Wine & Dine Weekend 2017 Part 3: Wine & Dine Half With My Own Disney Guest Relations Rep

Ever wish you could have your own personal Disney Guest Relations rep?

Well for one amazing race I did!

When my friend Joe (@Run8va) and I were deciding on our costumes for the Wine & Dine half, we had quite a few ideas. What can I say - it's tough being us. ;) 

While we had settled on a theme, near the last minute (per my MO) we did a complete flip and I think it worked in our favor. :)

Here is a hint for my costumes.

Have you figured it out? I even gave you a hint in the Wine & Dine 10k recap... (did you catch it?)

Well I have to say this costume is one I've dreamed of running in for awhile and my amazingly talented wife made it happen.

When we hit Disney, I had to buy the final piece of the costume and then it was complete.

At 3am on Sunday, November 5, the wife helped safety pin me in to the costume so that my props wouldn't drive me absolutely bonkers for 13.1 miles!

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Still need help figuring out my costume? FINE! Here it is!

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How SPOT ON is this? I was IN LOVE. The wife even made my shirt!!!

In true ME fashion, I didn't test this out before race day so time would tell how the shirt (which was 3 sizes too big) and the props (which were safety pinned to my back) would go in the Florida humidity.

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I met my running partner and personal Guest Relations rep Joe at the bus stop of Pop Century to head to the race. I hadn't seen Joe since we ran RnR Savannah marathon together in 2015. It was great to get to spend the next 3+ hours together catching up, laughing, selfie-ing and having overall fun.

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He modeled his costume after our friend AJ, who is a Guest Relations rep at Disneyland. So you can imagine the amount of times we heard "Go AJ" during the race!

We had a great time catching up with our friend Richard (@blingwhore) and fellow PRO Compression Ambassador. I think all of our socks give that away. :P

We spent the pre-race time chatting with friends and taking pictures of other folks for them. This would come back to haunt Joe and I. I took a nice pic of two girls dressed for Oktoberfest. Joe yelled "make sure we can see your bib" in reference to cast photogs along the course so they can tag your photos. One girl adjusted hers before realizing we were taking a pic with her cell. Let's remember these ladies for later.

Finally with little time to spare, we scooted our way into Corral A before they closed the gates on us.

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As I've said before, Run Disney has some of the best pre-race entertainment. How can you not be pumped to run with the best couple around: Mickey and Minnie?

Once the wheelchair/hand cyclists were off, we waited only a few minutes to hear Rudy say his famous: "Runners... Set... GO!" and Corral A was off.

Bravo to the speedsters who come to Disney to race, but that is not what Joe and I were there fore. We made sure to move to the side of the road so those racing wouldn't be tripping over us. 

In true Run Disney fashion there wasn't a character stop during Mile 1, so I became my own. I spotted the golf cart that vacation Genie always stands near and snapped a pic. I was ready for runners to start forming a line for a pic with me, but I think a lack of a Disney photog threw them off. Yeah that must've been it...

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I was a tad nervous that vacation Genie wouldn't be on the course since we wouldn't be passing the Disney golf course and we had just seen his golf cart sans Genie. But I had to keep the faith alive!

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Mile 1: 9:03

For the third-consecutive morning, I finished 15-16 seconds after the race started. Wicked cool feeling and something that only happens for me at Disney.

Unlike the 10k the day before, we had a character stop in Mile 2. WOO!

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I couldn't find the one of us with the fairies on the Disney app, but this one from my phone wasn't too shabby!

We love our attention to detail on costumes. Joe is carrying actual Disney World maps with him. They were already a tad sweaty by the time we hit this character stop. Haha. 

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Mile 2: 10:06

Let's say the golf clubs that the wife made out of foam and dowels were a tad squeaky at the start of the race. Thankfully after a little adjusting we were able to stop the squeak. Since neither of us wear headphones, we had to cut the noise as soon as possible.

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Can we all tell I'm trying to show off the props as much as possible? ;) 

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Mile 3: 11:55

During Mile 4, we were inching our way towards Animal Kingdom and I couldn't wait to run through Pandora again!!!

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We tried to get a pic with the cool topiary, but unfortunately our photog (aka another runner) didn't use a flash. Oh well you imagine how excited we were in this pic.

This is what we get for making our own character stops so early in the race when its so dark.

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Another pic I couldn't find on the Disney app :( I love that Disney offers free race photos, but a little bummed when they miss some obvious shots!

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Mile 4: 11:06

We were pretty stoked to be heading in to Animal Kingdom and Rafiki was there to welcome us...

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We got in line for this pic and started yelling out to other racers that they were missing out on Rafiki. I felt like I was in PR for Rafiki at that moment. Trying to get folks to stop and visit with Rafiki. Haha. It didn't really work. :/ 

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Sometimes you have to make your own character stops as well. I love the stilt dancers from the Lion King show.

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I think we can all tell which photos were taken by the official race photogs and which from my phone. :P

As we headed to Pandora, it was cool to be with Joe who hadn't been on the new ramp from Africa to Pandora. I had taken the same ramp the 2 days prior so it was old hat to me (NOT!). But it a really nice new ramp that was well lit and easy to run on.

I can't get over how amazing Pandora world is. The architecture is unbelievable and it was nicer to see with more daylight. The 2 days prior it was pitch black when I ran through since it was earlier in the morning.

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No one can match Disney on transporting you to another world... and I haven't even seen Avatar. I promise to watch it before the Dopey Challenge in January.

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We spent some time trying to figure out what this structure is made out of. Another great thing about running through Disney is it gives you plenty of topics to discuss while running with a friend. :) 

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Oh boy a DJ in Dinoland! You know that that means... dance party!!

I wish we could've taken another tour around Animal Kingdom because there is so much more to see, but the course had a different plan and we made our way out of the park and en route to Hollywood Studios - but we had almost 5 miles on the highway before that.

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Mile 5: 15:08

I like to be honest in these recaps for my own memory as well, but the entire Mile 6 was spent in the Animal Kingdom parking lot. We had zero entertainment and it is a bit of a letdown after leaving a park. Now I know you need to get from one park to another, but having entertainment along the way really helps. 

Thankfully I surround myself with the best running friends around and I try to make every mile at Disney magical so we didn't feel the boredom that could've hit during this mile. 

Plus we used this time for a perfect snack stop. Mmmmm GU. <<insert sarcasm>>

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Mile 6: 12:24

Just after hitting the Mile 6 marker, we bumped into the amazing Ian (@BazTastic77), who was about to celebrate a birthday! So I might've started screaming Happy Birthday to Ian to see if anyone around us at the water stop would also wish him a Happy Birthday. And they did!! :) :)

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Ian went off to kick butt and it was time for Joe and I take a port-o-potty break. Now let me tell you this was one of the most frightening potty breaks I've ever taken. Both Joe and I got into the port-o-potties and the entire row started to tip. Clearly they were set up on uneven grass, but my heart hit my stomach in that moment thinking we were about to tip. Luckily we all made it out safely, but it felt close to being a gross situation. Ha.

Once on the highway making our way to Hollywood Studios, we were taking in the spectators as we waited for another character stop. And we came upon some Harry Potter fans. AJ (aka Joe) wanted to make sure they made their way to the correct *Disney* park since they seemed a tad lost.

Guest Relations solved another person's problem so it was time to get back to running. We spotted our boy Pluto just ahead and got into line. Once in line we saw a bunch of our friends!! :) I'm not sure how I get so lucky during races to continuously "bump" into familiar faces in crowds of 10,000-30,000 people. But it is something I will miss once we move.

Oh hey Jill (@mrscrashmattb) and Richard (@blingwhore)!

I look crazy, but I was just THAT excited! Haha. It had been too long since I'd seen Jill.

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Proving to everyone that over halfway through the race and the props were still intact and I hadn't thrown the suitcase out yet. ;) Luckily it was made out of foam so it was pretty light to carry. I just wish it had actually opened so I could've put my phone in there instead of in my short pockets. 

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Mile 7: 15:59

I got a little sad knowing our day was over halfway over. I was having a blast with Joe, but knew we would have 39.3 miles to run together in January (he is doing Goofy while I am going Dopey). We spent the next mile discussing possible costume ideas. And in retrospect I wish we had a scribe with us or I had jotted down notes because I swear we had a million good ones, but by the end of the run I couldn't remember any of them. ;)

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Since I didn't get to see Carissa before the race, we texted her this pic of us "hanging out" with her on the course. She told us to get ready for the post-race party that night. Well you know what we did just that when a group of kind strangers offered us snacks and booze.

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We couldn't say NO... that'd be rude. And if you haven't figured out yet, we weren't going to be winning the race.

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With a hit of beer and sour patch kids, we had a jolt of energy and were off.

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Mile 8: 11:26

It was at this time, that our Oktoberfest friends from pre-race came back into frame. Joe ran by them and said "make sure your bibs are showing for the photogs." Calling back the early morning interaction. Well the ladies didn't remember it and were very thrown off by us. Ha. I kindly reminded them about pre-race and they laughed it off thankfully. Oh Joe... :) 

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As we made our way to Hollywood Studios, Joe made sure he had his map ready. We didn't want to miss the hottest sights.

Since anyone that has run a Run Disney race knows, there is some ample highway time. Luckily we were getting some good on-highway entertainment from video boards, DJs and character stops.

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Love seeing the older Disney characters out on the course like the Country Bears and the Penguins from Mary Poppins.

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Partner fail as Joe went with the Penguin pose and I failed miserably. It was fun waiting in line for this photo and cheering on the other participants. :) 

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I wanted to share that each mile marker plays the music associated with the country/countries featured on the marker. 

Mile 9: 12:57

It was now time for us to make the "trek" up the on ramp so we could finally head into Hollywood Studio. What I love about the "hill" is there is always a Green Army man from Toy Story there pumping up the racers. Some folks stop and knock out some push-ups like my partner.

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He crushed 10 in honor of being at Mile 10. Since there was a line forming, we stopped for a quick photo before continuing on.

I was motivated to get to moving after receiving a text from my BOO Linzie (@SharpEndurance) telling me he spotted Vacation Genie INSIDE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS!! My dream would be coming true..

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Mile 10: 11:56

Oh man only a 5k left. :( But we are having too much fun out here. I hadn't told Joe this, but we were inching towards my goal of completing a half marathon in over 3 hours. I know it is an odd goal and not one many people have, but I had never done it and I thought Disney would be the perfect place. I came close at the inaugural Star Wars Half in 2015 (2:55), but never got that close again. 

I didn't want to jinx it so I kept the thought of accomplishing it inside... for now.

I knew the last 5k would be full of entertainment since it would take us through not one but two parks: Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Plus a little time on the Boardwalk.

Even though I was focused on finding Genie, we had to stop and say HI to Oswald. It's wicked rare to see Oswald out at Disney World so you have to take the time to stop and snap a pic.

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As we came around the corner past Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Roller Coaster... I spotted him! GENIE!!! I think people around me noticed my excitement as I SPRINTED to the Genie line. Other runners and cast members caught on on what my costume was and were like YES!! I LOVE when people love Disney and costumes as much as I do.

Then folks after I adjusted my shorts and my props and waited for five or so folks to go ahead of it... it was MY TIME!

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YYYEESSS!!!!!!!!!

Let's please note that I have the golf clubs and suitcase and SOMEONE doesn't. ;) Attention to detail Genie - attention to detail! :P 

With a smile on my face from ear to ear, my race was made! I had captured the moment I had dreamed about for years and it was EVERYTHING I wanted.

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Being the great partner he is, Joe was as excited as I was. :) 

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We made our way out of Hollywood Studios and towards EPCOT. Joe had to stop and take a quick photo with his "Guest Relations people." Man if only they had the same sweet plaid on. :( There was still time to find someone with a similar outfit (it wouldn't be exact since he modeled his off a Disneyland cast member not Disney World).

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I couldn't think of anything else for the rest of the mile. My dream had come true. We did bump into one of the Galloway pacer groups so we had some fun chatting with them. Joe is a pacer for many races so he was swapping some Pacer stories. 

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Mile 11: 14:23

Only two miles left. :( As we ran along the path from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk/EPCOT, we spotted a familiar face from the Insta! It was my friend Will (@goodwillrunnin). I do have to apologize because I yelled the wrong twitter/Insta name in the heat of the moment and I'm sorry!! But I got a big hug, finally a chance to meet in person and some candy! 

How perfect were his signs? After taking a quick break to catch up, hand out some candy and cheer on runners, Joe and I hopped back into the race.

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But that lasted all of about 10 feet before we HAD to stop and take a pic with these ladies. They were actually standing IN GRAPES! Hello commitment to character.

We then spotted a familiar face! It was Jillian (@jilliankmf) and her pup Brinkley. Ahhh what a fun surprise!!! I think we concluded this was actually the first time we ever met in person. Isn't it funny how with social media today you are so intertwined in others lives that you expect to have hung out hundreds of times IRL, but really it was all online. That is a positive side of social media to offset all the negative. 

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After a good catch-up and some Brinkley snuggles, Joe and I decided it was time to finish up this run. Haha. 

Are you still with me? I swear we weren't out there for six hours at this point. It just might feel that way since we were packing A LOT into a 13.1 mile run. I think you can also see that with our mile paces. :P

Once through the Boardwalk area, we entered the world showcase and immediately spotted Remy in France. As soon as we got in line, the characters needed a quick break so we got comfy in line. Joe was offering tours to racers passing by and I caught up on some social media. I had to share my Genie meeting with as many folks as possible.

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The characters came back and we were able to snap our pic. Normally the showcase is pretty bare on characters so I didn't expect much for the final mile... but I was wrong! 

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Mile 12: 17:34

Once we hit the Mile 12 marker and I could tell we were getting closer, I shared with Joe how I wanted to finish in over 3 hours for the race. We really needed to take the final mile in stride to make that happen.

Luckily Run Disney must've read my mind because they had two AWESOME character stops durin the last mile.

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I got to say HI to Dopey and remind him I would be coming for his challenge in January.

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MUSHU who I haven't really seen out that often.

Man we wished one of these countries were open with drinks. I could've gone for a margarita from Mexico right about now.

Instead we made our way around the World Showcase and out towards the Ball.

I really want to apologize to everyone that we didn't have more fun out there. ;) 

My Guest Relations rep was doing a great job of pointing out all of the must-do rides in each park and getting me from Mile 0 to Mile 13.1 I would definitely recommend everyone bringing their own for a race. :) 

We were getting close to 3 hours, but worried about hitting the mark. We took a walk break to enjoy the high school band performing and then Joe spotted "his people."

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Let's say the cast members were extremely confused. I think they were working in Great Britain and not Guest Relations, but we saw the plaid and had to snap a pic.

We were approaching the Mile 13 marker.

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Mile 13: 16:28

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We veered over to the right so we could snap a pic with Rudy. We made sure to be completely over to the right and out of the way of any other runners. We were in this odd pocket where there weren't a ton of people around us.

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According to my watch I had about 45 seconds to hit over 3 hours so I stood right under Rudy's perch and waited - Joe went and crossed and waited for me on the other side. I do not condone what I did because I could've been in the way of other runners but again I was all the way over to the right and keeping an eye out for other folks. If anyone had asked me to keep moving, I would've.

I saw my watch click to 3 hours so I headed over the Finish Line. I was PSYCHED I DID IT... or did I.

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Official text came through.... 2:59:19! NNOOOOOOOOOO!!!! :( :( :( 

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FINAL TIME: 2:59:19

DARN! I would have to wait another day for the elusive goal.

We headed through the Finish chute to grab water, a snack and head to the medals so I could pick up my 2 challenge medals: Two-Course and Coast 2 Coast. WOO!!!

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Since we are both AP holders, we headed to get our pics taken since Hey! They're included with our AP. YAY FREE (sorta)!

It was then adult beverage time before getting in line for some last-chance character pics.

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Mmmm it hit the spot after rocking 22.4 miles over 3 days.

I think we can all see that Goofy really enjoyed my hat. 

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Overall it was another fantastic race weekend through the most magical place on Earth. Thank you to all my friends that I saw during the weekend and especially Joe for spending the half with me. I can't wait to rock 39.3 miles together in January.

While every race weekend has its plusses and minuses, a Disney challenge always comes out on top. I love running through the parks, seeing the costumes of the people around me, pretending to be a kid, celebrating the magic with the volunteers/spectators and escaping the real world for some magical miles. 

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2017 was another successful race weekend with races on both Coasts. 

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I can't wait for Dopey Challenge for my final race weekend at Walt Disney World for awhile.