2013 (Inaugural) Disneyland 10K Recap!

Pre-race!
Pre-race!

Day 3 of my Disneyland trip started with an early wakeup call: it was time to run the first leg of the Dumbo Double Dare! I had run the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2011, and the Tinker Bell Half (as well as the Neverland 5K) earlier in the year, so I was super excited to log some more miles at the Happiest Place on Earth and finally reveal the costume that I had worked on for an embarrasingly long amount of time: a run-friendly Dapper Dans tribute! Since I was so excited to get full use out of the costume (and oh, the fact I was running 13.1 the next day) my only goal for this race was to get as many pictures (#allthepics!) as possible and of course, have an absolute blast 😀

The starting area was mere footsteps away from my room at the Grand Californian so the morning routine was easy! I had the mini Clif Bar for breakfast (that had been in the swag bag from the Expo) and drank some water before heading to the Disneyland Hotel hat for a quick photo with my t#rD pals…as well as some of the other fun groups I’m part of…check out J’s awesome costume!

DL10K_JandK
Amazing, right?

Before long, it was about time to begin the slow mosey over to the start area…and time to run into more friends!

My friends Kris and Mindy!
Ran into my friends Kris and Mindy!

After a bit of chaos, we made it from the holding area we seemed to be stuck in and were able to enter our corrals. Excitement was building, especially since this was the first time runDisney was working a simultaneous 5K and 10K at the Disneyland event. Soon enough, it was time to GO!

The beginning of the race was a good warm up, it was out and around the resort area, through the Anaheim Convention Center, before we entered the fun part: the parks! I definitely used the earlier part to hit a comfortable stride before the photo frenzy that would take place in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with DCA, and particularly the Cars Land area, first (here’s the full map).

First character stop! Do you know this guy's name?
First character stop! Do you know this guy’s name?

I think lots of people skipped this stop, but I was excited because I had never gotten a pic with this guy before! Next up:

Too fun.
Too fun.

After we left Cars Land, it was out and around to the Paradise Pier area of the park. I ran into some friendly flowers, and though there wasn’t any character attendants around to snap pics, the other flower jumped in to help!

Flower Power!
Flower Power!

After that, it was around the midway, toward the Toy Story Attraction and Woody and Jessie!

Love them!
Love them!

Yahoo! I was flying off of good vibes at that point and I was pretty much running in tandem with my friend Mickey (check out his blog HERE, he’s running all the runDisney events this year to raise $$ for Make a Wish), who was hitting a similar clip and objective (character clips, galore). I saw him taking a pic with the Storytellers statue and he was kind enough to snap this one for me:

Thanks, Mickey! ;)
Thanks, Mickey! 😉

It was almost time to leave DCA to make the run backstage and over to Disneyland, but before we could do that, I saw this awesome stop! No WAY was I going to miss that fun! Yeahhhh!

MONSTERS!
MONSTERS!

I guess all that excitement was getting to my costume…my velcro’ed bow tie was now hanging my a thread and the side seams of my duct-taped vest were fraying a little. But I ran on to my favorite park with a smile on my face – after all, I was powered by pixie dust – and I could just be more creative with my poses! 😉

Magic!
Magic!

No matter how many times I enter Disneyland, it’s always makes me super duper happy. We headed to the back of the park and emerged in Toontown and saw another two of my favorite characters to see on the course:

D + C!
D + C!

Rounding the corner into Fantasyland, I was practically sprinting because I saw the event’s namesake characters, Alice and the Mad Hatter at Mile 5! In other road races, I might be excited to see the race coming to an end, but each time I runDisney, I have to admit that I get a little emotional that it’s almost over!

A Very Merry Unbirthday!
A Very Merry Unbirthday!

…the Red Queen set me straight quick enough though!

Off with your head!
Off with your head!

…and a little goofin’ around with these guys…

First time meeting them!
First time meeting them!

…before taking off through Sleeping Beauty Castle – bow tie and iPhone in hand! I cannot wait to buy this pic!

YEAHH!
YEAHH! BEST FEELING EVER.

One more pic with a silly duo was necessary….

Chip n Dale in Frontierland!
Chip n Dale in Frontierland!

…and a stretch outta the park…and the 10K, part 1 of the Dumbo Dare – was done! It FLEW by!

10K done!
Race One Done!

I finished in 58:50 with a huge grin on my face and lots of excited energy to play in the parks the rest of the day, and prep for a fun race the very next day! My mission was truly accomplished – all the pics -12 in 6.2 miles AND all the fun – and I truly enjoyed every minute of the race – the 10K distance is a fabulous fit for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend – long enough to be a challenge for those looking for something past a 5K, but do-able and character-filled enough for a challenge weekend, or even a big goal race.

While I am not planning on any of the upcoming challenge weekends ahead (Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend’s Goofy or Dopey Challenges, or the Princess Half Marathon’s Glass Slipper Challenge) I am registered for the 10K race during Marathon Weekend (newly branded as the Minnie 10K) and I am anxious to see how that race will compare with this one, in terms of the course/character offerings.

Did you run the Disneyland 10K? If not, is it one you’d consider adding to your race bucket list?

West Coast Vacation, Pt.1: California!

View from the room at the Grand Californian.
View from the room at the Grand Californian.

It’s hard to believe, but a week ago today, I was leaving California to start the second part of my West Coast Vacation – but it is! As I type this entry over the wifi connection at SeaTac, it’s almost baffling to think I landed here a week ago – and yes, this is gonna be a really common theme over the next few recap posts, but, WOW. So much fun packed in a week and half!!

I already recapped the Labor Day Half, so posts will be a little disjointed, but after a few days of thinking it over, I thought it best to start from the beginning, so without further ado…

DAY 1: Thursday, August 29

Ah, Thursday! I departed the fair state of Florida mid-afternoon and made my way to the West Coast from a rather convoluted flight path that routed me to Los Angeles via Miami from Tampa. The journey was a smooth one, and I even had a chance to grab a tasty Cuban Sandwich on my hour layover and mused at the old-timey plane that not only chugged its way across the country, but did it faster than expected (about 4 hours, 20 min). Upon arrival in California, I waited for what seemed like forever to board the Disneyland Express (more on that later) but once I did, I was BEYOND stoked to check in and check out my awesome view at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel!

Mmm....Earl!
Mmm….Earl!

Before turning in for the night, I met up with my friends Kris and Mindy (and their friend George) at the Earl of Sandwich to plan out the logistics of cupcakes for the Cupcake Meetup to occur the next day! Before long, it was time to hit the hay – but not before catching a glimpse of World of Color…from my balcony! Woot! (Video 1, Video 2)

DAY 2: Friday, August 30

I was planning on “sleeping in” on Friday, but I must have just been way too excited, because I was up and ready to rock at around 6 AM. Since I was not attending the official runDisney Meetup, I was going to just do a 3-mile shakeout on my own, but as luck would have it, this pic changed that plan:

Looking down from the 6th floor at the GC.
Looking down from the 6th floor at the GC.

You see, my friend Steph saw the pic, then commented to me that she was in the lobby – so when I headed down, I caught up with them and found out that they were doing a special “power walk” activity that would take us 2-miles through Disney California Adventure! With a quick sign up at Guest Services, I was signed up and ready to go!

The walk was REALLY fun! I am planning on recapping that with a full post, but in the interim – here’s the dirt: it’s FREE for all guests of the Disneyland Hotels (GC, PP and DLH) and occurs at 7 AM. No cameras or strollers are allowed and it’s a brisk walk (the CM that was with us, Dave, walked at about a 12 min/mile pace).

After the walk, I did about 2.5 miles of easy running around the property before cleaning up and readying for the day. Once I was all neat and pretty, it was time for Jamba Juice and a little Expo action – where I met with some friends from my run groups, Penny and Odette! Very fun! The expo was a lil nuts, but after I got an overview of it for the most part, I decided it was time to do a little bit of the parks so I hopped around a little bit before it was time to prepare for the 2 PM meetup.

Parks time!
Parks time!

I hadn’t eaten yet, so I took the time to indulge in one of the items I had promised myself – an authentic Disneyland corn dog from the wagon! Yum 😀

BACON.
BACON.

It really was a blur, but before long, the cupcake meetup came and went! I was so glad that it turned out so well (recap on this at a later date) and once I had transported stuff back to the hotel room again, I realized that it really was imperative for me to grab my bib and packet before it was too late! So back to the Expo I went, followed by a walk over to pick up my Bacon Challenge swag! Yeah! Since I had participated during WDW Marathon Weekend, I got the Coast-2-Coast Bacon medal, too.

Then, it was time to meet up with friends again! This time, for a special trip to In-N-Out, Yogurtland and lots of laughs 🙂

YES.
YES.

…after all that, believe me, we could’ve called it a day, but when in Disneyland…why not have even MORE fun?! Katie and I headed back to the parks after 9 to meet up with Sarah to see Fantasmic!

Steamboat Willie leading the character boat out during Fantasmic!
Steamboat Willie leading the character boat out during Fantasmic!

And since we were there…well, why not close out the park with a ride on the Matterhorn and Space Mountain? Oh, we’re running a 10K in 4 hours? Naptime 😉

DAY 3: Saturday, August 31

10K done!
10K done!

10K morning! Woot! This was a magical race – recap coming soon – but after that, it was time to pack up and take my stuff to bell services since I was checking out and moving over to stay with Ashley for my last night at Disney. Once I was ready to go, I spent some more time park-hopping and playing around, hitting up the expo again (mostly to visit the ladies of Sparkle Athletic), attending the team#runDisney Meetup, and then settling in early-ish for the 13.1 wakeup call the next morning…

DAY 4: Sunday, September 1

Race Day (2 of 3)!! Ashley and I got up and headed to the start line 4:30ish, and lucked out when we saw the shuttle outside the hotel. After a quick ride over to the Esplanade, we found our way over to the corrals. Again…recap coming soon but WOW. This is still my favorite half marathon.

The hardware I earned that weekend.
The hardware I earned that weekend.

Again, I cleaned up, dragged my stuff down to bell services and then popped into the parks for a few more hours, where I covered the remaining trip bucketlist items (see THIS) – and even hung out with my friend Emily! We had a fun time playing in a Bug’s Land and getting our Disneyland Today buttons! Thanks, T for the heads up on that one 😀

SO cute.
SO cute.

After a little more time in Disneyland, wherein I got to meetup with some more pals one last time for this runDisney trip, it was time to head on back to the hotel to catch my shuttle back to LAX…where leg 2 – a whole week of adventures in Seattle – where due to start in just hours…beginning with a half marathon!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my West Coast Vacation synopsis…and a whole lot more posts! 

Recap: Labor Day Half (my first Double…errr triple?)

On Monday, September 2, I ran 13.1 miles in beautiful Redmond, Washington…they just happened to be 16 hours after completing 13.1 the day before…and 6.2 before that. Oh, and in two different states. But enough about that for now…and yes, I am recapping backward, but that’s just how it’s gonna go 😉

Big smiles after 32.4 miles of magic.
Big smiles after 32.4 miles of magic.

Technicalities aside, when I crossed the finish line of the Overlake Medical Center’s Labor Day Half in 1:54:43, words cannot describe the unadulterated runner’s high I felt; from the excitement of seeing my family at the start AND finish line, the feeling of accomplishment from running back-to-back half marathons and experiencing the bond of sisters in sport from fellow Oiselle birdies and my good friend from college, Margaret – it still feels unreal.

Me and Margaret, Labor Day Half, 2013.
Me and Margaret at the start, Labor Day Half, 2013.

The race itself was lovely – cool temperatures (almost cold for this Florida girl) and sunshine, all taking place on a combination of roads and the Sammamish River Trail. There were no corrals or anything – you just lined up wherever (both half marathoners and four-milers, which meant I didn’t cross the start line for about a minute or so), and although it was touted as “pancake flat,” I was pretty happy to see a bit of elevation changes – both up and downhill as we rounded out the course.

Officially one of my new favorite race pics.
Officially one of my new favorite race pics.

There were a few out and backs, which usually might drive me bananas, but since I was on general auto-pilot, it was kind of nice to just follow the crowd and never feel alone on the course! The middle of the pack group that I was in thinned out around Mile 6 or so, and it never felt too crowded.

…and really, nothing beats seeing your family at the finish.

Pic my mom snapped as I made my way to the finish.
Pic my mom snapped as I made my way to the finish.
...just .1 to go!
…just .1 to go!

Wahoo!

Awesome sign my sister made.
Awesome sign my sister made.

I was planning on sharing my splits, but my Garmin is being a jerk, so I’ll likely compare the Monday race to the Sunday one in a future post…but overall, I was pretty darn happy about executing a 8:45 average on pretty tired legs (I had run Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon, with a ton of walking in between at Disneyland) so I considered this first back-to-back half marathon weekend a rousing success.

Oh, and it was my 11th half, so that was pretty neat, too.

Have you ever run a back to back?

Dream #racecations: Marathon Majors

(source)
(source)

Tokyo. Boston. London. Berlin. Chicago. New York City.

If you’re not a runner, this might just sound like a list of fun places to visit – but if you are…you most likely know that these cities share a deeper connection that starts with “World” and ends with “Majors.”

World Marathon Majors – sounds pretty amazing, right?

Started in 2006, the organizers of the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City created the Majors as a series with a prize purse of $1 million to be divided by the top male and female marathoners of the world. Of course, motivation like that attracts the most elite of the field and subsequently, draws the attention of many running enthusiasts, spectators and fans! In fact, according to the World Marathon Majors site, the impact is so overarching that it generates “more than 5 million total on-course spectators, more than 250 million television viewers, 300,000 applicants and 150,000 participants.” Oh, and between all the exciting events, more than $80 million is generated for charity world-wide! Win-win-win, right?!

Tokyo was added to the list in 2013, and with that, the Majors became the six most well-known and highlighted races in the world.

(source)
(source)

As a running enthusiast and marathon-lover, I have to admit that I have thought about a few of these races before…Boston, of course…but being half-Japanese, Tokyo has definitely crossed my mind! My parents will likely be living in Japan until about 2015 so it would be really awesome if I can get that race in!

Since I am not an elite, I am not in any rush to win and cash in my prize money (LOL) so completing all six ‘majors’ races is definitely a long-term goal of mine. It could take 5 years, 10 years or more…but I think that journey would be worth it, no matter how long it takes. And beyond the prestige of running this exceptional races…think of those fantastic racecations! My wanderlust just ignites at the very thought!

Have YOU run any of the Marathon Majors? Which ones? Which race would you run? Any you’re not interested in?

My friend Alyssa is raising money to run her dream race, the NYC Marathon! Check out HER LINK to help her along!!

Museum Magic in San Francisco

The Walt Disney Family Museum.
The Walt Disney Family Museum.

Once we were showered up and ready to go after The San Francisco Marathon, it was time to head to one of my MUST DOs of the trip: a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum! I was already pumped to pay this unique museum a visit, but after recently listening to the WDW Radio Podcast’s recent review, I couldn’t wait to get there!

Since the race was technically still running and we were somewhat limited on time, we opted to cab it over to the Presidio, where the museum is located. It was about a $20 cab ride, and $20 pp admission, then we were ready to explore!

Early history.
Early history.

The first portion of the museum starts with a darkened room with an introduction to Walt Disney, the man. The beginnings of his life, including his early upbringing in Marceline, MO, to the family’s move to Kansas City, and beyond, you are instantly immersed into Walt Disney’s life. I liked the juxtaposition of pictures, videos and little momentos (the document that was forged so that Walt could join the Ambulance League during WWI, etc) and have to admit, since I am definitely a history nerd, I knew all these things already – so it was amusing that hubs was taking a long time to move through this portion! I was ready to see more!

Ambulance!
Ambulance!

…and more there was! To move to the second level of the museum, you had to call the lift, which was designed like a train car, as it signified Walt’s trip to California!

The journey!
The journey!

Our elevator was pretty crowded, so I couldn’t get a better picture, but I’ll leave the cool stuff as a surprise for ya 😉

So much awesome.
So much awesome.

I was snapping away! I was so excited – especially since photographs were originally not allowed in the galleries! You just had to make sure that you had your flash off. As we traversed the museum, we were moving along through the decades, from the world of simple sketches, to the first animated features and more! I loved seeing all the pictures, posters and even character models along the way.

Too cool!
Too cool!

Rounding the corner as we left the animation area, there was a HUGE picture window where you had an INCREDIBLE view of the Golden Gate Bridge…that was super amazing – but what really caught my eye was a faded and peeling bench at the end of the walkway, with a plaque next to it (see above). It’s actually a bench from Griffith Park – where the dream for Disneyland really began working in Walt Disney’s head! What a neat little stop on our visit 🙂 I HAD the get a pic with Wiggles – and yes, I was dorkily wearing my SFM medal proudly!

But, the museum was not done impressing us yet!

THE Disneyland.
THE Disneyland.

In the center of the room, flanked by an enormous, spiral-y walkway, was this model of Disneyland! It’s hard to describe how large it was, but it was just incredible! It featured many popular attractions, as well as an idealized look at how the park would flow – from the monorails and boats, to the mountain ranges and streets. So cool!

After analyzing all the parts of the model, I took nothing short of 25-30 pics of the Mary Blair inspiration/it’s a small world images (I’ll save those for another day) and before we knew it, we were in the last quiet room of the museum – a somber, yet very tasteful treatment of Walt Disney’s death in 1966.

See ya real soon.
See ya real soon.

I was so thankful that we had an opportunity to visit this special museum. As a former Walt Disney World Cast Member, lifelong fan of Disney and lover of history and popular culture, it was a priceless experience that only enhanced the magic that I felt in the city of San Francisco. I’d recommend a stop here to anyone that might feel the same I do – or even those that maybe might not understand.

…but our trip wasn’t over yet! Stay tuned for next week’s round up of our busy day!

What’s your favorite museum?

Seal you at Pier 39: Adventures in San Francisco!

Zoom, zoom!
Zoom, zoom! Fast elevators at the Hyatt.

Although the main objective of our recent San Francisco trip was, of course, to run in The San Francisco Marathon, it was also my first time in the city, so I was excited to pack in as much sightseeing as possible in one weekend! Our first night, we stayed closer to the airport, in Millbrae, but on day two, we hopped the BART downtown to the Hyatt Regency – Embarcadero!

TALL lobby!
Impressive atrium!

I was immediately impressed by the retro-fabulousness of this atrium – and if you are a film buff, you might recognize it, even if you’ve never been there!

The hotel itself was very nice: large, clean rooms, great views and of course, an excellent location! As host hotel for the race, it was a stone’s throw from the race start/finish and also centrally located for public transportation and sightseeing (it’s right across the street from the Ferry Building).

View from our room; you can see the Ferry Bldg as well as the Bay Bridge!
View from our room; you can see the Ferry Bldg as well as the Bay Bridge!

After settling into our room (we were excited that a room was available so early in the day – around 10) we set out for our first stop: visiting Blue Bottle Coffee! Monica, of Run Eat Repeat had raved about it serving “the best ever iced coffee” so I knew I had to pay them a visit.

The line for coffee.
The line for coffee.

We waited about 20 minutes in line, but boy, was it good! I ordered the “New Orleans Style Iced Coffee” and hubs wanted to try the yummy smelling waffles! Neither disappointed, and they were perfect snacks to take with us on our walk toward Pier 39/the Fishermans Wharf and Ghiradelli Square!

Blue Bottle Waffle!
Blue Bottle Waffle!

On the walk up, we ran into my friend Linzie (so cool when you see friends in unexpected places) who I was planning on meeting up with later! After a quick chat, we bid farewell for the moment, and we set on our walking adventure.

Me and my coffee!
Me and my coffee!

Although it was a little windy (ya think 😉 ), the temperature was perfect and the walk was very pleasant. There were lots of cyclists, runners and tourists – a great mix, which made for excellent people-watching.

Spotted Coit Tower
Spotted Coit Tower!

Before long, the pier numbers were increasing and we were at the famous Pier 39! I definitely HEARD them before I saw them…

Pier 39 loungin'
Pier 39 loungin’
Hubs took this pic with our zoom :)
Hubs took this pic with our zoom 🙂

We hung around there for a while, and checked out the views – it was pretty clear and we could see Alcatraz…we didn’t have quite enough time to visit on this trip, but it was really neat to see in person.

See back there?
See back there?
Alcatraz ZOOM!
Alcatraz ZOOM!

The next stop was down at Pier 45, to an attraction that had been highly recommended to me by several SF-lovers: the Musee Mecanique! I had told hubs about it before we arrived, but of course, he was confused when we saw the entrance. Thankfully, it’s admission fee (FREE) was enough convincing for him 😉

Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique

Inside the MM, there are TONS of old, cool coin-operated games, machines and arcade attractions:

MM1 MM2 MM3 MM4 MM5 MM6 MM7 MM8

We broke a $5 bill into quarters and played a few games, did a few fortune teller machines and of course, made a pressed penny for my collection. It was definitely a cool stop and I’d recommend it to anyone!

Naturally, all that fun made us a little hungry, so it was time to head to the Boudin Bakery! Eating here was definitely on my MUST DO list since I love the version at Disney California Adventure – always a Disney connection 😉

Bakery Cafe area.
Bakery Cafe area.

Since it was 12:30ish, the quick-serve location was pretty busy, so we opted to head upstairs to the restaurant (Bistro Boudin)….which turned out to be an incredible idea, since we got a great view of the water and didn’t have to fight for seats, or have to worry about seagulls stealing our food 😉

At Bistro Boudin
Hers.
His.
His.

I had the Bistro Shrimp Salad – Grilled shrimp, grilled avocado, chopped romaine, orange supremes, red peppers, jalapeño and cilantro vinaigrette and hubs had the Dungeness Crab Cake Sandwich – Toasted sourdough, lettuce, tomato, avocado and lemongrass mayonnaise – which he promptly declared as “the best sandwich he had ever had in his whole life.” So yes, I’d say it was a delicious meal…and of course, unlimited sourdough bread basket ❤

After that meal, it was time to head back out…

The Famous Sign
The Famous Sign

…we walked along, enjoying the breeze, and there it was…

...first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge!
…first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Yes! Although there was a faint layer of fog, I could see it! Very exciting!! It blew my mind to think I’d be running over it the very next day…but first: more carbs!

Ghiradelli Square!
Ghiradelli Square!

We met up with Linzie for ice cream sundaes, which was a perfect place to chat, eat delicious ice cream and just enjoy! Neither one of us could finish our ice cream before it melted, but it was fun trying 😉

Ice cream + friends = happiness.
Ice cream + friends = happiness.

That ice cream energy certainly came in handy for the next part of our walking tour of San Francisco…

Hills, what hills?
Hills, what hills?

I had noticed on the map that we were not that far from the famous twisting Lombard Street! Although we didn’t have a car to drive down it, I figured it would still be cool to see it, and walk down the sides on foot 🙂

Definite tourist attraction!
Definite tourist attraction! Loved it!

At this point, we had walked somewhere around 7.5 miles, according to my fitbit. Since hubs was a little nervous about the race the next morning, we decided to head back to the hotel, this time cutting through Chinatown and some other neighorhoods.

Chinatown!
Chinatown! Cool to see the transitions…

We called it an early evening (although I walked back to the Ferry Building to grab hubs some items for breakfast, and wandered a bit, reaching 11 miles walked) and settled in the hotel watching the silly ‘Mermaids’ documentary on television. It would be an early wake up call and a packed Sunday (the race, my plans of visiting the Presidio, and of course, our travels back home) but it was a great feeling to have accomplished so much in one day!

Have you ever visited SF? If yes…what was your favorite thing to see? If no…what would be at the top of YOUR bucketlist?

WORTH THE HURT: The 2013 San Francisco Marathon Recap

All dressed up and ready to go!
All dressed up and ready to go!

The morning of June 16 started like almost any other race morning – I set the alarm for an obscenely early time (in this case, 4 AM) and like clockwork, I woke up each hour, on the hour, before it was time to really get up. No worries, since we were staying at the host hotel (the Hyatt Regency – Embarcadero) and the start was about 3 minutes away!

Finally, it was time to get up…and so I did the coffee thing, got dressed, and headed over to Perry’s, where the VIP Party was being held. The coolest thing parts about this party were, as follows:

  • It was inside a building! Warm, with real bathrooms and comfortable places to sit 
  • Cool opportunity to hang out with my fellow Ambassadors
  • Celebrity sightings – of all sorts! Saw both Sean Astin and Anne Bretan (female winner of the race)
  • Nice spread of foods (I had a bagel with PB – toasted, and banana)
  • VIP bag check

Before long, however, it was time to head to our corrals! I was in Wave 3, which had a 5:42 AM start. It was exciting to see the Bay Bridge and the last glimmers of the night there as we waited to begin the race.

sfcorral
Heading into the corrals

Once the gun went off, the course started through some familiar territory, as we had walked part of the path the day before when we were sightseeing: up the Embarcadero toward the Piers, the Fisherman’s Wharf, a section of the Presidio and eventually, the Golden Gate Bridge!

Course Map.
Course Map (click for a bigger version)

Now, I have to admit – it being my first visit to San Francisco, I was more than just a little excited to run on the bridge…and let me tell you, the experience was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

sfridge
On the other side of the bridge.

The bridge starts a little before Mile 6 of the course, then you run across, hitting Mile 7, running a scenic turnaround area (as seen in the photo above) and then back across, as you pass Mile 8 and 9. I took a quick glance at my splits after the race and saw that some of my best times were at this point in the race because seriously…you feel like you are FLOATING across this bridge. There is some wind, but it’s more of a magical breeze that transports you! It was the best running moment EVER.

BEST.
BEST.

As we headed out of that zone, it was a nice downhill section through the Presidio toward the Sea Cliff area, and eventually, Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park is where the First Half ends, the course splits up, and the Second Halfers blend in…this was orchestrated nicely and I enjoyed the rolling hills of this section.

Very weird image. I think it was around the Park though ;)
Very weird image. I think it was around the Park though 😉

Around Mile 19, you’re out of the park and into the Haight Ashbury area, then The Mission. This part was a bit more challenging mentally, as it was strictly city running with some pretty steep hills. What WAS awesome was the way that the course alternates on certain city roads to alleviate traffic congestion, so there would be parts that runners would be directed onto different streets, only to funnel back in to main courses once we rounded out back near the bay.

Almost finished...
Almost finished…

The last stop on our scenic tour was the AT&T Ballpark, which was a neat sight as well. The walkway was nice and wide, and then we poured back onto the Embarcadero, bringing it home.

sfm4
Just keep swimming…

I have to admit, that last mile was hard! I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t at the finish yet (I obviously overran the course, because when I passed the finish line, was at 26.67) and was ready for some ice cold water! Those slightly negative thoughts melted away though, as I saw the familiar signage and those magical words: FINISH.

MARATHON #7, baby!
MARATHON #7, baby!

For a split second, I wished I hadn’t walked as much (through every water station and up a few hills in the Mission area) or that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom (I had drank water at every said water stop) or taken pictures along the way, but then I remembered the post I had recently written about my goals for this race and couldn’t be upset anymore…after all, I had done what I had come to do: enjoy the race and the day! I went into this race with minimal speed work and just one 19-mile run: this was certainly a testament to my own fitness level and renewed my drive to reach toward a FAST race in the fall.

Worth the HURT!
Worth the HURT!

Striding through the finisher’s chute, I had the hugest grin and I just couldn’t wipe it off my face as I was handed all kinds of goodies: Panera scones, Hawaiian rolls, chocolate milk, coconut water…heaven! After picking up my bag from Perry’s, I called hubs to see how he did (he ran the first half) and then headed back to the room to freshen up and explore on our last day in San Francisco.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day – from the course itself, to the organization…and OH MY GOODNESS the volunteers! There was a massive contingent of amazing, helpful and friendly volunteers, from the water/aid stations, to the course marshals (the Harley Davidson volunteers were THE BEST) and our fearless SFM Ambassador team, it was a weekend I will not soon forget.

I’d recommend this race to ANYONE and would love to answer any questions you might have about it – and if you ran it…leave me a comment and let me know how you did! 

* Pictures are still being uploaded on marathonfoto.com – I just pulled these to start with because I was so darn excited to share 😉 I WILL be buying that last photo, I can promise that! 😀

 

 

 

Going to SF! Soooooon!

In three days, we’ll be hopping on a plane to SAN FRANCISCO! My first trip there, EVER (and surely, not my last).

(source)
(source)

I’ve got most of our plans figured out, but am still open to suggestions on how we will spend our time out there, so please let me know if you have any MUST SEES that I have to add to our itinerary:

Thursday: late PM flight from Charlottesville to San Francisco, layover in Charlotte, arrive in SFO late, check in to our hotel in Millbrae, CA.

Friday: Do some exploring on BART, light sightseeing (pier, seals, other randomness), expo volunteering, packet pickup, dinner with fellow ambassadors.

Saturday: Change over to Hyatt Regency (host hotel). Meetups, Ghiradelli, other touristy stuff? Early bedtime!

Sunday: RACE! Check out of hotel, Walt Disney Family Museum, head back to airport.

Until then…I’ll be hydrating and planning (oh, and working, doing schoolwork and other stuff, but that’s not as fun to talk about) 😉

Have you ever been to SF?

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Recap

Spoiler alert: this recap will not have as many pictures as the EPICALLY awesome WDW Marathon recap…but I sure hope you still enjoy it!

On January 20, 2013 (just a week after running a marathon!) I was waking up on the opposite coast getting ready to run 13.1 miles with two friends I had never met in real life: Heather and Becka. We were on a mission to accomplish one thing and one thing only: to have the most fun EVER, as they had not only run the marathon last week as well, but they had actually gone GOOFY (13.1 on Saturday of Marathon weekend and 26.2 on Sunday)! Our costumes were loosely based off of the Sugar Rush portion of the recent Disney animated feature, Wreck it Ralph so I was ready to sparkle as Vanellope!

Vanelloppe costume!
Ready to race!

I woke up at 3:30 AM (the race start was 5 AM and the corrals were literally across the street from the hotel we were staying at, Paradise Pier) and texted H+B Since H is a So-Cal local, they were driving in and I was going to meet them at Corral A. In true ‘it’s a small world’ style, I ran into a handful of pals from one of my running clubs, Pacebook! That was cool 🙂

Ran into some Pacebook pals!
Ran into some Pacebook pals!

It was pretty chilly that morning, but since I warm up fast running, I was pretty stoked about that – totally different than the marathon the week before!!

A little before 5 AM, I met up with H+B and before we knew it, we were OFF, running around the Disneyland property (my mom and sis were spectating and saw us early on, the first of many times!) before crossing into the parks (course map) which meant one thing: CHARACTER PICTURE TIME!

Phineas + Ferb + Fireside Girls
Phineas + Ferb + Fireside Girls
Monsters!
Monsters!
Carousel horses, Mary Poppins + Bert!
Carousel horses, Mary Poppins + Bert!
Cars!
Cars!

B had a “real” camera that she would slip back into her SPI belt, so that was super cool. Some character spots had character attendants and some didn’t…thankfully there were people willing to snap our silly selves 😉

Longest line...
Longest line…

Crossing into Disneyland Park, we ran into some friends of H+B so we took a pic with the pirates (and TINK on the top of the float) thought this definitely took FOREVER.

Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland.

We were getting really silly around Disneyland – and in this pic above, B suggested we do yoga poses with Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers…apparently, H and I don’t know what that meant…

You can fly!!
You can fly!!

Seeing Peter and Wendy was pretty neat!

Toontown...Clarabelle Cow and Clarice!
Toontown…Clarabelle Cow and Clarice!

I legitimately freaked out when I saw Clarice, one of my pal Theresa’s most favorite characters! I tweeted it immediately to her.

Flynn Rider + Rapunzel.
Flynn Rider + Rapunzel.

Seeing these pals in front of it’s a small world was pretty magical too…and hey look….

Cindy!
Cindy…
Snow White...
Snow White…
Belle!
Belle…and…
MERIDA!
MERIDA!

I was incredibly excited to see Merida, as I had never met her in the parks before! She even had the accent 😀 That was a definite highlight, but definitely wasn’t the longest  wait…like this guy:

Jack Sparrow
Jack Sparrow

I SWEAR this was the REAL, LEGIT Jack Sparrow! He seemed to like B a lot! 😉 Oh, and somewhere in there we also saw this cute couple:

Aurora and her Prince in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Aurora and her Prince in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Character-palooza, right? Well, it couldn’t last forever, unfortunately 😉 After about 5 miles, we were running through Downtown Disney (and I saw my cheer squad again! YAYY!) and then past the enthusiastic Red Hat ladies and then onto the streets of Anaheim. It certainly became a lot quieter at that point, but it was kind of nice to have wider streets and a calm vibe.

Cute house
Cute house 🙂

I haven’t been out to Anaheim too many times so I actually really loved this part of the race too, it was quiet and it was a nice time to chat…

Anaheim Library!
Anaheim Library!

I had to take a picture of the library, of course! Here you can see how much the crowd had thinned out 🙂 We were running a really easy pace (10 min-ish?) and thus could really just enjoy the course…sights like these:

photo-4
Pretty rainbow man!

Now, this is weird, but around Mile 11, I started to get really sad! I knew there were only 2.1 miles left and that would mean the end of the race…and my epic racecation!  But I put my smile back on when I glanced back and saw my pals!

:)
🙂

…and really, how can you have a frowny face when you see a monorail?

Don't see this on your run everyday ;)
Don’t see this on your run everyday 😉

We could hear the sounds of the park and soon enough, the roar of the crowd at the finish line…side note: after the race, I heard that people didn’t like the finish because of the extra twists and turns instead of a straightaway toward the finish line – I loved it for that reason 😉 More race! And another bonus…saw my mom and sister one last time! That definitely put a pep in my step!!

Coming in to the finish!
Coming in to the finish!

After 3 hours, 11 minutes and 24 seconds – our magical journey through Disneyland and Anaheim was complete! This was my wayyyy slowest race ever (by an hour and seven minutes) but definitely the most pixie dusted – and extra bonus…absolutely no pain after the race! There’s something to be said about taking a race easy!

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 8.38.24 PM

I was able to find my mom and sister pretty quickly after the race…and was sooo stoked to run up to them and get a picture with the AMAZING sign that my sister had held through the race!!!!!

<3

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than what I had at the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. No complaints, whatsoever…so many fabulous characters, countless places for spectators to see their runners and of course, SOO much Disney magic!!

So, if you’re thinking about earning your Coast to Coast medal with runDisney in the future, you really cannot go wrong with either West Coast option (this or Disneyland Half Marathon). I cannot wait to head back out to Disneyland for the 2013 Dumbo Dare – sure to be another weekend to remember!

Where would you rather run…Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

Resort Review: Disney’s Beach Club Villas

First off….Happy Birthday to my DAD! Wish I was there celebrating with him back in Japan!

Mom, Dad me and hubs in Hawaii, 2011.
Mom, Dad me and hubs in Hawaii, 2011.

My dad has never been the biggest Disney fan, but he has always been a good sport so I thought about him as I wrote this post – I am sure he would like to visit WDW again with DVC because that means he could play a few rounds of golf! 😀 But anyway, a big birthday shout out to my dad, born the same year that Disneyland opened (there’s some trivia for ya).

As mentioned in my Tuesday post in which I reviewed Bay Lake Tower, my racecation started at the picturesque Beach Club Villas, which are located in the Epcot resort area, across the lake from Boardwalk Inn and Villas and provide direct walking (and water, via boat) access to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

On account of my travel fiasco, I didn’t reach the hotel room until almost 9 PM the night before the marathon, so needless to say, I didn’t get a whole lot of time to enjoy and relax upon arrival. However, my awesome travel companions Rachel and her fiance Tavis did snap some great pics and were gracious enough to share them with me.

Beach Club Villa: 1 BR living room area.
Beach Club Villa: 1 BR living room area.

I was so very excited to have secured this reservation for marathon weekend: a lovely and spacious one bedroom unit! This one was appointed nicely and featured the fabulous amenities of a large living room area, (that couch is a fold out double bed) stocked kitchen, (with fridge, oven, stove, dishwasher) large bathroom with walk in shower and huge soaking tub, as well as a separate master bedroom, all connected by a GIANT balcony that overlooked the pool!

fdf
Beach Club Villa: 1 BR Master Bedroom
beach
Beach Club Villa: 1 BR – Kitchen
pool
Beach Club Villa: 1 BR view from balcony of quiet pool

These accommodations were fabulous! I loved the themeing, the cleanliness, the friendliness of the staff, the size of the rooms, the ease of accessing both quick and full service dining and OF COURSE, the proximity to Epcot. And though I wish we could have stayed longer so I could have experienced even more of the benefits of the resort (I didn’t even make it to Stormalong Bay, boo!) it was SO awesome to take my post marathon run in such a beautiful setting.

In the interest of fairness, here are my PRO and CON observations from my stay at this resort:

PROS

  • Location – Let’s face it, the closer I can be to Epcot, the better! From my room to the International Gateway, it was less than 10 minutes…this was amazing.
  • Convenience – Another bonus…love the fact that foot travel, busses, car parking and boats were all options here – never had to wait long to get anywhere, including marathon morning transportation.
  • Rooms – GORGEOUS, large and well appointed, I had nary a complaint about our villa room.

CONS

  • ummm…that I am not there right now? 😉

Really though, I have no issues at all about this resort and look forward to another stay here…maybe sometime in the future for Flower and Garden Festival or Food and Wine for that Epcot access…or even Star Wars Weekends, to walk over to studios would be nice 😀

What’s your favorite time of year to go on vacation? Any dream destinations?