2012 Disneyland Half Marathon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The big day finally arrived.

The race started at 5:45 am and runDisney urged all runners to be in their corrals by 5:15.  Since I was staying at the Disneyland Hotel, right next to the start line, I didn’t need to leave my room until 5 am.  Which meant I could sleep until 4:30!  Much to my surprise, I got a solid 8 hours of sleep the night before the race.  I woke up feeling really refreshed and awake!  Yay, me!

I brought my bread and peanut butter with me on our trip so I wouldn’t have to “try anything new” on race day. I ate my breakfast on my walk to the corrals.

I was excited to wear the new sparkly skirt made for me especially by M!

runDisney is really good about starting the corrals every 5 minutes so I was crossing the start line shortly after 6 am!

The weather was perfect.  I think it was in the mid 60’s.  I felt really strong, straight out the gate, and was passing a lot of people.  Running felt effortless, which was not how it’s felt this past summer.

I love running down Katella and seeing the beautiful palm trees!

About 2 miles in to the run, we started running in the back area of Disney California Adventure.  The funny thing about the 2 mile mark is that it was also near the 12 mile mark – lots of runners around me commented, “We’re almost done!”  Ha!

Before we entered the park, we were greeted with some floats from the Pixar Play Parade!

We entered the park through a gate in Paradise Pier.  I liked that the route for the half marathon through the park was different than the 5K, it’s nice to switch it up!

Going in to the race, I debated if I was going to take pictures or focus on hitting my PR goal.  But if you know me, you know that 1) I take lots of pictures and 2) I love Disney.   It wasn’t very realistic to believe I could run this race without taking photos.  Especially not when photo opportunities like this presented themselves.  I mean, World of Color music and the fountains all a-glow.  Hello friendly Cast Member, kindly take my picture, please!!!

Unlike the 5K, our race did not finish in Cars Land but we did get to run through it..so cool!

And unlike the 5K, there were characters out for photo ops!

During the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon, Disney California Adventure was “under construction” so running through it was short and uneventful.  It was really cool to be back a year later and see all the changes and updates.  Very cool!!!

We entered Disneyland near the Fire Station.  To our right, Main Street station!

There is nothing cooler than running down Main Street with Sleeping Beauty’s castle to welcome you!

I crossed the 5K mark at 38:13.  A little behind my “training” 5K time but considering it was a Disney race and all the weaving I was having to do, or being forced to reduce my speed simply because of the congestion in front of me, I was happy.  Shortly after crossing the 5K, I stopped to use the restroom in Fantasyland. I don’t normally stop for a bathroom break during other races but since this was Disney and I would soon only have port-o-potties as an option, I always take advantage of flushing toilets and running water in the parks.   I also knew I would have an opportunity to make up time once we hit the streets of Anaheim.

As we left Tomorrowland, it was neat to see the monorail decorated in celebration of the new Cars Land!

As we rounded the corner to Small World and down to ToonTown, I could see that our time in the park was coming to an end.  These beauties were out to see us on our way!

And I had to cross traffic and double back for an opportunity to pose with this kick a$$ chick!

I don’t know if you’ve seen Brave but I think it’s one of the best “girl power” and “mother love” movies Disney has made.

We left the park and were soon greeted with our one and only steep hill climb on Ball Road and…blinding sun!

At the bottom of the hill is when I decided to get my Nano and headphones out but as I did, one of the rubber pieces on my headphones popped off and fell to the ground.  I considered, for a split second, recovering the rubber piece but I saw the massive crowd behind me and I had flashbacks to that scene in Lion King when Simba finds himself in the path of the stampede!   The rubber piece was road kill!

I was fully prepared to suffer for the next 4 miles of the race because it’s in an industrial area and last year, there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment and spectator support.  I was ecstatic that not only did I not suffer this year but there seemed to be a lot more entertainment along this 4 mile stretch than there was last year!  Cheerleaders, dancers, marching bands and DJ’s playing music!  Whoo hoo!!!  I crossed the 10K mark at 1:21.  Considering the bathroom break and multiple character stops between the 5K and 10K mark, I felt like I was doing really good. I also still felt strong and not sore.  Last year, I felt really sore around the 10K mark because of the hard surface in the parks and streets of Anaheim.  In Phoenix, we have rubberized asphalt so it’s a little easier to run on.  Having learned my lesson last year, I did a lot more training on the sidewalks here in Phoenix this past season to prepare for the Disneyland race this year!

Another new addition to this year’s race was the classic cars!!  They seemed to go on for miles, when in all actuality it was probably only a couple of miles.  But it gave us something to look at in “industrial land” and the owners of the cars were cheering for us and honking their horns.  It was a cool treat and unexpected, I liked it a lot!

At the end of the classic car line-up, I spotted this beauty in the Honda Center parking lot!

When we left Honda Center, we had to run along a canal for a very short while.  I take advantage of the change in ground and run on the dirt to give my body a break from the concrete.  I always find it interesting how so many runners stay on the pavement instead of moving to the dirt, it’s also a lot easier to pass the masses on the dirt!  This stretch of the run can be difficult because the course narrows and can get slippery with the sand/dirt on the pavement but seeing the big A serves as motivation to keep pushing forward!

Arriving at Angel Stadium is really electrifying.  There are dozens of Boy & Girl Scouts lining the path in to the stadium and they are cheering their hearts out.   It really revs up the engines!  After entering the stadium, there’s even more Boy & Girl Scouts and their cheers are deafening and their signs are motivating!!!

So many of the kids lean over to “high five” as we run past them!

You don’t really “run” through the stadium, it’s more like a  “runner shuffle”.  But it’s awesome to slow it down and take it all in.  After all, how many people get to run through this portion of the Angels Stadium?

Two great things about reaching Angel Stadium is: 1) if you’ve made it this far, chances are excellent you will make it to the finish line and won’t get swept and 2) There’s only a 5k between you and the finish line!

It was at this point that I noticed my left leg was really, really sore.  I knew going in to the half marathon that I was possibly running on an legit injury but I had fooled myself in to believing that it wasn’t a big deal.  As I rolled past mile 10, I couldn’t fool myself any more….the pain was very real and my body just wanted to stop.  I started to worry because I was supposed to spend the day in California Adventure with D and K and I was feeling more than just sore, I was feeling pain.  For my runner friends, you know how you often have to convince your brain that you want to run and that a run would be good for you?  The body is able, you just gotta get the brain on board?  At mile 10…my body wanted to quit but my brain was completely hyped up because a PR (“Personal Record”, for all my non-race-running blog reading friends) was still within my grasp.  Maybe not the PR I hoped for earlier this summer but a PR, nonetheless.  My brain just kept willing my body to keep moving forward.

My left leg kept begging to stop but my brain kept pushing forward, I wanted that PR, I could taste that PR, it was right there in front of me and I was going after it.  I refused to think about the pain, I refused to worry about “afterwards” and the possibility I may be putting myself out of the game for awhile..all I could think about is that I had worked super hard all summer for this moment and I wasn’t about to give it up just because of some pain in my leg.

Before I knew it, I was coming up on that 12 mile mark again.  I had to stop for the Mile 12 photo opportunity because just 2 miles ago, I was almost convinced I would be out of the race at any moment.

Now there is only 1.1 miles between me and the finish line and the pain in my leg was growing.  I was taking more walk breaks than I cared to but I was willing myself to push through and get to the finish.  When we finally came out on the stretch of road that lead us straight to the finish line..I pushed as hard as I could and ran as fast as I could to cross that line.

I crossed the finish line of the 2012 Disneyland half marathon with an official time of 2:45:44!

Last year, I ran the Disneyland half marathon in 2:59:07!

I beat my “fastest” half marathon time by almost 14 minutes.  I was stoked and I cried tears of pain joy as I limped back to my hotel room!

I just PR’d at the Happiest Race on Earth…I’m going to DCA..maybe!