Monday, March 7, 2011

Disney Princess Half-Marathon - Happy Birthday to Me!

Over the weekend of February 26th (my birthday) I had the most remarkable celebration. As most of you know, over the last 18 months I’ve been on a journey to healthy living, lost 50 pounds and have become something of a fitness fanatic. I decided to celebrate myself by taking a trip to the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon for my birthday. When I initially registered for the race I had no idea that I’d have the opportunity to cover it as media and have my lodging, transportation and meals taken care of by Disney. Can we say Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever! So, here is the story of a princess celebrating her birthday in Walt Disney World!

I started my birthday with an early morning flight to Orlando. I wore my tiara because I was celebrating of course! I received so  many compliments about my tiara most of the ladies on the flight were actually going to Orlando to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon and figured I started celebrating early.

Once I arrived in Orlando, I boarded the Disney Magical Express for the Polynesian Hotel.

If you’ve never been, it is lovely. It has a South Seas theme and everyone greets you by saying “aloha” and you are given a lei at check-in. My room was not ready so I stopped by my friend Amy’s room for a quick change (it was hot in Florida) and boarded the bus for Animal Kingdom before my official Princess Media activities began.

I was given a Happy Birthday button at the Polynesian so all of the Disney cast members wished me happy birthday and also gave me tips as a solo traveler.

My first stop was Expedition Everest, a rollercoaster and I was told to be sure to go to the single rider line which was considerably shorter than the normal line. I had a great time chatting with folks and the ride was so much fun! If you are a fan of rollercoasters this is one not to be missed!

Next I traveled to Dinosaurs.  I loved this attraction. I wanted to check it out before my trip next month because my son loves dinos and I wasn’t sure if it was age appropriate. After taking the ride I think it might be a bit too much for him there was one point when the very lifelike Carnotaur actually scared me and the 10 year old in my car cried the entire time. I think I’ll wait for Mekhi to be a bit older before we go on this ride. Luckily there is an entire dinosaur section of the park that I know he will enjoy and we will be back to check out in April.

On the way out of the park I checked out the Bug Life exhibit in the Tree of Life. It was a great multimedia 5D experience that I highly recommend!

I returned to the hotel, dropped my things off in my room and headed out to meet the group. We were transported to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where we took a tour of the facilities. 

Got to see a real live cheerleading competition “Bring It On”! And learned that my hometown team, the Atlanta Braves conduct spring training here. After the tour we went to the Disney Princess Half-Marathon Expo. There were so many different things, official merchandise, this great sneaker slipper and I met up with my girlfriend Dawn. 

She inspired me instructing a spinning class 9 months pregnant and now a little over a year later, I inspired her to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. Way to go Dawn - she is the top fundraiser for Team in Training too!

After the Expo we went to a reception where the food was delicious! We also met Ethan Zohn and Jenna winners of Survivor and they were running their first half-marathon too! Additionally, they were there in support of Ethan’s charity Grassroots Soccer helping educate people in Africa about HIV/AIDS by using soccer. I am all aboard with this charity given my background in HIV/AIDS and hope to support Ethan’s efforts in the near future.

We also met with Jeff Galloway, the Run Disney official coach and inventor of the Galloway run/walk method for running. He was a wealth of information and just an overall nice guy. 

The reception was topped off by a visit from Minnie. Isn’t she cute?

After the reception we headed to dinner at Mama for carb loading. We all had pasta and it was absolutely delicious.

In true Disney fashion we were never hungry and by the time dinner came around we were all so full we could barely eat our food but we managed! I was surprised with a birthday cake and a phone call from Goofy! 

It was a wonderful ending to a Magical Birthday and I haven’t even told you about the half-marathon yet!

Disclosure: My transportation, accommodations and meals were all provided to me by Disney as a member of the media. All opinions are 100% my own.


Karen said...

Happy Belated Birthday! What a wonderful place to celebrate :) My birthday occurs the weekend they have the marathon in January, love making a birthday weekend of it!

Losing in the City said...

happy birthday and congrats to you on accomplishing such a magical goal.. how long did you train?

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