I wrote about the beginning and the end of the trip here if you’re so inclined.
Sunday, September 1 – RACE DAY
3:45 came really early, but I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited to wake up that early. Three of the four of us put on our costumes: Tinkerbell, Peter Pan and Mike Wazowski. We were laughing about the fact that we’d all picked characters that involved green outfits when Mirae emerged from the bathroom in her green t-shirt – totally unplanned!
Tinkerbell is ready to rock!
We left the hotel at 4:30 for the short walk to the start area. There were runners everywhere! So many awesome costumes! So much energy ALREADY! We found a nice spot in the crowded corrals and tried not to think about how warm we already were (it was about 20C if I recall correctly). Before we knew it, it was 5:30, the fireworks had gone off and we were crossing the start line.
We ran down Disneyland Drive, turned onto Katella (“Hey, there’s our hotel!”) and onto Harbor Blvd. At Disney Way, we turned in towards the back of California Adventure. The road was lined with Disney staff cheering for us and some neat props. We left Mirae at some point around here. She had told us that she wanted to run most of the race on her own. We assured her that she wouldn’t slow us down, but she said she preferred to do her own thing. Tommy, Alastair and I wanted to run together, and we weren’t sure how that would go, but we figured we’d give it a shot.
We entered California Adventure from Paradise Pier and they had all the lights and fountains on. Lots of people stopped to take photos. I snapped some blurry ones while running. We ran through Cars Land, which looked super cool with all the neon, and then back across by Soarin’ Over California. Tommy called a bathroom stop, so the boys used the bathroom while I fixed my hair. I had grossly underestimated how tightly I needed to secure my Tinkerbell bun situation. I’m glad I got a chance to fix it though.
Then we left CA and ran through the plaza and into Disneyland. As cool as it was to run through California Adventure all lit up, coming down Main Street USA was the part that felt the most magical. After that, we hung a left into Frontierland and took Big Thunder Trial around Thunder Mountain. At one point there is an ever-so-slight incline on this part and we laughed hysterically when one woman said to her running partner, “The hill I trained on is, like, four times this big.” What?
We waved to lots of characters as we ran through Fantasyland (including Peter Pan!) and pretty soon we were approaching the back of the castle. As expected, the traffic went kind of wonky at this point as everyone slowed down or pulled over to get their photo taken in front of the castle. We just kept moving. We ran through Tomorrowland and past It’s a Small World – I slowed down to snap a blurry photo of Merida as I ran by her. At this point we knew we were heading out of the parks pretty soon and tried our best to soak in as much Disney atmosphere as we could.
As we came up into Toon Town, a shirtless dude with a GIANT camera asked me if he could take my photo for Team Sparkle. Sure!
Thanks Team Sparkle guy
We ran out the back of Toon Town and along a lane. More Disney cast members cheering, more neat props to look at, and even some horses! Then we headed north on Disneyland Drive and turned left on Ball Rd, which took us up and over the I-5 (about 7 km in). The sky was starting to get brighter and it was slowly starting to get warmer. (My handana was already drenched, but I’m so glad I had it.)
The next 5 km were the toughest for me. The heat was definitely affecting me. Alastair’s knees started to really hurt (which was not a surprise, he has terrible knees and knew it was going to be brutally painful). We started walking through all the water stations (and a little bit longer afterwards). At just past 10k we celebrated Tommy and Alastair’s farthest runs ever.
To make up for the super boring Anaheim streets you run through at this stretch, they have lots of folks out there to entertain you. I remember seeing some tiny and adorable Mexican dancers. I think there were high school bands and cheerleaders along this part. But the coolest bit was where they had the classic cars lined up along both sides of the road and their owners are all out there cheering you on. Lots of them were offering candy and snacks, but the best thing I saw was the woman with a roll of paper towel she was sharing with sweaty runners. (We were so sweaty.)
We were also running due east for a lot of this part, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. I had decided against sunglasses, because when I sweat a lot I find that they slide around or fog up or both. I stared at the pavement a lot.
Things started to get interesting again as we approached the Honda Centre (home of the Ducks). Then we turned and ran about a kilometer on a gravel trail along the Santa Ana “River” – I’m pretty sure it was totally dry. This was a really nice change of scenery. When we turned up away from the river again, we had arrived at Angel Stadium! I’m not a baseball fan at all, but I’d heard really cool things about this part of the race.
From the moment we entered the parking lot, the course was lined by people. People with signs, snacks, noisemakers of all kinds. It was really cool. And then we ran into the stadium. WOW. They invite local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to sit in the stadium and they spend hours just cheering for runners! The feeling of running into a stadium of people cheering was REALLY cool. It totally surprised me how much I enjoyed it.
Coming out of the stadium there were a whole bunch of cheerleading teams and bands again. Pretty neat. Then we ran back towards the I-5 and along sort of a frontage road. Not the most interesting stretch. At this point I had to walk a little bit more frequently than we had been. Poor Alastair though was actually in more pain walking, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. Tommy seemed to be doing okay, just very quiet. I still can’t believe how well he did for his first half marathon with his longest ever previous run being a 10k, and his “training” totaling about 10-15k per week. (Stupid boys.)
Finally we crossed under the freeway (thank goodness we didn’t have to go up over an overpass at this point) and were back on Disney Way heading right for the park. At about 19.5k crossed Harbor Boulevard and ran back into the Disney grounds where we’d run already on our way into California Adventure. (“Hey, we’ve run here before!”) This time we stayed outside of the park and made our way back to Downtown Disney toward the finish line.
Another one from Team Sparkle
As discussed, we crossed the finish line holding hands triumphantly. (Which doesn’t show up in the race photos. Tommy and I are there, but Alastair’s arm is cut off.) We got our medals and water and cold towels (my goodness was this ever amazing) and took a few photos. Then it was straight to the medical area to get some ice for Alastair’s broken knees. They had bags upon bags upon bags of ice, plus rolls of tape to affix them to your aching body. It was pretty cool.
I stood watch over the crowd going by and managed to somehow miraculously spot Mirae as she came in, only a few minutes behind us. We wrangled our gimp and went back to get a group photo with all of us (not facing the sun this time!) We found some space (by the porta-potties) and stood/sat around for a while eating snacks, stretching, etc. Then it was time to wander back to the hotel for breakfast, ice baths and other such recovery.
Alastair was captain of team ice bath. We discovered that the runDisney bags they give you for gear check are the perfect ice transporting devices. I think he made 3 or 4 trips to the ice machine with that bag. Watching someone take their first ice bath is priceless. Both Alastair and Tommy braved the bath for 8 minutes. I was planning to take an ice bath too, but I didn’t last longer than about a minute. I don’t know if I got in too fast or if it was just the shock of going from being so warm to being so cold, but I kind of panicked as I got in, and then was hyperventilating? It wasn’t a good scene. I got out.
Bag of ice!
After we all showered and had some breakfast and coffee, we packed up our beach stuff and walked (very slowly) 15 minutes down the road to Budget to pick up our rental car. We picked up some lunch (my first In’N’Out burger!) and drove to Huntington Beach, where we had a lovely afternoon sitting on the beach and playing in the waves. (Spending half an hour in the ocean is way more my speed when it comes to ice baths!)
Rocking our race shirts at the beach
We wandered around Downtown Disney in our medals that evening, and then had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory again. Our intention was to order cheesecake for dessert this time, but we were all so full by that point that we didn’t.
My stats for half marathon #5 (the slowest one yet!)
Finish time: 2:20:44
10k split: 1:08:52
Overall Place: 3567/15872
Gender Place: 1517/10017
Division Place: 142/837
(You can see my fun race results page here)
Blog: The other half of the Disneyland story
Run: Evening 4.4k with the run clinic
Blog: You’re looking at it
Run: Early morning (!) 3k. In the rain. Yuck.