Orange County, See California, Wellness

The Disneyland Half Marathon – My First!

Written 9/2/13 – transferred from old blog
What a journey!  Where do I begin??  I guess we can start from the very beginning…

Late-January, the registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon opened.

I had attempted to register for this about 2 years ago, but they sell out within days, and I had no idea that would be the case considering how pricey it is.  I let it go, thought about running other events, but I just never got around to it.  I ran a 5k here and there, but those don’t really require training.  For some reason, however, there was always that aching feeling inside of me telling me that I need to run.

This year, I had marked my calendar for when the registration opened and signed up for the email reminder. I figured if I was going to put myself through the strenuous path of running a marathon, it might as well be alongside Disney characters cheering me on and fellow runners dressed as Disney characters to spread that Disney magic.  It just couldn’t go wrong, right?

I asked over 20 people if they wanted to join me, but either the cost was too high or they just didn’t want to put themselves through the misery (hah).  I ended up signing up on my own.  It’s now or never.

After a knee-sprain in March, dealing with a enlarged lymph nodes about 7 weeks ago (and also reoccuring 2 nights before the race), skinning my knee on the pavement (clumsy me) a week and a half before, and going camping a week before… I finished.

Check out this medal! (mirrored)

The journey itself was full of Disney magic.  The day prior, we picked up my bib and other fun swag at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo.  We got to try new Clif Bar flavors and some other “power snacks” and spotted some other great items that I was tempted to buy but knew I didn’t really need (practicing self control to claim ThirtyBefore30 goal #1).  The entire event was extremely organized, and we got to see Jeff Galloway speak a bit which was pretty cool since he was a core inspiration during my training!

 Heading to the Expo with my #1 supporter.

 One day…

 Jeff Galloway!  Can you believe this guy runs a marathon once a month??

The instagram collage sharing my bib and swag.

That evening, I filled myself with some good carbs (and sneaked in a taco from Taco Bell) and went to sleep at 9pm — personal record for me.  I had to sleep early because my wake up call was at 3:30am!  Anyway, Tristan was able to drop me off for the race around 4:40am, and I found my way to my corral by 5ish with the race beginning at 5:30am.  It was already warm outside.  They started off with some race tips and having some celebrity runners speak (Joey Fatone was running!), then they topped it off with someone singing the national anthem while fireworks flew behind the starting line.  I wasn’t kidding about the Disney magic.  Everything was pristine.  I, being patriotic, took off my Minnie Mouse ears and held it over my heart.

 Patiently waiting.

Thousands upon thousands of dreamers ready to run.

They didn’t get to my corral until about 6:15am which had me panicking since the sun was already coming up.  I didn’t train to run in the heat so that was my #1 concern.  My #2 concern was to avoid any injuries.  My #3 concern was crossing the finish line.  As much adrenaline as it is to help get a good run in, my health will always be most important.

 The starting line!

Mickey and Minnie cheering us on in their tracksuits.  So cute.

Anyway, here’s the good stuff!  I got to run through California Adventure (I got to see Radiator Springs!), see the backlot, run through Disneyland (and even under the castle!), and saw plenty of Disney characters along the way.  There were plenty of people that stopped to take photos with them, but there were lines and I didn’t want to waste my time waiting in line.  I ran, I smiled, and I ran.  I kinda wished I was in an earlier corral so I could see the castle all lit up, but it’s okay.  Next time.

The California Adventure ferris wheel.

Running through Main Street at Disneyland.

Heading towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

After the Disney fun, we were plopped out into the streets of Anaheim which is where things got more difficult.  The sun was shining in our faces, and there were some hills to climb.  My body started to heat up really quickly.  With the sun rising and the humidity in the air, it was clear that I couldn’t have prepared for this.  At that point, I told myself that I would just powerwalk any part of the run where the sun was beating on me.  I didn’t know how my body would react if I pushed through heat.

Phenonemal view for the most un-ideal situation.

The mile markers were handy, but not as handy as my Nike+ app!

The sweat was pouring, and the sun was beating.  I cursed the sun and humidity until I could find a little bit of sidewalk with shade.  We passed through crowds of people cheering.  There were dance crews, cheerleaders, and volunteers from local schools.  We saw some Mexican folk dancing and hula dancing.  These moments — these people — really helped to keep everyone going, including me.  Once we saw the Honda Center in the distance, there was also a car show for classic American cars and then an entire row of Mustangs.  I really didn’t pay much attention and just tried to dodge through the walkers, but it was a cool concept.  Side note: if you’re running with friends, try not to walk/run in a row.  It’s frustrating for those trying to pass — I noticed I wasn’t the only one.  The car show made the roads a little too narrow.

After we passed the Honda Center, we began approaching the Angels Stadium.  This was about Mile 9 and they had volunteers pass out some gel stuff to eat while running.  You chase it down with water, and WOW.  That gave me a second surge of energy!  (It’s Clif Shot Gels — I just Googled it).  I wanted to run through Anaheim Stadium, but because the path was so narrow, I had to just walk through.  It’s okay.  It was fun high-fiving the spectators 🙂

Honda Center.  You can somewhat see some Mustangs up front.

Approaching Angels Stadium.

And the crowd went wild!!!  Ok, not really.  What a great crowd though!  They were so encouraging!

Here we are at Mile 10, and my Nike+ app is telling me that I’m averaging 14 minutes a mile at this point. The max pace is 16 minutes a mile for this run, so I had wiggle room to walk a bit more. Since my goal was to finish without injury, I walked in the sun and ran in the shade.  Even with more walking, it was a bit of a struggle.  I just had to keep telling myself to keep one foot in front of the other.  Three.  More.  Miles.

Ah, Mile 13.  I see you from the distance.  We turn the corner to find ourselves back on Disney grounds.  There are some people who finished the race sitting here watching us amateurs run by.  They’re just sitting there with those amazing medals hanging from their neck.  I want one of those so bad.  I can’t believe I’m almost there, I thought.  Then I heard yelling and cheering — it was my husband and my brother and sister.. then later on, my cousin!  I throw my hands up in excitement, start running the last bit to hit mile 13 and then to the finish line.  I hear my husband yell “Finish strong, baby!”… and there I go.

Just keep running, just keep running…
Woohoo!  Finish line! (this was probably taken an hour after the race was long over, hence the cleanup crew)

It wasn’t easy.  I didn’t train as hard as I probably should’ve considering I was just too busy enjoying summer, but I trained enough to make sure I survived and didn’t get swept up.  Yes, there were people who didn’t get a medal because they couldn’t keep the pace.  If I hadn’t trained at all, I probably would’ve been at the end of the pack or painfully struggling in one form or another.  I was a terrible runner and didn’t understand my body before this all started.  You definitely need to train and understand if you ever sign up for a marathon.

I wanted to set a reasonable standard for me as well, as I’ll probably end up running another one at some point to keep healthy.  I’m hypothyroid, and living an idle lifestyle with hypothyroidism just don’t go well together.  I fell into that trap one too many times.  I finished at 3 hours and 18 minutes for an average pace of 15 minutes a mile.  I definitely plan to improve with more practice.

If I ever do this particular race again, it will be in 2 years or in 7 years for their 10th or 15th anniversary.  I think it would be epic.  Let me know if you’d like to join in.
As for the aftermath, I’m terribly sore but thankfully injury free!  I thank yoga for that.  I did believe that I deserved a good meal after that run though, so naturally I treated myself to In-N-Out.
And this is how I spent my time before and after that meal.  My husband laughed when he walked into the bedroom and saw me like this.  He had to snap a picture.  I think it’s pretty awesome.
Parting words that I believe are so true to this story… “The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”  Your body is capable of so much more than you think it can — finding the strength to finish the race wasn’t the hardest part.  Clicking “submit” on that registration page was.
Run Disney | 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
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