Team AllEars Archives

January 15, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 6


Three down, one to go! But we haven't even done half of the mileage yet...we have completed 22.4, and still have 26.2 left!

It was VERY hard to get up at 2:00 this morning...we both really, really, really wanted to go back to sleep. But today was the first real test of this whole Dopey Challenge thing - at 13.1 miles a half marathon is much more of an endurance test for most of us.

We again drove to Epcot, leaving our resort at a little after 3:00, and again we had minimal traffic. Even including parking it only took about 12 minutes. But that's because we left EARLY.

Before I go any further I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers and cast members who get up even earlier than we do to man the aid stations, direct traffic, answer questions, and probably a thousand other jobs that we might not see, but that are absolutely necessary. I don't know how they manage to keep doing it with smiles on their faces, and words of encouragement, but they do, and we are SO appreciative and grateful. This is Andrew, who we also saw the morning of the 10K. Notice his duck hat, and his gloves, which had glowing fingers - he told us to touch them for a burst of power. :-) (I did - every little bit helps!)

It had rained during the night and it was quite humid. The temperature was about 67, so it was our warmest race so far. Showers were expected about 9:00, and thunderstorms later, so we were hoping the rain would hold off for the race. At least the overcast kept the temperature down while we were running. (The showers never materialized, though we did have thunderstorms and heavy rain that night.)

We again gathered for a pre-race meet and photo. (Thank you to Phil DeLuccia for the photo!)

And then it was off to the start corrals, which are about 1/2-3/4 mile from the pre-race area, mostly on a fairly narrow road. This often entails shuffling along, shoulder-to-shoulder, for what seems like hours. This year we headed out about as soon as they opened the corrals and it wasn't TOO bad, but still a bit congested. That's one thing that was so nice about the 5K and 10K - we didn't have that long crowded walk to the start.

One thing that runDisney did this year to try to help with the course crowding was to add more corrals, but put fewer people in them, and start the corrals at different intervals, depending on the number of people. There were 16 this year - I think there's been 8 in the past.

We started in Corral K with a group of Team AllEars runners. We couldn't even SEE the start line, and once our corral started moving it was still a pretty long walk to the start! Most of the corrals got a nice fireworks display when they counted down to the start but ours didn't. :-(

Our corral started about 6:05, which was 35 minutes after the race started. The elite runners were halfway done by then, and we saw the first ones heading back when we were less than 2 miles into the race.

Mile 1 - only 38.3 to go!

We ran with a different group than we did yesterday - they were doing 30:30 intervals. That was very different for me - I train with a longer run interval. But I have to say that I never had time to get out of breath, and since this was all about getting through the half and surviving to run the marathon on Sunday, it worked out pretty well.

Near the Contemporary we have to run under an overpass. There's always a DJ up there talking to us - and he has these huge Mickey hands (which unfortunately you can't see in the photo). This overpass is actually the waterway that connects Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, so he told us that we were running under water. :-) Running under means that it's downhill at first, but then uphill on the otherside...this is always a slow part of the race because it's narrow and then uphill.

At about mile 5.3 we entered Magic Kingdom! It's always a lot of fun to run on Main Street. We stopped for a photo with the castle.

And we had to stop to greet our AllEars Cheer section at the hub. They are the best!

The lines for the first few sets of characters along the race course (the pirates and the Nightmare Before Christmas characters) had been really long, but the lines in Magic Kingdom weren't quite as bad. Lee and I wanted to get character photos so the rest of the group went ahead. I was very excited to see Tigger in Liberty Square - in all of the Disney races I've done I've never gotten a photo with Tigger! The line wasn't very long, either.

After leaving Magic Kingdom we get to my least favorite section of the course - we call it "Cone Alley". It's from Magic Kingdom to past the Polynesian. The road is only two lanes, and since they need to allow outbound traffic from that area they restrict runners to one lane with a seemingly endless line of orange cones side-by-side. Even though we are 6+ miles into the race by then everyone gets really bunched together and it's slow going. Sometimes it's completely blocked by walkers and it's very frustrating.

There were a few characters in this stretch, and we stopped for a couple of photos. I was surprised NOT to see Mary Poppins at the Grand Floridian - no characters at all there, which was unusual.

We saw this character, though - Laura is our craziest Team AllEars cheerer. She loves sweaty hugs, and thinks toenails are for sissies. :-)

At one point we ran past Dr. Dribble - he was dribbling two basketballs for the entire course! (He did it Sunday during the marathon, also.)

We caught up with our teammates around mile 9.

Our friends Gail and Julian were out cheering at mile 9.7, and it's always wonderful to see them out there!

This is the first time I've seen Disney Cruise Line cheering - they had a cruise line bus and some banners and an officer or two. Someone was announcing runners like they do when you board the ship: "Disney Cruise Line welcomes ...!" It was fun.

At mile 11.1 was the main Team AllEars section - it's always wonderful to see them, and not just because it means we are almost done. :-) I don't know how any of them have voices left after the weekend. (Actually I saw a number of them on Sunday night and many of them were pretty hoarse.)

Yippee! Backstage at Epcot is my favorite sight - the gospel choir. It means only .2 miles to the finish! We were still feeling pretty good but I told Lee there would be NO sprinting to the finish. "There's no sprinting in Dopey!"

We crossed the finish line - Lee even got a shout-out from race announcer Rudy Novotny.

After we got our Donald medals we got our third (and last) wristband. Though you see all three in this photo, I was only wearing one of them - the others I had cut off but then wrapped around my wrist. I only had the one 1/2 marathon band on the final day.

I've complained about the contents of the silly runDisney box but I hadn't taken a photo - here's what we got every single day. (They did have bananas every day, too.)

But one thing that was available in the finish area was champagne!!! That seemed to me like a fine way to celebrate completing the half marathon.

On the big monitor at the finish area we had watched a number of our teammates cross the finish line and we caught up with them after they exited the race area. Everyone did just great! Several of them were having not-so-good days (Lee and I call them "rock days", because our coach tells us: "Some days you're a diamond, some days you're a rock."), but they toughed it out and finished strong anyway.

We are happy that the half is done, and are feeling pretty confident about getting through the marathon tomorrow. That's a lot of miles, though. I saw a runner with a t-shirt that said: "Why couldn't Phidippides have died at mile 20?" :-)

January 13, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 5


It's official! We are Dopey! Great experience, but I am SO tired.

We lucked out and had absolutely perfect weather today - sunny, in the 50s and 60s, not too humid, and with a nice cool breeze. It was like running in San Diego. Really comfortable for running.

The course was the same as last year, so we had the lap around the Walt Disney World Speedway, and went all around the Wide World of Sports complex again. I didn't think there were significantly fewer people in the marathon but the roads were less crowded, especially in the narrow parts, and the lines for character photos were shorter.

Before the race we gathered for one final team photo. (Thanks to Alex Armas for the photo.)

The walk to the corrals wasn't even a shuffle this morning - we could just walk normally! That was really nice. We sat down in our corral to wait for our wave to start.

There were fireworks for all of the corrals, which was nice.

Our corral started about 25 minutes after the race started. We were at the front, which was nice.

Mile 1 - only 25.2 to go! (At mile 1.9 we were exactly half done with the 48.6 Dopey distance.)

I was running with my friend and teammate Linda, and we had a great time when we reached Magic Kingdom - the lines for most of the character photos weren't too long and we stopped several times.

As I said the crowds weren't too bad - even on "Cone Alley" as we call the one-lane section from Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian. We saw our friends Gail and Julian cheering near the Grand Floridian and stopped to say hello to them. They come out and cheer just about every year, and it's wonderful to see them!

I saw several groups of Team AllEars runners out on the course - it was fun to run with them a bit.

Backstage at Animal Kingdom the keepers bring out some of the animals - that's always fun. This adorable little owl is named Finn - but he wouldn't look at the camera.

And I had to get my photo taken with Jiminy Cricket - he's not a character you see very often.

Outside Animal Kingdom was Mickey Mouse!

The stretch from Animal Kingdom to Wide World of Sports is long and boring. Our Team AllCheers group always sets up a cheering section there - they are such a welcome sight!

As I was coming out of Wide World of Sports about mile 19 I found some familiar faces! Lee was running with a different group, and they had started in an earlier corral. They'd been having fun along the coast taking their time, and posing for photos - they even took a ride on Expedition Everest! So I was finally able to catch up.

They were having way too much fun, so I joined them for the rest of the race. At about mile 22 Eddie and Lee did pushups for Sarge. Lee was feeling so good he did clapping push ups.

We eventually made it to Epcot. Aladdin told me I needed to be careful, because Abu likes to steal shiny things. :-) I was surprised that there weren't more characters out in Epcot - I only saw Aladdin and Mulan.

In Mexico we stopped and several of us got frozen margaritas. Let me tell you, that was a great way to end a race! :-)

At mile 26 is my favorite sight of the race - the gospel choir. They sing us home.

No new wristband today - instead they gave us three medals! Clank, clank, clank. :-)

The Dopey Challenge has been a really special experience, especially sharing it with teammates, and I'm glad I did it...but this may be a "one and done". The lack of sleep really caught up with a lot of us today, I think.

The recap of the half marathon is still to come. For now I'm going to call it a night, and I'm very glad that I am NOT getting a 2 a.m. wakeup call tomorrow!

January 12, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 4


Three down, one to go! Though we haven't even done half of the distance yet - Michelle told me today that it's not until we get 1.9 miles into the marathon tomorrow that we will have done 24.3...

I am beginning to think that the Dopey Challenge is really a long-term study on the effects of sleep deprivation. We are pretty tired. Today started at 2:00, and between the race, the team meet this afternoon, and hanging out having dinner with friends tonight, it has been a very long day already. So I'm afraid there won't be a race recap of today's half marathon for a few days.

I do want to leave you with this photo from the team meet today - this year Team AllEars raised $104,725 to fight breast cancer, and over the last five years the team has raised $330,620! Thank you to all of you who have contributed!

Marathon tomorrow. I think we are ready, and will get through it ok, but it's still going to be a tough day.

January 11, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 3


Two races down, two to go! Unfortunately it's the two SHORT races, so we've only done 9.3 miles and have 39.3 left. Yikes. We're feeling good, though - we took it very easy in today's 10K and had a good time running with some of our teammates.

This was the Inaugural Walt Disney World 10K. It was Minnie's race, and she's the one on the 10K medal. The medal is very nice, and as my friend Eddie pointed out, it has my favorite word on it: Inaugural. :-)

This one started at 5:30 instead of 6:15, so we left our resort at 4:00. There seemed to be more people this morning, or at least more people driving, though we still never hit stop-and-go traffic on our way in. We were parked in row 17 rather than row 14 like we were yesterday.

It's probably a good thing I'm blogging each day because otherwise all of these race mornings are going to seem the same after a while. :-) We met our fellow Team AllEars members and posed for a team photo, and then eventually dispersed to our corrals. (Click on the photo below to see a larger version. Thank you, Tom Troost, for the photo!)

This time a group of teammates dressed up as Avengers characters - here's Iron Man and Pepper Potts.

It was odd...there seemed to be more people at the race, but fewer people in the corrals - there were just as many corrals as yesterday - A-E.

Today we ran with some of our teammates, and that was really fun. They were doing 2:1 intervals, which I hadn't done before, but it worked really well - a nice steady pace. And that's what I wanted today - actually that's the goal for the whole weekend.

We started in Corral C. The race started right on time with Corral A, but then there was 12 minutes before Corral B started. Fortunately we started only 5 minutes after B. Apparently there were long waits after we started because we heard later that by the time Corral E started, some of the elite runners had already finished!

Mile 1 for today, 4.1 for Dopey! 44.5 to go!

The first three miles of the course looped around the perimeter of Epcot - some of it out on the roads and some of it in backstage areas.

This time we came into World Showcase between Norway and China - yesterday it was Mexico. There were several characters in Epcot (though no Dopey today), but the lines were pretty long and we didn't stop.

The mile 4 sign was near the American Adventure.

While running by we noticed that the construction walls came down last night from the new Spice Road Table restaurant in Morocco. It's scheduled to open tomorrow (Saturday).

I always enjoy running through Epcot in the pretty.

We went out the International Gateway again, but this time we did a loop around Crescent Lake on the boardwalk. It was nice to see Team AllEars there to cheer us on!

After the loop we went back to the International Gateway and backstage at Epcot, entering Future World next to the Imagination Pavilion. We went across Future World and backstage at the usual place and then covered the last .25 miles to the finish line.

We got our Minnie medals, and today there wasn't a line for the Dopey wristbands. We had one volunteer tell us we didn't need to keep wearing the wristband from yesterday and another tell us we needed to wear both of them, so we went to the Dopey tent and talked to a runDisney person, who verified that yes, we only needed to wear the most recent wristband. (Some of our teammates are still wearing both of them, though. :-) )

In the refreshment tents we received another silly runDisney food box...apparently we're going to get four days of the same crap. We scoped out a concession wagon next to the finish area that has bagels, muffins, fresh fruit and chips for sale. The same things that MOST races would offer their finishers in the refreshment area.

We walked over to cheer spot near the finish line where some of Team AllEars was cheering on the rest of the runners. We saw lots of really great costumes - loved this woman dressed as Kevin from "Up". I'm sorry it's not a very good photo, but it was a wonderful costume!

We saw our entire Avengers team finish - they looked fantastic!

Some thoughts on the new race...Lee and I ran our first 10K race at the Disneyland 10K in September, and we really like that distance. I really liked the distance this time, too, though I'm not wild about the course. The first 3.5 miles or so are pretty boring - nothing to see and not much entertainment, either. Once we got into Epcot, from then on it was good. The size seemed about right - it was not overly crowded. Just a few places that we had to slow down, but we never had to stop and walk (except where we wanted to!).

It was hard getting up at 3:00 this morning - and it's going to be harder still to get up at 2:00 tomorrow and the next day. Running the half marathon tomorrow will be our first real test. We are again planning to take it pretty easy. I'm hoping to get in some character photos during this one.

January 10, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 2


One race down, three to go. Of course it was the easiest of the four, and we still have 45.7 miles to go. But it's nice to have one of them done!

We had never run the WDW 5K before. It's a MUCH smaller race, and a whole lot more pleasant! With the influx of 7500 Dopey runners this year it was much larger than usual (around 10,000), but there's a huge difference between 10,000 runners and 25,000+ runners like there are in the WDW half and full marathons.

The 5K started at 6:15 (all of the other races this weekend start at 5:30). We planned to leave at 4:30, and scheduled a wake-up call for 3:30, whereas with the marathons we plan to be on the bus at 3:00! So it was almost civilized. Ok, relatively civilized.

We drove our rental car to the Epcot parking lot. We weren't sure what to expect as far as traffic went but there wasn't any - it took us a whole 9 minutes to get there and park!

Because it was such a short race we didn't have any bags to check - good thing, because there is a security bag check outside the pre-race area for anyone with bags. (I suppose it's a necessary precaution after Boston.) I can't imagine what the lines for that are going to be like on Saturday and Sunday when there are way more runners. So, if you're going to be running this weekend and will have a bag, allow time for that!

It was a little bit chillier this morning than we expected - since we've been here the expected temperatures for the weekend have continued to drop. That's a good thing as far as running goes, but because we were expecting warmer weather we didn't bring as many throwaway clothes. We both had brought mylar sheets we'd saved from previous Disney races, and those kept us warm enough.

We met a whole bunch of Team AllEars people before the race - I think just about everyone on the team who was in Orlando came out to either run the 5K or cheer for those of us who were running it. And there were another 8-10 who missed the team photo. (Thank you to Tom Troost for allowing me to use his photo. If you click on it you'll see the larger version.)

Some of our teammates ran in costume - this group was superheroes:

And Bryan dressed up as Buddy from Elf. He had the hat, too, though he wasn't wearing it in this photo.

There were six start corrals for the 5K. We were in B. Looking around us, we saw almost all Dopey bibs - but since Dopey runners were about 3/4 of the total I guess that shouldn't surprise me.

The race started right on time, and we were off about 5 minutes later.

I was pleasantly surprised that the course wasn't too crowded. We ran backstage around Epcot, and came into World Showcase next to the Mexico pavilion. The mile 1 marker was maybe 1/4 mile before that - 1 down, 47.6 to go...

It was still quite dark, but World Showcase was nicely lit.

The lines were long, so we ran by the photo ops with Flik, Daisy (in Norwegian costume), and Dopey - Dopey had a HUGE line. Not surprising, considering all of the Dopey runners! There was a relatively short line for Remy and Emile in France, so we stopped for that.

After we went over the bridge from France we went out the International Gateway, then backstage behind the UK. Then back into World Showcase between the UK and Canada and through Future World to the park entrance, then a U-turn up the other side, then backstage again and out into the parking lot to the finish line.

After we got our Pluto finisher medallions we had to get our Dopey wristbands - that's how we prove we have completed each race. There appeared to be a huge line for that, but it turned out it wasn't really the line, and cast members and volunteers got us moving more efficiently so we could get our wristbands fairly quickly. We think that we get a new wristband every day and can then get rid of the previous one. I hope so, because I really don't want to have to wear three wristbands on Sunday!

They had the usual silly runDisney food boxes...though after just a 5K we didn't really need much to eat right away.

It started to drizzle a bit after we crossed the finish line, and kept that up for a while. Not really raining though, so that was nice. We went to the spot near the finish line where some of our teammates were cheering, and cheered as the rest of our teammates finished the 5K. Good job, everyone! There were a number of people who walked it together, and it was fun to watch them finish.

As we were walking back to our car we walked past the start line, and they had already replaced the 5K banner with the 10K banner they will need tomorrow!

The 5K was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. We took it very easy since we still have three much longer races to get through. The theme was fun and it was nice to see Pluto get a little love, too, since the rest of the Fab Five all have their own races and medals this weekend!

It'll be another early day tomorrow, but I hope I'm tired enough tonight that I sleep a little better.

January 9, 2014

WDW 2014 Marathon Weekend - Inaugural Dopey Challenge, Part 1


It's Marathon Weekend again at Walt Disney World, and Lee and I are back here again to fill our suitcases with bling and race shirts. :-)

Disney has added a new race and a new race challenge this year. On Friday, the Inaugural WDW 10K will take place. Like the other three races, it also starts and ends at Epcot.

And now that there's a fourth race, Disney has again thrown down the gauntlet (or Mickey glove) and challenged those of us crazy enough to do all four. It's beyond Goofy to want to do that, so this one is appropriately called The Dopey Challenge. And there are 7,567 or so of us signed up to do it. (Thanks Chris Mushrush for that info!)

It's four races, on four consecutive (very early) mornings. 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and marathon on Sunday. A total of 48.6 miles of race courses. Those who successfully complete it take home *six* medals - one for each race, one for completing the Goofy Challenge, and one for the Dopey Challenge. Even by my standards, that's a LOT of bling!

Because the first race is on Thursday, the Race Expo began a day earlier, on Wednesday. We arrived at Wide World of Sports this morning just about 10:00. The Expo was scheduled to open at 10:00, but they opened early - very nice for those who were waiting!

On the walkway to Wide World of Sports they have banners for each of the races set up, which makes for a very nice photo.

We walked right in when we arrived. The last two Disney race expos I attended (Disneyland and Princess) were nightmares, but today I didn't experience any problems. I don't know if there were fewer people there early because the races are spread out over four days, or if they just learned from some of last year's mistakes (probably a bit of both), but we didn't encounter much in the way of lines at all. Though there was a VERY long line, and long wait, for those trying to buy the New Balance Disney shoes.

Almost all of the packet pick-up is in the Field House - the exception is the pick-up for the kids' races, which is at the stadium. Goodie bag pickup varies, depending on what races you are doing - for Goofy and Dopey it's also in the Field House, though for Dopey we still had to go to the Josten Center to pick up our 5K shirt. Odd - I don't know why they wouldn't put it in the bag with the rest of them.

I really like the shirts this year! The designs and colors are great. And they have FINALLY given us a women's cut shirt - so a small actually fits me! The fabric is a lighter weight tech fabric, and they got rid of those awful gusseted sleeves which were so tight. My only complaint (you knew I had to have one, right?) is that they are still long sleeve. Now, I know I'm from California, where we rarely need long sleeves, but even in other parts of the country most runners don't wear long sleeves more than a few months out of the year...and we hardly ever need them for the races here in Florida. I'm going to cut the sleeves off and turn them into short sleeve shirts.

I'd pre-ordered a Dopey pin - so I had to go to the "commemorative items" line to get that...that was the longest line I had.

There was a small merchandise area in the Field House, but it had a pretty good selection of items - most importantly I was able to get a Dopey magnet to add to my collection (still bummed that I missed out on the Dumbo Double Dare magnet). There were actually several designs of Dopey magnets.

I think this was my favorite shirt - it's more of a generic Marathon Weekend shirt, but it has the five medals on the back. (I guess the 5K medallion, since it isn't metal, doesn't count. Poor Pluto.)

The merchandise area in the Field House wasn't too crowded, and the checkout line moved very fast (but if there's one thing Disney knows how to do, it's take money).

Next we went over to the Josten's Center, which is where goodie bag/shirt pickup is for most of the races. There's also a much bigger Disney merchandise area there, as well as all of the non-Disney vendors. It was more crowded, but not totally jammed.

The I Did It shirts for all the races were over in the Josten Center. The Dopey shirts are tech shirts and not cotton t-shirts - I'd rather have cotton. They came in a men's and women's cut, but the women's cut are I have a men's shirt. My favorite part of the I Did It shirts is the map on the back.

It seemed like there was quite a bit more Goofy merchandise this year than in the past, and a nice selection for the new 10K, also.

It seemed like this year they had the same types of merchandise available for all of the races (except the 5K). Shirts, magnets, headbands, mugs and glasses, and pins. Cast members were standing by to replenish it, so I hope they won't run out of Dopey/Goofy merchandise the first day, which is what has happened in the past.

I was disappointed in this year's Coast-to-Coast shirts - in addition to being a tech shirt, I just don't like the design - it seems pretty generic.

We checked out the runDisney booth, and saw the selection of medals - we should have almost all of these by the end of next weekend! (The Tinker Bell 1/2 and new Tinker Bell 10K medals are on the right.) We asked if they were signing people up for the Disneyland Half, like they were last year, but no, registration opens at the end of January.

There were lots of other vendors and we wandered around and spent some more money. It's my tradition to buy new sunglasses here, and I did, and Lee got a new race belt.

Near the exit, Florida Hospital was doing a body composition analysis, with a device that measures weight, skeletal muscle mass, and fat mass, and they compute your body fat percentage. Didn't take long, and it was kind of interesting.

We saw a number of our fellow Team AllEars folks wandering around - like our Team captains, Mike and Michelle.

And MaryJean and Nancy, who were picking up bags for teammates whose arrival has been delayed by the horrible weather. (We also saw Joe, who was doing the same thing.) We were concerned that some of those running Dopey might not make it for the 5K tomorrow, but as I write this, I believe we've heard that everyone is either here or on a plane. Whew.

Tomorrow starts our first of four VERY early mornings...though the 5K doesn't start until 6:15, unlike the others that all start at 5:30! We're looking forward to getting the Challenge started!

September 2, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 - Half Marathon

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg 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.

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!

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.

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.

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! :-)

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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):

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

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.

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.

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.

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???

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.

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


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. :-)

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.

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

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).

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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. :-)

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

April 11, 2013

The Dopey Challenge - Walt Disney World Marathon


First it was the Goofy Challenge, then the Coast-to-Coast Challenge and the Dumbo Double Dare. Now the evil geniuses at runDisney have developed a new series to tempt their loyal running fan(atics): The Dopey Challenge.

runDisney is introducing a new 10K race into the 2014 Walt Disney World marathon weekend lineup. And they are convinced that there are plenty of runners who are, well, Dopey enough to want to run the 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon and earn the Dopey medal to go along with the 5K, Minnie (10K), Donald (half), Mickey (marathon), and Goofy medals.

Yes, that's right - six medals for four races. If you're a bling junkie like me, how can you pass that up? :-) And I couldn't. Lee and I are both signed up to run the Inaugural Dopey Challenge next January. "Are you insane?" is the question I most often hear when I tell people that. :-)

I loved the observation one of my fellow Team AllEars members made - that at various points during this challenge we would probably feel like all of the Seven Dwarfs...definitely Grumpy and Sleepy! (I hope not to have much experience of Doc and Sneezy, though...)

And speaking of be honest, the thing Lee and I are most concerned about is not the distance (48.6 miles over four days), it's having to get up really early four mornings in a row. It starts with the 5K on Thursday, January 9 and finishes with the marathon on Sunday, January 12. Followed by a really long nap...

Bring on the Dopey Challenge!

Registration for all of the events during Marathon weekend opened on April 9. For more information, visit

And Team AllEars 2014 is now open to new and returning members. Lee and I are back for what I'm sure will be a memorable year - it's the final year for Team AllEars. See for more information.

January 21, 2013

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon - Part 2

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg was a great morning! I think the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is now my favorite Disney race. Last year's inaugural race was really good, but this year was even better. I finished in 2:36:07 (with lots of photo stops) and Lee finished in 2:23:37. Despite running Goofy last week we both felt really good this morning and had a really good race.

After running at Disney World last week, where the course was too crowded and too narrow, this one was a pleasure. There were very few places where it narrowed down to a single lane for very long, and some areas we had 3-4 lanes to run in! It was pretty easy to run my own pace, and when I had to pass people I had room to get around them. It was MUCH more run/walk-friendly than the half marathon course in Florida was.

Our morning began at 3:15 - we actually slept pretty well. I know I've said this before, but Disneyland races are SO much easier logistically than those at WDW, because there is NO bus involved in getting to the start area - all you gotta do is walk!

Lee once again was a good sport and ran the race in sparkly skirt and wings. I don't think I saw quite as many wings and costumes (particularly guys in costumes) as I did last year, but still, a large number of people had worn some kind of special outfit for the race.

We met some of our Team AllEars folks in the pre-race area. It was chilly by southern California standards, about 48, but really not too bad at all, and SO much better than last week in Florida when it was 64 with 100% humidity.

The race started at 5:00 and they started sending people to the corrals at about 4:15. This also was SO much easier than it was in Florida last week - it was a very short walk, and we weren't shuffling.

My "proof of time" put me in Corral A, while Lee, being male, was not allowed to be higher than Corral C. Normally I would have gone to C to run with him, but he suggested that I go up to A, stop for all the photos that I wanted (being in Corral A would mean shorter lines for me), and meet him at mile 5 (after we got through the parks). So I went up to Corral A. It was really cool being up where I could actually SEE the start line and the race announcers!

We got a few fireworks during the national anthem, but, unlike WDW, each corral didn't get their own fireworks send-off.

Tinker Bell came out to start the race at 5:00, and we were off in a shower of pixie dust!

Unlike the Disneyland Half, the Tinker Bell Half goes north first, then turns south on Harbor and enters the Hollywood part of DCA about mile 1.8. It was really cool to run down Route 66 in Cars Land when it was stiil dark and the neon lights were on.

After that we went backstage again and ran around to Paradise Pier, where some of the World of Color fountains were running and the music was playing. DCA is an especially beautiful park when it's dark!

We ran past Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and Grizzly River Run - it was VERY dark here, and I was not too happy about running in the dark like that. After that we left DCA and ran across the Esplanade to Disneyland at about mile 3.3. Lots of characters out - including Captain Hook (who gallantly offered me his arm) and his pirates.

Then it was into Tomorrowland, where Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers were waiting. This was the longest line that I stood in (the line for Jack Sparrow was longer), but it's such a unique photo-op!

Holiday "it's a small world" was all lit up and looking beautiful.

This was also the "princess walk", with Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder, and Merida out for photos. And you know what? I'd planned to stop and get my photo taken, so I did!

Then we went backstage again (passed mile 4) and ran past the stable area - we could smell the hay. They had brought a horse and a couple of goats out to see us.

We re-entered the park in Toon Town, and then went into Fantasyland. The Lost Boys were at the Carrousel having a great time with runners - this may have been my favorite photo of the day.

I ran through the Castle - NOT coming to a stop like we did in Florida last week - and Philip and Aurora were off to the left - with NO line - I'd never seen that before!

In New Orleans Square was Jack Sparrow - with a HUGE line, so I didn't stop.

We went back stage next to Splash Mountain and soon came to the mile 5 sign. That's where Lee and I had agreed to meet. He wasn't there yet, but I only waited a minute or so for him so our timing was quite good!

Once we left Disneyland we went through Downtown Disney and past the Disneyland Hotel. The Red Hat Society was out in force again this year - I think there were even more than last year! They were a marvelous cheering section (I took this photo of a few of them after the race).

We spent a lot more time on Disneyland property than during the Disneyland Half Marathon - we were almost to mile 6 when we left Disneyland property and went into some of the residential area of Anaheim. It's quite interesting to see these homes that are just a block or two from Disneyland! Some of the residents had come out to cheer us on.

Our route took us into the downtown Anaheim business district past the Muzeo at about mile 8.25.

We had pretty good support from the community with lots of cheerleaders and bands - and they were pretty enthusiastic even though it was very early on a Sunday morning.

At about mile 11.5 we were backstage at Disneyland and DCA again - we didn't go back into the parks, but instead were on the perimeter road around the edge. At mile 12 and 12.5 they had a couple of bands - I don't remember seeing bands backstage before.

The approach to the finish was different this year - we kind of made a hairpin around the parking lot near the Paradise Pier Hotel rather than going out onto Katella and then finishing in the parking lot like we did last year.

We got our Tinker Bell medals and then exchanged our green wristbands for our Coast-to-Coast medals. I don't know how many C2C runners there were, but they seemed to have a pile of medals!

Refreshments again were the runDisney boxes, bananas, and bottles of water and PowerAde. As they did last week in Florida, they handed out a small tote bag to carry it all in. Last week we got Oz bags, this week it was Peter Pan. That really made it a lot easier to carry everything.

We were on our way back to our hotel by 8:00. So nice just to be able to easily walk back there - and a good cool-down for us, too.

We both feel really good - a little tired, but not particularly sore or anything. 52.4 miles in 9 days is quite a bit, though. But it was fun to earn our Coast-to-Coast medal again in record time - last year it took us three weeks, this year it was only eight days! Six medals in 9 days: Donald, Mickey, Goofy, Team AllEars, Tinker Bell, and Coast-to-Coast.

I'll have some additional thoughts on the race, but right now I'm too tired - I'm looking forward to a full night's sleep tonight!

January 20, 2013

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon - Part 1


Another weekend, another Disney race - different coast, though!

We are back at Disneyland for the second annual Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend. The Neverland Family 5K was this morning (Saturday), and the half marathon is tomorrow. We're only doing the half marathon, though the 5K looks like it was a lot of fun!

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is the second Disney race that is women-focused. (The Princess Half, celebrating its 5th annual race next month, was the first.) The Tinker Bell half is VERY popular - this year's race sold out in 29 days last summer! There are over 14,000 people entered in the half marathon - 12,459 female runners and 1,634 male runners. (Or "the smartest guys on the planet", as race announcer Rudy Novotny described them.)

Last year there were three weeks between Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World and Tinker Bell weekend at Disneyland - this year (and next year) they are only a week apart. I think Disney is trying to discourage the coast-to-coasters. But it's not working - there are seven members of Team AllEars here, and I have seen a number of Goofy and marathon shirts from last weekend. I'm hoping they will tell us how many coast-to-coast entries they have.

This is at least a relatively easy race for us since we get to stay in our same timezone, and it's a short drive from San Diego.

The race starts at 5:00 a.m., but most of the hotels around here are within walking distance of the start line, so there's no need to catch a bus insanely early. It sure makes things a lot easier than they are at Disney World.

The weather is way different from last weekend in Florida - though it's been in the high 70s during the day, it's in the 40s at sunrise, and will only barely hit 60 by 9:00 when most of us will be done. Humidity only around 40%, too. Perfect running weather, though it'll be chilly waiting around for the start.

Lee and I will once again be running in our sparkly running skirts and pixie wings like we did last year. (He'll be wearing a tutu for the Princess Half, though!)

So, today after we arrived we went to the Health and Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center. Packet pick-up, where we turn in our waivers and get our bib numbers, was down in the parking garage where it usually is.

There were very few people picking up registration packets - we had no wait at all. We also got our coast-to-coast wristbands, so that we can get that medal after the race tomorrow.

I registered us as a two-person team - Team AllEars! Team numbers started at 20,000.

The volunteers at the chrono-tag check were cheering all of us as we came through.

Then we went upstairs to the Expo itself, which is in the Disneyland Hotel's Convention Center. After last weekend at Disney World, this was a LOT less crowded and much more pleasant to wander through.

We picked up our goodie bags. In addition to the race shirt (which comes in men's AND women's styles - are you listening, Disney World Marathon people????) they gave us a mesh drawstring "backpack". The shirt is nice - it's the lighter-weight tech shirt that I prefer over the ones that WDW uses. The design is the one that we voted on - runDisney gave us a choice of three, as I recall.

Our favorite medal hanger company,, has some new designs - we really love this one - and yes, we bought it. :-)

We had a nice chat with Disney race announcer Rudy Novotny. Today was his birthday, and he was working - he had already called the 5K in the morning, and was announcing at the Expo too.

We also visited the Official Merchandise area. It looked like they had plenty of merchandise, with a lot of different shirt designs (more than are pictured here!). No merchandise for men, though, except the gray Coast-to-Coast shirt we saw last week, and very few of those, in just a couple of sizes.

I liked the sentiment on this one.

Like they did in Florida last week, they were allowing people to pre-register for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend events in September. They had quite a few computers set up, and the line wasn't too long. Race registration officially opens on January 22 - I wonder if there will be any openings left for the Dumbo Double Dare by then.

When we wandered through Downtown Disney we saw signs announcing the early opening of a number of venues tomorrow - places where the early runners can get coffee and/or something to eat. A lot of cold and sleepy people are going to be buying something hot tomorrow morning!

We brought bagels and yogurt from home - and that's what we'll be eating in the morning. Now it's time to try to get some sleep before the wake-up call comes in waaaay too early.

It should be a terrific race!

January 15, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Part 3 - Marathon


We did it! The 2013 Goofy Challenge, and the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon!

Though Sunday wasn't quite as hot as they thought it might be (81 instead of 84) it was still a tough day to be running 26.2 miles. Very humid, too, and sunny, without the clouds I was hoping for, which just made it seem even hotter. It was a beautiful day if you *weren't* running a marathon. I was really happy to cross the finish line! I actually had a pretty good race, and although I didn't push it, I still ended up with a personal best time of 5:22:07. There must be something to this whole training thing because I wasn't totally dead after the race, and today (Monday) I feel pretty good. A little stiff if I sit too long, and slightly fatigued, but otherwise good!

Race day began, as it always does, much too early at 2:30. At least we slept better since we were tired from the half marathon. :-) There was a longer line for the bus and we had to wait for the third one (they were stopping at some of the other Epcot resorts first, so were arriving 1/2-2/3 full) before going on our way. There was more traffic so it took 20-25 minutes to get to Epcot - that's more normal than the 10 minutes it took the day before.

There were 25,000 people entered in the full, not much fewer than the half, but it seemed like there were a lot more people in the staging area. We again met up with Team AllEars, and there's a group photo floating around somewhere, but I don't have it. I think there were almost 40 of us in the marathon - that's very cool, especially for the first-timers like our intrepid co-captain, Michelle Scribner-MacLean.

After the disaster in getting to the corrals the day before they tried something a little different, and the first call was for those in Corrals A and B. Makes sense, since they start first. Then after about 10 minutes they called C and D. This time there was no huge non-moving mass of humanity - we were able to walk continuously to the corrals. Not a fast walk, but better than the shuffle I've seen before.

Of course the disadvantage is that we arrived in our corral with over 45 minutes before the race started, and over an hour until we were due to start. The advantage was that we were able to see all of the pre-race "show", featuring Disney race announcer Rudy Novotny (and a couple of others I don't know) and their interviews with Jeff Galloway, Frank Shorter, and Joey Fatone.

We were waaay back from the start line, but they had huge screens up by each corral so that we could see what was going on (sorry that the pictures are grainy - but that's why).

Several times we were cautioned about the heat - don't go too fast, drink lots of water and electrolytes, don't go for a PR...(And I didn't! It just worked out that way!)

Mickey, Donald and Goofy came out and "spoke" to us, we heard the national anthem, and then it was time to countdown to the start of the race! The wheelchairs went off at 5:30 and Corral A followed at 5:35. We again had a good fireworks display behind us, but each corral got their own start and fireworks over the start line.

We were near the front of Corral D and so once we got up to it we had a better view of the start line than we had the day before.

At 5:52 we were off! There were a lot of people still, but the course didn't seem quite as congested as it had been the day before - these were more experienced runners who understood (and practiced) race etiquette. So while there were still people walking (us included!) they generally weren't walking 2-3 abreast in the middle on the one-lane sections like we had seen the day before.

Still it was crowded enough that I didn't take any photos in the early going. There were the same character opportunities there had been the day before like Jack Sparrow and the pirates and Jack Skellington, but the lines (while shorter) were still too long.

It was a new marathon course this year. At the beginning, instead of going around and through Epcot like it has in the past, this year the marathon course was identical to the half marathon course for the first 8 miles, which meant we headed straight for the Magic Kingdom, and reached it about mile 5.5 At mile 6 we were in Frontierland in front of the Country Bear Playhouse.

The first new part of the course was just after mile 8, when we went onto the Walt Disney World Speedway. There was a steep hill going down under the speedway and then back up the other side which was a little treacherous.

We ran on the flat part of the track for about 3/4 of a lap.

On the track itself were a bunch of classic cars that the owners had come to display to us as they cheered us on - very much like what we saw at the Disneyland Half Marathon last September. It was great to see them out there.

Mater and Lightning McQueen were also out there.

After we came off the speedway we took the familiar Bear Island Road towards Animal Kingdom. The sun had come up by then and it was starting to warm up. At least that helped reduce the humidity, which was pretty close to 100% for the first 90 minutes or so. Along Bear Island Road there are a lot of tall trees that shaded us, and there was also a cool breeze so it still wasn't too bad.

Once we got close to Animal Kingdom we had some more character sightings, though most of them still had long lines (the one I was sorry to bypass was the villains). It was still Christmas there!

With the new course we arrived at Animal Kingdom about mile 13 instead of mile 16. I have to say that messed with my head a little bit - I'm used to thinking that I'm about 2/3 done by then instead of just halfway through, and I was a little discouraged to only be half done.

Outside Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite photo stops - the Haunted Mansion gravediggers. Alas, the race had been too much for Lee...(he said he was tempted to lay there a little longer!)

We had Team AllEars and Team AllCheers people cheering us on throughout the race, and they are terrific! Some of the most welcome places are in the second half of the race where there are some long stretches of road without much in the way of entertainment or spectators (because it's hard to get to!) and several of our cheering sections had set up in those areas. So a HUGE thanks to everyone who came out to cheer us on - it helps so much!

There were a couple of sets of characters out there and we didn't have to wait long for photos with them - that's what usually happens in the second half of the race.

Near mile 17 we entered the Wide World of Sports complex. This was another new part of the course. The best part: they gave us wet sponges!!! That gave me some relief - I was very hot and very sweaty by then, and it felt good to sponge myself off a bit. Ahhhh.

We ran around most of the complex, which included running on the nice cushy running track. I've heard mixed opinions on that - some people (like me) thought it felt good, while others didn't like the feel of the surface.

At this point Lee told me to go ahead - he was doing ok, but I was having a better day than he was, and he didn't want to slow me down since he knew he would be walking more. It was a tough day with the heat and humidity.

We ran on concrete paths throughout the area - I didn't like that very much because it's quite a hard surface. It was also winding and relatively narrow - it's a good thing the runners had gotten fairly spread out by then.

They had the Mickey balloon on one of the fields.

We ran around the inside of Champions Stadium. This wasn't nearly as cool as running through Angel Stadium, though. And this also got mixed reviews - we were running on gravel and apparently a lot of people got it in their shoes.

After we left Wide World of Sports we arrived at the Mile 20 Spectacular. Or the "not-so-spectacular", as it was dubbed.

They had music and a bunch of the big character puppets, like Lumiere, Sebastian, Genie, and Tigger.

There was also a raised stage with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto on it, where people were getting their photos taken.

And over the road was a huge Celebrate 20 Years sign. A lot of people didn't realize that was mile 20, and further down the road I heard several people asking where mile 20 was, and I told them we'd already passed it. :-)

So yes, it was a nice diversion, especially since otherwise that was a pretty uninteresting part of the course, but "spectacular?" Not so much.

We had more Team AllEars people near mile 21 - it was really good to see them!

At about mile 22.5 we entered the Studios. And by this time people were hot and tired and just wanted to be finished so there were almost no lines for characters from that point on. I took advantage of that, and had my photo taken with the Incredibles and Wreck-It Ralph.

We were staying at the Boardwalk again and our room looked out over the course very close to the mile 24 sign. That section was a bad part of the course, though - the path along the canal is not very wide and a lot of people were walking by then. I was still (mostly) jogging and I kept having to weave around and through people - it was frustrating. Once I got to the bridge that goes over to the Yacht Club it was wider and wasn't too bad the rest of the way.

More Team AllEars folks just beyond the bridge - I got a big hug from Deb Wills, and that helped get me the rest of the way to the finish!

There were a number of characters at Epcot. These two were just outside the International Gateway. I recognized the Fairy Godmother, of course, but who is the one in pink?

There were more characters out in World Showcase. World Showcase was open to guests by the time I got there, but priority was given to runners, and in a couple of places guests had to wait for me to get my photo taken first. I thought that was very appropriate.

At the mile 26 point was the gospel choir. I LOVE seeing these people. And not just because it means I'm almost finished. They sing with so much energy and passion that it flows into me and I can finish strong. I don't know the name of the group but they are awesome!!!

At the finish line I got to high-five Mickey just before I crossed!

And then a wonderful volunteer gave me my Mickey medal, and another wonderful volunteer gave me my Goofy medal!

They still had those silly runDisney food boxes...come on, I just ran 26.2 miles and that's what I get??? Oh, yeah, there were bananas and packets of gummy candies, too. In preparation for that I'd put a package of mixed nuts into the bag I'd checked, and I was glad I did. (To be fair I have to say that I talked to a woman on my flight home who liked the change to the boxes, and thought the snacks in there were better than the bagels, orange slices, and bananas they usually have.)

Lee was not too far behind me, so I waited for him and we exited the runner's area. We made a pass through the merchandise tent just to see what they had - there wasn't a whole lot left by then.

We were pretty tired and took the bus back to the Boardwalk rather than walking - I hope they give all of those seats a good cleaning after marathon weekend... :-) When we got back to our room I could still see some people out on the course.

As you can see, Donald isn't lonely anymore - he has plenty of company now!

Thank you to all of the terrific volunteers and cast members for a wonderful weekend. And thank you to all of the spectators who came out to cheer us on, and all of the bands who came to play for us. I'm sorry that I didn't have the energy to acknowledge everyone who cheered for me, but please know that I appreciated you, and the energy you brought to the race, and in turn passed to me, so very much.

Marathons are hard - I'm going back to halfs for a while, though we have our eye on Goofy in 2015, since it's the 10th Goofy Challenge. Our next race is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland, which is this Sunday. And yes, that means we'll earn our Coast-to-Coast medals in a week - and we won't be the only ones doing that!

Thanks for reading!

January 13, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Part 2 - Half Marathon


Today was the first 13.1 miles of our 39.3 mile "Goofy" experience - the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. We tried not go to out too hard or fast, since we have 26.2 more to do tomorrow, and finished in 2:32:58.

Our day started very early - we'd planned to get up at 2:30, but neither of us slept very well (combination of the three-hour time change and nerves), and we got up at 2:15. I had to laugh, because my phone is still on west coast time, and said that it was still Friday night! We'd gotten everything ready to go the night before so it was mostly a matter of having some breakfast and preparing our water bottles/nutrition.

We made it out to the bus stop a little after 3:00 a.m., which is when the buses started running. One bus had just left, but another one quickly arrived and we were on our way to Epcot. For a change there was no traffic getting into Epcot (like there is when we've left closer to 3:30 or 4:00), and we were quickly dropped off and walked over to the staging area. It was about the same as always, though it seemed like they had a lot more porta-potties this year, so the lines weren't so long.

Team AllEars had established a meeting point, and we found several of our teammates already there, and others soon followed.

At about 4:15 Deb Wills gave us a pep talk and we posed for a team photo.

They had started sending runners to the corrals (at least a .5 mile walk) about 4:15, so we headed that direction about 4:25. And met a wall of people. Who weren't moving. After 20 minutes we had gone maybe 50 feet. Finally we broke free a little bit, to where we could at least shuffle along.

Lee and I didn't get to our start corral until AFTER the national anthem and AFTER they had sent the wheelchair runners off at 5:30. It took an hour to get to our corral - and there were a lot of people who were still behind us.

Fortunately we were in time for the start of the race, and got to see the fireworks. We were in Corral D, so couldn't really see the start line fireworks, but there was a very nice display right behind us!

We were really far away from the start line, but there were large screens up so we could see a little bit of what was going on - like the characters in their running suits you were at the start line.

This year they sent the waves off about 6 minutes apart. There were some fireworks over the start line for each wave.

Finally it was our turn - we crossed the start line 24 minutes after the race had started.

The Mile 1 sign is the only one I took a photo of this time.

Not long after that were some of our team members cheering us on.

They had this great pirate ship on the course, but the line for photos was very long. That was the case the entire race - most lines we saw were 20-30 deep - it wasn't until after mile 12 that we saw two short lines.

There were about 27,000 runners entered, with 23,126 finishers. That made for very crowded conditions on the course, and it was really almost dangerously congested in the areas where the course throttled us down to only one lane. There were far too many of those, in my opinion. The course seemed narrower than it was when we ran the half two years ago. We didn't really get to where we could run "in the clear" until about mile 8.

Because of the conditions I took very few photos - it was just too narrow to stop or the lines were way too long.

We were into the Magic Kingdom just past mile 5. Cinderella Castle was still covered with ice lights, and very pretty.

More of our Team AllEars cheering section was at the hub. Our cheer people are the BEST - they cheer for everyone!

When we ran through the castle - we came to a stop. There were just too many people, and we ended up WALKING down to Main Street. That was very disappointing - that's one of the highlights of the run!

I didn't take any more pictures until we ran into our last AllEars cheering section at about mile 11.5. It was great to see them there - and also great that we only had about 1.5 miles left! We were still feeling pretty good - we'd planned to hold back a bit today anyway, but the crowds forced us to do that even more than we had planned.

Finally, inside Epcot, we found a character with NO line - and it was actually Stitch! We had to wait a couple of minutes "while Stitch went to get a snack", but he came back and we got our photo.

We finished strong, with a time of 2:32:58, which was about what we'd planned today - except we had thought that would include a lot of stops for photos.

We made our way through the finish area and got our Donald medals. (I think Donald looks a little lonely and needs someone to keep him company - Mickey and Goofy, perhaps?)

For refreshments runDisney is still giving out those silly boxes. But hey, they also had bananas and small packets of gummy candies! (Really??? They can't do better than that???) At least they had plenty of bottles of water and PowerAde.

I'd been concerned about the "heat advisory" but it ended up being ok for us. It was about 62 when we started and still under 70 when we finished, though it was quite humid. We'll be out there a lot longer for the marathon, though, and if the sun is out it will get very warm very quickly. I'm hoping for clouds during the marathon!

This afternoon was our big Team AllEars Meet where Deb revealed our fundraising total for this year. $78,651!!! Thank you to all of you out there who donated - and if you didn't donate and would still like to, please visit Deb's Avon Walk page. What we all do really does make a difference.

So tonight is very much like last night - get the running gear all ready, set the wake-up call, and try to sleep. Though at least tonight we're pretty tired so we think we should be able to sleep!

It'll be a much longer day for us tomorrow, but we're looking forward to getting out there and seeing the new marathon course. We're hoping that it won't be quite as congested, but since the first 8 miles are identical to what we did today, and there are about 25,000 signed up for the marathon, we expect it to be about the same. Oh should clear out a bit at that 8 mile point again.

Wish us luck!

January 12, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Part 1


*** Update - we finished this morning's half marathon in 2:32:58! Faster than we had planned, but we only stopped for one character photo because the lines were so long. We feel good - now we're resting up for tomorrow.

We arrived in Orlando Thursday evening and headed straight to the Expo from the airport. We'd been seeing Tweets and Facebook posts from our teammates all day about the Expo, and how they had been able to register for the new Dumbo Double Dare - the 10K and half marathon race pair at Disneyland over Labor Day weekend. Another chance to earn three medals by running two races! Registration doesn't officially open up until January 22, but we wanted to make sure that we got in. Lots of fellow Team AllEars people will be there, too.

The Expo closed at 7:00, and we arrived on the floor at about 5:50 where we went straight to the runDisney booth to sign up for Dumbo. The line wasn't too long (compared to reports we'd seen earlier in the day), but it still took half an hour.

And then we went over to the Field House (different building) to actually pick up our race packet and bib number. No lines there, and lots of very helpful and friendly volunteers. Like last year, those of us doing Goofy only get one bib and not two - which means we have to re-use our kind of icky bib on marathon day, too. I don't really understand would still be easy to give Goofy runners distinct (but separate) half marathon and full marathon bibs. Lee suggested it's because of the RFID timing chip on the back.

Then we went back over to the Expo to pick up our goodie bags, containing our three shirts and some other things. In this photo is the race program, a "20" button, and a set of 2013 Walt Disney World MARATHON shoelaces. For some reason I received three shoelaces rather than two. :-)

The shirts are the usual long-sleeve Champion tech shirts. Lee thinks the fabric is a lighter weight this year, but it feels the same to me. I don't like the sleeves - I have to get an extra-small so that I don't swim in the shirt, but then the sleeves are too tight.

I really wish they would offer a choice of unisex or women's style shirts like they do for the Princess and Tinker Bell (and other races, too).

We had about 10 minutes to shop in the "official merchandise" section. I was disappointed that there wasn't much of a selection of Goofy shirts - I would've liked a short-sleeve cotton t-shirt, but they were almost all tech shirts - and the one cotton shirt only had XLs left. They did have a women's short sleeve version of the "I did it" shirt in cotton, but it was *pink*. No way. The unisex version was a long-sleeve cotton shirt, so we both got that and I'll cut the sleeves down. :-)

So in an hour and 10 minutes we registered with two more races, picked up all of our registration stuff and did some shopping. Not bad. :-)

Today (Friday) we went back to the Expo, since we didn't really get a chance to look around last night. We drove over from Animal Kingdom about 12:30 - lots of traffic, and we were parked out in the overflow lot that's across Victory Way! We don't mind walking, so it wasn't that bad, but we definitely arrived at a very busy time of day.

Outside the entrance they had some photo backdrops set up - one for Goofy, one for the half marathon, and one for the 5K.

And near the Field House (packet pick-up) was one for the marathon.

The Mickey Mile kids' race was finishing up as we stood in line to get *in* to the Expo.

It is unseasonably warm in Florida, and Disney posted these signs and warnings in a lot of places. It's expected to be 62-63 at the start of the races, and probably in the high 70s, maybe 80s, by the end of the marathon. It's pretty humid, also. So definitely not optimal running conditions, especially since most of us have been training in much cooler weather. So the idea is to run slower and hydrate - but not over-hydrate.

Given the line to get in, it's not surprising that the Expo was quite crowded - it was tough to move around in places.

We went back to the merchandise area, and I was surprised at how much was GONE compared to last night. Very little Goofy merchandise at all, and they were out of some sizes in the women's "I Did It" shirts. There was still another day and a half left of the Expo!

We made our way around the Expo floor - there were some things we would have looked at a little more closely if it hadn't been so crowded. But Cigna was doing something cool - they took our photo against a green screen and this was the result:

They had various props we could use - like the Mickey and Goofy medals we are wearing, as well as a tiara and ear hats. Fun.

Lots of traffic getting away from Wide World of Sports - it took a while. We won't see it again until Sunday, when the marathon course takes us all around the complex!

We tried to take it somewhat easy the rest of the'll be a short night since we'll get up about 2:30 in the morning. By the time most of you read this we'll probably be done with the half marathon! I'll post a follow-up with our time. You can also follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura.

Do you have any questions about Marathon Weekend? Use the "Comment" or "Feedback" links below and I'll do my best to get the answers for you.

January 10, 2013

2013 Marathon Weekend - Preview


It's that time of year again - Walt Disney World Marathon weekend! Lee and I are "going Goofy" again, and will be participating in the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. We've had a good training season, and we're as ready as we're going to be.

This is the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon, so there are some special things this year. And of course, the one that is most appealing to me, all-new bling! It's a striking and rather different Mickey medal this year.

There are two spinning elements in the center. The Mickey head features a more contemporary Mickey on one side, with a black and white pie-eyed Mickey on the other. The ring around it also spins. On one side it says: "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." And on the other side: "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - it was all started by a mouse."

The marathon course is also slightly different this year - it still starts and finishes at Epcot, but rather than going around Epcot for the first few miles, runners will head directly toward Magic Kingdom. After leaving Magic Kingdom we'll take a lap around the Walt Disney World Speedway. We'll also be running through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, including the stadium there (I wonder if we'll be on the Jumbotron like we are when we run through Angel Stadium during the Disneyland 1/2 marathon?). You can see a map of the marathon course HERE.

There's also going to be some special entertainment at Mile 20, though according to the map the entire mile from 19-20 is the Mile 20 Spectacular. I'm looking forward to that - that's usually the point in the race where things get pretty hard for me, and a little diversion and something to put some energy into me will be appreciated!

Later that day from 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. is the Downtown Disney Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney Westside. It's open to anyone at no charge and will feature the awards ceremony and entertainment.

It's not just the marathon going on this weekend, though - there's a number of other events, too. Thursday-Saturday is the Health and Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. That's where all race participants pick up their registration packets and goodie bags. At the Expo you can buy all kinds of running merchandise - including lots of things you never knew you needed! :-) There's always a pretty good selection of official runDisney race merchandise as well - we never seem to escape with less than a couple of shirts...

On Friday there's the Family Fun Run 5K at Epcot at 6:30 a.m.. On Thursday afternoon and Friday and Saturday mornings are the Kids Races at ESPN Wide World of Sports. There are events for kids 13 years of age and under, with variable-length "dashes" open to specific age groups (including a Diaper Dash for crawlers!), and the Mickey Mile which is open to all kids.

Saturday morning is the half marathon, starting at 5:30 a.m., which will include somewhere between 27,000 and 30,000 participants.

One of the highlights of the weekend for us will be hanging out with our fellow Team AllEars members. This is an amazing group of people - so inspiring! The Team Meet on Saturday, where we'll all get together, and often meet each other in person for the first time, is a really special experience. That's also when Deb Wills will unveil how much we have raised in the fight against breast cancer. This is last year's team photo (click on the photo to see a larger version):

Read more about Team AllEars.

I'll have more as the weekend progresses - and you can also follow me on twitter: @AllEarsLaura.

Do you have any questions about Marathon Weekend? Use the "Comment" or "Feedback" links below and I'll do my best to get the answers for you.

September 7, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon 2012 - Part 2


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.

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!)

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.

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".

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In Toontown were Daisy Duck and Clarice the Chipmunk.

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. :-)

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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!):

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

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!

February 7, 2012

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - The Details


The Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend took place at Disneyland January 27-29. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday and Saturday, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K was Friday night, the kids' races were Saturday morning, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon was Sunday morning, starting at 5:45.

This event was geared towards women, but men were allowed to enter, too. :-) There were over 11,000 women registered and only 920 men, so guys, with that 12:1 ratio, you're really missing the boat if you don't think about participating. :-) (Lee ran it with me, and he enjoyed the scenery. A lot.)

Though it was the first year for this particular event, Disneyland has six half marathons under its belt, so I thought it was well-organized and went off without the first-year glitches you typically would expect.

It was a new half marathon course - this one went north into "Old Anaheim" and to Anaheim City Hall before coming back south - we still got a tour of the industrial park area, but it was shorter than it was on the normal half marathon course. We went through Disneyland/Downtown Disney between miles 1.5 and 4, but didn't get into Disney California Adventure until miles 11.5-13.

Course Map

Lee and I approached this one a little differently, and decided we were going to have fun with it. So we did something we'd never done before, and ran in costume - both of us with sparkly running skirts and pixie wings. (I also had a rainbow tutu - couldn't convince Lee he needed one of those, too, but we saw a couple of guys out on the course wearing skirts and tutus, and I think he felt a little envious then!) We found our sparkly running skirts and wings for Lee at They also had a booth at the Expo, where they gave us some great ideas about how to attach the wings securely and in such a way that they didn't cause friction. It really worked - we did not find them uncomfortable or distracting at all.

We drove up from San Diego on Saturday morning and were at the Expo by about 11:00. It wasn't too crowded at all, though of course our line at the packet pick-up was the longest one. ;-) We were running as a team entry, so there was a special number range for us, since our packets had team bibs as well as our regular bib. Because we were a team, I was surprised that I was in Corral A, but Lee was in Corral C. We asked at Runner Relations, and were told that no men were in Corrals A or B, because they wanted a woman to be the first across the finish line. Bummer for me, since it meant I had to go back to Corral C! We got our Coast-to-Coast Challenge wristbands, too.

The Packet Pick-up area was in its usual place in the underground parking garage of the Disneyland Hotel. They had put up some Tinker Bell decorations at the entrance.

And inside were some pixie-ish backgrounds for photos.

The Health and Fitness Expo was also in its usual spot in the Convention Center of the Disneyland Hotel. It seemed like most of the usual vendors, though there were a couple of new and different ones - we were very intrigued by, which sells a variety of hooks to hang your medals from. They'll even do custom things. (I think Bling Junkie works for me...)

The booths selling tutus, wings, sparkly skirts, wands, tiaras and the like were doing bang-up business - it looked like just about everyone was going to be running in wings!

The runDisney booth had the glass running slipper on display. :-)

We also got our Tinker Bell shirts. I must confess I was worried about what this one might look like - I was afraid it was going to be too girly - but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's a nice simple design and I like it. They had shirts of different cuts for men and women which was also very nice - I really don't like the boxy unisex ones we've been getting lately from Disneyland and WDW. The woman's shirts were very slightly fitted - flattering, but not too tight.

There was a pretty nice selection of Official merchandise. But not nearly the selection of Coast-to-Coast merchandise that we saw at the Expo in Florida - for one thing the t-shirt that Lee and I bought there was not to be found in California (and not because it was sold out by the time we arrived - one of our Team AllEars mates was there first thing when the Expo opened and was disappointed not to find it). So I'm really glad we bought the shirts in Florida!

Here's what I brought back from the Expo...(the shirt with Tink's face is one I bought).

On Saturday afternoon we met up with several fellow Team AllEars members who were running the race - and since we'd all done at least one race in Florida three weeks ago, we were all getting the Coast-to-Coast medal, too.

We had a great time chatting with Carol, Jill and Mike.

One very nice thing about the Disneyland races is that most of the hotels in the area area close enough that you can easily walk to the start - no need for buses! So you don't have to get up quite so insanely early. Lee and I were up at 4:15, and were over in the race area by 5:00 (the race started at 5:45). Though by then they were already encouraging people to head to the corrals.

We saw Jill, and later happened to see Mike and his wife in our same corral - actually they found us, because they saw Lee's wings! :-)

The race went off right on time - there were even some fireworks during the singing of the national anthem.

Minnie and Daisy were on the stage at the start line, and we saw Tink's pixie-dusted flight trail above us, too.

It was dark when we started, and the race course was pretty congested and narrow when we got into Disneyland at about mile 1.5 (we had already run backstage a little bit). The first thing we saw on entering the park was an enormous line off to the side for the people waiting in line to get their photos taken with the princesses. Yikes. No thanks. There was a line of about 16 people waiting for Hercules and Tarzan, and we did wait for that one. (And it's not true that I chose this particular photo-op to compare Lee in his sparkly skirt and wings with Disney's two hunkiest heroes. That was just a side benefit. :-) )

I have to say that I did not enjoy the Disneyland part of the race very much...since it was so early in the race the runners were still very bunched together and that meant that the lines for character photos were a lot longer. A lot of the paths we were running on were narrow and very congested, and we had to walk just because it was too crowded to run. The first water station I thought was in a very poor location - we had just come off of Harbor and were about to go backstage, so between the turn and the abrupt narrowing of the course plus the water station on both sides there was no way to run through there and we had to walk.

It was great to get out into Downtown Disney where the paths were a little wider, plus we had lots of spectators to cheer us on (spectators are not allowed in Disneyland while the race is in progress). Just outside the Disneyland Hotel were a couple hundred ladies from the Red Hat Society cheering us on in their red and purple hats, outfits, feather boas - they were just terrific. Thank you so much for coming out!

The route took us on the street behind the Mickey and Friends parking garage, which is a typical suburban residential area! I had no idea there were real houses just two blocks from Disneyland! We ran about a mile before getting back to more commercial areas again. But it was very quiet - I think because it was a residential area, there were no bands or cheerleaders or other groups along that stretch to entertain us.

And that was one area this race disappointed me - I thought there was a lot less entertainment along the course than there is during the Disneyland Half Marathon - I didn't see the same type of community support both in numbers and variety (this one had mostly cheerleaders and bands - I saw one Hawaiian group but I missed the mariachi group that is always at the Disneyland 1/2). Thank you to all of the bands and cheerleaders that DID come out, though!

The participants really had a lot of fun with this race, I think - there were wings and tutus everywhere you looked, as well as other Disney costumes, too. I saw Maleficent running with Princess Aurora - talk about an odd couple. I mentioned the 12:1 female:male ratio - well, I gotta give it to the guys, they were SO supportive, and I'd say the majority of the men were in some kind of costume, whether it be wings and tutu, Peter Pan, Captain Hook (or other pirate), prince - I even saw a guy dressed as Minnie Mouse (as he went blazing by me!)

We went into "Old Anaheim" and around the Muzeo at about mile 7 and then were on our way back to Disneyland - though we still ended up with a partial tour of our favorite (not) industrial park (my least favorite part of the Disneyland 1/2).

There were lots of people cheering us on along Disney Way, but once we went into DCA at about mile 11.5 there was no one to cheer us except a few cast members until we had almost gotten to mile 13. Since we had just run the Disney World marathon course three weeks before, it was VERY fresh in my mind how most of the last 2.5 miles was run in public areas where there were lots of people to cheer you on, and I really missed that here.

We went all around DCA - we came into the park next to the Tower of Terror, then down Hollywood Blvd and past Soarin', then a left turn past Grizzly River Rapids and out to Paradise Bay, where the Monsters, Inc. characters were greeting runners - I think most of us were too tired to be scared, though. :-)

We went past the Golden Vine Winery and into "a bug's land", and then backstage behind Cars Land - all we could see was the back side of the Cadillac Range, though. Our last character stop was for the Toy Story gang - we had the Green Army Men and Jessie. Buzz was also there, but the photographer didn't get him in the shot. :-(

I was very disappointed that there were only two sets of characters in DCA - yes, because of construction walls the course was narrow in places, but they easily had room for them near the Tower of Terror and near the airplane outside Soarin'.

There were lots of people cheering for us when we came back onto Disneyland Drive and around the corner onto Katella before going into the Simba parking lot where the finish line was. I high-fived Daisy and Mickey as I ran to the finish line. Our time was 2:35:34 - not our best time (five minutes slower for me than the relay three weeks before), but I'm going to attribute the slower time to the drag factor from the wings. :-)

The nice volunteer gave me my Tinker Bell medal.

And we both got our Coast-to-Coast medals, too - it took us just three weeks to do it - the shortest possible time. :-) There were 581 Coast-to-Coast medals awarded, so not nearly as many as they will give out in September (it was about 2500 last year).

It was a beautiful sunny morning, but after we'd gotten refreshments and had someone take our picture (thank you to the ladies), we wandered back to our room to relax and shower.

We had an early lunch at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta at DCA - four-cheese ravioli tasted very good, and Lee enjoyed in BBQ Chicken flatbread pizza. We wandered back to our room via Downtown Disney and the new Cupcake Store. They just reopened in a new permanent kiosk the previous Tuesday - I was glad to see them back because I really enjoyed the cupcakes when they had a temporary location a couple of years ago. The Pure Chocolate cupcake was VERY good, and Lee enjoyed the Red Velvet cupcake, also.

Later in the afternoon we met Team AllEars at the Tiki Bar for Dole Whips - yum.

And afterward we went to Pixie Hollow to get our picture taken with Tinker Bell - it seemed the polite thing to do since we had not had a chance to tell her how much we enjoyed her race. :-) I was actually very surprised that I didn't see anyone else in line with their Tink medals. (She was a pert and sassy Tink - Lee told her he had worn wings during the race, and she asked: "So where are they now? Ohhhh...I see, didn't want to wear them to the park..." :-) )

The race was really a lot of fun, and I'd definitely run it again. I thought it was even more of a "fun run" than the regular Disneyland Half Marathon, and it seemed like there were more people in costume for this one. I thought 12,000 was a nice number, but since it sold out, I'd expect it to get bigger next year.

The start and finish were in a different area - they were south of the Paradise Pier Hotel rather than north of the Disneyland Hotel. It was much easier to get to the start corrals - it wasn't nearly the bottleneck that we are used to. I think that area also worked a little better as far as traffic flow went - it didn't affect the people going to/from the hotels and parks and Downtown Disney like usual.

The course itself...I think I prefer the Disneyland 1/2 marathon course, mostly because of the opportunity to run through Angel Stadium - though I think this one was a more interesting overview of different parts of Anaheim.

My only real complaint about the race was the location of the characters - there were a lot in Disneyland, but it was just too crowded because it was too close to the start, and in DCA, where everyone was spread out, there were only two sets of characters.

Here's my bling for January - not bad, huh? :-)

January 30, 2012

Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon - January 29, 2012


The Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend took place at Disneyland January 27-29. The Health and Fitness Expo was on Friday and Saturday, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K was Friday night, the kids' races were Saturday morning, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon was Sunday morning, starting at 5:45.

I'll have more on my thoughts about the race and various aspects later - for now I just want to share a little bit about our experience.

Lee and I approached this one a little differently, and decided we were going to have fun with it. So we did something we'd never done before, and ran in costume - both of us with sparkly running skirts and pixie wings. (I also had a rainbow tutu - couldn't convince Lee he needed one of those, too, but we saw a couple of guys out on the course wearing skirts and tutus, and I think he felt a little envious then!)

So, what do you need to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon? Tutu, sparkly running skirt, wings, race shirt, and race bib, of course!

And it also helps to have a supportive husband with a sense of humor. :-)

It was a great day for racing - temperature was cool in the morning while we were waiting but not cold (about 50), and even after the sun came up it wasn't hot, though it did warm up quite a bit.

In Disneyland the lines were very long for the characters, so we didn't stop most of the time - just a couple of pictures.

Lee could have run faster, but he stayed with me - I didn't have quite as good a run as I did at the Marathon Relay three weeks ago, and we finished in 2:35:34, and for the most part we had a good time. The costume thing was really no problem at all - I may run in a tutu every (Disney) race from now on. :-)

We heard and saw some fun comments on the course - in Disneyland, one of the pirates said something like: "All of you fairies - if you got wings, why are you running?" And we saw a couple of signs that made us laugh - in Downtown Disney was "Worst Parade Ever". and at about Mile 5 was: "Your feet hurt because you're kickin' butt." In Disneyland someone had a sign that said: "This race is expensive, you need to finish it."

This afternoon we met up with our fellow Team AllEars members who were here to run the race, and we all went to Pixie Hollow to get our photo taken with Tinker Bell, since we had run her race today. Lots of fun! (And we all earned Coast-to-Coast medals today, too!)

It's been a great weekend.

January 17, 2012

WDW 2012 Marathon Weekend - The Marathon Relay


If you don't care about the new Walt Disney World Marathon Relay, stop reading now. :-)

When they announced the new Marathon Relay race last year we were very interested, and signed up. But there was very little information on how it was going to work...and as time went on, not much new information was forthcoming, which was quite a surprise. All of us running it wanted to know how the actual exchange was going to work, and there were no details at all about that!

There was a little bit of information (including a map) when they published the marathon weekend program on-line in December, but still no specifics. When we picked up our registration packets at the Expo, there was an information sheet for the relay teams with a few more details. The worst part was that the Leg 2 runner also needed to catch a bus to Epcot by 4:00 a.m., and could take either bus or monorail to get to the Relay exchange area in the Transportation and Ticket Center parking lot. If you took the bus it dropped you at the relay area, if you took the monorail you had to walk from the TTC (10-20 minute walk). STILL really no information on the exchange, though!

On the morning of the race they had this map up at the information area in the pre-race area of Epcot- this was as much detail as we got. It showed their were four "chutes" for the Leg 2 runners instead of 8 that were shown on the program.

I was the leg 2 runner, so I got to "scout" the Relay Exchange area. :-) I took the monorail from Epcot to the TTC, then walked to the relay area - it was easy to find, just follow the sound! There was a finish line for the leg 1 runner, with a clock, and then beyond that were chutes off to the side with number ranges. (That's Lee crossing the finish line.)

There was a stage and a race announcer, but they were across the exchange area and not accessible. The big screen alternated between showing the relay finish line, the Epcot finish line (most of the wheelchairs and the top runners finished while I was watching), and other scenes.

The leg 2 runner waited in the chute until they saw their runner approaching, and then moved out onto the course for a hug, kiss, high-5, or whatever. There was no "baton", and no electronic tracking point that both runners had to cross.

Runner 1's time ended when they crossed the finish line. Runner 2's time started when they got back onto the marathon course and crossed the 13.1 mile tracking point. But the time in between was counted as the "transition time" and added to the team's overall time.

The leg 2 runner had about .3 miles further to run, since they had to exit the transition area and get back into the marathon course (that entrance was just BEFORE the 13 mile mark) and then their official time started .1 miles after the 13 mile mark.

The relay area was quite large considering there were less than 900 teams. They had plenty of porta-potties and a bag check and information area. And the medal stand and refreshment area for the leg 1 finishers.

They ALSO had Chip and Dale available to pose with runners, against a nice marathon relay backdrop.

But it was a REALLY long wait for the second runner. Most of us got over there by 5:00-6:00, and then had to wait until 7:30-8:30 (or longer!) for the first runner to arrive. There was no shelter there at all and it was dark until about 7:00. Fortunately there were mylar "blankets" available, and I saw lots of runners curled up on the pavement with the blankets around them trying to sleep.

It explained the extra "gift" that the relay teams received at Packet Pickup, though - we all got these blue bags...

And inside was a seating pad, I guess to help cushion us from all of that waiting around we were going to have to do! (I don't know anyone who actually used it, though!)

About 30 minutes before I expected Lee to arrive I checked Lee's gear bag (and added a couple of items of mine that I no longer needed). In turn, he had checked my gear bag at Epcot so it would be waiting for me at the finish. Before we said goodbye at Epcot we made VERY sure that we had the correct bags! At about 7:40 I went to the appropriate chute to wait for him. I had used the Runner Tracking setup to send text messages to my phone, so I had a pretty good idea of when he was due. I could see him when he was about 100 yards away.

It was fun watching the "exchanges" - some people gave their first leg runners big hugs and kisses, and some just said a couple of words and the second runner took off. I saw quite a few who gave their incoming running the mylar sheet that they had been using!

Another interesting thing...Disney recognized that there were some runners who for whatever reason didn't have their first-leg teammate. They still allowed them to run - at about 7:45 (a little over two hours after the race had started) they made an announcement that those without a first leg runner were free to leave and begin their race. So they still got their time and their medal - I thought that was a nice way for Disney to handle it.

There were plenty of buses to transport the leg 1 runners back to Epcot - Lee had no problem getting back there, though they had to take the long way around via Ft. Wilderness and Bonnet Creek Parkway.

Once I was out on the race course the rest of the race was really no different for me than for those running the full marathon - except that I was a lot less tired than they were. :-)

At the finish line they had plenty of people looking at our bibs and directing us to the area where we received the Relay medal instead of the Mickey medal. There weren't nearly as many racks of Chip and Dale medals as there were Mickey medals, though!

One thing I was disappointed about - at the area where they were taking pictures of us, there was no special Relay backdrop - only the ones for the Marathon and for the Goofy. So I didn't get my photo taken.

Shannon, who read my earlier blog on the relay, sent me an email and let me know that there WAS a Relay backdrop at the finish - it was near the Runner's Retreat and the concession stand. She writes: "It was small and easy to miss. I noticed it while waiting with my DH before the first leg when I grabbed a cup of coffee."

And here is their photo. (Thank you, Shannon, for the use of the picture!)

For the most part, for a first-time event I thought this one went quite well. The transportation to/from the Relay Exchange area went quite smoothly. And there were few enough people that it was easy to find your incoming runner as long as you had some idea of when they would be arriving. I still think the wait time for the leg 2 runner was excessive, though. And it seems like there should be some way to avoid having to have them arrive at Epcot so early when they won't be running for several more hours.

If you are thinking of doing the Relay in the future, then I think choosing a monorail resort for your weekend stay would be a really good option. The leg 1 runner can take the monorail to Epcot, and the leg 2 runner can stay in the room until they need to take the monorail to the TTC and then walk to the Relay Exchange area to wait for their leg 1 runner.

And after I wrote that, I received this email from Julie:

"I was a 2nd leg relay person. I ended up staying at the Contemporary the night before. I took the monorail to the TTC and walked to the exchange area in the MK parking lot. When I got off the monorail at TTC, a security guard pointed me toward the crowd of spectators watching the race. There was a walkway marked for spectators and relay runners that was easy to follow to the Simba parking lot. It made getting to the exchange point very simple.

"I left the Contemporary around 6:30 or so and was in the exchange area a little after 7 a.m. My relay partner finished her half by 8:15 so I didn't wait long. My backup plan was to drive to MK after 5:30 a.m. Either way, it requires extra money to rent a car or stay at a monorail hotel so you don't have to get up so early. I did the half on Saturday so I was looking for a way to get extra sleep on Sunday."

(Thank you, Julie, for sharing your experience!)

Someone told me that it seemed as though I'd done the Relay just to get the new medal, and asked if I would do it again. Hmm. While I enjoyed the experience, and I'm glad that we did it, it's not something I would do year after year. Lee and I both felt a little "guilty" being out on the Marathon course when we were only running 13.1 miles and not 26.2. But I'd do it again with a friend who really wanted to do it and needed a partner.

In closing I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked the Expo, handed out water and snacks, provided direction, and cheered us on - we couldn't do it without you! And thank you to all of the spectators who cheered and offered encouragement and yelled and rang those cowbells!

January 9, 2012

WDW 2012 Marathon Weekend - Part 2


The Inaugural Walt Disney World Marathon Relay is in the books! Lee and I both had really good runs - he finished his half in 2:13:02, and I finished my half in 2:30:33. They also counted the 3:17 we spent in the transition area, so our total time was 4:46:51. I was thrilled that it was under 5 hours! The number "4" was still the first number in the race clock when I arrived at the finish - I didn't think I'd ever see that.

Just a few photos for now - I'll have a more detailed report later.

The morning started EARLY - we caught the bus a little after 3:00. Here's the Team AllEars photo, taken about 4:15 - a few people were missing because their bus drivers got lost. :-(

In the transition area (they had a HUGE area for the relay, much larger than we needed), they had numbered chutes, and you waited until you saw your runner approach, and then moved out into the lane. There was no official passing of a baton, or any point that you both had to cross - just whatever greeting you wanted to give your incoming runner, and then runner 2 could take off.

Lee crosses the finish line! He had a really good time. Which made it nice for me, because it put me ahead of a whole lot of runners, so the course was less crowded for me, and I didn't have to wait too long to get my photos taken with the characters. :-)

They had a really elaborate area set up for the Villains!

Team All Ears cheering area just past mile 24 - this was really a great place for them to be, since at that point a lot of us are very tired - we know we can make it to the finish, but a little extra encouragement really helps, and they were so supportive of EVERYONE - not just TAE runners!

My new Chip and Dale relay medal!

January 8, 2012

WDW 2012 Marathon Weekend - Part 1


It's Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World - and so we're back in Florida again! It's the place to be this weekend. :-) This time we are running the new Marathon Relay race on Sunday. It's a new medal, so I HAD to have a new piece of bling for my collection! :-) Lee will run the first half and I will run the second half. So we only have to run 13.1 miles, but between us we'll do 26.2. I'll have lots more on the race after we actually do it and see how it goes. There has not been much information on exactly how the exchange will work, and that's been a bit frustrating.

Anyway...I'm going to give you the weekend so far in just some photos.

We arrived Thursday night, and got in early enough that we had time to visit the Expo and pick up our race packets before it closed at 7:00! I was surprised at how many people were still there that late, but the lines were short to pick everything up. There were a lot of people shopping, though.

There are something like 1200 teams registered for the marathon relay - the numbers started at 70,001. So it's not a huge number, which is good.

They had some new Coast-to-Coast merchandise, and we really liked the t-shirts, so we got them - if all goes according to plan, we will earn our Coast-to-Coast medals when we complete the new Tinker Bell Half Marathon (another new piece of bling!) in three weeks.

I was very disappointed that the only piece of Marathon Relay merchandise they had was this t-shirt - the gray color is just blah.

Here's our Expo loot:

We went to Epcot and had dinner at Tangerine Cafe and wandered around - for dessert we shared another pumpkin spice funnel cake. There was still a little bit of Christmas at Epcot.

Friday morning we went to Animal Kingdom - that's usually the park we visit on our first morning here. We had an interesting safari - saw not just one, but TWO hippos that were out of the water!

This one was sunbathing - and yes it is getting sunburned! (No, the vultures are not moving in for the kill.)

This one was out of the water eating. It was nice to see them doing something a little bit different.

We usually don't find much of interest in the aviaries, but we enjoyed watching this weaver bird work on his nest. He really was weaving it.

Over in the aviary along the Maharajah Jungle Trek we saw the world's largest pigeon - it's called a Southern Crowned Pigeon. Kind of surprising that a bird this size can fly - but we saw him fly.

It's amazing what guest will try to bring into the shops... ;-)

That afternoon we went to a Team AllEars meet - afterwards the Team's Brain Trust took some time to relax (it's a very busy weekend for them!)

After dinner we walked over to the Osborne Lights. It wasn't quite as private a show as we had at the December to Remember event, but it wasn't crowded at all and we really enjoyed wandering around and heard/saw four or five of the choreographed songs. And we found the cat! Or Lee did - he gets credit for spotting it.

In December I'd noticed that the some of the windows occasionally had images from Prep and Landing projected on them - I was able to get a photo this time!

This morning was the half marathon. Lee and I didn't make it to the start, but we joined several members of Team AllEars/Team AllChears to cheer at mile 11.5 - very near the entrance to the Epcot Parking lot. We'd never done that before because we'd been the recipients of the cheers instead, but it was really a lot of fun ringing our cowbells and seeing everyone pass by. We watched a double amputee run by us - wow. That was very inspirational.

We took it easy and relaxed this afternoon before going to the big Team AllEars meet at the Dolphin. Thank you to the Swan and Dolphin Hotels for donating a conference room for our use! We had over 100 people there, so it was really great to have all that space. Deb Wills revealed the amount Team AllEars has raised for the breast cancer fund - $67,050 - and still counting! Thanks to all of you who have contributed to that! As Mike Scopa said in his remarks - we are touching lives, and even saving the lives of people we will never know. This is a really amazing group of people, and I'm very proud to be a part of the team.

Deb had a new piece of bling for us this year - so here is the 2012 Team AllEars medal! Very cool!

We all posed for the team photo - I don't have that, since I was in it, but here's all the people who were taking photos of us! :-)

Lee and I had an early dinner at the Dolphin Fountain. As we walked back to the Boardwalk there was a beautiful sunset on the lake between the Swan and the Dolphin hotels.

It's going to be a VERY early morning for us - getting up at 2:30 so we can catch the bus at 3:00. Lots of waiting with these Disney races. By the time many of you read this Lee will be done with his part, and I will be well on my way.

September 6, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon - Race Day


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

And Mickey and Minnie were there, too.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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).

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.

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.

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!" :-)

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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:

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


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.

September 4, 2011

2011 Disneyland Expo and Star Tours 5K


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.

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. :-)

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.)

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.

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

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.

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. :-(

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.)

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

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

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.

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!).

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.

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.

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.)

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...

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.

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...

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mickey and Minnie were near the finish line!

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. :-)

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.

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.

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!

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.

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


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.


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.

March 20, 2011

New Walt Disney World Marathon Relay Race


Just after this year's Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January, Disney announced some of the details of next year's event - one of which was a new race - the Marathon Relay. A marathon without having to run a full 26.2 miles? Isn't THAT an intriguing idea! It was a little frustrating, though because up until this week there hadn't really been any additional details on it. But finally, just a day or so before registration opened up on Tuesday, there was some additional information on the web site, and even more has been released since then. Here's the press release.

In the new relay, two-person teams will each race 13.1 miles (each completing their own half marathon). The first leg goes from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and ends in the Pluto parking lot. The second leg goes from there to Animal Kingdom, the Studios, and Epcot, and ends in the Epcot parking lot. It will be run at the same time as the WDW Marathon on January 8, 2012 and will share most of the course with those who are running the Marathon, with some slight differences because of the relay aspect and exchange zone.

Those mischievous chipmunks, Chip and Dale, are the hosts for this race, and will be featured on the new relay medals. It will be fun to see what the medals look like! I hope they are not responsible for the aid stations, though - I'd prefer something other than acorns. :-)

The web site says that "registration is limited" - though it doesn't say how limited. I didn't take any chances, and I signed up (Lee and I will be running as Team Zimmerbreath) as soon as registration opened on Tuesday morning. :-)

I love running in Inaugural events - this will be my 4th Inaugural Disney race. I've also done the Inaugurals of the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Tower of Terror 13K and the Princess Half Marathon. It will be interesting to see how some of the logistics work, though, and I hope there won't be too many first year glitches - that's probably one reason they are keeping it somewhat smaller. I know I have lots of questions on how things are going to work - like how they will transport those of us running the second leg to our start area, and if we'll have any way of tracking our partner to know where they are and when we might expect them to arrive - and then how do we find them to do the "exchange"? And then there's the transportation or runner1 back to Epcot, and whether Lee will be able to monitor my progress, and how we find each other at the finish. Not to mention how we all amuse ourselves while waiting at least a couple of hours for our partner to finish their leg of the race! I'll be running leg 2 - it's bad enough to have to get up insanely early for the start of the marathon, but it looks like I'll have to get up insanely early and then wait for Lee to arrive at the exchange. And then he'll have to wait for me at the finish - and since he runs faster he'll have a longer wait than I will. :-) Hopefully all of these questions will be answered before the race - but if not, we'll definitely find out on January 8, 2012!

Now that we've figured out what Disney race we're running in January, Lee and I are also happy to be returning to Team AllEars again this year. We'll be Running with Purpose along with our co-team captains Michelle Scribner MacLean and Mike Scopa, the incomparable Deb Wills, and the rest of our wonderful teammates. We'll all be doing our best to raise awareness and support breast cancer research. You can read more about Team AllEars HERE.

If you've ever thought about running a race during Disney's Marathon Weekend this is a great opportunity to do it. It doesn't matter if you've never run before - every year the team has people new to running who work and train and then are able to complete their first 5K or half marathon during Marathon Weekend! Everyone on the team is so supportive and encouraging - it makes a big difference in all of those months of training since even those of us who are experienced runners have our ups and downs, too.

Team AllEars is dedicated to raising funds to support breast cancer research. We're not quite ready to start with the on-line fund raising yet, but when we are I will be posting information here, and I hope that you will all consider supporting Team Zimmerbreath as we participate in the first Walt Disney World Marathon Relay!.

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About Team AllEars

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

Princess Half Marathon is the previous category.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon is the next category.

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