It’s the night before the Empire State Building Run-Up, and as usual I am blogging late into the evening. I am so excited to compete in the Run-Up, and I can’t wait to write about it! But before I do that, I have to recap some awesome stuff that happened in January. To start the New Year off right, Jackie and I went to Mission Chinese Food on Orchard St in New York. It’s one of the hottest new restaurant openings of the year, and we wanted to try it before it got even more popular.
I got there at 5:15pm on 1/2 (considered a holiday), and there was already at least a 1.5 hour wait, a mere 15 minutes after the doors opened! The hostess was very nice though, and all the customers were excited to be there and didn’t mind waiting in the cramped foyer. Jackie arrived from work 30 minutes later, and being the foodie geeks that we were, we asked to take a picture with Chef Danny Bowien. Not only did he take a photo with us, he let us have a glimpse of the kitchen, and he later gifted us a plate of super spicy chicken wings!
We shared the plate with other people in line–also our mouths were on fire because of the copious amounts of hot chilies on the plate! We buddied up with some people in line to chat about what to order, and after TWO HOURS (worth it), our table was ready!
Our friend Juergen later joined us for dinner, and we ordered all the good stuff off the menu: thrice cooked bacon, egg egg noodles, beef roll, and kung pao pastrami.
It was a ton of food, and best of all, everything was delicious. My favorite was the thrice cooked bacon…Jackie proclaimed that next time, she’s not sharing, haha. If it weren’t for the 2-hour wait, I would come here all the time. Thanks Chef Danny for meeting us, and the staff at Mission Chinese–you guys are great!
The Disney World Marathon Weekend
The weekend of January 12-13, I went on a whirlwind trip to Orlando, FL so I could run in the 20th Anniversary Disney World Marathon. I did the Goofy Challenge in 2011, and while it was fun, it was extremely expensive ($340 registration), and I wasn’t a fan of waking up at 2:30am two days in a row. The Goofy Challenge is a combination race–you run the half marathon on a Saturday, and the full marathon the day after, for a total of 39.3 miles in a weekend. It’s worth doing once, but I probably won’t do it again until I’m rolling in the dough, haha.
I arrive on Saturday morning at the Disney Caribbean Beach resort, put down my things, and headed straight to the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There were commemorative items for sale, like Dooney & Bourke 20th Anniversary marathon bags, posters, pins, and other stuff. I splurged a bit on a Dooney and Bourke cross-body bag. I couldn’t resist!
I also got to meet former Olympian Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultant. Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper was also taking photos with fans at the Cigna booth! It was the first time I’ve heard his name, but he’s a really nice guy and down-to-earth. He ran the half-marathon earlier in the day and came in third.
I was pretty exhausted after my flight, so after picking up my packet and posing for a few more photo opps, I was eager to avoid the madness and finally get to explore the park! I bought an afternoon ticket for $69 at the expo (saving $15 or so) and decided to spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom.
I got to Magic Kingdom around 3:30pm and finally ate a late lunch. I had a barbecue chicken flatbread and iced mocha from Pinocchio’s Tavern (a fast-food type place), and made a note to myself to try and eat better next time I come to Disney! It’s so hard to travel and find the “right” foods to eat before a marathon. I was meeting up with my friends Scot and Sandy (Marathon Maniacs who recently got married at the Honolulu Marathon!) so I was looking forward to seeing them and not crash on an empty stomach. I went to see the new Fantasyland, and while the structures themselves were impressive (Ariel’s castle and the Beast’s castle), the attractions were so-so and aimed towards younger kids. I really wanted to eat at the new Be Our Guest restaurant , but you had to reserve weeks in advance. Next time!
I had a blast watching Philharmagic 3-D and going on rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Haunted Mansion. Scot and Sandy joined me for the Haunted Mansion ride so that made it even more fun!
Before my day was over, I scarfed down a pulled pork sandwich from some diner in Tomorrowland, caught the “Wishes” fireworks show, and saw my favorite thing ever, the Main Street Electrical Parade!
At around 10:00pm, I finally left the park and got back to my hotel at 11:00pm. I had been awake since 3:30am Saturday and I had to wake up at 3:00am for the Disney Marathon, yikes!
So yes, I did make it out of bed (one of my fears is oversleeping for a destination marathon), and here, I bring you a sub-set of this blog post:
How to get the most bang for your buck during the Disney World marathon (and having fun with it)
1) Don’t worry about your marathon time when it’s 80F, 80% humidity, and your “stuck in an NYC winter” body hasn’t adjusted to summer temps yet.
2) Carry a camera and take lots of pictures with the characters
3) Wait 20 minutes on line for a semi-blurry photo with Mickey and Minnie
4) When you’re running on a marathon course completely exposed to sun, pretend like you’re working on your tan and that the sun is your friend.
5) Ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster mid-race (in Animal Kingdom), around mile 12.8. Best. Decision. Ever.
6) If you see a massive line for a photo opportunity, like the one at Mile 20 (the 20th anniversary “surprise”), move off to the side and take your own photo. It’s sort of like a civil way to photobomb.
7) Enjoy your shiny, spinning Mickey medal at the finish and remember that the winners of the race and the back-of-packers get the same medal!
So, my final time was 6:13:15, which was a personal worst by 13 minutes (my second-worst time was the Chicago Marathon 2007 during the heat wave), but I had a blast! It was totally worth it to get photos with all my favorite characters and to ride a roller coaster mid-race. Plus, I usually wilt in the heat so the goal was to finish without getting dehydrated. Here are a few more photos from my journey:
I got a photo with Mushu (from Mulan) in Disney World back when I was 11 years old, so the last photo has special significance for me!
I got to cheer on other Team Refuel members during the race, and I even got asked about the Team Refuel voting contest from a prospective team member. As soon as I finished and got back to my hotel, I was frantically trying to clear the room and check out (they only gave me 12:00pm checkout while another person from the same hotel got 1:00pm! Not cool). I put my stuff in the luggage room and headed to the resort’s food court in search of some calories and chocolate milk. Luckily, they had Nesquik (my favorite), and I downed it to help aid my recovery. I also had baked ziti and a breadstick to hold me over, at least until I got my second lunch haha.
I met my friend Derrick from California in Downtown Disney for some more high-quality recovery food. We ended up going to Wolfgang Puck’s Bistro for some awesome food in a casual setting. I had a hearty chicken noodle soup and a pesto chicken sandwich with aioli.
Derrick did the Goofy Challenge and had three clanging medals to prove it! The medals came in handy because RunDisney arranged for 20% off several restaurants for finishers that showed their medals. Score! Lastly, we stopped by Earl of Sandwich and I got an amazing Hawaiian chicken sandwich with pineapple. It was so delicious. I find that I like to eat two smaller meals after a marathon, because immediately after I usually have a small appetite.
I left Orlando on Sunday and had a good flight home. It was a short weekend, but filled with great memories. I am grateful for the support of Team Refuel, and I like sporting my jersey in races like this! I feel blessed to have been one of the lucky runners in the 20th Anniversary of this very special marathon.