Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2013

I ran a Half Marathon!  At Disneyland!  Yes - I did that!  I am back to my kiddos, the schedule, the laundry, the meal prep, cleaning, school bus drops, and all of those other blessings!   For a few short days though I got to make a dream come true!  I ran my 1st 1/2 marathon at DISNEYLAND!  YES - I did that!  The Tinker Bell 2013 1/2 Marathon!!!  Pinch me - it is true!

It all began when I left the kiddos with loving Grandparents on Thursday the 17th of Janaury and drove to Seattle to hop a plane to Orange County!  I was beyond excited about the weather forecast!  Over 80 some of the days we would be there!  Yeah!  The fog had rolled into Seattle and when I drove through downtown Seattle and you couldn't even see the top of the Space Needle (sorry I didn't take a photo... I was driving).  I arrived at Sea Tac and checked the bag and sailed through security!  My trip had begun!  The flight was a smooth one into the Long Beach Airport.  I had flown into Long Beach because months ago I had gotten a really good price on plane tickets.  Didn't quite realize when I made that purchase that the shuttle tickets to the hotel would be jacked up... we ended breaking even on what it would have been to fly into John Wayne... lesson learned... fly into John Wayne.  Everything went fine and the Long Beach Airport was small and easy to navigate.  I just think John Wayne is a bit closer and it is only $10 one way on the Blue Shuttle. 
I caught the blue shuttle with no problem and after a short wait we were off to Disneyland! 
I was at the hotel before I knew it... we chose off property and stayed at the Best Western Stovall right on Katella and very close to the Corrals and finish line for the Tinkerbell Half.  I chose it because of many recommendations from people who had done the Inaugural Tinker Bell in 2012 and my favorite Disneyland podcast had given it high marks. My husband Brian was in Las Vegas for work until Friday morning.   He was flying into John Wayne the following morning. So I was on my own for the evening.  I checked into the hotel and moved into our room.  Super nice and clean!  (Sorry for the clutter in the photo... it was taken towards the end of our trip) Very Happy with our hotel choice!

I made my way over to Downtown Disney to grab a bite to eat and pick up our Park Tickets from the Get Travel represenative.  They had a table set up in front of the ESPN Zone for Race participants to pick up their tickets before the Health and Fitness EXPO would be open the next day.  I grabbed the tickets from the very nice guy manning the table and then got something to eat at Earl of Sandwich.  After a little walking around I made my way back to our room to get to bed.  I had a BIG morning in store as I was getting to participate in the runDisney Race Meet Up which I wrote about HERE.  I got up super early Friday morning and had the most amazing experience at the runDisney Meet Up!  After the event was over I walked from the Grand Californian back to our hotel.  About an hour later my husband Brian arrived from Las Vegas.  After settling into the room we made our way to the Health and Fitness Expo.  We walked over to the Disneyland Hotel where the EXPO was taking place and easily found where to pick up our race bibs and information.  (My husband and I also ran the Neverland 5K).  After looking around the EXPO for a little while we made our way to the Parks!

Let the PARK fun begin!  It was really strange to be there without our kids... but we did have lots of fun and enjoyed the freedom of running around Disneyland without the special demands of having the kids along.  It definately would have changed the way we did things.  I was especially glad as the weekend progressed... it was so crowed in the parks I am not sure it would have been "fun" with the kids.  We would have been standing in so many lines.  We missed having them along but had lots of fun! (sorry kiddos... next time)
We actually stayed until the Fireworks that first night and then made a beeline for our hotel... we had a very early morning on Saturday with the NEVERLAND 5K starting at 5:45am!  Good Night!   You can read about our experience particpating in the Neverland 5K HERE!
Sunday morning came early!  This is the day... January 20th... I had been looking forward to for MONTHS!  I jumped out of bed @ about 3:30am... got ready quickly and left my sleeping husband at the hotel.  I headed right out of our hotel and directly down Disneyland Drive.  We stayed at the Best Western Stovall's  - which has terrific access to the starting corral areas for the Tinker Bell 1/2.  I would highly recommend the Best Western Stovall's if you choose to lodge off Disney property.  I will have to say that staying at Paradise Pier or the Disneyland Hotel would be awesome!  Just that much closer!
The Corrals were lining up all down Disneyland Drive - I would be in Corral C... Once I found the glowing ball with a "C" on it... I used the lovely provided porta potty (which there were many) and merged into Corral C.  I skipped the "Bag Check" ... my husband had everything I would need after the race and I had a light jacket I had purchased at a thrift store that I planned on tossing at the start.
Not the greatest of photos... but hey it was early.  Then we waited and waited.  I was running this race alone... but not really... there were roughly (according to the Official Race Guide) about 13,000 participants in the 1/2 Marathon!  So I wasn't really EVER alone!  During the waiting I heard someone yell my name from the sidewalk area and realized that my husband Brian had gotten up to watch and film the start.  I hadn't expected he would get up... yeah... another reason why I love him!  He thinks all of my crazy ideas are fun and exciting!  I was able to toss him the cheap jacket I was wearing and wait for the start!

Corral "C" -  This was the first corral that officially allowed any men.  The Tinker Bell Half is obviously a women's focused race... but there were lots of men participating but they are not allowed to start in the first 2 corrals.  I read that this is because they want to ensure that a woman will come across the finish line first.  Men cannot win awards in this race either (except the Finisher Medal at the end).  The only exception is if they are part of a team when they sign up... and there has to be a woman on their team. So you can see the theme.  This is for the GIRLS!  There were a lot of men in our Corral... and lots of them were wearing running sparkle skirts and tutus. The whole "running in a skirt thing" is something that intrigues me... being new to running I was a little taken by surprise by this trend... HERE is a one website that sells one cute kind of these adorable additions to your running attire.  In fact about half or more of the total people were wearing some kind of costume.  Lots with the Tink/PeterPan theme but just about any Disney character was represented more than once everywhere you looked!  Before long it was time for Corral A to begin... The Star Spangled Banner played with accompanying fireworks and they were off.  Pretty soon we were walking forward.  Corral B was let go before us (because B comes before C) and then it was our turn!  My heart was pounding when they yelled "GO"!  My dream was coming true!  (Some of the upcoming photos are courtesy of the runDisney Facebook page.  Thanks folks... they are better than mine.)  Here is a link to the course map.

Here is some video my husband shot of Corral C at the Start - you can see Sean Astin in the far right corner in the dark blue!  I was so fortunate to meet him 2 days prior at the Tinkerbell Half Meet Up!  I run by in a red shirt at about 2:07... my awesome husband cheers me on!  I tear up EVERY time I watch this!

We were off and running!   I couldn't really believe it was real!  According to the race Guide there over 500 people from the State of Washington... I wonder where they all are in this mob?  So we proceeded forward down Disneyland Dr and under Downtown Disney... turned right on Ball Rd and took another right onto Harbor Blvd.  We entered California Adventure first through a back stage entrance and then proceeded down Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood Land!  I ran almost this entire race with my camera in my hand!  I didn't want to miss anything!

 Next was CARSLAND... It was all lit up and sparkling!  Cast members were constantly cheering and rooting us on!

The lines for photos were too long for my liking so I didn't stop to take any photos at this point.  We had gotten such great photos during the 5K I was fine with just continuing on.  The route then left CARSLAND and wound around Paradise Bay where the World of Color lights were on and bubbling like they had been the morning before during the Neverland 5K.   Just beautiful!
I had to stop for a quick photo here...

We headed right down Buena Vista Street and into the Esplanade.  At this point I heard my husband yell my name!  He had the video camera rolling as I waved wildly for the footage for my kids to see back home in Washington.  As we crossed over into Disneyland Park I could hardly choke back the emotion as we ran right through the front gates and onto Main Street USA!  Photos will have to do...

The course continued through the HUB... passed by Pixie Hollow of course and through Tomorrowland and then continued into some more Backstage areas... 

I got one of the biggest thrills of my life to get a glimpse of the Circle D Ranch... this is where the happiest horses on the planet live. 
This ones name is Brother and he was super sweet and really interested in his breakfast!  We continued through more of the backstage area and then came through Toon Town and Fantasyland... Small World was still dressed for Christmas - it was beautiful!

Along into Fantasyland and then past King Arthur's Carousel (I found the Lost Boys!) and then there it was - Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

This picture is a little blurry... SAD Cast Member Photo taking fail... oh well. 

We ran past Rivers of America by way of Frontierland and then right out the front by way of Backstage. Then it was out and straight down the middle of Downtown Disney! Somwhere after Downtown Disney we hit Mile 6 I think.  Then into the city of Anaheim until the finish.

The city streets were seldom empty - many high school bands and cheerleader/dance teams had come out to cheer us all on!

I tried to take note of street names as the route would turn corners but of course I don't remember where some of these photos were taken... just along the way.

The course was beautiful and the weather was perfect!  I was feeling great... a little tired but never depleted and it was all so exciting!  Soon we would hit the home stretch!

As soon as we were on Harbor Blvd and I saw the Howard Johnson Hotel I knew we were getting close!  Wahoo!  The course came down Harbor Blvd and then snuck back into the backstage area behind Tower of Terror again... we made our way down the access tunnel for the second time during this course... a little cruel as there was a bit of a steep hill coming out of that tunnel but THIS sign was at the top!  One mile to go!

The finish was right around a few corners!  We made our way to Disneyland Dr where the corrals had been lined up just a little while ago... I saw my husband again and handed him the camera for the home stretch!  The course came down Disneyland Dr and turned left into the parking lot behind Paradise Pier Hotel... you could see the finish line... BUT the course turned LEFT and looped around the parking lot for the last few tenths of a mile... then the short Left turn again and sprint to the FINISH!!!

The Finish Line!  A  bit of video!

Here I am after I finished with a hard earned Banana snack!  I don't have any photos of me actually crossing the finish line - my husband was on the wrong side of the finish line to get that photo and the official race photos are super duper expensive and I probably won't be purchasing those.  They aren't that good anyway.  Wow - it was finished... I did it!  I ran a 1/2 marathon for the first time in my life and it was at DISNEYLAND!  Wow!  I didn't run for a superb finishing time in this Half Marathon... I ran to have a good time.   If times matter to you... I finished in 3 hours and 4 mins... that is with photo stops.  Secretly ... I did want to finish in under 3 hours ... but whatever...I had a blast!

I want to dedicate the whole experience to my great husband Brian... he loves me no matter what.  I get something in my head I want to do and boy... I make it happen.  He is my cheerleader ... runs next to me (at least for the 5K) and just puts me first.  He loves our 3 kids like crazy and is the best Daddy ever.  Thank you Brian... for letting me do this amazing thing... I love you. 

Neverland 5K at Disneyland

The Neverland 5K took place on January 19th, 2013 at 5:45am!  This was so awesome and a great addition to our Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon Weekend!  Some folks I talked with thought I was nuts to be doing both!  I loved it and it was a great experience!  My husband Brian and I both participated in this "FUN" run.  It was not a time chipped race... just for fun!  We had some of that!

Saturday - January 19th - we got up about 4:15 and got ready to head over to Disneyland Park and line up for the start of the Neverland 5K. We headed over and ended up in the HUB just to the right of the Castle... we didn't realize it but we were very close to the start. The runDisney organizers just grouped people in order of how they arrived. Since this was a "FUN" run and nobody was being offically timed it was a but of the luck of your arrival of where you ended up. 

We were in the second group from the start. After waiting in the CCCCold... we were treated to some really cool Fireworks over the Castle and then Tinkerbell flew back and forth over the Castle. Pretty amazing! Here is a link to the Neverland 5K course MAP.  Then we heard .... GO! We were off... !!!  The course took a right around the castle and headed off turning right past Small World and then heading to the Back Stage area behind Small World.  Disneyland had pulled out various floats from holiday parades... we saw a couple of Christmas floats and some Halloween too.  We continued behind Toon Town and then came through a tunnel... and then back into the Park.

The route continued around the other side of the Castle and then towards the Rivers of America through the Frontierland entrance.  The Sailing Ship Columbia was out!

Can you tell who had the camera?  A great shot of my husband with the ship!  We continued around the Rivers of America and past the Haunted Mansion... where we saw the LOST BOYS!  I totally forgot to get a photo (I did get a good one during the 1/2 the next day)!  We headed backstage again behind Splash Mountain and then out the entry and through the Esplanade and headed toward California Adventure!
We entered California Adventure through a Back Stage entrance by Tower of Terror.  Headed straight down Hollywood Land and made a left around Carthay Circle.

We then headed into CARSLAND!  We hit it at just the right time because there was hardly a wait for photo ops!  Here are some...
This was so much fun!  I can't even communicate it in words!  We continued through CARSLAND and then ran through Pacific Wharf and over the bridge.  Then hung a left up and past Ariel's Grotto.  I had to pause and take a photo of the animals along the way...  How do you get this job?  Next to being a Horse Trolley Driver on Main Street - this would be my 2nd choice!
We conitnued on down past California Screamin' and headed towards Toy Story Midway Mania.  We got this great shot there... no wait for this photo!

Woo Hoo... almost done... (sad though because I just didn't want it to end!)  The BIG finish line was about where Jumpin' Jellyfish and Goofy's Sky School is located.    The World of Color lights were on and bubbling with awesome colors!  We got our really cute medals and our Disney race treats!

We hung out for a little bit watching more and more fun folks come across the finish line!  What a fun and amazing experience!  Sign me up for MORE!  We headed back to the hotel and got ready for another fun day at DISNEYLAND!  My husband did such an awesome job!  So proud!

Read about my experience at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon!
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