Monday, September 1, 2008

Disneyland Half Marathon Report

I spent a whirlwind 19.5 hours in Anaheim this Friday/Saturday. Let me assure you that 19.5 hours is just enough time to pick up your race number/shirt, eat dinner, get race gear ready, take a shower, sleep, run a half marathon, shower, catch shuttle back to airport. That's right, this Disney fan didn't even go to the parks. Boyfriend didn't come down with me and I didn't feel like roaming the parks alone. I had to do it after the Goofy Challenge because Boyfriend came down to run the half, cheered for me during the marathon, then had to come back to California. Not that going alone isn't fun, but it's more fun with company and I didn't think the magic had worn off from January to make it worthwhile to go alone.

I got to the expo at 3 pm and had to meet some people for dinner at 4 pm. So I had one hour to do what I would normally take about 3-4 hours doing (roaming the expo). Suffice to say I didn't do much shopping. After the Disney World races I wrote to the race director to ask if they would please offer woman's specific size shirts. At least a woman's small in addition to the unisex line would probably cover most people. Well, they didn't exactly take my advice but they did offer XS unisex for the first time! I was lucky enough to snag the VERY LAST ONE. It's still pretty huge, but an improvement over the shirts I got at the Disney World races earlier this year. I was expecting a long sleeve shirt that they usually give out, but this year they went short-sleeved.

I may be a stickler, but where's the comma in the date?

After the expo I met some Disneyrunning people and then headed out to find my hotel. I stayed at a budget place a little less than a mile from the expo/start/finish/Disneyland. It was 10x less than staying at the Disneyland hotel. It was a bare bones hotel but sufficient for me. I laid out my race gear and watched some HBO movies. I had a 3:45 am wake-up planned and didn't fall asleep until after 12 am.

I left my room at about 4:15 am and walked to the starting area. I was expecting to just "follow the crowds" but there was not one other person out headed to the races. I guess since you can walk to the start (unlike getting bussed in at Disney World) people wait until the last minute. At Disney World you have to be on a bus by 4 am so I guess I'm trained to get there early.

Pre-race all I have to say is that they did a great job with the port-o-potties. I used them twice and never had more than 1 person in front of me in line. This is basically unheard of at races where lines are often 20 minutes deep. Not sure how they did it, but it was fantastic. I wore a running skirt which I loved for the race. But I did have one problem. How do you sit down before the race starts? I wear the ones that have briefs underneath vs. compression shorts and this doesn't make sitting very modest. Guess I have to figure something out for marathons because I intend to sit around as long as possible at those. So I was one of the people standing in the corral instead of sitting on the curb as we waited for the race to start.

The weather was not bad. It was terribly humid and muggy but not hot. There was a layer of clouds which the sun didn't break until I hit mile 13 exactly (almost a hallelujah moment for me) so I was a happy camper in that regard. But from the humidity I was drenched in sweat by mile 2.

There were tons of skirts out on the course. When I ran the Disney World Marathon I saw one skirt the entire race. This Sunday at any given moment there was almost always a woman in a skirt running by me. I think they've finally been accepted by the masses.

The first four miles were tons of fun as we winded through California Adventure and Disneyland. I stopped to take pictures with Every. Single. Character. For once I'm very sorry that I don't post pictures of myself on this blog because they are a lot of fun.

After we left the parks there was a rather dull 8 mile stretch through the streets of Anaheim. I thought Disney did a good job with entertainment, though, as there were tons of high school bands and cheerleaders out. At one point I saw a man dressed up as Super Mario running! He was even carrying a giant stuffed mushroom from the video game. He was walking by me when I noticed him and I was about to get my camera out to ask for a picture with him when he started running again and shot off at a much quicker pace than me. Here he is up ahead:

I leap-frogged with him for a bit as he seemed to be on a run/walk plan. Finally at one point I caught up to him when he was walking and I asked to take a picture with him. He said I was the third person to stop him for one. So I got a picture of me and Mario at the race!

I realized that this was my 13th half marathon. Almost like a half marathon birthday. So I thought it would be fun to dedicate one mile to every half I've previously done (then have the extra 0.1 mi at the end for good luck). Only problem was that off the top of my head while I was running, I couldn't remember any of them in the right order except for number 1, 10, 11, 12, and 13. So I thought of the ones I could (Grete's Gallop, New York City Half, Disney World Half, See Jane Run Half, Disneyland Half).

Of course everyone is probably waiting for a shin and endurance update. I was very worried that I would hit a wall at mile 8 and end up walking the last 5 miles. I hadn't run more than 7 miles in three weeks (and two of those weeks ran only about 2 miles each). I don't know how, but I felt great the entire race. I was slow for sure but felt okay. My shin was whining from mile 1.5 but never got above a dull whisper. I lucked out BIG time. I took walking breaks but only because I knew I should for the shin. I never felt like I had to walk.

I crossed the finish line at 2:35:xx (this ties my slowest half marathon of all time which was the Disney World Half I did in January preceding the marathon the next day). I knew I owed my shin so immediately went to the medical tent to get some ice on it. That's right, I got ice slapped on that puppy before I even picked up my medals. I picked up my castle medal for the half and my Coast to Coast medal for doing both a Disney World and the Disneyland event in the same year. I have to say, the Coast to Coast medal is beautiful. It's even nicer than the special Mickey medal they gave out at Disney World this year.

When I got back to San Francisco I dug my other medals out for a clean-sweep Disney medal photo-op. It's strange how I love these medals (I did the DL Half this year expressly because they offered the second medal) but just throw them in a box. Other people display or frame them, but I just put them away.

This must be how Michael Phelps feels (minus three medals, the Olympic stage, and the fact that there's no first-place connotation with these)

I'm hoping to do Goofy again in 2010. Not sure about the Disneyland event. I think the 5K at Disneyland would be a lot of fun because it's basically the best part of the race course-wise (minus the pesky 8 mile industrial Anaheim leg). I think if I did Disneyland again I'd do the 5K and the half marathon. I overall prefer the Disney World events. They have a bit more fanfare surrounding them. But Disneyland is much closer to home.

All in all I had a great time. I think it's healthy for my runner soul to participate in races sometimes and not have a time goal. Disney races are great for this because I couldn't run through their venues and not stop to smell the roses.


bunnygirl said...

It sounds like you had a great time and I'm glad your shin didn't give you any major trouble.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Well thanks for the report .. always like to read people's experiences. Good you took it a bit easy, you will live to run again!! Great medals. Hola Mario!

Anonymous said...

That sounded like so much fun!! I'm not one for running, I must admit, but reading this post made me feel like joining in :D Nice t-shirt and medals!!

d. moll, said...

Sounds like fun and sounds like your shin was fine. Almost makes me want to start running, I ran some last summer.......

Runner Leana said...

Congratulations on your race and all of that bling! The Coast to Coast medal is really nice. I thought about running DL this year but just couldn't swing it. I had a crazy dream on Saturday that I showed in DL this weekend for a triathlon, felt sad that I didn't register for the half marathon, then remembered that I had forgotten to book a hotel. That was bizarre!

ShirleyPerly said...

How wonderful to hear your race went well!! And those medals, my goodness, how lovely they are. I agree that the Disney races are too fun not to enjoy fully. Glad you brought your camera!

Sarah said...

Congratulations!! Those medals are awesome and it makes me want to come run one!!!

*aron* said...

great job on the half marathon!!! love the report - that sounds like a fun race!