We had planned to drive down the morning of Friday, April 15th, but that week we got a little eager and decided it would make life much easier to just go down Thursday after Eric got off work. So, I spent Thursday morning running around like a crazy person getting everything ready and loading the car before picking Ellie up from school and springing the news on her that we were Disney-bound a day early. (I think she was excited, but she did express a wish that my after-school "surprise" for her had been a Belle dress, so who can say.) As soon as Eric got home, we piled into the car and off we went!
Here we come, Disney!
We stayed in the same hotel where we stayed for marathon weekend last year, and it was great. We had three bedrooms, a giant jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom, a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. They also had a pool that ended up being great for the kids, but more on that later. We arrived at the hotel with plenty of time to settle in and let the kids run around like lunatics for a while before putting them to bed.
Now that the kids are in bed, Mama's vacation can begin.
On Friday morning, we got up and ready and headed out to Wide World of Sports for the first running event of the weekend: the Star Wars Kids' Races. I should backtrack and explain that the entire reason for this trip was the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side running event. Disneyland does a Light Side run, and this was the first year Disney World hosted a Dark Side counterpart. We signed up for the 10k in the fall, when I had barely ever run at all in my life. I'll share more about that decision and how it has turned out for me in my next post, but we kicked off our entire weekend with a race for the kids, followed by a 10k for the parents the next day. Exciting!
My mom and Gary met us at the race expo at Wide World of Sports, where we retrieved our numbers and t-shirts and perused the goods for sale for a bit. We also snapped some pictures and got the kids ready for their race.
Family race bibs!
Getting the kids ready
They look ready to run!
We're ready, too!
The kids' races kicked off at 11:30 a.m., starting with the 100m dash for the one-to-three-year-old division. So, E.J. was up first! Eric accompanied him on the track, and when his turn came, he darted off. He did fizzle out a little bit after the opening stretch, but he picked it back up in time to cross the finish line like a rock star. And thus, the first medal of the weekend was in hand!
Heading towards the finish line!
Crossing the finish line!
The first W. family medalist of the weekend!
Ellie went next, in the 200m dash for the four-to-seven-year-olds. To our surprise, she told Eric she wanted to run it by herself! To be honest, we expected E.J. to be the more independent one on race day, but Ellie surprised and impressed us immensely. She lined up by herself, while Eric kept and eye on her and the rest of us waited down the track for her. The "solo runners" came out with some speed (they looked like little lightning bolts compared to the wee ones from the previous group!), and I was afraid I would miss Ellie in the crowd. In fact, I nearly did miss her, because just as I gave up looking, thinking she must be in the next heat, there she was: back there behind them all, running steadily at her own pace, just rocking it. That little girl ran the entire 200m, all by herself. As her parent, it was truly amazing to watch. It was not what I expected of her, but I should know by now that I should expect anything because all she needs to do is get it in her head that she's going to do something, and it's as good as done. She ran the whole way. As she passed the D.J. booth, they called out, "Let's hear it for our princess in pink!" to her, and the "Jedi" they had along the course came out to run with her for the last bit. Because she had let all the other kids run ahead of her, she had the stage all to herself for her big performance and she killed it.
Ellie waiting with the rest of the kids (she has her pink ear muffs on!)
Here she comes!
Eric recording her great run!
Crossing the finish line! Way to go, Ellie!
We're so proud of her!
Look at these two running, and also, tell me the music they ran to wasn't so perfect:
VIDEO: Ellie and E.J. running their races
(If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch it on YouTube)
Proud mama over here, folks.
Nice job, kids!
After the race, we hung out a little bit longer. Wanting to keep her athletically impressive streak going, Ellie asked to try her hand at a little obstacle course they had set up for the kids, and again, she was awesome.
She's a natural!
Before we could head back to the hotel for lunch, we had one last objective: take a picture with BB-8! He was stationed inside a tent with roughly an hour wait, but we couldn't pass up the chance to meet the latest droid sensation. Luckily, they had Star Wars clips playing on big screens on both sides of the line, so the kids hung out with Grammy and danced, snacked and watched Star Wars while Eric and I waited in line for our turn.
A real live celebrity!
Our first character photo of the weekend!
Then, it was back to the hotel for lunch and naps for the kids. Gary headed home but my mom stayed, so she could be our much-appreciated childcare while Eric and I ran the next morning.
On the bus back to our car from the event. I'm ready for a nap!
After naps, we went out to Disney Springs for a quick shopping trip.
The kids doing a little shopping
A natural Ellie smile, captured on film! Hooray!
Then, back home for dinner and early bedtime for the next round of runners!
Coming up next: The Dark Side 10k!
If you want to see more photos from the kids' races, check them out here!