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?

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