Last month I kicked off my 2018 runDisney race schedule with full-on, royal pomp and circumstance during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort.
This was the first time in eight years that I did not run the half marathon. I opted to only participate in the 10K. I have run the Glass Slipper Challenge (half + 10k) for the past four years and this year was the fifth anniversary. Like a knucklehead, last year I decided that I was done with half marathons and was only going to compete in 10K’s. Well fast forward to 2018 and after the reveal of the anniversary medals suffice it to say I had major FOMO.
I only live an hour away from Walt Disney World, but during race weekends I book accommodations on property to give myself that extra hour to sleep and also have a homebase to operate from when naps are needed after 4 AM wake up calls.
I headed out for my race weekend on Friday morning and met up with my girlfriend Katie (Fairytale Foodie) for lunch at Sanaa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village.
We split the Indian Style Bread Service which was amazing. Katie is gluten-free. The vegan naan that can be ordered with the bread service just happens to be gluten-free as well so this worked out perfectly for sharing.
I was anticipating ordering dessert so I asked my server if she could bring me the Samosas, which is a somewhat small plate that is typically only served in the lounge.
I rounded out my meal with a bowl full of Coconut Milk Chai Tapioca. Good gravy was it divine!
After Katie and I said our goodbyes, it was time for me to brave the runDisney race expo to pick up my bib and shirt.
The theme for this year‘s Enchanted 10K was “Brave” so our complementary tech shirts and finishers medals featured Merida.
I was also on the lookout for a new running visor at the expo. Normally I run in a race hat but get so overheated on the course that I take it off and attach it to my fuel belt. The last runDisney race I ran, my favorite Dopey Challenge hat ended up falling off somewhere on the course. Such a bummer! To keep that from happening I found myself a nice lightweight Under Armor visor that did the trick.
I survived the expo and headed out to check into my resort for the weekend.
My favorite resort on Walt Disney World property, the Hilton Bonnet Creek, was gracious enough to host me for my race weekend. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you know that I spend a lot of time at this hotel. If you are new to this blog, Hilton Bonnet Creek is located within the gates of Walt Disney World near Epcot and Disney Springs and shares a property line with Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
This is the view looking out over the property grounds from my ninth story window. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time down there in that lazy river pool over the course of the weekend.
I had plans to share a carb loading dinner with a friend at the resort’s Harvest Bistro restaurant, so after I got checked in I headed downstairs to fuel up for the following day’s 10K.
The Hilton Bonnet Creek does a fantastic job of taking care of runDisney race participants and offers a reduced race weekend rate, runners concierge, special carb loading meals, a welcome amenity, free theme park and race transportation for full and half marathon distances, complementary breakfast and send off party on race morning and late 2pm check out for runners.
Here are three of the special race weekend pasta dishes offered at Harvest Bistro restaurant.
If you have unique dietary needs they are very accommodating here. Chef made me a vegan pizza that evening.
After my leisurely dinner I headed back up to my room to unpack and get my race gear laid out for the following morning and found a vegan feast waiting for me.
I think I fell asleep around 10 PM. My alarm was set for 4:15 AM. Oh runDisney why you do dis to me?
Funny enough, even with the super early wake up call and me not being a super early riser, I woke up naturally around 4 AM.
I can get ready for a race in about five minutes flat so I threw on my gear and headed down to the parking garage to get this 6.1 mile journey started.
Let’s run a road race shall we?
I normally share this race weekend with my girlfriend Sarah, but this year she didn’t register. This would give me the opportunity to run the race solo and try for the best time I could get. That was the game plan going in. I was happy to find out that I was in corral “C” and figured this would give me a solid chance to not have too many walkers in front of me.
I spent the majority of mile two to mile three running in the grass on the side of the road. Someday I will be fast enough to get up to corral “A” and have the opportunity to just run. …Someday…
The first 3 miles of the 10K are run on major access roads and not inside of the theme parks so I just put my earbuds in, blasted the music and ran my intervals as fast as I could.
I was making pretty good time and had the intention of keeping the same pace throughout the entirety of the race. That strategy went out the window as soon as I stepped foot on to Epcot’s World Showcase promenade. Being a huge Disney fan, and having the Disney music blasting, I had to slow down, take it all in and stop for some photos.
We ran about halfway around World Showcase Lagoon before heading out to do a loop on the Walt Disney World Boardwalk. That loop takes you in front of the Boardwalk Resort, past the Swan and Dolphin Resorts and then finally by Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts before heading back into Epcot.
This is also the first part of the race course where spectators are seen. I love reading all of their signs!
By the time you had back into Epcot there’s only about 1 mile left to run and Spaceship Earth ? is always a welcome sight!
I never stop for any of the character photos along the course because I just don’t want to stand in line during a race. And I have to say I am kind of happy that I upgraded my annual pass this year to include complementary photopass photos because of that.
Crossing that ? finish line!
So happy to sit down in the car afterwards.
Time to let the good times roll back at the Hilton Bonnet Creek.
I took a shower to wash the race scuzz off and then immediately donned my bathing suit and headed down to the pool for Margs!
Hibiscus Margaritas to be specific.
I know I had said I had major FOMO for not registering for the half marathon, but only doing the 10k gave me the opportunity to truly enjoy my race weekend experience at my resort. I didn’t even go into any of the theme parks, I just took advantage of all that Bonnet Creek had offer.
Pool snacks by the pool while I waited for my hubby to arrive.
We spent a good part of the day lounging in the sun and making multiple trips around the lazy river. I had been up since 4 AM so around 3 PM I started to fade and headed up to the room to shower and take a nap before my epic celebratory dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse.
I’m vegan. But I love fine dining. And I especially love the atmosphere and service at Bull and Bear Steakhouse in the attached Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort.
You can read all about our five hour dinner here: Vegan Steakhouse Experience at Bull & Bear in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Sunday was absolutely glorious. My husband and I slept in and then headed back down to the pool for some more R&R. I couldn’t help but think about all the participants who were sweating it out on the half marathon course while I was leisurely spending that same time on a lounge chair with this view…
Sadly my husband was unable to stay another night with me but my girlfriend Carise happily filled the role of dining companion that evening.
We headed to Bonnet Creek’s Zeta Asia restaurant for happy hour wine and vegan sushi.
And because Bull & Bear is rolling out a new cocktail menu, we had to walk down to the Waldorf Astoria again so that she could experience a “Pirates Revenge”.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to know more about this whimsical cocktail: Vegan Steakhouse Experience at the Bull & Bear in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando
There honestly aren’t enough superlatives to describe my experience staying at the Hilton Bonnet Creek for runDisney race weekends.
To book a room here for your next racecation visit HiltonBonnetCreek.com or call 407-597-3600
Special thanks to the good people at the Hilton Bonnet Creek for hosting me during the runDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I was not compensated to write this review and all opinions are my own.