Disneyland in October

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may recall my 24 hours at Disneyland stint in 2012.

Then there was last year when I went to Disneyland to experience all the Christmas-y things it had to offer.

This year I went during the park’s Halloween Time!

Do I ever get tired of Disneyland? No. It’s the happiest place on earth, after all.

Where else can you go where you feel like time has stopped and everything about life is good?

Maybe I’ve always loved Disneyland because I grew up watching Disney movies and memorizing the lyrics to the songs. I’ve never had any desire to go to any other theme park (nor have I been to any others). But, (in my biased opinion,) Disneyland is different.

At Disneyland, if a cast member walks by and greets you and your cousins as “princesses,” it’s not creepy. You all just smile and laugh about it. Because, at Disneyland everyone is a prince or princess. (Or, heck, you can be a villain if you really want to!)

I had a blast at Disneyland last November when all the Christmas decorations were up and even though I’m not big on Halloween, it was a pretty neat treat to see all the pumpkins and orange and yellow decorations everywhere. Added bonus: Space Mountain was transformed into a “Ghost Galaxy” which sort of scared me the first time but I think Marissa and I ended up riding it three times throughout the weekend.

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Not only did I grow up watching and singing all things Disney, I grew up going to Disneyland with my family. My parents took me to Tokyo Disneyland when I was little, like maybe around age 4. There’s a video of my mom and I riding the tea cups together. Even though my mom would never go on that ride now (she says she gets too dizzy), nor does she even care for the theme park anymore, I still love the tea cups. My many other Disneyland memories are with my aunts and cousins. (And, more recently with my close friends).

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Even though waiting in lines for rides can be a pain and a drain, everything is worth it at Disneyland. Staying up on my feet from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight was well worth it. I was sore when I returned from my Disney trip Monday. (Yes, I know! I just ran a marathon but my quads were sore from all the walking!) I had the best of times hanging with my cousins at the most magical and happiest place on earth.

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None of the roller coasters were closed.

I was able to ride Indiana Jones four times throughout the weekend.

I survived California Screamin’ twice.

I soaked in the California sun.

And now I am trying to recover and get back to reality.

Because, sometimes Disneyland doesn’t seem real.

But, it is.

It’s the happiest place on earth.

Running into my (27th) birthday

It’s turned into a tradition to run a birthday race. Yes, a race on my actual date of birth. Really, this only works when my birthday falls on a weekend since there are hardly any weekday races.

This year’s race was the ShoreRun 5K along Lake Washington.

I coerced Joanna and Phyllis to run this with me by convincing them that it was “just a short, flat” 5K. I mean, any 5K race is short since all 5K races are, well, 5 kilometers (or 3.1 miles). Not all courses, however, are flat. I didn’t check the actual race route or elevation. After all, this was “just a 5K!” There was one hill, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t that bad, but it still made me cringe. And, hurt a little.

photo cred: my EP events

photo cred: my EP events

I’m not sure what I thought about during the race. Not much, I guess. I was caught smiling here because this was before said hill.

Also, Joanna is faster than I am so she was way up front. Phyllis is a beast and had done a 10-mile trail race the day before so she was taking it easy this race. I trudged along with the boys. Yes, all the runners around me were men (or, like a 9-year-old boy).

All the “fast women” were ahead of me.

Oh well. So it goes.

But, that also meant the not-so-fast women were behind me.

I dug as deep as my not-even-a-day-older-than-27 body could muster — and kicked.

I kicked down Madison (Avenue? Street?) to catch the closest runner ahead of me. He definitely felt my presence because he started sprinting too. We were a mere few yards from the finish line and I didn’t end up beating him (boo!) but we did both pass another runner (yay!)

photo cred: my EP events

photo cred: my EP events

You know you’re a real runner when you’re not ashamed to post your very photogenic race photos!

Since doing marathons, I always forget how “painful” 5Ks are. You’re, like, sprinting the entire race! (Or, at least I feel like I am even if I don’t look like it).

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Phyllis, Joanna and I stocked up on snacks and kids’ juice boxes after the race. (OK, the kids’ juices were just me …)

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And, of course forced Bryce to take a photo of us and a real English phone booth! Because, why not? It was my birthday after all!

My 27-year-old self secured a top 3 place finish in my age group (20-29). I won a baseball for that! (Joanna, did too! She was #1 in our age group!)

Final time was 23:17, which is definitely not a PR but it’s faster than my high school-self so I’ll take it.

This girl is not ready to slow down.

It’s my birthday and I’ll run race if I want to!

Birthdays can be hard

Birthdays were great as a kid. You got to have a party where you were the center of attention. There were cake and presents and all of your friends were there to celebrate with you.

And, as you got older there were milestones.

My golden birthday at age 8 because I was born on the 8th. Ten because you’re finally in the double digits. Thirteen because you’re finally a teenager. Sixteen because you can get your license (to drive). Eighteen because you can vote and are considered a legal adult in the eyes of America. Twenty-one because you get to have 21-runs.

But then as you get even older, birthdays become less exciting. There are no more milestones, just another year to add to your age to remind you that you are old(er). I mean, there is that whole being able to rent a car at age 25 for a “decent price” but that’s not as cool as voting or drinking alcohol, right?

This doesn’t bother some people, the whole getting older thing. Those people continue to throw parties and enjoy “their day.”

I haven’t really looked forward to getting older since 18. Every year after that has been one more year. One more year “away” from Natalie.

Sometimes when I think about it, during the weeks and days that lead up to my birthday, it makes me very sad and a little mad.

I’m getting older but she remains 18 … at least in my mind, anyway.

The more time that passes, the more disconnected I feel from her.

And I know it shouldn’t. Because, nothing has changed. Or, everything has …

All I can do in this moment is listen to U2 and think of her.

And, rather than dwell in my sadness, just walk on.

Because even though birthdays can be hard.

They can also be a celebration. So, I will do my best to be happy and celebrate as I know best — by racing a 5K on Sunday.

You’re happy, I’m happy

“I just want you to be happy.”

We’ve heard it many times, usually in some chick flick that has the same story line as that other chick flick.

But, you know what? It’s a real concept. The fact that “your person/people” are happy, makes you happy.

I have a friend who has devoted so much time and energy to becoming a doctor. The crazy thing is that she’s not (currently) in medical school. She’ll start this coming fall. This past summer/fall was her third time applying to med schools. The past two years led to interviews but no acceptances.

Some people would have given up after that first rejection.

Many people would have given up after the second one.

But, not her.

She knew what she wanted. She “fixed” the areas of her application that needed to be stronger. She added more experience to her resume. She never gave up.

When I got a text from her today with the news that she had officially been accepted, my eyes became watery. I was so full of happiness that she had achieved this goal that I was crying.

And I wasn’t alone because another friend — it was a group text — exclaimed that she had just shed a tear.

I’ve always known my close friends to be kind, fun(ny), smart and giving. But, they are also fighters. And, fighters deserve their happiness.

When my friends are happy, I’m happy. And I can’t stop smiling while typing this.

Congrats, friend. You’ve worked so hard to earn this and I couldn’t be more proud.

10 reasons you should visit Disneyland in November

Reasons why you should visit Disneyland in November (as I experienced when I visited Disneyland and Disneyland’s California Adventure parks in Anaheim, Calif. on Nov. 9 and 10, 2013).

1. It’s warm (for my hometown of Seattle standards) but not hot.

Hello, short-sleeves and sunglasses!

Hello, short-sleeves and sunglasses!

2. It’s less crowded than the summer months. We didn’t have to wait more than an hour for a ride* (even the roller coasters).

Cars Land!

Cars Land!

3. Christmas + Disneyland = the most magical, happiest place on earth.

4. Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.

Nov. 9th line-up

Nov. 9th line-up

5. Getting to see some taping of the Christmas Day Parade that will air on ABC on Dec. 24! Hey, Jordin Sparks and Jason Derulo!

6. You can tell Santa Claus what you want for Christmas before he makes the rounds at the local malls.

7. The rides that are decked out (and in) with holiday goodness will make you feel really happy. Don’t miss the wonderful smells in the Haunted Mansion! And, if you think It’s a Small World looks festive on the exterior, wait until you see what’s inside!

It's a Small World

It’s a Small World

8. The puns get even punnier on the Jungle Cruise, I mean, Jingle Cruise!

9. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with garlands and lights and “snow.”

The Christmas castle at night

The Christmas castle at night

10. None of the typical Beach Boys music on the California Adventure side — it’s only Christmas tunes playing all day and night throughout the park.

Lights! Lights! Lights!

Lights! Lights! Lights!

 

Seriously. If you have only been to Disneyland in the summer months (like I had up until this trip,) go now. If you don’t go now, go next November. You will not regret it. It’s so freakin’ magical I almost could not handle it. (All in a good way, of course).

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*Some of the more popular rides like Indiana Jones and Radiator Springs Racers on the California Adventure side had estimated wait times of up to two hours so for those we either used Fast Passes or waited in the single rider line. (A few times even though we waited in the single rider line, it just so happened that we were able to sit together on the ride!)

Beating my high school 5K time — nine years later

I don’t know what it is, or what I’ve done but I am getting faster. 

The word to note here is faster. I am not saying I am fast. I am just faster than I was before.

In high school cross-country, I worked my way up down from a near-30 minute 5K time to in the low 23s. (Yes, I cut nearly seven minutes off my race time during my four years of adolescent racing!) I was by no means a runner going into my first season of cross-country. Heck, I didn’t even know cross-country was a distance sport! I thought it was like track except you ran in the fields or in a forest or something. I thought our races would be one mile, not three!

But, with the support of awesome teammates (who are now still some of my closest friends) and a great coach, I worked my butt off. I was the one who ultimately wanted to race better. I could have given up after that first year — I almost did. It was hard.

My 5K PR senior year was 23:18 at one of our earlier meets of the season. I was pretty bummed that I never broke 23 minutes but was proud of my time.

And, since that high school race, I never have gotten even remotely close to that time — until Sunday. I crushed it.

Throughout college and post college, I would clock in somewhere between 24 and 25 minutes for a 5K race. In 2008, I snagged a 23:59 time at Dawg Dash but that had been the closest.

Now, all these past 5Ks … I had never really been training for the 5K distance. I was in shape. I was running. But, I was most likely training for a half marathon or marathon. Or, playing a lot of Ultimate frisbee. So, I was never discouraged by these 5K times.

I kept thinking, “Gees, Kristin, with actual training, you probably could beat your high school time!”

So, did I actually train for this 5K on Sunday?

No.

The only thing I did was go into the race with the “I’m going to PR” mentality. I guess I’m still running off my half marathon PR from August that I did with hardly any training and IT band issues.

This race, my IT band behaved.

This race, Joanna and I started out at the front of the pack.

In fact, we were in the front of the pack!

I have never been considered fast but I guess in this race of about 807 females participants, I was fast. The average 5K finish time for the Women of Wonder 5K at Green Lake was 40:54. Joanna came in sixth overall with a time of 21:40. (This was a BIG TIME PR for her. Like, a minute-and-a-half or so!) I came in eighth overall with a time of 22:34. I out-kicked the ninth runner, she came in at 22:39.

The fast times (of both Jo and I) can be credited to the super flat course. After all, this was just one loop around the lake. But, I must add that because of the few number of “faster” runners, Joanna and I were running by ourselves for most of the race. This was new for me. I’m used to picking off runners as I go through a race. This time, I just kept telling myself to push myself — until I saw the finish.

I’m almost scared to do another 5K because I feel like this is some sort of fluke. Or, the age of 26 is just the age to PR?

Jo and I after our 5K PRs (photo creed: her phone)

Jo and I after our 5K PRs (photo cred: her phone)

 

My IT band has caused me serious damage to my marathon training plan. (The longest run I have been able to do is 10 miles this training cycle!) Yet, somehow I can get a 5K PR (not to mention that half marathon one too!)

Maybe I’ll just ride out whatever this is through the Chicago Marathon.

And, do a little dance because I FINALLY BEAT MY HIGH SCHOOL TIME!