Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

I'm sorry for the delay in posting this recap, to be honest I've just been dreading writing it. As you may know, I had an absolute blast running the Disneyland 10K! Let's just say the Disneyland Half was not so "magical" for me. RunDisney advertises the Disneyland Half as the "Happiest race on earth." I get it, it's a play on words because Disneyland is the "Happiest place on earth." Let's recap and find out what went wrong for me.

My alarm went off at 4:00 am, but I was already awake. Surprisingly, I was feeling fine when I woke up, even after spending all day Saturday in the parks on limited sleep from the 10K. Nita, her mom and I got ready, and headed out of our hotel room by 4:30. I decided to wear my hydration pack for the half to ensure that I had enough electrolyte to get me through the race, and I would sip water at the water stops.

Nita and I were in the same corral, and her mom was placed in a corral or 2 ahead of us, but Nita and her mom were planning on running together, so she dropped back with us.

(Pre-race good fairy selfie)

We made it to the corrals with plenty of time, and of course we waited a while before we were set free. I don't remember exactly how much time was between the corrals, but it didn't seem like it was too long.

(When our corral eventually made it to the start)

Finally, we were off and running. Unlike the 10K course which takes you 2 miles outside the park first, the half takes you into the parks just past the one mile mark. You first enter California Adventure by Paradise Pier, run around the pier and down into Cars Land.

(We ran the opposite direction of what we ran for the 10K)

(Mid-race selfie - Flora and Fauna being mischievous in the background)

Before I knew it we were making our way across the sidewalk and into the Disneyland park.

We made our way in through the front entrance by the train station and onto Main Street USA.

At the end of Main Street USA we turned left and weaved around the back part of the park and back around through the back of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Sleeping Beauty's Castle was one of my BIGGEST pet peeves during the half. Once I came up to the Castle I pretty much came to a dead stop because everyone was walking through it! WHY?!?! 

Once through the castle we turned left into Tomorrowland, looped back around by the Teacups and the Matterhorn, then back by It's A Small World, and down into Toontown. Then just like that we were almost to mile 4, and out on the streets of Anaheim. 

Once we got out on to the streets of Anaheim it got boring, and I really had nothing exciting to look forward to other than finishing. It was nice though that the people of Anaheim came out and cheered for the runners. Some offered small pieces of candy, or pretzels as a little energy boost. Some had funny signs to motivate runners. Others offered to squeeze a sponge of cool water down your back (which was amazing)!

Around mile five I started getting back pain. It was my hydration pack. I had never run more than 3 miles with it, which was my fault, and I was starting to pay. It was at this point that I started walking, and that was pretty much it for me. I power walked with very short bursts of running for the remainder of the half.

The course weaved in and out of different areas of Anaheim basically having us run in a zig zag pattern. As we were weaving in and out of the neighborhoods, we ran through a few areas where people brought their antique cars and had them lined up down both sides of the street, so it was like running through a car show. It was like this out to the Honda Center where the course placed us on the Santa Ana River Trail.

This was my least favorite part of the course. The trail itself did not bother me, it was well maintained, smooth with a little elevation climb. It was the fact that we basically ran though the tent cities. I assume the police had cleared the people out for the race, as no one was down there, however, there were tons of sleeping bag, garbage bags, and other packs just piled down under the bridge we ran under.

Once we jumped off the trail we were basically at the Angels Stadium. Mile 9. Phew, keep moving forward. Cliff was there handing out energy shots, which I still have a difficult time choking down even small amounts, but I tried. There were also a lot of Boy Scouts there cheering the runners on as we made our way across the parking lot into Angels Stadium. 

I have to admit, running through the stadium was pretty awesome. They had a camera that showed us runners on the jumbo-tron, and as we ran past a certain point an announcer would call out our names. We ran back out through the tunnel and back onto the parking lot. Across the back part of the parking lot there were cheerleaders and marching bands playing, but before long we were back onto the streets.

Almost to mile 10, just a little over a 5K to go. I pushed along and before it knew it I was passing the sign marking mile 12. All of a sudden I heard voices yelling my name. Mel and Matt were standing along the course cheering! I don't remember exactly, but I think I said something to the effect of, "I'm dying, everything hurts!" And Mel offered a, "You're almost there!" The last part of the course looped back behind Paradise Pier, and up by the resorts. The finish was just past the Disneyland Hotel.

I crossed the finish line extremely relieved to be done. I claimed my Disneyland Half medal, then went to the Dumb Double Dare tent and claimed my Dumbo medal, and finally over to the Coast-to-Coast tent where I claimed my Coast-to-Coast medal. On the way out of the finisher area a volunteer offered me a reusable cooling cloth which felt amazing draped around my neck. I grabbed a quick finisher photo with my bling and made my way over to the refreshments tent. Grabbed water, Powerade, a snackbox and banana and started my walk back to the hotel (Ugh).

(My new bling!)

After a shower and some food in my stomach I was finally feeling human again and ready to venture through the parks again for the day.

(Hangin' outside Sleeping Beauty's Castle with my bling)

I feel like this entire post is me complaining about the DL half, and to be honest, it's not runDisney's fault I felt so miserable. Let's look at the pros and cons.

Disneyland Half Pros:
*Hotels are closer to the park and the runDisney starting line. This means you can sleep later than the Disney World races, and walk to the starting line.
*More running through the parks. I was happy that nearly 3 miles of this half course was within the Disneyland Resort parks. At Disney world, depending on what race you run, you don't get nearly as much time running in the parks. 

Disneyland Half Cons:
*The corrals. Sorry, but there were not many corrals and I was wedged in with so many runners that the beginning of the race was not an enjoyable experience (See above: Sleeping Beauty's Castle). There needs to be more corrals with fewer runners in each.
*The first water stop. The first water stop was placed in a very tight congested area, and it forced EVERYONE to walk, but just beyond the water stop was a wide open space. Poor planning on runDisney's part.
*Most of the half is running through the neighborhoods of Anaheim. The first part of the half is the parks, which I know runDisney can't change because they need to get the runners in and out of the park before it opens. I would have enjoyed running through a small part of the park at the end though.
*Running through the tent cities. Not much can we done about this, it's just how it is.
*The Price. Sorry for the price of this race, I just was not impressed or pleased with my experience. RunDisney races are becoming wildly popular, so much so they they sell out in less than 24 hours. Unfortunately, runDisney see's this as a cash cow and increases the prices because they know people will pay.

QOTD: Have you ever had a miserable experience at a runDisney race?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Disneyland 10K Recap

Saturday, August 30th I ran the Disneyland 10K as part one of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and OhMyGosh, this was BY FAR my favorite runDisney course I have had the opportunity to run!!

Let's start with the corrals. There were 5 corrals to separate the mass of runners. I'm not sure how they exactly broke the corrals down, since they didn't ask for a proof of time at registration (I know this because I had registered my friend Mel for the 10K the day registration opened, and I specifically remember not having to put a proof of time in for her). I do know that runDisney did have my proof of time for Dumbo, so they may have used that to place me in a corral. Any way, Mel was in corral C and I was in corral D.

(With Mel before we separated into our corrals)

(Just before the start of my 10K - upside down because I was looking down at my bib)

The race had a 5:30 am start time which is typical for runDisney races, so they can get the runners through the parks before they open. I can't remember exactly how many minutes were between corrals, but it didn't seem like much time had passed before my corral was off and running.

The first two miles were pretty boring as it was outside the parks on the streets of Anaheim. There were still people out on the streets cheering us on though, so that was nice. Once I had made it to mile two of the race we entered California adventure. That is where the fun began!! All the lights were on, the rides were moving (though no one was on them), and the rainbow sprinklers from the World of Color show were going. I first made my way down through Cars Land where Mater greeted runners and many stopped to take pictures.

(Sorry, it's a little blurry, I think my pic from the 1/2 is better)

Once through Cars Land we whipped around the corner and up to Paradise Pier, here is where I was able to see the World of Color Fountains. We ran down the boardwalk down by California Screamin', past the carousel and Mickey's fun wheel (debatable), and back around the front of the pier. Just as I was coming up to the Carousel, I noticed they were letting people on to ride it. I ran up to the line, but the woman said, " Sorry, it's full and this is our one Magic Moment." BUMMER! If only I hadn't stopped to take a few pictures at Cars Land and Paradise Pier. Oh well, it was a really neat idea!

 (View of Paradise Pier)

(I'm still wondering why I decided to pose like this in ALL of my pictures)

Once through paradise pier we turned and ran down by the Grizzly River Run and back around near the front of California Adventure and ran back towards the Tower of Terror. The course had us exit California Adventure through the side of the park where we ran down a ramp, underground and then back up the ramp where we came out inside Disneyland by Casting and Costumes. We turned by the Main Street USA train station and entered the park from the front.

 (My VERY first glimpse of Sleeping Beauty's Castle EVER!)

(Main Street USA)

I ran down Main street USA and turned towards Tomorrowland, then around by the Matterhorn and It's a Small World. We looped around a back part of the park where they had a few of the parade floats out playing music. We reentered another part of the park, and turned back down towards Sleeping Beauty's Castle. One of the most exciting things about running through Disneyland (and Magic Kingdom at Disney World) is running through the castle!

 (Just hangin' outside my favorite princesses castle)

After running through the castle we turned down toward Frontierland and through New Orleans Square, where we exited the park through the side. Once outside the park we looped back around toward to front of the park and ran through Downtown Disney. All of downtown Disney was lined with people on both sides. As luck would have it, I looked to my right just as I was coming up to Nita and Tracee!

(Can you tell I was excited to see my friends?! Haha)

Nita caught that action shot of me (that will probably be the only decent looking picture of me while running, I swear the rest of them make me look like I'm dying). When I saw Nita and Tracee, I had roughly 4/10 of a mile to go. I finished strong, and claimed my Stitch medal and my 10K finisher bracelet for the Dumbo Double Dare, then met up with Mel so we could walk back to the hotel together.

The reason I enjoyed this course so much was because the majority of the race was inside the parks. Being inside the parks, there's more opportunity for pictures (Disneyland can't have characters on the streets of Anaheim). Even though I rarely stop for pictures with characters it definitely adds to the fun. At Disney there's always something to distract you from the fact that you're running (the rides, the lights, music, characters, etc). During the 10K I had also decided to listen to the Disney music from the CD my brother and his wife gave me for Christmas, so it was Disney all around for me (I know, I'm such a goof).

If you've never run at Disneyland and are debating on what race you think you'd enjoy more, I can honestly tell you, I think you'll be the happiest with the 10K! I loved every second of this race! Stay tuned for my Disneyland half recap in a few days.

QOTD: Do you have a favorite race course that you enjoy running each year? What's your favorite part of a runDisney race?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Disneyland Half Health & Fitness Expo

Happy September, I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. It's hard to believe summer is drawing to a close!

This past weekend I was out at Disneyland for the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. If you've been following along, then you also know I was registered for the Dumbo Double Dare. I'll get to my race recaps another day, first I wanted to talk about the Disneyland Half Expo. The expo opened on Thursday at noon allowing runners to come pick up their packets and peruse the expo floor and all the vendors. My friends and I had decided not to go into the parks this day and instead decided to spend the day around the expo and walking around Downtown Disney (Thursday was also my birthday)!

We made our way up to the expo around noon when it opened and there was already a sea of people there. We were guided to an area below the Disneyland Hotel (I assume it was a parking garage the way it was arranged) where we picked up our bibs. As we were walking down, we came across this fun carpet:

I love the retro look of the logo

I realized on the way up to the expo that I had printed off 2 copies of my race waiver, and of course, forgot both of them in the hotel room. Luckily, there is always a place where you can print and sign your waivers at the runDisney expos. Since Nita, Mel and I were all running different races, we had to wait in separate lines to pick up our bibs. Mine was the longest line (go figure), so they all came over to meet me when they were done picking up their bibs. I signed and initialed for my bib and also received my Coast to Coast wristband, and then we made our way back up to the expo floor to pick up our race packets and race shirts.

After that was done, it was time to have some fun around the expo! Our first stop was at the Florida Hospital booth because they had a "photo booth" set up where we could be goofballs. This was our picture:

I had to put on the Maleficent hat

Next we decided to make our way over to the official runDisney merchandise. Unfortunately, once we saw the line to get into the area we decided it was not worth the wait. The Raw Threads booth was not too far from there so we headed there next. I ended up purchasing a Dumbo Double Dare themed racer tank, and an Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) themed tank.

We also made our way over to the runDisney booth where you are able to register for other runDisney races, look at the finisher medals and speak with Jeff Galloway! Nita and I waited patiently to speak with Jeff, and then we both purchased one of his interval timers (this way I didn't have to rely on the beep of my watch over my music).

Hangin' with Jeff Galloway!

I think we may have ended up staying at the expo until close to 2 pm because Nita had registered for the New Balance sneakers on the virtual queue. While she waited in line for sneakers, Mel and ventured around the expo a little more and ended up coming across displays set up for each race to take pictures with your bibs!

 With Mel at the Disneyland 10K display

 With Mel at the Disneyland Half display

I LOVE the Disneyland Half display - Sleeping Beauty's castle!

After we were done with our pictures, Nita was done at the New Balance booth, and we were off to Downtown Disney for the afternoon.

Fast forward to Friday morning. Nita's mom needed to pick up her bib and wanted to explore the expo. Nita, Mel and I all tagged along. We decided if we got there early enough we might be able to check out what was left of the runDisney merchandise. Luckily, we had no issues getting into the merchandise area this time around. I was able to pick up a Dumbo Double Dare Sweatyband, and also an "I did it!" Dumbo Double Dare t-shirt. I was actually surprised with the amount of merchandise that was still available for purchase on the 2nd day.

While Nita and her mom were downstairs picking up her race bib, Mel and I walked around the expo a little more. We headed to the Sparkle Athletic booth. The day before we had spotted a really cute new sparkle skirt that was "superhero" themed. I decided to buy this for the Avengers Half that I have coming up in November. While cashing out I was able to chat with Kelly. She was so sweet! I had mentioned to her that I was nervous for the race because I had never run a race in California before, and since I was from the west coast, I hadn't completely acclimated to the time and climate change. She reassured me that I would be fine and told me this was one of her favorite races.

With Kelly at the Sparkle Athletic booth

Mel and I continued to walk around the other shops that were set up, then decided to head outside to soak up some sun while Nita and her mom were in the Expo. It wasn't long before they met us outside, and we were ready to head to the parks. Nita, her mom and I were all completing the Coast to Coast challenge this past weekend, as we had all run the Princess Half in February (yay)! For those of you that don't know what the coast to coast challenge is, in order to qualify, you need to run a half marathon at Walt Disney World and a half marathon at Disneyland in the same calendar year to claim a special coast to coast medal.

We're Coast to Coast ready!

Overall, I liked the setup of the Disneyland Half expo, and had a great experience! Having the bib pick up in the parking garage below the hotel was a great idea because it was a large and open space to allow for the lines. I had no issues when I went upstairs to pick up my race packet and t-shirts. I walked right up to a volunteer, she ripped the t-shirt tag off of my bib and handed me a bag. I enjoyed the variety of vendors the expo offered. I also love going to the Raw Threads booth, they're one of my favorite vendors at each race! Unfortunately, the line outside of the official runDisney merchandise area is something that is unavoidable on the first day. I believe runDisney has designed it this way to allow for only so many people in the area at one time, this way we're not all tripping over each other. Luckily, I was able to go back early the next morning and get in with no wait, and still purchase what I wanted. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it is the same way when I go back in November for Avengers!

QOTD: Have you ever had a bad experience at a runDisney health and fitness expo? (I have) How about another race expo?