Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

by Meghann on September 5, 2013

I slept like a baby the Saturday night before the race. After walking around the parks for two days (and running the 10k that morning), I was exhausted. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out, and I admittedly struggled a bit when my alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning. Nothing a little in-room cup of coffee couldn’t fix. 😉

I drank my coffee and munched on a Clif bar while putting my costume together.

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  • Minnie ears: bought the day before in Disneyland (had to get them from the baby section)
  • Headband: Sweaty Bands (loved the red and white polka dot pattern!)
  • Top: Brooks Glycerin Top (my favorite running tank top of all times)
  • Skirt: Sparkle Athletics
  • Shoes: Brooks PureConnects (currently on my third pair, I’m obsessed with these shoes!)

I gently woke my brother and his girlfriend up (I wish I had a photo of the bunkbeds they slept on in our room at the Grand Californian!). They were up and ready to roll in under 5 minutes. Impressive.

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Three cheers for my brother and Kristin for coming out to spectate! They could have easily slept in, but they were sweet enough to walk with me to the start line. Luckily, we didn’t have far to go. Have I mentioned how awesome of a set-up the Disneyland Half has for their guests that stay on resort property? It was less than a 5 minute walk from our room to the corrals, you really can’t beat that.

I said good-bye to Josh and Kristin as they headed to cheer runners on at the start line and I headed to the porta potties to take care of pre-race business.

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I only mention the porta potties because I was impressed with how many runDisney had on site. There was a bit of wait at the first set of porta potties, but if you kept walking to the end of the row, there was hardly a wait at all. That was probably the fastest porta potty line I’ve ever waited in at runDisney race!

Unfortunately, while I was casually making my way to the corrals, I totally missed the engagement of my new friends Alyssa and Matt (my brother got a photo below, though). I was with Carissa (the race announcer) when Matt was going over the proposal details on Friday. He was so excited/ nervous and I’m so happy everything went according to plan. Congrats, Alyssa and Matt!

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I arrived in my corral with about 15 minutes before start time and couldn’t believe how many people were there, ready to run. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but when I turned around it looked like the corrals went on forever and ever.

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We waited patiently as Carissa and Rudy brought Joey Fatone, Sean Astin, and Alison Sweeney on stage for interviews. I was getting antsy and ready to run!

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At 5:30 a.m., it was finally go time. Corral A went first and 5 minutes later corral B was given the go ahead. What I like about runDisney is they celebrate the start of each corral as if their the first.

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I had no time goals for the Disneyland Half, just to have fun and take it all in. I decided to go with the same plan I had the day before and stopped for photos when I wanted, then try to hold a decent pace in between stops.

The route for first few miles of the half marathon was very similar to the 10k the day before, only you don’t run as long of a stretch on the city roads before entering the parks and you don’t cover as much distance in the parks as you do in the 10K.

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In the first mile I passed Ali Vincent and wished her luck as she also took on her second race of the weekend. We turned into the back entrance of California Adventure and were immediately greeted by the beautiful World of Color fountains all lit up.

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I saw someone taking a selfie in front of the fountains and asked if she wanted to do a trade: “I’ll take your picture if you take mine.” That’s generally how I get photos during Disney races – works every time.

Due to the earlier start, it was still dark when we entered the park. The sun really didn’t rise until I was exiting Disneyland and was on my way to Angels Stadium. On that note, I’m really glad I ran the 10k the day before. With the later start for the 10k, the sun was already up by the time we entered the park and I was able to grab some cool photos. Although, it was fun to run through the park with it all lit up in the dark, too. I guess doing the Dumbo Double Dare means you get the benefit of experiencing both.

I had run into Pavement Runner during the 10k the day before and forgot to grab a photo with him. Luckily, I happened to see the photo he posted on Instagram the morning of the half with his outfit and was on the look out for a greek sparkle visor with Goofy ears when I spotted Pavement Runner just outside Cars Land. I love it when it works out like that.

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We posed for a quick running selfie, then I jumped in line to take a photo with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.

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It was probably the longest line I waited in for a character photo, but the two are only together during runDisney races and I had to send it to my little brother who loves Cars.

I texted my brother (I ran with my phone in my hand the entire half) and let him know to meet me between California Adventure and Disneyland. The course crossed there and it was an easy spot for spectators to see their runners.

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When I got my camera back there were four or five photos of other running “Minnies.” He told me he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss me so he got shots of everyone he saw with a red and polka dot skirt on. Apparently I need to think of a more original costume for my next runDisney race. 😉

I waved to my brother and his girlfriend, then headed down main street.

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I have to admit that running down Main Street in DIsneyland doesn’t have quite the same “awe” factor as running down Main Street in Walt Disney World. The “mini” castle really threw me off. 😉

We took the opposite route of the 10k and made a left into Adventureland (Frontierland?) instead of the right into Tomorrowland. We circled around Critter Country and headed back through Fantasyland before going through the castle.

Going through the castle was a hot mess. Sooooo crowded!

From the castle, we turned into Tomorrowland, then exited the park through Toon Town. All the Disney Princesses were lined up outside of Tomorrowland and I stepped in line to get a photo with Merida from Brave.

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Right after I left Merida I saw Joey Fatone walking by. He was walking with his wife and a friend. I decided to be gutsy and asked if it was weird if I asked for a photo during the race. He said of course not!

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I wish the photo was better, but it was dark and we were all walking while trying to get the photo. It was still cool to see him on the course! He was doing the Galloway method and his timer to start running again went off while we were taking the photo. I wished him good luck and took off.

The course exited the park around mile 4.5ish and entered the city of Anaheim. Since I knew there wasn’t much on the road, I decided to push the pace a little and picked it up. This is also where I realized I am addicted to social media. Since I was carrying my phone in my hand during the race, I kept clicking over to Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook to see what was happening. #addict.

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Even though the course had entered the city of Anaheim, it still had some Disney magic to it. I’m pretty sure they invited every cheerleading group in Southern California out to motivate the runners. There had to have been dozens of squads out there! Also, dozens of high school marching bands joined them.

Mile 8 was the mile of classic cars. I couldn’t believe how many they had lining the course. There were HUNDREDS of classic cars on the course.

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We reached the Honda Civic Center, then made a sling shot around the center to get to Angels Stadium.

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I was really looking forward to this part of the run. I’ve heard so many people rave about running through Angels stadium as a highlight of the course. Since it’s a spectator hotspot, the energy surrounding the stadium was insane – such a a rush of cheers and excitement.

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There’s a wall of noise that hits you as soon as you enter the stadium. The stands are filled with hundreds of boy scouts and girl scouts and there’s an announcer reading off everyone’s names as they cross the entrance. It’s surreal.

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On your right there’s a big screen with all the runners running by. I waved wildly when I saw my polka dot skirt appear on screen. So cool!

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Yep. Definitely a course highlight.

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Once you exit the stadium, it’s a straight shot back to Disneyland. Only a 5k left to go!

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As far as fuel for the race, I pretty much relied on Powerade at water stations and candy from strangers. Yes, a race is a perfectly acceptable time to take candy from strangers. I had two twizzlers, an orange slice, and a handful of frozen grapes (BEST. RACE. FOOD. EVER.)

runDisney went over the top with water stations (in a good way!). There was a water station almost every mile and I was very thankful for that. Due to the unseasonably warm weather (I think the heat and humidity followed all of the Florida runners to California), they took extra precautions and their effort was appreciated.

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So close!

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I texted my brother when I was about 1/2 a mile out to let him know I was coming in. He had been tracking me via runDisney’s runner tracking and was really impressed with how accurate it was. He got instant alerts with my splits and the predicted finish times were pretty spot on.

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The crowd support on the final stretch was incredible. They all carried me through to a strong finish.

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Can you see me?

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Ready or not, here I come!

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Josh told me later that Carissa thought she had missed me and scared him a little when she said my name a few minutes before I actually finished (therefore he thought he had missed me finishing too). Nope. I was just taking my sweet time getting there.

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There’s nothing like a runDisney finish line. The characters! The excitement! The rush! Woo hoo!

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Final finish: 02:03 <-considering the photos, the chats, and my social media distractions, I’ll take it! Also, that is officially my fasted runDisney half marathon finish (waiting in lines for photos really adds up!)

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And look what I got!

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My Dumbo Double Date was officially complete and I had all three medals to prove it!

Including my new favorite medal featuring Dumbo himself (herself?).

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Beautiful!

What an incredible way to end an amazing weekend. I am so grateful to the runDisney team for inviting me out to race the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. It was so much fun to compare the Walt Disney World and Disneyland runDisney race and explore Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for the first time. Thank you!

I’m not sure if the Disneyland half will be a one and done event, but I hope to be back. Maybe I’ll return for the Tinkerbell half in 2015? 😉

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Now I’m just missing my coast-to-coast. Watch out Wine and Dine, I’m coming at ya!  

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