Running Disney v. Non-Disney

I’ve done a lot of events over the past 2.5 years. A lot…probably more than I should have, but that’s a story for another day.

This post is about Disney events versus Non-Disney events. I’m only going to be talking about events that are 10k or longer since that is all I have run with Disney. I have a lot to say about 5ks and fun runs, but again…story for another day.


I thought I’d break it down into categories to compare: Pre-race day/weekend, Expo, Race Start, Race Course, Race Finish, Post-Race, and Price/Value.

The races:

2011 Nike Women’s Marathon San Francisco (Half)

2012 Disney Tower of Terror 10-miler

2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon

2013 Hershey 10k

2013 Nike Women’s Half Marathon D.C.

2013 Disneyland 10k

2013 Disneyland Half Marathon

2013 Hershey Half Marathon

2013 Philadelphia Marathon Weekend (Half)

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Full)



Pre-Race Day/Weekend:

I ran my two Nike half marathons and the Hershey 10k through Team in Training so they took care of registration. I did receive some pre-race email information, but it was limited. I am not sure if non-TNT runners receive more info or not, but there isn’t much to talk about with those.

I find that registration for any race is relatively easy. I am not a big fan of how quickly the Disney races have been selling out lately. I think a lot of this has to do with their allowance for early registration for special groups. Perhaps they should consider a lottery system for future races? I know a lot of other races have converted to lottery picks — which is why I’m not running the Nike DC half this year.

I don’t feel there is much difference in pre-race emails from disney to non-disney. I am FOREVER edgy for more information and information sooner.

I do feel like Non-Disney races tend to have essential information posted a bit earlier — course map, expo info, etc. I get very frustrated with not-knowing this important info until 3-4 weeks before the race like Disney has been doing lately.

Best Pre-Race Day: It’s a tie…




Disney definitely does an expo well. There are usually lots of vendors, great signage and lots of fun little extras. I was seriously disappointed with the two Nike expos I’ve been to. There were not a lot of outside vendors and very few “freebies.” I love a good sample freebie … (maybe that’s why I love Costco so much??).

Disney seems to be working out the kinks as their participant numbers continue to grow. They take runner feedback seriously and adjust as necessary. This is a huge plus. Many of the other expos have either been very limited (Hershey is only 2500 runners) or just look like mass chaos.

Overall, I kind of loathe the expo. I like that many runs have been putting the necessary stuff at an easily accessible area so you can avoid the huge crowds and nonsense if you want. I really wish they would find larger venues and spread things out a little, but I know there’s a cost/value factor on the organizers part that must be considered.

Winner: Disney by a landslide



Race Start

I love race starts. Disney gets points for the fireworks, but they are long and repetitive if you’re not in one of the front corrals. And, if you run more than one Disney race.

The Philly marathon/Half was an awesome start. Granted my wave’s start song was not the most empowering, but they changed it up each time which helped those of us in the back deal with the long (and I do mean looooong) wait to the start. I also liked giving the Mayor a high-five as I crossed the start line!

Nike does an awesome job with the start line. The music rocks and everyone is so hyped up.

I am giving a huge plus to the later start time most Non-Disney races have. A 230 wake-up call so the parks can get cleared…yeah that sucks.

I feel like Hershey shouldn’t even be considered. With only a small number of runners everyone starts at the same time. Its a little chaotic and very informal, but kind of nice (homey).

Winner: This one goes Non-Disney. The later start time and variety at other race starts is what pushes it over.



Race Course

Seriously? Is this even a question? Who can beat running through Disney parks? And with Disney characters and they have TONS of support along the course (food, drinks, cheer crowds, entertainment).

I was disappointed with the Disneyland Half course, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as mile 11 of the Philly Half when I was dragging beyond all belief and there was NO ONE along that mile to cheer you on. Disney always makes sure their runners are not out there alone and that counts for a lot when you’re not an elite runner.
As a side … we are looking at running a marathon in November that has water/food every 2 miles for the first 20 miles and then every mile after that. I like the consistency of knowing how often the water stops are. Disney’s are a little random and that can be difficult if you train a certain way. Especially since the course maps come out so late so you can’t even train according to the course map (you can refer back to the year before, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be the same on race day).

Also — because you run on Disney property, they are able to add additional stops or support along the course at the last minute. Several of the last Disney races I’ve done have seemed to add water stops because of high temperatures. That kind of control is really nice and an added bonus for beginner runners who aren’t as adaptable to changes in temperatures or water intake.

A downside for Disney is that they keep throwing in the darn loop around the bases. I HATE this. you kick up dirt and dust into the heels of your shoes or on the backs of your legs and it just cakes because of the sweat you’ve got dripping off of you at that point. I HATE it. Would love to see this come out of the races, but I know many people enjoy it.

Winner: Disney



Race Finish:

Nothing beats the finish line at a race.

A few of the non-disney races have had confusing finish lines or finisher shoots that go on seemingly forever.

Disney doesn’t have this one in the bag though. I wish ice was available sooner at each race or was in the same spot or something. Also, I feel like I get turned around and confused as I’m going through the shoot to get out. I was really disappointed at the Marathon in January because there was a large wall blocking much of the shoot. So as a spectator I ended up missing my husband come through.

I feel like I don’t feel like I’ve finished until I am back to my family or see my family and Disney races make this difficult. Philly was probably the best for meeting up with people and one of the best for spectators to watch at the finish line.

Winner: Tie


Finisher Area/Family Reunion Area:

I really give Disney credit for setting up tents with the alphabet to help families find each other. I also recently learned that there are public cell phones to use to get in touch with family members. I can’t comment on if other races have these cell phones since I usually run with mine in my spibelt.

I feel like it was easier for family to see and find runners at non-disney races. There are tons of bottle-neck issues at the Disney races and I saw very few signs or posted maps to help guide family members. It is also crazy-crowded at disney races. Oh, and as a note…Disney can be difficult for runners to get around to see various parts of the race — one disadvantage of having the race almost entirely on property.

Winner: Non-Disney



Disney races just keep getting more and more expensive!  It is very frustrating and a definite deterrent for runners. There is the added value of the additional course support and entertainment, but the cost is prohibitive for those on a limited budget.

That’s not to say other races are cheap. There are some very affordable races, but if you’re doing a 10k, half, or full, you can expect to have put put out some dough.

Winner: Tie — Disney’s added value is so great, but the entry price at other races is better.



Disney – II

Non-Disney – II

Tie – III


Overall: Here’s my lame total…its a tie.

Here’s why…

I LOVE running Disney because I love Disney. So the value for the price is totally worth it to me. If you LOVE running and that’s really you’re motivation, you will probably be happier at a non-disney event. Especially if you’re fast. Do not expect to run disney and not encounter walkers or walk/runners. Disney is for “fun” runners which is what I love.


Other thoughts:

You should research a race before you register for it. Look at some information from people who have run it before to gain an understanding of the atmosphere/attitude of the race. You’ll want to know a few things: how often are there fluids on the course, is there any food/fuel on the course, what food/water is on the course, how are the spectators, how is transportation to/from the finish line, look at the course map and look for elevation and where elevation occurs, blingity bling bling (Nike takes the cake with their Tiffany necklace, but I do love my disney medals!), and location (travel/non-travel).


Best wishes if you decide to take on ANY race. I’m always around for tips/pointers/feedback. Lord knows I’ve done pretty much everything wrong that I could possibly do wrong.


See ya real soon!



Marathon Trip pt. 3 — after the marathon

So the Marathon was over. I had made my choice to drop out and it was time to just enjoy ourselves!

After a few hours rest, we headed off to Downtown Disney with my parents and DH’s dad. We had a nice snack/dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express. I had some delicious mac and cheese — totally hit the spot.

Monday was our only Animal Kingdom day.

We spent the morning with my parents – Tusker House for breakfast/brunch and then hit up a few rides.


If you are going to eat in Animal Kingdom, I love the tip of hitting up the buffet at Tusker House close to 11a (our reservation was 1045). We got to catch the tail end of breakfast and then munch on lunch! We also had TONS of character interaction.

For the afternoon we hung with DH’s family. Our niece absolutely loved the petting zoo area at Rafiki’s planet watch.  I highly recommend checking this out if you have young children who are tired of being in the stroller. It is considerably less crowded so they are able to run around a little.

For dinner we hung at Fort Wilderness and had the buffet.


Tuesday was supposed to be our day at Universal, but we skipped that. We had an extra day in the Disney parks because we didn’t do Epcot on Sunday. DH’s sister and our niece headed back home and DH’s parent’s took a rest day. So we spent the day with myparents at  Epcot.

I got pictures with some of the characters and had some video saying happy birthday to our friend’s daughter as part of her bday gift.



Wednesday was one of my favorite days. In the morning we went to Downtown Disney so I could see if the running store had a brace or compression sleeve for my knee (it was still bugging me). DH and my mom rode Characters in Flight while my dad and I shopped. My mom was thrilled! Then we hit up my favorite park again — Hollywood Studios with both my parents and DH’s. It was so fun to spend the day with everyone. We drug DH’s parents around and wore them out quite a bit. BUT! My highlight was getting my dad to ride not only Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but also Tower of Terror (my favorite ride ever). We also stayed and caught Fantasmic! I am so glad we were able to share that with my dad and with DH’s parents (my mom and DH and I had seen this on prior trips).


Can’t go too far without a reminder of our love pup, Oscar Winkerbean!

Thursday was relaxing day. My parents headed out after breakfast and we took our time getting to Magic Kingdom. DH’s parents were planning to do another day in Animal Kingdom, but decided to join us in the afternoon. After a little curfluffle, I convinced everyone we needed to ride some rides! DH’s parents had a rough time on Sat when they were in MK so I wanted to be sure they had a better experience here.


In case you were wondering … this is what Buzz looks like when they stop the ride near the end. They actually put the side rails up while the ride is stopped and then lowered them to start it again. This normally is a black tunnel with lots of stars floating around.

Our ride photo is hilarious…





Did I mention it was COLD?! So cold … hence the heavy fleece jackets we’re wearing.

Friday was DH’s parent’s last day. So we went to Epcot since DH’s mom had been raving for months about how much she loved Epcot (mind you she hadn’t been to disney in 20?? years.).Image

We had an awesome lunch at spice road table where sampled pretty much the entire menu. The food was sooo good! Something didn’t agree with me in the end, but the food was delicious!

DH’s mom and I got oyster pearls at Japan and we rode a few  more rides before calling it a day.


For dinner, DH and I did Boatright’s at our resort. So good! I wish I was feeling better and could’ve eaten more!




Saturday was our last full day and we were a bit “Disney’d” out for this trip. We took it easy and headed to MK around lunchtime for a few hours, then to Downtown Disney for a few hours and finally back to MK for dinner at … yup … Be our Guest!!


A perfect ending to our trip!

We had a wonderful time. Survived the marathon and a “big family vacation.” But, we were ready to get home to our booga-boy, Oscar.


See ya next time!





January Goal Recap and February Goals!

January Recap:

1- Bootcamp — well I started and made it to the first two classes, then missed 3 for vacation, one for snow, one for my Team in Training kick-off and one for being sick. I got back into it on Saturday and am planning to make it for the remainder of them! I looooove bootcamp!

2 – Marathon — I attempted and didn’t succeed. I’m in the process of picking out my next marathon to attempt and have signed up for some physical therapy to figure out what’s going on with my hip and knee. See my marathon trip part two blog post for more info on what happened during the race.

3 – Push-ups — haven’t even tried this.

4 – Skier stomps — again, no attempt here. We did these on Sat and I feel like I’m doing better, but my goodness do they hurt!

5 – Fitness/Health plan — still working on this one. Life kind of got in the way, but its on my radar as something to get sorted out!

6 – Finances — umm..yeah. Need to do better with this. Again, life got in the way.

7 – House fix-up. We are working on this slowly and steadily. I sorted out my closet and have a large pile (several bags actually) for good-will. I also sorted all my old magazines. I still have a TON to do to get the house ready for sale, but I’m working on it.

8 -Work – apparently going on vacation is good for  business. I’ve been super busy at work and we had our best month ever for gross income.

9 – Relax – Life kind of forced me into this with a nasty cold!

10 – Food – we’re working on this one too!

I cannot believe how fast January flew by! We had New Year’s and then a rush to get ready and head off for our vacation in Florida! Before we knew it we were back home (missed our Oscar Winkerbean — dog — terribly!). Then it was a big project at working and getting everything sorted out there from being away. By Wed of our first week back I started coughing and then lost my voice. Headed to the Dr. to get my hip/knee checked (nothing broken, nothing torn, PT it is…). The cough turned into a cold and a week of DH working REALLY late getting ready for the state budget stuff. And then it was February. What?! How’d that happen???

February Goals: I’m gonna keep it simple and cut back to five for this month.

1 – House – tackle one big house project each weekend.

2 – Food – More homemade, less processed (duh…I’m always trying!)

3 – Finances – Cut back on spending (seriously) and try to bank some extra buck this month.

4 – Physical Health – Finish up boot camp and keep up with training for my TNT event this spring (10k).

5 – Mental Health – More book/magazine reading. I like to read before I fall asleep and I want to get back into this habit. It helps me relax and sleep better.


Welp! That’s it for me for now… stay tuned for more on my marathon trip and some other fun goodies I have planned!


Marathon Trip !! (part two)

Welcome back! If you missed it, check out part one of our Walt Disney World Marathon 2014 trip here.


We left off Saturday night all prepped and ready for our race the next day. BTW – if you are staying on property check if they have “runners breakfast” to-go available. We grabbed these Sat night and they had a plain bagel, peanut butter, a banana and some other things in them.

We set our alarms and woke up at 230a. Our plan was to have an hour to get ready, but we ended up only needing a half hour. It all worked out though and were on the second bus out of the resort over to the race.

When we got there we found a spot to sit down and we slowly ate our breakfasts. I could barely eat and I don’t touch Peanut Butter before a race (hate burping that stuff up!).  A guy sat down next to us and started chatting with us. He was surprised to see a husband and wife out there together as his wife was still in bed at the hotel. And, he said she often doesn’t even travel with him to runs. Guess we are blessed!

Soon it was time to head to the starting corrals. I was in a corral behind DH (not sure how that worked out…) so he jumped back to be with me. We were in the second to last corral so we had awhile to wait.

I was so glad I had brought along two big trash bags from home, they served us well and kept us snuggling and warm before the run. We again were chatting it up with some people nearby.

If the guy who carried his “kids” with him reads this, let me know! It was great talking with you and I wish I had gotten your bib number to see how you had done in the race!

Finally it was our time to start. I have to say I am impressed that it really wasn’t too long of a wait for us, even 14 or so corrals in…Disney got ’em rolling well.

I also get so emotional at the start of a race. I think its the anxiety and excitement and all the people who are doing it, it just gets to me.

Race start:

Wow, so fun! Disney knows how to start a race I will tell you that!

Right away we saw my parents. I was so excited that they were able to spot us in the dark and in the big crowd! I can’t say enough how much it helped having people cheering us on and to see them right at the start was awesome!!

Mile 1-5:

I don’t remember a lot of about this. We did a walk/run combo as needed. My running is def improving and I am able to actually run for longer which is great.  I also can’t believe how easily the start of the race flew by. I was barely feeling it at this point!

Mile 5-6:

Wow!  I really never get over how awesome it is to not just BE on main street, but to run down it with so many fans cheering you on. So amazing.

I will say I think Disney needs to adjust the course a little once all of Fantasyland is cleared of construction walls. The course gets really narrow up around the teacups and Pooh. I wish we had stopped for a photo in front of the castle, but maybe next time!

Jon stopped in Frontierland to use the bathroom and I took off for a little… I felt bad because he ended up having to sprint to catch me.

Mile 6-8:

Ugh! Boring! I never mind the first part of the race, before you get to Magic Kingdom. But then afterwards it feels like the next “thing” is soooo far away!

Mile 8-9:

I LOVED running around the race track! I grew up on dirt track racing and NASCAR so it is really cool for me. I know a lot of people complain about this part, but frankly,I loved it! I will say the entrance is REALLY narrow and congested. But the track itself was nice and open. If you need to pee, just keep running. The portos are really spread out here, kind of oddly…

I lost DH to a bathroom stop again.

It was leaving the track that I started to get the nagging pain in my left hip that had plagued me at the Philly Half back in November. Ugh…I stopped and stretched it for a second and then kept going — hoping it would work itself out!

Mile 9-12:

This was my downfall. The hip problem did not work itself out at all. It just got worse and worse and spread to my knee. To the point that my knee cap felt like it was going to snap. UGH!! I was so frustrated with this. I thought for sure the extra cross training I had done had helped. I also thought the extra rest and the warmer weather would be better. Guess not. By the time we got to mile 12 I wasn’t sure how much more I could pull off.

Mile 12-13:

As we entered Animal Kingdom I finally let DH in on how my bad I was feeling. He asked if it was serious and I said I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish without seriously injuring myself. We spent the mile talking it out and I finally convinced him to go on without me. As we rounded out mile 13 and hit a water stop, we parted ways. I talked to someone at the water stop who instructed me that the swag wagon would be pulling up the rear of the race and I would have to wait for them. She checked and was told it was 4-5  miles back from where we were ….which meant at least an hour of waiting.

I sat down and cried and felt sorry for myself for a good fifteen minutes. Then i fretted and felt sorry for myself some more. And then I realized this isn’t who I am and that I had done this distance before and needed to at least do more than I had previously done.

So I got up and moved on. I told myself that I needed to get to mile 14 so I could say I did more than I’d ever done …

I will say I am super proud that I did PR on my half marathon time. If I had not sat down where I did, I could prove that I PR’d through my timing chip, but I happened to sit down about 100 ft from the ticker point and therefore my time on the chip is waaaay off.

Mile 13-14:

This was tough. I managed to do a walk/hobble (not quite a run!) for the next mile. MAN, did I have to pee though! Right before the 14 mile marker was  a medic stop. I stopped to grab a tylenol, which made me think…how much further can I go if I take a tylenol…at least another mile… so I kept on truckin’!

Mile 14-15.5:

I was holding out pretty good through here. I couldn’t do anything except walk at this point without my knee killing me. But, I could still walk just fine. So I did that.

Mile 15.5-16.??

There was a food spot somewhere along here with Clif gels. I stopped and talked to one of the bike medics about the pain I was having and if I should pull out. He said it sounded like it was really up to me. I wasn’t having shortness of breath or anything that was medically dangerous, but I was having pain that could cause injury (if it hadn’t already). He informed me that the next medic stop was just “over the hill” if I thought I could make it to there, they might be able to help. I thought, hey…why not.

So I kept going again. That hill was a bugger though!

I happened to cross the 16 mile marker on my way!

I stopped at the medic stop and they weren’t really able to do anything. They didn’t have tape or wraps or anything and could really only offer me tylenol. They didn’t even have any bio-freeze left. I had a choice to make. I could wait for the swag wagon (which was at this point only about 2 miles behind me) or try to keep going.  Since it was my third time stopping I decided to wait it out and pull myself from the course.

My thoughts were this. I knew whatever was going on is a problem that I’ve been having for awhile and need to get taken care of. I knew that if I made it to mile either 18 or 20, I would want to push myself further and finish the race. I thought that if I pushed myself to finish I might cause serious problems with my hip and/or knee (my family has a history of knee problems and I’m trying to avoid needing a knee replacement when I’m older). I knew I would be proud of doing 16 miles — more than I had done before. So that was when I was like…okay…its time to stop for real.

As the end of the race made its way to us it was really inspiring to watch all the runners. I truly want to make it out and just cheer someone else on one of these days!

I especially love the people who are holding in and bringing up the rear. The fact that they just keep going even with the balloon ladies right there is really something. I’d be so stressed if those ladies were that close to me (although they seem nice!).

The Ride back:

So we waited… and waited… for a van to come and get us. If we got on the bus, we’d have to wait and follow the end of the course. But they were running vans back to the start line. They filled up the first van with people who had medical needs that weren’t urgent. Then they loaded the rest of us into the next van.

At this point I was smiling. Yes, I was disappointed that I didn’t finish, but I had made a decision and felt okay with it. There was a woman in the van who had all her dopey bracelets on and was crying. I felt so bad. I just wanted to reach out and hug her, but she was trying not to let people see that she was crying and wasn’t really chatting with anyone. Normally I would’ve approached, but I get that people need to have their space and deal with what’s going on so I just let her go.

So that’s where the fun begins. The van had to cross over the center grass between the highway lanes in order to get us back to the start. It had been rainy in Florida and it didn’t go so well … our van at first couldn’t make it…and then got stuck. And, then the driver tried to get unstuck while we were still in the van which made me nauseated.  Finally they unloaded us and called another van. So we sat on the highway and waited and watched as trucks came along to try to get the van we were originally in…out of the mud (they couldn’t by the way). Our second van arrived and we were off. I got quite chilled sitting on the highway and the need to pee settled in really quickly and really aggressively! As we drove off to Epcot I swore I was going to pee all over the van, but I didn’t.

Getting out of the van after not finishing is a really weird experience. As soon as you step out they take your bib number and hand you a medal. There’s no like…here, would you like a medal. Nope, its pretty much thrown in your hands. They also offer snacks, medical attention and a few other things. I had to pee so bad so I just asked for the nearest porto and jetted.  I didn’t grab any snacks or anything (which I regretted later).

So here’s where the problems arose. When DH and I parted, he took the cell phone with him…and the watch. I had no idea what time it was or how to get a hold of anyone. So I asked if there was a way to get a hold of family members and they informed me that at the CIGNA tent were free cell phones to use. This is awesome! I didn’t know this existed!

I had some trouble getting a hold of anyone, but was able to meet up with my dad eventually. We hung out near the finish line waiting for Jon, but we ended up missing him somehow. We did catch up with him, his mom and my mom after quite awhile of sitting in the sun (sunburn, yup).

Here’s a photo of DH and I after the race!


I am so proud of him finishing!!

Seriously annoyed he finished without an ounce of training. Yup, not even working out…not training. Unless you count beer on the couch! But proud of him for pulling it off!

I was such a ball of emotions. DH’s mom couldn’t understand why I refused to wear the medal. I guess its hard to explain to someone, but I didn’t do a Marathon so I don’t want to wear a marathon medal … I’m still trying to decide what to do with it. I’ve toyed with having my brother cut a notch or crack into it and I’ve also toyed with using it to make a shadow box for DH … we’ll see.

I’ll wrap up the rest of our trip in part 3!

Until then, happy trails!