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Monday, November 18, 2013

Review and GIVEAWAY!! Pro Compression Marathon Socks

Disclaimer: Pro Compression was nice enough to send me a pair of their Marathon socks to try out, for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. You know me by now, I'll tell you like it is.

Right after my Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon, I got happy mail in the form of Pro Compression's Marathon socks. You can find their website here. Gorgeous hot pink, my favorite color!!
I did own one pair of compression socks already but they were kind of an impulse purchase at my local running store, who didn't carry the extra small size I needed. I wore those socks during the Rock and Roll 1/2, but they honestly just felt like knee socks. I didn't feel much different in terms of how tired my legs were and my muscles were still pretty sore for 2 days after. I was kind of unsure if compression socks did anything at all. I was excited to test out the Marathon socks from Pro Compression during the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon to see if they made any difference.

So what exactly do compression socks *DO* for runners and other athletes during endurance events? Well, some socks are designed to stabilize muscles during the event. They keep things in place and keep you more comfortable. Some socks are designed more for stability. Other socks improve blood flow and are better for after endurance events, to assist with recovery. I was a bit overwhelmed when at the running store and having this explained to me. I wanted something to stabilize my muscles AND improve blood flow to keep me comfortable and help with recovery. Pro Compression socks do both of these. They are great for wearing during a long distance run and after.

A little more about Pro Compression socks. One of my favorite things about them is they are designed and made in the USA. I'm all about support some good old American businesses. They are made with nylon and poly materials, so perfect for keeping sweat away from your feet when your running.

So how did they perform? Well, putting on the socks takes a bit of effort. They are supposed to be tight after all. I loved how tight they were, it felt like my legs were getting a hug, and who doesn't like hugs. The next test would be during my 1/2 marathon.
They fit very well. They sat just at my knees and never did I have an issue with them rolling down under my knees.
My race went well. A lot of standing at Magic Kingdom the night before my race took it's toll on my feet(perhaps I should have worn the socks all weekend), but my legs themselves didn't hurt and I never got the tired feeling. during RnR STL, there came a point after mile 9 that my legs seriously felt like lead. Picking them up got harder and harder. I didn't experience this during Wine and Dine.

I kept the socks on after the race as well. No, I didn't smell. I was leaving the next day and was flying. I was a little nervous that all of the sitting, on Magical Express to the airport, then waiting for my plane, then sitting for the flight home, would leave my muscles tight and sore. But even after some plan troubles and an extra 2.5 hours of sitting before getting home, I felt really good. I was surprised when I stood up after my flight. My leg muscles felt fine. It didn't take some walking around to get them to relax. No soreness at all.

I love these socks! I did 8 miles yesterday and immediately came home and put on my Marathon socks when I finished, and wore them all day.

Not only was Pro Compression nice enough to send me a pair of socks to wear and love, but they are giving one of my readers a pair too! Enter below for your chance to win a pair for yourself.

Don't want to wait to see if you win to try a pair? Well Pro Compression has also provided a code for 40% off a pair of compression socks. That's a pretty awesome deal, and you can get a pair for yourself at a great price. Just pick a pair of socks or calf sleeves on their website(and they have tons to choose from, so many colors and designs available!) and enter the code BLG13 for an instant 40% off.

Good luck to all who enter!!

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!! Congrats to Mike D. with entry #576! Check your email for instructions on how to claim your prize. If you didn't win, you can still score a pair of socks or calf sleeves from PRO Compression for an awesome price using the code above.



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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Official Disney's Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon Recap

It's here, it's here, the recap is finally here!!

I woke up from my nice nap shortly before 6pm. Buses started running at 7pm and we wanted to be as early as possible. I'd read in a recap from a previous year that they have characters in their Food and Wine attire before the race, and we wanted pictures.

I was surprisingly calm before this race. Maybe it's because it was my 3rd half marathon, maybe it was because I'd just run, and PRed, a half marathon 13 days prior, maybe it was the whirlwind weekend I'd experienced thus far. Whatever the reason, I was extremely lax pre-race. Normally I am super prepared, I have my checklist, my stuff is ready well in advance. Not that night. I felt a bit nervous trying to get everything together because I couldn't remember what all I needed and I was afraid of forgetting something vital. But I didn't forget anything and by 6:30 I was ready.
The DisBroads theme was the countries around Epcot. It was the Food and Wine festival after all and the after party was at Epcot, so it fit. Most of the other girls were a lot more creative with their costumes, but I knew that wasn't happening for me. I am a minimalist when it comes to what I wear when I run. I don't like more clothes than I have to wear and anything extra just bugs me. So I did my best to represent Merida, from Scotland and the UK. It was going to be warm, upper 60s and the normal Florida humidity, and it would turn out that the Raw Threads shirt was a poor choice.

We were all ready and we headed to the front of the resort to catch the bus, and meet up with all of the other DisBroads as well as Wendy and Bonnie.
We hopped on the 2nd bus to come around. They had the buses very ready to go at 7 pm, with several lined up to come every few minutes as more and more people arrived. The buses weren't crowded at all and traffic wasn't bad getting to the race.

The race started in the Wide World of Sports area, and once getting off the bus, it was a rather short walk to the pre-race area, where we could find characters, what seemed like a million porta-potties, the bag check area and all of the entertainment before the race.
The layout of this area was a lot better than it was during the Princess Half Marathon. Aside from the walk from where the bus let us out, there wasn't a lot of walking. During PHM we had a similar walk from the bus, but then a decent walk from the pre-race area to the corrals. This wasn't the case at W&D, as the corrals were right next to the pre-race area.

My first stop was the bathroom. A tidbit about night races. I have hydration for a morning race pretty much nailed down. I drink and drink and drink the 2 days before my race, then a bunch of water before bed the night before the race. So by the time the race comes around in the morning, I'm not constantly going to the bathroom and I have never had to stop during a race or long run to go to the bathroom. I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out when  to stop drinking water before this race. We didn't realize with would be as warm as it was until close to the race and Disney didn't put out the typical heat warnings at the expo like they did during PHM. By the time I realized it would be warm and I'd need more water, I was only hours from the race. I didn't stop drinking water until just about 2-3 hours before the race. This would turn out to be a problem.

After the bathroom break, we decided which character we wanted to see. Lines were pretty long and we would only have time for 1 picture before some of us needed to be in another area to meet with the Pacebook Running Club for our pre-race picture. Our choices were Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale and Goofy. We chose Mickey.
Waiting for Mickey
We got in line before 7:30 and waited close to an hour for our picture. I had to do some walking around and dancing because being on my feet that long before running 13.1 miles wasn't the best idea. It was well worth the wait though.
This is actually the picture that a runDisney photographer stopped to take, and you can find it in the official Wine and Dine photo album on the runDisney Facebook page.

After our picture, we headed over to our PbRC meetup area for a big group picture.
We parted ways with the group, as we were scattered in different corrals and would be heading our respective ways. Amy and I were in Corral E. We were a similar pace so we were going to do the race together. I did PHM on my own, not stopping for many pictures. I wanted to do pictures this time but we also wanted to go a bit faster. With the race starting at 10pm, then the after party, we wanted to finish as quickly as possible.

I had to stop at the porta-potties once again before we headed to our corral. I was hoping that would be my last trip, but it wouldn't be. We headed to our corral after that, they had just opened entry as we were finishing up. We walked up to Corral A first, while Amy was assigned to Corral A, she was gracious enough *ahem, cough* to join me in corral E. She still wanted a picture in Corral A.
Then it was back to Corral E.
We were in our corral shortly after 9pm, the race didn't start letting corrals go until 10pm, so it was time to hurry up and wait. We listened to the usual happy music, the announcements and commentary and did some more waiting. Shortly before 10 they sang the National Anthem, which I love every time. 10pm quickly approached.

Being in Corral E used to mean we'd be waiting quite a bit after 10 to start our race. During PHM, corrals were evenly spaced, with equal numbers of runners, and all let go several minutes apart. runDisney has started changing their corral structures and I have to say, I like it. The earlier corrals are smaller and they gradually get larger the father back you go. The smaller the corral the shorter the amount of time is between letting those corrals go. So if you are in an earlier corral, your corral is smaller and you are waiting 2-3 minutes for each corral in front of you to be set off instead of 5-7 minutes. At 10pm, Corral A started. They had the countdown and the fireworks, which is standard for Disney. By only 10:09, it was already Corral E's turn.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't nervous for this race at all. Perhaps I should have been, because not being nervous meant I thought this was an easy time. I am going to admit that I hadn't run, not even a mile, between my Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon 13 days prior and Wine and Dine. A lot of traveling, a lot of catching up on work and I just didn't have the time. This would prove to be a big part of my downfall.

We set off and started running. The hour of sitting in our corral and I had to go to the bathroom again. I was hoping I would be able to suppress it, but by the time we hit the first mile marker, it was clear I couldn't and we had to stop. Seriously y'all, I have NEVER stopped during a race before, and here I was, having to stop at mile 1. It was a nice break, as I was already feeling warm and sweating. Amy was also digging the idea of a break already as well.

We continued on after our break. My game was already thrown off. Having to stop during a race is not something I've ever done. I don't know why it got to me. I hadn't planned on a PR during this race. Not only was it warm but we wanted pictures. I wanted to finish before 1 am and that was my only goal, which gave me almost 3 hours. But I have this intense need to compete with myself and taking it easy just wasn't something I was able to do. But stopping at mile 1 got into my head. Amy had requested a 1 minute walk break after each mile marker and I was happy to oblige at that point, still struggling with my game plan and knowing I was seriously dragging Amy along with me. I didn't want to kill her.

As we approached the 5k split, before we got to Animal Kingdom, heading down Osceola Parkway, we passed runners coming up on the other side. They were the Corral A runners, the elites. They had only started 9 minutes before us, and they had already passed the 10k split. It was awe inspiring.

After the 5k split, we came up on Animal Kingdom. The entrance was all lit up for Christmas, with a large tree, and it was gorgeous.
We entered the park and this is when pictures started. The first half of the park seemed to be uphill, in fact the first couple of miles seemed to have a lot more upward inclines that I expected(another curveball that threw me off, even though I'd trained on hills), so I welcomed the breaks.
We ran through Animal Kingdom and out of the park. We came out of the back end and down a back road along the side of the parking lot. I was getting a bit tired already but still feeling ok as we came out of the parking lot to start back up Osceola Parkway, and hit the 10k split. During our first trip down this stretch of road, it felt like we spent the whole time going up hill. I thought that going the other way would mean going downhill, but it still seemed like we were going uphill. We had a few miles between the 10k split and where we entered Hollywood Studios and they seemed to drag on.

After turning off of what seemed like the longest stretch of road, we came to a cloverleaf and surprise, surprise, another "hill", a Florida hill(an on ramp). On our way up, we hit the Army man, so stopped for a picture.
We were coming up on mile 8 and I'd exhausted my Gu, Amy had to visit a porta-potty, so we stopped. I was looking forward to the Clif Shot station and another water/Powerade stop. I was really sweaty at this point. While Raw Threads seem to be popular for runners, especially Disney runners, I soon began to wonder why. The shirt did not wick in the least and it just absorbed the sweat and sat on me, soaking wet. It's very obvious in my pictures as the race goes on and I wasn't too pleased with it. Before hitting the Clif station, we passed Lilo and Stitch. My kids love Lilo and Stitch so we had to stop. Luckily, like every other line we encountered, it wasn't long at all and we waited maybe 1 minute, which was a huge change from the lines for characters during PHM.
We finally got to the Clif station and I collected several packets. Hey, for my race fee, I might as well grab extra, to get me through my next race. No shame in my game. I gladly accepted more Powerade after the Clif stop, I was sweating profusely and losing a lot of salt. My face felt gritty and actually burning from the salt mixture that had been sitting on my skin for over 8 miles.

After our break, we approached Hollywood Studios as we hit mile 9. I was excited for HS, because of the Osborne lights. This is something I have always wanted to see and I was pumped to see them during this race. I needed it, because by this point, I was hurting. On top of being sweaty and salty, I was hurting pretty much from my water belt down. My hips hurt, and my feet were on fire. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so poorly, but I think it had a lot to do with all of the time I'd spent on my feet the day before and the day of the race. We ran all around Hollywood Studios, and came across Wreck It Ralph.
It was another short wait and we were on our way. We weaved around to the back of the park and came across what has been dubbed the Disco Tunnel. It was a long tunnel filled with Disco music, it was dark, with strobe lights and disco balls. Pretty much everyone I talked to loved it, but I did not. I wasn't in a good state of mind, I was hot and hurting, and was still not seeing the Osborne lights, and I found all of the lights spinning around to be extremely disorienting. I wanted out of that tunnel.

Coming out of the tunnel we passed through another back part of the park and past a large garbage area. The smell was offensive to say the least. Really Disney, you run us past garbage bins? It was so gross and I was glad to be out of there. Then we seemed to leave the park. What the what?? We had hit mile 10 and we were leaving the park. Where were the Osborne lights?? I started to have a mini-melt down. I was ready to throw myself on the ground in a full on adult hissy fit and so was Amy. One of the biggest draws to this race was running through and seeing the Osborne lights, especially because there are rumors that this is their last year. We approached another water station and I asked a volunteer if we were done in that park. She had no clue so we went on and I asked another volunteer, who also had no clue. We approached mile 11 and that's when I hit the wall. I didn't really hit the wall during my last half, and this time, I hit it hard. I seriously thought some of my internal organ were going to fall out and the only thing holding them in was my water belt. We had left Hollywood Studios(or so we thought), I was feeling weak, my feet hurt so badly, we hadn't seen the lights, and I literally thought of stopping. I have never thought of stopping before but I was ready to give it up then and there, and wait for the bus to pick me up and take me to the finish line.

But I didn't give up. I did a whole lot of complaining to Amy. Graphic complaining at that. Bless her heart, not only did she handle taking all of the pictures but she listened and stuck with me. I'm sure she was thinking "How did this cry baby run a 2:12 half 2 weeks ago??".

Then it happened. We came back into the park. I could see the lights around a corner. Finally!! The Osborne Lights!!
The lights are amazing in person. Lights covering every square inch of available space. They were so worth the wait and the mini-meltdown. Running through the lights gave me a very short lived boost.

We had hit mile 11 and then some by the time we left the park and we started towards the boardwalk. The path narrowed considerably and the concrete was uneven. I nearly bit it, and tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. Luckily for me(but not so much the girl in front of me), a runner in front of me kept me from going completely face first.

At this point I just wanted the race to be over. My Garmin had us at nearly .3 miles ahead of where the mile markers said we were at, so it was a mind trip thinking I was further ahead than I was. My body ached for me to be further ahead, but I wasn't. I popped my Energy Bits for one last bit of energy to finish the race. Warning to all of you bits users out there. If you carry your bits in a tin for almost 12 miles, they shake around, a lot. This creates a lot of dust. So it's not the best idea to pop the tin back to your mouth while running, because the dark green dust will settle on your sweaty upper lip, giving you the appearance of a mustache in your race photos. Trust me.

We ran along the boardwalk before Epcot, and the pounding was even harder on my already aching feet. As we approached Epcot, Amy called out "Peggy Sue!" and then I saw her. Peggy Sue is a staple at Disney races. she comes to pretty much every race and sits at the later miles, with a sign that says "Complete Stranger, I'm proud of you too." She's a beacon of light in the pit of despair. When Amy called it out, I stopped dead in my tracks. I was brain dead at that point, it was after midnight and my mind was exhausted. I stopped right in front of another runner, causing him to nearly run into me. I felt like a dolt, but since I missed Peggy Sue at PHM, I had to get a picture then.
Notice my Energy Bits mustache

By this point it was time to head into Epcot. Normally I would welcome another park, but Epcot has become a bit of an enemy of mine during races. During PHM, it seemed like that last mile in Epcot lasted forever and I abhorred the giant ball that taunted me. As soon as I saw it upon entering Epcot, it taunted me once more. "Hey there April. I was once an icon to you, standing proud as the symbol of Epcot. But now I will mock you. Are you there yet?" Shut up Spaceship Earth!! By this point, with Amy still with me, I refused to stop anymore. I wanted to be done. No more walking, no more breaks or pictures, just finish.

We came out of Epcot into the parking lot, where a very cool light show shone overhead in fog they had created. There was one more corner to turn to the finish line. I head Amy's name called out by the announcer and then mine. Done. Finished. Crossed. We finished in 2:41:21. This is not my worst time. I ran PHM, my first half, in 2:48:45 and I didn't stop nearly as much during that race. Considering we went through 2 bathroom breaks, many water stops, walk breaks and plenty of pictures, the time wasn't so bad.

I was limping by this point. My feet have never hurt so bad. We grabbed our checked bags and headed to the changing area. The changing area was not what I expected. It was one large tent with pretty much anyone and everyone changing where they could find a spot. The tent was a good 15 degrees warmer than outside, because of the large amount of sweaty, pretty much naked women packed in. I tried to change as quickly as possible, without flashing anyone, and got out of the sauna of nakedness and funk as quickly as possible.

I felt a bit better being in not so soaking clothes but I was still sweaty and achy. The long march through the hoards of finishers and family members to the after party in Epcot was torturous. We met up with Wendy by the changing area, she had finished not so far behind us. I wanted food. Hot food, not the hippie boxes that Disney gives out after a race. We put our stuff in a locker and parted ways as I was going to meet up with some PbRC members. I made my first stop of 3 for food. It. Was. Heaven. Beef on a stick, dripping with butter and juice and mashed potatoes in some amazing sauce. I licked that paper plate clean.

I met up with the PbRC folks outside of Germany and hobbled back to a food booth near China, where I picked up some Mongolian Beef. We made our way to America where I was greeted by a wonderour thing. A turkey leg stand.

I enjoyed my turkey leg and perfect timing, Amy texted saying she was ready to go. While I hated to leave the party, I wanted a shower and a bed in a bad way, so I met her back at the front. We took a few pictures in front of the park with our medals and headed back.

Some wrap up thoughts on this race.
1. I can't say it was my favorite. While I'm not a morning person and getting up at 2:30 am for one of Disney's morning races isn't exactly pleasant, and I am a night owl, the night race really threw me off. I didn't know how to hydrate properly and this left me needing to use the bathroom, a lot.
2. Another reason it wasn't my favorite was because of some of the areas we ran by. Not one, but two garbage areas. I have a heightened sense of smell during long runs and even smells I'd normally find pleasant turn me off. So horrible smells like garbage bins made me want to hurl. What's up with that Disney? I'm kind of disappointed that they couldn't find some way to avoid bringing over 10,000 runners past smelly garbage.
3. I did like the course, aside from what seemed like so many more hills than the PHM course(although according to my Garmin, it was flat. Go home Garmin, you're drunk). We spent a lot more time in the parks, going through 3 of the 4 parks. I loved running through Hollywood Studios and loved the characters on the course.
4. I don't know what happened to me during this race. Sure, our time was still decent and it was a Disney PR for both Amy and myself, but mentally I broke down. I didn't feel all there, and for the first time ever there came a point where I seriously wanted to quit. I have also never hurt this badly during a race. While I was battling some very painful ITBS during my first half, that was one general area of pain. During this race I hurt everywhere, and in areas that have never given me an issue before.
5. I'm glad to have experienced this race, but now I'm pretty sure I can cross it off my list and leave it be. It's not like PHM where I want to do it again. Sure, if entry and a trip fell into my lap, I'd take it, but I have little desire to try for it next year. I did fall in love with Disney during Christmas and my family is planning a trip back next season so our kids can experience it. For a split second I thought "Maybe we could just plan Wine and Dine weekend again and I could do the race." but that was quickly replaced with "Nope, not a chance."
6. While I was extremely sore during and immediately after the race, when I woke up in the morning, I felt good. no muscle soreness and even through the next day, with lots of sitting, especially on my plane ride home, I wasn't sore at all.




So there you have it, the good and not so good of the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon. It's a favorite for some people, but not for me. I bid farewell to Disney the following day and am already counting down the days until my first Disneyland trip in January, for the Tinkerbell 10k and half marathon.


















Disney's Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon Weekend Part 3: Race Day-Pre-Race

Since the day was long aside from the race itself, I'm going to break it up into 2 parts. Yes, you still have to wait for my official race report.

The morning started earlier than I wanted it too. With the previous day spent getting up way early, traveling, arriving at Disney, then Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party until the wee hours of the morning, I figured I was good to sleep until 10-11am. At home, given the chance, I have no issues sleeping in that late. But I was at Disney and the excitement got the best of me, so I was up at 9:30. Luckily, having 3 kids, I know how to ignore noise when I want to and I slept through my roomies waking up. I'd hoped I would be able to get a nap in later in the day.

The day was a relatively easy day, with no park time scheduled. After showering and getting dressed, I headed down to find the other DisBroads and grab some breakfast. Most of the other girls had plans but I was going to join Amy at the expo. Breakfast did not disappoint, as I finally got to try Port Orleans French Quarter's signature, beignets.
They are made fresh with every order and while messy, they were outstanding. I took mine to go and we headed over to catch a bus to the expo.

Much like the day before, the expo was extremely tame compared to other expos I've seen.
Amy got her bib and then headed to runner's relations to show them proof of time to get moved up to Corral E, the corral I was in. She had a nearly identical 10k time to turn in. I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus or anything, but let's just say that she ended up getting a not so bright young man, whose strong suit was anything but math, and she was given access to Corral A. I'm not bitter or anything.

After she picked up her bib and got her shiny Corral A sticker for her bib, we headed to the Josten's building for t-shirt pickup and a bit of shopping. It was a bit busier than the day before and I could have used Gu, but the lines for Gu were long, I was trying to save my feet for the race that night, and I decided I had enough Gu to get me through to the mile 8 Clif shot stop during the race.

We didn't shop long as we had lunch at the Polynesian. Luckily the Polynesian was a host resort and we were able to catch one of their buses to that resort.

We would be meeting most of the other DisBroads, as well as Amy's mom and a few of her guests, at the Kona Cafe, which was a new to me restaurant. Like resorts, I like to try something new with each trip.

We arrived earlier than everyone else, and decided to peruse the gift shops. Then it happened. I came upon the big H2O toiletries stand in the gift shop. They had several of their lotions available for testing, and anyone who knows me knows I physically cannot pass up lotion. It's just not possible, and I will moisturize every available square inch. Amy found this out the hard way.
So moisture I did. Luckily the shop was pretty empty. Hey, I don't look this good at 30 with no effort.

We headed to Kona and waited for everyone to arrive. All of the DisBroads except for Patty were joining us. By our reservation time, everyone had arrived.
One of the reasons I wanted Kona for lunch was because they had sushi. Sushi was my typical pre-race meal, I eat it anytime I have a big race or long run. It does me good. I started with a phenomenal salad.
The sushi menu was rather limited, and I ended up ordering a caterpillar roll.
While it looked adorable, the first bite set my mouth on fire. It. Was. Spicy. The second bite wasn't any better.
This is my "This is spicy" face.
I ended up having to send it back to get something more mild. What I ended up with was ok, I ate it because I needed to, but it had an interesting Hawaiian flair(added pineapple) that didn't really appeal to me. We finished up and all headed back to our resort.

After a stop for my pre-race snacks and chocolate milk, we headed to our room, with several hours to spare. At that point I didn't think I could take a nap and was a tad worried. But once settled into our room, I got sleepy and fast. All the other girls in the room were still chatting and getting things ready. I crawled into bed, still thinking I couldn't go to sleep with the noise and I was out like a light. I slept for over 2 hours and was up a bit before 6, it was time to start getting ready for the race.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my weekend, the official race report!






Thursday, November 14, 2013

Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Part Two-Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

I don't know if you know this, but I love Christmas. Like really, really love Christmas. Obviously I also love Disney so Disney+Christmas=Winning for me. After registering for the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon, I was extremely pleased to hear that the day I came into Florida would be the very first night of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party(known as MVMCP from here on out). Of course I was going. I hadn't planned any park trips and I wanted to see the Magic Kingdom all lit up for Christmas, so this was my chance.
While the party doesn't start until 7pm, you can get into the park with just your event ticket starting at 4 pm. At 4pm I was at the gate, natch. My party ticket linked up perfectly to my Magic Band so with a touch of my wrist, I was in. The cast members are dressed in festive holiday attire and greet you just past the gate with wristbands that serve as your admission in and your ability to stay once they start moving regular park goers out at 7.
I seriously need one of these shirts.



We were greeted at the entrance by Christmas decorations.
This was just a small taste of the goodness we'd find inside. Let me tell you, the Magic Kingdom has decked the halls for the Christmas season. It's pretty during the day, but awe-inspiring at night.
I hurried in, because I decided to test out the new Fastpass+ system, and had reserved fastpasses in My Disney Experience well ahead of time. So which ride did I choose? Well, none. I am a big kid at heart so I reserved fastpasses for the new Princess Fairytale Hall.

I love meeting with characters, probably more than riding rides. I do love rides, but I love a good selfie with a Princess more. There are two sides to this hall, one features Rapunzel and a visiting princess(that day was Snow White), the other features Cinderella and a visiting princess(Aurora). I reserved fastpasses for both sides. Another touch of my Magic Band and I was granted quick access to each side.
I was attending the party with all of the other DisBroads and had come into the park with DisBroad Amy. Amy had her own fastpasses so we went our separate ways to our own attractions, before meeting up with honorary DisBroad for the weekend(and one of our roommates) Wendy for dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. This restaurant has become my go-to place to eat the day before a race. I love the food and it's got plenty of carbs and protein.

By the time we were finishing up with dinner, it was inching closer to 7, when non-ticket holders would exit the park, ticket holders would come in(if they weren't already) and the party would start.After dinner we decided to go for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain. While there was a line, it was constantly moving, so our wait time was short. We hopped on, it had grown dark by this point, and had an awesome ride. My post large meal sleepiness was in full swing, so we decided to make our way up to the front of the park to hit the new Starbucks. On our way up, we came upon the Country Bears starting to take pictures in Frontierland, the line was short, so we decided to stop for pictures.

Let me tell you, the bears, they were rough. They jumped on us, huddled in on us, stroked hair, and jumped on us for chest bumps. Amy got the brunt of the Bears, um, enthusiasm.
By this point they were starting to make people without wristbands leave and we got caught in the hoard of people trying to leave the park on our way up to Starbucks. We finally got there and they had closed down the shop while the park made the switch of people. I was bummed, but it had started to snow on Main Street and Christmas music was playing loudly, so it wasn't a complete wash.

This is one of the draws of the Christmas party. Disney creates snow(foam) on the tops of the buildings on Main Street USA and blows it down. So even though it was 70+ degrees and I was wearing shorts, it felt like I was walking in a winter wonderland. I loved it and my pictures just don't do it justice.
We decided not to wait for Starbucks to open and to head back to visit with characters. We wanted to see Phineas and Ferb so we headed that way. Along the way we passed one of the many treat stations the park had, where they had free cookies and hot cocoa(FREE. At Disney!!). Attempting to replace caffeine with a large rush of sugar, we decided to go get some.
We then headed to Tomorrowland to see Phineas and Ferb. The line wasn't terribly long, but I have this knack for driving characters away. I often wait in lines only for the characters to need a break(in this case they had to go check on Perry)when I've made my way to the front of the line. It's why I still have yet to meet Chip and Dale. I mentioned this in line and of course, it happened. They were back within a few minutes(they found Perry) and we had our pictures.
We decided to head back over to the Princess Fairytale hall because the princesses would have their princes with them during the party(another special feature of the party, on top of all of the characters being dressed for winter/Christmas). This line was way too long for our liking(30-60 minutes, I hear Flynn Rider likes to talk) and we had passed Minnie Mouse on the way over, so we decided to go back to her for pictures.
After Minnie we met up with the rest of the DisBroads(with the exception of DisBroad Patty, who ditched us for her husband. Psshhh he doesn't read her blog.) to ride the Jingle Cruise, a Christmas themed version of the Jungle Cruise. We met up with DisBroads Tania, Kristen, Suzanne, Julie and our honorary DisBroad Bonnie.
DisBroads are ready for the Jingle Cruise

The cruise was slightly disappointing. While they had Christmas decorations in the line, there were no actual holiday changes to the ride itself, aside from a few Christmas references by our tour guide.

After the ride, the Broads proves their love to me by agreeing to make our way to the front of the park to try Starbucks again. Fireworks were getting ready to start and everyone was crowded on Main Street for a view. We made it, and I got my liquid gold. The cast member taking orders loved my shirt, and wrote my name on my cup accordingly.
We stepped outside the fireworks, which were beyond words amazing. Disney normally puts on a good fireworks show but they add a lot of extra oomph to the MVMCP fireworks. They shine snowflake shaped lights on the castle and instead of normal Wishes music, they play Christmas music. It blew normal Wishes away.

When the fireworks were finished, I parted ways with the rest of the girls, who wanted to ride a ride. I wanted to see Tiana and Prince Naveen so I got in line for them. I finished my coffee as I stood in line, which again was rather short compared to normal.
I met up with the rest of the girls in Frontierland, the parade was about to begin and they had just gotten off Big Thunder Mountain so we were going to stay and watch it. As we waited for it to start, I noticed something about Splash Mountain that caught my eye. Many single riders were going down and some of the boats were completely empty. It's rare that you ever see Splash Mountain this empty so I saw it as a prime picture opportunity and decided to go ride. I had no volunteers in terms of joining me either. I walked right on and rode by myself, and an epic picture it was.
Like. A. Boss.
 When I got off and met with the girls, Julie couldn't resist the picture opportunity so we road again, and once again, completely by ourselves.
#WineDineHalfStein It's a thing.
By the time we finished and met with the rest of the girls, the parade was over. Next stop, the Princess Fairytale Hall, to try once more for pictures with princesses with their princes.

The line was still just as long but we got in anyway. After 10-15 minutes of not moving, we decided to get out of line and head to the front or the park. It was getting close to midnight, and while we weren't facing our clothes turning to rags and our coach turning into a pumpkin, we were facing the park closing down, which was just as bad, if not worse. *Sad face* Kristen and I stopped for a Nutella waffle sandwich(carb loading you know). It was heavenly.

We lost Amy along the way, as most of our phones were dead thanks to the massive amount of pictures and sharing with the social media world, as well as large amounts of text messages sent trying to coordiante all of the Broads in the park. We were supposed to be finally meeting Patty in front of the castle for pictures. I used the last 1% trying to find the rest of the girls, but we found them(minus Amy, whose phone was fully dead). Looking for them gave us an amazing view of the castle, all lit up for Christmas.
We finally gathered in our spot and had one last group Christmas party picture.
It was midnight and time to go. I had a half marathon in 24 hours, and had been up and traveling since 6:30 that morning, so I was ready for bed.

Wrapping up, the Christmas party was mind blowing. The decorations, snow, treats, characters, the little wait time for rides, the fireworks and everything else made for such a fun time. So much fun that my husband, aka Mr. You Need To Go On a Disney Diet, has agreed to a trip next year so we can take our kids. I can't wait to do it again!