Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

In exactly one month we will be crossing the finish line and earning a whole bucket of BLING!  Until then, let's continue visiting past races! This time last year, I was still running my own personal blog, which I had originally created to keep me on track while training for my first Goofy Challenge.  I thought that would be the end of my running, but HA...not so!  So...in an attempt to psych everyone up even more, I thought I'd share my reviews from previous Disneyland Halves as part of a little "Throwback Thursday" mini-series!  Enjoy! (p.s. Don't I look so YOUNG)

Original post: September 5, 2012: Disneyland Half Marathon (& Our First Coast to Coast)

We did it!  My husband, Billy, and I finally got our first Coast to Coast--and yes, I say first because we are already planning for next year.  So here it is, my race report of the Disneyland Half.

Saturday, September 1, 2012: The Expo

Corral B...I'm a happy girl!
Packet Pickup
Waiting in line for the expo to open.
We drove into Anaheim Friday night, so this was our only chance to get to the Expo.  After being at both Disneyland and Disney World, this expo is a lot less crowded and gives you a chance to actually shop.  Last year in Florida, I got so claustrophobic I couldn't spend my hard-earned money (hmmmmm....maybe that one IS better).  Anyway, I digress.  We waited a short time in line before heading in to pick up our bibs, park tickets, pin, and goody bag.  I was all about getting to the parks, so I had our waivers printed and signed, so we headed straight to pick up the bibs.  My number was about 600 people worse than last year, so I was a little nervous, but B is for BRAGGING RIGHTS!!!!  Yes, I made it to corral B.  Now, I'm not a super fast runner, so corral A is a bit out of reach for me, so B is my proud, shinning moment.  So, got my bib, got my bracelet for my coast to coast medal, got my pin, and got my park tickets.  Disney has all this in a separate room, which makes it nice to actually be able to breathe while you do all of this.  Then, onto the big ballroom, i.e. where I spent my hard-earned money :)  Got our goody bags and shirts first.  Now, I'm not saying I love all the junk that usually ends up in the bags, but really?  Was it just because we came Saturday?  My bag was "full" of...well...one mini Clif bar and my safety pins.  That was it.  Guess it left less junk to get rid of at the hotel.  Shirts were cute, pretty standard for Disney.  I love that they give you tech shirts and not t-shirts.  They last so much longer and don't end up looking all worn after a few washes.  I do, though, wish they would get away from those dark colors.  Wearing it to the parks in 90-degree heat is tough.  After getting all the essentials, it was time to SHOP!  I love this part, can't you tell?  Just like in every other area of vacationing, Disney has merchandising down to a science.  I wanted everything.  I did, though, have some specific things in mind.  First was the Coast to Coast sweatshirt I was pining over in Florida.  There, they had many available, but there was a printing error and I didn't want to spend $50 on a sweatshirt with an imperfection.  I found it here, but only in XL and S; I'm not a small.  So XL is was, and we justified it by saying we'd "share" the sweatshirt.  Also picked up another car magnet to match my 26.2 and a Disneyland Half Marathon "I'm only half crazy" shirt.  We shopped around for a while, picking up another shirt from One More Mile (I just love their stuff!) and Billy bought the Jeff Galloway "run-walk-run" clock.  By the way, if you use that method, this thing is the best!  It's loud and vibrates.  Billy loved it & I think I'll be using it during the full marathon in January.  Being at Disneyland, I have a hard time sitting and listening to the speaker series, although there are a lot of great speakers.  We got to hear Jeff Galloway while we shopped, picked up some good pointers and heard some great questions from the audience.  Billy had to register with the run tracker for his facebook (I did that at home), so we quickly did that, took a few more pictures, then headed out to the parks.

Sunday, September 2, 2012: Disneyland Half Marathon



We look pretty good for 5:00 am
A bit of the crowd
We woke up early to get ready for the race.  We stayed at the Tropicana Inn & Suites, which is right across from the entrance.  We can usually stay at the Hilton for free, but figured it would be well worth the money to be about a mile closer to the start line.  Starting time was 5:45 am, so we headed out at 4:30 to be sure to have time to check our bags, get into our corrals (B...Bragging rights, remember?), and make the ceremonial last Porto-potty stop.  There was a bit of a jam up as we walked to the corrals, which we never experienced before.  We squeezed into the corral just before 5:30.  It was jam packed full already.  If there was any negative to a Disney race, it is that there are tons of people running.  National Anthem, fireworks, wheelchair racers, corral A, THEN...we're OFF :)  I will say, that first mile was rough.  It was so crowded you couldn't get off to a good pace.  This was the beginning of my not getting a PR (personal record, as my mom finally asked "what the heck is this 'PR' thing").  Hit mile one and my watch said something like 10:40...UGH...it should have said 9:32.  Grrrrr....  Well, I felt good and was having fun, so I just made my mind up that I'd have to make up about a minute throughout the rest of the race.  Miles 2 & 3 are inside California Adventure and Disneyland.  We entered CA by the World of Color, which was playing.  I promptly turned off the i-pod and enjoyed the "Disney-ness" of the race.  Too bad I had to make up time, because this is the best part.  We then got to run down Radiator Springs/Cars Land.  What a great scene...looks just like the movie!  Then we swiftly ran into the Disneyland Park.  This year, they looped us around a little differently with the addition of Cars Land, but we still got the usual thrills--running down Main Street USA, going through the castle, and tons of characters.  Because I was still in "running for a time" mode, I didn't stop for pictures, but I enjoyed as much as I could flying by.  You hit about 3.5 miles...and then you're on the streets of Anaheim.  I've always said the city does a great job with bands, cheerleaders, dancers, etc to line the course.  They produced again this year, giving nice breaks to the somewhat boring course.  They added a car club (maybe to go with the Cars Land stuff?), but I have to say, it was a long, boring stretch of cars.  It kind of bummed me out too, because from afar, it looked like a water station, but it wasn't.  Kind of a half-marathon mirage.  I thought I was coming up on a water break, but it was just a bunch of old cars.  Now, if I was a car person, this might have been great, but it was just too long of a stretch with not much cheering or excitement.  Somewhere on the streets you hit the 10k mark.  Check the watch.  Do the math.  I'm on my way to a PR!!!!  Not the 2:05 race I was hoping for, but a solid minute improvement from my best time.  Just don't know if I can keep it up.  My legs are starting to get tired.  There is about 5 miles where the only glimmer of hope is the run around the Honda Center.  You don't go in, but at least you can say you ran around it, right?  Then you hit mile 9, the Clif shot station.  I hate gooey shots.  They turn my stomach and I was already feeling nauseous from these antibiotics I am on, so this was not a stop for me.  After the race, Billy bragged about the kick it gave him, and the energy he had to finish strong.  Maybe this is something to consider for the future, because I could have really used a kick!  Then it was a quick stroll into Anaheim Stadium.  This is another highlight.  It's loud, fun, exciting.  You really get a good burst of energy running those bases.  I was starting to fatigue, both physically and mentally at this point.  I didn't even look up to find myself on the jumbo-tron.  You hit the 15k mark right before you enter the stadium.  Again, watch, math, PR is in reach!  You exit the stadium through an underpass with a pretty steep hill (at least it is when you've just run 10 miles).  Then some more boring streets.  This was the point I hit the wall.  Not as much as when you hit it during a marathon, but I just didn't have anything left in the tank.  I didn't want to add more PowerAde & water, as my stomach was already feeling like crud, but I had little left.  The sugar probably would have helped, and in hindsight, I felt fine the rest of the day, so I probably could have had a little more.  Run, take a 30 second walk break, start up strong, need another walk break, long walk through the hydration stations, run some more, talk to yourself, check the watch, do the math, my PR is slipping away.  It was a little heartbreaking, but I felt good.  I had a rough month leading up to this race health-wise, so I am proud of what I was able to do so far.  During mile 10, I figured I was off my PR, so just enjoy, coast, and finish strong.  And then it happened...the girl next to me told her friend "We only have one more mile. You can do it."  What?!?!?!  One mile?!?!?!  I thought we were still on mile 10?!?!?  Then I recognized that last turn into the Disneyland Resort.  I know this part of the course.  Mile 12 is up ahead.  I completely missed the 11th mile.  I was coasting and walking when I should have been pushing for that PR.  I wasn't as far off as I'd thought.  Going through mile 12 was tough.  I tried to push, but the tank was really empty at this point.  I smiled through the end, ran through the finish, and happily walked, upright and feeling great, to grab my drink, towel, food, and most importantly, my TWO medals.  I finished.  I finished strong.  I felt great.  No need to stop at the medical tent for ice.  After the miserable marathon I ran in January, this felt amazing.  I did not PR, but I was only less than 3 minutes off.  I put it out there that I was trying for a PR.  It helped me push through some tough spots, knowing that I had so many people wishing me luck from all over the place.  I will break my 2:09 record someday.  I've read Disney races aren't a great place to run fast; there are just too many people.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished.  I'm proud of my husband.  We both walked away health, happy, and with two medals clinking around our necks.

The Bling!
After getting my goodies, I went to the family meet-up area.  This is actually the first race where we didn't have anyone to meet with other than us.  I whipped off my sneakers as soon as I found a spot and changed into flip-flops.  My toes needed some air!  Billy was soon to follow.  We took some photos and watched the winners receive their trophies.  We hung around for a few minutes, but it was starting to warm up and we just wanted to shower and start celebrating in the parks.
On a side note--I named this blog after my favorite poster at the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Just Keep Swimming person...where were you????  I have no idea who this person is, but for that last 2 years, I laughed each time I saw that sign (it's a Finding Nemo reference, if you didn't know).  They always stand in the same place.  I missed you, stranger, this year!!!!  My husband saw her (to be honest, I can't even remember if it is a man or woman) at the usual place, but she wasn't there when I went by.  Maybe next year I'll move back in corrals so I can see you!
It was a great race.  It's a great first half marathon, if you ever considered doing one.  I love the bling.  I love the course.  I love the organization (which could make or break a race).  Yes, they are pricey runs, but I never hesitate, because I love to Run Disney!
Yipeeee!

Here are some numbers for you:
My chip time: 2:12:43
Splits:
5k:  31:13
10k: 1:01:01
15k: 1:31:38
Rankings:
Overall: 3336/14829
Women: 1377/9340
Division: 267/1647




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bibs & Corrals for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Yesterday, runDisney officially released the waivers (containing bib numbers) and the corral chart.  What does that mean for you?  Well, you will want to log on using your name and birthday to find and print your waiver.  This will not only give you a chance to read it and know what corral you are starting in, but it will save you time at the Expo.  When you already have your waiver printed, you go straight to package pickup.  Go here to print your waiver: 


Remember, you will need a waiver for every event you are participaing in!  In the past that even included ChEAR Squad and the pasta party (though those are not online yet; check back soon).  Dumbo Double Dare counts as one event, even though it's two races.

At the bottom of the waiver, you will see a bib number.  For the Half Marathon and Dumbo, you can find where that lands you in the starting corrals.  Here are the charts:



Okay...but what does this mean?  Well, this should help you in a few ways.  First, you will know ahead of time what group to be looking for when it comes to the morning of the race.  Hey...it's early...you might not even be awake yet.  Any help you can get, right?  

Second, and more importantly, it gives you a better idea of how much time you will have before the start of the race.  Corral A?  You are going to want to get to your corral around 5:15.  Corral J, you have plenty of time (45 minutes-1 hour) after the official race start before you are off and running.  Remember, though, if you are checking bags, they all need to be checked no later than 5:15, regardless of your corral.  Now, if it were me and I was in corral J, I would still be in the staging area by 5:15 to join in on the festivities.  Disney always does it up BIG!  That's why we love running Disney.  

If this year follows recent suite, there will be about 3-5 minutes between earlier, smaller corrals.  5-10 minutes between the latter corrals.  This allows some spreading out on the course, but there will still be some congested parts.

Final note for those running for the first time or those who are very nervous about their time and finishing under the 16 min/mile pace (ya know...like, let's say, someone who just had knee surgery 11 days ago maybe...).  Try to line up at the front of your corral if you are toward the back.  Every little bit of buffer time helps.  The "balloon ladies" who keep the pace are the last to cross the start line.  They then maintain a steady 16 min/mile pace.  All you need to do is stay ahead of the balloon ladies and you're good.

So...where are YOU?!?!?  Will I see you in Corral B?  The rest of the family is spread out in other corrals too.  If you see us (okay...I can only speak for myself, so if you see ME), say hello!!!  I'd love to chat during the race.  Now go print those waivers and put them in a safe spot!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend FAQs

2010--our first race!
One month!  Here we are, just one month away from the West Coast race that started it all: the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.  For me and the hubby, this will be our 5th Disneyland Half Marathon and 2nd Dumbo Double Dare.  Chris and Katie have run twice, and Joann, she's our first-timer for this trip.  With this much experience under our running shoes, we thought we'd take your questions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  (By the way... do you follow us on those platforms?  Get to it!). So... here we go!  What you're all dying to know!

1.  Where do runners meet prior to entering their corrals?
     The start is on Disneyland Drive between Magic Way and Paradise Way, right outside the Disneyland Hotel.  Trust me, when you arrive there will be no missing the hoards of people headed to the start.  You must line up according to the corral on your bib.  Usually the first few corrals are lined up right in front of the start line, but later corrals wind around.  Just follow the signs and you'll be good.  runDisney policy states that you cannot move up to a higher corral, however you can move back if you want to run with a friend. 

2.  What time do runners usually arrive?
     All of the races (except kids races) during this year's Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend start at 5:30 am (yep, it's really that early).  As a runner, you will want to arrive at the pre-staging area by 5.  Unlike some other races, Disney usually goes off right on time--no delays.  Expect the sky to light up with fireworks at exactly 5:30.  If you are checking a bag, you must have it checked no later than 5:15, but I've found that checking a bag is really simple and organized.  You must use the clear plastic bag provided to you during the expo.  Give yourself time, though, because the pre-staging area is HUGE.  If you're anything like me, a trip to the port-o-potty is a must, so leave time for that too.  I personally think if you are in your corral by 5;20, you're good, but be warned--it's like cattle being herded into narrow walking spaces.  It takes time!  Remember, the corrals are let off one by one, so if you are in the later corrals, you have more waiting to do.  One last note, be sure you have enough time to get from your hotel to the staging area, and if you're driving, account for traffic and road closures.

3.  What is it like to do the races alone?
     I have had the privilege of ALWAYS being at these events with family, however I almost never run with them.  If your family isn't on board, meet up with some friends and make it a no-family trip!  Plenty of people do that.  In fact, I may be meeting up with a friend I haven't seen in over 10 years at a few upcoming races.  Don't have friends who want to run with you?  First, ask around!  I actually have a great friend that is doing the Star Wars 10k for her first race, and another who might (c'mon Shannon... do it!) do Tink.  Wanna know a secret?  I've even asked my husband if he wouldn't mind staying behind--I would love to do a "friends only" weekend.  I've met so many people online and in person through runDisney and would love to have a runDisney geek-out weekend!


4.  My hubby and kids are coming to watch.  What are their options? 
    First you have the option of purchasing ChEAR Squad packages for your family.  You can find out more about those on the runDisney website.  There's no need to do that, though.  There are plenty of places where you can watch for free!  First, the starting line is a sight to see: characters, music, fireworks.  You definitely want them at the start.  Then I would suggest moving to the area between Disneyland and DCA.  The runners run straight through from one park to the next.  That's usually around mile 2-3, so that leaves time for them to get some breakfast in Downtown Disney before heading to the finish line (which is right by the start).  They get to see you 3 times without much walking.  Couple of tips: be sure they know your pace and the expected time you'll be arriving.  Yes, I'm even going to suggest that you carry your cell phone and call ahead to be sure you are both clear as to where to meet.  Have them wear distinguishable clothes so you can pick them out of a crowd.  Signs, balloon, noise makers, whatever they can think of to stand out in a crowd.  For little ones, definitely take the stroller; remember, it's early!  If anyone wants to get more adventurous, all parts of the course are open to spectators except the parks and stadium. 
5.  Is the course hilly?
     Not really!  Great news, right?!?!  There are a few overpasses that feel like mountains compared to the flat rest of the course.  I think the worst part is right after the Honda Center where there is a narrow dirt path.  Please, please, please, be cautious in this area and exercise ALL runner etiquette. 

6.  Is there something special you need to do to get into the Dumbo Double Dare?
     When registering, the Dumber Double Dare is it's own race.  You have to register for the Dumbo Double Dare to qualify for the special challenge medal.  If you just register for the 10k and Half, you will not get the DDD medal.  Note: DDD is the first thing to sell out, so you have to be ready to go right when registration opens, usually about 9 months prior to the race. 

Do you have more questions? Ask below!  We are almost "experts" at this race!  Also, don't forget to check out the official race guide here: http://as1.wdpromedia.com/media/rundisney/pdf/disneyland-half/2014/DLHM14_Program_Online.pdf

Photo credit: runDisney

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Road to Recovery: 1 (+ a little) week post-surgery


Getting ready to go under
On the ride home with my pillowpet
Happy Sunday everyone!  Getting a little personal here--this post is all about me :).  On July 17th I was cut open... okay, not really, it's only two little holes... for a knee chondroplasty and scope.  The surgery was successful in my eyes: the doctor was able to take out a few cartilage pieces that were "floating", he cut one flap, and he was able to smooth out some cartilage.  Believe it or not, if you haven't been following along, all of this started with a silly trip and fall during a routine run in my neighborhood.  I wasn't paying attention, was looking at my I-pod, and tripped on a piece of metal on the sidewalk.  Yep, I think back over and over to that day and wish I could turn back time. 
Post-op leg
I'm a little over a week out from surgery, and exactly 5 weeks from the Disneyland Half Marathon, and I gotta be honest--I'm starting to get a little nervous about being able to cross that finish line.  The doctor was very clear over and over again that he wanted to do microfracture surgery to "fix" the problem (I, however, am totally against that surgery, so I decided not to give consent for that procedure).  There is a very real possibility that this surgery does not provide much relief from pain.  Yep, I did a surgery that may not have fixed anything.  It was a Hail Mary--my last hope before looking into some more experimental procedures.  For all of you wondering, no, my doc hasn't put me out for the race; he says it'll be based on how I heal and feel. 
 
My knee is starting to look normal again; I can almost see my knee cap.  I have full extension and just got beyond 90 degrees of flexion.  My calves are really tight and have actually been causing more pain than my knee.  So weird!  I'm trying to stretch, but it's tough with my other limitations.  I can't use any type of lotions or creams on my leg since the incision isn't totally healed; I'm looking forward to being able to put some arnica cream to help the muscles.  I'm still in a routine of icing most of the day, elevating, and minimal movement.  My only "exercise" is simple leg lifts, which are surprisingly difficult.  I honestly thought I'd be walking around a little more than I am at this point. 
 
Starting to see a real knee
I can't let myself give up any hope, but it's waning as each day goes by.  I think I will find resolution to this whole issue eventually, but I don't know when.  So, what do you think?  Will I be a spectator or a participant during the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend?  If you were me, what would you do to train?  Please be careful when you are out on your runs!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Disneyland Half Marathon 2013

Just over a month until the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend!  This time last year, I was still running my own personal blog, which I had originally created to keep me on track while training for my first Goofy Challenge.  I thought that would be the end of my running, but HA...not so!  So...in an attempt to psych everyone up even more, I thought I'd share my reviews (there are a few parts) from previous Disneyland Halves as part of a little "Throwback Thursday" mini-series!  (If you missed part 1, The Expo, check it out HERE  The 10k is HERE) Enjoy!

Original post: September 15, 2013: The 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon

And here it is: the final day of the Dumbo Double Dare!  This marked my (and my hubby's) fourth Disneyland Half Marathon.  We have never run one together, so this was a first!

Side note: we actually thought about running together in 2011.  We started out and made it about 100 yards before I ditched him.  I'm a bad wife.

I'm so tired of being tired!
We all got up bright and early, had some breakfast, and were off to the corrals.  This time, we had matching costumes (Me and Katie were Dumbos, Chris and Bill were our magic feathers).  When we walked outside, it felt much cooler than the previous morning.  Not cool, but at least a bit cooler.  We were running a little late, and Chris and Katie were worried about being swept (Katie was coming off surgery this summer), so they headed off to get toward the front of their corral.  Bill and I headed to bag check and (of course!) the potty stop.  What can I say...I'm a creature of habit!  We never got a picture of the 4 of us--damn!  I was really bad about pictures on this trip!

Photo credit: Team Sparkle
We are pretty "seasoned" on this course, so we negotiated a plan: we would run to the first water station to get through some of the crowd, then move on to a 3:1 run/walk.  My hubby was trying to get me to not pay attention to the time...it's a hard thing to just throw away.  In my mind, though, I knew it was hot, I had just PR-ed my half time 4 weeks earlier, and we were just running "for fun".  Disneyland never disappoints with all of the rides running, characters, and music.  I actually turned off my ipod for most of the race.  I have to admit, while running together always slows us down, we do have a lot of fun! 

I wish I had brought a camera along, even if just for a few shots.  Next time.  If you're not familiar with the course, it's pretty simple:  DCA, Disneyland, streets filled with people & cars, Honda Center, Anaheim Stadium, Finish Line.  We added in one port-o-potty stop.  It was a pretty quick race. 

We did, though, have a pretty eventful finish.  We finished about 5 seconds after Joey Fatone.  Pretty cool, right?  Yes, in that I can attest to the fact that he did actually run the race (in case anyone had doubts).  Yes, in that my 16 year old self still freaked out a little seeing him in person.  No, in race world where you just want to collect your medals and get one of the cooler towel things.  I did have to ask someone for a medal and we had to backtrack because somehow we missed the towels, and they missed us.  Small price to pay.

They said they felt terrible...but they sure look happy here!
We collected our THREE medals...half, Dumbo, and coast to coast.  We knew Chris and Katie were going to be a bit longer, as they started about 45 minutes after us.  We sat around, had our snacks, and tried to use what brain power we had left to calculate their finish time.  Luckily, we knew a little bit of navigating the finish line area and found a prime spot right under the 13 mile marker.  It was hotter than hot at this point, and we started to worry about how they were feeling.  Soon enough, though, they rounded that corner looking strong!  Glad we were able to cheer them on.  They did the whole medal/snack/meet at the tent thing.  We met up with them, and it was far beyond hot at this point.  We didn't even bother to take pictures, just wanted to head back and find a shower!  Katie and I both looked like we peed in our pants (cute, I know) and poor Bill and Chris were baking in all black.
Photo credit: Brandi Gilbert

We all made it!  We did it!  Dumbo Double Dare--check!  It was super fun to have a group to be with. 







Here are my final stats:
Chip Time:  2:42:43
Overall Place: 6751/15868
Gender Place: 3413/10017
Division Place: 701/1923
A little Dumbo love

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let the Disneyland Half Craziness Begin!

If you've been keeping up with social media, the first piece if Dumbo Double Dare info leaked yesterday.  Yes, people, you can be a super sleuth and find your bib number!  Here's the link:

http://www.trackshack.com/disneysports/w14dl/verify.php?lname=Billy&bmon=01&bday=01&byr=1111&uid&pw

Now that you have the link, you have to be even sleuthier--you have to put your info in the URL to find the number: YOUR NAME replaces "Billy", and YOUR BDAY replaces "01 01 1111"  That simple! 

Okay, but what does it all mean?  Well super sleuth, that's where the real fun in stalking comes in!  runDisney has not released the corrals; we only know that there are 3 more corrals for the half and fewer for the 10k.  We can assume that there will be 2 letters on your bib; one for 10k corral, one for the half.  They did this for Princess last year and it makes so much more sense.  But let's be honest...it's all about your half corral placement.  So...for your speculating pleasure, here's last year's chart:
So, I gotta know!  What's your bib number?  Mine is 20691--could this possibly be my first (and let's face it...maybe only) time in corral A?  Or will runDisney's ever-changing systems once again put me in B (as I've been for every Disneyland Half since my first in 2010)?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Reviews-day: Blue Bayou

Continuing on with some of our favorites at the Disneyland Resort, we could not even think of continuing without highlighting the Blue Bayou, possibly the most popular of eateries in the whole resort.  First, if this is your first visit to the Land, this is a must-do!  Go make your reservations now!  Now that that's out of the way, let's give you an official review.

The Blue Bayou is located inside New Orleans Square in the Disneyland park, and the restaurant is part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  Yep, you are part of the scenery as you eat your lunch or dinner while boats full of park-goers pass you by.  The menu is a limited prixfixe menu and varies from lunch to dinner.  Don't worry, everything is absolutely delicious, so you're sure to find something you'll love. 

One of the most popular dishes is the Monte Cristo sandwich.  Yes, it's huge and we don't even want to start to calculate the calories.  This delicious sandwich is made up of ham, turkey, swiss cheese, and french toast which all gets deep fried and topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  Add on some blackberry preserves and it is pure heaven!  Seeing as this is a running blog, fair warning: some dishes such as the Monte Cristo are not the best option before running, nor are they great too soon after.  This would make a great celebratory dinner after your achievement that evening or even the day after.

Celebrating Bill's 30th at Blue Bayou
A few more notes: there is no alcohol served at this restaurant.  If you want a drink, you will have to visit other areas of the resort.  While not scary or creepy, this restaurant is very low-lit and may be frightening to children who are really scared of the dark.  Definitely make reservations--it's almost guaranteed that you won't get in during busy days without a prior reservation.  You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance either online or by phone.  Visit www.disneyland.com for details.  Finally, this is not the most economical of meals; expect to spend $30+ per person.  We would highly recommend the Blue Bayou for a date night, special occasion celebration, or as a way to celebrate a successful runDisney race weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Disneyland 10k 2013

One week closer to the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend!  This time last year, I was still running my own personal blog, which I had originally created to keep me on track while training for my first Goofy Challenge.  I thought that would be the end of my running, but HA...not so!  So...in an attempt to psych everyone up even more, I thought I'd share my reviews (there are a few parts) from previous Disneyland Halves as part of a little "Throwback Thursday" mini-series!  (If you missed part 1, The Expo, check it out HERE) Enjoy!

Original post: September 13, 2013: The 10k

Yes, I'm still recovering from the Dumbo Double Dare weekend!  Mostly just trying to catch up on the rest of my life, like laundry, work, etc.

Now onto the fun part: the races!  After the expo, I was really worried that a disaster might occur during the 10k.  Our alarms went off nice and early (around 3:45), but I was able to get pretty decent sleep the night before.  We quickly got in our Tweedle costumes, had a little bit of breakfast, and then were off to the corrals.  It was HOT & HUMID!  I'm starting to think this is the year of the way-too-hot runDisney races.

As we headed for the bag check and last bathroom stops, we were shocked to see so many 5k participants still not lined up.  It was kind of a mess having the two races back to back.  After the ceremonious stop at a stinky port-o-potty, we were ready to get into our corrals.  A bit of confusion ensued, but all in all, it was fairly uneventful.  We had a very short wait in corral B then the gun went off.

We started moving, then started running--no stopping between corral A & B.  I later found out this was a mistake, and they were supposed to stop corral B, but for the time being, I just thought Disney was changing it up a bit!  In all honesty, it actually worked out really nicely.  I was able to get a good jog going before crossing the start line, and was able to find my race pace pretty easily within the first mile.

As expected, a lot of runners took the 10k easy and I did have a bit of weaving to do to get to my 9:30 race pace.  It was hot, but my lofty goal was 55 minutes, my realistic goal was 1 hour.  I was pretty set on not making 55 minutes due to the heat and humidity.

The course was pretty good: mostly in the parks, but started out going through the convention center area.  It was a quick few miles before you entered near DCA.  There were a tons of twists and turns, but I didn't mind because it really kept you in the parks for most of the race.  In typical Disney fashion, there were plenty of characters and distractions throughout the course.  My least favorite, though, was going behind the scenes by the animals and trash area.  It was just so hot that the smell really got to me.  I almost lost it, but my stomach held on long enough to breathe some clean air.  After Disneyland, you finished running through Downtown Disney with a quick turn to the finish line.

Couple of notes on the course.  First, and I will admit to this being partially my fault, the water stations were not in good spots.  I didn't "study" my map very well, and when we hit the first station at mile 1, I wasn't needing water so I just ran through it.  I assumed (my fault!) that there would be another one fairly soon, since I did remember reading that there were 3 stations.  Nope.  Not the case.  We didn't hit our next bit of water until mile 4.  The last one was at mile 5.5.  Especially with the heat, this was not a good plan.  I was pretty nauseous during the run and a little water would have been nice.  Second, my brother-in-law was watching in the stands and noticed that for the elite runners, they were running into the slow 5k runners.  I thought this would be more of an issue, but turns out it really wasn't for me at all.  Finally, I did hear of some corral issues behind us.  A bit of mushing people together just to get everyone off.  All in all, not too bad for an inaugural race.  You have to go into these expecting some hiccups.

Hanging out at the finish line
I waited for my hubby at the tents, then we met up with my bro-in-law to watch my sis-in-law finish.  It was getting toasty at that point.  We took a few pictures then headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the parks.  I felt really good and was not at all concerned about the half the next day.  Knowing that I just PR-ed the half a month ago, I decided to keep this one fun and run with my hubby.  

Here are my stats:  (instant PR...it was my first 10k!)
Net Time: 58:29
Division: 67 out of 1013
Gender: 291 out of 5133
Overall: 785 out of 7828

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Reviews-day: Alfresco Lounge

In an effort to get you ready for everything you might need for the upcoming 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, we have adopted a Disneyland theme for our first "Tuesday Reviews-day" posts.  Happy running, and happy vacation planning!

First up for food, our review of the Alfresco Lounge in Disney California Adventure.  We've stopped by this quick service dining/drinking lounge a few times while visiting the parks.  The Alfresco Lounge is attached to the Wine Country Trattoria restaurant (located downstairs from the lounge) and they share a kitchen.  Well, where is this place?  When looking at the complex, you will see stairs leading up to a balcony overlooking Cars Land.

There are casual open-seating options: low "regular" tables, high-top tables, and couches/loungers surrounding fire-pits.  You cannot make reservations, however the wait usually isn't very long, if you even have to wait at all.  They have a fun drink menu, including many California wines.  The food menu is limited to appetizers and small bites, but they really are delicious.  This is the perfect stop if you've had a large, later lunch, but don't want to go the "fast food" route.  It's the ideal "quick service feel but table service" venue.  

We love to celebrate with a glass of wine or champagne, and would highly recommend the Alfresco Lounge for that!  Cheers!
Cheers!  We did it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

So You Want To Run Disney--Part 7: Get Packing!

We've been on a long journey, and we are almost to race day.  If you are like most Disney runners, your race is accompanied by some sort of travel, even if only for an overnight or short weekend.  Likely, this trip includes some time in the Disney parks as well.  What does that mean for your suitcase?  Well, it means lots of planning to be sure you attend to all of your needs: running AND vacationing.  Here's a list to get you started (feel free to print, share, re-post, pin, etc).   

My one golden rule for races: pack everything you will need for the race in your carry-on! From underwear to shoes to clothing to costumes.  You can pretty much buy anything else you forget, but you don't want to be stuck running a marathon in brand new expo purchases!


Blogger note: Yes, I'm still working on getting this in a nice format for you to be able to edit and print.  I promise to have it done in plenty of time for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!

Running Gear (Remember to multiply this for challenge weekends.  For example, for the Dopey Challenge, I had 4 of everything but shoes--but I even alternated between two pairs)
I also love flip flops for right after the race!
Sports Bra
Underwear
Socks
Pants/Shorts
Shirt
Running Shoes
Costume
Throwaway Clothes (for the start)

Things to Keep You Healthy
Vitamins & medications
Foam roller or stick
Golf ball/tennis ball for feet (this is great even if for non-race Disney trips to ease feet from walking around the parks)
KT Tape (or other bracing/stability items)
Ibuprofen
Hey...you never know!
Muscle rub (I use Muscle Max roll-on, but I know a lot like BioFreeze)
Compression socks/sleeves

Food (Differs based on how far you need to travel)
Water/water bottles (to refill)
Breakfast items for race day (for me, PB&J on a bagel and a banana)
Healthy snacks for the park (think bars, trail mix, dry cereal, fruit)
Powerade or other replacement drinks
Gels/Blocks/Beans--whatever you use during the run
Post-race fuel, especially for challenges (I use chocolate milk)

Technology
Camera and charger
Garmin or other race watch and charger
I-Pod/music device and charger
Gym Boss or other interval timer and charger/extra batteries
Video Camera and charger
Phone and charger
Laptop/tablet and charger

Park Clothes
Shorts/pants
T-Shirts/Tanks
Underwear/socks/bras
Sneakers (I like to have a different pair than those I run in to change the feel on my feet)
Flip flops/sandals
Bathing suit (one or two)
Pajamas (one or two)

Accessories
Hair ties/clips/hats
Have to recover quickly & hit the parks!
Mouse ears or other Disney-themed items
Pins/lanyard
Backpack/bag for the parks
Jacket
Poncho/umbrella
Sunglasses
Watch
Magic Bands (Walt Disney World) 

Toiletries
Shampoo/Conditioner
Face Wash
Body Wash
Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss
Razors/Shaving Cream
Body/Face Lotion
Sunscreen
Makeup
Hair brush
Curling Iron/Straighter
Hair gel/Hair Spray
Scissors
First Aid Kit
Q-Tips/Cotton Balls
Powder
Contact Lens Solution/Case
Glasses
Extra Contact Lenses
Nail Clippers/Nail File
Hand Sanitizer
Wet Wipes

Travel Items (Disney makes some great mobile tools, or you can create your own)
Confirmation numbers and/or tickets
Itineraries
Magazines, books, other "keep busy" items for travel
Games, music, movies downloaded to keep you entertained
Coupons or vouchers (for example, I always get my free art card from Lasting Commemoratives)

Okay, okay, I know I must have forgotten something! What's on your list?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Five: Fitness Snapshots

I'm linking up again with the ladies from Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What, & Mar On The Run.  This weeks topic--fitness snapshots (how fun!).  Since I can't show you THIS week--my only excitement was scheduling my knee surgery--I thought I could share some blasts from the past! Don't forget to check out their blogs and the other blogs linking up this week!

 So let's let the pictures speak for themselves!


2011 Disneyland Half: Chris & Katie's first race!
Me & Mom after the Jingle Jungle 5k

Running with my hubs--WDW 10k

Just a few people at a Zumba party...probably 100+

Just...ya know...randomly dancing in the street!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Disneyland Half Expo 2013

I'm getting so excited for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend!  This time last year, I was still running my own personal blog, which I had originally created to keep me on track while training for my first Goofy Challenge.  I thought that would be the end of my running, but HA...not so!  So...in an attempt to psych everyone up even more, I thought I'd share my reviews (there are a few parts) from previous Disneyland Halves as part of a little "Throwback Thursday" mini-series!  Enjoy!

Original post: September 8, 2013: The Expo

Let's make this one short and sweet.  The expo was terrible this year.

Just a bit of the madness!
Okay, I'll elaborate.  I met up with my family, who graciously saved a spot in line about two hours before opening.  Yes, two hours, and no, we were not the first ones in line.  Both Katie and I were wanting a pair of the New Balance runDisney sneakers, so we knew we'd need to get there early.  That was the easy part.  My phone was dead from taking pictures, updating facebook, and tweeting all morning during the meet-up, so there was a little confusion, but eventually we all got our shoes and we were pretty happy.  Then we entered the runDisney merchandise booth.

It was a mess to say the least.  Black Friday at it's worst.  Hours and hours lost in line to get a sweatshirt.  I just wanted a stupid magnet for my car.  We ended up spending close to 3 hours waiting to checkout, and Billy didn't even get the shirt he wanted.  It really was ridiculous.

At this point, we were starving so we took a break for lunch to hit up ESPN zone.  I swear it was the best sandwich I ever ate (not really, I was just that hungry).  We still hadn't gotten our bibs at this point, so we had to go back.  We headed straight to pick up bibs, and...no Dumbo pin...what!?!?  I don't actually remember ordering it or not, since I usually just order all the pins available.  The real kicker was that Billy had one in his hand at checkout that morning and we almost bought it...almost.  Now we had to go back upstairs to brave the crowds one more time.  We ended up leaving it to chance and giving up for the day.  The pins are the one "thing" I collect from the runs, so I would have been disappointed if I didn't get one.  I was able to pick up a cute Dumbo shirt from One More Mile and some Bondi Bands for the races in November.

We finally made it back to our hotel around 4 to drop off our stuff and get ready to finally go to the parks.  In case you were wondering, we were able to get the pin on Saturday with a quick expo trip.

We tried to make the best of it...
I'm not sure what went wrong--too much hype, too many people making tons of profits on ebay?  I can only hope runDisney does something about this for future races.  Something as simple as allowing people to pre-order items or making an order form available for items they run out of would really help the frenzy.  I missed out on half a day at the parks to be frustrated at the expo.  Not worth it at all. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Aly's Top 10 Magical Memories at Disney

Sorry mom, it was just too good of a topic to leave just for you!  A few weeks ago, my mom blogged about her top 10 Disney memories.  If you missed it, check it out here.  Needless to say, it got me thinking about mine.  Some are similar, some totally different.  Here’s my trip down memory lane—my top 10 Disney memories.

10.  Food contests between me and my cousin.  Growing up, we traveled to WDW together pretty much every other summer.  My parents always wanted to eat at new restaurants, so they challenged us to eat as many different things as possible.  Alligator.  Yep.  Sweatbread.  That too.  Oh, and we were not at all encouraged to show any self-control!  Eat up!

9.  Eating at 50’s Prime Time CafĂ© for the first time.  Okay, I can’t really remember it that clearly, but I can say it made an impression.  To this day, and silly as it sounds, that is my favorite place to eat!  I can’t get enough of the s’mores or peanut butter and jelly milkshake.


Still a favorite!
8.  Tower of Terror memories—gotta put two here.  When ToT first opened in Disney World,  rode as a family.  It was the beginning of those pictures that they took on the rides, and when we got off, there was the most perfect picture of my dad, elbows out in front of everyone else, with a toothy grin, while all of us had a look of terror.  That image is etched in my brain, and we so regret not purchasing the picture!  About a decade later, I got to ride ToT with my (now) hubby for his first ride.  He didn’t know what to expect, but at that first drop, his hand grabbed my thigh in pure fear.  It was awesomely funny.  I will never let him live that down!

7.  Losing our backpack on the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland.  Nothing said these all have to be happy, exciting ones.  We loaded on the ride, and I thought my hubby had the backpack, he thought I did.  One sharp turn and it flew out the side of the ride—camera, medals, sunglasses…all included. Ugh!  We had to go back a few hours later when they shut down the ride to retrieve all the lost belongings.  They were so awesome in helping us, and even got us to jump the line to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad just to make our day a little better.  Disney definitely does customer service right!

6.  Having my 16th birthday in Disney World.  Who needs one of those fancy parties?  I had a bulletin board at the entrance of the Grand Floridian and a card, balloons, and treats sent from Mickey.  I would guess my parents might have had something to do with that too…

5.  Getting sick at Disney World.  Yep, it was terrible.  We had planned a huge 10-day vacation --following my first Goofy Challenge.  Dining, park time, the works!  Well, the day after Goofy I started feeling ill and it went downhill FAST.  I ended up taking a taxi to the urgent care and on antibiotics.  No good meals; no fast rides.  By the end of the trip, it started to turn around, but let’s just say I will not be getting the Cobb salad at the Brown Derby anytime soon!

4.  Running, finishing, and getting a marathon PR during the inaugural Dopey Challenge.  I cannot tell you how much that race meant to me.  I doubted myself right up to the end, but when I crossed that finish line, I really believed I could do anything.  I would have been elated just to finish, but to crush my previous marathon PR…that was simply amazing!

3.  Dancing in the Magic Kingdom AND Epcot.  Growing up, my dance studio director was also a Disney lover.  The summer after my junior year in high school, we were invited to dance at the Magic Music Days and perform at BOTH parks (if you don’t know, that wasn’t done often; we were told we were the first).  This summer, the studio is getting to dance in Disneyland Paris—c’mon Miss Donna…don’t you need alumni chaperones? 

2.  Honeymooning in Disneyland Paris.  We started our honeymoon with a few days in Disneyland Paris.  It was really fun to see the similarities and differences.  We sprung for the most amazing suite with a balcony that overlooked the castle.  We even had our own private elevator to get to the park.
Officially married!


1.  Getting engaged in front of Cinderella Castle.  Yep, every little girl’s dream!  My hubby did an AMAZING job surprising me by dropping to one knee at that magical spot.  I was completely surprised.  A few cast members saw the whole thing and brought us a Mickey and Minnie wedding statue as a gift from the big cheese.  Every time we go back, we always visit “our spot” and have quite the collection of pics of our feet standing there!
Our little spot :)


What are your favorite Disney memories?