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We did it! One year after we decided we wanted to get healthier, discovered runDisney, and started our journey to get more active, my wife and I took part in our first official event on property! The past year just flew by — it seems like only yesterday we were making our first attempt to walk three miles, which ended with us achy and out of breath as we all but crawled back to our car. The fact that we actually stuck with it and didn’t give up at any point over the past 12 months is so amazing to me! I chalk that up to our planned move. Getting healthy so we can really take advantage of everything Disney World has to offer when we arrive has been a huge motivation, and will continue to be moving forward.

Of course we took the opportunity to take care of some other business while we were in town, both serious (researching more of the area) and less so (first trip to Batuu)! Here’s part one of a rundown of our week.

TUESDAY

We left Tennessee early Tuesday morning. Somewhere in southern Georgia, my mind turned to dinner! And I knew what I wanted… The Polite Pig in Disney Springs. We’d never been there before, but I’d been wanting to try it ever since my favorite podcast did a live review there (with one of my favorite recently-moved-to-Disney bloggers as a guest). I probably didn’t need to convince the wife, but I thought I’d play a few minutes of the show so she could hear the menu. We listened to them talk about the food for an hour! Needless to say we were ready to eat when we arrived around 6pm.

We parked in the Lime Garage which I knew would put us just yards from the restaurant after going down the escalator. Despite listening to the review on the way, it still took a few minutes for us to decide what we wanted. I got the “Polite Rub Baby Back Ribs with Layla’s Sweet BBQ Sauce served with Jalapeño Cornbread, Signature Polite Slaw” with a side of “Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Whiskey-Caramel”. My wife got the “Citrus-marinade Half Chicken served with Jalapeño Cornbread” with sides of “Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Pickled Onions” and “Mac and Cheese with Aged Cheddar and Breadcrumbs”. It was a beautiful evening so we chose outdoor seating.

The ribs and cornbread were great! I love Brussel sprouts, and these tasted interesting at first. But after getting through half of them the sweetness was too much for me. The slaw was OK, but a bit bitter for my taste. I tried a bite of the chicken (which was very good) and the macaroni (not a fan of cheese and this was very sharp) as well. Don’t get me wrong — I will be going back! So much on the menu sounds so good! I just need to find my perfect sides.

WEDNESDAY

The next day we got up early again. Not because we had big plans. But to make sure we would be able to get to bed at a decent time later that night! We weren’t going to have a ton of time this week to research for the move, so we took this opportunity to hit the road and visit some neighborhoods. We used the same strategy we employed on our last research trip — find houses for sale in our price range via Trulia, then visit them to see what the neighborhoods we could afford might be like in different areas around the parks.

Unlike last time, we decided to take a look east of I-4. We saw one off S Poinciana Road — an area we had earlier crossed off due to traffic on a previous visit. Another was off Osceola Polk County Road. Both were in what seemed to be nice enough areas. And, just as importantly, didn’t seem nearly as far away with hardly any traffic on the roads.

We also spent more time in an area we found interesting last time we were here, south of 192 between 27 and I-4. While parts of it are very touristy, it appears to be right in the distance range we want, with some nice neighborhoods in our price range, with houses of the style we want.

On the next research trip I want to spend a lot more time north of the parks.

Around 11am, we made our way over to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to pick up our race bibs and check out the merchandise. We’d never visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports and I was looking forward to checking it out. It was very cool, laid out like a downtown city street but all the buildings are sports venues with cityscape-like facades.

We got our bibs in one building, picked up our shirts and checked out the expo in another, and visited the runDisney store in yet a third. I’d heard that merchandise usually sold out quickly so we bought a few things in advance to be sure we at least got what we really wanted. Turns out we weren’t the only ones. The line was a 30 minute wait just to pick up what you’d already ordered! After waiting, we discovered everything we had chosen was still available in the store. However the line to check out also looked to be about 30 minutes long! So no harm no foul I guess.

We left the expo and were starving for lunch, since we hadn’t planned to spend so much time there. As I mentioned on the last trip, I am in search of a great buffet down there! Somewhere with a good price, a great selection, and (keeping expectations real here!) pretty good food. Last time we missed on price. This time, the selection wasn’t great. The search continues…

After running a few errands, we headed back to the hotel a lot earlier than we would have done on a normal trip. Because this was no ordinary trip. We spent a year training and hundreds of dollars to come to Disney so we could run! And we had a 3am wake up call. We spent the evening relaxing, reading, and watching TV.

Lisa Dinoto Glassner’s The Castle Run had invaluable tips for a first timer. And a big one was SLEEP! I’m a night owl — definitely NOT a morning person. So I admit I was a little worried about whether I’d be able to get enough sleep. After two early days in a row, I knew I’d be sleepy. But could I get to sleep and stay asleep? So I had to consider sleep aids. Lisa’s advice: “You won’t want something that stays in your system – but if there’s anything tried and true that helps you relax and get to sleep earlier than usual and leaves you feeling fine in the morning, bring it along.” I find ZzzQuil usually works for me, helping me sleep through the night without feeling groggy in the morning. Unfortunately, that isn’t my wife’s experience. Luckily she is a morning person and is used to early mornings for her job. So we turned on the TV and tuned off the lights at 8pm — and were thankfully asleep by 9pm.

THURSDAY

3am. I’d been dreading this part, but I was surprisingly fine. Acclimating to a somewhat early wake-up call the previous two days, the ZzzQuil, and probably a bit of excitement and adrenaline had me raring to go.

Today was the 5K — the race we’d been training for for a year. There were no nerves because (1) it was an untimed race, and (2) we knew we could do it!

We were told to arrive by 4am. The race didn’t begin until 5:30am, and we were in the last corral, meaning it’d would be even later for us. We pulled into the parking lot at 3:45am. We were early, but this was our first time and we had no idea what we were doing! We walked from the parking lot to the staging area, where a giant video screen, a DJ, character meets, port-a-potties, and much more were set up. There was already a huge crowd.

Eventually it was time to head to the corrals. We were in corral C, the last one (meaning everyone in A and B — 2/3rds of the crowd — would leave before us). There was another stage and video screen here with emcees cracking jokes and interviewing runners. We were there for 55 minutes after the official start before our section could leave. The wait really wouldn’t have been so bad, except for having to stand the entire time. And at that point feet and legs were already aching! But by the time the fireworks signaled the start of our group, we were fired up and ready to get out on the course!

The raceway went from the Epcot parking lot, through a backstage entrance, and under the Test Track loop, before coming out into World Showcase between Norway and China. From there it went past most of the countries of Epcot, out the International Gateway, through a backstage area, back into World Showcase between the United Kingdom and Canada, around the front of the lagoon, and through another backstage exit near Mexico. Lastly, it travelled back under Test Track, towards the front entrance where the construction for the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride is, and on to the finish line in the parking lot.

Neither of us are speed demons, and speed isn’t really our goal anyway. I’m averaging about a 40 minute 5K, and my wife about 60 minutes. Since this was our first race at Disney, we ran together.

Anyone hesitant about doing a race on property should put those worries aside. There were runners of all sorts on the course, from those going all out, to others who looked to be on a leisurely stroll. Whatever your pace, you can handle the runDisney 5K!

Along the route there were character meets, video screens playing cartoons, and lots of music being piped in. Probably my favorite part of the race was that first entrance into Epcot. The sun was just beginning to rise and the torches around World Showcase were ablaze. This is what we had been imagining for the past year!

All too soon it seemed we were within sight of the finish line, then our race was over. It was a long road getting from the first steps on a local trail at home to those final steps in Epcot’s parking lot. I’d have never have thought this was something we would want to do. But as the medals were draped around out necks, there was no doubt in my mind that it was all worth it — and that we’ll be doing it again together in the future.

Our plan after our first ever race was to visit Magic Kingdom, something I’m not sure we’ve ever done without the kids. And after having had nothing but a granola bar to eat since three in the morning, we had a restaurant reservation waiting… at Cinderella’s Royal Table! Breakfast in the castle is definitely not the best food you’ll find on property. But the food isn’t the draw here! It’s the opportunity to spend time in that iconic building, the ambiance, and the princesses! We got very lucky and were seated at a window table overlooking Fantasyland.

We spent a fairly relaxing day in the park, not rushing around like we sometimes do when we’re here with the whole family. We visited some attractions we hadn’t been to in a long time — like Dumbo, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and Hall of Presidents; while hitting a few of the old favorites as well, like Jungle Cruise, Pirates, the PeopleMover, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. We capped the day off with just our second ever viewing of Happily Ever After.

Usually I would have been disappointed in an 8pm close time for Magic Kingdom. But my runDisney experience wasn’t over yet. We left the park, and headed back to our hotel where I once again prepared for another early wake up call for something I had (very unwisely) not yet even attempted… the 10K!

More on the rest of our week next time!


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