So the adventure starts on Friday afternoon. Troy loaded up his car with our luggage, secured my bike to the bike rack, and we were off around 5pm. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Paradise Bakery in Goodyear for some dinner. I had my half sandwich at the bakery and saved my pasta salad and chocolate chip cookie for a snack later in the evening. With convenient locations at the airport and along the highway, Paradise Bakery is my favorite pre-travel meal.
It’s a long drive out to Anaheim, about six hours. Troy drove the entire way while I napped and played Animal Crossing on my DS. (What a great boyfriend!) We arrived at the hotel sometime after 11pm. The hotel was the Best Western Meridian Inn & Suites, the same place we stayed a couple weeks ago for the Angels game. I had called earlier in the day to request a ground floor room, and we got upgraded to a suite with a separate living room and bedroom. While we didn’t really need the extra space, it was nice to have. If you’re visiting Anaheim and don’t need to be within walking distance of Disneyland, I definitely recommend this hotel. There aren’t a lot of extra frills, but the rooms were recently renovated and have comfortable beds and flat screen tvs. The free breakfast is a good bonus. Anyway, we got settled into our room pretty quickly and went straight to bed.
We managed to get about eight hours of sleep and got up Saturday morning around 8:15am. After grabbing some free breakfast we headed out to the Expo. This is one of my big gripes about the weekend. The Expo was held about 30 minutes away at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, CA. I don’t see why the Expo couldn’t have been held at the Anaheim Convention Center or one of the local hotels. If there was a race day packet pick-up option, I could sort of understand. But we were required to attend the Expo on Saturday. It also sucked that we had to pay $9 for parking at the Fairplex.
I guess I should note that this was not a Disney-organized or -sponsored event. It was part of the TrekWomen Series run by a company called The Xxtra Mile LLC. The rest of the events in the series were triathlons, but lucky for me this one just happened to be a duathlon (because the lagoon at California Adventure is being renovated).
We arrived a bit early and were told that we had to wait outside the gates until 10am. Not outside the building, but outside the gates to get into the building area. So Troy and I sat in the car and read some cycling magazines instead. Finally they let us inside and there was a mad dash among the participants to find our race numbers which were required for the packet pick-up. Then we lined up to get our race packets. This is where I got my first taste of how a duathlon differs from a foot race. The packet had three numbers (one to pin on my shirt, one for my bike, and one for my helmet), the timing chip, and a plastic band to wear the timing chip around my ankle.
My next stop was to pick up my one-day, one-park Disneyland ticket. This was one of the positives of the event, because the ticket only cost $15 when normally it would be $69. (I figure $15 because the duathlon cost $90 with the ticket included “free” when the other events in the series were $75.) Then we wandered through to check out the rest of the Expo. There was no pre-packaged goody bag. Instead, we just picked up goodies from the various sponsor booths.
I was disappointed by the race shirt. Yes, it was a tech shirt. But the smallest size they had available was a medium. For a women-only event! I was definitely not the only petite person participating in the duathlon and I don’t know how they thought we’d be satisfied with a medium shirt. In addition, the shirts were very generic and I’m guessing they’re giving out the same shirt at all the events in the series. So it’s not like there weren’t enough participants to justify placing an order of smalls.
I briefly considered purchasing an event t-shirt that was more my size, but since all the official gear said “triathlon” I quickly gave up that idea. Maybe someday I’ll try a triathlon. But until then I don’t want to misrepresent myself.
Jelly Belly was one of the sponsors and they were giving out water bottles and samples of Sport Beans.
There was a company called Yes To Carrots who had a very popular booth. I picked up three tubes of chapstick – one in each flavor, and a couple sample-size packets of lotion and face wash (not picture). I’ve never heard of Yes To Carrots before, but I tried the mint chapstick already and I really like it. I’ve been using it all week. The only downside is that it doesn’t have any sun protection. The logo is really cute and very versatile. One of the sample packets is tomato-based instead of carrot-based and the Yes To Tomatoes logo has the silhouette of a tomato instead of a carrot.
I also picked up a free disposable rasor, signed up for various raffles, and checked out the BondiBand booth. I saw a cute BondiBand printed with “Will Run For Cupcakes” but it was on an olive green headband so I passed.
At 10:30 we went to the first session which was an overview of the course by the race director. It was good to hear the logistics about the course, race-day parking, and spectator viewing. The best news was that spectators would be able to enter Disneyland along with the participants to watch the start of the race. The second session was supposed to start at 11:15, but ended up starting late. It was supposed to be a race day preview for first timers, and I thought we’d be reviewing things like how to properly rack a bike and make a quick transition. There was a brief mention of drafting (don’t do it), but overall the session was definitely more inspirational than informational which really isn’t my thing. We had to shout “you go girl” and pretend to run and cycle in place. I didn’t want to appear rude so I gave it a half-hearted attempt, but I really just wish I had skipped that second session. After all, it was cutting into my Disneyland time!
On the way back to Anaheim, we made the decision to save some time and head straight to Disneyland instead of stopping by the hotel first. After parking, we got in our first Disneyland line of the day to buy Troy’s park ticket. I had loaded up a rewards card with points earned from my Disney Visa card (yes, I’m that much of a Disney freak) so even though we spent quite a bit on the park ticket and food, it didn’t really feel like we were spending that much since it wasn’t directly out-of-pocket. Normally I tend to be impatient waiting in line, but it was slightly easier to bear that day because I knew it wasn’t a big deal if we didn’t see everything. I have one more trip to Disneyland planned for the half marathon in September.
We hit most of the major attractions that I wanted to see and I don’t think we ever waited more than 20 minutes. We started the day with the Matterhorn, then made our way around to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Tiki Room, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and wrapped up with Space Mountain.
Although I’ve been to Disneyland before, it was over nine years ago. I forgot how small Disneyland feels compared to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. But the attractions at Disneyland are so much better, especially the Tiki Room, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain. And despite it’s small stature, the castle is still magical and iconic. (And an obligatory photo spot.)
I was wearing my Eeyore t-shirt and was hoping to get my photo taken with him, but when we got over to the meet-and-greet area only Pooh and Tigger were out. Oh, well.
I had debated over whether to spend the day at Disneyland or California Adventure and ended up choosing Disneyland so we could watch Fantasmic and the fireworks. Around 7pm we staked out our spot for Fantasmic and spent the next two hours waiting. We passed some of the time by taking turns going to find dinner. I probably should have stuck to a basic ham and cheese sandwich but didn’t want to spend $12 on something I could get anywhere. So I had jambalaya instead. The corn bread was good and for the amount of food I got it was a decent value. But my stomach definitely wasn’t happy the next morning at the race.
Fantasmic was awesome and I really enjoyed the Peter Pan scene which they don’t have at Walt Disney World. We had a pretty decent spot close to the middle with not too much blocking our view.
After Fantasmic we got to see Dumbo fly during the fireworks. Although we didn’t have a straight on view of the fireworks over the castle, it was still spectacular to see. There was a cute bit of the fireworks that was choreographed to a snippet from Sleeping Beauty.
I think it was about 10pm by the time we made our way out of the park (along with hundreds of other people). We decided to walk back to the car instead of taking the tram because of the crowd. It was probably another poor decision given that I had to run in less than 12 hours, but thankfully my feet felt fine by morning. Although I wanted to do my best in the duathlon, I’m glad we took the time to enjoy our day at Disneyland. After driving all that way, it just didn’t make sense to cut out early without seeing the nighttime entertainment.
Back at the hotel Troy helped me attach my race numbers and I laid out all my clothes and fuel for the morning. Then it was off to bed to grab a few hours sleep before our 3:30am wake up time…