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Old 05-03-2007, 10:54 PM   #46
KathyRN137
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Arrow The Half-and-Half Report: Part 9

Still Friday, 1/5/07


I was feeling a whole lot better after our nap. It was about 3:30 when we found ourselves at the bus stop waiting for the bus to take us to the Magic Kingdom. The sky remained a hazy shade of gray, and it still felt warm, but not uncomfortably so. Perhaps because of the hour, it did seem to take quite a while for the bus to arrive. When it did, it was practically empty. A couple with several young children and two strollers got off, and we climbed aboard.

First, we made a stop at the Dolphin, which was entirely reasonable. Sister resorts and all that. But then came all the other Epcot resorts: first the Beach Club, then theYacht Club, and finally, the Boardwalk. It felt like we were on that bus for a very long time, especially when I was itching to get to the MK! Hmmmm. So far the first negative thing we’ve discovered about staying at the Swan.

We eventually rumbled up to the MK and took that lovely little walk along Bay Lake from the bus stop to the entrance. I loved seeing the CR and the Poly in the distance and the GFR practically a stone’s throw away! It was a fairly quick trip through bag check and the turnstiles and…we were in!

Ahhh! I just love looking up at that train station and knowing what lies beyond! Then passing through that darkened tunnel and getting hit with that first reveal….it’s just wonderful! The ultimate high of every trip!

We didn’t want to stray too far from the Town Square because we planned on seeing the 5:00pm Flag Retreat (for the first time) and it was already around 4:00pm. So, we just wandered around Main Street a little, looking in all the windows and just enjoying the space. I did pop into the Emporium because Ed’s Aunt Rae had asked me to look for a white YOMD sweatshirt that she had regretted not picking up during our family vacation last November. Hmmm. No luck here. “Perhaps at World of Disney”, offered the CM behind the counter. Oh darn, more shopping!

It was getting closer to 5:00, so we drifted back down Main Street to the flagpole. CMs were already trying to block off the space by directing guests around and not through the little green where the flagpole was located. I laughed sympathetically at some clueless guests who, upon entering the park, were just so dumbstruck looking up and all around at everything that they just walked right on through and had to be gently redirected by the CMs to go around. The MK can be a bit overwhelming to the senses when you first arrive!

~~The MK brass band appeared above on the RR station and the horns announced the start of the Flag Retreat Ceremony.~~




~~The members of the Color Guard appeared and slowly marched to the flagpole, the “veteran of the day” in their midst. If I recall correctly, we then sung the National Anthem, and then the flag was lowered as the bugler played Taps.~~






~The flag was carefully folded.~






~And the veteran of the day had the honor of carrying the flag away.~






I’m so glad we finally had a chance to see this! Usually at 5:00pm, we are either deep in the park with the kids or hurrying to make our dinner reservation, so it was a real treat.

And, speaking of “treats”, that popcorn was smelling soooo good! We hadn’t eaten since our breakfast at Fresh, and we were both feeling mighty hungry. We headed over to Tony's Town Square to see if they could fit us in any earlier than our 5:45 ADR. They said that they would try, which was good enough for me!

Ed had indicated that he wanted to load up on carbs the night before the race, and I had already decided that I had wanted to visit the MK tonight, so spaghetti at Tony’s seemed to be just the right choice when we were making dinner plans! We were seated in the main dining room and our order was taken by 5:30, so Ed was very pleased that we were ahead of schedule.

This restaurant was another first for us and I was looking forward to trying it out. There was a lot of dark wood with deep wine and gold accents, but not overly ornate. A statue of Lady and the Tramp graced the center of the room and Christmas garlands still hung from the ceiling and over the windows.

We each ordered a salad and the spaghetti and meatballs. I had read both positive and negative reviews about Tony’s, but honestly, I don’t recall the meal being either super spectacular or super disappointing. It's pretty hard to mess up spaghetti! It was good, and we ate our fill. I couldn’t finish my last meatball and joked with Ed that, if it had not been for my cold, I could have nudged it over to his plate with my nose! I think he was relieved that we would be forgoing duplicating that particular scene from the movie!

Afterwards, we decided to walk all the way to the back of the Town Square Exposition Hall next door. This was the first time we visited this area, as well. There was a small exhibit featuring antique cameras and the like that was fairly interesting, and next to that, a small area of theater seating and a modest movie screen. There weren’t any cartoons being shown at that time, however, so the seats were empty. There were, however, some nice little photo ops provided by and we had a little fun with those:











We’ll have to bring the kids here next time!

We went back outside and it was then that I noticed the little “dog prints” in the cement walk outside of Tony’s…so cute! (More Lady and the Tramp details.)

It was almost seven o’clock now, so I asked Ed if he wanted to leave because he had to be up so early the next day. He felt we could walk around a bit more, so we started strolling down Main Street toward the Castle.

“Well, what do you wanna do?” he asked me.

“I don’t know. What do you wanna do?” I replied.

That just stopped him dead in his tracks. “Whaaat? You mean you don’t have a plan?” (I always have a plan!) This was completely out of character. Usually I spend months pouring over park hours, fireworks and parade schedules, EMHs and ADRs. I work and re-work our Operational Plan until it is “perfect”. And then I tinker with it some more.

But not tonight. Tonight, we were just going to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. No rides. No shows. No kids. No pressures. Tonight, it would be MK Lite.

We walked to the end of Main Street and past the Crystal Palace, stopping for a few moments to admire the Castle from the little bridge that led to AdventureLand. There was no SpectroMagic Parade scheduled, so we enjoyed a very light crowd that night. We continued our stroll past the Carpets and the Jungle Cruise and over to Caribbean Square, where Ed found the kiosk that peddled his favorite WDW snack: sugared almonds. We sat on a bench for a while and munched.

“Lets do Pirates”, he said suddenly.
“Sure!” I answered, surprised that we were going to do “a ride” afterall.

We journeyed once more into the Pirates’ dank and spooky cave and floated along past familiar scenes of looting and pillage…..enhanced now by the likeness of Jack Sparrow. We laughed as we remembered our son Billy’s enthusiastic reaction every time Capt. Jack appeared: “There he is!! There he is!!” We had all had such a truly wonderful trip!

WDW is so very different without the kids. When we are there as a family, it's fun for us mostly because we see the joy and pleasure it brings to our children. It's busy and exciting, a little stressful, but overall just a happy blur of wonderful activity. Here tonight, just the two of us, we could slow down and enjoy another aspect of WDW... the romantic side!

"I really like this", Ed told me. "It's so nice to just take our time and not rush around like we always do."

"We'll just have to come here every year for our anniversary!" I replied.
Ed just smiled.

(Well, he didn't say "No"!)

Afterwards, we wound our way back through AL and back down Main Street, just as the crowd was beginning to build for Wishes. Ed had to be up at 3:30, however, so we had to skip the Fireworks and make it an early night. He was really excited about the race the next morning and we talked about it (for a good long while) at the bus stop.

Eventually, we make it back to the Swan via the local. Once in our room, we made our little good night call to the kids; everything was fine on the home front. Ed laid all his things out for the next morning and by 9:30 I had dosed myself with more NyQuil and we were drifting off to SlumberLand in the Heavenly Bed once more!



Next Up: Ed's Big Race!


Kathy

Last edited by KathyRN137; 05-04-2007 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 05-04-2007, 09:00 AM   #47
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Sometimes I miss the old days when it was just Lin & I. We could "mosey" around and not hurry. Take our time and enjoy the details of WDW. Like you said though, it's a different kind of fun. We also enjoy watching our children have a lot of fun. When I was a kid, we didn't do big family vacations like this. That's why it's so important that I do them and probably the reason I do them so often.

Thanks for the reporting.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:07 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathyRN137 View Post
This restaurant was another first for us and I was looking forward to trying it out. There was a lot of dark wood with deep wine and gold accents, but not overly ornate. A statue of Lady and the Tramp graced the center of the room and Christmas garlands still hung from the ceiling and over the windows.
I didn't see that! There's sooooo much we missed. Kind of makes it exciting to go back!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy
WDW is so very different without the kids. When we are there as a family, it's fun for us mostly because we see the joy and pleasure it brings to our children. It's busy and exciting, a little stressful, but overall just a happy blur of wonderful activity. Here tonight, just the two of us, we could slow down and enjoy another aspect of WDW... the romantic side!
Someday I'd like to take a romantic trip to WDW with DH. Sounds like you two really enjoyed it
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Old 05-06-2007, 09:39 PM   #49
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Arrow The Half-Marathon Course:



******************************

Busy, busy weekend... I will post soon. Thought you might like to study the race course. I understand that it changes a bit each year, in 2008 it will include Animal Kingdom!

I offered Ed the opportunity to write his own part of the next post but, gentleman that he is, he is deferring to me!

I am going to interview him as soon as we get more than just a few minutes of peace and quiet around here. I'll do both his perspective and mine.

Be back soon,

Kathy

Last edited by KathyRN137; 05-12-2007 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 05-07-2007, 04:43 AM   #50
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keep it coming!
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:02 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathyRN137 View Post
I offered Ed the opportunity to write his own part of the next post but, gentleman that he is, he is deferring to me!

I am going to interview him as soon as we get more than just a few minutes of peace and quiet around here. I'll do his perspective in italics and mine in regular font.

Be back soon,

Kathy
That sounds fun Kathy!!!!
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:34 AM   #52
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Looking forward to it!
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:27 PM   #53
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I have been looking everyday for the rest of your report so here is a cheer for you. RA RA yes you can if you can't do it know one can. GO Kathy.
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Old 05-10-2007, 09:44 PM   #54
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Quote:
Someday I'd like to take a romantic trip to WDW with DH. Sounds like you two really enjoyed it
- blue-river

While I agree with the sentiment, I find nothing romantic about having to actually participate in the grueling work of the 5K. I am all over the
but my hat goes off to you KathyRN for actually pounding pavement. Ed has a really great wife! My DH would have been watching me pound the coffee and pore over my TGM plans while waiting for him to finish!

Now I am all over the idea of the half marathon, maybe because I feel it will be more fun for you......

Oh, and you have a real gem of a DH, to pace with you was so sweet!

On with the show my friend......
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Old 05-11-2007, 04:48 PM   #55
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Red face I'm "running" behind.....

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I have been looking everyday for the rest of your report so here is a cheer for you. RA RA yes you can if you can't do it know one can. GO Kathy.
Oh boy!

Now I'd better get my butt in gear!!

I've been a bit busy the past few days planning our November trip. Yep, that's right. My OP (Operational Plan) has been sketched out and my ADRs have all been made!!

Ed has this weekend off, so we will put our heads together and post the next installment tomorrow. See you then....

Kathy

Last edited by KathyRN137; 05-11-2007 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 05-11-2007, 05:01 PM   #56
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My OP (Operational Plan) has been sketched out and my ADRs have all been made!!
Wow, and my wife says I am an over-achiever

Looking forward to the next installment
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:04 AM   #57
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This is really cool. I already told my family we should do the 5k family run so maybe next year.
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:12 PM   #58
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Arrow The Half-and-Half Report: Part 10 The Half Marathon

Saturday, 1/6/07

3:30 am: the Swan
Ed (as told to Kathy)

I didn’t get to bed as early as I had hoped, so when the alarm went off at 3:30, I was kind of tired. I got dressed in the dark because I was trying not to wake you. I was glad that I had laid my clothes the night before. I mixed up a bottle of Cytomax (a sport energy drink) and grabbed two Power Bars. I took the special plastic bag that had been provided for our personal items, stuffed a sweatshirt inside in case I needed it and quietly left the room.

I got downstairs and it was a little creepy walking through the nearly deserted hotel. Down in the lobby I thought it was funny to see two young couples still dressed to the nines from the night before, making out in different areas of the lobby. Otherwise, there was no one around.

I walked outside and saw two charter buses idling at the curb. It was still dark and the air had a slight chill, but I knew it was going to be a warm day, so I was glad that I had dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. By now it was about 4:15. I got on the bus and there was only about 4 or 5 other runners on board. All were pretty quiet and kept to themselves; guess we were still waking up. We idled for about another 15 minutes, and when no one else showed up, we headed off to the Dolphin where we found three more marathon buses, stacked!


3:30 am: the Swan
Kathy:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. (Are you kidding? It’s 3:30 in the morning!) I’m not getting up until I absolutely have to! See you later…..



4:30 am: On the Bus
Ed:

We sat at the Dolphin for what seemed like a really long time and everyone on the bus was really getting irritated. Come on, there are three other buses, let’s go! A bunch of us said as much to the driver and he closed the doors and drove to the Beach Club. Here we found, no exaggeration, about a hundred runners milling around the bus stop and no buses. The entire bus got filled, standing room only, and there were still folks left waiting.

There seemed to be no communication between the drivers; it was so stupid to have all the buses idling at the Swan and Dolphin when there were so many people waiting at the Y&BC. We took off and, unbelievably, the driver looked as though he was preparing to turn into the driveway for the Boardwalk! “We’re all full here! We can’t take anymore!” we all called out. So, we bypassed the Boardwalk and went straight to Epcot. They really needed to coordinate the buses better; I hoped the Boardwalk people would make it to the start on time!

We pulled into the Epcot parking lot and we were dropped off way out there. We had a long walk to the staging area. It was still dark, so the streetlights were on. It felt like the middle of the night. The first section of the staging area was set up like a big rectangle. There were refreshment tents and vendors showing plaques and picture frames that you could buy for your race photos along one side, a stage with a live band playing on another, and another row of tents for dropping off your plastic bags and warm-up clothes on the third. The last wall was made by that orange plastic snow fencing. There were refreshments available, but you had to buy bottles of water and such if you wanted it before the race. People were sitting all over the ground, listening to the band, and waiting for things to get started. It was about 5:30 and the race start was 6:00 am. I would recommend bringing a small towel with you so you have something to sit on. I took my sweatshirt out of my plastic race bag and spread it on the ground. Then I sat down, attached my chip to my shoe, pulled out my bottle of Cytomax and began to wait.


5:15 am: the Swan
Kathy:

I woke up and quickly took a shower and dried my hair. There was no spectator viewing available at the race start (except for a video viewing wall), so there was no need for me to be there by six. I grabbed a bottle of water and a granola bar and took off for the elevator. My plan was to first go to the MK, watch for Ed from the viewing area there, then hop on the monorail and meet him at the finish/family reunion area at Epcot. The viewing areas at the MK would be only be accessible after 6:30 and, based upon Ed’s plan to do easy 10 min miles (the maximum pacing requirement was 16 min per mile) and to walk through the water stops, he figured on reaching the MK sometime around seven.

At about a quarter to six, I was outside and looking for a spectator bus. I struck up a conversation with a father and son (about 9 yrs old) who were also going to the MK to cheer on Mom and a family friend. I’ll call them Goofy and Max, not because Dad was particularly goofy, just because of the father/son thing. The son showed me the signs he had made for them and I showed him my GO ED! Then I remembered… the MK was only going to be accessible by monorail! Doh! “I’m going to grab a cab, want to share?” I asked. So, we quickly hailed one of the cabs that was parked in front of the hotel and sped off to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).


5:30 am: the starting corral
Ed:

After stretching awhile and getting pumped up listening to the band, people began getting up and moving toward a set of tents to get to the next pre-race staging zone. The race was going to have a split start. We were assigned to waves A, B, or C according to our estimated finishing time, and I was assigned to wave A.

First, we passed through a set of tents for bag drop-off. It was a little confusing; I assumed that the alphabetical divisions they posted were according to last name, so I got on the line that included “K”. I got all the way to the front and was told that they were going by first name, which was weird. So, I got on another line and dropped off my plastic bag containing my sweatshirt and was given a ticket so I could retrieve it after the race. I thought that was a really good idea. I had read that in the past, runners wore old sweatshirts/pants and just threw them to the side when they were no longer needed. Disney would collect them after the races and donate them to homeless shelters. It could be a real hazard for the runners, though, if they tripped over discarded clothing along the course, so this was probably much safer.

Once through the bag check, I found myself in yet another fenced-off holding area with more port-a-johns than I had ever seen before in one place! Most of us took advantage of them. Then an announcer began calling for all Wave A people to begin moving toward the fence. We all clumped together and slowly funneled through a narrow opening in the fence where volunteers were checking our bibs to see if they were marked for the correct wave. It was told to us ahead of time in the race packet that if you were running with another person and you were assigned to different waves that you both had to run in the slower wave, but I still saw several people get turned away and sent to the next corral.

Then it was another fairly long walk (0.6 mile) to the start on Epcot Center Drive and it was so congested that it took about 5 min to get there. It felt a little strange to be walking with such a large group in the pitch darkness, but everyone seemed to be in a good mood and we joked that we hoped this counted as part of the 13.5 miles!

The start was all lit up and DJs from Radio Disney were playing music and talking to people from the various groups running for charity. It wouldn’t be long, now, and you could really feel the energy in the crowd. Despite the fact that there had been about a hundred port-a-johns in the staging area, a lot of people who made the mistake of drinking too much water were hopping the fence to “go” in the woods. My feet were actually beginning to hurt a little from all the standing around, and I was anxious to just get going.

I began talking to a lady from NY who told me that she was planning to run the Goofy Challenge (the half today, plus the full tomorrow.) She had run halves and fulls before, but confided that she thought this would be her last full-distance race for quite a while since she would soon need surgery on her ankles. I told her that this was my first half marathon and that I didn’t really care about my time; I was just looking to finish!

We were about 200-300 yards from the start and it looked like there was a ton of people in front of me. Then I looked behind me and saw that there were a ton more! The National Anthem was played and, just as in the 5K yesterday, a burst of small fireworks went off at "the rockets' red glare". Then, at 5:55, the wheelchair racers had their start. The rest of us slowly moved forward. Then at 6:00, the starter’s pistol signaled the runner’s start for Wave A. (Wave B would start at 6:10 and finally, Wave C would start at 6:30.)

We began to move and I made sure to keep it at a walk. People have a tendency to fall all over each other at the start when there is really no room to go yet. After about 2 minutes, it began to thin out and NY Lady and I began to run.



5:55 am: In a taxi
Kathy:

Goofy and Max looked a little confused when I instructed the cabbie to take us to the TTC. They didn’t realize that we couldn’t get dropped off directly at the MK; we needed to pick up the monorail. Max was happy; he thought that would be really cool.

We ran into a lot of traffic really soon. Fortunately, the driver knew about the race and was prepared for the detours. We were riding along when, suddenly, BOOM! FLASH! A short burst of fireworks went off to our left. “That’s the start!” we all cried. Let’s go! But soon we found ourselves thwarted. Cars were stopped and being directed to the needed detours and seemed to take forever talking to the traffic control volunteers. Magical Express buses added to the congestion and we came to a dead stop, still nowhere near the TTC. Would we all make it to the MK in time to cheer on our loved ones??

Kathy
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Old 05-12-2007, 03:15 PM   #59
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Gah!! Cliffhanger!! Evil woman!!
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