It’s hard to believe how one week ago I was playing in the warm sunshine at Universal Studios. I was starting to get tired as we waited on line for our last few rides. We had been up since 3:30am, had run a 10K starting at 5:30am, then off we went to the theme park for Harry Potter rides and butter beer.
As I sit here in cold Pennsylvania, listening to the wind whipping around outside, all I can think of is how fast it all went. I mean, I knew it was going to fly by in a flash, but wow. This trip felt like it went faster than the speed of light.
We flew down Thursday evening into Tampa International Airport because it was about $100 cheaper per plane ticket to fly there instead of Orlando. What’s 30 minutes more in the car with friends on the way to our house in Champion’s Gate? Our flight was fabulous and it was really beautiful to watch the sunset as we descended. How often do you get to see the Gulf of Mexico sunset above the clouds and then under the clouds? It was unforgettable.
Friday morning we went over to the Expo at Wild World of Sports. There we were able to pick up our race bibs, our race t-shirts, and check out all the vendors in the giant expo hall. Bonus Jen got her Ariel flip flops that she was dying for from Havaianas. She’s been waiting for those for a year so we were all pretty excited that she was able to get them. Gina was able to get her ankle taped at the Rock Tape booth, and the rest of us were able to take in all the overstimulating sights of giant crowds of people shopping for a new tank top.
We were missing a few friends in these pictures. One hadn’t arrived yet, and 5 had hit the expo lightening fast then raced out to get to the beach (see below). It was a great idea. They had an awesome day at Sand Key Park which was right below Clearwater Beach. It was a gorgeous day for the beach or for anything else you would ever want to do. Because a February day in Florida is the best day ever. Not kidding, not even a bit. I felt like a vampire ready to hiss at the sun because I hadn’t seen it so long. Pennsylvania has been so gray, it’s awful. Well, except for the freakishly warm 70 degree day on Thursday when we left. When no one was jealous that we were leaving because everyone was frolicking in the sunshine that day. Anyway, Friday was a good day for everyone.
Our group decided to go to Disney Springs to do a little shopping and have a lunch with a few celebratory cocktails. Hanger Bar was an excellent choice and we all sat around in anticipation of what was to come of the next few days.
Friday afternoon and evening we hung out at our incredibly amazing 9 bedroom house. It was so much better to rent a big house rather than finding cheap hotel rooms. There’s no way we would’ve found hotel rooms comfortable enough and with a private pool for less than $120 per person (for the whole stay!). House rentals are the way to go. Bonus Jen cooked us all a delicious meal of baked ziti with salad. We were all carb loaded and ready for the Enchanted 10K on Saturday morning.
Saturday morning we were all up at 3:30am and ready to head to Epcot by 4:30am. This was the race we decided to wear costumes and Disney magic garb. It was super fun to dress up because we knew that the whole point of this race is to festive and free the inner child. We were tired and nervous and excited to be walking out of the house to run in short sleeves and shorts. No hats, no gloves, no ear warmers or extra layers. It was just the 60 degree cool air on our skin. It was perfection.
We pulled into the Epcot parking lot around 5am, started walking toward the music, and pretty much immediately forgot where we parked. Everything looks different in the dark. But that didn’t matter at that point, all we needed to do was fine the port-o-potties so we could relieve our nervous stomachs. It’s a good thing Disney decided to rent about a million because even with that many there were still lines. We took care of business and made our way to the starting line.
This year we were a few corrals deep, so we had to wait longer than I expected. Last year we were in corral A for the 10K, which was perfect. We didn’t cross the start line until at least 6am this year.
The first 3 miles are pretty uneventful. Actually, they’re downright boring. You run out of the one section of the Epcot parking lot that you start in and head right into the darkness along the roads and parking lots to go around behind Epcot I think (I don’t know, I got pretty disoriented right at the start). These 3 miles were kinda sucky. I don’t know what my problem was. Actually, I do. I hadn’t really been thinking about running at all during that weekend. All I could think about was the fun. I just wanted to play during the race and sit by the pool and have fun. For whatever reason, I forgot that in order to do all those things I had to run 19.3 miles over the course of the weekend.
After running around in the night for about a half hour, somehow you make it to the boardwalk at around 3 miles which is by the Disney Yacht Club Hotel. This is where I woke up and became alive. The sun was starting to rise. Mama C and I FaceTimed Courtney who wasn’t able to join us for the weekend. It was about 7am so we decided that was late enough. It meant a lot for us to have her there with us even if it was just for a few moments.
We got into Epcot at around 4 miles. This is when we really started to have some fun with taking pictures. One woman even stopped me and asked to take a picture since she was dressed as Snow White’s evil step-mother. She looked fabulous and was so nice.
Sunday morning we awoke once again at 3:30am, this time we all got ready for the half marathon. Wearing our awesome tanks, Team Beauty & Beast was ready for another morning of fun. Once again, it was about 60 degrees and while we were chilly, we welcomed the temperature (I can hear the wind whistling outside right now – awful). This morning we were broken up into 2 corrals, some went to H and some went to M.
When the race started I once again wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt pretty good, I wasn’t sore or achy, but I didn’t know if my knee was going to hold up or if I was going to start falling apart halfway through this race. What I didn’t realize is that when you start after corral C there isn’t much room to run forward. We did so much zig zagging and lateral moving that I was grumpy by mile 2. But then this happened and my entire day was turned around because Up is Down (At World’s End reference).
Well, that did it. I was super charged and ready for the last 11 miles. The excitment continued from there….and it was such a great surprise to meet up with almost everyone along the way! Well, everyone except Amanda who didn’t ever stop running until she crossed the finish line.
The professional photographers captured some great moments too (and some not so great – those won’t be posted here – if you want to see them, you’ll have to head over to Instagram and look up @solefulmamasrunning – there you’ll find our “classically horrible race day photo collection” with some hilarious photos).
It was really special to see everyone after the finish where the runners were hanging out. Everyone had such a glow about them, and it was just all the sweat. Another 13.1 miles in the books! Taking pictures with our medals hanging so proudly around our necks was definitely a highlight. Racing for smiles and giggles is so much better than racing for time. I think that’ll be my goal for each race here on out.
All in all, I can’t imagine a better way to spend a weekend. We rocked this experience like the beauties and beasts that we are!