Where I Stayed:
I got to Anaheim on Thursday afternoon and checked into my hotel. As a Walt Disney World pro, it was very bizarre to me to be able to stay at a non-Disney hotel that was within walking distance to the parks. I chose the Best Western Stovall’s based on recommendations from other runners. It is very close to the staging area and finish line of the races and was inexpensive (about $90 per night), had free parking for hotel guests and was clean and quiet.
Although it was perfectly serviceable, in retrospect, I wish I’d found the funds to splurge on a stay at a Disneyland hotel, specifically the Grand Californian. The other two Disneyland hotels, the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier were adjacent to the staging area and seemed nice, but were missing the Disney theming that I’m used to at the Florida resorts. Because it’s newer, the Grand Californian had all the theming I love and more. It had a Wilderness Lodge feel to it and offers a private entrance to California Adventure (room key required, so don’t try to sneak through…I won’t mention how I discovered that!).
As soon as we (a good friend flew down to spend a couple of days with me) got checked in, we went to the Expo which was held at the Disneyland Hotel. It was a short walk from my hotel and pretty easy to find (just go in the opposite direction of all the people carrying clear runDisney bag check bags).
This is my fourth runDisney expo and was by FAR the best organized. The packet pickup was in a separate area from the expo and was nice and spread out with very few lines. I went got my 10k bib first and then picked up my bib for the Half.
Easy-peasy with a quick photo op.
And then it was shopping time at the Expo. The t-shirt area was also well organized with no waiting. I got both of my shirts, tried them on over my clothes to make sure they fit ok and then started exploring. I’d pre-ordered a pair of wings for the half from Sparkle Athletic and was able to pick them up with no problems. I then headed to the Official Merchandise area. Predictably, there was a good sized line, but it had a designated area and moved quickly. There was a lot of merchandise to choose from and I was happy to see the Tinkerbell jackets were still available. I grabbed an XL (they were sized pretty small) and also picked up an “I Did It” shirt for the half and a nice Tink magnet for my car.
There was a stage with an audience pit that had speakers all day long. Jeff Galloway is always a favorite and I got to hear him on one of my Expo visits.
I visited my favorite booths, Bondiband, SparkleSkirts and Raw Threads. I also stopped by the New Balance booth to check out the new runDisney shoes. The process to get them is long and involved and I decided not to try. Maybe at Princess. But they are beautiful.
That night, we explored Downtown Disney (also within walking distance) and did some more shopping (this becomes a theme) and had a great dinner at a Mexican restaurant (including sharing a pitcher of sangria, yum!).
In preparation for my two races coming up, of course I took it easy on Friday. Well, no, while that IS what I should have done, that’s not what actually happened. I’d never been to Disneyland before and I had a three-day park hopper burning a hole in my pocket so we got up at 8am and got to Disneyland right after it opened. It took some wandering around because we weren’t exactly sure how to get to the park entrance but luckily we eventually happened upon it (it’s at the far end of Downtown Disney).
We spent the next 12 hours exploring both parks, riding all the rides and having two delicious meals. My friend is a prodigious walker; I swear if I’d worn my Garmin it would have shown that we walked at least 12 miles at a 14 minute per mile pace. I’m not kidding, she is a crazy fast walker and we were both really excited to explore the parks and I had no mental map of the park (hard for me since I know WDW blindfolded) so we criss-crossed both parks repeatedly. Lots of fun to ride the new rides and to see how the rides that are also at WDW are subtly or dramatically different.
By the end of the day (night!) my back hurt, my feet hurt, my legs hurt and my stomach hurt from too much rich food. I did manage to get to sleep around 11pm, which wasn’t the best idea since I had a 4am wakeup call. Totally worth it, though!
Saturday – The 10k!:
I woke up at 4am to get ready.
I was scheduled to meet up with Patty
, Yanni and Sarah at 4:45am in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel so we could get some group shots of our awesome costumes.
In case you missed my earlier post
, we decided to do a group costume based on the Club 33 china pattern.
Miranda helped us with the vinyl for the shirts and Vicky designed our skirt overlays (Miranda and Vicky’s contact info is in my earlier post).
We layered that on top of White Linen from Sparkleskirts and added on some white arm sleeves and compression socks.
Here’s how cute we looked:
We got our group photo taken and walked over to the staging area together (and got a few more photos on the way).
We met up with the other DISbroads (check them out here
) and had time for a quick potty stop (oh no, I forgot to take my obligatory port-a-potty photo this weekend!) and then headed off to the corrals.
We were spread from corral A to C so we split up.
Yanni, Patty and I started out together in B.
I didn’t really have much of my normal race anxiety, probably because it was a 10k, I was there with friends, my costume was the bomb and I knew we’d be taking it easy with lots of photo stops.
Soon enough, we were on our way. We did a lot of running with a few walk breaks. In the crowd, we lost Yanni pretty close to the start, but it looks like she had a great race with other friends. We came upon some parade floats that made great backdrops.
And then we were in Disneyland! We ran by It’s A Small World, which they light up at night at Disneyland (maybe just at Christmas?). It was gorgeous.
Then we tried to hitch a ride on a Toontown car to the finish.
Soon after that, the DISbroads caught up with us and it was fun to get to chat with them a little.
Then we all came to a screeching halt when we saw the Haunted Mansion characters out. There was a huge line but we decided it was a must have photo. I’m so glad we did, I think it’s my favorite picture of the weekend.
For whatever reason, Marathonfoto didn’t have photographers at the character stops for the 10k, although they did for the half.
We ran by Dumbo, Amy tried to get the Cast Member to let us take a ride but we got this photo op instead.
And then saw Mary Poppins next to the carousel. We ran through tomorrowland and then past the castle. Let me tell you, if you’re used to Disney World, walking down Main Street in Disneyland and seeing that “petite” castle is a bit of a shock. It’s very nice, but it’s no Cinderella’s castle.
And then we were just about done with the parks. Because of our very frequent photo stops (and the occasional bathroom break) we were going pretty slow, even with a lot of running in between stops. One of the pacers warned us that we were four minutes ahead of the pacers. Then, after a few more photo stops, we were told that we were two minutes ahead of the pacers. I got a bit spooked and because we were out of the parks and on the boring stretch, I decided to just run the last two miles. My legs felt great and I did those two miles at a good pace, crossed the finish line and got my coveted Pixie Power medal. Love it!
Patty and I got a couple of finisher’s shots and made plans to meet up in front of Club 33 for some more photos. They turned out great.
This was an incredibly fun race. Our costumes were a huge hit, we even had several other runners ask if we’d let them take pictures with us (we graciously complied). I ended up wearing my costume for the rest of the day (I just loved it so much!) and continued to get compliments on it. I enjoyed being able to refer them to Miranda and Vicky as the costume creators! I even stopped by the SparkleSkirts booth at the Expo to show Leah how we paired the overlay with a SparkleTech for a unique combination.
I think the 10k might be “my distance”. The race was a ton of fun, I wasn’t worn out at the end, but I wasn’t feeling the pressure to push the pace the way I do with a 5k. I’m glad runDisney has added the 10k distance, and depending on how the Glass Slipper Challenge goes, I may scale back my half marathons and just focus on the shorter races.
If you’re considering signing up for a runDisney 10k, I say “Do It!”.
It’s an easily achievable distance with just a few months of training for most people.
And it is a whole lot of fun! If you’d like to get Patty’s version of events, check out her recap here