Royal Family 5K & Magic Kingdom

Royal Family 5K
A's first race
February 26, 2011
Weather - Partly cloudy, a little chilly waiting for the start

"If you dream it, you can do it" - Walt Disney

I'll admit. I've been looking forward to this race since I signed A up for it. She is always wanting to race with me, but she just doesn't grasp the concept of how far a race really is. This was going to be the perfect race for her since it's "just for fun" yet she would get a shirt and medal out of it.

We had to get up by 4:30 to get ready and catch a shuttle to the start. A woke up briefly around 4:00 and I decided to just get up and get ready to avoid having to rush. Just in case. I woke up A and L at 4:30. Getting A ready was easy and fast. She was surprisingly cooperative considering the early hour.

We had to walk to the lobby of the hotel to catch the shuttle. We didn't even have to wait, we just got on the bus and headed to Epcot. We arrived early, and had a lot of time to kill until the start of the race.

Start Line
One of the things we did to kill time was wait in line to have our picture taken with Belle and the Beast. While we were waiting in line, I happened to spot Little Fruit Fly. She is so cute in person! And her and her mom were so nice! We were lucky to get the picture, they stopped posing about 5 minutes after we got through.  the picture, we hung out with them for a bit, then headed to the bathrooms before it was time to get in line at the corrals.

A was READY to run. Unfortunately she had to learn the rule of standing around waiting for things to happen. They played some fun music and we danced and sang while waiting for the 6:45 start.

Start Line
And then.. just like that, it was time to start. We had decided to start in the 13-15 minute per mile pace group. We hoped that with me and L pacing her that A wouldn't start out too fast.

I opted to hang back just a bit. L held A's hand and gave her directions of where to run to move around the people who were walking. I stayed back to make sure that we didn't lose sight of her. After all, there WERE 5,000 people running.

Just starting out
I almost never run without my iPod, but I always do when I run with A. I can't even describe how surreal this race was for me. I figured she would do ok the first mile and then she would probably struggle a bit after that since she has never run further than that. Not to mention it's been a few weeks since she ran at all.

Mile 1- We were a few minutes behind the gun
Brief stop at mile 1 for picture
She did GREAT the first mile. I asked her a few times how she was feeling, and every time she would say "good." She got lots of comments about how cute she was and how well she was running. So awesome!

Entering Epcot

Having fun!
I think she enjoyed the run through Epcot the most. The sun was out and there were things to look at. She was getting lots of encouragement from both me and L, and people on the course, as well as Disney workers.


Still going strong!
Mile 2
I couldn't believe it when we got to the Mile 2 marker and she had still not walked. She had opted to run through the first water station and was reluctant to stop for even a second for a picture.

She made it to about 2.25 miles before she started getting tired and thirsty. L was running with a small water bottle and A took a few drinks. When she took her walk breaks they were very short and she would start running again without any prompting from us.

A and me
Getting closer to the finish!

So close to the end!
With less than a quarter mile to go, she was starting to lose her energy. She started to get a little sad and was saying she was really tired and her legs hurt. I knew we didn't have that much further to go, and she had done so much better than I thought she would. Giraffy got a picture of us running by right around the 3 mile marker. You can tell by A's posture that she is super tired.

I was unbelievably happy when we crossed the finish line. After crossing the line, A got some pixie dust (glitter) put in her hair and then we collected our cool medals. She was definitely tired, but the medal cheered her up. I made sure to get a picture of us with the backdrop.

Garmin Time - 43:40
Garmin Distance - 3.19  miles
Mile 1 - 13:50 pace
Mile 2 - 13:34 pace
Mile 3 - 13:35 pace

I am so very proud of A!!!!

After the race A kept saying she needed to rest. I don't blame her! A 5K is pretty far for someone that has never raced! We collected our goodie bags and then met up with Giraffy. Then we walked to catch the monorail to head to Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella's Castle
Giraffy had made 9:00 reservations for Cinderella's Royal Table for breakfast. We were starved! We headed there in our race clothes and barely made it on time. A got her picture taken with most of the princesses!

Snow White
Sleeping Beauty
After eating, we headed to the lockers to drop off our race clothes. We had a full day to enjoy Magic Kingdom. We headed to Adventureland and went on Pirates of the Caribbean. A seems to have forgotten that she really likes that ride and threw a small fit about how scary she thought it was. Of course when we were done she wanted to go on it again.

Jungle Cruise
She was SUPER excited to be tall enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. She was too short in California to ride any of the coasters. She actually wanted to ride with me on this one. Her cute screams of excitement had me laughing throughout the ride. She had a blast!

Giraffy & L - Big Thunder Mountain

Her favorite ride of the day turned out to be the "Peoplemover" in Tomorrowland. We rode it twice in a row and she wanted to keep riding... However, by then it was already 3:00. We were hungry for lunch so we stopped and got a small lunch to keep us going until dinner time.

After going on a few more rides, we again got A out of the park by promising her that we would take her to the pool. We got back to the hotel and A convinced me and Giraffy to go with her to the pool. Shortly after getting in we realized that we had left our towels in the room. It was gonna be a cold, long walk back to the gym. The water wasn't all that warm and we knew we still had to have dinner and get everything ready, so around 6:30 we pulled A out and then headed back to the food court for pasta.

Everyone else apparently had the same idea. The line for the pasta was insane! It probably took about 30 minutes to get our food. Crazy! Got the same thing as the day before, only with marinara sauce this time.

Since we would be doing our half marathon in the morning, we also got our deserts... this time we split a small carrot cake and a small key lime pie. SO DELICIOUS.

We headed back to the room and somehow A managed to stay awake until almost 9:30. The goal was to keep her up as late as possible so that she would sleep later for the babysitter. By the time I had everything ready for race day it was already about 10:00.

2:59 was going to come early.

Well ridden!

Be sure to watch through to the very end.

Meeting the Locals

We've been living in Queensland for six weeks now and have been blessed to meet many of the locals. Queenslanders are very friendly. People are mostly quick to nod, wave and say g'day. We feel like we have a large circle of friends already. Since school began we've had people around for afternoon or morning tea several times, three birthday party invitations, we've been invited out for afternoon tea and a swim (and to invite a family of eight to your house is, I realise, a rather large undertaking - excuse the pun) and I've managed to catch up with one of my friends from Canberra who moved to Brisbane a few years ago when her RAAF husband was posted to Ipswich.

However, there are some locals who are not so easy to get along with.

Let me start with the geckos. These seemingly cute little plastic-toy-lookalikes are not so sweet and innocent as they seem.
Little Gecko in the Bathroom, Darwin, Australia
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Kakadu & Litchfield National Parks
Did you know that geckos 'chirp'?

Well, they do.


They kept me awake the first night we slept in our new house, and even though I am used to the noise now it still occasionally wakes me up. I read that the chirping/clicking noise they make is a mating call. I haven't managed to find out how long the mating season is and am hoping it's not an all-year-round event.

These little creatures seem to think they have the right to live inside our house. For a few weeks I was startled to look up and find a gecko starting down at me from it's gravity defying position on the ceiling, or hiding behind the bathroom door, or scuttling along the skirting board. I don't know how they get inside but I carefully caught one that was terrorizing the girls in the toilet room (or perhaps it was the girls terrorizing the gecko?) and released it outside into the garden. Within a few hours it was back again (well if it wasn't the same gecko it was his twin brother) and had taken up its post behind the cistern.

By far by worst encounters with geckos are the times when I am tiptoeing around the girls room after they've fallen asleep, turning off fans and closing blinds and windows. The first time a gecko jumped out at me from behind the vertical blinds I screamed loudly enough to wake the girls and bring Possum and Dragon scurrying to my rescue. In the dim light from the hallway I had mistaken the gecko for a huntsman spider. Yes, yes, I know a spider has no tail and twice as many legs as a gecko ..... but when you're used to such large spiders as inhabited our house in the summer months in Canberra you may forgive my mistake. And it was a very big gecko. And they move in the same manner - short bursts of lightning-quick speed.

Speaking of spiders, we haven't really seen a lot around inside the house. There are many, many enormous spiders high in the trees around the school. I don't mind spiders who stay outside. So if I had to choose between spiders or geckos I think I'd go with the reptiles, even though they do chirp. Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp.............

We had our first encounter with a cane toad a couple weeks after moving into our new house. The girls were putting their bikes away just after sunset and Teddy cried, "Oh look at the cute little froggy!"

Well it wasn't cute, it wasn't little and it wasn't a frog.

It was a cane toad.Image source here.
I really didn't know much about these creatures except they live in Queensland and are rapidly spreading south (one was even found in Perth recently after hitching a ride in a load of bananas). They are an introduced species, a huge pest and have poisonous glands somewhere in their skin. I sent the girls inside quickly.

My brother has been living in Northern Queensland for over ten years, so I figured he would be able to give some advice. I sent him a text message:

"Help! What do I do with the cane toad in my backyard???"

His reply came after a minute:

"Sauteed is nice but my wife prefers them stir-fried."

Ummm .... that wasn't quite the response I was expecting! But after teasing me for a while, as big brothers do, he gave me some tips on safe cane toad interaction.

Luckily, the cane toad in the back yard seemed to go away on it's own and we didn't see any more (except the ones that were like frog-shaped pancakes stuck to the road) until yesterday morning. HB had just gone outside to leave for work when he called out to me to 'come and see." Right beside the garage door was a cane toad. HB said it was sleeping, but as it was in full sunlight and didn't move, even when he started up the engine on the Landcruiser, I thought it was dead. Then I got caught up in the early morning get-to-school-on-time rush and decided to deal with it when I got back home.

It's interview week at the primary school so the four younger girls and I had to leave early to meet with Teddy's teacher. Possum and Dragon were to lock up the house later and walk to high school together. I told them to stay away from the cane toad because even if it was dead I didn't know if the poison glands were still dangerous or not. But around about the time they should have been leaving to walk to school I got a text message from Possum saying "Beware the cane toad - it's not dead. Dragon threw a rock at it and it moved!"

After sending an message back admonishing Dragon for tormenting the toad, I decided to go home via the shops in the hope that by the time I got back the toad would have hopped away.

It hadn't. It was still sitting there in the exact same position and looked to be very dead. I managed to find a shovel in the garage and dug a hole in the garden. Then I went back to get the toad but as soon as the shovel touched it, it sprang to life!!

I encouraged it to hop away from our house. It went into the neighbour's front yard. I took some of my shopping into the house and when I came back out, the cane toad had returned. I got the shovel and, with more forceful encouragement, managed to get it to go further away. But it came back again, and again, and again, hopping purposefully towards me and my shovel every time.

I decided to shut the garage door and take the groceries in through the front door. When I came back to get the last couple bags of stuff the cane toad was sitting on the front doormat, glaring at me through the screen. Either cane toads are more aggressive than I thought they were supposed to be, or this dim-witted creature had mistaken me for a princess and wanted a kiss!

Anyway, I made a lot of noise and managed to scare it away across the road. It kept turning around to come back but I jumped up and down and yelled and 'shooed' and waved the door mat at it, and it finally decided to get away from the dancing lunatic that I had been for the last few minutes.

It was only after I came back inside that I paused to wonder what the neighbours would be thinking about my little toad performance.

Before I finish I have to mention the green ants in the front yard. I know green ants are not unique to Queensland, but I've found the Queensland variety to be very friendly.

A little TOO friendly, actually.

I walked out onto the front lawn on the weekend wearing a maxi dress which sweeps the ground. After coming back inside I realised a green ant had decided to crawl up the inside of my dress. It had been fine in the loose, flowing folds of the skirt. But when the ant came to the part of the dress which was sitting right against my skin it decided to make it's presence felt.

And boy did I feel it!

I now have a row of no less than seven green ant bites from my belly button leading upwards to a much more sensitive part of my anatomy, all thanks to one tiny Queensland local.

Disney World- Arrival, Expo, Animal Kingdom

Originally when I booked this trip, L and I were going to be doing a back to back. Then the other race arbitrarily changed the race date to a week later. We already had our flights booked so we were stuck with it. I started thinking & researching and since we were going to be there for so long, I decided to let A come along. I didn't, however, tell her about it. I packed her bag while she was at school, and she didn't start to realize anything was out of the ordinary until we were getting ready to leave.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:55. When I booked almost 9 months ago it was a 3:40 flight. I wasn't looking forward to such a late arrival, but what can you do. I had printed out our boarding passes without really looking at them. Only as we were going through security did L notice that instead of a seat number, her ticket said "standby." Of course it did. What would a trip be without some sort of issue? So first thing we do is head to the Frontier customer service desk.

The woman was one of the most rude people I've dealt with. All we were asking was if L was really on standby and how at least 2 of the 3 of us could be sat together so that someone was with A. This woman found it necessary to go on and on and on about how if I would just pay the extra money for an upgraded ticket this wouldn't happen, or if I would select seats when purchasing, blah blah blah. None of which helped our current situation. After about 20 minutes of arguing, we finally got some seats together. Best part was that we got upgraded to stretch seating. NICE!! However... as soon as we got to the gate, we discovered our flight had been delayed.

I went to get dinner (Panda Express) and by the time we departed, it was almost 8:00. GRRR!

Orlando Bound!
Once we were actually on the plane, time went by pretty fast. A watched a movie and then fell asleep. I watched a movie too, and before I knew it we were there! We landed at almost 1:00 in the morning. Then we still had to get off the plane and get to the rental counter. I only had a rental because of our original plans for doing two races in one weekend. Since it was already paid for I figured I might as well take it. We got the car and drove to Disney. We had some trouble finding the resort we were staying at - Disney All-Star Movies, and L had to call to get directions.

Then of course I got the guy at check in that just wanted to talk and talk and talk... L said she heard FIVE songs in the amount of time I was inside. By the time I got our keys and got to the room, it was almost 3:00 in the morning. Put A to bed, and by the time I got in bed it was already 3:15.

Woke up around 9:00. Really our only plans for the day were to hit up the expo and then to go to Animal Kingdom.

We loved our  movie themed room!
We headed out the door just after 10:00 and drove to the ESPN World of Sports to go to the expo.

A & L
The expo was pure chaos. We decided to pick up our 5K bibs first. The lines were INSANE! Which made no sense since there were only 5,000 people running that. It should have gone a lot faster.  The line to pick up A's bib took maybe 10-15 minutes. Mine? Almost 20.

A was excited to have her race bag, and then wanted to just get out of there. Of course we still had to pick up our stuff for the half, and then we wanted to do a quick walk through of the expo. We were super excited to discover that Running Skirts had a new skirt to launch!!! We glanced at the "official merchandise" but it all seemed expensive and crowded, so we decided to get out of there and head to Animal Kingdom.

First thing on our minds was getting something to eat. We were absolutely starving! I was impressed that Disney seemed to have healthy options for lunch! Turkey sandwich and honeydew! Yum!

A was pretty excited about heading to Dinoland...

She really is happy, I promise!

After Dinoland we decided that since it was "Animal Kingdom" that we should go in search of actually seeing some animals. We headed over to Asia, and that's when A saw the mountain for "Everest Expedition" (which she was insistent was the same as the Matterhorn) and wanted to go on it. Turns out she was a few inches too short.

After a brief tantrum, we headed through Asia to the animal exhibits.

A really liked the bats!
Playing in the fountain
After the walk through Asia, we headed to Africa to go on the safari to see the elephants and the giraffes.

The safari ride is pretty cool, reminded me of the Wild Animal Park in San Diego.

We weren't disappointed and saw all the animals - rhinos, giraffes, elephants, hippos, and an ostrich came within just a few feet of our truck!

After the safari we decided to start heading out. That's when we ran into the parade...

We knew we were going to have to get up ridiculously early, and we still needed to get back to the hotel and meet up with Giraffy, who had just arrived at the airport from California. We convinced A that we would take her swimming, which she was fine with. So we drove back to the hotel, met up with Giraffy. She headed to the expo to pick up her packet and me and L took A to the kiddie pool. After Giraffy was done, we met up for dinner at the food court of the hotel. We took advantage of their pasta special:

By the time we were done with dinner, it was already after 8:00. We still had to get everything ready for race day, and I was trying to get A to bed as soon as possible since we were going to have to get up at 4:30 am for the Royal Family 5K. We were all in bed by about 9:30. It had been a super long day!