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Disneyland Half Marathon Archives

September 12, 2016

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Christopher Schmidt, back again to bring you a review of the 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.

The Expo itself was a breeze this year. Admittedly I don’t spend a ton of time shopping, and do not engage in the Official Race Merchandise madness at all. When the Expo opened, there was a healthy and eager crowd, but they did not overwhelm the volunteers dispensing bibs and shirts; my primary areas of concern. Jeff Galloway was again in attendance, of course. He was, again, exceedingly generous with his time; hanging around before and after his speaking engagement to meet and talk to participants and fans.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

I confess I was disappointed to hear the Official Race Guide would not be available in print this year. I often found it a bit heavy on advertisements, but as a handy resource for park hours, race times and courses, the guides are indispensable. Maps were posted all throughout the Health & Fitness Expo, which was helpful. The time I spent trying to capture just the right photo of them was unnecessary as our bibs came with a perfectly adequate Race Instruction pamphlet. Though not as complete as in previous years, it contained all of the weekend’s relevant maps and information with none of the distracting advertisements. I appreciate the runDisney sponsors, and am addicted to Clif Bars, but the pared-down guide has to be better for the environment.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Both the Disneyland 5K and 10K were wonderful. The 5K is still woefully brief, and had some bizarre theming this year. Liver Lips and Big Al, from Country Bear Jamboree, were the character guests of honor. I grew up on, and loved the Country Bear Jamboree. It was charming, and one of those attractions where you could consistently count on short lines. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh took over the Disneyland Country Bear Playhouse in 2001, making the bears an intriguing choice to host the 5K. Still, it is always a delight to see classic characters return. I’m afraid to ask if this portends the release of another Country Bears movie.

The 5K and 10K did not course down Route 66 this year, which was disappointing. Cars Land is a thrill at night, and also before sunrise as an exclusive part of a runDisney event. Both races did circle Radiator Springs, then cross through Cars Land. It was all well-lit and beautiful though I missed that emotional jolt of being essentially immersed in the movie.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

The World of Color light and water display in the heart of the 10K helped make up for the Cars Land abbreviation. The Aladdin theme for this year's 10K was a welcome touch. There was a bit of negative sentiment surrounding the discontinue of the popular Aladdin stage show in Disney California Adventure, even if it was to make room for Frozen. The Aladdin medals and on-course entertainment may have been a concession. There are many who would love to see the show make its way back into the Disneyland Resort somewhere soon.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

All of the 2016 races have been rerouted due to construction on Star Wars Land. This weekend’s courses omitted Frontierland, Adventureland and New Orleans Square entirely. There is still plenty of park land to cover, and in the 5K, the change was not disruptive. For the 10K and Half Marathon, the courses seemed to spend an exorbitant amount of time back stage. Often the behind-the-scenes glimpses are a major part of the appeal of a Disney race. Unfortunately, we spent little time running behind attractions and secret portions of the parks. We were relegated to less descript driveways and service roads. Still, none of this detracted from the amazing experience. It just didn’t add to it in the way circumnavigating Space Mountain and running behind Main Street have traditionally.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

There was a wealth of costumed characters out this year. RunDisney did a thorough job of highlighting the theme from each race throughout the weekend. While in previous years, it seemed they sort of just slapped a name on each race, then didn't go much beyond having XXXX wave at and high five runners at the start and finish lines, this year revealed a concentrated and intentional effort. Beasts and critters from Bear Country were on full display for the 5K. Aladdin and friends were the unmistakable highlight of the 10K. Mickey, Pluto and all the originals adorned each race, but were specifically all over the parks and staging area of the Half Marathon. Cast Members dressed in the race theme, acting in character along the course and within the parks, were a genuine highlight. The Aladdin and Jasmine look-a-likes in front of "it's a small world" were mic'd up and had an entertaining exchange going on as we passed. Bravo to the two Imperial Storm Troopers who were actively, convincingly, in character. I think the look of discomfort on the Ewok’s face above was genuine.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

Pooh and Piglet in the double-decker omnibus were a thrill, as was the lineup of Cast Members surrounding the hub and much of Main Street. But, again, the park time is over all too quickly. Before you know it, or want it to be so, the 5K and 10K courses are angling through Downtown Disney and their all-too-sudden finish.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

If you drew one of the deeper starting corrals for the half marathon, you were in for a tough slog. Among the thousands of participants there seemed a high number of early and frequent walkers. Walking is absolutely your prerogative, if that is your preferred approach. The number of participants walking at the outset this year, and throughout the race, appeared uncommon.

The half marathon had excellent on-course support. The volunteers, bands, etc., are so passionate and committed. The classic cars were present in their usual location on Cerritos Ave. They are always such a wonderful break after being outside the park for so long. Admittedly, it did feel like there weren't as many organized groups, e.g. bands, on the route this year.

I thought there were more costumes than I have ever seen for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. There really seemed to be a higher level of creativity and participation. The costumes ran the entire gamut. Tons of Minnies, Donalds and the other traditionalists. Then there was a bellhop carrying a "Looking for Work" sign vis-a-vis the closing of the Tower of Terror. One guy had an amazing Tron getup. In the dark he looked incredible, but of course it made him impossible to photograph.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

This year's medals were beautiful, sturdy and reliable. What participants have come to expect and mostly appreciate from the Disneyland Half Marathon, I believe. The Coast to Coast Medal however, shows the detail and intricacy that is going into other runDisney event medals. I do love tradition, but wish a little more creativity would spill over to the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend medals.

The weather was perfect for the entire weekend, really. There was nice cloud cover early in the race day, with pleasantly low humidity. Can’t really account for all the walking. This is not a criticism. I did, and do, my share of walking. We would all do well to pay more attention to Mr. Galloway. It’s just something different I noticed this year.

With the half marathon course circling and doubling back upon itself, something else I noticed were the elite runners finishing while many of us were just getting started. Not sure if I am more envious of those with such ability, or concerned for their emotional well-being. If I could run that fast through Disneyland, I’m not sure I would. It seems a tragic waste of the runDisney opportunity. Oh, believe me, I want to sprint through a few of those tedious middle miles. I just have to wonder if the elite runners are actually enjoying themselves. I guess being excellent at something is rewarding in and of itself.

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon

For the rest of us mere mortals, the runDisney experience continues to impress. It also beckons us back. I thank runDisney for another memorable weekend, as I look longingly toward November, the Super Heroes Half and the next incredible adventure.

August 27, 2016

Survive, Even Enjoy the Disneyland runDisney Health & Fitness Expo

Disneyland sign

Greetings. My name is Christopher Schmidt, a former Disneyland Cast Member, ongoing passionate Disney fanatic and absolute runDisney disciple. The 2016 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is fast approaching. Every runDisney event is an opportunity to enjoy an added, semi-exclusive, layer of Disney magic. Unfortunately, what lies between guests and their spectacular experience is an often daunting Health & Fitness Expo hurdle. With the proper approach, mostly shaped by timing and attitude as much as anything else, you may sail through the potentially troubled waters and absolutely enjoy yourself.

To experience total enjoyment at Disneyland, very little is required of you. A bit of patience and some disposable income, sure, but as far as fun and fulfillment go, you almost have to try to have a bad time. These festivities are very well attended. Participants also have to get up obscenely early in the morning. But everything else, from decorations to the course design, music and amenities, every Disney detail is carefully crafted to maximize guest enjoyment. All you do is show up and let an unbelievable experience embrace you.

Then, like a hurricane on the horizon, we have the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo. No amount of exceptional Disney-patented planning and organization seems to mitigate the potential Expo pitfalls. Whether it’s merchandise, bib-number retrieval, pins or the improperly-sized participant t-shirts, tales of Expo woe persist beyond any capacity to rectify them. Considering Disney’s guest-centric priority structure, that is saying something.

runDisney medals

Every single participant in every race throughout a runDisney weekend is required to attend the Expo. There is no other way to pick up your bib, shirt and sundry swag. Each half marathon attracts a minimum of ten thousand entrants. The Disneyland Half Marathon alone draws almost twice that. Throw in the 5Ks, 10Ks and Kids Races, and you are talking about a lot of needy humans passing through a crowded space in a limited amount of time.

Try to avoid limiting yourself one single, rigid window of time in which to get your stuff. If you arrive at the Expo during high tide, faced with resolute human gridlock, your best option is to come back later. The poor Cast Member assigned to direct people who refuse to read the huge, boldly printed signs is not the person responsible for the chaos or your plight. Do them and the spirit of the event a favor by not yelling at them. Do yourself a favor and remain flexible. Come back later. Chances are there will be fewer people. Worst case, if you can't come back, joining the current crush of humanity will help prepare you for the corral experience that awaits you at your race in the morning.

Once you commit to the Expo try to enjoy yourself. Negotiating the admittedly crowded convention hall can get frustrating. If you let it, matters can get off to a positively unpleasant start. So don't let it. Remember you are surrounded by people with whom you share a pleasurable interest; people who are purposely engaged in an activity that you all enjoy. Then, packing the floor and lining every wall are booths bursting with stuff to make your run easier and the whole weekend that much more spectacular. Some of it is free. Grab some cranberries and a CLIF Bar, try on some new shoes (these are not free), shop for authentic runDisney merchandise—if there's any left (see below). Let the crowd take you where it will and explore the place. At the very least, count the manifold blessing that you aren’t running yet and the Expo is inside a thoroughly air-conditioned building.

Disneyland Expo entrance

Packet Pick-Up – Your race bib is your #1 Expo priority. Yes, the Expo repeatedly runs out of commemorative pins, which is infuriating—and is why you should order one online when you register—but you can still participate in your race without one. Try to handle the packet pick-up first. This is particularly important for half marathon participants as the Expo continues to close astoundingly early on Saturday afternoon, and is not open at all the morning of your race.

Bibs are claimed on the lower level of the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall. Find your way there by paying attention to signs and helpful Cast Members. Following the herd will draw you directly into the Upper Level Exhibit Hall, where you will find acres of fine goodies and gear and the incomparable Jeff Galloway. Once relegated to this sprawling room, it can be difficult to make your way out and there is almost no indication how to get to the lower level, or that you are even supposed to. Even as a veteran of dozens of these specific functions, I still sometimes lose my bearings in the upper hall.

Packet Pick-Up can be a breeze, or it can be a logjam. Naturally, it depends on when you arrive. The setup is beautiful: clearly delineated entry and exit, a wide-open floor plan, separate stations for each race, even clean accessible restrooms. Again, problems arise during those periods when too many of us arrive at once. When pick-up does develop a line, the good news is it moves fairly well, assuming you already have your waiver and aren’t simply in the line of people taking photos of the huge Disneyland cutout at the bottom of the ramp.

A signed waiver and photo ID are required to retrieve your race packet. If you do not print a waiver ahead of time at runDisney.com, there is a station on the lower level for doing just that. I have always had success here on the occasions I admittedly arrived without my paperwork.

A tip for families and supporters: if you don’t want to follow your particular runDisney participant all over the Expo, while they are retrieving their bib seek out the “Runner Tracking” station on the upper level. A fun game is to count the number of people who get out of line when they realize these aren’t the waiver printing computers.

Your packet is the key to the runDisney kingdom. Inside is your race bib, voucher for your gEAR bag and the pins you should have ordered. Pull out your bib to confirm your starting position, but don’t dawdle. Those who put off getting their shirts do so at their own peril.

(Laura's Note: If you are participating in the Dumbo Double Dare, make sure you get your photo taken with your bib number before you leave the packet pick-up area.)

Expo Sparkle Skirts booth

Shirts and gEAR Bags – as soon as you get your packet head back upstairs. The volunteers handing out shirts won’t give out gEAR without the proper voucher from your packet. runDisney has established a shirt-exchange table. This is a grand courtesy, but again, the more common sizes are hard to come by as fewer people are handing them in. Don’t walk away until you’ve scrutinized your own gEAR.

10K and half marathon tech shirts are beautiful and make an exceptional collector’s item, taking a tiny bit of the sting out of the registration fee. For the 5K you get a regular t-shirt. They’re nice too, featuring delightful Disney themes and artistry, though not sure how far yet another sleep shirt goes toward mitigating the cost of registration. Shirt sizes run small, except for that year they were inexplicably huge. Throw yours on really quick when you get it. Then stand there until your 14-year-old does the same. In your hotel room a mile away, on the wrong side of Disneyland’s bag check at 7 p.m. on Saturday night is not the place to find out your daughter’s shirt doesn’t fit, and that she’s never going to wear it.

Expo booths

Samples and Shopping – once you’ve got your bib and a correctly sized shirt you have fulfilled what can be thought of as your Expo responsibilities. You are now free to wander about, shop and ease into the experience. So many of us keep a rigid checklist, if only in our heads, and move compulsively from one specific demand to the next. After I checkoff that race-bib box, I try to make a point to slow down. Try to check your own box as promptly as your own neuroses will allow, and invite your own enjoyable experience to commence.

I find the pull of the Disney Parks almost overwhelming at this point, and don’t tend to linger. I am thankful for the occasions on which I did browse around a bit, and unless you have children who already smell Disneyland popcorn, I recommend you do the same. On two successive runDisney weekends I discovered and became a dedicated consumer of Chocolate Mint CLIF Builder’s Bars and Dannon Active fruit fusion. The sample offerings alone are worth your time. Expo vendors probably wouldn’t mind if you buy some stuff, too.

runDisney medals

runDisney Merchandise – longer, slower and more baffling than the line for Storybook Land Canal Boats, shopping or rather waiting to shop - for Official Event Merchandise is a true test of one’s esprit Disney. Limited supplies, sizes and cash registers are just a portion of the problems associated with this annual aggravation. The problem itself is anchored in recursive overwhelming demand. Interested parties know the items sell out, so they have no choice but to descend upon the Expo the instant it opens, and create their own habitual nightmare. This is blasphemy, of course, but if you don’t insist upon the ultra-exclusive stuff, and you wait even a few hours, shopping at the Expo can be both pleasurable and almost similarly rewarding.

Almost everyone tries to hit the Expo first thing. It makes total sense, as you want to leave the rest of your day/weekend open for the parks, pools and pomegranate limeade. Consequently, the Expo is busy early. Try to stop by any other time. It's best, even, to arrange your day so that you aren't committed to conducting your Expo business at any set time. Swing by the Disneyland Hotel and Expo at random. If it looks busy, come back later.

Jeff Galloway at DL Half Expo

f you aren’t looking to put a bunch of extra miles on your feet, settle in and listen to one of the helpful, knowledgeable speakers. If you are not familiar with Jeff Galloway and his astounding distance running techniques, prepare to have your life and perspective on exercise forever changed for the better. Mr. Galloway draws a crowd himself, which may not be the mayhem cure you’re looking for. His wisdom will serve you well if you can get close enough to listen. Then once he’s done, the hall tends to empty out a bit. If you can beat those people to the merchandise lines, you may be able to breeze through.

The bottom line, make extra time, and take your time. Time is a precious commodity at a Disney Resort and, true, there is not a minute to be wasted. The difference between starting your runDisney Weekend off on the right foot and hurtling it down the road to frustration and disaster is a simple matter of budgeting. If you have to sacrifice an attraction or two, to make a second or third pass of the Expo, your children will never forgive you, but you open a far wider window for further enjoyment. Do that, and enjoy yourself on purpose.

September 14, 2015

2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Half Marathon

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Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

Sunday morning at 3:45... time to get up for the 10th Disneyland Half Marathon!

We'd gotten almost everything set aside and ready to go the night before, but we still had some final preparations. Everyone has their own pre-race routines - it's a very individual thing. What works for me doesn't necessarily work for Lee and vice versa. We both get up and have something to eat - I eat yogurt, and he usually has a bagel/toast with peanut butter. And he has to have his coffee. The coffee spots in the Disney hotels open early on race mornings, as do several places in Downtown Disney, such as Starbucks. Lots of runners AND spectators take advantage of that.

Have I mentioned yet how much easier race mornings are at Disneyland because we don't have to take a bus and can walk to the starting line? I did? :-)

The number of participants in the half marathon is not quite double that of the 10K, and it's noticeable, especially in the pre-race area. It's not horribly crowded, but there are longer lines for the porta-potties and more people trying to get to the starting corrals. Just another reason to love 10Ks. :-)

There's not the "show" at the start line for the half marathon like there is for the 5K and 10K races. This one was pretty understated. The race announcers recognized the 436 "Legacy" runners who have finished all of the previous Disneyland half marathons. Jessica
Bernard, one of the current Disneyland Ambassadors, sang the national anthem - it was a beautiful performance. And there were some fireworks, too.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon fireworks

Weather-wise it was another nice morning for running. About the same temperature as the day before, though I think the humidity was a little higher and it felt slightly warmer to me. As the morning went on the humidity dropped - but the temperature went up. Still, for me the drop in humidity compensated for the slightly higher temperature, and I was pretty comfortable. Not that I wasn't a sweaty mess, but I wasn't miserable like I have been for some of these Disneyland Half Marathon races! (2013. Ugh.)

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon start

We were again in Corral B, though running with a larger group this time. There were seven of us. We tried to be considerate of our fellow runners, running in single- or double-file where the course was crowded, and moving to the side when we were walking.

I was surprised that the start of the race didn't feel nearly as slow/crowded as it did for the 10K. I think that's because the new proof-of-time system does a much better job of group like-paced runners together, so everyone was going a similar pace right off the start line, and we didn't have to try to get around slower runners/walkers.

Another surprise: the race course was modified slightly this year. Instead of going south and turning left on Katella we turned left and ran backstage behind Disney California Adventure. This was a little challenging because it bunched us together more and there were cones placed at intervals in the center that we had to watch out for. They were hard to see in the dark.

This tweak to the course meant we had a little more on property time and it seemed like we were in the parks a bit more. Some of the way we ran seemed like we ran in the opposite direction of the way it's been for this race in the past. That's not a complaint, just an observation. We find it interesting to see how runDisney manages to do all of these race courses just a little bit differently, which has to be a challenge given the limited space. We appreciate that they do make them different instead of just re-using the same course over and over. (Cough...Walt Disney World...cough.)

Anyway...running through Radiator Spring in the dark with the neon lights glowing is always a thrill. We were running with a couple of people for whom this was their first Disneyland half marathon. It's always fun to see it through someone else's eyes. We also ran around part of Paradise Bay where the World of Color fountains and the Fun Wheel were going.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

Jafar is the only character I remember seeing in DCA, and the line was pretty long.

We ran down Buena Vista Street and out of DCA across the Esplanade to Disneyland. We stopped at the floral Mickey - I wanted to get a similar picture to the one I have from the first Disneyland Half Marathon.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon
Disneyland 50th Floral Mickey

We passed the two mile mark just inside Disneyland, and then we really wound around and backstage and in and out. I was getting dizzy. :-) But I think we were in all of the lands except Adventureland. I made a new friend, too. :-) I was surprised they let me touch him, but the handler said to go ahead.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon food box

Sometime after mile 3 we passed near the start line, and could still hear the announcers sending runners off. The race had been going for about 45 minutes at that point. It takes a long time to start 16,000+ people.

There were a number of character stops in Disneyland, though I think that overall there were fewer than there were in the 10K. And most of the lines were pretty long. But I found a couple of shorter lines.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Queen of Hearts

The Captain is always such a gentleman - for a pirate. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon Captain Hook Peter Pan

This summer the PhotoPass photographers have had sign boards of various designs - I was glad to see one for Half Marathon Weekend.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon signs

As usual, at the mile 4 mark we were outside the parks and on Disneyland Drive. The rest of the course was the same as it's been for quite a while now.

Fun to see these two cheering out on the course!

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon storm troopers

The sun was just starting to come up as we turned east on Ball Rd. There was a nice sunrise.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon sunrise

Our favorite multi-generational mariachi group was performing just after mile 5. It's always wonderful to see them.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon mariachi group

There's no particular theme for the Disneyland Half Marathon, so runners come up with all kinds of costume ideas. This one was pretty clever. (She carried it rather than running in it, but still, that would be a lot to carry for 13.1 miles.)

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon e-ticket runner costume

Past mile 7 the Polynesian dance group was on the course to entertain us. It's wonderful to see how the city of Anaheim comes out to support the runners.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon hula dancers

The classic cars are a relatively new addition to the race - we started seeing them in 2012. This year there were even more of them, and they occupied another ~1/4-mile more of the course. They arrange them mostly by date, with the older cars first.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon classic cars
Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon classic cars

We found one that matched our shirts.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon classic cars

This Star Wars-inspired van was beautiful.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon classic cars

We even found the Batmobile!

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Batmobile

After we ran past the Honda Center we dropped down to the Santa Ana River Trail. Most of it is paved now, but the first part was dirt. I know a lot of runners don't like it, but I do - it's a relief to run on a different surface. This is one of the Legacy runners, in the pretty blue powder blue shirt that they all received. (Why couldn't they have given the rest of us a blue shirt instead of gray?)

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Legacy runner

At mile 9 we'd reached Angel Stadium.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Angel Stadium

Running inside the stadium is always energizing. They get hundreds of Boy and Girl Scouts to cheer on the runners, and they do a great job of passing some of that energy to us.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Angel Stadium
Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Angel Stadium

Mile 10 - only 3.1 to go! As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day. Which is not great for running. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the sun had burned off some of the humidity. And we were running into a little bit of a breeze so it was relatively comfortable for us. Those who started later and were on the course longer might not agree with me, though. But at least it was significantly cooler than the last two years.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Mile 10

In addition to the groups I've previously mentioned, there were lots of cheerleading squads and high school bands out on the course. They were enthusiastic and loud and very encouraging. We especially appreciate them in that mile 10-12 stretch when we're starting to get mentally fatigued, too. RunDisney seems to know this, because that's where a lot of them are placed. Lee does his best to give back to them and let them know they are appreciated. :-)

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon band

We had two friends, Jan and Molly, who were out cheering on our extended group of friends as well as other runners.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

They got a lot of sweaty hugs that day! Thanks, ladies - you ROCK!

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

As usual the course went backstage at DCA at mile 12. There were lots of cheerleaders to encourage us as we went around the Paradise Pier Hotel and then the last .2 miles to the finish line.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon finish

Here's our excellent little running group - we had a great time together. Running Disney races with friends is a lot of fun. You won't get a best time, but you'll HAVE the best time. :-)

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

We went to the tent to collect our Dumbo Double Dare medals - the volunteers looked up our numbers and said we were good, and then we received our medals. While I still question the need for this process, it is efficient. And I'm happy not to have to wear a wristband after finishing the 10K.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

I was hoping that maybe for the 10th Disneyland 1/2 marathon we'd get real food, but no. Just the runDisney MRE boxes. Sigh. Though just after finishing we received some really nice cool towels. Those felt very good. The sun was out and it was warming up. There was a light breeze that provided some cooling, though.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon food box

As we were leaving the finish area I noticed the sign with the names of all 436 Legacy runners on it.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon Legacy runners

The 10th anniversary medal is pretty nice. It's a spinner with a running Mickey on one side and the castle on the other.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon medal

For the most part it was an excellent race experience for us. A few comments: The slight change in the course was interesting except that it made it a little narrow for us early in the race. It seemed like there were fewer characters than in the past, especially as compared to the 10K the day before. We heard that some of the water stations ran out of PowerAde for those that were at the back of the pack, but that was not an issue for us.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon stage

But the community on-course entertainment was excellent. We are grateful to the citizens of Anaheim and surrounding communities for their continued support of this race over the years. In addition to the entertainment there are the hundreds of volunteers who work the Expo, the water stations, the medals, prepare the shirt bags, and a lot more things that I haven't thought of. I also must mention the wonderful Disney cast members who lend their support in so many ways. Thank you to all of you for everything that you do!

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

We had a great time during this race weekend. The races were fun, but even more than that we enjoyed spending time with a lot of our Disney running friends, both while running and in the parks. And we came home with some pretty nice bling, too.

Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon medals

Our next race will be the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November. We're hoping for better weather than last year, when it was the "Wet and Drenched Half Marathon." :-)





September 6, 2015

2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Expo and 10K

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Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

The events of our Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend have begun! We are running the Dumbo Double Dare for the third time, which means running the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

As always, we started at the Health and Fitness Expo, held in the Convention Center of the Disneyland Hotel. It opened on Thursday morning. We arrived on Friday around noon and went down the ramp to the bib pick-up area. We had pre-printed our race waivers at home (always highly recommended as it can save you a lot of time if there's a line for the computers at the Expo). Very short lines for bib pick up. In addition to the bib, race program, and bag tag, we received a 10th anniversary luggage tag, also.

Disneyland Half Marathon luggage tag

The volunteer made sure to tell us that, as Dumbo Double Dare participants, we needed to have our photo taken with our bib number - our "runDisney mug shot", as I call it. :-) They will use that to ID us after we finish on Sunday.

We went upstairs to the Expo itself. They had the entrance nicely decorated.

Disneyland Half Marathon Expo

Shirt and bag pick-up was also very easy. I really love the design of the 10K shirt! But the inside of the shirt feels very thick and rubbery and sticky behind the design. I'm hoping that will go away when it's washed. I am disappointed in the color of the half marathon shirt - they have this beautiful blue that they have been using for a lot of the Diamond Anniversary merchandise: why couldn't they use that for the shirt color? And the Dumbo shirt, well, let's just say that you'll see us coming... :-)

Disneyland 10th Half Marathon Race Shirts

We went over to the Official Merchandise area, and I was very surprised that there was a line to get in! I've never seen that on Friday afternoon before.

Disneyland Half Marathon Expo

Friends had already picked up for me the one item that I really wanted, but we got in line anyway, and it moved pretty fast. Once inside it really wasn't crowded at all. There still seemed to be a good variety of merchandise - I saw everything that I expected to see, so nothing was noticeably missing. And the cast members were doing a very good job of restocking.

Disneyland Half Marathon Merchandise


Disneyland Half Marathon Hat


Disneyland Half Marathon Merchandise

Lee found a shirt and magnet that he liked, but I didn't get anything else. There was a good variety of merchandise, just nothing that appealed to me. I have SO many running shirts and race-related shirts!

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Shirt

We took a quick wander around the Expo floor - stopped by the runDisney booth to take a look at the medals on display. The one that we were hoping to see is the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal for the upcoming Avengers Half Marathon weekend, but they haven't unveiled that one yet.

Disney Medals

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with running friends, most of whom we only see at Disney races. I was happy to have the opportunity to take my friend Joe into Cars Land for his very first time - I love doing that! We went in from the Pacific Wharf side, which I think is the very best place for your first look. He was suitably impressed.

Cars Land Cadillac Range

Since we were in the area we stopped by the new Diamond Anniversary photo spot in "a bug's land". This one is a lot of fun - they even have a magnifying glass and a net to use as props. The forced perspective works really well!

Bug's Land Diamond Photo Spot

Later we had our usual pre-race dinner at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. It was a lot busier than usual, with a very long line of people waiting for the four-cheese ravioli.

And then back to our room to prepare for the 10K, and our 3:45 wakeup call, the next morning.


3:45 is early, but since we're in our own time zone it's a lot easier for us to get up for the Disneyland races than for the Disney World races. And, since we can walk to the starting line rather than catching a bus, we are getting up about an hour and a half later than we would for a WDW race. So much easier.

I love how they have changed the theme of the Disneyland 10K each year. This year the theme was villains - and I think just about everyone was thrilled with that choice. (Wouldn't an entire villains-themed race series be great?) During the pre-race show a number of the villains were out on stage.

Disneyland 10K stage

There are about 10,000 runners in the 10K as opposed to about 18,000 in the half marathon, and the difference is noticeable in the pre-race area. A lot more room to move around and not nearly the lines for the porta-potties!

It was a great morning for running. So much nicer than it's been the last several years. Still on the humid side, but the temperature at the start was about 66.

Lee and I were going to run with our friend Stan and around 5:15 we headed to Corral B. Our race announcers were already on stage getting everyone ready to go. In keeping with the villains theme there was a very interesting version of the national anthem - a rock version played on a screaming electric guitar. I liked it in this setting, but it's not something I'd want to hear all of the time.

Disneyland 10K announcers

The Evil Queen usurped the race start privileges for herself, and did the "Ready, set, go" honors, much to race announcer Rudy's chagrin. :-) But she only did it for the first wave, and Rudy got to send everyone else off - including those of us in Corral B.

The 10K course goes south on West Street to the convention center. We were about halfway back in Corral B, and we found the first 3/4 of a mile to be a little congested, but not too bad. We just didn't quite have the running space we would've liked. After that I thought it was fine. But we had a friend who started in Corral C, who was going for a sub-1 hour finish, and he missed it because he was in a lot of traffic for over a mile.

After going past the convention center we went north on Harbor, then back behind DCA. That was just before the two-mile mark. And after that we were on Disney property the rest of the time. That's one of the aspects of this course that I really enjoy - lots of park time!

We ran into Radiator Springs and down route 66. Love doing this when the neon lights are on!

Disneyland 10K Radiator Springs

This race apparently encouraged the villains to emerge from their lairs, and we saw quite a few of them on the course. The first of the villains character stops was Dr. Facilier, near Ariel's Undersea Adventure. In hindsight I wish we'd stopped there because it ended up being the shortest line that we saw. He was miked, and we could hear his comments to runners - he was totally in character. Really fun.

Lotso was in front of Toy Story Mania. Not your traditional villain, but quite appropriate for that area. He had a pretty long line and we didn't stop. We finished our lap of Paradise Bay and ran towards Grizzly Rapids and Soarin' Over California, where the mile 3 sign was placed.

Disneyland 10K 3 mile sign

Hades was near Off the Page in Hollywood with a huge line, but Lady Tremaine (Cinderella's stepmother) was in front of the animation building with a fairly short line so we stopped. It was the only character photo that we ended up getting. She was suitably disdainful. :-)

Disneyland 10K Lady Tremaine

We went backstage near the Tower of Terror and went through the tunnel that goes under the tram/bus area and backstage to Disneyland. There was really great villainous music playing in there. Actually, the music was great all over the parks - it really set the right tone. I think the entertainment people had a whole lot of fun with the theme of this race! Throughout the parks there were various cast members dressed in purple who were cheering (or jeering) us on - we stopped for a photo with a couple of them on Main Street.

Disneyland 10K cast members

I think there was a character on Main Street that we didn't stop for. I was surprised not to see Darth Vader and/or the Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland. I guess now that they have a Star Wars race he's exclusive to that. The mile 4 sign was near Innoventions, and since it had Frollo on it, and the guys were wearing shirts that brought to mind the "Hellfire" song, we had to stop for that. :-)

Disneyland 10K 4 mile sign

Governor Ratcliffe and Shan Yu were together near "small world". That was a very long line. We ran around backstage for a while, then ran back into Toontown and into Fantasyland. Another character (Captain Hook?) with a long line - so we took a photo of the Mile 5 sign instead.

Disneyland 10K 5 mile sign

We actually were able to run through the castle - sometimes people really slow down there because of the photographers, but they had people who were talking to the runners and trying to keep them moving. We went into Frontierland and around the Rivers of America. Brer Fox and Brer Bear were out for photos in Critter Country.

Eventually we went backstage and around the perimeter of the park and back out near the tram stop, then ran through Downtown Disney. And there was the mile 6 sign. "Mirror, mirror on the wall...who's the fastest of them all?"

Disneyland 10K 6 mile sign

Maleficent was standing near the finish line, but I couldn't really stop to get a photo of her. Our official time was 1:12:34, including photo stops, so that wasn't too bad.

Disneyland 10K Finish Line

I really like the medal!

Disneyland 2015 10K Villains Medal

The sun was not quite all the way up when we finished, but it came up while we were waiting in the finish area and it started to warm up quickly. So it gave us an idea of what to expect the next day for the half marathon.

Disneyland 10K finishers

The thing that is difficult about this race is leaving the finish area to get back to the hotels or theme parks because the course runs through Downtown Disney and you end up having to cross the course several times. A very slow process when there are lots of people. This time when we left the finish area cast members were telling runners who wanted to go to those areas that they should walk over to the Mickey and Friends parking area and take the tram to Disneyland. Then there was only one place where you needed to cross the course. But as it turned out we had waited long enough in the finish area that the race was over by the time we got to Downtown Disney. The race started at 5:30 and it was over just a few minutes before 8:00.

Say what you will about the villains - they really know how to throw a party. This was a terrific 10K, maybe my favorite Disney 10K so far - though the Star Wars 10K earlier this year was wonderful, also. The runners seemed to enjoy this one, and I saw lots of clever villain-inspired costumes.

Disneyland Half Marathon coming up!





September 4, 2015

2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - A Look Back

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Disneyland 10th Annual Half Marathon

It's time for the 10th Annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!. In this blog I thought I'd take a look back at the very first Disneyland Half Marathon and some of the changes over the years. I remember how excited we were for the Inaugural race weekend nine years ago, on September 15-17, 2006. At the time Disneyland was still celebrating its 50th anniversary, and this year it's the 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration!

Disneyland 50th Floral Mickey

A lot of things have changed since that first Disneyland Half Marathon. The very next year the race weekend was moved from the third weekend of September to Labor Day, where it has remained ever since. In 2008 the first Coast-to-Coast medals were awarded to those who had finished the WDW Half Marathon or WDW Marathon in January, then finished the Disneyland Half Marathon that same year. With the addition of the Disneyland 10K in 2013, the race weekend has been extended a day, and now starts on Thursday. The year 2013 also introduced the Dumbo Double Dare race challenge, with an additional medal awarded to those who finish the 10K and the half marathon.

There are many more participants - according to runDisney, more than 29,000 people will participate in the events of this year's half marathon weekend. The Inaugural half marathon was capped at 12,000 runners, while this year's race will have more than 18,000 runners.

The first half marathon took about five months to sell out...this year's race was sold out within hours. In 2006 the registration fee for the half marathon was $85 and the 5K was only $25. The kid's races were $5 per child. Seems like a bargain compared to this year's $199/$75/$20 fees - though the price certainly does not seem to have discouraged people from signing up.

I think that first year was a bit of an experiment, and the race organizers weren't sure how well it would go over. There were a few signs of that, like the mile markers. A lot different than what we are used to now.

Disneyland Inaugural Half Marathon Mile Marker

I think they really outdid themselves when it came to Disney characters along the course. I have photos from 16 different character stops! In that first race, long before the days of cell phone cameras, I was one the few people who carried a small camera with me. This was also before the advent of PhotoPass, so there weren't a bunch of Disney photographers with the characters, and it meant that not very many people stopped to have their photos taken with them. We stopped for all of them in that first race - and some of them featured multiple characters, too - like five Alice in Wonderland characters, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip and the three fairies, and Lilo and Stitch. And my estimate was that the photo stops only added 10 minutes to my finish time...you sure can't do that now.

Disneyland Half Marathon Alice

The race experience itself was excellent that first year. I didn't notice any major first-year glitches. I think my biggest complaint was that the race shirt had long sleeves - why would you do that for a race held in southern California in September?

Here's a comment I wrote about the refreshments in 2006: "In the refreshment area there were drinks, as well as fruit, bagels, muffins, and yogurt parfaits." I really wish they would bring THOSE sorts of refreshments back rather than those runDisney MRE boxes...

One thing that hasn't changed is the tremendous community support the half marathon receives from the city of Anaheim. Even in that very first race we were cheered on by high school bands, cheerleaders, and Boy and Girl Scouts. And we were entertained by two large dance groups - a Polynesian group and a mariachi group. Both of these featured participants of all ages. All of those groups have continued to be a presence on the course every year, and I always look forward to seeing them.

Disneyland Half Marathon Polynesian Dancers

And I must put in a good word for the amazing and hard-working volunteers and cast members, also. They are essential to the success of this race weekend, and have been wonderful every single year.

The medals were just as gorgeous then as they are now - that first castle medal was pretty special. This year, in honor of the 10th race and the 60th anniversary, there's a new medal that goes along with the diamond anniversary theme. I'll be happy to add that one to my collection, too.

Disneyland Half Marathon Inaugural medal

This will be the 8th time that Lee and I have run the Disneyland Half Marathon. Each of them has been memorable in some way and I'm looking forward to this year's race.

Disneyland Half Marathon





April 13, 2015

Trip Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

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In response to one of my recent half marathon blogs, Kristyn sent this comment:

Enjoy your RunDisney posts. I am looking for recommendations on two topics if you can help me, Laura. I am doing my first event this fall at Wine and Dine. Can you do a blog on how you prepare for a nighttime race as most of us are used to the early morning runs. Also, not sure if it has ever been covered, but how to plan on where to stay and how to get to to packet pickup and the event if you don't have a rental car. Would love some advice on how to plan for a RunDisney trip. Thanks.

I'm hoping there are others of you that are interested in this information, too. So here are some of my thoughts on how to plan a trip for a runDisney race.


7-9 months in advance

Choose a race weekend and a race or races.

The first decision you have to make is which race weekend you're going to attend, and which events are you going to participate in. This could be influenced by a number of factors, including work/school schedules, potential weather conditions, and race theme.

As I write this, runDisney offers seven different race weekends in Florida and California, with most race weekends including 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. (There's no 10K for Wine and Dine Weekend; and WDW Marathon Weekend also features the WDW Marathon, which is the granddaddy of them all!)

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

So, what's it going to be? Decisions, decisions. WDW Marathon Weekend in early January offers all four race distances, in addition to the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. This is also the largest runDisney race weekend and has the most participants.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Is The Force with you? Then you might want to choose Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, which is also in January, a week after Marathon Weekend. There are 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as the Rebel Challenge, where runners do both the 10K and the half marathon. Races at Disneyland have smaller fields since the resort is smaller - this tends to make for a more pleasant race experience, but it also means they often sell out faster.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Are you looking for a "Girls' Getaway"? Then you might be interested in Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World or Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Both of these race weekends are women-focused. That doesn't mean that men are not allowed, but in the last few years women have outnumbered men by about 11:1 in the half marathons. Both race weekends offer 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as a 10K/half marathon challenge. Princess Half Marathon Weekend takes place at the end of February.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

This year Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend has been moved from January to Mother's Day Weekend in May. We'll see how that works out - many of us (myself included) think that's a poor choice for a race weekend, especially one focused on women. Getting up really early to run a half marathon is not the kind of pampering that most moms are looking for on Mother's Day!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is held over Labor Day weekend, and also offers 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, and includes the Dumbo Double Dare 10K/half marathon challenge. It's pretty warm in Anaheim at this time of year, but a race weekend is a great excuse to visit Disneyland, if you haven't been out here before. The City of Anaheim really comes out in support of this one, with lots of high school bands, cheerleaders, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community dance groups. And then there's the classic cars!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Do you want to run a race and party afterward? Then the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon might be for you. This is my favorite WDW race: it's at night, it's a different course that goes through three theme parks, and there's an after-race party in Epcot until 4:00 a.m. The Food and Wine Festival food booths are open, as well as some attractions, and there's also special entertainment. The race weekend takes place in early November. There's no 10K for this one, just the 5K (which takes place the same day as the half marathon - but early in the morning), and the half marathon. But the 5K is also slightly different, since it's held at Animal Kingdom and not at Epcot like the others. This half is also a smaller field than the other WDW races.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

If you want to bring out your inner super hero, then how about the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland? In addition to having the longest name, this is the last runDisney event of the year, and takes place the week after Wine and Dine. There are 5K, 10K (new this year), and half marathon races. With the introduction of the 10K, there's the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Weather-wise, this is a terrific time for a race in California.* In addition, the parks are fully decorated for the holidays. making it a special time of year for a visit to the Disneyland Resort.

*Last year's wind event during the half marathon was an anomaly.

Now that you've decided on a race...

Race registration opens 7-9 months in advance, (you can visit the runDisney web site to sign up for a reminder email) and many of the races sell out quickly (sometimes in under 30 minutes!). I highly recommend that you be prepared to register the minute that race registration opens (typically at 12:00 eastern time) so that you don't get shut out. The 10Ks and race challenges are usually the earliest to sell out, because they allow fewer participants. If you are an Annual Pass Holder or DVC member, there will be a pre-registration opportunity about two weeks before regular registration opens. A limited number of registrations are available during this time, and they also tend to go quickly. The good news is that if you qualify for this you get two shots at registering, and if you don't get in via pre-registration, you can try again during open registration. (In the past pre-registration was also available to Disney Visa card holders, but I do not know if this is still the case.)

RunDisney uses active.com as their registration site. If you don't already have an active.com account, then it's a good idea to set one up in advance. It doesn't help with pre-registration, but during open registration it will speed the process if you have an active.com account you can log into.


So you're registered...what's next?

Time to make some additional decisions about the race weekend. Are you going to turn it into a vacation, and add on some days before and/or after the race? Where are you going to stay? How are you going to get around? Some of these considerations are slightly different depending on whether the race is at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, so I'll address them separately.

Since most of us travel to WDW or Disneyland we want to spend some extra time there apart from the races to give some added value to the trip. I personally recommend adding more of the time on after the race and not before. You'll still want to arrive at least a day or two before the race so that you have time to visit the Race Expo and pick up your race bib and shirt, etc., but once the race is over it's nice to have some time to relax and enjoy the parks.

At Walt Disney World, if you are staying on-site at a WDW resort, then race transportation and where to stay are kind of all rolled together. For each race weekend, there are multiple Walt Disney World resorts that are designated "host resorts". Race transportation is provided for runners staying at these hotels - this includes free transportation to/from the Expo in addition to transportation to/from the races. So, between using Disney's Magical Express for airport transportation and normal Disney transportation to the parks, then if you're staying at a host resort you probably don't need a rental car. For Marathon and Princess weekends, all WDW resorts are considered host resorts and offer race transportation. For Wine and Dine, the resort choices are more limited. You can visit the runDisney web site and go to Travel->Walt Disney World and then select the race weekend you are interested in for more information on the host resorts.

At Disneyland everything is much more compact, so from any of the Disney hotels and from many of the hotels in the surrounding area you simply walk to/from any race weekend events. The Expos are held in the convention center at the Disneyland Hotel, and the races all start/end near either the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier Hotel. (This makes the race morning logistics a WHOLE lot easier than at WDW - no bus ride required!). There are some designated host hotels that are further away which do offer Expo and race transportation, so that's also an option.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's no "Magical Express" equivalent at Disneyland, though there are a number of reputable shuttle services that provide airport transportation to all area hotels. You'll have to pay for it, but balance that off against the price of a car rental. Also, most hotels (including the Disney hotels) charge a fee for parking, so that's another thing to keep in mind. The two most popular airports to fly into are John Wayne (SNA) and Los Angeles International (LAX). SNA is a whole lot closer to Disneyland, but doesn't have as many flights. Long Beach (LGB) is another airport option, but it's very small, and few airlines fly there.

There are only three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, and they are all high-end, so Disney depends on their "Good Neighbor" hotels to provide the more moderate and budget-priced options. You won't get the Disney theming, but the accommodations are just fine, especially if your biggest requirement is a place to sleep and shower.

And did I mention that a lot of them are walking distance to the race events and the parks? :-) i can not stress enough what a huge benefit that is when running a race at Disneyland. You can find some additional information, including links to the hotel web sites, on our Good Neighbor Hotel FAQ


2-7 months in advance

Train for your race(s). I'm not going to say too much about this, since everyone has their own strategy, and what works best for them. But I will address Kristyn's question about Wine and Dine, and how to prepare for a nighttime race: I personally don't do anything differently in my training. I typically run one evening a week, but the first time I ran Wine and Dine I wasn't doing that, and it didn't make a difference in my performance. I think that if you've done your training, then your body knows what it needs to do, and time of day doesn't matter. If anything, I find it a little easier to run at night because it's dark and I don't have the sun beating down on me.

This is also the time period where you'll be able to submit your "Proof of Time". This is a race result from some other race you've participated in during the past couple of years, which runDisney will use in determining your placement in a start corral. This is done via a web page. You can use another runDisney race, but most of us don't have our best times in a runDisney race. :-) You'll need to have the race information, including the name of the race, date, location, distance, your time, AND a URL where runDisney can find the race results. If you run a different race and get a better time, you can go in and modify it. But you will not be able to modify your proof of time within about 3 months of the Disney race date - the cutoff date will be posted on the page. You are not required to submit a proof of time, but if you don't have one runDisney will assign you to one of the later corrals.

For WDW races, starting 6 months in advance you can make your Priority Seating arrangements for dining. So if it's important to you to eat a particular kind of food - or at a particular place - before a race, it's something to consider far in advance. And of course there's probably other restaurants you'd like to enjoy after the race - we often have a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on Sunday night of race weekend.


60 days in advance

At Disneyland it's time to make your Priority Seating, though this isn't nearly as critical as it is at WDW. The exceptions would be for a special dining package, such as Fantasmic! viewing, or if you're booking for a large party.

For WDW you can make your Fastpass+ selections, if you are staying at a WDW resort.


1-4 weeks in advance

Race waivers will be available on the runDisney web site. You must complete a race waiver and present photo id to pick up your bib at the race Expo. While there are print stations at the Expo, it's a lot easier and faster if you print the waiver in advance and bring it with you. This is also how you find out your bib number, and you can determine your corral placement from that - otherwise you'll have to wait until you pick up your bib, as the corral will be printed on that.

Make a packing list. Don't forget things like gels, running belts, and throwaway clothes. If you use a particular nutrition product bring it with you - don't count on being able to purchase it at the Expo. If you're planning to run in costume, make sure you list all of the pieces. If you can do a test run in the costume to make sure it's going to work that's great, but I'm sure most of us (myself included) don't do that.


The week before

Obsessively stalk the weather channel. Ok, maybe that's just me. :-) But honestly, you want to know what to expect so that you can bring the appropriate clothing, both for running and park touring. And be aware that the weather can change drastically, even a day or two before the race (though this is more often an issue in Florida than California). Predicted starting temps in the 60s can suddenly turn into the 40s (or 30s!), or 50s can turn into high 60s, with finishing temps in the 80s. And rain is always a possibility. I've had experience with all of those, and they all have their own challenges. If it's chilly, the worst part is all the waiting around before the race. In that case, those little chemical hand warmer packets and some cheap throwaway gloves will go a long way to keeping you more comfortable. I ALWAYS pack a LARGE trash bag in my suitcase - it comes down past my knees and really helps me retain body heat while waiting.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend


Race Weekend

Yay! You've made it to your destination, with your running gear and waiver in hand. Next up is the race Expo. If you want first chance at the race merchandise, then you need to arrive EARLY on the day the Expo opens and be prepared to wait in line. This is the one situation where it's easier if you have a car since the buses don't start running until 30 minutes or so before the Expo starts. Also, remember that bib pickup and merchandise are in separate areas - you can choose to go to merchandise first and later pick up your bib or vice versa. If you don't want to wait in a lot of lines and are willing to take your chances on merchandise, then I would suggest visiting the Expo sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon. I've never encountered much in the way of lines at that point in time.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Be a little cautious about trying the samples that are available at the Expo. That energy bar might contain some ingredient that doesn't agree with you - and stomach issues are not something you want to deal with on race day.


The day before the race

It's really difficult to stay off your feet when you're at Disney, but it's a good idea the day before a race, especially if you're running the marathon. Even with a half marathon, being on your feet for hours the day before will tire you out to some extent. We try to do some limited touring in the morning, and then take an extended break back in our room in the afternoon, before venturing out in the early evening for dinner. And you should be drinking water throughout the day - not drowning yourself, but if you're running a half or the marathon then you want to be well-hydrated.

When you're out and about, pick up whatever it is you're going to want to eat in the few hours before the race. This might be a bagel or a banana, or yogurt - or maybe it's an energy bar that you brought with you. Your choices the morning of the race will be very limited, so if you already have what you need that's one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

When it comes to dinner the night before, just about everyone has their own idea of what works best for them. Some want pasta, others pizza, and some swear by Chinese food. At this point, you should have done enough long training runs to know what you need to fuel yourself for the next day. You definitely do NOT want to gorge yourself the night before, but you should eat a good dinner, with some carbs and protein. I like chicken and rice, with some vegetables or a salad, though my go-to meal the night before a Disneyland half marathon is four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.

For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, since it's a night race, we do things slightly differently. We still do some touring in the morning, and then we'll try to have our big meal of the day around 1:00-2:00 in the afternoon. And by "big meal", I don't mean gorging on an all-you-can-eat buffet - I mean your largest meal of that particular day. I recommend something similar to what you would eat for dinner the night before a morning race. Then around 6:00 have a light (and I do mean light) meal or snack.

In the couple of hours before the race, whether it's in the morning or the evening, you'll want to have something to eat. Again, from your training, you should be familiar with what works for you. You may want to eat in your room, or you may want to take something with you to the start area.

The Disney resorts usually have some kind of quick service option that's open very early on race mornings where you can get coffee and light fare such as fruit and bagels. At Disneyland several locations in Downtown Disney are open early on half marathon mornings, like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.


Race Day

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

And...you've made it to race day! Get out to the start line and have a great time on the course!


What about the rest of you? What are your suggestion on planning for a runDisney trip?

Learn more about runDisney from Laura on this episode of AllEarsNet TV



September 2, 2014

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2

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2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Another Disneyland Half Marathon successfully completed! That makes seven for us. We had a good race, and felt strong despite running a 10K the day before.

Even though at Disneyland we have the advantage of proximity to the starting line, we still had to get up pretty for a race that starts at 5:30! Lee was happy that the Hearthstone Lounge in the hotel opened at 4:00 so he could get his morning coffee. (All of the coffee-type places in the Disney hotels opened early today as did many locations in Downtown Disney.)

We again met some of our fellow runners in the lobby and walked over to the pre-race area together. Even though there were 18,000 registered this morning (as opposed to 10,000 for the 10K) the walkways still weren't congested, and even the porta-potty lines weren't very long.

We headed to our corrals a little after 5:00. And even that wasn't bad, as compared to previous years when there's been a couple of choke points where we've moved by inches and not feet with each step. I have to say that Disneyland for the most part has continued to improve the running experience each year.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The first 6 corrals were much smaller in size this year - I have typically been in C or D in the past, and this year I was in F, though I was about as far back as I was when I was in D last year. Lee and Michael were in earlier corrals but they came back to F to run with me - wasn't that nice of them? :-) As it turned out they sent the first 6 corrals off in pairs, so A and B went together, C and D, E and F. After that the corrals were a lot bigger and went off one by one. This photo is looking back - there's a LOT more people behind us than in front of us!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The national anthem was beautifully performed by a Disney cast member - he really did a great job. We got some fireworks during the anthem, as well as some when the race started. Corrals E and F started 15 minutes after the official start, and we crossed the start line about 16-and-a-half minutes off the start.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The weather was warmer than the day before - 70 degrees at the start as opposed to 66, and humidity was 76%. So it was warm. Fortunately we had cloud cover for most of the race, and that helped a lot.

The course was the same as the last few years - around the outside of DCA on the city streets before going backstage at DCA and coming into the park itself at Paradise Pier. Some of the Green Army Men were there near Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, and Sarge was encouraging the runners. The World of Color fountains were going and we stopped for a quick photo.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran through Cars Land and down Route 66 in the opposite direction than we'd done in the 10K, and looped around through Hollywood and past Soarin' Over California.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran across the Esplanade, where there were lots of people out to cheer us on despite the early hour, and into Disneyland and down Main Street. The Three Caballeros were out near the hub but the line was long and we didn't stop.

We went through Frontierland where there were more Green Army Men near the Mark Twain's dock - seemed like an odd place for them to be, but the line was short so we stopped.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The race route went around Big Thunder Mountain and the mile 3 sign, then into Fantasyland. Cinderella's stepsisters were on the Carrousel, and the Prince was sitting on one of the bench seats with the Wicked Stepmother - that seemed like quite an odd couple, and I'm sorry I didn't get a photo.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran through the castle and into Tomorrowland. There were no characters at the castle, which was unusual. But Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers were in Tomorrowland. Huge line - the longest one we saw - so we didn't stop. We went past the submarine lagoon and the Matterhorn. Along small world way, instead of princesses, they had villains! There were three stations, but only two had villains when we went through. Jafar and the Evil Queen had a long line, but Cruella and Dr. Facilier had a relatively short line. Cruella was great - she was telling everyone where to stand and how to pose. (We heard that Maleficent was at the other photo stop.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

From there we ran into Toontown and went backstage and past the stables before exiting onto Disneyland Drive and turning north. Not long after that was the mile 4 sign. This is my main complaint about the Disneyland Half Marathon - the park part is done much too early in the race. :-(

We turned right onto Ball Road and began our tour of the Anaheim Industrial Park. The community of Anaheim does a great job of coming out and supporting the runners during this part of the race - there are lots of bands and cheerleaders. Two groups that I look forward to seeing each year are the mariachi band and dancers and the Hawaiian dancers. Both groups have performers of all ages in beautiful costumes.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The classic cars were back along the route from ~mile 6.5-8. They have been such a wonderful addition to the race these last three years! The cars are beautiful and the owners are so (deservedly) proud of them. And they support the runners, too - cheer us on, ring cowbells, blow horns, etc.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Past mile 8 as we neared the Honda Center Lee noticed a large unusual-looking structure in the distance ahead of us. It was still some distance away when we made the turn into the Honda Center parking lot, but Lee saw an Anaheim policeman standing there and asked him about it. It's the new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), which is still under construction. A variety of train, bus, and taxi services will be available there. Looks cool!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

After going through the Honda Center parking lot we reached the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs along the Santa Ana river channel. This has always been one of my favorite parts because we get to run on dirt for a while. I know some people don't like that, and it's also a little narrow. But it appears to have been widened, and most of it has been recently paved.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The race route exits the trail at Angel Stadium, a bit past mile 9.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The Clif Shot station was there, and there was lots of music and people cheering us all the way to the stadium itself. And then we went down the tunnel into the stadium and onto the field! We ran on the dirt all the way down the right field line and around home plate, and down the left field line before taking the tunnel out of the stadium. Lots of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come out to cheer us - they make a lot of noise!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Not too far outside the stadium is the mile 10 sign. From there until we get back to Disneyland there are lots of bands and cheerleaders along the route. They are so enthusiastic and full of energy, and that helps us when we are starting to get tired.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

At mile 12 we went backstage at DCA again - we actually ran part of the same course we ran at the beginning of the race. And we ran around Paradise Pier again - except that instead of the Paradise Pier inside DCA we crossed Disneyland Drive and ran around the Paradise Pier hotel. :-)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Again, lots of cheerleaders and other people to encourage us as we ran that last quarter mile or so around the hotel and past Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel to the finish line!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

My time was 2:31:05. I'd hoped to break 2:30, but I guess we goofed off a little too much along the way. :-) Even though we didn't stop for that many character photos, we made some other stops so that Lee and Michael could show off their dance moves...

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Volunteers gave us our beautiful, slightly re-designed Disneyland Half Marathon medals, and also a wonderful cool towel. Ahhhhhh.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Michael went to exchange his Coast-to-Coast wristband for his medal, and then we all went to get our Dumbo Double Dare medals. It's not a Disney race without that lovely "clank, clank" sound as you walk around afterward. :-) (No Coast-to-Coast for us because we got it back in January after doing the Dopey Challenge and the Tinker Bell 10K and 1/2 marathon on consecutive weekends.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

For refreshments there were bottles of water and PowerAde, and then those Disney MRE boxes. (That was Michael's term for them. I like it.) There were also bananas.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Not much in the boxes: a packet of rice crackers, soft cheese, a mini Clif bar, packet of blueberry rice cake things, and a piece of Almond Roca. I still think Disney can do WAY better than that after a race. How about some chocolate milk? Oranges? Pretzels? Nuts?

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Something our friend Dave pointed out to us later that day was that there was no concession stand in the finish area. He spent a fair bit of time at the finish line waiting for all of us, and he was hoping for a cup of coffee, but there was nothing to be had. Yes, Downtown Disney isn't too far away, but it's not convenient to the finish area at all. Anyone waiting for a runner in the Family Reunion area had no easy access to food or beverages.

We were in the finish area when they did the awards ceremony on-stage - I'd never seen that before! The winner, Nick Arciniaga, finished in 1:07:48. The guy in second place finished in 1:13:06 - BIG gap there.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

It was still partly overcast when we finished but the sun really came out while we stood watching the awards, so I know it got very warm for those still on the course. 72 degrees doesn't sound bad, but 72 with full sun beating down on you feels HOT.

After the awards we went back to the hotel. Fortunately we didn't have to try to get across the race course like we did for the 10K, so it was a lot easier and faster!

The race went well and I felt good despite running 6.2 miles the day before. Guess that whole training thing really works. :-) But seriously, I did train for this one, and all those miles I put in this summer in even warmer conditions that we had on our race days helped a lot. Still, you never exactly know how you're going to feel on race day - you can do everything right, yet for some reason you just don't have it on race day.

We were very happy to see that there were a lot more characters on the course than during the 10K. Both races had about the same number of miles in the park, but I guess the characters had Saturday morning off. So maybe that made us appreciate them a lot more on Sunday. Still, it wasn't really fair to those who only ran the 10K.

A huge thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked all weekend at the Expo and the races. They put in a lot of long hours. We had friends of friends who volunteered this year, so we heard a little more about the types of days the volunteers have. I know I complain about getting up early, but the volunteers are up even earlier, since their shift will start at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning! In addition to working their area they have to set it up first. Did you know that all of the medals come in their own individual bags, and then on race morning they have to be un-bagged and checked and then hung on the racks you see at the finish line? It's a lot of work!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

And also a heartfelt thank you to all of the community groups, bands, cheer teams, dance teams, classic car enthusiasts and members of the community who come out to support all of us who run. We so appreciate your enthusiasm and your energy, and the wonderful signs, and the high-fives, and calling out our names. And also being there with water, oranges, pretzels, licorice and even Vaseline. And then there's the very brave among you who offer free hugs no matter how sweaty the runner.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

This is a wonderful event. Is it perfect? No, but considering the logistics of dealing with something like 35,000 participants over the course of three days, it's pretty well done. Yes, it's expensive. Is it worth it? There are many answers to that question, since there are so many intangibles that go along with any race, but especially a Disney race. But that's probably a topic for a whole other blog.

We had a great time, and will definitely be running the Disneyland Half Marathon again. We certainly plan to participate next year, which will be the tenth half marathon, as well as Disneyland's 60th birthday, so we hope for something even more special.

Did you participate in any of the events during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend? What are your thoughts?


August 29, 2014

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Part 1

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2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We're here for the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Our first stop was the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our bibs and shirts - and do a little shopping, too. :-)

The bib pick-up is still down in the parking garage below the convention center but they switched the ramps used for entry and exit, which I think has helped the congestion and confusion of getting into the Expo itself, since they also changed that entrance to be a side door into the main convention center.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

As usual the bib pickup process was very efficient - very few people down there, and plenty of volunteers. Just a short wait and we had our bibs and the sticker with our race number on it, which we would use if we were checking a bag. Those getting coast-to-coast medals were also getting their wristbands there, but we already got our medals this year.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

One thing Lee noticed - they often have mile signs from previous years or other props set up for photo ops down there, but there wasn't anything this year. :-(

We went upstairs to the Expo. Because they have changed the entry point, they had to move the t-shirt pickup area 90 degrees. I thought this gave them a smaller area for exhibitors, and it seemed to me as though there were fewer exhibitors this year. St. Joseph Hospital, who in the past has been the main "health" sponsor, and has a very large booth, seemed to be missing. (Celebration Hospital in Florida seems to be the sponsor, at least on the shirts, but no Expo presence. A Florida hospital for a California race? Seems odd to me.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Anyway...the Expo floor was not crowded - this was about 3:00 in the afternoon. We went and picked up our shirts. The race theme for the 10K is Lilo and Stitch, and the shirt is really cute. The Dumbo shirt is very cute, also. And I like the design on the half marathon shirts though I don't care for the color. (Though it's way better than last year's orange shirt!) And hurray for the women's cut shirts! They actually fit!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Our next stop was the Official Merchandise store. Last year they ran very short on merchandise, especially Dumbo Double Dare, and by the time we arrived there was only one Dumbo item left (a lime green hoodie - ugh), and a limited selection of other items.

This year, even though the Expo started the day before, there was still plenty of Dumbo and other items to be purchased.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

As far as I could tell nothing was sold out - or at least items that I was interested in were still available. So this year I got my Dumbo magnet and my mini-medals.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The thing that WAS missing from the store was 10K merchandise. No shirts, magnets, mini-medals, etc. Last year there was at least one shirt, but nothing this year. And it wasn't that it was already gone - friends who went at opening on the first day also said there wasn't any 10K merchandise. I don't get it.

Around the perimeter of the merchandise area they had some cool artwork for other upcoming runDisney races.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

After we shopped we wandered around the Expo floor and visited some of the vendors. As i said, there seemed to be a lot fewer exhibitors this year.

Our friend Kim (who we know from Team AllEars) was the first person we ran into that we knew. They had a really cute 10K photo op set up outside the Exhibit Hall, and the line was short so we all posed for a photo.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We went and checked into the Grand Californian and got unpacked. We are in a nice studio - it's on the first floor, which isn't my favorite, but we're at the end of the hall with a stairwell on one side and a one-bedroom unit on the other, and it's actually very quiet and out-of-the-way! And the great thing about the first floor is not needing to use the elevator.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Later we went over to Trader Sam's to meet some other Team AllEars friends - and also ran into a couple of friends from the rec.arts.disney.parks news group! Trader Sam's was very busy - we lucked out and were able to get a table outside for the five of us. But there was a line of people waiting to go inside - even if all you wanted was to go to the bar and order a drink so you could sit by the fireplace you had to wait in line! The servers working the outside tables were very busy, and we had to wait a while for someone to take our food and beverage orders. (I'll have a separate blog on food.) Lee ordered the Piranha Pool - it was pretty good, and very colorful, though thinking too much about what the red color in the drink represents is probably not very appetizing. Forget I mentioned it.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We met up with some other friends later in the Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand, but we tried to make it a relatively early night since we had a race the next day!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

And that brings us to 10K morning!

We'd agreed to meet friends in the lobby at 4:40, so we scheduled a wake-up call (and set an alarm) for 4:00. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Disneyland races, where we can walk from the hotels to the starting line, so there's no need for buses, and no need to get up insanely early? I have? Sorry...but it's one of the things I REALLY love about Disneyland races as opposed to WDW. We were walking from the hotel to the pre-race area at the same time we would've been walking from the pre-race area to the corrals in Florida.

Since the 10K had a Hawaiian Stitch theme, Lee and I (and a lot of others) dressed Hawaiian. Lee and our friend Michael both wore Disney Hawaiian shirts and board shorts. (The shirts were very hot, but they both said the shorts were comfortable.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

I did my take on Cinderella goes to Hawaii. I was wearing a short grass skirt, though it's hard to see. I thought the rustling might get a little annoying but it was fine.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We had no problems getting to the pre-race area - very appropriate that it was in the Lilo parking lot!

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Most people had already headed to the corrals, but there was still a DJ out on stage.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The weather at the start was slightly better than last year - 66 as opposed to 73 - but still 80-90% humidity, so it felt warmer. By California standards we've had a very humid summer.

The race went off right on schedule at 5:30. Lee and I were running with Michael and Stan, and we were towards the back of Corral B. We crossed the start line about 8 minutes after the race started. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone around us was going about the same pace that we were - we didn't have really slow people to go around, nor did we have really fast people blitzing by us.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

The first two miles of the race are outside the parks - the race goes south on Disneyland Drive to the Anaheim Convention Center, then through the Convention Center grounds and back onto Harbor, then north until we take a left and go backstage at Disney California Adventure near the Tower of Terror, just before mile 2. After that it's all on Disney property.

We ran through Radiator Springs down Route 66 - the neon lights were on and the mountain range was nicely lit.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Then we took a lap around Paradise Bay and ran by Grizzly River Run and Soarin' (and the mile 3 sign), then down Hollywood Blvd, and backstage next to the Tower of Terror.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

One disappointing thing - other than Mater in Cars Land, there were no characters out on the course in DCA! They had an Elvis near Little Mermaid, but that was it. :-(

We stayed backstage until we entered Disneyland's Town Square.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Then we ran down Main Street (no characters) and into Tomorrowland (also no characters, but the mile 4 sign was next to Innoventions).

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Chip and Dale were near "it's a small world", but the line was pretty long, so we kept going. We looped around the backstage areas before re-entering the park at ToonTown, and ran back towards Fantasyland. This part of the course was somewhat narrow, but it wasn't unpleasantly congested for us - I'm not sure about those who were later in the race, though.

The mile 5 sign was near the Carrousel. I was surprised that there were no characters in Fantasyland, either.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We ran into Frontierland and right by the Mark Twain was Stitch! Dressed as Elvis! I expected the line to be huge but it wasn't - maybe 15 people in front of us, and the line moved quickly.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Next to Splash Mountain we went backstage again, and around the perimeter of Disneyland and into Downtown Disney. About .4 miles left at that point, with lots of people to cheer us on to the finish! We passed the mile 6 sign near Tortilla Jo's.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

When we made the right turn at the Disneyland Hotel the finish line was in sight about 100 yards away. The guys gave me a bad time about how I took off at a full sprint with no warning - but they don't seem to have had any problem keeping up with me, and in fact both Michael and Lee finished ahead of me. (Thanks to our friend Eddie for taking this finish line photo of us - he finished about 20 minutes ahead of us.)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

My official time was 1:09:41. Not bad, since we stopped for some photos. It was a really good race for me - I felt good the whole time and didn't get too overheated despite the humidity, though it made a big difference that we never had sun on us. I'm hoping for some additional cloud cover tomorrow.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

We all got our Dumbo Double Dare wristbands which we will exchange for our medals when we finish the half marathon. And of course we have our "Tiki Stitch" medals. I really like this one - great design! For some reason it's lighter in weight than most of my other Disney medals. That's not necessarily a bad thing. :-)

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

After finishing we got the usual silly runDisney food boxes. Sigh. We waited in the finish area until most of our other friends had finished - a couple of them were walking (but FAST), and started in later corrals. Everyone did great!

Then we tried to walk back to the hotel...ugh. We had to cross the race course in Downtown Disney. They had crosswalk areas set up but it still took a long time to cross the first one - and then there was a second one further down! The end of the race actually went by us before we got across that one. It took us 30 minutes to get back to our room! Very frustrating.

Some thoughts on the 10K...I still really like this course, and all the park time we get. And I LOVE the 10K distance. It's very nice to be done in a little over an hour! And it's especially nice for me to not have to wear a hydration belt like I do in longer races.

I also love the fact that they changed the theme for the 10K this year - Alice in Wonderland was a fun theme last year, but it was great to have something different, and I hope they will continue that in the future.

This year I was very disappointed in the lack of characters along the course, especially compared to last year, and to what we experienced in the Tinker Bell 10K in January. (Haunted Mansion Ghosts. Best. Photo. Stop. Ever.) In all fairness I suppose I should mention that there were a number of Elvis characters along the course, in places where in the past there have been Disney characters, and I didn't stop for photos with them. But they weren't Disney characters.

The water stops were MUCH better spaced this year. It helped that it wasn't as hot as last year, but I was still ready for some water at all three stops.

There were 20% more entrants in the race this year, and I was a little worried that it might seem more crowded than last year, but it was fine. But I started in Corral B - those in later corrals might not have had the same experience. According to runDisney there were 10,000 entered in the 10K, and 9603 finishers - that's a very high percentage, since I know there weren't 10,000 who actually started.

It was a fun morning, and I really enjoyed the race and running with Lee, Michael, and Stan.

Half Marathon tomorrow!


August 26, 2014

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Preview

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2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

This weekend, August 28-31, is Disneyland's Half Marathon weekend. (This is #9, for those keeping track of such things - like me.) Events include the Health and Fitness Expo Thursday-Saturday, the Family Fun Run 5K on Friday morning, the Disneyland 10K and Kids Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. The Dumbo Double Dare race challenge, where participants run both the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, will be held for the second time.

According to runDisney there are 18,000 registered for the half marathon, 10,000 for the 10K, 6,000 for the 5K, and 1,500 for the Kids Races. Of the half marathon/10K runners, 6,000 are registered for the Dumbo Double Dare. All 50 states are represented, and there are runners from 25 different countries. In 2013 there were 17,800 registered in the half, 8,400 in the 10K, 5,000 in the 5K, 1500 in the Kids Races and 5,300 in the Dumbo Double Dare. So the 10K and 5K are both seeing a 20% increase - hope that won't translate to overcrowding on the race courses.

This will be our 7th time running the half marathon, and Lee and I are signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare again, also. We really enjoyed this race challenge last year, though we are hoping for slightly cooler/less humid conditions this year. So far it's looking promising - the forecast is for 67 at the start rather than 73 like we had last year.

We had a great time running the Inaugural Disneyland 10K last year. I thought the course was very well laid out - all but the first two miles are on Disney property, and there was a lot of in-the-park time. I really enjoyed the finishing stretch running through Downtown Disney to the Disneyland Hotel, where there were so many spectators to cheers us on along the way. The course wasn't too congested, either. My biggest complaint last year was that it was almost three miles between the first and second water stops. It was very warm and humid last year, so I was really thirsty by the time I reached the second water stop. This year it appears runDisney has addressed this: according to the 10K course map the water stops will be at mile 1, mile 3.25, and mile 5.75. Much better.

Something different this year is that the 5K and 10K will be held on separate days. Last year they were both on Saturday morning, with starts only an hour apart, and that complicated the start process - there was a delay in getting the 10K runners to the starting corrals. Though it was nice to start the 10K at 6:30 instead of 5:30...we got to sleep in a little. :-) This year the 5K, 10K, and half all start at 5:30. (5:30 does not seem like a very "family friendly" time for a "Family Fun Run 5K", though.)

One of the things that I was hoping for was that they would change the theme of the 10K each year like they do the 5K, and it appears that I got my wish! Last year's theme was Alice in Wonderland, and this year it's Lilo and Stitch! Whee!!!! So that means new 10K bling, of course:

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

As you see, the Disneyland Half Marathon medal also received a slight re-design.

Last year there was a huge demand for merchandise when the Expo opened on Friday morning. Disney was not prepared for it, and the lines were long - and they also ran out of almost all of the Dumbo Double Dare merchandise that first morning. It will be interesting to see what happens with the merchandise area at the Expo this year. We won't arrive until Friday afternoon, and I hope there will still be something left by then. Though I need another shirt like I need another hole in the head...

Speaking of shirts - as a Dumbo Double Dare participant I will receive three shirts: one for the 10K, one for the half marathon, and one for the challenge. And this year, for the first time in Disneyland Half Marathon history, there was the option of selecting a women's cut shirt when registering for the race! That makes me very happy, since the unisex shirts just keep getting larger and larger - even an Extra Small is too big for me, and in fact my XS shirt from last year's race fit Lee!

The Disneyland Half Marathon is an "easier" race for us because it's close to home - we can drive instead of fly, and we get to stay in our own time zone. Still, we enjoy staying for several nights and turning it into a long weekend where we can spend some time in the parks, and hang out with friends who have come to run the races.

Disneyland Half Marathon, here we come!

(I'll be blogging about our race experience, but if you're interested in reading updates during the race weekend, follow me on Twitter: @AllEarsLaura)


September 4, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 - Final Thoughts

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My experience at this year's Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (the sixth one I've attended, out of eight that have taken place) was largely positive, but you know me, I always have a few final thoughts and suggestions. :-)

The Expo
We didn't arrive until Friday afternoon, but apparently Friday morning was a disaster. HUGE lines of people waiting in the hot sun to get into packet pickup, and even longer lines for merchandise - 2.5-3 hours for that. People were grabbing merchandise right and left, particularly anything for the Dumbo Double Dare. By Friday at 2:00, ALL that was left of Double Dare merchandise was a lime green hoodie. I was very disappointed not to be able to get the magnet for my race magnet collection - of course I can buy one on eBay for $20+ (the price was $7.95). I shudder to think what it's going to be like for Dopey merchandise in January. My fellow Team AllEars member MaryJean suggested that runDisney should allow us to pre-order some merchandise and I think that's a wonderful idea. There's no reason for t-shirts and hats and magnets to be in limited supply, and it would just make more money for Disney if we could all buy everything that we wanted! Not to mention avoiding the very ugly scenes that have been taking place in the merchandise areas which are unpleasant for both guests and cast members.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

For us packet pickup went very smoothly with no lines, and no issues in picking up our goodie bags. As long as you didn't expect to do it first thing in the morning it was a very efficient process. And at 3:00 in the afternoon we had no problems getting into the merchandise area, where there was a fair amount of Disneyland 1/2 Marathon merchandise still available, but the line for check-out was 25-30 minutes.

The Race Shirts

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I really liked the designs of the three race shirts, but the sizing was ridiculous. They only offered unisex sizes (instead of a choice of unisex or women's cut), and I chose the smallest size available - XS. And it's enormous. Here's a photo of Lee wearing my XS half marathon shirt. A little snug in the shoulders for him, but otherwise it fit him ok. The other two shirts were a little bit smaller, but still too big for me. And there's an awful lot of runners that were a lot smaller than I am.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

The Races
Disneyland has managed to avoid over-crowding their race courses by keeping the fields smaller - about 8500 for the 10K and 17,500 for the 1/2 Marathon. The first couple of miles were a little congested for me but not bad - NOTHING like what I've experienced at my last two half marathons at WDW. And I was able to RUN through the castle on both days, another thing that's been an issue in WDW races.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Another great thing about the races at Disneyland is that you can easily walk to the start line from any of the Disney hotels, as well as from the many hotels in the area. No reason to get on a bus at an insanely early hour in order to make it to the start line in plenty of time. I'd much rather do a race in California than at WDW for that reason - and not just because it means I don't have to travel cross-country.

I already spoke about the corral process during the 10K - that was not handled particularly well, which I presume was due to the short time between the start of the 5K at 5:30 and the start of the 10K at 6:15. It will be interesting to see if they change that next year. The 5K is supposed to be a "Family Fun Run" - a 5:30 start time is not very family-friendly.

For us the corral process went much better during the half marathon, but I've spoken to other Team AllEars members who were in later corrals who did not have as positive an experience. There were too many people and not enough space in the corrals, and late arrivals weren't placed correctly.

I really loved the new 10K course, and I hope they will keep that one. The two miles outside the parks helped get us all spread out a little bit more, and made the other four miles that were on property that much more pleasant. I also really enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme, though I wonder if they will keep that from year-to-year or change it up like they do the 5K race.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I wish they would change the half marathon course so that the park time came a little later and let us spread out...I also wish they would add some park time (or characters) to the end of it. That final stretch from mile 12 to ~12.75, which is all backstage around the perimeter of DCA, is much too quiet with no one but a few cast members to cheer us on. It's a tough part of the race - close to the end, but not quite close enough.

Characters
This is usually one of the highlights of a Disney race for me, and I had a wonderful time with the characters during the 10K...I even caught the White Rabbit! :-) But the lines were very long during the half marathon - I only stopped for one photo. This is one of the reasons I wish there were some characters later in the race when people are more spread out. I don't know how they could make this any better, though. The cast members do a very good job of taking photos and keeping the lines moving - it's just a very popular activity.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Water stations
This was really my only complaint about the 10K - there were three water stations, which was fine, but #1 and #2 were almost three miles apart. That was much too far, especially given the weather conditions. They also had issues on both Saturday and Sunday with running out of cups at some of the water stations.

The Food Box
They are still giving out the silly little food boxes. They added a handle, which made it easier to carry, but there's still not the kind of food in there that I really need after a 13 mile run. Some of it made for some nice snacks later, but the box just doesn't work for me.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Dumbo Double Dare
I enjoyed this a lot - a 10K and a half marathon back-to-back is a much more reasonable effort than a half marathon and a marathon. I think Lee and I would both like to do it again next year. At the end of the 10K we received wristbands to prove that we had finished it, and then exchanged those after completing the 1/2 for the Dumbo medal. I wonder if they will do that in the Dopey Challenge in January. It would make sense, and discourage people from circumventing the system.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Volunteers and Entertainment
They were wonderful, all of them! So many people of all ages who helped make this a great event for those of us participating - those who worked the Expo, the water stations, handed out medals and food, checked our bags...And all of the cast members who came out in the early morning hours to cheer us on. Thank you SO much! And thank you to all of our on-course entertainment, also - the bands, cheerleaders, dance groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, classic car owners, and the random strangers who come out to cheer us on, hold up funny signs, hand out licorice and pretzels, and mist us with water sprayers.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

We don't actually have any more races scheduled until the Dopey Challenge in January...let the training begin!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013


September 2, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 - Half Marathon

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Whew...it was a very warm day for a half marathon (even warmer than it was on Marathon Sunday at WDW in January), but we did it, and added another DL Half Marathon medal and the new Dumbo Double Dare medal to our bling collection. 2:28:14 for me and 2:28:50 for Lee. Considering the heat I was very happy to finish in less than 2:30.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

It was already 73 degrees and 68% humidity at 4:00 in the morning. So much for our hopes of a cooler day than yesterday. While we had a few clouds early on we didn't have the high clouds that we did yesterday, so we had full-on sun on the course after about 7:00. Sun+black asphalt = HOT.

I didn't mention this in yesterday's blog, which focused on the new 10K race, but there are a lot of our Team AllEars members here this weekend - many of them getting their Coast-to-Coast medals for the first time! I hope they brought extra suitcases for all of the medals...there's a few going home with all five of the medals that were available this weekend: 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon, Dumbo Double Dare, and Coast-to-Coast! Well done, Team!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Several of them have never been to Disneyland before, so it's been fun hearing about their experiences and what they think about our California parks. I don't think I've heard any of them comment on how small the castle is...thank you. (Yes, we are rather sensitive about that.)

We've had some fun meet-ups at Trader Sam's, Haagen Daz, and Ghirardelli, as well as meets before each of the races. Here's the photo from the half marathon this morning, though not everyone made it in time.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

So back to this morning...after the photo we headed to the corrals. Even though there were about twice as many people in the half marathon today as in the 10K yesterday the corral process went MUCH more smoothly, without the crowding and confusion we experienced yesterday.

Lee came back to Corral C to run with me. Former DL Ambassador Jolie Hales sang the national anthem (and very well!), and we had a few fireworks.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

The wheelchair racers went off promptly at 5:29 followed by Corral A at 5:30. I was expecting Corral B to start at 5:35, but instead they waited until everyone from A had crossed and THEN started the five minute countdown to B. That spread the runners out a little more, but I think it protracted the starting process...In Corral C my time was over 17 minutes later than the start, and it's usually more like 12. It really did NOT take us 28 minutes to get to mile 1! :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

The course was the same route through the parks as last year, though it seemed as though the lines for the characters were a lot longer. We only stopped for one photo - with Aurora and Prince Philip outside the castle. Some of the lines (like Mike and Sulley in DCA and the princesses in DL) were very long. I took a lot of photos during the 10K yesterday, so I was ok with that...and we were hoping to beat the heat a little bit, too, by trying to get as much mileage in as we could before the sun really came up and started beating down on the course.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

By mile 4 we were out of the parks and out into Anaheim. As I mentioned we had a little bit of cloud cover early - when I made the right turn onto ball road I was looking at a lovely colorful cloud instead of the usual blinding sun. That was very nice while it lasted.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Many groups in Anaheim come out to cheer us on. There are two groups that I look for every year, and they are always there - a group of mariachi bands and dancers, and a group of Hawaiian singers and dancers. Both groups include both adults and children.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Lee got out and attempted to hula with the Hawaiian group. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

This was just about halfway, and we were still smiling, though the sun was out and it was warming up quickly.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Last year, in honor of the opening of Cars Land, Disney invited classic car enthusiasts to participate, and we were really happy to see them again this year. That part of the course, from about mile 7-8, does not have much to look at, and having them out there makes it go by so much faster! Here's the first car that we saw (they seem to have them arranged by age):

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

And here's one of the last ones - there were lots of muscle cars near the end.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

They did a much better job with water stops than they did in the 10K - there were 9 or them, all offering water and PowerAde. I carry my own electrolyte/nutrition mix but I had water at ALL of them, which I don't usually do, but have I mentioned that it was warm today? Just checking. (We were encouraged multiple times this weekend to "Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!) I'm concerned that some of them might have run out of cups again today, though.

Just past the Honda Center we ran on our normal path on the Santa Ana Trail down by the river channel - that dirt path feels nice on tired feet, and it was also cooler than asphalt, with just a little bit of a breeze. They are doing some construction near Angel Stadium, so we actually ran a little bit further on the trail than usual before coming up into the parking lot near the big "A" sign. And then we had our run through the stadium itself - that's always fun.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

They get a pretty good-sized crowd of Boy and Girl Scouts and other groups to cheer us on in there - and they can really make some noise! It's fun to high-five the kids (and adults) as we run by them, too.

While there are bands and cheerleaders throughout the course, they are really concentrated in the couple of miles after we exit the Stadium. That's a great place for them because they are really full of energy, and their enthusiasm helps to power and encourage us when we're getting pretty tired. I always have to chase Lee down after he goes past several groups of cheerleaders. :-)

The course goes backstage at DCA just before Mile 12, all the way around the back and then across Disneyland Drive and around the Paradise Pier, then between the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney before finishing just past the hotel.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Despite the heat I was feeling pretty good and actually finished very strong, with a pretty fast sprint over the last .15 miles. I was really happy to get across that finish line, though.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Just after we finished there were volunteers handing out bags with a damp lemon-scented towel in it...and that felt pretty good. Lee caught up with me there and we got our 1/2 marathon medals and exchanged our green wristbands for our Dumbo medals. Isn't it cute???

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Other than the tents there's no shade in the reunion area - and it was really warm on that hot asphalt so we didn't linger very long - had someone take a photo of us and then headed out and back to our hotel.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

It was a very successful race weekend - I'd definitely do this set of races again! Though hopefully with cooler weather...


You can see some additional photos and info by reading my tweets: @allearslaura

September 1, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 - New Disneyland 10K Race

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Early this year runDisney announced a new race for Disneyland's Half Marathon weekend - a 10K to be held on Saturday. And that brought with it a new race challenge: the Dumbo Double Dare for those wishing to run both the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. Do I even need to say that Lee and I were quick to sign up for that? I didn't think so. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Today was the first runDisney 10K (they have since announced three others), and for the most part I think it went pretty well. The 5K was also run this morning - it started at 5:30, and the 10K started at 6:15. That meant they had to clear the starting area of the 5K participants before they could start loading the 10K runners in the corrals...and that didn't not go as smoothly as it could have. Even though in the pre-race area they told us to go to the corrals, they hadn't opened them yet, and we stood for a while without moving at all. Once we started moving, those of us in A,B, and C were ok, but those in D-G found a lot of confusion and disorganization - I think all those corrals were eventually merged together.

Fortunately they did not make the race too large (7829 finishers, so probably around 8000 started it), and I think that helped make that problem not as bad as it could have been.

The weather was much more of a factor today than it normally is - we've been having hot and humid weather and it was about 74 degrees and humid at the start of the race - not typical southern California weather at all. I know that disappointed a lot of our out-of-town visitors (and it didn't make us very happy, either, since we're not used to those kinds of conditions). We had some clouds in the morning, though, so at least the sun wasn't beating down on us.

Other than the weather I really, really loved this race. I'd never run a 10K race before, and it was a GREAT distance for me - I still had plenty of energy left at the end. The course was a lot of fun, too. The first two miles were on the streets of Anaheim, but the remaining four miles were on Disney property - backstage, in the parks, and through Downtown Disney with a finish in the traditional location near the Disneyland Hotel. There was lots to see, and a lot of characters, parade floats, and cast members out to cheer us on. Here's the course map.

The race had an Alice in Wonderland theme, and that was a lot of fun. All of the new mile markers were pretty elaborately painted.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

There were Alice-inspired characters in various places - like these "flower ladies" in DCA.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

And in Fantasyland at Disneyland there were the White Rabbit, two Card soldiers, Alice and the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. (Lots of runners in costume for this one, and I saw more people dressed as Tweedledee and Tweedledum than I did anything else).

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

There were a lot of other characters out as well: Red the Firetruck, Mater and Lightning McQueen, and DJ in Cars Land, Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear at Toy Story Midway Mania, and Mike and Sulley in Hollywoodland. Over at Disneyland I also saw Clarice and Daisy Duck, and Chip and Dale.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Backstage at Disneyland they had floats from the Halloween Costume Party parade, the Christmas Fantasy parade, and Soundsational.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

And they had a few backstage residents out to cheer us on, too - this cow's name is Clarabelle!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

One thing I thought could have been done better was the water stations. There were only three: at mile 1, just before mile 4, and after mile 5. With the warm weather we had this morning, the almost three miles between the first two stops was way too long - I really could have used the water much earlier. I also heard that later on they ran out of cups at that second water stop. There was no Powerade offered, either - only water. They are still handing out the runDisney food boxes at the end - though they've added a handle to them. That at least helps with trying to carry everything. There's still not much food in them, though.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I finished in 1:10:46, and I was really happy with that time, because I stopped for lots of photos! Lee started in Corral B (I was in C), and he ran it in 1:00:03 - soooo close to breaking an hour. :-( But still a really good time for him especially considering the weather.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Those of us participating in the Dumbo Double Dare got a green wrist band at the end of the race as proof that we finished - tomorrow we'll exchange that for our Dumbo medal. Those participating in the coast-to-coast challenge have a red wristband, so there's lots of people wearing two wristbands! (Lee and I feel like under-achievers, but we received our C2C medal back in January...Goofy Challenge one weekend and Tinker Bell Half Marathon the next!)

The new 10K medal is very nice - lots of detail, and most importantly has that "Inaugural" word at the top. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I think I have a new favorite Disney race. I really loved this distance!

Tomorrow is the half marathon - we were hoping for cooler temperatures, but it doesn't look like it'll be too much different than today. We start 45 minutes earlier, so that'll help a little, but we're also going to be out there for 6.9 miles more than today. And almost all the fun Disney stuff is in miles 1-4 - after that it's kind of a slog to the finish line, though the people of Anaheim come out and keep us as entertained as they can with lots of bands, dance groups, boy scouts, and cheerleaders.

You can see some additional photos and info by reading my tweets: @allearslaura

September 7, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012 - Part 2

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Another Disneyland Half Marathon completed! We had a very good race, and finished in 2:25:30, which is a really good time for us in a Disney race since we stop for photos - though we didn't stop for all the characters this time.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

This year the half marathon started a little earlier - at 5:45 instead of 6:00. Probably because they added more people to it - it was capped at 17,000 this year.

One thing we LOVE about the Disneyland races as opposed to the WDW races is that we can WALK to the start line - no need to allow a bunch of extra time to deal with buses! So rather than catching a bus at 4:00 a.m. we scheduled a wake-up call for 4:00 a.m., and left the room about 4:40. This was our view at the time...(I loved this room - I was so sorry to leave it!)

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

There was quite a bit of foot traffic next to the Disneyland Hotel and for a while we felt like we were doing the "marathon shuffle" like we do at WDW when going to the start corrals. But that didn't last too long, and we went to the pre-race area where we met up with other Team AllEars runners.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

After the photo (and a porta-potty stop) we went off to the start corrals. It seemed to me like they had a lot more porta-potties this year, though some of them were back-to-back and people didn't realize they were there! They also had some out alongside the start corrals, which I don't remember seeing in the past.

We were in Corral B along with Mike and Christine from Team AllEars. We were way in the back since we didn't get there until 5:25 or so. :-) But that was nice since it meant a lot less time standing and waiting!

A service member sang the national anthem - accompanied by "the rocket's red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air".

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

At 5:45 the wheelchair athletes started, with Corral A a couple of minutes after that. All the waves started at 5-minute intervals so we started 5 minutes after Corral A. We were actually jogging (though quite slowly) even before we reached the start line...and then we were off down Disneyland Drive!

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

The first mile was on city streets around the perimeter of DCA before entering the property where we ran behind Cars Land and Paradise Pier. This is always a bit cruel, because we also run on that road at the end of the race - so we see the Mile 12 sign twice.

With all of the construction that's been going on in DCA over the last few years, the half marathon course has been a little different every year - it will be interesting to see whether this year's course will be the official course for a while. We entered DCA at the parade gate next to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and ran around Paradise Bay, where some of the World of Color fountains were performing just for us.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

And then the half marathon course took us into Radiator Springs down Route 66 for the first time! It was still before sunrise, and the neon lights were on.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We took a left at the traffic light and ran past Luigi's then quickly ducked backstage before re-entering the park next to the Tower of Terror. Then it was through Hollywood and past the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Soarin' Over California, then a right turn and out into the eastern end of Downtown Disney. In the past we have gone backstage at Disneyland on the east side of Main Street, but this time we were on the west side before going into Town Square.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Another change - we went left into Frontierland and took the Big Thunder Trail to Fantasyland and then ran through the castle and went right into Tomorrowland. There were some characters out, but unlike WDW they do not allow spectators on Main Street in Disneyland, and I miss that.

In Tomorrowland were Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers - I regretted not getting my photo taken with them last year, so I was NOT going to miss it this year! There were about 10 people in line in front of us, but the line went quickly. One of the guys in front of us stepped up to Darth and put both hands around his own throat like he was choking - and Darth raised his hand in the "Force Choke" gesture. Very clever.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We ran around the Matterhorn to the "small world" mall - that's where the princesses were (Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White), but we only stopped for Merida. This time each princess was by herself, instead of having them all together, so the lines weren't as bad.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

In Toontown were Daisy Duck and Clarice the Chipmunk.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Then we went backstage again, where some of the Big Thunder Ranch residents were watching the runners go by! The horse and donkey seemed quite interested - though when we posed with them it seemed what they REALLY wanted was to see if our bibs were edible. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We went back out onto Disneyland Drive and that was it for park time. We're not even quite to mile 4, with over 9 miles to go, and most of the fun is over. That's the thing I really don't like about the Disneyland Half Marathon course.

The race spent the next four miles meandering up and down the streets of the Anaheim industrial park. We so appreciate the support of the community in this area - every street has bands and dance groups and cheer squads to entertain us. I always look forward to seeing the big Mariachi/Mexican dance group and the Hawaiian hula group. I know they have to get up very early to get out there in time to perform for us!

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Something new this year - with this year's race having more of a "cars" theme because of the opening of Cars Land, Disney put a call out for volunteers with "specialty and vintage vehicles". And, wow, did they answer the call! There must have been a couple of hundred vehicles parked on the road, from classic touring cars to "woodies", plus Cadillacs, Corvettes, and other muscle cars. It was really special.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

In the parking lot at the Honda Center was one last car - a really great replica of Lightning McQueen!

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

One of my favorite parts of the race is just past the Honda Center, where we run on the dirt along the Santa Ana trail for a while. It feels really good after pounding pavement for 8+ miles. But it's a bit narrow, so it can get congested.

When we arrived at the parking lot for Angel Stadium the cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts were out in force to encourage us. A lot of the boys were high-fiveing runners, and a couple of them were counting how many high-fives they had received. :-)

I think one of the biggest thrills of the race is running in Angel Stadium - we run on the dirt from right field around home plate and out to left field. And around third base there's a camera that shows runners on the Jumbotron. There were hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts inside cheering us on - they were really loud this year. That comes just before the 10-mile mark in the race where a lot of us are getting pretty tired, and it gives us a great boost of energy.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Another two miles and we were back on that road behind Cars Land again - only this time we were really WERE at mile 12! Sometimes they have some characters back there but not this year - it was pretty quiet, so I guess we were all focused on finishing. Once we crossed Disneyland Drive by the Paradise Pier hotel it was NOT quiet and we had wonderful crowds to cheer us on the final .3 miles. That makes a big difference for me in finishing strong. The course gets a little narrow as it approaches the finish so you have to be a little careful. But at the finish line Mickey, Minnie, and Chip and Dale were there to welcome us - I got a high-four from Mickey as I went by. The race announcer called out Lee's name as he finished.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

It seemed strange to only be getting one medal this time - but we already got our Coast-to-Coast medals in January. It's the same medal as last year (other than the year), but it's a really beautiful medal.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

It was a warm sunny day (though not as hot as I feared it would be) and we were grateful for the cool towels that they gave us after we finished. The bottles of water were also cold, and I do not remember that being the case in the past. That was very refreshing.

When we got to the food tent, instead of piles of bagels and muffins and oranges and bananas, all they had was these piles of runDisney boxes - along with bananas at the end of the tables. That seemed odd to me. Since the box was one more thing to juggle I didn't open it until after we returned to our room.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Inside were packages of crackers, peanut butter, gummy candies, almond roca, raisins, and an energy bar.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

I still haven't made up my mind about this. Part of me thinks it's a nice variety of snacks that are better than what is usually available, and the box makes it easy to carry. And part of me thinks: "Come on, Disney, you can do better than that!" I know how tired and uncoordinated I am after a race, and trying to deal with opening the box, not to mention all of those cellophane and foil packages inside, would be intensely frustrating when all I'm trying to do is get some quick energy into my body. I didn't take the time to open the box until we got back to our room, and to be honest there wasn't really anything in there that I would've WANTED to eat right after finishing a race - maybe the gummies. But I usually go for the orange slices and a bagel when I finish. Something easy to eat and NOT packaged. I think I give this idea a FAIL.

We both felt good after the race - tired, of course, but we still had plenty of energy for the walk back to the Grand Californian. After we'd showered we went to Storytellers Cafe where we had reservations for a late breakfast with another couple from Team AllEars. We really enjoy the breakfast buffet there - especially after a race! As you might expect it was very busy, but since we had reservations we got in fairly quickly. It's a character meal, but it's pretty laid-back - and it's always fun to show our medals to the characters.

In the afternoon we had a Team AllEars meet at Clarabelle's in DCA - after our half marathon we figured we all deserved ice cream! :-) I had the mocha sundae, which was very good, and Lee had the strawberry sundae.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

After ice cream we posed on Buena Vista Street with our medals - first with the Storytellers statue (even Mickey has a Coast-to-Coast medal!):

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

And then with Pluto. It was a lot of fun, and great to get to know some of our teammates a little better.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

This was our fifth Disneyland Half Marathon and despite my criticism of the course, it's still a race that we really enjoy. The logistics make it an "easy" race for us - we don't have to travel very far and since we stay on-site there's no transportation and traffic hassles before and after the race.

The race would not be what it is without the tremendous support of a lot of people, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge "Thank You!" to all of the wonderful volunteers at the aid stations, the Disney cast members, and to all of the community groups, bands, dancers, cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, classic car enthusiasts, and everyone else who came out to cheer us on and support us. You made it better for those of us running the race, and we appreciate your efforts so very much!


September 2, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012 - Part 1

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Labor Day weekend - that means it's once again time for the Disneyland Half Marathon! We will be running it Sunday morning with 16,998 of our closest friends (and a number of Team AllEars teammates, as well).

This will be the 7th Disneyland Half Marathon, and our 5th time running it. We really enjoy it. They have tweaked the parks part of the course again this year because Cars Land and Buena Vista Street our now open! So we'll get to run through Cars Land tomorrow.

We've made a long weekend of it, and arrived on Friday night. We are using our DVC points to stay at the Villas at the Grand Californian (we love this resort). We're on the 5th floor, and this was what we saw when we arrived in our room Friday night! Grizzly Peak and a blue moon over the Tower of Terror. We can also see the Cadillac Range in Cars Land through the trees. It's a great location.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We dropped our bags and headed right to dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. It was a very nice dinner - we shared the Double Chocolate Bread Pudding Souffle for dessert. Yummy.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

And as we walked out of the restaurant we were just in time to see the Magical fireworks show over Disneyland. I think the plaza between Tortilla Jo's and House of Blues in Downtown Disney is a really good spot - you get a clear view of the higher fireworks.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

This was our view this morning at about 6:30.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We wandered down to Disneyland and watched the 5K runners as they came out of Disneyland and headed over to DCA. One of the monorails was parked overhead.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We had breakfast at La Brea Bakery Express - the first time we'd eaten there since it was remodeled. They have a much bigger menu now, and the food is good, but the line moves very sloooowly. They need to figure out how to streamline that.

They still had early entry at Disneyland once they cleared the park of runners, and we got in on the last 30 minutes of that. We took a ride on the "new" Matterhorn - it has new cars, but the track is the same and it's still as rough as ever. We got a kick out of the "Abominable Mickey" Vinylmation in the window. :-)

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We did a few other rides and went over to DCA. The line for Radiator Springs Racers was long, and we needed to head over to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our race packets, so we left - but on the way out one of the Instant Concerts was starting so we stopped to watch that. Those fountains go REALLY high.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

Over at Packet Pickup in the Disneyland Hotel we picked up our bib numbers. It seemed strange NOT to be getting a coast-to-coast wristband, but we already did that in January when we did the Tinker Bell Half (and you can only get one per year).

The 5K had a Cars theme this year (it finished in Cars Land) and they had a nice photo backdrop for that in the pick-up area.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

The Expo was upstairs in the Convention Center. They seemed to have a larger selection of race merchandise, or at least a larger variety of t-shirts this year - but even though it was only the morning of the second day they were already sold out of size small in several of the designs - including the one I wanted, of course. They did at least have quite a few of the coast-to-coast shirts (even in small!), which have often sold out on the first day, but we got those back in January.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

They had a display that I don't remember seeing before - a large map of the race course with information on what characters will be on the course and where. So tomorrow in DCA we can expect to see the Green Army Men, Lightning McQueen, DJ, Red the Fire Truck, and Phineas and Ferb. And in Disneyland, characters from Princess and the Frog; Captain Hook and Mr. Smee; Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie; Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip; Darth Vader and Storm Troopers; Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel; Merida; and Daisy Duck and Clarice Chipmunk.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

At the Run Disney booth there were examples of all of the Run Disney medals, including the new Donald and Mickey medals for 2013! The Mickey medal looks a lot better than it does in photographs.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

There's a number of members of Team All Ears that are here for the 1/2 Marathon, and a group of us met on the patio outside Trader Sam's in the afternoon. It was good to see some old friends and meet some new!

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

After that several of us went into Trader Sam's for a late lunch. We were lucky to find a table open with just enough chairs. In between ship wrecks and volcano eruptions (when people order certain drinks Things Happen) Lee and I enjoyed the chicken lettuce wraps and fish tacos.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012

We're planning an early night, though of course we never sleep very well. The race starts at 5:45. But one thing we LOVE about the Disneyland races is that we can WALK to the start line, so there's no need to catch a bus at an insanely early hour. So we can sleep in until 4:00 or so. :-)

It's going to be a warm race (by southern California standards) so we will be taking it easy and not pushing the pace. And besides, it's Disney, and we love to stop for photos along the way!

September 6, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

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The 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 4. The nice thing about the Disneyland race as opposed to the Disney World races is that most of the hotels (certainly all of the Disney hotels) is within walking distance of the start, so you don't have to get there quite as insanely early because you're not depending on the buses. Our wakeup call was 4:15, and we were at the pre-race area at 5:00.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Unfortunately we missed the Team AllEars photo by a few minutes...By 5:00 the DJ was encouraging everyone to start heading to the start corrals. Another nice thing about the Disneyland race is that the start corrals aren't very far away, unlike at Epcot, where it's at least 1/2 mile (I think it's even longer than that).

There were lots of porta-potties, and the lines weren't too long.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine and I said goodbye to Lee - he was in Corral B and we were in E.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We were on one of the road ramps on Disneyland Drive - across from us was Corral G, which was on the ramp that goes the opposite direction.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We did get to see a nice sunrise (no the corral didn't have bars - it's the fence along the side of the ramp). It was really a nice morning - still cool, but warm enough that I didn't need to don the very fetching trash bag that I had brought with me. :-) It was probably 65 or so.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The race went off right at 6:00. They sent the corrals off 5 minutes apart, so Corral E went off at 6:20. We could hear what was going on at the start though we couldn't see it, and we heard a nice shoutout to Team AllEars when Corral D went off. There were no fireworks for the starts, but each corral got its own "Get Ready, GO" countdown.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

And Mickey and Minnie were there, too.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine and I started off running a nice warm-up pace, but pretty soon went back to a (fast) walk. Mile 1 went pretty quickly, and we went into Disney California Adventure (by the Tower of Terror) not long after.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

With all of the construction going on there we didn't spend as much time in DCA as usual - we went down Hollywood Blvd, turned left towards the Golden Vine Winery, then right in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure, past Grizzly River Run, and out into Downtown Disney near Soarin'. Usually that's where the mile 2 marker is, but it was in Disneyland on Main Street!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

It didn't seem to me like there were as many characters out this year, and since I was walking and not running I didn't really want to take the time to stop. The only one I really regret not stopping for was Darth Vader in Tomorrowland. Pretty long line for him, though.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Because of the construction in DCA they had to make the Disneyland part of the course longer so that we'd still get out onto the city streets at about Mile 4. So it was pretty circuitous - we ran up Main Street and into Tomorrowland, then went counter-clockwise around the Matterhorn and turned left into Fantasyland. We ran past the carousel, and then through the castle.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Then we were off into Frontierland and past New Orleans Square and out through Critter Country where we went backstage by Splash Mountain. The Mile 3 mark was back there. We came back into Toon Town by Mickey's house (I think this is the first time the half marathon course has gone through Toon Town), and around "it's a small world" to the parade gate there.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Backstage again for a while until we came out onto Disneyland Drive again - not too far from where we'd started almost an hour before! - near Mile 4.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

At that point I told Kristine: "Well, the fun part is over now." There's not very much that's "Disney" about the rest of the race. And it's too bad that all of the park stuff and character interaction takes place so early in the race when everyone is still so bunched together and the lines are so much longer.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

I guess the good part is that all of that makes the first four miles go really fast, and so for me it's like the real race doesn't even start until mile 4. I really enjoyed walking the race with Kristine - because we were walking and not running it was still easy to converse and that made the miles go a lot faster. She started having fun with posing for my mile marker sign photos - she cracks me up.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The people of the city of Anaheim really do their best to make our tour of the industrial park a little more entertaining - there are mariachi and Polynesian dancer groups that we see every year, and lots of high school bands and cheerleaders to encourage and motivate us. I think the cheerleaders might burn as much energy as the runners do!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day


My second favorite part of the race (after running in the parks) is the section near the Honda Center where we drop down onto the Santa Ana Trail and run along the riverbed for a while. The dirt feels really good after all of the asphalt. It's narrower there, though, so that makes it a little more of a challenge when there are so many people. Kristine and I went single file there. (We tried to be considerate to others and do that in places that were narrow.) Lee called me then and told me that he had finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes. I was very happy to hear that because he's had some knee problems recently and hasn't been able to train very much. But he did really well and his knees didn't bother him during the race (and so far, so good afterwards).

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We came up out of the riverbed at Mile 9, and then were on to Angel Stadium. This year the course again took us onto the dirt part of foul territory all the way from right field around to left field, and we could see ourselves on the Jumbotron as we got to third base. Running through the stadium like that is always a thrill, and there's always people in the stands cheering us on.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Mile 10 is not far outside the Stadium, and that's always a milestone for me - at 10 miles I KNOW that I am going to be able to do the last 3.1 miles. But it's kind of a slog from there - there's not really anything to see, though there were still lots of bands and cheerleaders. At Mile 12 we went backstage at DCA along the perimeter road that runs behind it. Not much to see there, though they had two of the big puppets out.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

But by then we knew we were getting REALLY close! We crossed Disneyland Drive and went behind the Paradise Pier - I was jogging and Kristine was skipping at that point. That last .2 miles has metal railing on either side of us to separate the runners from the cheering crowds, and we smiled and waved at the lady holding the sign saying "Complete stranger, I'm cheering for you, too!" :-)

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Chip was standing just in front of the finish line greeting runners as we finished. Our time was 3:07:58, which I was very happy with, since we were walking the course and not running. That's a 14:20 min/mile average pace, but includes photo stops (mostly very short ones) and two restroom stops. We trained at a 13:55 pace, knowing that we wouldn't be able to sustain that through a half marathon, given stops and all. I actually expected our overall pace in the race to be closer to 15 minutes/mile, so I was really thrilled about 14:20! We jogged some - not more than a couple minutes at a time, though, and probably not much more than a mile overall. It did help us make up some time.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

The sun was out so it felt a lot warmer than it was - we were very grateful for the packages of moist towels that they were handing out to the runners.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Kristine got her very first medal - and she went from saying "Never again" at the beginning of the race to "Next time..." at the end. :-) She did great, and I really enjoyed doing this with her. And yes, I would love to do it again with her!

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

After we'd gotten our half marathon medals I went to get my Coast-to-Coast medal! Quinn Shurian, who was one of the 2010 Disneyland Ambassadors, put it around my neck. It was a great moment! I was a little disappointed that the medal doesn't have the year on it like the previous ones have had.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

It was another great Disneyland Half Marathon - this was my fourth. Disneyland, the City of Anaheim, and runDisney put on a terrific event. I wish they could have some Disney character interaction at later points in the race, but that's really the only thing I can think of to improve it.

I have to say that I really enjoyed walking the race instead of running it - yes, it took longer, but I felt so much better during the race (particularly at the end) and after the race than I usually do. I was not nearly as hot and uncomfortable as I would have been if I had run it. I'm seriously considering doing more walking than running in distance races - going to a 4 minute walk/1 minute run rather than vice versa. Being a walker instead of a runner this time gave me a little bit different perspective, too. Going slower I had a chance to see things that I think I would have missed if I had been running. As a walker I tried to be courteous and aware and NOT do the things that walkers do which always drive me crazy when I'm running. For example, Kristine and I stayed mostly to the side (except when passing slower walkers) and we went single file when the course was narrow.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

There were 15 of my fellow Team AllEars members who ran the half marathon, too. Congratulations to: Dominic Abram, Jill Bent, Jessica Brach, Dave Dunkowski, Helen Dunn, Dan Fulk, Stan Harris, MaryJean Kancel, Kerry Lenny, Jamison Reynolds, David Schaefer, Mike Scopa, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Laura Torok, and Tim Tosten. Everyone finished and did great - several personal bests in there. Most of the team posed with their medals in Disneyland later that day (unfortunately Lee and I were in DCA and missed it). This photo courtesy of Helen Dunn:

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

Lee and I are pleased to be part of Team AllEars 2012. For those of you who might not know about Team AllEars, you can read about us here:
Team AllEars 2012.

But the main thing to know is that we support the incredible Deb Wills and her dedication to fighting breast cancer and raising money for the Avon Foundation. We have all pledged to raise at least $500 each and that's where we could really use your help. No donation is too small, and I would ask you to please consider supporting us in this.

If you would like to contribute, please visit Deb's Avon Breast Cancer page and click on the pink "Donate Now" box. On the "Personal Note", please put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" so they can track our fundraising efforts. If you wish to remain anonymous, just put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" in the "How would you like your name to appear" box.

Thank you, and I hope you've enjoyed my blogs about the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend! If you have any questions about running (or walking!) Disney races I'd be happy to try and answer them. Our next race is the Inaugural Chip and Dale Marathon Relay at Walt Disney World on January 8, 2012.


September 5, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - The Results

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I'll have a more detailed half marathon report tomorrow - it's been a long and busy day. After the race this morning we spent time in the parks and saw World of Color tonight, so I haven't had time to write anything up yet.

The important part is that Lee and I both finished the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon and earned both our Disneyland medal and our Coast-to-Coast medal! His time was 2:16:04, his best Disney time ever (since he wasn't running with me I wasn't slowing him down by taking photos!) And, very important, his knees didn't bother him. My time was 3:07:58, but since I was walking it (mostly - we ran a little bit), I was very happy with that - and I felt great the whole time - better than I've ever felt when I ran an entire race. But we're both pretty tired tonight.

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - The Results



September 4, 2011

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

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The first event of Disneyland's Half Marathon Weekend each year is the Health and Fitness Expo, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. It's held at the Disneyland Hotel.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We actually pick up our registration packets downstairs, in what is usually a parking garage. I always get a kick out of the race track-striped carpet they use on the entry and exit ramps. :-)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

You can print your race waiver in advance at home, and it's a really, really good idea for you to do that - because otherwise this is the kind of line you face if you try to do it at the Expo! (This was the longest line we saw - everything else about the packet pick-up process was a walk-up.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

You also need to know your race number, because all of the packets are organized by race number and not last name. There were four separate pick-up areas - for the 5K, the Kids' Races, the Half Marathon, and the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. When I did Coast-to-Coast two years ago I had to check-in at two counters - it was nice to only have one this year. So I got my bib number and my Coast-to-Coast wristband all in one place this time. And I also had to pick up my 5K bib as well.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

They had a few decorative things down there, but not as many as last year.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

With all of the construction going on at the Disneyland Hotel it was a little harder to get around this year, but they had lots of signs and cast members out, and that helped.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were no lines for the t-shirt and goody bag pick-up. I like the Star Tours 5K shirt (it's cotton), but the half marathon tech shirt is black and heavy for a tech shirt. Not nearly as nice a design as last year's blue shirt. :-(

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

After we'd picked up our goody bags and shirts we wandered around the Expo floor. We chatted with one of the coaches from our West Coast Road Runners running group who was working in The Stick booth. (We have Sticks - we swear by Sticks!) The Expo wasn't really crowded (it was about 6:00 by then), but there were still lines for the freebies that were being given away at various booths. (The runDisney booth had some kind of Tinker Bell wand they were giving out that was quite popular.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We checked out the official merchandise, too. They had a nice Coast-to-Coast Challenge t-shirt but we didn't buy anything.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

For a change there wasn't a huge line for this photo opportunity, so we had someone take our photo.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Having Expo'd it was time to head back to our room and unpack a little bit before going into the parks in search of dinner. Lee hadn't tried either of the new Paradise Pier restaurants in DCA yet, and we went to both. Starting at Paradise Garden Grill he got the Grilled Steak skewer (with all four sauces). He said the beef was really good. And he enjoyed the pilaf and the cucumber salad, too, because he cleaned his plate.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I tried the Greek Salad. I forgot to tell them dressing on the side, and there was little too much of the lemon-oregano vinaigrette - which was tasty, there was just too much for me. The salad was very good - lots of olives, cucumbers, onions, chopped tomato, and pepperoncini. And it came with a piece of pita bread, also. I'd get that again (dressing on the side, please!).

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

And I finally had the chance to try the baklava - the other two times I'd been here were for lunch, and they don't get their delivery that early. So was it worth the wait? No, not really. Sometimes baklava is too sweet - this wasn't sweet enough, and it was a little dry. It was a generous piece, though, and the nut filling was nicely spiced. I see the menu now has a new dessert that was not there a few weeks ago - a Chocolate Brownie and Strawberry Skewer - with caramel, chocolate sauce, and mini marshmallows. That sounds pretty good.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

From Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta we tried the Four Cheese Ravioli. That was really good, though the first bite I had the pesto sauce seemed very salty. Once I had another bite with a bit less sauce it was delicious. I liked the pine nuts and chopped tomatoes on top, too.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

So this morning (Saturday) I had to get up early for the Star Tours Family Fun Run 5K. Though not AS early - it started at 6:45 instead of 6:00. (Lee got to sleep in.)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were no corral assignments - we were supposed to group ourselves according to pace - Podracers for the under 8 min/mile pace, Air Speeder for 8-9, Speeder Biker for 9-10 and Landspeeder for 10+. Since I passed people who were walking within 10 steps of my crossing the start line, you can imagine how well that worked...

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

My fellow Team AllEars members Michelle Scribner-MacLean and Dave Dunkowski were waiting in the same area, too. You can see from behind them that we weren't crowded and packed in like sardines at all - it was very pleasant.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Before the race started we got a pre-show featuring several Jedi masters, Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers, and even the voice of Yoda. Ok, so it was really mostly the soundtrack from Jedi Training Academy, but it was cute. Though I think the consensus among a lot of the adults was that they'd be happy to go over to the Dark Side if Vader was offering coffee...

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I found it interesting that the Star Spangled Banner was played on a trumpet instead of sung - he did a great job with it. And once he was done there was a shower of R2-D2 colored confetti (blue and white) and we were off!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We started in the Mickey and Friends tram area, and followed the tram route a short distance before going backstage. Not much to see back there (and there were cast members asking that people not take photos), but pretty soon we came out next to Splash Mountain, and then past the Haunted Mansion to New Orleans Square. Where Tiana, Naveen, and Louis awaited us.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

There were some scurvy pirates (and a saucy wench) outside the Pirates attraction.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We ran past Thunder Mountain and Thunder Ranch, and took a left into a backstage area just before Fantasyland. We were in a tunnel, and we heard the distinctive sound of Vader breathing in the tunnel! And just after that was the 1 mile mark.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We came out near Princess Fantasy Fair and went into Toon Town, then backstage again for a bit before coming out the parade gate next to "it's a small world", then around the Matterhorn and into Tomorrowland, where the Storm Troopers are still looking for the Rebel Spy.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We didn't get to run through the Castle like we do for the Half Marathon, but we ran down Main Street. Chip and Dale were at Town Square - I told them I'd be running their race (the Chip and Dale Marathon Relay) in January.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We went out the front gates of Disneyland and turned left, and ended up on the perimeter road that goes around the back of Disney California Adventure. Not much to see back there - a few glimpses into Cars Land, but nothing that I stopped for. The mile 2 mark was near the beginning of that section.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

We came into Disney California Adventure at the parade gate next to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, and the Jedi Master was there at the Mile 3 sign - giving some runners a "Force push" if they needed it.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

Mickey and Minnie were near the finish line!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I almost crossed the finish line (in front of the Little Mermaid building) before I realized I hadn't taken a picture of it, so I had to backtrack a few steps. The Jedi Master/race announcer at the finish didn't say anything, but he rolled his eyes. :-)

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

My time was 34:49 for 3.1 miles - not bad considering the photo stops. I ran a little faster than I would have if it had been a longer race. The race medal isn't actually metal, it's plastic, but a nice design.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I was wondering how they were going to get everyone out of the park since it needed to be ready to open within less than two hours of the race finishing - they did that by not giving us anything to do. :-) From the finish near Little Mermaid they funneled us out to the area in front of Grizzly Rapids, which is where the refreshments were. There was no entertainment, so there was really nothing more to do except to walk out the gate into Downtown Disney.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I got back to our room and the race was still going on for another 40 minutes after that - we could see them near the Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta restaurant. I hadn't noticed that they had the World of Color fountains going when I finished!

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

I have to say that I really enjoyed the 5K. It's a much more civilized and pleasant experience! It didn't start so insanely early (6:45 instead of 6:00), and there were a lot fewer people (5,000 as opposed to 15,000), which made the course a lot less congested. The course was largely in the parks, which is always the most interesting part of any Disney race. It was definitely a family experience - I saw lots of families running it together, including some with some 6-7-year-olds (who were ahead of me!) And it was nice and short - 3.1 miles - and I was done and back in our room less than an hour after it started! It was a lot of fun - I'd do it again.

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K

By the time you most of you read this we will be doing the half marathon - I will post a quick update here with our times after we finish, and a more detailed report Monday or Tuesday.

We're done - Lee finished in 2:16, and Kristine and I finished in 3:07:58 - I was very happy with that time. I feel great - actually less tired after walking 13.1 miles than I was after running 3.1 yesterday. Go figure. :-)



September 1, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Preview

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The 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is this weekend - September 2-4. Events this weekend include the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday, the Star Tours 5K and Kids' Races on Saturday, and the Half Marathon on Sunday. There will be a record number of people in the half marathon this year - over 15,000 are registered!

I will be participating in the 5K on Saturday and the Half Marathon (my fourth Disneyland Half Marathon) on Sunday. Disney recently released a photo of the newly-designed half marathon medal for this year.

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Ooooh...pretty!!! I really like this one.

I'll be doing something a little different this time - instead of running the 13.1 miles I will be walking it with my friend Kristine. We've been training to walk fast (ok, those of you who know me know that I don't have to train to walk fast, but I'm not used to walking fast continuously for 13 miles!), and it's been an interesting experience - it takes longer, but I enjoy it a WHOLE lot more than running and I'm not nearly as hot and tired at the end. Of course part of that is walking with Kristine - we have a great time chatting as we're walking. We just did our final training walk - 8.3 miles in 1:55:04 - that's a 13:52 minute/mile pace. We were very happy with that!

Of course the disadvantage of walking is that I will have to be more conscious of the 3.5 hour time limit, so I won't have time to stop and have my photo taken with all the characters like I am used to doing. I hope we can still find time for a few character photos, though.

Assuming I finish as planned not only will I be taking a Disneyland Half Marathon medal home, but a Coast-to-Coast medal as well. In addition to Lee and me there are about 2750 other people who are doing Coast-to-Coast, including a number of my fellow Team AllEars members!

You might remember that Lee and I were part of Team AllEars 2011 when we did the Goofy Challenge earlier this year - I'm pleased to say that we are also part of Team AllEars 2012, along with 98 fellow Disney runners. For those of you who might not know about Team AllEars, you can read about us here:
Team AllEars 2012

But the main thing to know is that we support the incredible Deb Wills and her dedication to fighting breast cancer and raising money for the Avon Foundation. We have all pledged to raise at least $500 each and that's where we could really use your help. No donation is too small, and I would ask you to please consider supporting us in this.

If you would like to contribute, please visit Deb's Avon Breast Cancer page and click on the pink "Donate Now" box. On the "Personal Note", please put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" so they can track our fundraising efforts. If you wish to remain anonymous, just put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" in the "How would you like your name to appear" box.

Thank you for all of your support - I'll be blogging this weekend and will let you know how we do.


September 19, 2010

Disneyland 2010 Half Marathon - Race Day

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Actually I'm going to start with Saturday night. We thought we would have a view of World of Color from our room and we were right - it was a sideways view, so we could just see a little bit of the central projection screen. And that wasn't clear enough to make out what was there if you didn't know what it was. Nice view of the fountains, though, and a much better perspective of just how high some of them go! We could hear the music - I didn't think to check to see if it was on one of the TV channels.

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Sunday, September 5, 4:30 a.m.

That's when our wakeup call was. No cute Mickey or Stitch voice from the Paradise Pier, though - just some music.

I had been awake since 3:45, so I was just as happy to get up - I never sleep well the night before a race.

We had a quick breakfast - bagels, peanut butter, banana - something to give us some energy. We left the room a little after 5:00. One thing we LOVE about the Disneyland race as opposed to those at Walt Disney World - we can WALK to the start line, and don't need to be at the mercy of the buses that want to get you there insanely early. By the time we walked to the pre-race area they were already encouraging people to go to their start corrals, so it was pretty well cleared out. Last year there was a horrible chokepoint getting out of the pre-race area and to
the start corrals - I don't know if they had rearranged things this year or if we were just a little earlier than last year, but it really wasn't a problem.

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We lucked out with the weather - it was 63 at the start of the race and was overcast until about 9:00. A little humid, but not as bad as last year, and there was a breeze. It sure warmed up fast after about 10:00, though - the high that day was 82 or so.

We made our way to Corral C, and got pretty close to the front of it. Not really much of a big production for the start - no fireworks or monorail this year, though Mickey and Minnie were with the race announcer like usual.

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The race started promptly, and they again did it in waves. In Corral C we were about 10 minutes off the start of the race. Starting runners in waves like that has really made a difference in the crowding/congestion in the early miles of the race - it really wasn't bad at all.

And each wave got their own "START" and "GO" on the big screen over the start line.

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The first mile went very fast, even though we were taking it easy and trying not to go out too fast. We blew into DCA between the Pacific Wharf and Bountiful Farm. They had several of the puppets they use during the World of Color pre-show and we stopped to get our photo taken with Tigger.

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Then I got in line to get my picture with Mike, but Lee ran on...then turned around to look for me. I waved, and thought he'd seen me, but it turned out he hadn't, so after I got my picture taken he wasn't where I had last seen him. I looked for him, but eventually ran on, figuring he'd decided he didn't want to deal with all of the photos. As it turned out he hadn't seen me stop the second time, and thought I had gone ahead, and ran to the next character and waited for me, but I'd stopped to use the restroom, so was delayed. He stopped a few more times, but I kept getting further behind because of character photos so eventually he gave up and just ran his own race.

Lilo and Stitch had a pretty good line, but as usual Disney had employees at each character stop to take photos, so it went pretty fast. It was even more efficient at areas where they had two or three people to take photos.

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This was more characters than I've seen in DCA before - there was also the Sebastian puppet, Koda and Kenai, and Lightning McQueen and Mater.

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We left DCA at the gate between Soarin' and the Grand Californian - there were a fair number of people cheering us on in the short section we ran between Downtown Disney and the Disneyland entrance.

On Main Street were Mary Poppins, Bert, and a couple of chimney sweeps.

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From Main Street we turned left into Frontierland - Louis, Tiana and Naveen were in front of the Mark Twain and Jessie, Woody, and Bullseye were outside Big Thunder Ranch.

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Just behind the castle were the Queen from Snow White (I told her I thought that the Magic Mirror was wrong about Snow White being fairest, and she said she liked me), and Cruella DeVil. Maleficent was cheering (or maybe it was jeering) runners on from the balcony above.

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The Princesses were gathered just past the castle drawbridge - that was the longest photo line of the day. But when else do you have a chance for a photo with Snow White, Belle, Aurora and Cinderella all at one time?

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The Storm Troopers had taken over Tomorrowland - I got taken into custody for speeding. :-)

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We went by the submarine lagoon and around the Matterhorn - I was surprised not to see any of the Alice in Wonderland characters by the teacups. (As usual, the rides like Dumbo, the carousel, Astro Orbitor and Tea Cups were operating as we ran by).

The race route was a little different this year - rather than exiting the park by Splash Mountain like last year, we went out next to "it's a small world". Backstage one of the trains was out, and the engineer was blowing the whistle periodically.

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And two somewhat rare characters, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, were back there.

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We went out onto Ball Road by the Team Disney building, which was also just about the four mile mark. All of the photos really slowed me down - it took me an hour and 6 minutes to get that far (normally that would take 40-42 minutes).

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And then we got to the boring part of the race - though the race literature insists on calling it the "scenic streets of Anaheim". It's a tour of the industrial park - go down one street, then go over a block and back up to Ball, then down another block until we hit the Honda Center at about mile 8. There are quite a few music groups that come out to entertain the runners, though - in addition to high school bands, I saw a mariachi group and a group of Hawaiian dancers.

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Also lots of cheerleading squads - there were quite a few of them outside the Honda Center. I decided they weren't making enough noise so I ran past with my hand to my ear like I couldn't hear them, and that got them going. :-) I also got a lot of personal "Go Laura!" cheers (my name was printed on my race bib). That was fun.

One of my favorite parts of the race is the portion of the course just behind the Honda Center where we drop onto the Santa Ana Trail next to the riverbed and run on dirt for a quarter mile or so. That feels pretty good after running on asphalt and concrete. It's a bit narrow, though.

Because I'd spent so much time taking pictures, I was in with the 11-12-minute/mile runners for the most part, so I was passing lots of people - which was very good for my morale. :-) My pace had picked up quite a bit since I wasn't stopping for too many photos.

At about mile 9.5 we came to Angel Stadium, where we got to run on the field (or on the dirt foul territory portion) from right field around home plate and out the left field tunnel. There were lots of people in the stands cheering us on, and there was a camera with a live feed to the jumbotron so we could see ourselves as we came near third base. Fun.

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I usually start to fade around mile 10 but I was feeling really good thanks to the cooler temperatures, so I did the last 3.1 miles in about 30 minutes - and that included a quick photo with the Incredibles. (I think it is my favorite photo from the race.) This year the race route did not go into DCA on the return - it stayed on the perimeter road that goes around the back of the park.

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My time was 2:37:34, which is not that great (I think it's actually my worst half marathon time!), but it could have been 20-25 minutes faster if I hadn't stopped for all those photos - but where's the fun in that? :-) Mostly I was very encouraged because I
felt so good at the end of the race and was able to maintain my pace even in the final miles. I could have continued to run, but I was really glad I didn't have to!

After getting my nifty Disneyland Half Marathon medal (with the big 5 because it's the 5th one), I got some food and met Lee at the family reunion area - fortunately we had established BEFORE the race started where we would meet if we got separated. He finished in 2:21, and would have been faster if he hadn't waited several times for me. We both had really good races in terms of energy and how we felt afterward.

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The walk back to the Paradise Pier helped cool us down and keep us from stiffening up. A shower felt really good, too!

I must admit that I felt like an underachiever, seeing so many people walking around with the Disneyland medal and the coast-to-coast medal, including Deb Wills and Cathy Bock (you ladies ROCK!). There were about 2500 people who were going for that this year - I'll be doing it next year, though!

And speaking of next year...Lee and I have both joined Team AllEars - we will be participating in the Goofy Challenge in January. Why? Ummm...it seemed like a good idea at the time? :-) I think most of you who read this blog are very familiar with Team AllEars and its fund raising efforts in support of the Avon Breast Cancer fund. But if you're not, you can read about it here:
http://land.allears.net/blogs/teamallears

As members of Team AllEars Lee and I have committed to raising $1000, so we would really appreciate your support. If you would like to donate, you can donate via credit card directly on Deb's Avon Breast Cancer Walk site:
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/WashingtonDC?px=3843338&pg=personal&fr_id=2010
- click on the pink "Donate Now" box. In the "How would you like your name to appear" box please put your name followed by "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" so they can track our fundraising efforts. If you wish to remain anonymous, just put "Team AllEars Laura and Lee" in the box. Thank you!


September 5, 2010

2010 Disneyland Half Marathon - Health and Fitness Expo

This year is the 5th Disneyland Half Marathon - Lee and I are back for our third. We ran the inaugural race in 2006, and then ran last year.

We are staying at the Paradise Pier this year - we were pleased that when we arrived at 11:30 this morning, not only was our room ready, but we had been upgraded to a park view room! Guess we'll see what World of Color looks like from here tonight.

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We can also see that the Little Mermaid attraction is taking shape:

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And so is Cars Land:

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We had a meet with several of our Team AllEars teammates who are also out here to run the half marathon.

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The Health and Fitness Expo is again at the Disneyland Hotel, so that's where we went this afternoon to pick up our registration packets, goody bags, and race info.

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The packet pickup is in a separate area - it's actually downstairs in what is often a parking garage (but it's an air-conditioned parking garage!) Fortunately there were helpful(?) signs...

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I really like the way they use carpet that looks like running track! Now, if only we could run the 13.1 miles tomorrow on that instead of concrete and asphalt...

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To pick up your packet you must have a signed waiver and photo id. You are supposed to print your waiver in advance from the web site, but for those who hadn't done that, there were computers and printers available. The pick-up area was not very busy when we were there, though apparently the lines at the Coast-to-Coast desks were very long yesterday. I haven't seen any figures on how many people are entered in the coast-to-coast, but of the Team AllEars participants I think Lee and I are the only ones who aren't doing it. (I KNEW I should've done the Princess Half in March!!) Oh well - next year.

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After we'd picked up our packets, which included our bibs, timing chips, and race information, we went to one of the stations where we scanned our chip to make sure that our names came up correctly - and they did.

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Since this is the 5th year, they are doing a few special things - around the room they had mile signs from 1-13 - but the signs were from all 5 years of the race.

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And there were some other photo ops, too:

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Upstairs in the main ballroom was the Expo itself - there was quite a line for this particular photo opportunity!

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T-shirt pickup was organized by shirt size - it was very easy. Lots of t-shirts still left! The shirts are unisex sizes - I got a small last year which was way too big, so I got an extra small this year, and it seems about right.

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The Expo had a fair number of exhibitors, but nothing really all that exciting to us, though we wandered around and looked.

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In the arena area they had tables where people could make signs to cheer on friends/family who are running the race.

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I was disappointed in the merchandise selection this year - though from what other friends told us, there was a somewhat better selection yesterday. Even in what they had today there wasn't much of a variety of sizes, though.

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Back in the room we went through our "goody bags" to see what we had. There's a Kodak disposable camera with the Disneyland 5th Half Marathon logo on it and the notation: "13.1 miles of pure enjoyment". I guess it's a film camera...I'm not sure I still know how to use one of those! It's bigger than my Canon digital camera, though - so I won't be carrying it tomorrow. Lots of literature for various marathons and half marathons - did you know there are 14 different Rock and Roll races now?

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Tonight we met Deb, Cathy, and Jessica for dinner at Storyteller's Cafe - most of us did the dinner buffet, which had a nice selection of both protein and carbs. I feel fueled for tomorrow now.

Now comes the hard part...trying to sleep when we know we have to get up really early, and have pre-race jitters on top of that.

By the time many of you read this we will probably be done with the race - it starts at 6:00, and we hope to finish in about 2.5 hours, which includes lots of photo stops in the first four miles. I will plan to post an update to this blog after we get back to the room.


*** Update ***
Finished in 2:37:37 - not a great time, but there were lots of characters in miles 1-4, and several lines were quite long, so that cost me about 25 minutes. Weather was GREAT - overcast and cool. Deb Wills also finished, though I don't know her time yet.

September 7, 2009

Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day

We finished! Actually we did better than I thought we would - our official time was 2:28:23. And that included stopping for a lot of photos in the first three miles which slowed us down quite a bit.

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One very nice thing about the Disneyland race over the Walt Disney World races is that you can walk to the start from many nearby hotels - so you don't have to depend on the Disney buses that want to get you there insanely early. We left our room about 5:15 for a 6:00 start. There was a lot of people-traffic getting to our start corral, but we still managed to get there almost 10 minutes before the race started.

Mickey and Minnie, in their running gear, showed up on the stage a few minutes before the race started, and then Goofy pulled up in the monorail. There were some flame pots, and the race started just a little after 6:00.

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They started us in waves, unlike three years ago, and that made a big difference in the early going - it wasn't nearly as congested, which was very nice. We were in Corral C, so we were at the tail end of the first wave.

The weather cooperated very nicely - we'd been having really hot weather in southern California for the last several weeks, but it was probably about 67-68 at the start of the race, and the sun stayed behind the clouds until after 8:00 and that really helped. It was only 73 at 9:00 - it had been 77 or 80 when I'd checked the temperature at that time earlier in the week! Still fairly humid, though.

The course brought us into DCA back by the Pacific Wharf about mile 1.5. Our first character sighting was Flik and Atta next to "a bug's land" - and something we weren't used to seeing at a race here: a line to get our photo taken!!! Bummer.

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The mile 2 marker was near the gate by Soarin' where we exited the park and headed across to Disneyland. We ran in through the main entrance, where I got my picture taken in front of the floral Mickey, where AllEars® reader Mary Jo recognized me and said hi.

In Town Square they had one of the floats from the Celebrate! parade set up, with a couple of dancers and some of the Pinocchio characters. You can see Pinocchio is being a bit naughty in this photo. :-)

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Then it was backstage for a while (where we passed the Disneyland fire engine and many of the firemen) before we came out in Tomorrowland. Stitch was perched up on the Observatron and waved at us.

As we ran towards Fantasyland, the monorail, with its race banner, was gliding by on the rail. Goofy wasn't piloting this time, though. :-)

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Just outside Fantasyland was another Celebrate! float, this time with the Mad Hatter and Alice. I told the Mad Hatter I liked his running shoes. :-)

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Many of the rides in Fantasyland, like the Tea Cups and Dumbo, were running, but the Carrousel was the only one with riders - we saw Bert and Mary Poppins, Cinderella, and Belle.

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Through the castle past Flora, Fauna, Merryweather, and Aurora, and around the hub, where Peter Pan and Wendy were posing at another Celebrate float. Jessie and Bullseye were waving from the balcony of the Golden Horseshoe. We ran past Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion and the Mile 3 mark was at the entrance to the Splash Mountain queue. In Critter Country we saw Meeko and Pocahontas. (Good thing Meeko was out on the race course and not at the finish line - all of those shiny medals would have been way too much temptation for him!!!)

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We ran out of the park and backstage next to Splash Mountain. There were actually Cast Members back there telling people NOT to take pictures - that's the first time I've seen that in a Disney race.

At one point we ran past the horticultural section of the backstage area - people were saying it smelled like cows! There was certainly a distinct eau de steer manure in the air... :-)

And then we were out onto the streets of Anaheim for much of the rest of the race. That's unfortunately the really boring part - from about miles 3.2 through almost mile 8 the course winds back and forth on streets in the industrial park area. No Disney presence at all. Though fortunately there are many local high schools and music groups that come out early to cheer on the runners - we saw lots of bands and very loud and enthusiastic cheer and dance squads. There was even a large youth mariachi band. Thank you so much to all of you who came out so early on a Sunday morning to cheer us on - your enthusiasm rubs off and helps a lot when we are starting to get tired.

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Just before mile 8 we arrived at the Honda Center, where we took a tour of the perimeter of the parking lot. For a "flat" course there were an awful lot of little hills (it was slightly uphill to the far end of the lot) and those started to get harder each time. After the parking lot we got to run on the bike trail next to the Santa Ana river - part of that was dirt and felt pretty good after all of that asphalt and concrete. Though at the end of that section we had to run *up* out of there. Just past that was where they were handing out packets of gel.

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Mile 9 was in the parking lot for Angel Stadium. We got to run through the tunnel on the right field line and onto the field (on the dirt, not the grass) and run around behind home plate and past third base, and then out another tunnel down the left field line. They were showing us on the big Jumbotron screen in left field. And there were lots of cheering fans in the stands! That was really cool.

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I was starting to get pretty tired by mile 10. Lee was the Energizer Bunny, and he could've run faster, but I was about at my limit. Even though it wasn't as hot as it has been, it was still far from my optimal running temperature and I was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. We were still maintaining about a 10:20 pace, though. The last 1.5 miles were really hard for me - we ran back into DCA at just after mile 12, where I hoped to get some characters to give me an excuse to stop and take pictures, but nooooo.

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We came into the park next to the Tower of Terror, then ran through Flik's Fun Fair and out to the Golden Vine Winery, then along Paradise Pier past the construction walls, and then backstage for a while before coming out in front of the Grand Californian and across Disneyland Drive behind the Paradise Pier and then going between the Dreams tower of the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney. That's where the mile 13 sign was - only .1 miles left! I didn't have much of a sprint left in me, but we managed to get across the finish line - 2:28:23 after we started. Glad *that's* over!!! (My time was actually two seconds faster than my first Disney Half Marathon in Florida over 4.5 years ago - when I was 4 years younger and the weather was cooler, so I guess that's something!)

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Volunteers were handing out cool damp towels, and those felt VERY good - we certainly did not need the space blankets that they hand out at other races! :-) We got our half marathon medals, and then I went to the Coast-to-Coast station where they cut the wristband off and gave me my very cool Coast-to-Coast medal. It's really very nice.

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After we'd gotten something to eat and drink (there were bottles of water and PowerAde, bagels, bananas, oranges, and Clif bars) we stretched a little bit and had something to eat and drink, and then headed back to the hotel. We were a little stiff and sore, but not too bad. Though as you can see in the picture, we found some things a challenge...like climbing steps. :-)

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It was a terrific race - Disneyland does just as good a job as Walt Disney World in setting things up and taking care of us. The volunteers were great, and did a super job with registration and staffing all of the aid stations. Thank you so much to all of you who volunteered!

I have to say I feel pretty good - not really sore at all, and I'm really very happy to have accomplished the Coast-to-Coast Challenge! But I'm still glad it's over. :-)

Congratulations to any of the rest of you who ran the Half Marathon - hope you had as good (or better!) an experience as we did!

September 6, 2009

Disneyland Half Marathon - Registration and Expo

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Today (Saturday) we drove from San Diego to Anaheim, where after checking into the Grand Californian (room not ready yet) we headed over to the Disneyland Hotel to pick up our race registration packets at the Health and Fitness Expo.

We ran the first Disneyland Half Marathon in 2006 when it was a little smaller, and some things have changed since then. For one thing, packet pickup and the expo are in slightly different places.

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Packet pickup is actually in the lower level of the parking structure - though as you can see they had race-lane striped carpet leading down to it. And fortunately it was air-conditioned down there, since it was over 90 in Anaheim today.

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Around the perimeter of the area they had all of the mile marker signs that we will be seeing on the course tomorrow.

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I am especially looking forward to seeing these two!!!

To pick up our packets we were required to show our signed waiver and a photo id. The waivers have been available on-line for us to print out for several weeks, but computers and printers were available in one area for those people who hadn't printed them out in advance (or had forgotten them!). Packets were handed out by race number, so you had to have the waiver to know what your race number was! I thought it was very interesting that Lee's and my race numbers were only 10 off what we had three years ago - we were 4046 and 4047 then, and we are 4056 and 4057 this year.

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After picking up my packet I also had to check-in at the "Coast-to-coast" desk, since I am eligible for the special coast-to-coast medal for finishing a Disney World marathon/half marathon AND the Disneyland half marathon in the same calendar year. I ran the Princess Half Marathon in March. They checked my name off the list and gave me a blue wristband that I have to wear until I check in with them again after the race tomorrow. I have to say that the wrist band is a little annoying when you have to wear it for that long!

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But this medal should be mine tomorrow - maybe even by the time you read this. Pretty cool, huh?

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To pick up our shirts and goody bags we had to go back into the Convention Center part of the Disneyland Hotel, which is where the Health and Fitness Expo was located. There really weren't too many people there, and they had plenty of volunteers.

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After we left the t-shirt area the next set of volunteers handed us our goody bags. These had the usual literature for other upcoming races (there are more Rock 'n' Roll races every year!), some final instructions, samples of Clif bars and energy beans, and a copy of the premiere issue of the Disney Twenty-Three magazine. Interesting.

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They had a couple of nice photo-op areas, too.

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Official merchandise was for sale at one end:

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Lee ponders a shirt - he actually ended up buying the one that's in the foreground.

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This sign was on the outside of the Asics booth. Guess that means it's 13.1 miles to hell, right?

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We had lunch at La Brea Bakery Cafe in Downtown Disney and then went into Disneyland for a while. We caught the Celebration Jazz Band performing on Main Street.

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Back in Fantasyland they are building this structure opposite the entrance to the Matterhorn - maybe it's a permanent home for Fantasia Freeze?

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They are doing a rehab of the Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Junior Circus Train. We had to laugh at this sign on the construction walls: "The miniature realm of Storybook Land is closed for some 'tiny' improvements."

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Later we checked in and got our room assignment and moved into our room. After relaxing for a while we went in to DCA to have some dinner, and enjoyed the light show on the Fun Wheel, then went into Disneyland to see another Pixie Hollow Enchantment show.

We want to get to bed early so we didn't stay for the fireworks - but I can hear them going off now.

More tomorrow after the race!

Disneyland Half Marathon Numbers

Disney posted this information on the Half Marathon - I thought it was interesting!

1 - Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle medal for each person who finishes the race
2 - Number of theme parks that participants will visit during the Half Marathon
6 - Number of Anaheim-based tourism destinations on the race course (Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim Convention Center, Honda Center, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and Downtown Disney)
9 - Water stops positioned throughout the course
13 - Countries represented
13.1 - Number of miles in the 2009 Disneyland Half Marathon
16 - Number of consecutive years that runners have participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend near Orlando, Fla.
37 - Average age of runners in the Disneyland Half Marathon
50 - U.S. States represented in the Disneyland Half Marathon, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico
63 - Percentage of female runners
84 - Age of the oldest participant registered for the Half Marathon
100 - Vendors scheduled to exhibit at the Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo, displaying the latest in running and fitness apparel, equipment and nutrition
343 - Registered runners from foreign countries
1,000 - Number of participants for the Kids' Races
1,300 - Number of volunteers expected to work the weekend
1,751 - Number of runners eligible to receive the Coast to Coast Challenge Race medal
4,000 - Number of Mickey's Main Street, U.S.A. 5K participants
13,500 - Number of registrants for the Half Marathon
18,500 - Total number of entrants in three events at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

August 24, 2009

Disneyland Half Marathon

The Fourth Annual Disneyland Half Marathon is coming up on Sunday, September 6. Lee and I will be running it for the second time - we ran the Inaugural event in 2006.

I decided to run it this year because of this spiffy extra medal that Disney offers - if you finish either the Walt Disney World Marathon/Half Marathon or the Princess Half Marathon in Florida, and then run the Disneyland Half Marathon in the same calendar year, you get a special "coast-to-coast" medal in addition to the regular medals you get for finishing the race. Since I ran the Princess Half Marathon in March, I am eligible this year. This picture does not do it justice - I've seen other photos of it, and it's huge, and just gorgeous. I'm really looking forward to adding it to my collection! :-)

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With the construction going on at DCA the race course has been changed this year. We will still run through both parks, but instead of running past Paradise Pier at the beginning and Soarin' at the end, it's reversed. The route we take through Disneyland is different than I remember, too - looks like we don't run down Main Street at all, and instead we exit the park back in Critter Country. We won't run through Downtown Disney at all, though I don't think that's such a bad thing - there were lots of people. I was really hoping they would change something in the "scenic streets of Anaheim" section, where we wind back and forth through the industrial park area for several miles, but we'll be doing that again. Looks like we will get to run on the field at Angels' Stadium again, though, and that was a lot of fun last time.

The map of the race course is HERE

So that's what we'll be doing in a couple of weeks...wish us luck!


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Disneyland AllEars® Meet and Greet!

AllEars® Team members Deb Wills, Laura Gilbreath, Lisa Berton and Cathy Bock invite you to come by and say "Hello!" at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at the Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland.

Here's a picture of the entrance to the Plaza Gardens, which is located between Frontierland and the castle.

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About Disneyland Half Marathon

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Disneyland Half Marathon category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Avengers Half Marathon is the previous category.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.