Well, this pixie earned her wings!!!
The Tinker Bell Half-Marathon at Disneyland in sunny California was my absolute favourite half-marathon to date. The weather was perfect, the course was beautiful, and every mile really did seem to be sprinkled with pixie dust. I have heard this race referred to as the best kept secret of the runDisney series and I can totally understand why. It hides in the shadow of Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend, but this race can hold its own – and them some – against any other. (And coming from the frozen north, the palm trees, blue skies and sun were as magical as anything Disney could offer!)
But let’s back up. I was travelling with honorary 3rd princess on the run, Laural, and we arrived on the Thursday night of race weekend after an epic day of travel. But we were up early and ready to kick things off on Friday with a trip to the Expo. We were excited to shop and get our race kits, but after the disorganized expo at the Princess Half-Marathon (lines, lines and more lines), we weren’t sure what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised!
We arrived about 30 minutes before the Expo was scheduled to open and seemed to be in the right place at the right time. A runDisney employee asked if we were there to shop the Official Merchandise which, of course, we were. She then proceeded to take us to a holding area with about 30 other shoppers and the next thing we knew, we were being let in to the Expo before it officially opened! I have no idea why or how this happened, but we were able to shop the Official Merchandise with no crowds or lines and everything fully stocked. We were in and out of that area with everything we wanted in less than 20 minutes. I call that pixie dust!
We had a fun morning shopping the Expo – a runner’s paradise! Once we finished our tour of the booths, we decided to get our race kits. This was a major time suck at the Princess Half-Marathon so we braced ourselves, but we flew through race kit pick up in no time! There was no line-up for race shirts and backpacks either. We were so impressed with the organization and ease of it all.
We were thrilled to meet up with Sarah Bowen Shea at the Another Mother Runner booth, and then to take in her session at the Expo Speaker Series. She was joined by her business partner, Dimity McDowell, as well as nutritionist Tara Gidus and the owner of Track Shack in Florida. I am a huge fan of the Mother Runners and always love to hear them speak in person. Like a good teacher’s pet, I also answer questions posed to the audience and ask questions from my front row seat when they open the floor. Oh, and I do it all while sporting my Another Mother Runner gear. See why they love me so much? Nothing like a true fan girl! (And as you can see, Laural is similarly inclined – no big mystery as to why we get along so well!)
We hit our hotel to drop off our Expo haul and, as you can see, I left with a new Another Mother Runner shirt…and um, a few other things. But I shopped carefully! I really, truly needed ALL of these items. It’s an investment in my health, after all.
From there, we went to explore Disneyland’s California Adventure park. As a Walt Disney World vet, this was a little odd. It didn’t feel like Disney, and yet it was. I loved California Screamin’ which we basically walked on twice in a row. We had a delicious dinner and then took in World of Color which was so beautiful. And yet, something was not quite right. It took me all weekend to realize what was really missing at Disneyland: my family. I wasn’t seeing it through the eyes of my daughters, so it wasn’t as magical. But it sure was pretty!
That said, it was a great luxury to just focus on our race and be athletes all weekend. We saw some sights and had some fun at the parks, but that was not the focus. We were all about the race. For example, the next morning we went to Disneyland – but we quickly realized that our legs were tired from walking the Expo and California Adventure the day before. And since it was just us, we were not afraid to call it a day around lunch time and make one of the smartest decisions of the weekend: to head back to the hotel for an afternoon at the pool.
Without the pressure of seeing and doing everything, we were able to enjoy some R & R the day before the race. And what a difference it made! Our tired, heavy legs felt completely refreshed after a few hours of hydrating with our feet up and relaxing in the hot tub. We had an early dinner and tried to tuck in by 9:30pm – we had a 2:15am wake-up call after all!
Next Up: Race Day!
But first, a few other images from beautiful California!