We left for Florida on Thursday around lunchtime. Our trip started out with a nice adventure - my friend Ashley met us at our place and drove us to the airport. Upon reaching our drop-off point and unloading our bags, we discovered that I'd left my wallet - with my photo ID - at home. OOPS! Daniel took our bags and got us checked in while Ashley and I drove back to the house to get my wallet. When we reached the house we discovered that Daniel had kept the house keys with him and just left Ashley with the van keys... OOPS! I raced up to Daniel's parent's house in hopes of telling Great Grandma that we needed her copy of our house key (we live next door). By the time GG got me the key, I turned to find Ashley standing in our open doorway. Apparently I'd left the windows unlocked, and it took her less than 10 seconds to break in to my house. OOPS... but WOOHOO! We grabbed my wallet, locked the windows, and headed back to the airport. Fortunately, I'd checked us in (for our tickets) the night before and already printed our boarding passes. We actually made our way to the gate and had time to spare. Yay!
Ethan was a champ on both of our flights. He actually slept through most of them, and watched Blues Clues and ate Goldfish crackers while he wasn't sleeping. We arrived in Florida a little after midnight Friday morning, and took the Disney Magical Express bus from the airport to the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort. I had checked us in online the day before, so all we had to do was go up to the desk and ask for our folder. They pointed out where our room was, and Daniel and I carried four bags and a toddler to our room. We'd purchased one of those Kelty kid-carrying-backpack-thingies to make our trip a little easier, and Ethan seemed to enjoy his bird's eye view of things while our hands were free to manage luggage.
The Port Orlean's Riverside is a great hotel. Our building was on the opposite side of a waterway/river/marina, and we crossed a footbridge, walked around the swimming pool island (it had it's own island) and crossed another footbridge that took us right up to our building. We did happen to be three floors up - but at 2am... being at Disneyworld makes all of that make sense somehow. We actually spent an hour unpacking, getting settled in, and just enjoying the fact that we were finally there!
Friday was our day to attend the Fitness Expo, pick up our race packets, and meet up with Daniel's family. I am not a big fan of expos, but I pulled myself together long enough to get my packet and check out all the cool gear offered by the vendors.
Me waiting for my packet (yellow shirt)
I survived a fitness expo - and got my baby these Mickey Ears!
After grabbing my packet, Ethan's packet, and ChEAR Squad packets for Daniel and his parents, we headed out. We did stop to take some pictures of the outside to commemorate our visit to the Wide World of Sports.
Ethan was tired of the expo by that point.
After visiting the expo, we went back to our hotel and enjoyed the pool. Ethan had a blast swimming with Daddy. Eventually we had to drag him, kicking and screaming and shivering and dripping wet, back to the hotel so we could get changed and meet Daniel's parents at Downtown Disney. We were able to ride a boat from our hotel straight to Downtown Disney! We ended up having dinner with Daniel's parents and his Uncle Chuck and Aunt Pat and cousins Austin and Payton - at an Irish Pub. We rode the boat back to our hotel and tried to get some sleep in anticipation of Ethan's big race the next morning.
Ethan enjoys the last of the bread pudding
Daddy helping Ethan with his bib
The Royal Family Kid's Races were a blast. They were held on the track complex at the Wide World of Sports. Papa got to run with Ethan. There must have been at least 100 kiddos in the 100m dash. All of the kids recieved finisher medals and lots of cheers!
A very serious finish
The back of his Race Shirt - so cute!
I took videos of the actual race, so I don't have photos of my little man in action. As soon as I figure out how to load videos, I'll share those gems with ya'll.
After the Kids' Races, we had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and spent the afternoon in the Animal Kingdom Park. Ethan especially liked the dance party in the street near closing time. We also saw the Lion King Festival, which had animatronics, life performers, acrobats and a fire juggler. Too. Much. Fun.
We returned to our hotel and hoped for a quiet evening of relaxation before our early wake up call for my race. That is not what happened. In the course of throwing a fit, Ethan flopped himself down onto the tile flooring in our hotel. Daniel was trying to keep him from hurting his head, and was holding on to his hand... which popped. We're not sure exactly what happened - did it sprain? Break? Dislocate? Ethan screamed and cried and held his arm for a good hour while we snuggled him and tried to figure out what to do. We ended up calling the advice line through our doctor's office and they told us as long as it wasn't discolored, and he could still move his fingers, then it wasn't broken and there wasn't really anything they could do to help him. We kept an eye on him all night, and gave him some Children's Motrin when he woke up next. After more crying and screaming and arm-holding, he fell asleep again for about an hour, and we joined him. Around 1am, he popped awake as his normal happy, whole, energetic self and asked for something to eat. He then fell asleep sprawled across me with a pizza crust in his hand. We never heard another peep from him about his arm and still haven't solved the mystery.
Sunday - Race Day!
We got up at 3:30am and I got dressed. In this;
My mom made me this rad tutu and mailed it to me just in time for our trip. For the race, I chose to wear my old faithful Target brand running pants and long sleeve tech shirt, with my Running on Muffins & Love tank top over that. I topped it all off with my fleece long-sleeve shirt because I knew we'd be doing lots of standing in the cold waiting for things to get started. Daniel and I headed out to our bus stop around 4am, and watched 3 buses pass us by while our stop filled with more and more race participants. Eventually we did get on a bus that took us to the race start. I have never seen such a HUGE crowd of people in my life... seriously. The organizers had things laid out pretty well, though. I gave Daniel a nice big hug and headed out on that 20 minute walk to the starting gates that they promised us. They weren't joking! It was a long walk, but the huge crowd kept moving along and made it a little more bearable. As we got closer I could hear a huge sound system pumping Miley Cyrus. They had a stage set up and were running some sort of camera with pictures of the crowd and the speakers so we could all see. I also wonder if it was broadcast somewhere. I was assigned to Corral B... for some reason?... and so I headed there and tried to get to the back of the crowd so none of the fast kids would trip on me... lol. My tutu drew lots of compliments and attention. We all waited as the countdown to the starting gun kept ticking. Some announcer taught us the Cupid Shuffle - which was a nice way to stay warm and get our bodies moving before the race.
Eventually it was time to start and the Fairy Godmoter wished us luckormagicorsomething and they lit fireworks to signal the start for each corral - that was pretty special. We started in one of the backlots near Epcot and found our way out onto the freeway - which they'd blocked off for all 14,000 of us. Along the course there was something fun during each mile. There was either a water/powerade station, or a set of Disney characters, or someone with a big sound system and music in each mile. Each mile was marked with a large sign with Disney Princess pictures along with the clock time of the race. We ran along the highway towards the Magic Kingdom, through the Transit station, through the gates of the park, and then through some backlot into the actual park. Running through Magical Kingdom was one of my favorite parts because I knew it meant we were halfway. I ran by Daniel right before I ran through the castle and he got these great shots;
This is my race face... apparently... I'm not sure if there's a way around it
This was almost cute - as you can see, the sun was on the rise at this point
Running towards the castle!
After making it through the castle, the rest of the race was a little foggy for me. We went back the way we came, but on the other side of the freeway. There were some onramps and bridges and some green army men and more pirates and princes. I had noticed on the Garmin that I was maintaining under a 12min/mile pace, and I was STOKED!!! I felt like I was really running comfortably and not pushing myself hard, so I was shocked to see how fast I was running according to the Garmin. I did end up stopping to use a porto-potty somewhere after the castle which is HORRIFIC when you are wearing a tutu. I also ended up stopping by the side of the road to stretch out my hamstrings and lower back at miles 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11. For some reason my back kept tweaking and I'm not sure why... probably the faster than normal pace? Somewhere in mile 9 (or was it 10) I approached a medical tent, thinking it was an aid station. They wrote down my number and handed me water and a tylenol. I wasn't in search of them, but I figured if they were handing it out it wouldn't hurt to take one. I also scored some Biofreeze from some gal who was just plopping it into peoples' hands. I've never seen it or heard of it before but it smells all minty and medicinal. I looked around and saw ladies wiping it all over their legs and assumed it was to help with sore legs so I rubbed it into my calves. Up to that point I'd been feeling tight in my achilles and calves and was a little nervous that they might freak out on me. As soon as the biofreeze sunk in - which took less than a minute - my legs felt perfect. It made me wish I'd put some on my entire legs... lol.
I did finally move on from the medical tent and finished my last three miles with renewed vigor. The last little bit of our race took us through a side entrance to Epcot and we ran through Tomorrowland (? or something?) and up the walkway towards the World Showcase. We looped around a great flower scultpure of Mickey and Minnie and headed back out another side entrance to the finish line.
Throughout the whole race I kept finding myself wrestling with wanting to embrace the magic of the moment, but also feeling silly about how emotional and "big" it all was supposed to seem. I spent the last three miles reflecting on the journey I've been on this past year, and just talking the the Lord and asking Him to help this whole thing really count for His glory somehow. It was a little weird to be approaching the finish line with so many mixed emotions. I was really excited to be DONE (I was tired by that point), but I also wanted to make the magic and excitement last for a lot longer. And I was questioning whether this whole year of training and planning was really worth it... all of that time for just this moment? As I was pondering those thoughts I rounded the corner to the last 100m of the race and was shocked by what I saw and heard. To the left of the course was a PRAISE CHOIR. And they were singing praise songs... to Jesus... at a Disney race. I broke down sobbing at this demonstration of worship and hoped it was a sign that God was confirming that He was - in fact - going to use this whole journey to benefit more than just me.
Crying when you're trying to sprint to the finish line of a 13.1 mile race is NOT conducive to finishing that race while breathing. My throat and chest started to close off and I had to say, "PULL IT TOGETHER CONGDON - YOU'VE GOT A RACE TO FINISH!" and push myself that last little bit.
I did it!
The finish was a blur. I know I saw my Aunt Salli and Uncle Greg cheering for me. I made my way through the finishing area and claimed my medal, then worked my way through the food line and snagged a bagel and a banana. I also managed to get a powerade and a water before finally figuring out where the exit to the family reunion area was. Greg and Salli found me first, and soon after that Daniel and his parents (with Ethan in tow) found me as well.
My first real medal!
After it was all said and done, I rode the bus back to the hotel ahead of the family so I could take a nice luxurious ice bath and shower. Ice baths are my new favorite thing... I would actually take one right now if I had enough ice (which I don't).
We actually spent the rest of the day in Epcot after my race and ate dinner at this rocking Japanese restaurant. I'm sad to say that after capturing the race photos, we kept leaving our camera in the room. We had TONS of fun in Disneyworld after the race, but the memories will have to be kept alive in our hearts rather than on photo-form.
On Monday we enjoyed Magic Kingdom. We road Space Mountain and spent about two hours riding the train around the park so that Ethan could nap in my arms. I think that might have been one of my favorite parts. Ethan got to spend time playing in Mickey's Toontown Country Fair, and then in Winnie the Pooh's Happy Place. We rode the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with Ethan, and he recognized Pooh and Tigger from our story books at home. Nana and Papa even surprised him with his own Pooh bear "for keeps" when he got off of that ride. It was a truly special day.
Tuesday morning came too early. We were up at 4:30am to get dressed, pack up the last of our stuff, and meet the bus that would take us to the airport for our flight. The great news about our trip back is that I was able to get us first class tickets using our airline miles. A six hour plane ride with a toddler is WAY more tolerable when you're in first class. After that we had a short little hop from Seattle to Portland and we arrived home around 3:30pm. We promptly went to bed and slept until about noon the next day.
And that, my friends, is the end of that story.