12 September, 2012

Race Recap: Disneyland Half Marathon

Woah...where do I start?  I seriously had an awesome time at this race!  I wasn't planning any miraculous feats of speed or anything but the stars must have been aligned, the weather was almost picture perfect, and throw in a pair of great friends....it all added up to a sick PR!

And I apologize for the lack of photos.  Like I mentioned in the meetup recap...my point & shoot is being finicky, plus after I realized I could possibly PR, I kinda just ignored photo ops and started chugging!

So the night before the race, Pat and I dragged ourselves out of the parks after dinner at Wine Country Trattoria and went on a wild goose chase to hunt down some Gatorade for yours truly.  Unfortunately, Powerade just doesn't agree with me so we pulled out the trusty GPS (which actually wasn't so trusty) and headed off Disneyland property.  We asked some Cast Members, and employees of other hotels, and after a few mins we found a convenience/liquor store and stocked up on Gatorade and bananas.  After getting things ready in the room, we attempted to get to bed on the early side.

Lucky for Disneyland runners that are staying on property or at a close Good Neighbor Hotel, the wakeup alarm is DEFINITELY not as early as the alarm at Walt Disney World races!  Pretty sure we stumbled out of bed at 4am and started getting ready (instead of 2:30 or 3am for WDW).

Eating our bananas and Honey Stinger Waffles on our sleepy walk towards the starting area, we met up  with Danielle and a few other friends at the Disneyland Hotel before all making the trek to the runner area.  Caught up with even more friends who I only get to see at races and of course grabbed some photos!  I also know I was thrilled that the weather was slightly cooler than anticipated!  Yay!

With Dave!  Is there a race he doesn't run?? :)  

After listening to the DJ for a bit, we made our way towards the corrals.  Since we were staying so close to the start, we avoided bag check and just brought our room key.  But from the looks of it, and from hearing from other runners, it was flawless.  I know I never had any problems with it last year!



Pat, Danielle, and I were all in Corral B and had all planned on running together.  It was nice to get to sit and talk with people while hanging out waiting to run.  None of us were really looking for or expecting a PR and just wanted to enjoy the race.  Pat volunteered to pace us since our pace is pretty much walking for him.  :)

After the national anthem, wheelchair start, and Corral A start, it was our turn!  After a quick good luck to each other, we all started our watches and headed out.





For some reason, the first few miles for me were pretty rough.  The first mile beeped in at 10:25 and I just felt sluggish.  I wasn't upset with the time but I hoped and prayed that the remaining 12.1 miles didn't feel so miserable.  We headed back onto Disneyland property for the 2nd and 3rd miles and I still felt blah but of course the scenery picked up my spirits!

The first park we ran through was Disney's California Adventure and I have to say it was awesome!  When we got to the Paradise Pier area, they had World of Color going!  It was so beautiful at sunrise!  Of course we had to stop for a photo.  Just awesome.


World of Color looking beautiful


We then headed towards the brand new Cars Land and just like World of Color, it looked beautiful in the sunrise!

Sorry for the blurry photo!

After making our way through the remainder of DCA, we then headed over towards Disneyland.  Nothing like walking/running in Walt's footsteps for a race!  The one huge difference I noticed from WDW races was that there weren't nearly as many people cheering on Main Street.  I know that the street isn't as wide as at WDW so I'm assuming that's why more spectators aren't allowed over there.

However, there were characters everywhere waiting for runners to snap some photos.  We even saw a few of the princesses standing completely solo waving and cheering us on.  Poor Ariel looked lonely!  I'm sure she wasn't solo for much longer though since there were ten thousand or so of our running buddies behind us!




Hard to see but that's Peter Pan, Wendy, and a few pirates riding the carousel!





3.5 and a half miles completed in the race, we headed out of the parks and onto the streets of Anaheim. This is where the Disney characters end but all of the high school cheering squads, bands, and other entertainment start!

Up until this point, I was still feeling pretty sluggish.  I was trying to pick up the pace but my body had rebelled the first few miles.  We were steadily clocking in at over 10:00 miles but then after the 4th mile, something clicked.  I honestly have NO idea what it was.

Our pace started picking up in the 5th mile and it was the first mile that we clocked in under 10mm....at 9:37!  Say what?!  I did a quick mental check after seeing that pace and realized that I felt a million times better than the start of the race.  My breathing was pretty easy, I could take deep breaths regularly (if I can't it's a sign to me that I'm running too hard), and my legs felt really good.  The rest of the gang was keeping up with me easily too so I quietly just kept the pace and chugged along.

I knew prior to the race that to PR I would need to average a 9:45-ish pace (my previous PR was 2:09:15).  After the first 4 miles and seeing those splits, I completely brushed ANY glimmer of hope out of my mind.  But after Mile 5?  If I kept the 9:35-ish pace I might be coming close to the miraculous feat!

Decided that all photo stops were now not possible and I would just start taking fly-by pics.  :)  And then the miles started ticking by pretty quickly!  That 9:37 was actually the slowest mile from here on out!



One of the best 'signs' we saw on the run! 

Loved the Hawaiian dancers! 

Around Mile 9 or 9.5, we reached Angels Stadium.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the race, other than the parks, of course!




After leaving the stadium, I was still feeling really good.  My running partners all felt great too so after a few quick calculations and discussion (Pat did the math... my brain turns to mush when I'm running)... a PR was WELL within reach by that point!

Around here I think was all of the classic cars and their owners cheering us on.  Seriously one of the coolest things of the race and a highlight for me.  It seemed like they went on for miles!  They were all out cheering for us and most were playing music from the decade of their cars.  I have heard from other runners later on though that it got crowded and narrow so it was hard to maneuver with the narrow course.  Sorry about no photos... :(

It might have been around here where we joked that this whole CrossFit regime I started is actually helping my running!  I proudly stated that if I PR at this race, I'll be a CrossFit convert for life!

The miles kept ticking by and around Mile 11 or 11.5, Danielle did some math in her head too and also realized that if she picked up the pace just a LITTLE bit, SHE could PR too!  We all quickly agreed that she needed to speed up and try for it so we wished her luck and she took off.

Not gonna lie, the remainder of the race was pretty blurry for me.  It happens at every race I run so it wasn't just this one!  I do remember running into Elvis though..and he said he remembered me from a previous race!  Now if only we could have remembered which one it was!




Back on property around Mile 12 or so, Pat and I continued with our pace and I tried not to ask him a million times if I was really going to PR.  I realized that to PR I had to run a pretty slow last mile and that's when it really hit home.

I crossed that finish line with the biggest smile on my face and couldn't thank Pat enough!  When I stopped my watch and looked down, I realized I PR'd by almost a whole 3 minutes!  THREE!!!  With a crazy negative split!  Quickly found Danielle and found out she PR'd by about a minute!  Congrats!!



We made our way through the runner area and received both of our Disneyland and Coast to Coast medals, grabbed our finisher photos, and then worked our way through the drink and food tents.

Walking through the baggage claim area, to amazing cheers from the volunteers might I add, things seemed to be running smoothly.  A volunteer realized that we didn't have a checked bag but she handed Pat and I empty bags to put our newly acquired food and drink in.  Just what we needed!

We obviously need the celebratory photo because of our fabulous race....


Two PR's and an awesome pacer!  :) 

After relaxing for a bit and finally meeting and catching up with Danielle's family, we said our congrats again and headed out.  Quickly stopped by the VIP/ChEAR tent for a light snack and ran into Heather and her husband, Bobby!  They had a great race as well, especially since Heather had been battling an injury just a few weeks prior to the race.





I then headed over to grab some photos of the finish line.  Of course with my fabulous camera, this is one of the only ones that came out.




A quick walk back to our hotel and after a much needed shower, we met up with a few friends at Storytellers Cafe at the Grand Californian for an awesome celebratory breakfast!

Overall, like I mentioned earlier, I loved this race.  I'm not sure what it is about Disneyland races for me but I seem to have great runs when I head out to Cali.  Is it the awesome weather, the lack of humidity, a little of Walt's magic?  Who knows!  But I know last year we all said we might not be able to do this race every year just because of it's distance from home....however I think my mind might be changing about that... :)

And thank you to Danielle and Pat for being awesome pacers and running partners.  I honestly don't know if I would have been able to keep up that pace if I didn't have a familiar face running next to me!





Here's our splits and Garmin map....




40 comments

  1. Congrats! I hope to do this race someday..never been to Disneyland

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    1. Thanks, Jen! Definitely try to go out when you can, I'm starting to really fall in love with Disneyland!

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  2. Great recap and congrats on your PR! I totally agree that there is just something about the Disneyland race that is just so awesome. My cousin and I are already talking about next year. Definitely one of my favorites!

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    1. Thanks! I wish I could do it every year but not sure I can afford that just yet. Definitely one of my favorites though!

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  3. Weren't the classic cars before the stadium?

    Congrats again! Just think if you had more than 2 weeks notice... :D

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    1. Haha, I honestly don't remember when the cars were, but I'm sure you're right! :)

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  4. Those splits are ridiculous, you smashed your PR!! Congratulations!!

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  5. Congrats! it is nice re living this race. I dont know about anyone else, but running in California I feel like the wind has been taken out of me! I feel like its my lungs. someone told me its the california air.. who knows! still recovering, Crossfit i still feel depleted after this race!

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    1. I heard that from a lot of people that DL kicked their butts! :(

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  6. I had SO much fun running this with you and Patrick (who was kind enough to crawl along at our snails pace!). Our negative splits are totally crazy, I still can't beleive we went from 10+ to low 9's! Writing my recap and reading yours has made me so excited for Wine & Dine...I can't wait!

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    1. It still totally blows my mind that our pace picked up that much too. Bring on wine and dine! :)

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  7. Congrats! I have the Disneyland Half on my bucket list and hope to run it one day as well. It's just so hard to fly all the way across the states when Disney World is right in my backyard! However, I think you may have convinced me to run one sooner rather than later. Congrats again on the PR!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, I feel your pain about Cali being so much further away. I wish it was cheaper to head out there!

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  8. Awesome job, congrats on the PR. This was my first runDisney event and I can't get enough. I impulsively registered for the WDW Full the next day without thinking through the implication [mostly travel related] that come with it. Thanks for capturing / sharing the memories!!

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    1. Thanks, Alex! Good luck with the full! I know a TON of people that registered for it the day after Disneyland. It's addicting!

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  9. You did so awesome girl! Way to PR! SO glad I got to see you!

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    1. Thank you! Can't wait to see you again!

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  10. Awesome race!! As you know from my recap, I had a similar experience. Must be something in that DL air!!

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  11. Congrats on the PR, Jenn! I definitely think CrossFit had something to do with it - people say strength training is huge in trying to get faster.

    So fun to live vicariously through you by reading your recap. Hoping to run the Disneyland Half next year!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! Hope to see you soon!

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  12. GREAT recap! Big congrats on the PR...truly inspirational!
    This race looks so fun...I'm definitely doing it next year :)

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! :) Can't wait to see you in two weeks!

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  13. Congrats! I would love to do a Coast to Coast, but Disneyland is tough to get to, especially for my future hubby with his teaching schedule. I can finagle a 3 day weekend out of him for WDW, but Cali would be tough. Still, it's a goal to have! As well as having a great PR like that...I have a snails pace. Not to sound like a dummy, but what's the deal with Crossfit? I'm doing the Wine and Dine and anything that can help would be great.

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    1. Thanks! Yea, it's an odd time of year for teachers and a lot of my friends can't make it out to Cali either for it. CrossFit is an exercise program that incorporates extreme weightlifting, cardio, plyometrics, etc in their workouts. It's insane but I love it!

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  14. Seeing the mile splits is ridiculous, 9:03 at mile 11?!?! Great Job! I'm so glad I was there to witness your PR :)

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    1. Thank you again to the best pacer ever! :)

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  15. How exciting for you!! Congratulations!!! :D

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  16. Great race report Jenn. I love the splits. Nice PR

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  17. Congrats on the great PR! I can't wait to do another Disney race!!

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    1. Thank you :) I wish I could do them all!

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  18. Congrats!! Fantastic job on the PR!!

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  19. Still trying to remember which race I remembered you from! Heck maybe it was just from your blog =). Great seeing you out on the course, and love the pic!

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    1. Haha, welcome to the blog, Elvis! :) Maybe we'll see each other at another race too!

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  20. Slmcclanahan@yahoo.comOctober 22, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Awesome PR! Question: is the course mostly flat, hilly? It's on my bucket list but was curious about the course.

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    1. Yup, the course is mainly flat and fast. There's a few tiny inclines but nothing too crazy!

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