Last Thursday, I took off for Anaheim, California and the Disneyland Half Marathon! At our hotel, the Portofino Inn and Suites, I met up with my sister Andrea, my friend and running buddy Seth, and our friends Alex and Tina. We got into our suite (sounds more glamorous than it was…it was basically 2 hotel rooms with a sitting room between them) and headed to Disneyland. For Andrea, Tina and myself it was our first time there. We had a blast! Disneyland itself is…charming is probably the best word. It’s very small for someone accustomed to the Magic Kingdom. And the castle is, well, tiny! But it’s so much fun!!! We saw “Magical” which is their fireworks at Disneyland. Tinkerbell flies – of course. And there’s another surprise in there! Not going to spoil it! We thought we saw John Lasseter playing along with the piano player outside the food place that’s in the same place as Casey’s on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, but when he was back the next night, we decided maybe not. Who knows though. Anything is possible!
Friday, I went to the meet-up thing runDisney did with Jeff Galloway. We heard from someone with runDisney – no sneak peek info on anything coming up, darn!! – and last year’s female winner, then Jeff talked with us a little. Mainly about his “run/walk/run” (no, I didn’t ask why he insists on putting that extra run on there like we’re stupid…though I am curious as to why) program. I did ask about advice for doing a negative split – “Run slower at the beginning.” Um, gee, thanks Jeff. Fortunately I’d tuned in to a little webcast Q&A with Coach Jenny where she talked about how to do it thinking “Yellow, Orange, and Red” (I think that was the color sequence she used…I guess you could think green, yellow, red. Maybe that was it?), so I decided to try and use that. We also got a special just-for-us photo session with the castle backdrop and Mickey!! WOO! And then some time to shop on our own in the runDisney section of the expo. During that time I got to meet Joe Taricani from The Marathon Show – and he interviewed me! I haven’t listened to the DL Half podcast yet, but I will on my run tomorrow.
After that, I went down to get my bib and Coast to Coast wristband and meet up with Seth. We cruised the expo, then took things back to the room (Disney’s gone to B-tags, and you can’t bend or fold them. UGH!). Lunch was at In-n-Out Burger. Um, sorry for all the fans, but I found it only marginally better than Shake Shack (and if you know me, you know that I’d almost rather starve than eat Shake Shack’s food). Still, the company was good! The afternoon was Disney’s California Adventure, then back over to Disneyland for their version of Fantasmic. I liked it a little better overall than the version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but I still love both of them.
Saturday, we got up and went to Balboa to eat breakfast at Ruby’s on the Balboa Pier (the others are all big fans of The OC, and I guess they go there on the show?) – cinnamon roll French toast was YUM!!! Looked at the ocean for a while, then took the little ferry over to Balboa Island to wander around. Then we went to Laguna. Um, WOW! So pretty!!!! Gotta say, the views we had driving bumped Big Sur up to the top of my “must do” list. So Boston may get pushed back another year, especially if Runner’s World Challenge does Big Sur in 2013. So many decisions to make!!! Anyway…we got chased and hit by a couple of huge rogue waves…but luckily none of us fell down. Then we went to lunch at La Sirena – a cute little Mexican food cafe. We went back to Disneyland for a little while, and (I think) thanks to my First Visit! button got a group “return” pass to be able to see Star Tours. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, but it was fun. There are like 54 options you might get…and would you believe my sister has only been on the one in Florida since they redid it once and it was the same sequence she got??? CRAZYCAKES!! I seem to remember it being rougher before the re-do…but maybe we just got a mild sequence. Anyway…then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the race and nap.
Sunday morning, woke up early and got dressed (I’d KT-taped the knees and adhered it with a hair dryer the night before), then Seth, Andrea and I headed out to Disney property. We walked in as we had every other time…and proceeded to try and find the starting area. First huge shock – at Walt Disney World, there are signs everywhere telling you where to go. Disneyland? NO signs from the point where the busses dump you off (or where you walk in from most of the good neighbor hotels). We ended up in a backstage area and someone helped the group in front of us out a little, so we followed them. When we got to where we knew the finish line was, we could see where we needed to go, but signage is definitely necessary. We stood around for a while and I got to meet some more ROTE people, then Andrea took our extra clothes and Seth and I headed to our corral – Corral D. And there we had another mess. There was precious little signage on the corrals from D back, and apparently there had not been volunteers checking, so an entire group was supposedly being moved into their correct corral before those of us in D could get in there. And yet there were still people with bibs as high as Corral G (with no sticker!) in with us when we started. More room for improvement there runDisney. Volunteers really should be at the corrals at the latest 30 minutes after busses start running, and they really should enforce the corral placement. It happens at Walt Disney World…so I’m not sure why the same organization ended up with such a cluster at Disneyland. It’s not like they’re a new race organization! Anyway…we got started (no individual corral fireworks at DL??? FAIL!!!). The parks section is the first part of the race, so after about mile 3 or 4 there is NOTHING Disney until the finish line area really. A lot of people liked running through Angels Stadium, but since I’m not a baseball fan, it really didn’t mean anything to me other than getting annoying red clay in my shoes that I just wanted to take out (but didn’t because that would have involved time). There were several places where the fluid (or gel) stations were set up at what really seemed to be the narrowest part of the course and where there was a curve. I’m all for honesty in race info, but I really don’t think having a stop at say Mile 1.6 rather than 1.5 to ensure it being at a better, wider part of the course would be a huge deal. I know I’m fussing about what seems like a lot here, but I really did have a great time! I just think that there are some things runDisney could do better to make it even MORE of a great time!! And I totally understand why they don’t have characters outside of the parks. Though I don’t understand why they’d have two bands or cheer squads side by side rather than spread them out. There were some pretty long stretches with nothing going on – thankfully I had Seth to talk to. Anaheim really isn’t that “scenic”. LOL. Also? Not flat. There were some definite hills in that course!
My reach goal had been a 2:30:xx with my goal, goal as a negative split. Well, neither of those happened. While it was cool at the start, once the sun got up it heated up VERY quickly and was the highest average temperature I’ve run that far in. I had some never-experienced-before back stitches (like side stitches, but more on my back just under my ribs), and then when Seth and I kicked to try and get ahead of a jerk I’d seen push a woman on another section of the course, my achilles cramped up and I had to walk (thus letting jerk-face finish ahead of us). But Seth stayed with me and we finished together in 2:51:44! Andrea, Tina and Alex cheered us on early in the race and cheered us on at the end! They were great (even if Alex did take a nap in the middle!!)!!!
After cool showers, we went to Trader Sam’s (a tiki bar) at Disneyland Hotel, then hit the parks one last time. We had a celebratory dinner at Wine Country Trattoria with their World of Color dinner package. Great food, and the show was fantastic, even if we did get wet.
Monday it was time to head home. I won’t go into all of the issues I had on the flights…let’s just say if you’re sitting in an aisle seat (non-first class or any of their special boarding groups) on a United flight, you’ll be in the last boarding group and will likely be forced to gate check your bag without the gate agent even checking to see if there’s room. Had to do some rapid unpacking of a medal and some other things I’d never put in checked baggage. Not cool United. Not cool.
All-in-all it was a great time!! And I have my Coast to Coast medal!!!
Now? It’s time to transition to night running so I’m ready for the Wine and Dine!!! Woohoo!!!!