Wine and Dine Weekend

I bid my vacations for my big race weekends, and for fall 2013, the Wine & Dine 1/2 is it! Some people may consider arranging my paid off time around subjecting myself to endurance racing as crazy, waste of time, but the way I look at it, running is cheaper than therapy. Plus, it motivates me to make the drive to WDW and maximize the use of my annual pass. Using my vacation time also gives me the extra few days post-race to lose the old lady hobble from my sore muscles and my feet are rested and prepared to be shoved back into my 3-inch concourse heels.

IMG_0851Keeping with the theme: Hipster Ariel!

There is an electricity to race weekend. It doesn’t matter how worn down or stressed out I am from work, I love finding my happy pace at my ‘mind palace.’ Staying up late to pack my bags (yes, I do procrastinate), loading up the car, and hitting the interstate south are all parts of this ritual. One of the primary objectives, aside from the race, is to spend time with some of the important people in my life, who have also taken up running.

IMG_0848Despite my occupation, I tend to over pack…

Meghan and I checked out the Orlando location of Hash House A Go Go for some unbelievable “Twisted Farm Food” before heading to the Health & Fitness Expo for packet pick-up and race weekend retail therapy. The wait staff is insanely knowledgeable about the sourcing and sustainability of their ingredients. I opted for a spicy hash that burned so good as I devoured it. I jaw hit the table when they brought out my meal in a cast iron skillet, complete with a biscuit the size of my face!This is definitely a place you want to show up on an empty stomach prepared for a feast (at a surprisingly affordable cost). If it was ten in the morning and heaps of driving wasn’t going to be involved, I would have opted for their beer and bacon hangover special, The O’Hare of the Dog! 😉

IMG_0853Softball-sized biscuits. ‘Amazeballs’. No joke.

IMG_0862Meghan is one of my Best Damn Friends!

At the Health & Fitness Expo, money was inevitably spent, as it should be. I picked up a W&D Half Pilsner glass to add to my growing collection of race related barware (now, if only I’d finish the bar they’re all supposed to go on.) We wandered around and oogled the gorgeous race bling at the rD booth and circulated around the usual stalls offering free samples, but we didn’t leave ESPNWWoS without stopping at the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, a staple at rD events (and quite the race tradition for my friends and I).

The Final Countdown!!

IMG_0864Race weekend hasn’t started until YYCT arrives!!

After oogling all the shiny things at the Expo, Meghan and I went to Downtown Disney to take in the Festival of the Masters Art  Event! We enjoyed some of our YYCT Cupcakes at the Waterside Stage and watched a brilliant artist use splatter paint to recreate Sorcerer Mickey and Chernabog! The artist spun his canvas around and used only his hands to create something utterly breath taking! When I went to take a photo of the finished work, he invited me to stand with him for the shot. I truly wish I had written down his name or obtained his card. I would love to see more of his work.

IMG_0865Master Splatter Painted “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

All over DTD, students were working on sidewalk chalk masterpieces, and I was completely blown away by the level of their work. Anyone who ever doubts the necessity and importance of fine arts education in the lives of teens only needs to take a glance at one of these pieces. I dabbled in fine arts in junior high school, but I never found my calling in it, yet I have friends who flourished as a result of arts education. Creative expression is one of the greatest outlets for those whom have difficulty finding their voice. I believe Winston Churchill stated it best when asked about cutting arts funding in favor of the war effort: “then what are we fighting for?”

IMG_0866Why public schools NEED fine arts programs

Next Day?! Speechless. Can I be her, please?

After DTD, Meghan and I parted ways and I went to check-in at the hotel. While Kim was finishing up her afternoon at school, Jason and I hit up Hollywood Studios with absolutely no particular agenda in mind other than not sitting around the hotel doing nothing for a couple of hours. Not really in the mood for hitting up any coasters, we ran into a couple of Disney friends playing in the streets near Star Tours (Yes, Kashyyyk, the Wookie Planet, AGAIN)! It was great to catch up with Pinnochio and Stitch.

IMG_0874We’ve got no strings to hold us down!

IMG_0875Stitch is a sloppy kisser, but blows the best raspberries!

The morning of the race, I met up with Kim and Jason at DTD after my first flying trapeze class! I was covered in chalk and sweat, but I never felt better. We wound up at Cooke’s of Dublin for some fish and chips for lunch. I didn’t want to overdo it, but I can tell you after hanging from a steel bar for a couple of hours, it tasted like victory! Nothing like a sensible meal and an afternoon nap before a night race, right? CoD (ooh, unintentional fish pun) is one of my favorite quick serves at DTD, but it always makes me miss London. I’ll need to visit across The Pond again soon!

IMG_0971Kid’s portion: all the flavor with half the guilt!

Though I love long sleeved tech shirts, something about the cut and stitching of the unisex shirts they had just didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t comfortably wear my watch and the neck felt a little snug. I cannot complain too much as it was included in the race registration. Now, the Florida weather just needs to stay cool long enough for me to put it to some good use. Overall, another magical weekend courtesy of the rD folks was enjoyed at the House of Mouse, and I can proudly display my first Coast-to-Coast medal. I wonder if I’ll be able to go for the repeat in 2014. I’d like to…

IMG_0989Post-race jog with the new W&D Tech Shirt

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