Thursday, September 7, 2017

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

I ran the 2017 runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday morning.


But before we get into the recap, are you all caught up on what went down to get me to this point?! Make sure to read (or at least humor me and quickly scroll through) the post about Cigna's Blogger Meet-Up and the recap for the 2017 runDisney Disneyland 10K so that we are all on the same page. Done?! Okay, good, let's move on!

This race holds a special place in my heart. The 2012 Disneyland Half was actually my very first half marathon (and Sunday's race marked my 37th half). Since that race I have returned every year as a way to celebrate my start in the running world and to remind myself that magic happens when you step outside of your comfort zone and believe in yourself. [You can read the recaps from 2012 HERE, 2013 HERE, 2014 HERE, 2015 HERE and 2016 HERE.]

From left to right - 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

As I mentioned in the Disneyland 10K recap post, the Disneyland Half is part of a bigger challenge - the Dumbo Double Dare Disneyland Double Dare (the name was changed this year and I may be a little bitter about it, but more on that later). I actually have run the challenge (which includes the Disneyland 10K on Saturday morning and the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday morning) since it was introduced in 2013. That means I am a "legacy runner" (although, except for bragging rights, there isn't much more you get because of it).

See that "legacy" note in the upper right hand corner? That's the only difference...

Just means I'm crazy enough to pay the high registration fees TWICE and get up at zero-dark-thirty TWO days in a row.

But before we get to wake-up calls, let's do a quick rundown of what happened between the finish line of the Disneyland 10K and the start line of the Disneyland Half. It can be summarized with the three F's: Food, Football and Friends.

Once the hubby and I got back to the hotel (remember, since the race started at 5am, we were back to our room by 6:30am or so), it was time to shower and get a little work done. Or maybe the hubby napped and I worked, but that's okay ;) With the early morning, we were ready for lunch by 11, so hit up a nearby vegan spot - Healthy Junk. I scarfed down the nachos and the hubby had a jalapeƱo burger. Let's just say it hit the spot! #Scrumdidilyumptious

Vegan nachos FTW!

There was a #WeRunSocial meet-up scheduled for 1pm, so you know the hubby and I had to head over to Trader Sam's to hang out with everyone! It was great getting to see everyone, but I swear we never have enough time (or maybe the crew just continues to grow so I feel like I can't hang out with everyone enough).

Everyone started disbursing around 2pm (the heat, humidity and the fact that the fireplace was ON may have played a part in the early departure time for some folks), so Ryan and I made our way back to the hotel to watch the Michigan Wolverines kick some booty against the Gators. (We missed the first half of the game, but apparently we didn't miss much and brought some luck to our men in Maize so it was okay.)

I got very little sleep on Friday night, so I was determined not to repeat that Saturday night. In hopes of hitting the hay earlier, we grabbed some dinner from The Pizza Press around 5pm. {FYI The Pizza Press is my JAM! They actually opened one down in Carlsbad, so I am STOKED, but this is my favorite place to "carb load" while in Anaheim. They even had a 10% off if you showed proof that you ran or were running any of the races that weekend. SCORE!}

Get in my belly!

Once we were fed and hydrated (there were heat advisories in effect for the race, so pre-hydrating was a MUST), it was time to foam roll, stretch and make sure I had everything I needed for the following morning's race.

My #FlatCarlee included: heather gray PRO socks, yellow Handful bra,
gunmetal Sparkle Athletic skirt, tank I got at TJ Maxx,
yellow Road ID, gunmetal Sparkle Athletic visor, black and red QALO
silicone wedding bands, red and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps,
my Garmin Forerunner 735XT, and Brooks Ghost with reflective Shwings.

Yup, I felt like Dumbo had been shafted when runDisney removed him from the challenge, so I brought him back! Thankfully the only real costume piece was the foam core I added to my Sparkle Athletic visor, so I wouldn't have to worry about too much extra fabric during the heat. (I did add a collar, which I made from a red shirt I got at a thrift store {cutting it and hot gluing ribbon on}, but other than it blowing into my face every so often I didn't really notice it.)

Ryan is the best! He woke up at 3:55am to snap this picture (before falling immediately back to sleep)

Similar to the previous morning, my game plan was to leave the hotel by 4am so I could get over to the staging area by 4:30 which would leave me with plenty of time to grab some water, hit up the potty and make my way to my corral. Everything worked out perfectly and I was in my corral around 4:45am, awaiting the countdown.

I know, I know, I keep mentioning the heat, but when we started it was already in the 80s and the humidity was around 85% - and that was before 5am! If you haven't run in these kinds of conditions before, let me just tell you, it's NASTY! When you are sweating before you start the race you know you're in for some harsh conditions.

There was a slight delay in the race start (they never really announced what the issue was, just that they were waiting for the all-clear), but eventually it was time to cross the timing mat and set off into the streets of Anaheim.

Technically I was supposed to have a 16 mile workout Sunday morning (the first eight miles being at 8:00/mile pace and the last eight might at 7:35/mile pace). I chatted with my coach and let him know I wasn't sure if that would pan out. First, these runDisney races are pricey and I wanted to be able to enjoy it. Next, I hadn't run with the ears before and I wasn't sure if they'd be difficult to run in (spoiler alert: other than the visor slipping down my forehead because of the extra weight I didn't notice any wind resistance or anything). Finally, with the elements being as they were, I wasn't sure how much gusto I'd have in my tank. He told me to take it easy and do what I could (but, most importantly, HAVE FUN!).

Running through the castle with my friend Robert!

The World of Color is so beautiful!

With the thumbs up to "have fun" (and the fact that I was in Corral A so would have to deal with less people waiting in line) I decided I would grab pictures with as many characters as I could. Since Disney only has characters on their property, I knew the photo ops would be limited to the first three-ish miles. My plan was to have #AllTheFun in the parks and then maybe get a little more focused on pace once I hit the streets.

We skipped Mike and Sully on Saturday, but I was sure to stop on Sunday!
Lotso smells like strawberries! 

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I've never seen the three of them together before!

I mentioned this in yesterday's post, but I would really love for runDisney to add large lights near the character stops (especially for the ones where there is not a professional photographer). It was still pitch dark out when I left the parks, so having the characters well lit would be greatly appreciated for my photos. #Priorities

Top Left: We skipped Roz during the 10K so I had to stop. / Top Right: Flik kept flicking my ear...
Bottom Left: Bad lighting made Merida super blurry / Bottom Right: I'm covered in sweat and JOY!

I was actually a little bummed about the lack of Toy Story characters on the course...

I wanted to note something about this race. Normally it is my favorite Disneyland race. I love that we get to run through Angel Stadium, the classic cars are amazing, the entertainment (bands, dance troupes, cheer squads, etc) have awesome energy, etc. Due to Star Wars Land (I'm not sure if that's really what they will be calling it or not) and apparently some homeless encampments, the course was changed a bit. I'm not sure if this caused the adjustments or not, but it seemed like there were a lot fewer classic cars and marching bands. Maybe the weather kept folks away, maybe it was the earlier start time (in the past the race has started at 5:30am), maybe the magic is just wearing off, I'm not 100% sure what it was, but I sort of ran away feeling a little disappointed.


Although I enjoy running along the Santa Ana River Trail and was a little bummed that the course was changing, I do have to say that I liked the portion around town better than in years past. I felt like we went over fewer overpasses and weren't necessarily running directly into the sun as much as we had previously (but that might also be because of the earlier start time). I'm sure they'll change the course once the new Star Wars portion opens, but I didn't hate it.


I knew Sparkle Athletic had a cheer station around Mile 7.5, so I kept my eyes peeled. Since the ladies were running (PS If you didn't follow along with the #TeamEmma story, you really missed out), I knew they wouldn't be there, but was stoked to see the hubbies and kids out in full force. I stopped for some high-fives, pictures and maybe a donut hole ;)

Apparently I didn't stop completely because these pictures are quite blurry - OOPS!

At the next aid station a volunteer handing out water said he thought I was the 23rd female. Well, if I needed a fire under my booty, this was it. runDisney races are fairly big (8,000-15,000 runners normally), so to hear I could potentially finish in the top 25 females was awesome. I decided to try and catch as many ladies as I could over the next five miles.

The number of Girl and Boy Scouts in the stadium also seemed to be very low...

Don't get me wrong, I was still listening to my body, walking through water stops to grab both Powerade and water, but I did my darnedest to push the pace and not let anyone pass me.

Yep, I still took the extra couple seconds to stop and snap a picture of the gorgeous sunrise

The hubby was hunkering down around Mile 12.5 (I had texted him when I hit Mile 10 and 11 so he knew to be on the look out and he told me which side of the street he was going to be on). When I made the turn onto Disneyland Drive I saw him in the distance, so waved my lucky feather at him. He snapped a couple photos and I told him that there was a possibility I could finish pretty high up so I wasn't going to stop to chat (I had just passed two females and didn't want to give them the chance to go by me). He wished me well and told me he'd see me at the finish line.

You can see the two ladies in the background

As Linzie once yelled, "I'M NOT STOPPING!"

When we were making our way towards the finish line I saw one of my sweet friends and she actually took a quick video of me running by. Which reminds me, I wanna give a SHOUT OUT to all the spectators who get up early, chase runners from spot to spot, cheer strangers on and ROCK MY SOCKS! We pay to run these races, but they are out there out of the goodness of their heart (or maybe the guilt-trip from their loved one, hehe) - so THANK YOU!

And, in a flash, another Disneyland Half was over. Dumbo soared to the finish and didn't need a magic feather after all!

Once I grabbed my bling, water, goodie box and banana, I found the hubby so we could snap a couple quick photos.

When you go to take a bling picture and the ribbons are in front of the medals... FAIL!

The weather was rough. When we started, it was already 80s and when I finished I think it was 94. I saw the "feels like" temperature was in the TRIPLE DIGITS due to the humidity. Obviously there is nothing runDisney can do about the elements, but man is it a tough sell to get people to come back year after year in these conditions. I know I've been complaining about the humidity for months now, but I've gotta say, I think training in it must be helping because when everyone else was starting to pump the brakes, I still had some gas left in the tank to keep chugging along.

The hubby noticed the ribbon snafu so we went back and snapped another picture

Oh yeah, and the volunteer who said I was 23rd around Mile 8 was a little off. I think I passed 8 or 9 females between then and the finish line and ended up coming in 23rd female (and 6th in my division), but his comment still sparked some motivation and pushed me harder than had he not have said anything, so it all worked out. Or maybe he was guessing that I would be the 23rd female... and if so, then CONGRATS SIR, you deserve some sort of prize!
[Official time - 1:47:31 / 6th out of 945 in 30-34 Age Females / 23rd out of 5,403 Females / 136th out of 8,710 Finishers]

I might not have been close to my original workout goals, but with everything
considering, I am pretty proud of how I finished the race.

Now the tricky part... Will I be back for a SEVENTH time? I've gotta be honest, in the past I would have said ABSO-FLOGGING-LUTELY almost immediately, but now there's some hesitation in my registration finger. The weather is always an issue (August and September are our hottest months), the prices are high (it was over $350 for the challenge) and the bling was disappointing (I may be the only one who thinks it, but I liked the continuity of the medals before... now it seems like anything goes). These runDisney weekends are always about more than just the miles, but when said miles are hot, humid and high-priced, it makes you think long and hard before spending your precious pennies. Only time (and maybe a little bit of friendly peer pressure) will tell if I come back for another go.

Don't get me wrong, the medal is cool and all, but they used to feature a big D for
"Disneyland"... This makes it seem like I was running the Toy Story Half Marathon.

Do you have legacy status at any of the races you run?


Ben and Jack's Momma said...

I was kind of sad to miss this for the first time in five years...but reading this I don't feel TOO mad. I didn't love the medals either. Congrats again on the great finish!!

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

Congrats on your top 25 finish! That's incredible and you were certainly flying when you passed me!

The heat reminded me of 2013 - gross! So amazed at all of you that ran it (and SO glad I wasn't! Haha).

I remember hearing on FB the classic car group wasn't officially invited this time and we saw a sharp decline in marching bands and community groups at Tink too (and in that race the Red Hat Society didn't come because their partnership with rD fell through). I think it all has to do with rD on the west coast moving from volunteers to paid temp staff. Rumor also has it that they'll be cutting all halfs from DL... only time and an eventual announcement about Light Side and/or Tink will tell.

Unknown said...

The 2011 Disneyland Half was my 1st half, and I've been back every year so far. And I've done all the Double Dares, too! I thought the new course was an improvement. And, most definitely Yes, there were fewer bands and cars than before.

But I think this was my last Disneyland Double Dare. Like you said - it was hot, and it's hard to train through the summer here in Florida! This old body (I consider myself to be officially old, having just turned 70 the day of the Disneyland 10K), this old body doesn't like running 13.1 miles at a time anymore.

Running the double dare also made it hard to enjoy Disneyland because I tried to stay off my feet before the races and was tired after them. And the parks are always crowded on Labor Day weekend.

Congrats on your great races and your entertaining recaps!