Push Away the Screen: runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Inaugural Event Day 3

May the Fourth Be With You!! It only seems fitting that I should write my recap of the Dark Side 10K on Star Wars Day. Okay, so here goes nothing.

I had to set my alarm earlier than I have ever set it before. I had my wake-up call set for 3:45am, and Flat Jenny was laid out on the bed next to me ready to go!

That call came much too quickly as did the alarm on my phone and on my Polar A360. I wasn't taking any chances of oversleeping and missing my race.

I dressed, took a selfie and hopped on Disney transportation.

Disney transportation was a DREAM! I walked right outside the hotel lobby, the bus was there, I got on, and off we went. We stopped at the other All Star Resorts, picked up a handful of people and soon we were pulling in to EPCOT! It was so cool to see EPCOT in the wee morning light! I made my way over to the staging area, along with hundreds of other people. Amazingly for as many people as were there, it was so organized!

I was hydrating myself and waiting in line for the restroom at the same time! I was multi-tasking! I made my way over to the starting corrals, stopping for a quick photo opportunity!

I was in Corral E, which was the second to the last corral. Even though I was in the back, I didn't feel like I was in the back because there were so many other people there with me. I was alone, but I wasn't. 

And for each and every corral Disney did an entire countdown, fireworks, the whole shebang. It was so well done, I actually got chills waiting to start running.

When the fireworks went off and the crowd started surging forward, I began to run.

Before I knew it I was at mile 1.

You can see in the background how many people were there! It was very busy. But at this point we were running on a road so it was quite wide and there was enough room to pass. I was jamming out to Selena Gomez and just enjoying myself!

We entered EPCOT and ran through the World Showcase. Hola from Mexico.

We left EPCOT and entered the Boardwalk area. Once we made it through Boardwalk it got VERY congested and crowded here. There were more walkers than runners, so unless you wanted to pass on the grass in an area about 6 inches wide you were pretty much forced to walk. I did my best to pass when I could, but I was forced to walk more than I wanted. 

I was feeling really good. I was happy that I had brought along my own water and towel so I was able to wipe the sweat from my brow and hydrate myself as needed.

I could see the Tower of Terror off in the distance and I knew I was doing okay time wise. I still had no desire to stop for any photo opportunities with the Star Wars characters because I had no idea how close the balloon ladies were to me and I was bound and determined to not be picked up! I wanted to finish this race!

I hadn't done a very good job of looking at the course beforehand so I honestly had no idea where we would be going, I was just following the crowd! I was surprised when we ran up to Hollywood Studios!

 

And then we were INSIDE Hollywood Studios!

I was still feeling good, still happy, still jamming out to Selena. We ran right in front of The Tower of Terror but it was very crowded (again!!) so I didn't stop to take a photo right up front.

We ran out of the park and on to a main road. There was a lot of traffic but I never felt unsafe. Mile 4 came and went!

What you can't see in this photo is a giant overpass. It was a big hill and up and down I went. Still no balloon ladies. We went off road into an area that reminded me of Endor. It was soft terrain and I was doing a slow jog, trying to make up time from walking up the overpass.

And then there was mile 5! 

I heard people saying that now that we were off the main road that even if the balloon ladies passed us we would not be picked up because we weren't in any danger. But I didn't let that slow me down! I only had one mile left and I wanted to finish strong! I kept running and running and running. We went through the Wide World of Sports and I was taken back in time to the day before when my trio ran on this same stretch of road and I got a little teary-eyed. I wiped the sweat from my eyes and kept right on trucking.

And bam....

As I was running in I took a photo. And then the big happy tears started to run down my face. I had done it! I had finished the race. I did not get picked up. I did not get passed by the balloon ladies.

I earned my medal!

I didn't hang around too long at the finish line. I snapped a few photos and went over to take the bus back to the resort. I had been texting with the trio and they were ready to hear all about my race!

 

I had to wait about 20 minutes to get on a bus but really it wasn't a big deal at all. I chatted in line with other finishers and the time went by quickly. 

When I looked at my data I was really quite pleased with how I did! I had negative splits throughout the race!

And while my per minute mile pace was higher than I had been hoping for, it was fast enough to keep me on the course!

My heart rate data (which I turned on as soon as the bus dropped me off at EPCOT) shows that I did work hard!

My friend Danielle told me that after this race I would be hooked on Disney races. At that time I told her "nah, I won't be hooked I'm not too much of a Disney fan." But she was right! I am hooked! Without a doubt I will do a runDisney event again!! 

I had a great time, my kids had a great time and we will be back!

And in honor of May the Fourth, this is what I am wearing today!

 

The ears should look familiar, and my Cardigan has the Rebel symbol and the Imperial symbol on it. Tonight at my library I am hosting a HUGE Star Wars party! I'll share photos of that event later next week.

And now I'll leave you with a bit of wisdom from the Star Wars universe.

Push Away the Screen: runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Inaugural Event Day 2

Day 2 at the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Inaugural Event  had us back at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Day 2 was all about the #TampaTrio and their first runDisney race, the Star Wars Dark Side Kids 1 mile run!

Their race was set to start at 1pm, but I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to explore the expo, participate in photo opportunities, get to the starting line, etc., without having to stress about time, so we arrived at 11am.

There was so much cool stuff at the EXPO!! I wish I had an unlimited budget because it was a Star Wars lovers dream!

I totally regret not buying this Darth Vader RUN shirt. That was an epic fail on my part, but there is always next year!!

At the Expo they also had an area where you could make posters for the loved ones that you were there to cheer on! Here are the signs I made for my gang. They loved them!

We saw a sign for BB-8 photo opportunities so off we went. The trio LOVE BB-8. 

I have to give a HUGE THANK YOU to the staff that were in charge of this photo opportunity. It was packed, so busy with probably a hundred people waiting in line to meet BB-8. To help off-set the wait they had placed 2 giant screens on either side of the room and both the screens were showing The Empire Strikes Back. It was LOUD. Very loud. And as I mentioned it was also crammed with people. Loud and crowded. 2 things that really set my little dude off. We were waiting in line when I suddenly realized Ronin was no longer standing next to me. I look down and he has curled himself up into a ball and had his hands over his ears. I bent down and asked him if he wanted to leave. He started to cry and said "No, I need to meet BB-8." And then he began rocking back and forth. I looked at Haley, told her to stay with Ronin and off I went to find the person in charge. I found him and asked if they were offering any sort of "meet & greet" or photo opportunities for people with Special Needs. He said no that they weren't and I quickly explained our situation and pointed out Ronin. Without hesitation he immediately told me to go get the kids and they'd be next to meet BB-8. You can tell that Ronin still looks "off" in the photo but once we left the building he was so happy and talking a million miles a minute about how he got to meet BB-8.

We started our walk over to find the start line!

 

It was really quite hot. 1pm start time for a running event is really too late IMHO. The trio were sweating bullets and thirsty before the race even started! Thankfully they had ice cold water and cups at the waiting area. They also had live music and a big grassy field for the kids and their parents/fans to wait and stretch. My gang drank so much water that by 12:50 they all had to go to the bathroom! There was a port-a-potty at the far end of the field so they sprinted over there, did their business and made it back with plenty of time to get to the starting line!

It always cracks me up to see where my kids "self-seed" themselves in a race. As usual, they are as close to the front as they can be.

 

Ronin has his fingers in his hair which means that he is feeling some stress and/or anxiety. My guess is that it is from the very tight quarters and loud music that was playing. Thankfully he wasn't in that crowd for long! Once the race started he was off and running!!

I couldn't follow them along the course, so thankfully runDisney took some on-course photos. These are the photos were taken by runDisney.

 

 

I honestly had no idea what to expect as far as finish times for these three. This was Ronin's FIRST short distance run since his broken leg last year. I hightailed it to the finish line and before I knew it I heard the announcer saying that the first finisher was nearing the track which would take him/her to the finish line. I looked at the time on the clock and it was 6:14, soon a speedy boy in very bright yellow shoes came sprinting towards the finish line. His finish time was 6:40. I was cheering for all the kids when all of a sudden I spotted my Ronin!! I couldn't believe it! I mean, I could believe it, but also I couldn't believe it. His finish time 7:25. He only finished 45 seconds behind 1st place (did I do my math correctly??) 

I also saw Ella come across the finish line around 11 minutes and Haley just after 13 minutes.  Apparently Ronin was a top finisher and he earned a cool award signed by Darth Vader himself!

I mean just look at that smile! He was so proud of himself!

Haley and Ella were so so proud of Ronin they even hugged him and got close enough for this gem of a photo! Kiss

All 3 kids said that they LOVED the event but were hoping for more Star Wars themed "stuff" on the race course. I told them that in order to see that they'll have to do the 5K next year and they all agreed that is what they want to do! Even James said it looked super cool and he'd be up for doing the 5K next year, so it looks like 2017 will be a family affair!

After the race we went back to the hotel and just swam and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon/evening. I had a VERY EARLY wake-up call for my 10K the next morning and needed to rest my body and my feet.

Have your kids ever done a Kids Race at a runDisney event?

 

Push Away the Screen runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Inaugural Event Day 1

So many feelings about this event and the entire 3 days that we spent at Disney that I honestly don't even know where to start, so I'm going to start at the beginning. 

 

We haven't been to Walt Disney World since the #TampaTrio were 3, 4, and 5 years old. They are now nearly 10, 11, and 12 so it's been a LONG time. It's been so long that Haley's Mickey ears were reminiscent of days long ago when she loved the Disney Princesses. Ella and Ronin, at the tender ages of 3, and 4 had the foresight to think long term about their choice of head-wear and were able to easily wear their Mickey ears without embarrassment. Haley pretty much wore her ears for photo opps only and then they promptly went into her backpack.

Surprisingly they do remember bits and pieces about the last time that we were there. For example, they remembered that I got spit on by a camel. Tongue Out HAHA! Not a real camel, but a camel from the ride The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and they were so hoping that I'd get spit on again. Kids I tell ya.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 10am. But with parking, taking the monorail to the Magic Kingdom (the monorail really smelled like pee, what's up with that??), and then heading to City Hall for Ronin's Disability Access Service Card, we didn't actually get on to Main Street until close to Noon. 

But we came at just the right time because a parade was just about to begin!! We were pretty much forced to watch the parade because once the parade starts you aren't permitted on the parade course. The kids knew all the characters and it was a nice way to get ourselves used to being at the Happiest Place on Earth

Once the parade was over we immediately walked over to Tomorrowland. The kids really really wanted to go on Space Mountain. We used our Mickey Bands which had been synced with the special needs pass and got our return time. While we waited we went on the PeopleMover and the Carousel of Progress. I was surprised by how much the kids enjoyed the Carousel of Progress. I remember really liking it when I was a kid, so I guess the apple does not fall too far from the tree. 

 

Soon enough it was time for us to go on Space Mountain!! Ronin and I sat together and Ella and Haley sat together. I had forgotten how dark it is in that ride. The kids loved it. Though they were surprised that it did not go upside down. I think they are so used to Busch Gardens that they assume every roller coaster must have loops. 

Right after that we had our Mickey band set for the Tomorrowland Speedway. Again, I rode with Ronin and the girls each rode by themselves.

This ride STRESSED ME OUT so badly. I never ever ever want to go on this again. My kids can't drive, other people's kids can't drive, it's just a nightmare of exhaust fumes and stop and go, stop and go, and bump bump bump. Never again for me. But hey, the kids liked it, so that's what really counts. But after this ride I wanted a beer so badly...but sadly, Magic Kingdom is dry. 

The trio all decided that they needed more coasters so off we went to try to find the Seven Drawfs Mine Ride. We got on right away with our special needs pass. That was awesome! This was a really fun ride, but once again the trio wanted to know where all the loopy coasters were located. But then they saw Snow White's little cottage and they forgot about the loops. This attraction was so cute and they really did like it so we decided that we would go on it again before our time at the Magic Kingdom was up. 

We did the Haunted Mansion, walked through Cinderella's Castle, and then decided that we needed a break, so off we went to the runDisney expo and to check in to our hotel.

The runDisney Expo took us a lot longer than we were expecting. And we didn't even do any shopping on this day. It was just a lot of lines and the packet pickup was in a different building than the t-shirt pickup and it was just UGH! But then I found a beer.

 

And not only did I find a beer, but a beer served in a cool reusable souvenir cup! Winning!!

After the Expo we decided to check-in to our hotel. We stayed on property at the Disney All-Star Sports Resort. Because we had planned to spend most of our time at the parks, and running I wanted to find the most bang for my buck when it came to the room. I reserved a standard room which would give us 2 double beds, a bathroom and a mini-fridge. But when I checked in I found out that we had been upgraded!!! Sweet!!! I didn't even realize that they offered "family suites" at All-Star but that's what we got! We now had 2 adjoining rooms! In one room was a King bed, walk-in shower, table, TV, fridge, and the other room was exactly the same but in place of the King bed was 2 double beds. We doubled the size of our room and I am so thankful to Disney for upgrading us! It really made our stay much more pleasant! 

The kids quickly put on their bathing suits and immediately headed down to the pool. We went to the pool closest to our room and it was not crowded at all. But there was a little bit of rain going on and the possibility of a thunderstorm so that might have kept non-Floridians out of the pool. Tongue Out But not us!

 

 

Around 7pm we decided it was time to head back to the Magic Kingdom. My feet and Haley's feet were already quite sore, but we decided to go for it. We took the Disney bus and I'm so glad we did! It gave me a break from having to worry about driving, parking, taking the monorail over and back, etc, etc, etc...

We arrived and the duo immediately saw a sign that said Disney was looking to hire Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, so we decided to check it out.

 

In theory it sounds like a really fun thing for the kids to do, but the park was SO BUSY that I kept losing my kids as they were running down Main Street looking for the next symbol, so after about 3 or 4 stations we called it quits.

We went on some additional rides including one that I have never ever ever been on....

THE ASTRO ORBITER!! Oh my goodness. What great fun this ride was and I can't believe that I have never been on it. Of course it's possible that my parents took me on it when I was younger and I just don't remember, but I'll certainly never forget it as an adult because it was a blast!

And we went again on Space Mountain, the Seven Drawfs Mine Train, the Little Mermaid, and a few others but we all started to get very tired around 9:30pm, and with fireworks scheduled for 10pm, I knew that Disney transportation would be crazy busy after that, so we decided to play it smart and left. We could see the fireworks from the bus, so we didn't miss the entire show!

And that was Day 1. It was FUN AND BUSY!! 

Stay tuned for posts about the runDisney events we did on Friday and Saturday Smile