2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my third recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out parts one and two here and here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my Half Marathon Recap.

After waking up at another ungodly hour…we made our way over to Epcot to get ready to run the third part of my Dopey Challenge. Just like the 10K race, I had Rachel with me for the half marathon. The weather was still quite cold and windy like the mornings before. We ended up sitting in the car again for a good 10-15 minutes to stay warm.

After walking over to the corrals and waiting for another 45 minutes or so, we were off! The nice thing about having Rachel with me was that I still had a full marathon to go at that point, and she is always good about pacing me during a race.

We ended up finding a great pace/speed and just enjoyed being together while running a very familiar course. (This was the 6th time I’ve run this particular half marathon course.)

The course takes you around Epcot through the Transportation and Ticketing Center, up to the Magic Kingdom (including running through Cinderella’s Castle!) and back down to Epcot.

Quite a few of the miles are just on the roads, but Disney does a good job of spreading out numerous cheering sections, high school marching bands and character picture stops along the way.

As we crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help but be very grateful to have 3 of the 4 races out of the way.


After grabbing our medals and water/runner’s boxes, we actually headed over to the Disney character area and got a finisher picture with Pluto and Goofy!

We ended up seeing our friends Nick and Ciara at the end as well. They are always so sweet to come see us during the races. Unfortunately, the wind/cold was still very present, and after a few minutes, we were ready to get back to the condo and clean up/warm up.

The agenda for the rest of the day was pretty simple…Disney Springs for a few hours and the #werunsocial meet-up, and then back to the condo to rest up for my last big race!

We ended up getting to the Disney Springs area around lunchtime. After grabbing some food and walking around for a bit, we headed over to the #werunsocial meet-up.


One of the best things about running is the community, and #werunsocial is about just that. It is a group of passionate runners that love to meet up and support each other. So, when the chance to get together arises, that’s what we do. In fact, I’ve made several great friends through this community. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!


After spending some good time with running friends, we made our way back over the condo for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We grabbed some pasta (CARBO LOAD!!!) later that afternoon and I began to get ready for the final race, the marathon!! At this point, I was 22.2 miles down and 26.2 miles to go to finish my second Dopey Challenge!


Stay tuned for the fourth recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: Marathon.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my second recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. Check out part one here. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my 10K Recap.

Very early Friday morning, Rachel and I headed over to Epcot and the starting corrals for the 10K. Like the previous day, the weather was very cold and windy. We were both very bundled up and ready to go.

After sitting in the warm car for about 15 minutes, we started walking towards the corrals. We were both in Corral B for the race, which fortunately meant we would only have to wait about 15-20 minutes after the actual race started to begin. The 10K course is probably my favorite overall course at WDW. You spend quite a bit of time in Epcot and running around the boardwalk of the Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht Club Resorts.


Rachel and I were able to keep a nice and steady pace for the 6.2 miles, which insured we would have plenty left in the tank for the half marathon the next day (which Rachel was running with me as well). Once we finished, we grabbed our medals and water/runner’s box and headed back to the condo to get out of the cold.


After we finished cleaning up, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. After riding a few rides, we headed over to Be Our Guest for lunch, which is one of our favorite places to eat. Plus, it’s inside and was a welcome escape from the cold weather.


After lunch, we rode a few more rides and actually got a few character pictures as well, including one with Minnie Mouse, who the 10K race is themed after!


Later in the afternoon, we headed back to the condo to rest for a little bit before grabbing some pizza for dinner. We were excited to eat at the Pizza Press, which is new to Orlando, but is one of our favorite spots near Disneyland in California.

We called it an early night as we both had gotten up early and we were both running the half marathon the next morning. At this point, I was 9.3 miles down and 39.3 miles to go to finish my second Dopey Challenge!

Stay tuned for the third part of my recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: Half Marathon.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: Pre-Race and 5K Recap

Hello friends! Welcome to my first recap of the 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend. As you may know, I participated in my second Dopey Challenge, which includes running a 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday for a total of 48.6 miles. Without further ado…here is my Pre-Race and 5K Recap.

Once we arrived in Orlando on Wednesday, Rachel and I headed over to the expo to pick up our race numbers and shirts. The expo was quite crowded from all of the Dopey and 5K runners arriving to pick up their race gear. It honestly felt like we all showed up at the same time. After spending a few hours at the expo, we were able to get everything we needed for the races.

After the expo, we checked in to our condo for the week. We were very fortunate to be able to use Rachel’s family’s timeshare, which is super close to the parks.

Once we got settled in, we headed over to Epcot. We figured the first few days of our trip would be good for park visits, since running would be on the lower mileage side. After walking around for a few hours and grabbing dinner, we left Epcot and stopped off at Publix to pick up some groceries for the week. Once we got back to the condo, I began to get ready for my 1st of 4 races.

Now as with all Disney races, the wakeup time is crazy early. I set my alarm for 3:15 am and tried to get around 4-5 hours of sleep that first night. Very early the next morning, I set off for Epcot and the race start for the 5K.

The biggest challenge this year (besides running 48.6 miles over 4 days) was the weather. Florida is very unpredictable. In January, it can be cold, rainy, mild, hot and super humid. The forecast for the race weekend called for super cold temperatures, especially in the early mornings. Fortunately, Rachel and I were able to grab some throwaway jackets at Goodwill before we left Atlanta.


However, it was absolutely freezing in the corrals waiting for the 5K. By the time we got started, all I wanted to do was finish as quickly as possible. I ended up running with my throwaway jacket on for over half the race. By the time I didn’t need it, I was less than 1.5 miles from the finish so I ended up carrying it. I figured it would be good to have for the next morning.

I finished with a respectable pace and grabbed my medal and runner’s box/water and headed back to the condo. By the time I got back, Rachel was just waking up.


For the rest of the day, we hit up Hollywood Studios for a few hours, including meeting BB-8 from Star Wars. BB-8 is Rachel’s favorite!

After Hollywood Studios, we headed over to the Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht Club Resort area for the afternoon. We walked around for a bit, popping in and out of stores and grabbing some ice cream. We actually ended up running into one of my social media running friends, Ken, and his mom. It was great to see Ken again!


Later that evening, we grabbed a quick dinner and headed back to the condo to try to get to bed early. Rachel was set to run the 10K with me the next morning.

Stay tuned for the second part of my recap…WDW Marathon Weekend: 10K Recap.




2018 Dopey Challenge

48.6 miles over 4 days. That’s pretty much all that’s on my mind at the moment. As I’m working today, I found myself coming to the realization that my training is complete. It’s time to trust the training and run.

The Dopey Challenge will start this Thursday, January 4th. I will run 4 races over 4 days.

  • Thursday, January 4 – 5K
  • Friday, January 5 – 10K
  • Saturday, January 6 – Half Marathon
  • Sunday, January 7 – Full Marathon


Now I don’t have any specific time goals for the races this weekend. Running that many miles over 4 days, the goal is to finish upright with a smile on my face. Also, it’s supposed to be quite chilly in the mornings, which can make it difficult to push it too much.

We leave later today and will drive to Tifton, GA for the night, before getting to Orlando the following morning. Probably won’t be able to blog during the trip, since we will be busy running, hanging at the parks and seeing friends.

Make sure to follow me on social media to stay up-to-date on all my amazing adventures this weekend!

Instagram: @allenwhittaker
Twitter: @allenwhittaker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allenwhittaker

Best of List: Top TV Shows of 2017 (Guest Post)

Rachel is taking over the blog for the final “Best of List” post and last blog post of 2017.

Over the last couple of days, Allen provided two of his “best of” lists for 2017: movies and personal moments. I don’t know about you, but I felt that 2017 was a strong year for TV shows as well.

I’m going to mix up the format of this post, as I felt various strong feelings – good and bad, expected and unexpected – about TV shows this year. Therefore, I bring you my TV superlatives of 2017 (in no particular order).

Proof Damon Lindelof Can End a Show Well (or, The Best Show You’re Not Watching): The Leftovers

Oh, man. I can’t give enough praise to this three-season masterpiece. The premise is that 2% of the world’s population has disappeared (religious and non-religious undertones ensue). The series ends with an amazing monologue from the incomparable Carrie Coon, telling a story that I 100% believed simply because she was telling it. The fact that no actor on this show was nominated for an Emmy (save for a guest star nod) is criminal.

A Good Twist Is Hard to Find: The Good Place

I won’t spoil the season one-ending twist here, because everyone should be watching this delightful show, brought to you by the man responsible for the amazing Parks and Recreation, but suffice to say I did not see it coming. And it was a game changer. Season two is almost like an entirely new show, in the best way.

Aziz Ansari Is Master of Everything: Master of None

Yes, this season was ultimately a love story (and a compelling one at that). But along the way were some of the best episodes of TV in 2017. The Thanksgiving episode alone is completely worthy of every award it amassed this year. And what a risk to air an episode almost entirely devoid of your main characters – and what a success, too.

Best Gilmore Girls Successor: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s famously fast talking characters are back in this 1950s-set hysterical, charming show about a woman who embarks on a standup comedy career after her husband leaves. It’s also a very good-looking show – I very much envy Mrs. Maisel’s wardrobe and want to live in their lavish apartments.

Best TV Acting by Heavy Hitters of Film: Big Little Lies

The gang’s all here in this drama-filled limited series, mostly courtesy of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon (with a dash of Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern). Kidman’s abused housewife is hands down one of the year’s best performances. Lucky for us, there will be a season two.

Most Emotions Caused by a Cartoon: BoJack Horseman

I can tell you’re skeptical, but I have never been so moved by animation (except for your pick of Pixar movie, of course). This show makes me FEEL in the truest sense of the word, as these characters are just trying to find themselves and be good people in a messed-up world. It’s worth a watch, I promise!

Best Sophomore Season: Stranger Things

I read a review of season two, noting that one of the reasons season one was so great is that it was so unexpected. I am here to tell you that lightning can strike twice. All of our Hawkins friends are back in season two, this time with an extra dose of Will Byers, played to eerie perfection by the adorable Noah Schnapp. They’re all growing up in this Upside Down-infested world, and it’s awesome.

Most Improved: Mr. Robot

Allen included this show in his Top TV of 2016 list, but season three was far and away better than last year’s go-round. A true testament to how much better an ensemble show is when the characters are actually assembled. (And, despite what the name might imply, it’s about hacking – not robots.)

Shows Not Living Up to My High Expectations

Girls: The final season was, to be blunt…not great.

House of Cards: A weak season made weaker by the news that Kevin Spacey is not just an on-screen creep.

Veep: Selena Meyer has always pushed buttons, but I think she went too far this year.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I still love this show, but this season has been a little too intense for my taste. Despite being a good depiction of mental illness, it lacks the fizzy fun of previous seasons.

Also, since Allen didn’t a chance to write this post, I also wanted to include some of his top shows of 2017:

  • Better Call Saul
  • Fargo
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mindhunter

It was a good year! Here’s hoping 2018 will be even better!

Best of List: Top Moments of 2017

Yesterday I started my “Best of 2017” lists with “Top Movies of 2017.” I always enjoy taking a look back at the last 12 months in regards to the best personal and pop culture moments in my life.

Continuing with my personal top moments of 2017. Quite a few of these will include running and Disney because I love both of those things.

This list is in order chronologically, not by importance.

  • “Running” the WDW Half Marathon in January, which technically got canceled for bad weather. However, I was able to get in my 13.1 miles the next day. Plus, Rachel’s parents spent several days at the parks with us.
  • Celebrating Dad’s 70th birthday and engagement with my family in February.


  • Running the Princess Half Marathon in late February with Rachel (and about 15K other women).


  • Spending the weekend in the Dalton/Chatsworth, GA area in April and running the Tear Drop Half Marathon.


  • Going to California/Disneyland to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May. This was our 4th straight “coast to coast” year (running at least a half marathon in Florida and California in the same calendar year).


  • Visiting Pandora (in Animal Kingdom) less than 10 days after it opened in early June.


  • Running the Peachtree Road Race (the world’s largest 10K) with my good friend Meredith on the 4th of July.


  • Celebrating and helping officiate my Dad’s wedding to Suzanne in Enterprise, Alabama in early August.


  • Running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver in mid-August with my good friend Justin Stone. Justin’s wife Devin and Rachel came and cheered us on!
  • Spending an amazing 16 days in Europe celebrating 10 years of marriage. We hit up Disneyland Paris, Paris, Barcelona, Disney Cruise, Pompeii, Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes and Nice.
  • Renewing our season passes to WDW in late September for another magical year.


  • Visiting Disney World in mid-October and hitting up the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot and the Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Running in the Atlanta 10 Miler (October) and Thanksgiving Half (November) to complete my second consecutive Triple Peach (which includes the Peachtree Road Race in July).


  • Spending 5 days in November with Rachel and our good friend Janell in San Diego and Disneyland.


  • Seeing most of my family 3 different times in 5 weeks, including celebrating Thanksgiving in Enterprise, seeing my brother’s Christmas concert in Buford and early Christmas celebrations in Auburn.

So…How was your 2017?


Best of List: Top Movies of 2017

I love a good “Best Of…” list. So for the next several blog posts, I will be sharing some of my favorite things of 2017. Today’s post will feature my favorite movies of 2017. It’s an interesting list because Rachel and I used to be big moviegoers. We would go 2-3 times a month. However, over the past few years, we don’t get out to the movies as much. With the high ticket prices and the fact that you can stream movies so quickly after they are in the theaters, we end up limiting which movies we see to the ones we really want to see sooner rather than later.

All that to say, I am behind on quite a few films that I was hoping to catch this year. But I still saw some excellent films this year. In no particular order, here we go…

  • Wonder Woman Easily the best DC movie since Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
  • The Big Sick Loved this movie. It was sweet, funny and very well written.
  • Baby Driver One of the most original movies I’ve seen in a long time. And the soundtrack was excellent!
  • Dunkirk Intense, compelling, visually stunning. Christopher Nolan at his best.
  • Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri Loved it. Felt like a Cohen Brothers movie. Dark, funny and very well acted.
  • Thor: Ragnorok My favorite Thor movie for sure. One of the best Marvel movies, which is saying something.
  • Coco Gorgeous visuals. Great story. Pixar at its best.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming The best Spider-Man since Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man 2. And probably the funniest of the Marvel movies.

Several movies that I haven’t seen yet, but hope to soon:

  • The Post
  • The Florida Project
  • Lady Bird
  • I, Tonya
  • All The Money In The World
  • Blade Runner 2049

What are some of your favorite movies from 2017?