus to the All-Star resorts, and despite my capitalist detour I still managed to make it back to my room around 11am(!). 

I had been given the gift of time. (Well, I guess I gave it to myself!). I'm sure I could've gotten out of there in as little as 45 minutes if I really pushed myself, but I took my time. First a luxurious shower, then chilling with a little mindless TV while I slowly packed all my things, changed, and slapped on some makeup.

By the time I finished it was nearly 1pm, but I was feeling pretty good for having just run a marathon. My first act was to hit up the front desk as I had never received my Magical Express information for the trip home, but that was quickly straightened out. Then on to the bus and Disney Springs!

It sure has come a long way since the days of Downtown Disney. The Springs have managed to turn about a vast improvement, but I can't put a precise finger on why. It's not the shops and restaurants. I mean it IS, but that's not what creates ambiance. Somehow DS has synthesized a new, more Disney-like feeling. It's not parks level, but it's definitely there. Whatever it is, I dig it.

My understanding was that Disney Springs had a post-race party, but I never saw hide nor hair of it. Indeed, I hardly saw anyone else with a medal on. Maybe I just missed it? I never really did make it as far as the West Side (assuming it's still called the West Side).

Party-less, I was left to my own devices. I figured the best thing to start with was some food; I was only minimally hungry but it seemed right given the morning's activities. I selected Pizza Ponte, the quick service Neopolitan pizza place from the new Maria & Enzo's empire of restaurants.

After surveying my options, I selected a pizza with marina, mozzarella, prosciutto, and greens. The Cast Member who handed it to me informed me that she wasn't heating it up because it's better fresh. 

That may be so, but I wasn't a huge fan of it room temperature, either. The mozzarella was insufficiently melty and felt off the pizza in chunks. Most damningly, however, the marina was bland and sweet. I know this place is has gotten good reviews so far, but I found it underwhelming. Interesting selection of Italian sodas, though.

Having experienced one wrong note, I decided to... take a chance on another new place. Life is risk! I couldn't resist popping into the Edison, which had opened a scant week earlier. The small upstairs bar was full, so I snagged a spot at the giant downstairs one.

Let us be real here: the drinks are expensive, even for Disney. I dropped $14 on The Mistress:

But it was right up my alley: very bubbly and not too sweet. Upon being informed the flower was edible, I ate it, but it tasted like nothing.

I had overheard the bartender mentioning a Thai chili lime margarita, so I went with that next. I give you $13 for the Lightning Rod Margarita:

It's like drinking inside Bioshock!

I cringe at the bill for two drinks but I gotta say this was fantastic. I'll tell you upfront it's legit spicy, so be prepared; this ain't no "Disney-spicy so actually it's mild" type thing. I was surprised to discover looking at the menu online that the drink uses mezcal alongside tequila, as I'm usually not a fan of the flavor. But whatever smokiness it added played in perfect harmony with the chili.

While I imbibed I struck up a piecemeal conversation with one of the bartenders and some passing waiters. By the end the were advising me to dump Pat and move to Orlando. Can't say I'm not tempted... (Just kidding, Tiger!) (Wait, you don't ready this blog. MAYBE I WILL. ;)

I was tempted to stay for one more drink but the combined pressures of money and time levered me out of my seat. Instead I headed over to the World of Disney, where I wandered around a bit before getting thoroughly overwhelmed. I shot out of that mess and over to Goofy's Candy Kitchen to get Pat some of the gummy worms he loves.

I poked around a few more shops, including Cherry Tree Lane's Dress Shop where I want everything and can afford nothing, but ultimately talked myself out of any purchases. At the appointed time, I sadly dragged myself back to the bus to All-Star, then onto the bus to the airport. Boooooo.

And that was my high-speed marathon trip. SO WORTH IT.

I'm not quite finished, either! For the grand finale: a review of afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Fairest Week In Review: 1/18

Here we are in a post-WDW Marathon apocalyptic wasteland. At least you get to take a lot of rest days there. Workout log, show the nice people.

Sunday | WDW Marathon, 4:47:44, BEST RACE EVER

Monday | rest
I had planned to take a ballet class, but an impending ice storm compelled me to stay home. Just as well; I was pretty tired anyway.

Tuesday | walked 2.76 miles outside in 45 minutes; 65 minute ballet class

Wednesday | walked 2.38 miles outside in 40 minutes

Thursday | rest, but I walked a lot
... because I was off to NYC for a conference. I have the spirit of a real New Yorker, and I know this because IF ONE MORE DAWDLING TOURIST COMES TO A SLIDING STOP IN FRONT OF ME IN TIME SQUARE I WILL END THEM.

Friday | rest
This was the day Pat took me to see The Lion King on Broadway and it was AMAAAAAZING. More on that to come!

Saturday | rest
In which I learned I am afraid of the subway. TOO MANY CHOICES. Where I am from, there are only 6 Metro lines and it doesn't matter because they're all on fire or something anyway.

Before my Tuesday ballet class I was randomly chatting with a fellow dancer about my marathon. Another dancer overheard and expressed interest in potentially running a runDisney race! So of course I sent her a whole long-winded email about it; despite that she still seems potentially on board. Which is awesome - more runDisney friends!

Awww, remember when Moon was here? Those were the days.


As per usualeasyWDW reviews every single item available at this year's Epcot Festival of the Arts and as per usual I'll try one of every single thingkthxbai

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The 2018 WDW Marathon

Mini trip report! Read all the posts in this report here.

In the immortal words of Salieri: And then, a miracle!

I love the WDW Marathon. Just thinking about it fills me with joy. But in the middle of the race I thought it might be my worst one yet... and then it ended up being my best marathon ever. Let's talk about it! (Because you know I'm dying to.)

I woke up at the crack of 2:45am courtesy of the hotel wakeup call (which was Mickey again; I kinda missed Baymax). I dressed quickly and was out the door before 3:10am as the race guide now said we had to be on the buses by 3:30am to make our races on time. It used to be 4am, so that was new.

There wasn't much of a line and I was on a bus and at the staging area with all speed. As per usual a DJ was trying to pump people up and it was kind of working. Dopey and Mickey and Goofy were all available for photos, but the lines were too long to bother with. And there was now a controlled line for the merch tent, so no warming up in there.

Speaking of warming up, temperatures were in the low 40s, so, brisk. But I brought a throwaway sweatshirt and top and compared to the temps of last year it really wasn't so bad. For running it would probably be ideal; I just had to slog through an hour or so of pre-race chilliness.

The walk to the corrals felt unusually long this year but I'm sure it was the same as usual. I hit up the porta potties before taking my place toward the front of corral C. A DJ (the same DJ? I honestly couldn't tell you) led us through some dance styles before the usual runDisney team showed up to do the announcement stuff. 

You know, it occurs to me that they haven't trotted out Sean Astin in awhile. Is he still doing these races?

Finally it was time to start the race, and the announcers informed us they would be sending off each wave with a different Disney song from the last 25 years to commemorate the 25th running of the marathon. I hope and prayed and IT HAPPENED: as I crossed the start line, "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" from Mulan was blasted over the speakers! AMAZING.

That probably made me start off too fast, but whatever - I started off the race in a lovely mood, mouthing the lyrics to myself and grinning ear to ear. We followed the usual course, passing a high school band as we ran away from Epcot and toward the Magic Kingdom. 

I snagged a Move It Shake It stiltwalker high five before passing under the MK parking lot entrance. 

My plan was to stop for the photo op with Jack Skellington and Sally and take my hoodie off while waiting, but they weren't there this year. Instead it was a couple villainesses. But I figured, what the hell, this is what Disney races are for - so I stopped for some pictures. The Dapper Dan behind me was kind enough to hold my Figment ears while I pulled off my hoodie.

Soon enough we were running into the Magic Kingdom proper (via the front entrance - that normally the case?). I ran down Main Street toward the castle and felt that very specific joy only the marathon can bring.

We hung a right into Tomorrowland before swinging through Fantasyland and on into Liberty Square, where I kept a lookout for JJ and Sam Eagle - but this year they weren't out. That seemed to be a bit of a theme for this section of the race in particular. I saw no Country Bears, and Brer Fox and Brer Bear of two years ago hadn't made their return.

During this period I kinda had to pee. This was fine; I traditionally stop during every marathon at the restrooms between Fantasyland and Frontierland. But - issue! The line for the Woody photo op stretched across the entrance. Blast. And wouldn't you know it, that was the last real bathroom opportunity. Luckily the next set of porta potties were fairly near, and since most people had already gone in the parks there was no real line. I didn't lose too much time. At least not as much as I lost mucking up the angles on the Maleficent float photo op.

Up to that point I was feeling gooood. Probably too good - a victim of the adrenaline and excitement that makes runners start marathons too speedily. I started the beginning of my first decline a little past here, around mile 9. Very early in the race for a wall, I know. Probably the sewage treatment plant didn't help.

I perked up considerably on a stretch of road dedicated to extinct attractions. My hopes rose when I heard the original Journey Into Imagination theme song - would they trot out Dreamfinder? But alas, it was just part of a music loop. Some old ride vehicles met me but no lost loves.

I did run across some denizens of the late lamented Adventurer's Club, and while I never got a chance to patronize this establishment personally I have a sort of surrogate fondness for it; I stopped for a photo. KUNGALOOSH! we all cried.

Then we were heading into Disney's Animal Kingdom, where I got my obligatory shot with the Festival of the Lion King performers. I also stopped for photos with Timon and Rafiki and King Louis, and yes, at mile 13.1 the bar was open!

It was too early to ride Everest, so I rolled out of Serka Zong, past the Rivers of Light area and into Dinoland USA before exiting the park. While leaving DAK is of course sad, the line of spectators that hang out by the entrance is a nice pick-me-up. Unfortunately this is followed by what I now consider to be the worst stretch: the miles between DAK and ESPN Wide World of Sports.

This is where I hit my second, admittedly smallish wall. Well, it's not so much that I hit a wall as that my morale dips. Anyway, my mood was dipping here. My IT Band was holding up nicely but my entirely right leg just kinda generally felt unhappy. My split times up to that moment, while not terrible, weren't great, and I anticipated continuing slippage as the race progressed; I'd never managed negative splits at marathon distance. Maybe this is a universal feeling. Maybe that's why the Haunted Mansion gravediggers are always positioned here.

Nevertheless I trudged along. There was a time when I considered the WWoS area to be the worst part of the marathon, but last year I rather enjoyed it and this year it cheered me up to a surprising degree. I stopped for a photo with Minnie but my cell phone shot sucked so we're just gonna skip past it.

We ran on the track before hitting one of the back roads, where an entertaining DJ regaled us with some dry humor. He welcomed us to "the middle of nowhere" and then fielded suggestions about what could make the area more interesting, including a bread factory but NOT a bacon factory because that's a slaughterhouse and that's no good.

This might be a good time to note that one of the things I find amusing at the WDW Marathon is all the swearing. By this point in the race there were f bombs flying left and right and it made me laugh because you'd so be in trouble on a normal day in WDW. But it's marathon so yippy-ki-yay mother******.

After a jaunt through the baseball stadium we exited WWoS - and that, of course, when you know you're in the home stretch. An announcer had recently informed us, around mile 19, that the back of the pack was just getting to mile 8, so I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I was feeling weirdly good. The green army man barely needed to encourage me up the hill (although he did beat me to the top).

Then we were there - in the Studios! And I started to feel that feeling - the super happy giddy feeling that is not only a runner's high but a runDisney high. By the time you get to the Studios the parks are open and random people are there to cheer you on. My leg issues had somehow worked themselves out. I was getting call outs for Figment left and right, and one guy in Mickey gloves requested a Figment fist bump.

We ran out of the Studios and onto the path to the Boardwalk, and while I knew exactly how far I had to go I was thrilled. By some great miracle, I was on track to beat my personal record. I KNOW! With all those photo stops and everything! This was filling me with wonder, and the always amazing Boardwalk area spectators were fabulous too. They were encouraging me - one lady even told me I had good energy AND looked pretty, which at mile 24 of a marathon is NOT A THING but it made me smile.

Then we ran into Epcot, where some incredible genius had decided to replace the usual Epcot background music with Disney songs - and as I entered the park "Go the Distance" from Hercules was playing. Delightfully apropos!

But next... oh, man, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. Next was "How Far I'll Go" from Moana, my Song of the Training Cycle, and it was perfect. My brain practically turned over in my skull, such was my ecstasy, running through World Showcase to the song I had daydreamed my race to so many times. My throat convulsed and I nearly cried. I DIDN'T, but wow. That feeling. Such a good feeling. This is why Disney gets all our money, people.

Mulan had no line in the China pavilion and I normally would've stopped for a photo, but I had a PR in my sights and I was feeling fabulous; there was no stopping now. We did make eye contact, and she called out that she liked my Figment ear helmet. See? Best race ever.

I ran out of World Showcase and down the bridge, past Spaceship Earth as the song faded out, replaced by "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. Then between the gospel singers, the finish line in sight... and I punched it, high-fiving Chip or Dale or maybe an imposted chipmunk who even knows because I WON THE RACE AGAINST MYSELF. 4:47:44, kids! That's a PR of like 9 minutes! At the WDW MARATHON where I stop ALL THE DAMN TIME!!!

I was so happy. SO HAPPY. And I must've looked freakin' happy, because as I was intercepted by the runDisney media team and briefly interviewed about my race. I'm not sure where it'll appear if anywhere, but I'm sure I sounded like an idiot. There was a joyous tremor in my voice as I spat out words of praise at a mile a minute. 

I'm gonna stop here because as per usual I am longwinded as hell. Needless to say this race was AWESOME. I'll never consider not running it again!

Up next: my time in the finisher's village and some roaming around Disney Springs.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/06

I debated writing this trip report at all. Aside from the marathon itself, I had an incredibly low key trip. No parks or anything. But I decided to do so anyway because a) I have a couple notes that was be interesting to people and b) someday I will reread this report and sigh happily about the good all days. So: off we go!

I slept unusually well the night before leaving for this trip, which is to say, I did sleep. It was miraculous! But no one ever enjoys a 4:20am alarm, that much is for sure.

The trip down was pretty unremarkable, except maybe for the fact that it was 6 degrees outside in Baltimore, which meant that far from complaining about the 40 degree weather when the plane touched down in Orlando I was actually pretty okay with it.

I scooted over to the Magical Express, where I was pleased to discover I had indeed brought the right Magic Band with me. (Anyone else discovering this can be a bit of an issue when you decline a new band?) The bus left with possibly the greatest swiftness I have yet experienced, and I was at All-Star Movies in a flash.

My room was not yet ready, but I stopped by the check-in desk anyway to ask the million dollar question: could I please have an extension on check out so that I might have time to shower post marathon? *bats eyes alluringly*

A Cast Member put in the request for me but it didn't go through right away; he informed me that Mousekeeping would leave me a voicemail letting me know if it was approved or not the next morning. I thanked him and wandered away for a bit before realizing this wasn't going to work, as I would be leaving for the marathon before 3:30am and wouldn't be back until as late as noon, depending on how things went.

So I hopped back in line and got a different CM, Rachel, who gave housekeeping a call directly. Unfortunately the news wasn't great: because of the marathon tons of people were trying to get late check out, and I was told I would not be among them.

Well, blast. I thought quickly. My first inquiry was whether or not I'd be able to check my belongings, since bell services would be closed. Rachel said she believed I could leave my stuff at the desk but she wanted to check. She disappeared for a bit, and came back to inform me that she had gotten my late check out request approved! Yay! I explained to her how amazing she was for a bit before cheerfully heading to the bathroom to freshen up.

Can we talk for a second about how much the All-Star bathrooms suck? They all have half as many stalls as at Pop, Music had a bunch of broken doors, and Movies had no communal mirror. I think I'm gonna reserve myself a room at Pop for Wine & Dine now just in case...

I check my carryon at bell services before picking up a bus to the race expo. The setup was a little different this year: bib pickup was in the same area as the main expo hall, and the official merchandise had its own dedicated area in a separate building. 

I grabbed my bib and then took a few laps around the hall before hopping into the line to get KT Taped up. Rock Tape also had a booth this year with taping services, and KT Tape also now requires you to make a purchase for free taping, which I think is why the line was pretty minimal. 

I was planning to buy a roll anyway, so that was fine with me. But the sad part is that the lady who taped my IT Band didn't do it as nicely as the guy from the Baltimore Marathon Expo, and I ended up taking it off and redoing it myself to great results. Oh, well; you get what you pay for.

Next I headed over to the expo hall to check out the official merch. On the way in I saw a sign advertising various free interactive demonstrations for things like stretching and yoga for runners. There was a yoga class starting in a little less than an hour and I didn't have anywhere to be for quite some time; I decided to attend.

In the meantime I frittered away my time circling the merch area in a holding pattern of indecision. I found things I liked, but they were invariably expensive, and I talked myself into and out of several purchases. Most notably the Cheshire Cat running pants, which while adorable were a) $75 for b) NO POCKETS. Pass. Ultimately I picked up a plastic Marathon Weekend wine glass on the theory that it's never a bad idea to have a glass you can't break.

Then it was off to Yoga For Runners, where an instructor led us through about half an hour of recovery poses like Happy Baby and Guppy. The emphasis was on opening up the hips, with additional no-brainers like ankle rolls and leg stretches. Very enjoyable.

After that it was roundabouts time to head over to the Grand Floridian, so I picked up the bus there. Travel went smoothly and I arrived about an hour early, so I killed some time in the various shops. I particularly enjoyed wandering through Basin White and came very close to buying myself some solid shampoo, but I didn't have a ton of room to spare in my carryon so I deferred.

Finally it was time for my afternoon tea ADR in the Garden View Lounge. Tea has changed much since I last reviewed it, so I'll be doing another dedicated post. Suffice it to say it was exactly the carbing, hydrating, and relaxing experience I hoped it would be.

I finished up my tea around 3pm and strolled out, pausing for a bit to watch the Grand Floridian pianist perform. He wound up singing "Bella Note" directly to an admiring little girl and it was awesome.

There wasn't much left on my agenda so I decided to head back to All-Star Movies by way of the Magic Kingdom bus stop. Oddly enough at this late hour I had still yet to receive a text that my room was ready. It arrived just in the nick of time as I got off the bus: the Mighty Ducks building.

I hustled over to check it out before backtracked and retrieving my bag from bell services; since my room was only just ready I figured it would be faster to get it myself rather than wait for someone to bring it by my room. 

Down, lucky.

Then it was time for one of the most crucial activities of the evening: laying out all my stuff for the next morning's race. Sports bra, pants, shirt, arm warmers, socks, sneakers... the list goes on. Thankfully it was all there!

While I worked I found my Holy Grail of mindless, calming pre-race television: Say Yes To The Dress. Glorious. I've never been one to, like, dream for years about my wedding day or whatever, but I do want a pretty dress and some cake. Do you think I could convince my dad to just buy me those for funsies?

A couple hours of relaxation later (see, I told you this would be an uneventful trip report) and it was time to think about dinner. I bopped over to the Movies food court and picked up my usual pre-race kid's pasta, which I cheerfully consumed while continuing my pretty dress watching.

But then I was approaching the scary part: going to bed. I set three alarms on my phone AND a hotel wakeup call via phone, but I always work myself up into a tizzy the night before the race. Lord knows I'll never wake up at 3am on my own, and my anxiety about sleeping in kicks in hard core. I wound up spending the entire night dozing off and then jolting awake in a cold sweat on the half hour, terrified to check the time.

So: do I sleep through the race or what? Find out in my next post!

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!