Angela Dawn

Now is the Start

Disneyland Resort

All singed up for Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

Angela DawnComment

I guess I will be ending my one-year race journey at Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Disneyland. It's very fitting that they moved Tinkerbell, as with Star Wars in January, I'll have done every race offered between mid-January 2014 to mid-January 2015 (aside from Castaway Cay 5K, which I did consider, but it wouldn't put me back for the 5K during Star Wars anyhow). 

As expected, the race registrations went fast. While there are only a limited number of spots for each race or challenge set aside for AP (annual passholders) or DVC (Disney Vacation Club) members; I expect the trend to be the same come Tuesday, June 10th. The amount of slots of the race in its entirety, how many are given to Charities and travel agents , and how many are set aside for pre-sale are up for speculation, and people do speculate, but RunDisney has never officially offered amount for any of them. Not even how many registration they'll sell in total (i.e. Star Wars Half Marathon will be 15,000 spots). Though, you can guesstimate based on past races, finishers, bib numbers, etc. 

I'm happy that I can type fast and was already signed into Active. I signed up for the Rebel Challenge (10K on Saturday, Half on Sunday) and the 5K within 3 minutes of go time. Which is good, considering I've read (conflicting reports) of the Challenge selling out in 8-10 minutes. Some people started at 12:08 (est), but weren't able to finish, but you aren't confirmed and do not take a spot until you pay, so it could have sold out at 12:10, and those people didn't finish until 12:12. Either way - those signing up during regular registration should be ready to sign up the second it goes on sale. Refresh, refresh, refresh.

May the Force Be With You (of course, I had to say it).

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend announced

Angela DawnComment

No sooner am I home from Star Wars weekends, but what we've been hoping (and waiting for) has finally been announced -  a Star Wars Marathon weekend. This was always under speculation by many. But, many thought it would be Walt Disney World, that it would be May or something different than what it is: January (old Tinkerbell weekend) in Disneyland. I figured something (not necessarily Star Wars) would take over that slot, as Disney already has the permits in place for the roads, and knows they can make money. And it's a holiday weekend. It would have been very unpleasant if they had announce a half marathon in Florida. In May. Could you imagine? Anyhow, RunDisney teased throughout the morning hours with these sly pictures and video (all from RunDisney's Instagram or Facebook page). 

Ewoks in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle - indicating Disneyland

More details can be found on the RunDisney Blog or the RunDisney Website. Registration for AP/DVC is June 4th and for everyone else June 10th. This wlil go fast, so be ready

So I leave you with this: #letthewookieewin.

Disneyland - see you in August.

Angela DawnComment

The last day of my trip (officially) was the same as the half marathon. After soaking a bit in the room, I headed out to Disneyland Park to finish up my time and try to make the most of it that I could. 

I was seeing World of Color that evening, and had made a lunch reservation at Carthay Circle Lounge so that I could have the preferred seating (more on that later). It was an early lunch (noon), and I didn't want to eat at that point, so I called the dining line at around 10:30 from my room and was able to move the time back to 3:30. That was nice, as they were full at 3:30 and not taking anymore reservations.

To save some walking, I went to Downtown Disney and took the monorail into Disneyland. I hadn't used that at this point; but was hoping for more of a leisurely day in case my feet did decide to hurt instead of just being a bit sore. As soon as I was off the monorail, I beelined to TinkerBell. I wanted to make sure I got a picture with her and wasn't sure if she'd be leaving for a parade, or how long the line was. I waited about 45 minutes. Which, considering I've waited for other characters that long (again, Disney Nerd), wasn't that bad. Other adults were in line with their medals and/or official running shirts. I didn't wear my medals, but instead packed them in my bag. I didn't want them to scratch by clinking together, so I only took them out for the pictures. Some people wear them around, and rightfully so (they should be proud), but I didn't do that. I didn't want them to scratch, mostly. Of course, I think there is a limit. Someone on the plane ride back to my home state was wearing hers. Honestly, it was a day after the race, and you were no longer in Disney - it could have gone in your carry-on. But, to each their own.

Back to TinkerBell. I was able to meet with her and Iridessa - separately. Tink was very helpful in taking some fun pictures.

Tinkerbell likes my medals.

Back to Back

Tink liked the half marathon best, because it only had her on it. Of course, she likes to be the center of attention. And she was this weekend. She also commented how she liked my hair (also in a top bun, like her). I moved onto Iridessa and we enjoyed looking at the medals, too.

Iridessa found herself on the medal.

I packed my medals away and headed over to where Merida was supposed to be to see if I could get a picture with her. It wasn't a very long wait at all. 

With Merida

We discussed running, and how I would like to take up her sport, archery. 

Continuing around the Magic Kingdom, I went on Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. I missed going on Indiana Jones this trip. It was closed every time I went by because of the ride being down, and with having to manage times for reservations and other fastpasses, I couldn't go. It's alright, I'll be back in August.

Haunted Mansion

Pirates

That was all the time I had at the Magic Kingdom since I had to move onto California Adventure to get my dine on. I said goodbye to the Castle, since I would not be seeing it again this trip, and headed into the corridor to make it to my reservation. 

I was at the park a little early, so managed to take a picture with a Dapper Dippity Dog and Pluto before heading into the restaurant. 

Goofy, me, Pluto

I checked in at Carthay early, but still didn't get seated for about 20 minutes. I was upstairs in a balcony area overlooking the square below. I could see the Trolley and some activity. It was a nice view and atmosphere.

The view

There was a large group of ladies eating behind me, but I didn't figure out it was Patty of Margaritas, Miles & the Mouse and some other Disbroads until they stood up to leave (I recognized Patty). I didn't say hi as they were already heading out the door.

This was a nice relaxing meal, and worth the cost because of the World of Color Premium viewing ticket. I asked the cast member to bring me a glass of wine of his choice that would go with my meal (the burger), and I sipped on some red wine and ate wonderful bread. I also ordered, in addition to the flat cost for the world of color viewing menu, off the regular menu. I picked up some "biscuits" (balls of bread) stuffed with white cheddar, jalapeno and bacon. They were also served with an apricot honey butter. These were amazing. I need to eat here when I'm not using the World of Color plan, so that I can get other items off the regular menu.

Starting my meal

I didn't take a picture of my meal. I think my battery was running low. Or I just forgot. It was enjoyable. However, it made me sleepy. Food usually does. And I did run 13 miles that morning.

After finishing up, I headed back to the resort to get my nap on, and rest up for World of Color that evening. It's nice having a resort so close to the area. Paradise Pier was wonderful, but I do plan on staying at the Grand Californian for Dumbo. That'll be even better in respect to seeing World of Color by walking out the door into the park.

After I rested, I returned to the park about an hour and a half before the show was to start. I wanted to get there early to get a good spot. I ended up walking in about an hour before and sitting down on a top step near a railing. That was nice, as my view would be unobstructed once I stood up. I met a family that had a love for Disney, had ran the races, and was wearing Lululemon, too. I had actually changed back in my room, and good thing, as it was chilly. Long sleeves and pants were required for this viewing.

A Lion King Sequence in World of Color

I can't even describe how wonderful World of Color was. Thirty minutes of pure magic. Disney really hit the spot here and I think Walt would be proud. Almost made me cry how wonderful the show was. I hope everyone who loves Disney gets to experience it. I also hope they somehow bring it to Florida! The music, the visual, the atmosphere, it all just added up to the perfect ending to my trip.

A Little Mermaid Sequence 

Another sequence.

It was hard to say goodbye, but at least I knew I'd be coming back once again this year. Will definitely be seeing World of Color once (or twice!) again. 

Goodbye Disneyland, See you in August.

The TinkerBell Half Marathon Review

Angela DawnComment

Well, the morning finally came around for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. It started at 5am, this time around, and I had a friend that is local to the area meeting me at my hotel before we'd head down together to our corral. There were six corrals for the half marathon (A-F), and we both managed to be in E. I didn't take my phone out at all during this race, instead I rocked out to my Disney playlist. Some of the photographs in this post, as a result, are from the official RunDisney Facebook page; and I've noted as such.

I wore a throwaway sweatshirt and the mylar blanket from yesterday down to the start line. It was about 45, but I was chilly. I'm not certain how much it warmed during the race. The sun did come out, but I never overheated.

Many people will wear items called throwaways, where they'll toss them to the side over the barriers, at some point. That way, they can stay warm while waiting around and get rid of the layer once they start to warm up while running. The items are donated to charities or the homeless. I threw mine off a few minutes before I crossed the start line. I didn't want it for running, just for keeping warm while waiting.

We headed down to our corral at about the same time; just a little earlier, than the 10K. So, about 4:20. People were grouped together about the same, and we were able to go fairly close up to the start of our corral. Come 5am, it took a little longer to get up to the start line and see Tinkerbell send us off. Not only was I in a farther back corral (5th versus 3rd for 10K), but there were more people in each corral, too (because the half has more people in general). I heard the Star Spangled Banner at one point; and apparently, was told someone sang. I didn't hear anyone singing back in corral E. 

Because of the amount of people, as mentioned, I didn't start until 5:33AM. So, 33 minutes after the start time, I finally crossed the start line. The time goes by quickly, so it's not a problem. Just acknowledging that detail since it takes awhile to make it to the front. And, again, we were off.

Official RunDisney photo - see, loo lat those ripped A-Team Eliters.

The start of the race took us up Disneyland drive and up a hill/overpass type road. I wasn't really looking forward to a hill (no matter how small) at this point, but I guess the energy for that first mile took me up it. And it wasn't, by any means, any sort of discouraging elevation. Small, by any means. And, being on a ramp (or whatever it was), there was plenty of room for people to spread out. I still had to weave, but I was able to get past a good amount of people.

We took an opposite route through the parks than we did with the 10K. We entered California Adventure first, and where we had exited for the 10K. It was about mile 1.75 that we went into the park. Again, my Garmin, at mile 1, said 1.1. 

Nothing in California Adventure really different too much from the 10K. Characters (Mike & Sully, and Mater & Lightning McQueen) were out in the same areas. I believe I also saw Mr. & Mrs. Incredible with their float. 

I kept a good pace without making stops unless I was walking while getting water. The water stops were set up about ever 1.5 miles, with some having more distance between and others having less. There were well spaced, though. I never thought to myself "I'm dying of thirst, I need water, when is the next station?!?!" So, well done on that, Disney. Not only did they have water, but also Gatorade, and at one stop, a gel. I only took water. I had brought a small packet of Trader Joe's Applesauce for energy; which I ate between mile 8 and 9.

After exiting California Adventure, we made our way into Disneyland Park the same as the 10K had exited; through the large entry way between parks, inside a closed off section with barriers on either side for people cheering. The same 6-people distance happened. I found, unfortunately, all 6 people in front of me walking - straight across, blocking me. I tried to run around one and ran into the bannister with my arm. No big deal (though I did develop a bruise), but I was kind of irked. Just because the pathway narrowed, didn't mean everyone had to walk. I was able to get around shortly after, and was off again and going past Terk and Louie and down Main Street, with Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and Tinkerbell to my right. Tinkerbell, yes. BUT, she was on top of a trailer spreading pixie dust & there was no way to take a picture *with* her.

Another RunDisney photo, the Castle lit beautifully.

The castle was lit up wonderfully; and we ran through it. Front to back. I didn't see any photographers near the castle. I would of thought they would like to get our picture. Maybe I had missed one (though, I didn't have any pictures online of it either). This is another spot, where it would not be good to walk in the middle of the path. ;)

Outside of the Castle and into Fantasyland, I saw the Lost Boys at the Carousel. I read some people (in an earlier corral) saw them riding the Carousel. They were near the exit gate when I was there & people were taking pictures. But, there was no official photographer or character greeter, and I didn't want to stop, nor ask someone to take my picture, so I passed them.

A lost boy riding the Carousel, RunDisney photograph

Moving on, we went around the Matterhorn and back towards the front of the Castle to go through Tomorrowland. I saw Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers out there. Their line was incredibly long. It's Darth Vader, after all. Then, we found ourselves back in Fantasyland, going towards It's a Small World. Cinderella by herself; and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider together, were just across from them. I believe it was at this point we went backstage. Again, the Custodial Staff welcomed us and some cast members were cheering us on. I believe we entered back near Splash Mountain, as we did in the 10K. Running past Pirates and out a cast member exit that would put us into Downtown Disney. I remember seeing Jack Sparrow somewhere, too... but I don't remember where - probably near Pirates. He had a good likeness.

At this point, we were at mile 5.5; and going through Downtown Disney wear the Red Hat ladies were, and a bunch of family and friends were cheering runners on. I was about 5 minutes over an hour at this point. And, by the way, way behind the leader of the pack (granted I did have that half hour starting difference). This woman rocks, and she was crossing the Finish Line while I was running past New Orleans Square:

The winner; per RunDisney's Facebook.

After Downtown Disney, we headed into Anaheim. Pretty much 7 miles in Anaheim. Which was fine, but there wasn't really a lot to look at. Family had come out for some people. Homeowners in the neighborhood were out on their porches, watching us while drinking orange juice (or mimosas?). These miles weren't hard, but they weren't too much fun, either. 

I started walking at Mile 8, and didn't really stop. It was a fast pace walk - keeping at around a 15 minute walk - but that was fine by me. There was a point around Mile 10, that I looked at my watch and thought to myself "If I start running again, I could finish this sub-3," but decided against it. I didn't want to hurt myself, I didn't want to exert myself when I wanted to roam the parks later, and it wasn't necessary. I was way ahead of pace. And, I'd still end up PRing by about 20 minutes. Somewhere around Mile 10, one of the websites/podcasts (I wish I remember who, so I could give them credit) were giving out candy and fruit. I took a handful of oranges. They were deliciously refreshing at that point in the race. Though, sticky. I washed my hands a bit at the next water station with the water I didn't drink near the trash can.

I put on a run for the last quarter mile; kind of like I did for the 10K. The setup at the finish line was the same - 3 Disney characters (none of whom you could get a picture with). I did high-five someone (I forget who it was, Donald?), but that picture isn't online. I was definitely happy to be done. I was in at 3:08. Now, I stopped my Garmin just after crossing the finish line and it said 13.37. No amount of swerving could make up for an additional 1/4 mile on the Garmin. I think the course is slightly long. Hey, thanks for making me run the extra quarter mile, Disney. 

I went up to a volunteer to get my medal, and it happened to be my friend's husband (who had volunteered all weekend). That was nice. 

Me with my medal, post race.

I've forgotten to mention my race outfit. I went with the same getup as the 10K, but in green. It's simple, but it worked well. After I obtained my medal, I headed over the medical station. I had a blister on the arch of my left foot. I could feel it starting after the 10K, but it didn't really bother me while I was running. I went to the "self-help" station and was able to pick up a bandage to put on it immediately, and grabbed another for good measure (and after my tub soak).

Then, while waiting for my friend, I headed over to the snack station and picked up the goodies. Look at quantities they had, they were well-equipped:

Another RunDisney photo.

Once I met up with my friend, we went back to my hotel room. The race ended at the same spot as the 10K, so another easy walk. Overall, a great race. Here's my rundown on the Pros and Cons:

  • Characters. There were a good deal out of the Half Marathon in comparison to the others. That was nice. However, I'll note here as I did before, where were the Fairies? They were the main theme of the whole weekend, why were they not out? And TinkerBell, while out for the Half, was high above everyone. You could get her "in" a picture, but not with you. And, I'm not sure everyone even saw her, as she was off to the side and above. I rectified this by going into the park with my medals and getting a picture with her. But not everyone has that option (a park ticket).
  • MarathonFoto. I didn't stop for character pictures, but the lack of photos is kind of depressing. While I knew ahead of time the photographers would only be in the parks and at the Finish Line, I thought there would be more of them. I understand that taking pictures in the dark, or in morning light, is difficult to rapidly fire off and catch everyone, but maybe, they could have hired more people. I have more pictures for my 5K than I do for my 10K and Half combined. Someone on a Facebook also noted that their pictures with Terk and King Louie weren't showing up. After contacting MarathonFoto, they were told that those characters had a copyright and they couldn't put them up. Why have a photographer there if you can't post the photos later? That seems kind of pointless, and confusing.
  • The Water Stops. I touched on this, but they were well placed and plentiful. The volunteers were great. I never went thirsty.
  • The race length is 13 miles and while it went by fast, only about 4.5 of those were in the park or backstage. I still really enjoyed it, though.
  • The medical station seemed on it. I was easily able to help myself. And, while I didn't witness them, I heard that a few people had life-threatening injuries or attacks and they were able to survive thanks to the medical staff. Well done, there.

Please be certain, that despite these "complaints," I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I think it's important to not "spice up" something with pixie dusts and rainbows just because I love Disney so much. And, it's important because there can always be improvements, no matter how small. 

Stay tuned for my last day at Disney - which includes meeting characters, including TinkerBell, and seeing World of Color. This was such a fun race. If it hadn't switched to May for 2014, I might have considered doing it again. But, hopefully another race (rumors are abound, but I won't post until there's something more official) takes its place and I might be interested in that one.

TinkerBell high above everyone else, overseeing runners in the Magic Kingdom.

The Inaugural TinkerBell 10K

Angela DawnComment

As I had mentioned, I stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel. I really couldn’t imagine what a great choice this would have been. Of the three official Disney Properties, it’s the “cheapest,” and the farthest – if you can count a 10 minute walk to the front of the Magic Kingdom as far.

I also made the point on a different post that I was staying in a Standard View room on the third floor. While this did not allow me to see into California Adventure much (I could see the top of the Ferris Wheel and Tower of Terror in the distance. Though, I could also see some backstage areas – including a float after a parade.

Anyhow, on the morning of the 10K, I looked out my window and to my surprise I could see the corrals and balloons. Not only that, but I could see the Corral C balloon; and being in Corral C; I would enter right where that balloon was. The balloon indicates the “entry” to a Corral. Fairly awesome. At the point I looked (right when I woke up at 5am), not many people were lining up.

The race officially was set to start at 6am. So, I decided that I would be able to get up at 5 and be alright. I had went to bed early the night before, again. Waking up early had helped with my getting a full sleep. I had my run gear – outfit, Garmin, FlipBelt, headphones, bib, etc. – set out on the bed and ready to go. So, when I woke up, I was ready in 15 minutes. Because I was able to sit by the window and watch, I didn’t head down to the corrals until 5:30, when it looked like more people were gathering.

My outfit wasn’t as much fun as it had been the previous day. I didn’t know how I’d handle running double the mileage with anything cumbersome – i.e. fairy wings. I went with a pink theme; a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Shorts underneath, Pink CEP sleeves and a Red Lululemon Racerback (another obsession). This outfit didn’t bother me at all during the race. Very breathable.

Being steps from the race front; it probably only took me 5 minutes to walk down to the street. And most of that time was spent waiting for the elevator (there are no stairs at Paradise Pier; unfortunately). There were four corrals for the 10K: A through D. I was in C. I’m not sure how that happened. I had submitted a “guess” of my pace (12 minute mile), but had nothing to back it up. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a “C” on my bib at package pickup.

Early morning at the front of Corral C; you can see the entry point to Early morning at the front of Corral C; you can see the entry point to "B" with the balloon in the picture.

This brings me to a point (and sometimes drama ensues) of Corrals. Racers care about them for many reasons. While you are required to maintain a 16 minute pace; if you start in a beginning corral, you may not get swept as quickly, even if maintaining a 18 minute pace, because the Sweepers do not cross the finish line until the last person passes. Basically pushing 15,000 runners across the start line takes time; and if you’re at the start of the pack, that’s more time for you. Of course, your time doesn’t officially start until you cross the line.

I prefer to be in a corral in the middle of the pack – because I know at least at the beginning I can maintain a middle-ground pace (12 minutes); and I will avoid gaggles of walkers, knotted arm in arm, side by side. Nothing against walking – as you’ll see later on in this post; I walk. It’s the etiquette of moving to the side, not walking more than two abreast that seems to slip by the wayside.

Corrals are set up with fastest runners in the front – elite runners who can pull off a quick mile and keep that pace for 6 or more miles. I’m talking less than a 7 minute mile here. Then, the last corral is for those who are going to be straddling the 16 minute mile pace and walkers. The setup is to keep congestion clear and as a safety measure – someone running twice as fast as another runner should be with like paced runners.

Now, as I mentioned, everyone wants to be at the front for the extra time – more time to run, more time for stops, etc. BUT, honestly, everyone should keep to the respective paced corrals. As you get farther back, it’s harder to run around people – because there are lot more; and people are walking. So, don’t be surprised if you’re given the stink eye if you’re in Corral A and do not have “Olympic Runner” tattooed on your forehead.

The course!

In the half hour I had in my corral, I started to make my way towards the front. I was expecting people to be packed like sardines, but they were fairly spread out and a lot of people were sitting on the side. I had mentally prepared myself for the race beforehand by viewing the map. I knew that we wouldn’t be in the park until after mile 1. So, plan was to run when I could and try to get a good space between myself and the others in my corral.

As 6am approached, people started packing in more tightly; but still not overwhelming. Each Corral started off by Tinker Bell coming up on a projection screen and a big "Go!” telling you to start, though you didn’t really need that – the people around you would let you know.

And we're off!

Official RunDisney picture of the start.

It was 6:02 before the first Go! was announced and the A-Team was off; leaving everyone in a trail of dust. We were shuffled by each Corral to the start line. I crossed at 6:12. As mentioned, the first mile of the race is heading north, and around to the top right corner of Disneyland Park, entering backstage through a Cast Member area. I did as I planned and ran. I did have to do a good deal of swerving, despite being on an 2-lane ramp (there is a ramp, so a “hill” first off). But, by the time we entered the parks, I felt a comfortable pace ahead of my corral and didn’t have as many people around me. Though, I will note that as we passed mile 1; my Garmin said 1.1 miles. I had pressed the start button AFTER I stepped over the start line. Hmmm..

We entered Disneyland Park near Splash Mountain and moved on past the Haunted Mansion. This is where I saw the first characters. Though, I had decided ahead of time not to stop until I saw Fairies. It was a good sized line for the two characters, as apparently a lot of people do not see them out. I had previously a few time at Walt Disney World during Halloween, so they weren’t as “rare” for me. Once I passed the Alligator escaping, tight-rope walking ballerina and the I’ll-Marry-Anyone-as-long-as-I-have-a-husband bride, I started down into the square past Pirates. I was all prepared to continue running and gasp! I saw Chip and Dale. Le Sigh. They’re my favorites. I had to go back for them. So, I turned around slightly to get to the back of the line. I waited about 4 minutes per my Garmin; and then continued on. I would have estimated the line for the Haunted Mansion characters as double that; so 8 minutes, just based on length. I will say they were rather quickly though; and it’s nice having a Cast Member there to take your camera/phone for a picture in addition to the official MarathonFoto photographer.

Who wouldn't love these guys?

Continuing on, we went past Big Thunder Railroad, behind the Castle, through Fantasyland (where I believe I saw Mary Poppins and Bert, but I didn’t stop) and onto Tomorrowland. In Tomorrowland Buzz was out and a Lightyear-costumed cheerleader was out urging us on. We moved back in front of the Castle and onward down Main Street; and before we knew it, we were out of the first park.

In-between parks there were white barriers that kept us grouped so guests and family could cheer you on from outside them. I’d estimate they were about 6 people in width. And, we were onto California Adventure!

We ran past Grizzly River Run, and then made a right at the Little Mermaid Ride. So, we were going the opposite direction on the Pier than I had during the 5K. The World of Color lights were opulent once again, so that made for a lovely visual while running around the Pier. We were then guided to Cars Land, where Mater and Lightning McQueen were again greeting everyone (but I didn’t stop); and back towards Tower of Terror.

At this point, we were just before Mile 4 and about to exit the park. Mike and Sully donned in Monsters University gear and with University Cheerleaders were waiting for pictures near a float (that I imagine they use during the daytime parade). I could have stopped. I wanted to, but then I also wanted to run. I should have, but passed it up and moved onto the 2 miles within Anaheim.

Now, this point, just before the 4-mile mark, is where I read that a gate was closed and anyone under pace was cut. I’ve also read that some people were at pace, but were cut anyhow & bussed back to the finish; or handed their medals in a different area. I wasn’t present, so I don’t know how everything went down; or if people were actually at pace, above or below. There were plenty of character stops; and if you had stopped for the Haunted Mansion (which if it was 8 minutes for me; would likely have been upwards of 10 for others), then you’re really pulling time from the 16 minutes you’re given (just a calculation, but if you had just below 64 minutes to get to that point, and you waited for every character, you may be at 44 minutes to run 4 miles – or an 11 minute mile, which might not be possible for some people in the 16-minute group). I wouldn’t be surprised if a good deal of people were below and just didn’t realize, though do speculate that some people were above and other circumstances cut them off. This was the first 10K after all, so maybe something wasn’t planned correctly.

Once I was outside the park, with 2 miles left, I made a decision. I was going to walk. I knew I was about 8 minutes above pace. And I had the half the next morning, so not pushing it would be good for me. And walk, I did. I kept still about a 15 minute pace; but the majority of the miles on the street were walked.

As we rounded the corner to the finish, I put on a light run (about 13 minute pace for me) and crossed the line! Mickey and Donald were there to high-five, just BEFORE the finish line; but you couldn’t take pictures with them (i.e. stop and smile). You had to be lucky enough for a MarthonFoto photographer to grab a picture of you at just the right moment, without people in the way, if you wanted a picture of you fist-bumping or what have you. The only photographer I saw at the finish line was sitting on the ground on the left side; and I was on the right side; so my Finish Line pictures aren’t that great. That was unfortunate.

Just after finishing. Thank you, kind stranger, for taking my picture.

I crossed in 1:28; or a 14:20 pace. Though, my Garmin said I had ran 6.35 miles, and not 6.2. I'll note this more in the half review, too. I felt good, not sore and not rushed. I was happy with that time and felt so much better going into the half the next day. The race was overall, very good, but of course I nitpicked (as you probably caught on to) a few things. I grabbed my medal from a lovely volunteer (than you volunteers!) and headed down the after-course to pick up my goodies box, a banana, and a bottle of water. I also picked up a mylar RunDisney wrap. I was going to use this in the morning to keep warm as I was kind of chilly this morning (more on weather in my half post). And back to my hotel. Despite not being sore, I was still happy to be able to walk practically right into the hotel, go back up to my room, and relax in about five minutes.

The beautiful medal. INAUGURAL!

So, looking back - here are my thoughts of the race:

  • Still not a lot of Characters - 6 instead of 4. The Haunted Mansion characters are apparently hard to come by (I've seen them in Walt Disney World a few times during Halloween, so they weren't rare to me). But, no fairies? Seriously? The medal has five of them on it - did they not think having a Fairy available for pictures during the race would be appropriate? Mickey, Goofy and Donald were at the finish line, but BEFORE you crossed, and you weren't allowed to take pictures with them. You only could high-five and hope that someone caught you on camera at MarathonFoto
  • Speaking of MarathonFoto - I'll post more about them on my half review. I didn't have many pictures at all during my 10K - "official pictures that is." 
  • The course was alright. About 3-3 1/2  miles in the parks/behind the scenes. Not too bad. So, about half the race. I knew this ahead of time, though, and was able to plan accordingly. I kind of wish the course had been backwards. I could have ran the first 2 miles without worrying about stopping for characters, kept a fast (for me, 12 minutes is fast) pace, and then walked more in the parks to enjoy them. But, something about running the parks is great, anyhow. Even if everything is passing you by.
  • There were a few places the course narrowed. The barriers between Parks, as I mentioned briefly; and more notably I remember a small archway/tunnel before entering Splash Mountain area, just before seeing the Haunted Mansion characters. I think you could only fit 4 people side-by-side. At this point, about a mile and half in, my corral was rather spread out. I didn't know how it would be for the last two corrals, though, dealing with more congestion. Again, this is fine, side-by-side as 4 people IF you can get past. Trying to keep your running pace and coming upon four friends walking side-by-side, you're forced to stop. So, that's the only complaint in regards to the narrowing. But, it has to happen to go through that area of the park (at least in the instance I remember). The only way to get things to change is to mention them. This didn't take away from any of my fun - by any means, it's just one of the "cons" of running a Disney Race - different paces mix in and can cause clusters of congestion.
  • I thought the corrals were set up well for this Inaugural race. Each one seemed to be spaced fairly even (though, again, I'm reading that the last corral was split into two groups and the balloon lady started before everyone had crossed the start line - but I don't know what of that is truth because I wasn't there). 
  • The medal is beautiful. The details of the fairies are great. Being a Disney Nerd, I can tell who each one is. It's a good weight and one of the nicest I've seen (I only own one medal from a half marathon, but I have perused other friends' and it seems Disney has the best). I'm looking forward to all the others I'll receive this year after (man)handling (my precious!) all of them at the expo.

So, overall, a great first RunDisney 10K. I had a great time, did get to see Chip and Dale, and made a better pace than I was expecting. The time does creep up on you, though. I did go out in the parks for part of the evening, and ate again at the Napa Rose bar (as relayed in my Napa Rose review). 

Onwards to 13.1 miles!

Happy, and done.

The Cars Land at California Adventure

Angela DawnComment

I visited CarsLand on my first day at the Disneyland Resort (Thursday), but also went back Friday during the day and evening; so I was able to explore both during the day and night. And man, I have to say that the imagineers did an amazing job. It really does feel like you're stepping inside the movie. Everything is so perfectly themed. I kind of wish I had the time to stay longer (than the four full days I had), as I could just sit in that particular Land all day; eat, ride and people watch. I've done that before at Disney Hollywood Studios; it's a great spot to just take in the action. Anyhow, back to CarsLand.

The entrance to Radiator Springs

I went to Radiator Springs Racers on Thursday, and I'm glad I did, as I was able to step right on in the Single Riders Line. When I ventured back Friday; and the rest of the weekend, the wait line for the regular line was 2 hours or over, and the Single Riders line was even 30 minutes or more. I didn't ride it any further as I had enjoyed my experience fully the first time around; and didn't want to wait when I could be doing other things, but those times seem to be more common. I also hear that Fast Passes are given out fairly quickly for this ride.

The theming of the ride is pretty cool - even the queue lining up (and from what I've heard, in the full line it's even better.

Looking out at the Southwest along the queue for Radiator Spings

Part of the queue

You step into two different cars, each with two rows; and you're off into the adventure that is CarsLand.

Already in the car, getting ready to head into part of the attraction.

The bridge; fairly identical to the movie. I'll show this off later.

You basically see most of the Cars Characters. The Sheriff stops you from speeding, Mater enlists your help in cow/tractor-tipping; and awakens Frank (the combine harvester), you run by Sarge and Fillmore. It's just a neat setup.

Stop the speeding, per the Sheriff.

Fillmore and Sarge; you can see Mack in the background.

Then, after all that, you line up with the other car that disappeared at the start; and as per the ride name, you are going to race. And off you go...

Who will win?

I realize this is already a picture heavy post, but you shouldn't expect any less from me. You'll find plenty of them to follow, too. Moving onto the actual Radiator Springs.

Standing at the beginning of the street. Take note of the layout and how the street looks. 

Cozy Cone Motel Quick Service Restaurant

Get your kicks...

Radiator Springs Curios - one of many shops

Flo's Cafe - one of many places to eat

The shops along the way specialize in Cars Merchandise, though there were a few other items inside. There was Sarge's Surplus (various), Ramone's House of Body Art (clothing), Radiator Springs Curios (souvenirs), 

Also, there was plenty of places to eat. You could easily spend a good portion of the day in this part of the park. Flo's V8 Cafe is a Counter Service restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating; and open for all meals. Cozy Cone, also counter service, offers up different options at each of the different cones. I had a "Pear of Dice" soda. It was refreshing. Fillmore's Taste In is a quick stop for drinks and fresh fruit. Everything seemed to be submerged in ice, so if you're there in the summer, this would be a great cool-down spot. 

There are also various Character Greetings - I saw Mater, Lightning McQueen and Mack all out for official photos.

Look at all that Neon! 

So, all in all, Day or Night, CarsLand is a well-executed addition to California Adventure. I hope to see it come to Walt Disney World someday. The imagineers outdid themselves. 

And I'll leave you with a few stills of the movie, just so you can grasp (if you hadn't already) the spectacular vista that is this part of the park.

The Neverland 5K - My first Disney run

Angela DawnComment

I woke up on Friday morning not really certain what to expect. I didn't have to get up too early; it was about a 15 minute walk to the start line - a leisurely one - and the race kicked off at 5:45am. Being on east coast time; I wasn't feeling it too much. And I had went to bed fairly early thanks to the wine from the previous evening. I had laid out my running outfit/costume (a tribute to Mr. Smee) the night before; so I really just had to grab a small snack and be on my way.

The race began just to to the right of Sleeping Beauty castle, so we corralled up in a circle in front of the castle and then down Main Street USA. There weren't corral numbers identified for the 5K; and in the program it had noted that you should line up based on pace (fastest runners in the front, walkers in the back), but it really just ended up being whomever arrived first was in the first corral. I saw a couple of four year olds up there - and I doubt they could race at a 5 min mile pace. But, this was a Family Fun Run, so etiquette really can be thrown by the wayside. It also is not a timed race, though Disney needs you to finish at a 16 minute mile pace, so they can clear up and prepare the parks for opening. I was going to use this run for a chance to take many of the pictures I wanted to; so I wouldn't have to stop during the 10K or the half.

Heading to the corrals.

When I arrived, I was able to get up to the left front of the Castle. It was a pretty good spot, and the third corral; but the group extended all the way down Main Street, so there were plenty of people after me. I was waiting for about half hour before things kicked off. There was entertainment during this time; and just before the race began there were fireworks (a good deal of them) and Tinkerbell flew above the Castle. It was a great start to the morning. After a little more shuffling, we were off.

I decided to run versus walk, so I could just get a little bit ahead in preparation for all the characters I would be coming across. I saw Daisy and Clara and the line was fairly long, so I decided to just skip them - you know, there would be a lot of characters during this race; I had read about a good deal last year. 

I stopped for Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Of course, I had to. I was dressed like one of them. And I would have wanted to anyhow. 

It's not the best photo, as it was dark; but you can still make out who everyone is.

So, I continued running. It was nice looking around the park while it was closed (despite it still being crowded) and seeing the Christmas lighting on It's a Small World. I kept waiting for more characters. I finally saw The Lost Boys....but wait, they were out on the water. With "John" and "Michael", the teddy bear, and what I'm guessing would be Wendy. Wait. The Lost Boys were available for pictures during the 2013 5K (I had done my research). What a bummer. Oh well, I continued on.

The Lost Boys...out on the water...not available for pictures

Before I knew it, we were already headed into California Adventure. So two character stops in Disneyland and that was it? I was a bit bummed, but continued on. As we were heading into Cars Land, Mater and Lighting McQueen were out for pictures, so I naturally stepped over to them and discussed how I could probably beat Lightning in a foot race.

Lighting McQueen, Me and Mater. 

California Adventure was lovely to run in; the World of Color lights were going and it was beautiful around the water. I took a picture there, too. I will note, people during these races are so helpful and friendly. It was great to be able to ask a complete stranger to take some time out of their run to take my picture, and they'd say "sure" in a delightful manner. Even better because the Disney Photopass Photographers aren't in every area. 

In front of the water. B-E-A-UTIFUL (the scene, not me). Oops, forgot to pull my top down after getting my phone out of my belt.

Hey, that's my hotel in the right back corner.

I ran along the Boardwalk, past Toy Story Mania and all the games, along the backside of the Ferris Wheel and came upon Peter Pan and Wendy. Finally, more characters that are actually related to "Neverland." I waited in line for them and was happy to get another picture.

Peter Pan and Wendy Darling

And before I knew it, I was rounding the corner and finishing the race.

All done, medal and race finishing goodies (i.e. banana and eats) in hand.

Another pic in front of the water

Finisher's Medal

So, here are my final thoughts for the 5K

  • I had a lot of fun. The fireworks at the beginning were amazing and Tinkerbell flew in the air for a good while. 
  • I thought starting in front of the Castle, even though we didn't run through it, was an awesome way to begin the race
  • And on that note, ending along the pier in California Adventure was great, too.
  • I was disappointed by the amount of characters (I guess in comparison to last year). I thought within the 3 miles, there would be more opportunities than just 4 sets of characters. And where were the fairies? Isn't this TinkerBell weekend?
  • Of course, etiquette wasn't really happening during this race. But, that's understandable as there are lots of family and children involved. Though, the people I found to not really follow the "rules" (dead-stopping in the middle of the road) seemed to be adults. Without children. I was just hoping that wasn't a sign of what was to come in the 10K and half. No need for injuries/accidents to happen because somebody doesn't move to the side to tie their shoe.
  • Aside from my disappointment in the amount of characters, there were plenty of picture taking opportunities along the course. In front of the Castle, It's a Small World, Haunted Mansion, and practically everywhere in California Adventure. So, I guess that made up for it.
  • The course - 3.1 miles - was completely inside the parks, or backstage. As lovely as Anaheim is, I'm glad that the course was entirely in the park. And it made for a great, fun run.

Overall, this was a great first race experience. I love Disney, but of course with anything there will always be cons, but this run was mostly pros. A lot of fun, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I'll make sure I sign up for the 5K at future races, too.

Napa Rose Chef's Counter

Angela DawnComment

One of the excursions I wanted to do while I was in California was visit the Napa Rose Chef's Counter. I had built myself up to it by reading what reviews there were (there aren't many on blogs), and prepared my tummy by only eating those beignets and the corn dog earlier in the day. I took plenty of pictures of the food, kitchen, and the alcohol; but I didn't get many of the atmosphere of the restaurant. I fully plan on eating at the Chef's Counter at least once (if I am lucky to get an additional spot on more than one night, I will) when I return in August, so I'll take more pictures then. As for now, onto the review:

The details: There are two seatings for the Chef's Table every evening - 5:30 and 8:30. Each seating has eight spots - four on one side, the prep area; and four on the other side, the main kitchen. If you want a particular side, you need to make certain you request so at reservation time (which can be done 60 days in advance by calling Napa Rose directly - not the Disney dining reservations line).

As is the usual for me, I arrived early. I checked in at the podium, and since the dining room wasn't officially open yet, I was seating in the lounge to wait. The lounge looked extremely comfy with plush, cushioned chairs that I wanted to sit in all night. They do not require (nor take) reservations for the Lounge, but in the 5-10 minutes I was sitting waiting for 5:30 to roll around, it was filling up. So, if you don't make reservations at the Chef's Counter, or in the restaurant itself, and want to eat at Napa Rose; get there right at 5:30 or before. The lounge serves the full restaurant menu. There is a Bar that you can sit at, too (and I did on a different night), but that doesn't serve the full menu - and believe me you want access to the full menu on your first time here.

The lounge - look at those comfy seats!

On the way to my seat.

I was escorted to my seat pretty much at 5:30. I was the only one there on my side, the prep side. Eventually two others - regulars - joined me; and a group of four were seated on the opposite. I think next time I would prefer to sit on the opposite side as there was more action going on there. Plus there was a display counter on my side, that kind of blocked the view a little bit (and I didn't see a purpose for it). Though, rumor is, that they'll be removing it at some point.

View from my seat

I should mention here that all these pictures were taken with my iPhone, and I'm not the best (yet) at taking excellent quality pictures with my phone. I was greeted by waiter for the evening, Mickey. According to the regular couple that goes to Napa Rose often (and always sits at the Chef's Counter), Mickey was the best. All waiters at this restaurant are also sommeliers, so they have great wine recommendations (more on that later). Mickey let me know that I could order off the regular menu, the Vinter's Menu (a prix fare menu), or have the Chef whip me up something for each course of his/her choice. This last option is a choice only available at the Chef's Counter, so of course I chose that. I also added the wine pairing (when in Rome, right?) to the dinner. 

A sous chef for the evening (Andrew Sutton is the head chef), Gloria, came over to visit and ask me about my likes/dislikes. I told her that I didn't like sushi, oysters or chocolate. (I know, I know, I'm a woman and I don't like chocolate). Other than that, I was good to go. I'm also not a big fan of soup (something about my food being liquified), but I lucked out and wasn't given any - they must have been psychic that way. As I've read, either Andrew Sutton will help you at the Chef's Counter, or if he's not working, one of the Sous Chefs. I just assumed he wasn't there.

The bread basket - I had already torn off some pieces when I took this picture.

 I resisted getting any more than this. It was difficult.

Mickey brought out the bread basket. Now, something about me: I love bread. Carbs, really (which is funny since I follow a low carb diet). But bread is amazing, any which way you cut it. BUT I knew I had an incredible amount of food coming, so I tore a tiny piece of each bread off & ate that, and only that. Believe me it was hard. They were delicious. I didn't ask what kind - but it tasted like a simple country bread, another soft type, and thin a crispy type. Next time I'll ask. The butter was excellent too. 

The lovely couple next to me was having some kind of pre-meal bubbly, and Mickey brought me some, too. I'm not sure if this is customary with the wine addition to my meal, or just because they were having some, too; but champagne-like pre-meal bubbly is always welcome. Next up was an amuse-bouche. A small preview of the gloriousness that was to come. Mine was a celery root puree with apple and cranberry raisins. If baby food tasted like this, babies would have nothing to complain about. It was fairly amazing for being beaten up celery root. I'll have to spice some up & try it at home with my Vitamix, though something tells me it won't taste quite the same.

The celery root amuse-bouche - I broke this up into as many bites as I could, but I could have easily spoonful-ed it.

Mickey brought me out another wine that would go with my first course. I hadn't really broken into much of my bubbly yet, but he advised me that it would go well with my first course, too, so I could always save some. The first wine was a Graff Family Vineyards Viognier, 2007.

The bubbly

The Viognier

I sipped on both my wines and enjoyed watching some of the preparation that was going down in the kitchen while I awaited on my first course. I'd recommend the meal to anyone, but if you're traveling alone, this is an excellent choice. I was able to talk to the kitchen staff, have a view of everything, some entertainment and such, as I enjoyed my meal. Much better than sitting alone at a restaurant tapping into Facebook because there is no one there to talk to. 

What looks like beef in front of a chef lemoning some scallops

The same chef transferring the scallops to the stove.

My first course was sustainable Swordfish with crusted chickpeas and a green harissa made on site; from what I could understand from the chef it's normally made with red bell pepper, but this had more green and yellow.  It was similar to a ramesco. And, all of that was topped with roasted almonds.  I was described the meal when it was brought to my seat, and I tried to remember best I could. Some of the sauces might be slightly off, but for the most part everything should be accurate. I was surprised at this point to see Andrew Sutton. He came over to let me know about the Swordfish and what I was eating. The man next to me was having the Swordfish for his main course, I believe. Along with the chickpeas there were also crusted lemons, which surprisingly didn't taste too sour upon putting them in my mouth whole.

Look how amazing that is. 

And the after... (this is how my plate looked pretty much after every course)

At this point I had a little time to look around; and talk with one of the chefs. Ronnie was in front of us prepping a fair amount of the evening, so he was able to give us details about what he was doing. I even was able to try some Bucharelli that he was making, despite it not being in anything I was eating. 

Ronnie doing prep.

A view where you can see more of the other side

Mickey brought me the second wine for my second course; a chardonnay. This one was a 2010 from Firepeak Vineyards. And then, onto my second course. I was brought out a Hickory Smoked Pheasant Salad with French Green Beans, Pomegranate Dressing and Almonds Frisee. 

This was an excellent salad. I had read on the menu that the normal salad comes with an Almond Vinagrette, so the Pomegranate was a nice surprise, and worked well with the other flavors.

The Pheasant Salad

The time between the salad and the next course went by rather quickly. I was done eating and my next meal arrived shortly after. Mickey came with the third wine just about the same time as the course came. I was having trouble keeping up; and I love wine. The third wine was a 2012 Pinot Noir.

The duck breast

Of course, the Pinot Noir paired wonderfully with the course. Above, the third course was a Grilled Maple Leaf Duck Breast a Quince Puree and Lentils. I cannot say enough how perfect these meats were. Done to just the right tenderness. I did forget to mention that Gloria did ask me how I like my red meat prepared and I said medium. I imagine if you had said well-done, the meat could have looked differently, but I don't think it would have tasted quite the same. Medium is the best.

Third Course Pinot Noir

Fourth Course Cabernet Sauvignon

I was brought another wine, a fourth wine (in addition to the bubbly pre-meal). I want you to remember that first pour of Viognier that I took a picture of. These aren't tastings, they are glasses. As you can imagine, I'm feeling the wine at this point. The fourth was a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I had a feeling my last, main course would be a red meat; and I was right.

The final course (before dessert, of course)

For the last meat course, I was given a Buffalo tenderloin over mushrooms and capers; with artichokes wrapped in dolmas (grape leaves) on the right. I'm uncertain of the sauce/jus on either part of the meal. I guess at this point I had so much wine in me, I didn't care to write it down. Either way, it was all delicious.

Next up, my final wine; or a Port, actually. This one I was not able to finish. I was fairly full at this point. Not bursting, but satisfied. And, apparently buzzed, too. So, I didn't drink all of my Port. But, I love dessert (despite not liking chocolate), so I was bound determined to eat my dessert. I wasn't sure what to expect. I had perused the menu prior to traveling to California to see what I might get, and was thinking it might be some sort of sorbet trio or something.  Instead I received a date cake with a swirl of white chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream. It was amazing! White chocolate can sometimes be overwhelming - too much at a time, but this was just right. I could have eaten a jar of the white chocolate with a spoon.

Despite being so full, I could have easily had two of these wonderful desserts. Everything in it paired so well with the other parts. Just as it had been with all the courses previous. 

The meal was wonderful, and I look forward to doing it all over again in August. I actually came back to Napa Rose on the Saturday evening of my trip and sat at the bar. Joe, the bartender, was wonderful, as all the staff seems to be. I sat again next to a lovely couple, this time they were a bit more engaging and we made plans to eat at the Chef's Counter together when I return in August. I might try to eat there twice. Fairly ambitious, but it was so great. When I was at the bar, I tried the scallops and the truffle macaroni and cheese. Both were beyond words. I am craving that macaroni and cheese right now, and I'm not a mac and cheese fan normally. I had been recommended the scallops from Ronnie and another chef when eating at the Counter, as it was something I didn't try. It lived up to the expectation.

That brings my review to a close. I know it's long and picture-ridden, but when you're talking about this kind of food, it deserves this much space. I highly recommend going to Napa Rose if you're able to while in the Disneyland/Anaheim area.

Welcome Home - Arrival

Angela DawnComment

I arrived at Disneyland late last night, so unfortunately, the park was already closed. That didn't stop me from venturing over to the gates to view the train station from the other side of Main St. Then I started wandering Downtown Disney and the grounds of the hotels. When I was here in 2010, I stayed at Disneyland Hotel. The pools were under construction; happy to see that the area is clear of that and looks pretty wonderful. 

I wandered over to Tiki Sams - a bar that I didn't try out the previous time I was in Disney. I picked myself up a drink; and then headed back to my hotel (Paradise Pier) to sleep...as it was technically 1am EST by that time, and I was hoping to wake up a little early so that I could go get my annual pass.