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Friday, January 31, 2014

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend-Part 1-The Expo

I'm here, I'm alive and I did survive the Tinkerbell half marathon weekend. In previous posts I was a bit worried, because of being pregnant and in the horrors of the first trimester and because the flu hit our house in December, knocking me out for a couple of weeks. But I'm happy to report I finished BOTH races over the weekend. This was my first race at Disneyland, in fact it was my first trip to Disneyland at all, and I have A LOT to say about it all. It's really a whole different ball game for someone who is very used to Walt Disney World and the races in Florida.

My weekend started on Friday. Because I really had to work at squeezing this race in, to earn my pink Coast 2 Coast medal, this wasn't going to be a long trip for me. I left Friday and came home Monday. And I left earllllyyyyy on Friday morning.
That was how I felt at the airport waiting for my 5:50 am connecting flight to Washington DC. I got an awesome deal on my plane ticket, and it came with a "price". I was coming from the east coast so I had time to lose as well. I caught my first flight to Washington DC and landed before the sun even came up. After that was a long 5 hour flight to Los Angeles. Strike one for the west coast Disney, the sheer amount of time it takes this girl to get there. I thought of bringing my family but imagining soon to be 4 children on a flight like that, no thank you. By the end of my flight I was bored out of my mind, my Kindle was dead, and I was starting to see things on the wing of the plane.
Ok, not really, but I did have a seat on the wing and I still can't look out at the wing of a plane without half expecting to see some little gremlin taking apart the plane.

Even though I left North Carolina at 5:50 am, I arrived at LAX just after 11 am, because of the time change. Because United Airlines does not make their earlier boarding passengers stick to the one carry on item per person rule, I had to check my carry on bag because their overhead bins were full by the time I boarded my flight. I wasn't happy having to go to baggage claim and wait for my bags. After waiting for over 30 minutes, it was time to catch my shuttle. Here's another strike for Disneyland. There is no Magical Express. Instead of a timely, friendly bus waiting to take you to your Disney resort at no extra charge, like they have at WDW, Disneyland leaves it's guests pretty much on their own to find their way to the resorts. I was not too pleased with this, and ended up having to pay an additional $30 to have a shuttle van take me from the airport and back to it when I was going to be departing.

I exited the airport and stepped into a nice thick cloud of smoke(blech, so much for CA being cleaner)from the smokers outside of every exit door. I then had to wait on my shuttle for close to 20 minutes. Atleast it was warm outside. I was coming from a region of the country stuck in the polar vortex, so the warmth was CA's first redeeming quality.

When my van did finally come around, I had guests waiting on me. Disbroad Amy and our roommate for the weekend, Julianna, were picked up at an earlier stop. At least we all got to take our $15 per person ride together.

It's about a 35 minute drive from the airport to Disney/Anaheim. We were staying on what's considered Disney property(which is extremely different from what WDW property is) at one of the 3 Disneyland resorts, the Paradise Pier hotel. We arrived for a quick check in, to drop off our things and head to the expo. I will give a full report on this resort in another post, because it was really different from what I've ever stayed at at WDW, and I wasn't completely thrilled.
We got checked in and made the quick walk over to where the expo was being held. That's another thing that's different between WDW and DL. At DL, everything is within walking distance of each other. Each resort, the two parks and Downtown Disney, all within walking distance. So we were able to walk to the expo at a neighboring resort. It was nice to be out in the sun. I didn't mind the walk and it was nice not to have to wait for a bus but the whole walking distance thing would turn out to be both a blessing and a curse in the coming days.

Our first stop at the expo was the official runDisney merchandise booth. I wanted to pick up a few commemorative Tinkerbell 1/2 marathon items and hoped everything wasn't sold out. Pickings were slim and I was able to pick up a jacket and a car magnet. Sadly the car magnet is already falling apart. This was my second big fail in terms of official merchandise, as my Wine and Dine "I Did It" t-shirt started falling apart in less than a week. I'm really disappointed in the quality of Disney merchandise, especially given the prices we pay for them.

After the official merchandise booth, we all had our own respective shopping to do, but not before stopping to say hello to runDisney training guru Jeff Galloway.
After chatting with Jeff(the nicest!), I headed to pick up a few items from around the expo and then downstairs to pick up my bibs. Perhaps it was the time of day, but the expo wasn't crowded at all. I had already missed out on the big ticket items like the New Balance runDisney shoes and the Dooney and Burke purses, so much of the morning's frenzy had died down. I heard the horror stories of the crowds at the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon expo and I experienced nothing like this during my short stay at this expo. The bib pickup area is another area separate from the shopping area, and it took me less than 10 minutes to pick up my bibs for both the 10k and the 1/2 marathon.

After bib pick up, I headed upstairs to pick up my race packets and shirts. This year's shirt were very nice(and like a very bad blogger, I didn't take pictures). My roomies and I met back up and headed out of the expo, dinner time was coming and we wanted to drop our things back at our room before heading down to meet up with many others from the PbRC group for chatting and chow. We stopped for one last picture before leaving the expo.
On the way back to our resort, we passed one of the entrances to the Disneyland Hotel. Standing right there in the lobby, greeting folks was none other than Goofy. A character? In a resort? Just there? Unheard of. Maybe DL wasn't so bad afterall. We ducked in for a quick picture.
After dropping our stuff off at our resort, we met up with Disbroad Patty and Disbroad Summer, gathering 4 of the 5 Disbroads racing that weekend. We gathered at Trader Sam's, an interesting little bar at the Disneyland Hotel. They all enjoyed their fine island adult beverages while I drank some pineapple juice with an umbrella in it, trying to catch the same vibe. I did not catch that same vibe. I grabbed some food and we gabbed with other PbRC members before parting ways with Patty and walking over to Downtown Disney. Again, just a quick little trip across an aptly named street.
We grabbed dinner at Earl of Sandwich, then decided to walk around a bit. DTD at Disneyland is similar to the DTD at Walt Disney World, with many of the same stores. Having been up since 3am EST, which is 12 am on the west coast, and since it was now 6pm on the west coast, well that's a long time for a pregnant woman to be awake, I wasn't up for window shopping and we headed back to our room. There is one benefit of being from the east coast and having a body on east coast time. When you need to get to bed early for an early morning race the following day, it's actually quite easy. So before 8pm, I was out like a light, in preparation for the inaugural Tinkerbell 10k the following morning.