13 September, 2012

Guest Post : Disneyland 5k Recap

Since I wasn't able to run the 5k at Disneyland, my friend Danielle was more than happy to fill us all in.  If you guys read my half marathon recap, she was one of my awesome running buddies and grabbed a PR herself!  It was great meeting her mom and sister this weekend (and running into them on a regular basis!) and I do believe Danielle might have converted her sister into a runner.  :)

Head over to her blog, "Live, Run, Grow" to read about her half marathon experience and follow her in all of her training!  (All photos below were also taken by Danielle)  Thanks, Danielle!


Hello Eat, Sleep, Run Disney readers!  I’m Danielle and I’m here to tell you about the Cars Land 5k Rally! 

The Cars Land 5k Rally was my 3rd runDisney event.  I started last November with the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (my first race ever and where I met Jenn!) and in January I followed it up with the full marathon, but this was my first 5k, and not only my first runDisney 5k, my first 5k EVER!  Yes, somehow my running career went straight to half and full marathon without ever having participated in a 5k!

To be honest I have my mom and sister to thank for getting me to register for the event.  Way back in February I had registered for the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Having never been to Disneyland and REALLY wanting the amazing runDisney Coast to Coast medal I figured it was high time for a trip out west!  My mom and sister were planning on coming along and one day my sister text me and said they had decided to sign up for the 5k!  Well, in the spirit of back to back racing (since I am also registered for Goofy 2013) I figured I would run the 5k too and registered just in the nick of time – it sold out about an hour later!

We arrived in Disneyland on Friday afternoon and made a quick trip to the expo to pick up our race packets before heading to California Adventure for a few hours (I wanted to save Disneyland for our first full day).  We didn’t last long though since we were exhausted from traveling and were still on east coast time so we headed back to the hotel to get to bed, we had an early morning ahead of us!

Since we were staying at different hotels I met my mom and sister at the 5k starting area around 5:45am (the race began at 6:45am).  Being on East Coast time the early morning start really wasn’t bad at all.  We were able to stretch, take a few pictures and then managed to get a pretty good place it the corral once it opened (the 5k is untimed and there are no pre-assigned corral placements, in other words, it’s a giant free for all!).

As soon as the race started I understood exactly what Jenn and Daniel meant last year when they said the 5k was only “ok” when they did it as part of the unofficial “Dopey”.  For the first half mile it was so congested it wasn’t even worth trying to run, you just sort of shuffled along with everyone around you – definitely not a race for the super competitive!  At the same time it was great to see so many families and walkers participating, kudos to everyone just for being out there!

By the time we got in to the first park, Disneyland, the crowd had really opened up enough that we were jogging at a steady pace.  Being my mom and sister’s first race (although I did drag her through a Warrior Dash a few months ago…) we were just planning to move along at a comfortable pace and take lots of pictures!

Since this was my first time to Disneyland and I hadn’t seen the parks yet the 5k was actually a really cool way to get a “preview” of everything!  It was like watching a video tour of the parks on fast forward.  As we ran by everything my sister and I kept yelling back and forth to each other “oh, look at that, it’s different than “our” Disney!”, “oh, there’s Splash Mountain!”, “Ahhh…the castle!  It’s pink and small!”. 

I actually loved getting my first glimpse of the parks this way, it was a nice teaser for what was to come the rest of my trip! 

After going through Disneyland the 5k brought us into California Adventure where we ran through the Pier and then towards the finish line in Cars Land!

I had been really excited about the finish being in Cars Land.  I had imagined turning a corner and getting that amazing view of Radiator Springs I had seen so many pictures of, but unfortunately the way the finish was set up it was so congested and sort of towards the back of Cars Land so it didn’t feel all that impressive.  I was momentarily disappointed and thought “this is Cars Land?!?  This isn’t so great…”, but once I was passed the finish and saw we were towards the back I realized to see the view I had been looking for I had to be down the other end of Route 66.  I decided I would reserve judgment for when I came back (and good thing I did because CARS LAND IS AMAZING!).

After we crossed the finish line we collected our medals and were given a bottle of water and a box of snacks.  We made our way through the crowd to find my husband Jason who had come out to meet us at the finish. After a few pictures in Radiator Springs we headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready to start our first full day at Disneyland!

I actually really enjoyed doing this 5k, especially because it was my first time through the parks – what a unique way to see Disneyland for the first time!  I definitely wouldn’t do the 5k every time I’m at Walt Disney World or Disneyland for a race, but if I had family or friends participating I’d be happy to join!  Still debating adding the 5k to my “Goofy” in January and making it “Dopey”!  Either way, I can’t wait until my next runDisney event!

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....

10 September, 2012

Disneyland runDisney MeetUp & Run Recap

I apologize for taking so long to get these recaps going.  After getting home, grad classes started that same night.  Plus, I found out on my last day at Disneyland that I got the job I interviewed for a few weeks ago!  Beyond excited!  I don't start until later in the month but the last few days I've just been trying to get things ready with the company.  

But anyways... let's get on with the recaps!  And I'll be using many of the professional photos that runDisney provided us.  Apparently my point & shoot is seriously on the fritz, time to look into buying a new one.  

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Disneyland runDisney MeetUp & Run that was held the Friday before the half marathon.  30 Disney Parks Blog readers and other selected media were selected to attend as well.  

After meeting at the Disneyland Hotel, we had a quick introduction to Jeff Galloway and a few of the runDisney employees.  Jeff explained how the run would work and that we'd be doing a 30 second walk / 30 second run interval through the parks.  

Photo courtesy of runDisney

We started out the run from the hotel and made our way through Downtown Disney towards the park entrances.  Our first turn was towards Disneyland and soon enough we found ourselves on Main Street.

Photo courtesy of runDisney
Photo courtesy of runDisney

Photo courtesy of runDisney
Photo courtesy of runDisney

Seeing the park as it's waking up was really cool.  Cast members were bustling around getting things ready for the guests to arrive, putting the last minute touches on a few things.  After making a loop of almost the whole park, we turned back down Main Street and ran across the way to Disney's California Adventure.  Another quick loop through parts of the park and we found ourselves in the new Cars Land!  It was beautiful running through it without any other guests in the area.  

Photo courtesy of runDisney

Photo courtesy of runDisney

After our 2.6 mile run we headed to the Animation Building to hear the invited speakers.  Faron Kelley, Project Development Director for Disney Parks, jumped on stage first to introduce himself and welcome everyone to the MeetUp.  With the runDisney brand only being 2 years old, everyone is amazed at how quickly and well it has taken off.  Part of that success is definitely because so many people want to run through the Disney parks, not to mention the great guest service and awesome bling.  Faron hinted that they are definitely working on additional races on both coasts and are always having active discussions with all parks around the world for future races.  Nothing was promised and no rough dates were announced so don't be expecting anything any time soon!  Oh, and for all of you Dopey runners that are hoping that runDisney will make it an official race?  Not going to happen, I asked! :) 

Mark having a chat with Jeff Galloway

Faron Kelley

Photo courtesy of runDisney

That's my fabulous iPhone :)  Photo courtesy of runDisney

Jeff Galloway got on stage next and he started off his discussion with telling us about his recent injury.  Did you guys realize that he fractured his hip in March??  And that he's ran multiple full and half marathons since?  That's amazing and just proves that running keeps you in shape and allows your body to recover faster!  Jeff explained that he had to follow his own advice that he gives to clients when he was recovering.  Glad to see it worked! 

After some more discussion, Jeff started taking questions from the audience and there are always some great questions asked.  Since it was a warm race weekend, Jeff made sure to stress that everyone needs to hydrate more often and that even fit athletes should take walk breaks in the heat.  One tidbit of information that caught my attention was that you should run 30 seconds per mile slower for every 5 degrees above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  I know a lot of people didn't expect it to be that drastic of a change in speed!  

As for sprinting towards the finish line, Jeff recommends just picking up the pace in the last mile or two instead to avoid injury.  For non-run days during training, keep moving!  If you feel good you can continue to run but if you have any aches or pains, definitely take it easy.  To improve your running form, water running is always a great help.  

Another cool piece of information?  For every 1 hour of exercise you do, you increase your life by 2 hours...pretty cool!  

Jeff Galloway

After a few more questions, including advice for Goofy (take the half EASY!), it was time for our next speakers.  Dimity McDowell & Sarah Bowen Shea jumped on stage to talk about balancing life and running.  They've written the book, "Train Like a Mother" and help families balance training, raising children, and still enjoying life!

With always busy schedules, Dimity mentioned that you just have to make time.  They both set their alarms pretty early to get out and get some miles in.  It takes dedication to keep running and you eventually will figure out how to balance everything.  When their husbands want to run, they take turns training.  And then when both of them want to run?  Jogging strollers are a life saver!  

When asked about the large number of women that are starting to dominate the sport of running, the ladies talked about how running is very efficient.  It gets the job done quickly and it's a great way to keep being social with friends.  Did you guys know that the Disney full marathon in 2013 will be the first one that has over 50% women registered?  

Dimity McDowell & Sarah Bowen Shea

Next up was the biggest bundle of energy I think I've ever met!  3 time Olympian Suzy Favor-Hamilton bounced on stage and quickly introduced herself.  She told us a little bit about her background and then started talking about something that I'm sure almost every new mother can relate to.  When Suzy had her daughter at 37, she suffered from post partum depression and stopped running, which is when things got worse really quickly.  Luckily her husband was very supportive after Suzy told him about a dark moment in her day and he quickly helped her get help.  She explained that speaking out was one of the biggest hurdles that she had to overcome and it was a relief when she finally did.  

As Suzy got help, she finally learned how to deal with the stress in her life.  She realized that she was the one that needed to be happy first and she couldn't try to please everyone.  It was amazing listening to her story and it reiterated just how strong and confident of a woman she actually is.  With her speaking about her troubles with post partum, I'm sure there are many women that got the strength to also reach out for the help they needed.  

To lighten the mood, Suzy showed us how she gets warmed up and energized...by dancing!  She dragged a few of the meetup participants on stage and they laughed the entire time that Suzy was showing them her moves.  

Suzy Favor-Hamilton

Suzy showing the gang her dance moves

Bob Hitchcock jumped on stage again after the dance interlude and brought out their boss, MickeyMouse!  It's always awesome to see Mickey in his track suit!  After explaining the next step in the meetup (breakfast!), there was a few minutes for everyone to get some photos with Mickey while everyone gathered up their things.  


For breakfast we headed over to Flo's V8 Cafe for a private meal before the craziness hit Cars Land.  I was really excited to try out their breakfast since I saw they had a chicken tamale.  Have I mentioned how I'm slightly in love with any kind of tamale?  Yup.  I am.

Flo's V8 Cafe is retro and really well themed!  I loved all the old music playing and the 50's decor.  Plus the view when sitting outside isn't too shabby at all.  It overlooks Radiator Springs Racers and you can watch the dueling cars race by!  

After grabbing some breakfast (the tamale, by the way, was YUMMY!) and catching up with some friends that were also at the meetup, it was time to head out with the gang for one big group photo.  What better place for the pic other than the entrance to Cars Land?  It was beautiful!

Photo courtesy of runDisney

And of course Suzy and Kelly decided that we needed a jumping photo!  Love these ladies!  

Photo courtesy of runDisney

After our photos, we got a special treat! We all headed over to Soarin' for a quick ride.  We were split into two groups and while one group rode Soarin' first, the other group got to head downstairs underneath the screen to see how everything worked.  Seeing the attraction from below was amazing!  You don't realize how big everything is until you're really up close to it.  And did you know the screen was made of metal with millions of little holes in it?  Yea...I didn't either.  :) 

I know I've mentioned it in the past, but runDisney just keeps making the meetups more and more exciting.  It's a great way to kick off the race weekends!  

For anyone that is interested in trying to attend the next one, which should be during the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, keep an eye out on the runDisney twitter account as well as the Disney Parks Blog.  They usually announce the meetup about a week or two prior to the race weekend and when they post the information, it's first come first serve for 30-80 people.  So get those emailing fingers ready!