As promised, I’m now rewinding back to the start of the trip to Central America, to a little weekend adventure before the big journey began: this is the story of when I ran round Disney World dressed as a pirate.
Once upon a time, I was reading a magazine when I saw an advert for the Disney Princess half-marathon in Florida. I posted a photo on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to join me, I got a reply from my high school roomie, and we registered for the race.
Then I spent about a year trying to decide on a costume. As you can imagine, it needed to be fabulous, but it also needed to be comfortable and suited to running for more than two hours. Quite a conundrum.
So on Friday 24th February 2012, I arrived at Orlando International Airport. It was my first trip to the US in a long time and I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly I passed through security and customs. I had horrific memories of waiting in line for hours, being asked tough questions, and having my bag searched as a teenager. This, time, though, a lovely official chatted away and asked me if I had Hispanic roots. Err, no.
I took the Magical Express to the All Star Music Resort, where I ate a not-so-magical bowl of gunge that purported to be clam chowder, and then went to bed at 7pm. Rock’n’roll.
The following day, I took the shuttle to the race expo, where I was given my bib with my favourite princess (Ariel), a commemorative team bib (“Princess Reunion”), and a running shirt. I also bought a nice white zip-up top, which I have since dyed light blue thanks to a combined wash with new dark jeans.
Sunday morning: alarm at 3am, quick shower, pirate costume on, and shuttle bus to the Epcot Center. We dropped off our plastic bags with our things, used the lovely portaloos, and then had a long walk to the starting line. We were in Corral A, right behind the elite group.
I got confused with kilometres and miles so the end was further away than I had thought.Towards the end, a fairy woman claimed that we had made it… but the road kept curving round and round.
Other encouragement along the way was more helpful: “Remember, you chose to do this! You want to do this!” and a poster that said, “You trained for longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage”!
I finished the race with a double high five with Minnie Mouse, oh yeah! In the end I did it in 2 hours and 22 minutes – not bad considering all the photo ops…
Another pose for the official photographer after getting my medal, and then I picked up my various goodies – a banana, a cookie dough protein bar (only in the US!), a bottle of enriched water, and a box with trail mix and other bits.
Of course, since the race had started at 5am, we still had the whole day ahead of us… We started with a health breakfast at IHOP, after which we took the resort bus to the Magic Kingdom. Amber and Ron were locals and knew how to work the system. We got a fast pass to Space Mountain and walked straight through to the front, doing the same at the Haunted House, which broke down (“Unfortunately, our doom car has been stopped by friendly spirits.”)
Off on the Monorail to Epcot where we went “around the world” with nachos, guacamole and margaritas in Mexico followed by a Moroccan meal for dinner.
FYI, walking all day in ballerinas after a half-marathon does not happy feet make.
On the Monday, I took my final magical journey on the Magical Express to the airport to take my flight via Miami to Guatemala City…