Back many months ago when my husband gave me the very surprising green light to register us for the Disneyland half marathon, it seemed so far away. Then, it somehow managed to sneak up on me, and at a very inopportune time. If you have been following my blog for awhile you know I have been plagued with injuries (3 major ones) and one of those three managed to pop up the second week of July, a short seven weeks before the Disneyland half. I was in a walking boot for weeks, went to the doctor for x-rays and got a cortisone shot which sidelined me for another week. I had one double digit run before the half and honestly wasn’t expecting much out of this race as far as feeling good or times are concerned. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised! Read on!
My alarm went off at 3:50 Sunday morning, and I jumped out of bed. Normally I am groggy and tired, but I think my body was still on central time and thought it was 5:50 so it wasn’t as hard to wake up.
Don’t I look wide awake? Ha! This race continues my amazing streak of my inability to put my bib on straight. Fail.
One of the nice things about staying at an onsite hotel for the Disneyland half was the proximity to the start and finish line. We didn’t leave our room until 5:00 and didn’t have to get on a bus or stand out in the elements for hours. The walk was short and it was “cool’ outside but not cold. We walked around the family reunion area for a minute, and everyone else was heading to the corrals so the bathroom lines were short.
I had been texting Crystal since I left my room, and for some reason my texts were not going through half the time and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see her, but finally my text went through and we spotted each other near the corrals. (If you will remember I stayed with Crystal last summer when I went to California for work)
After chatting for a second but then realizing race time was approaching, we said goodbye and followed the signs and headed to Corral B, which was totally full, so we just chilled on the outside until Corral A moved up and we were able to fill in at the very back of the corral.
We were only in our corral about five minutes when the race started. The amazing Carissa did any awesome job of announcing during the race, and I was SO excited to get THREE shout outs before the race over the mic and one as I was crossing the finish. Thanks Carissa! I got several tweets from pople who said they heard “Heather from Running With Sass” shouted out over the loud speakers. Way cool.
I was a bit bummed there were no fireworks as the race started, but was still excited to get going!
I see the start wwwaayyyy up there. Bobby and I tried to take a photo but he hates the flash and this is what happened five times. No lie.
So I turned the flash off and this is as bright as I could get it.
It was quickly time for the brave corral B!
The beginning of the race is always mentally tough for me. I think about how far I have to go, and how we JUST started. I was worried about my foot and my endurance having only run about 4-5 times in a total of seven weeks before the race. We were very conservative at the start just to be safe. Before I knew it, we were in Disney’s California Adventure park. There was a sign that said “mile two” and had an arrow pointing right, and “mile 12” with an arrow pointing left. I remember thinking “I can’t wait until I pass this sign again and am on the mile 12 side!” At the time, it seemed like forever away.
I quickly realized taking photos while running in the dark was making them blurry, so I had to stop running every time I wanted to take a picture (time sucks number one) but I wasn’t worried, my goal was to finish upright and with a smile on my face. Bobby had to go to the bathroom, so we stopped and I decided to walk on up ahead a bit and I saw Paradise Pier and the World of Color fountains were on! It was beautiful, the photos don’t do it justice. We stood in line for a photo that a sweet cast member took for us.
We got back to running, and soon turned into Cars Land. This part of the race was neat for us because we had yet to visit this park, so it was literally my first time here. All the neon lights were lit up and it looked really cool.
some of these may be out of order, if they are, I apologize!
So we left California Adventure Park and were quickly ushered into Disneyland! Before I knew it, we were on Main Street. While it was super fun and cool to run towards the castle, I didn’t have the same feeling as I do running down Main Street in WDW. There were hardly any people on the street cheering. I am used to tons and tons of fans lining the street screaming all the way down the street and it wasn’t the case here. Slightly bummed.
We turned right into Tomorrowland and wrapped around into Fantasyland
We passed the Matterhorn
The carousal (which Peter Pam and Wendy were riding!)
We then saw these guys and jumped in line for a picture
Back of the castle before we ran though. Before heading to ToonTown, we saw this lovely lady:
Going through the parks flew by, and after a bathroom break for me in Disneyland, we were out on the road. Crap. I looked at my Garmin at some point, and realized we were somewhere around mile 4. So we were out of the “fun part” but still had about nine miles to go. Not only that, but the sun was rising and we were running RIGHT into it. I was so glad we remembered to grab our sunglasses before we left the hotel!
To Disney’s credit, they did try to entertain us along the way with dancers
and lot of antique cars. (Loved the mountains in the back on this one!)
We settled into a groove, and the my foot started to slightly irritate me. Crap. I tried not to think about it, and was so happy when we soon saw a medical tent. I downed two tylenol (I had already taken two before I left the hotel room) and went for a little cup of biofreeze and the lady behind the table yells “DON’T EAT IT!!” It scared the crap out of me, and I told her I wasn’t, that I was going to put it on my IT bands, and she said they had just had a guy come through thinking it was GU and tried to swallow it! I die.
We were sure to take water and sports drink at every stop, even if just a couple sips. I took three and a half GU’s during the race, and actually felt like for the first time I fueled myself really really well. We made a turn onto a path with a large canal/ditch to our left, and there was some dirt next to the path. I decided to run on the dirt and it helped my foot some.
I saw the sign for Angels stadium in the distance (in the photo above) and knew we were close. Honestly, I really didn’t care much about running in the stadium, the only good thing about it in my mind was that it may be a distraction from the boredom of road running. I was WAY wrong. This ended up being my favorite part of the race. Keep reading!
As we approached the stadium, there were boy and girl scouts lining the road outside, reading the names on our bibs and yelling for us. There is just something about someone cheering your actual name that gives a boost!
As we got closer, I heard a deafening roar coming from the stadium. That couldn’t be PEOPLE cheering could it? Oh but it was! We rounded the corner and saw a ton of people up in the stands cheering, screaming, on their feet jumping up and down. More boy/girl scouts giving us high fives, yelling our names. It was awesome. Check out this video Bobby took, but it really doesn’t do it justice.
I left the stadium feeling rejuvenated and ready to finish strong. A couple miles later, I looked at my watch to do some math for the first time and realized we were doing SO much better than I anticipated! Two bathroom stops, character and photo stops, and we were only a few minutes off my PR. SERIOUSLY?!? We kept trucking, I was feeling pretty good about myself, and then I knew we were getting close when I saw California Adventure way in the distance.
Soon enough, we were passing that mile 2/mile 12 sign, on the mile 12 side! This made me grin, and I knew I could make it another mile. We picked up the pace and I felt really good. It was hard, but a good hard. I could hear the cheers from the finish line, and knew we were close. I tried to soak it all in, I was about to finish my 13th half, and get my coast to coast medal. I felt so grateful that I was even able to be out there running, and I had a huge smile on my face.
I saw mile thirteen and definitely enjoyed the moment of the last tenth of a mile into the finish. I started saying “coast to coast, coast to coast, coast to coast” out loud which Bobby thought was pretty humorous.
I grabbed Bobby’s hand as Carissa announced me once again over the speakers, and we crossed the finish line together, arms in the air in triumph. We ended up at 2:26, I was in shock! We stopped for at least ten minutes between photos and bathroom stops, and I wasn’t running my guts out for sure. To be 11 minutes slower than my PR after five weeks of no running and one double digit training run is pretty awesome in my book. Way better than anticipated at this point, and I couldn’t be more proud of this race. I truly enjoyed myself and finished strong and happy.
All I wanted was my coast to coast medal, so I got my Disneyland medal, found the coast to coast line, and got my coveted bling.
After we walked through the finishers area I ran into Cindy and Christy, which is when I found out Cindy WON the women’s race in 1:24! Christy did amazing as well getting 10th for the women.
We headed over to the VIP/ChEAR squad tent for some rest and refreshments
view of finish from ChEAR aquad area
We caught up with Jeff Galloway in the tent and he remembered me from the photos we took with him at the Grand Floridian during the Princess half. We chatted for a few minutes and I introduced him to Bobby
I also caught up with Jenn again who ran a great race!
We walked back to the hotel room and showered and headed to the parks. Hearing my medals clink around my neck was such a beautiful sound, and I was so proud.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race and would do it again in a heartbeat. The proximity of hotel to race was awesome, the weather was awesome, I hardly sweat until the end (and VERY low humidity!), and running through the parks was a lot of fun. I did miss the fanfare of Main street in WDW, but there were other great parts that made up for it. The organization was great just like all runDisney races, and I would love to get to run Tinkerbell someday! If you are on the fence about this race next year, consider this your push (nicely) to the other side.
Want more info on runDisney or going on any Disney vacation? e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
QOTD: Ever done much better in a race than expected?