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Disneyland Half – Cigna Blogger Event

20 Sep

Earlier this summer I was invited to attend my first ever blogger event at the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, sponsored by Cigna. Cigna has been the presenting sponsor of this event for 3 years now as well as the presenting sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events (2018 will be the 10th year of this sponsorship!)

As part of their presentation of the event, Cigna provides plenty of great information to participants and others over the months leading to the event. The current campaign “GO. KNOW. CONTROL” encourages folks to go see their primary physician and get to know vital numbers (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc) and learn how to control these health markers. If you follow Cigna on Twitter you’ll get all the goods!!  And some other fun stuff, like this reminder of how important sleep is for runners

They also provide important race information – etiquette anyone?!!

The blogger event started with a healthy lunch at the Grand Californian hotel – delicious salads and some sandwich fixin’s! 🙂 I arrived late because even though my plane hit the ground 30 minutes early, we sat for 35 waiting for a gate…#whompwhomp But I made it and was assigned to Team Minnie! And as latecomer to the table I was volunteered to be captain!

Lunch is served…and I’m on my way!!!

If you look reeeeaalllly close, you can see that I finally arrived and am grabbing a yummy salad!!!

We set off for the Disney California Adventure park for The Cigna Great Race — a series of educational – and FUN – tasks and games!

Well, of course I’m in Skirt Sports…what else does one wear??!!

It was a super hot day, but we managed to stay hydrated and finish up our tasks – it was great getting the Cast Members involved as well!

Exercising with the Green Army Men!!

I’m not sure this is what they mean when they talk about Yoga in the Park….

Big and tall like a tree!!! Rhymes with Three!!

In addition to Cast Members, unsuspecting tourists also got involved in our games!!

A friendly game of Red Rover in front of Mickey’s Death Wheel…

I’m just putting this here because, how ridiculous am I??!!

At the end of the Great Race we headed back to the Grand Californian for treats and a visit with the head Mouse and his lady!

They are just Too Cute!

I thought this was a fantastic way to kick off the weekend – making new friends and seeing old ones

Everyone ends up being a friend when you runDisney!!!

Special Delivery!

16 Nov

I’m not big on spending money — I mean, I spent a lot this year doing all of the runDisney events but that is highly irregular for me!

So, when I was at the Tower of Terror expo and stopped by the Fond Memories Graphics booth, I was “just looking”. But then….

Fast Forward to this past Thursday. I had gone to Five Guys for a birthday dinner hot dog and didn’t realize until Friday morning that I had gotten a package while I was gone:

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I love packages of any kind! Big and little!!

And it was from FMG!

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I know what this is!!!

There was lots of bubble wrap and peanuts so you KNOW it was gonna be good!

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Excellent! Now I have packaging materials for Christmas cookie mailing!!

And then extra wrapping!

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Oh…it’s even pretty through the plastic!!

Voila!!

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I had figured that it was very likely that I would never again run Goofy AND Dumbo in the same year again so I should celebrate the accomplishment!!

Now to find a place for it on the wall in the basement!

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runDisney’s Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare — The Half Marathon Part

14 Sep

It is finally here!!! Yay!! My first runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon!!

After the 10K on Saturday, I thought I would just spend the afternoon hanging out at the hotel pool – that lasted about 15 minutes! I was just too antsy to sit still – but that cold water felt REALLY good on my legs!!

I thought I’d head back over to the Expo to see if there was anything at all left (spoiler – there wasn’t!) then back into the parks for some Disney fun! I had planned to try to see the fireworks but knew that with a 5:30 start it was going to be a VERY early morning and headed back to the hotel for some relaxation and sleep!

And when my alarm went off at 3 on Sunday morning you can believe I bounced out of bed like Tigger!

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I had my clothes ready – this time, a BLUE Sparkle Athletic skirt, a white tank with my name on the front and the Mickey Mouse Club logo on the back. I was also wearing a pair of my new PRO Compression sox – light blue! Oh yeah. Mouse Ears too.

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I could see the bus stop from my window and there were already people down there…I was hoping to catch the first bus, because I knew that it would be a long wait for the next one. I um..missed the first bus! Waited with a few other people and realized that it was going to be another warm one – and this time we’d be out there a little longer than yesterday so hopefully there was going to be more water!

Got over to the starting area again and was very happy to see that the corrals were much more organized than the day before so I was able to start in my assigned corral – with hundreds of others! I talked to the pacer and my plan was to hang with him and see if I could make a good time. Then I headed to the starting line and lost him along the way.

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Started with my intervals, trying to keep myself under control and not head out too fast but I have to say, once I headed into Disney’s California Adventure, I was seriously overcome with excitement!! I felt like I was running on air!! Since I hadn’t done any stopping for pictures in the 10K, and I knew that there would be limited opportunities out on the streets of Anaheim, I planned to stop for EVERY one in the parks! And first up were Mike, Sully and some Cheerleaders from Monsters University!

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Then Phineas and a Fireside Girl!

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Then, across the concourse and into the Magic Kingdom, I HAD to get a picture at the entrance!

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I made several more stops along the way and then we were heading out into the streets of Anaheim. Into the bright blaring sun!! Several local cultural groups were out along the course and it was great to see the families out there supporting thousands of strangers!

The next biggest landmark was Anaheim Stadium around mile 9 and I was not prepared for this! The parking lot was filled with Boy and Girl Scouts from all over southern California! We entered the stadium onto the field and the stands were also FILLED with people! Signs, high fives, lots of screaming!! Emotional! Again, kind of unexpected for me! We ran around the stadium on the warning track, everyone stopping to take pictures. Great experience!!

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Somewhere around here I lost track of what mile I was on – but in a good way! I was surprised when I saw the Mile 12 sign when I was expecting the Mile 11 sign!! And I knew I was in great shape!

Heading back into the parks’ backstage area after Mile 12 (yay!), I saw a sight that is familiar to anyone who has participated in a runDisney event – Peggy Sue. Her sign stays the same and she’s always got something sweet if you need a final push! Thanks for the Starburst – and the hug – Peggy Sue!! It’s just like having family there – almost!

Peggy Sue

Thanks to http://www.momsmagicalmiles.blogspot.com/ for letting me borrow this picture, featuring Peggy Sue and Julie Smith Franklin (of http://runwalkrepeat.blogspot.com/ fame!)

Finally the finish line was in sight! And there was Mickey giving everyone encouragement in those last few steps! I took a quick look at my watch and, while no records were broken, I was pretty happy with the job I’d done!

I’d planned on heading straight to the parks again but definitely underestimated how hot and sweaty and dehydrated I’d be! So I headed to the hotel, got cleaned up and got myself back over to the parks for the rest of my day!!

runDisney’s Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare – Part 1, The 10K

13 Sep

We’re now at the Main Event!! Well, yeah…the Main Event!

The runDisney Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare

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Bright and early Saturday morning, it was time to head out to the start of this fantastic event! There was no costume involved, just a Sparkle Athletic skirt and a white tank. Oh, and Mickey Mouse ears of course!

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The hike into the corrals was kind of a mess due to the fact that the Family 5K had the same starting line and had only started 15 minutes earlier and those folks were still clearing the corrals! So…”be in the corral by 5:45” turned into “just get in your corral NOW”!!! Good thing that I stopped for a bite to eat on my way to the start!

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I will confess here that even though my bib said…F…I jumped into a corral with a bunch of …Es. I have never jumped corrals before. Trust me, it didn’t make me faster 🙂

Eventually the Start ‘gun’ went off and the corrals started slowing heading to the starting line.

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The course started out on the streets of Anaheim before heading into Disney’s California Adventure – entering through CarsLand (my favorite!!) then headed through Paradise Pier and into Grizzly Peaks (home of one of my favorite rides – Grizzly River Rapids) out through Condor Flats, Buena Vista Street through Hollywoodland and going back out into the real world for a bit.

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We were now a bit more than halfway through. And it was HOT. Hot and humid. There had been a water stop around mile one, but nothing since – we had been told “the water fountains in the parks are available”…um…anyway! There was a water stop coming up though!!

Cutting back into the concourse between the parks we headed into the Magic Kingdom. Walt’s first park! As always it was very exciting to run up Main Street USA – huge crowds were waiting there too! A loop took us through Tomorrowland and back towards Mickey’s Toon Town. A detour backstage took us through Disneyland’s Custodial services area where there are always lots of people out to cheer us on – they hang signs welcoming us to their area!!

Back in through Toon Town towards Fantasyland and…THE CASTLE!! Now, I’ve run through the two Disney Castles a LOT this year..and not once have I managed to get a picture of it!! One Day…

Anyway, with less than a mile to go we head through Frontierland and then back out towards the Disneyland Hotel and the finish line! And, I don’t always keep exact track, but I think this might have been my best 10K time in a very long time!!

In spite of the heat I had a great run! I topped it off by heading DIRECTLY to Grizzly River Rapids for a few turns through to cool off!! Learned you don’t get as wet when there are fewer people in the boats! Met a little boy in line at Soarin’ too, who was getting ready to run the Kids’ races and he was very excited that he was going to get a medal “like [mine]”!!

Really, coming up next is the Disneyland Half Marathon Recap you’ve been waiting for!!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Post 2 – The Expo

9 Sep
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Easy peasy! Right?

So, much has been written about the expo at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. And, yes, there were some mistakes made. But something that runDisney is good at is responding to feedback from event participants, so hopefully for folks participating next year there will be some changes in place.

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Welcome — you can come inside, but you might never leave (apologies to the Eagles!)

“Problem” 1 – This year a new race was added to the weekend. A 10K on Saturday morning. This meant that everyone who was running the 10K AND those doing the #DumboDoubleDare had to pick up their race packet by Friday. And the expo opened on Friday. At 10 am. So…there were a quite few thousand people running the 10K alone with the additional 6,000 or so Dumbos (Hopefully I’ll get real numbers and can update this soon!). I got there around 9:30 thinking I’d be early enough. HAHAHAHAH HAHAHA. Yeah..nope. The lineup was a true cluster – even the cast members seemed to be a little unsure of where the lines were ending! I finally went somewhere I was told was the end of the line and waited. And waited. AND. WAITED. Finally the line moved. Eventually it kept moving. And finally! I saw the inside of the Disneyland Hotel ballroom.

“Problem” 2 – There was already a massive line to check out of the runDisney merchandise “booth”. And the expo had only been open barely 20 minutes! So, all I wanted was a wine glass and a magnet. They had wine glasses remaining so I grabbed one and started looking for the end of the line. I found it at the other end of the room. And decided I just couldn’t do it for one wine glass. I expressed my frustration, in a very ladylike manner of course, and a kind person in line offered to pay since she was getting shirts for all of her friends who were waiting in the packet pickup line. I let her use my Annual Passport to get a discount and she actually paid for the glass for me (and in all that, I never even got her name but THANK YOU KIND STRANGER!)

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The elusive wine glass

I headed to get my ankle taped up at the KT Tape booth and was there for awhile – THIS line I will wait in! Then I picked up a couple pairs of PRO Compression socks (light blue and white) and headed to find my new stranger friend in line. She was just about to pay so the timing was perfect! I have heard that people were waiting anywhere up to 3 hours in line. THREE. HOURS.

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Always one of my favorite sites an expo!

“Problem” 3 – There just was not enough race specific merchandise available – for it to be 85% gone less than an hour into the expo?? With an entire second day to go?? Sadly, if you go to eBay and search for “Dumbo Double Dare” or “Disneyland Half Marathon” you’ll find what you’re looking for. And pay a fortune. So at least we know where all the merch went! So that’s a bummer. (I actually had the same problem at Goofy this year but that was because I didn’t get to the expo until the afternoon of the second day!)

There are a couple of simple solutions to a couple of these (all of them?) – opening the expo a day early would be a great idea instead of funneling all those people through in one day.

Don’t put out all the race merchandise at once…especially when you see it going in the FIRST HOUR. Or…as several people have suggested, let runners pre-order when they register for the event.

People have also suggested limiting the amount of merchandise that one person can buy – someone in one of my Facebook groups saw a person buying over 1,000 dollars worth of stuff…Really? Bet some/most of that is the stuff you’re seeing on eBay…

There were also complaints about packet pickup – there was a magnet in the gEAR bag that could deactivate the B-tag on your bib. Lots of announcements were being made, but there was no chip verification at the expo as usual so many people ended up having bib issues – not me, unfortunately, my time is my time! 😉

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The infamous Little Mermaid magnet!

I didn’t have any issues with pickup, probably because I went to the parks and then went back later in the day. I also checked the expo then – there was still a super long line to pay for runDisney merchandise, wrapping around the room…

So, not a super great start to the exciting weekend, but it certainly didn’t dampen my excitement!!

Up next – 10K you say?

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – a Multi-Post Recap (Part 1)

8 Sep

First up, The Travel     airplane

So, I’ve mentioned before how much I love to travel! As soon as I got signed up for this weekend of events (at the #TinkerbellHalfMarathonWeekend) I started making travel plans!

Since I was going across the country I decided to splurge and use up almost all of my saved up miles on American Airlines to go First Class. At least my flight would be first class!

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I made my hotel reservations through Hotels.com and ended up getting a great rate at the Comfort Inn and Suites – it was just as close as anywhere I’ve stayed at Disneyland lately and the Anaheim Resort Transportation stop was right outside so not so bad!

For the first time in a very long time, my flight was NOT at 6 am! So I was able to take Earnest Phred to his babysitter on my way to the airport and take my time getting parked and to the plane.

A big thanks to the super friendly counter ladies at American! Great start to what was going to be a very long day!!

I was early, of course. I really do prefer to be early! I grabbed a coffee on my way to the airport at Dunkin, of course so was happy to start trying to hydrate a little before my flight.

There was a really small delay but once everyone boarded things went pretty smooth!

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It was quite an uneventful trip.

The beauty of first class is that they do still serve you a meal – egg quesadilla for me. My seatmate thought the cereal would be “healthier” but…whatever! She wasn’t going on vacation!! I watched a movie on my tablet (Grown Ups) and the 6 hours went by pretty fast!

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My arrival at LAX and the trip to Anaheim were also uneventful. Which is not a bad thing when you’re traveling in LA! Met some other runners in the Super Shuttle van and the time went really quickly as we avoided traffic on the infamous LA Freeways!

Once I got to the hotel I unpacked (yes, I unpack and put everything away!) and headed out to the original Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure for some quick re-con and a trip to CarsLand – my new favoritest place in Anaheim!! I had every intention of staying for the fireworks but it had really been a super long day so I grabbed a dinner to go and headed back to the hotel to eat and sleep.

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And to get ready for the Great Weekend Ahead!!

Up Next – the Expo or “How is it possible that Disney was this unprepared and disorganized?”

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Sing-a-Long Saturday!!

7 Sep

It’s Back!!!!

But, I still have tons to catch up on…top of the list of course is the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend — including #DumboDoubleDare!

Until then though….”Make every minute count, jump up, jump in and seize the day!”

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