August 31-September 1, 2013
Back to Disney.
Disneyland this time.
I don’t typically travel for Half-Marathons. But I am bling motivated and a sucker for marketing. The new D3 at Disneyland gives 3 medals for 2 races. If i do it the same calendar year as Goofy Challenge in Florida, I also get the Coast to Coast Challenge medal (aka, the “we challenge you to spend more of your money at our parks this year” challenge). There is also a 5k to bring the medal haul up to 5. I was signed up before I completed my first race at WDW.
There was a problem with how they had decided to schedule the races. They made no effort to allow people to run all 3 races. The 10k started 45 minutes after the 5k. So, we had to run the 5k, get through the finish area, loop back to the 10k start and get into the right coral before the 10k started 45 minutes later. We had no idea if the 10k start and 5k finish would be anywhere near each other. I signed up first (it all sold out within a day) and then, I hoped for the best. A Facebook group formed of like minded runners trying to share intel and plot strategy.
The expo was cramped. This was a much smaller venue then WDW. Lots of endless standing in line and waiting. They had toughened the coral placements qualifying times from WDW. I had a 1:59:43 HM time which got me coral A at WDW, and coral B at DL. Fortunately, I had improved my time and was able to upgrade again.
I checked out the start/finish area and it looked pretty close and straightforward to go from the 5k to the 10k. Good. There would be no time to spare. I then spent the day at Disney California Adventure.
I head down to the start on race morning #1 (5k/10k). I get there early and check out the lay of the land. I meet up with the FB group and we start to head to the starting area. There are no corals. Simple concept…get as close to the starting line as we can. Lots of weaving but we get within 3-4 people from the start. This was an untimed fun run, and I would have to sprint it. How ironic.
Gun went off and I took off at a flat-out sprint pace. Goal was to get ahead of everybody except those who truly belonged ahead of me. It didn’t take long to leave almost everyone behind. There were character photo stops that I ignored. I got lost once in the parks since there was nobody around me. So this is how it felt to be a front-runner. Wow!
I get to the finish. There is no official time. There is a clock at the finish. I forget to look up. I forget to click the stop button on my Garmin. I don’t slow down…I had a 10k to get to. I grab the medal and stop for a finish line photo. I grab post race food on the fly.
It was my fastest 5k ever…and I can’t even guess what my finish time was. That would come back to haunt me…
I head towards the start corals. It is a sea of people and no one is moving. I walk around but can’t get to where I need to be. I start to panic. A few minutes later, I realize that we are penned up and they haven’t even opened the gates to get to the corals. That was a bit of a relief.
I finally get to where I need to be. I am wearing the 5k medal since I have nowhere to stash it. I notice a few others doing the same. We are getting some funny looks! The 10k is a lot less chaotic. I stop at the photo stops. I take it easy. I enjoy the sights that I didn’t even notice the first time around. Weather is great, and I start to enjoy myself after the pressure of the back-to-back races is lifted.
Finish Time: 1:03:32
I get my medal, food, head back to the hotel, shower and change before heading back to the parks (DisneyLand this time).
Race Day 2-Disneyland Half Marathon
This day was a little more normal. Definitely a big race vibe. Huge number of people, huge corals. Got a few pre-race group photos and hopped into coral A. It would be a slow run. I was stopping at every photo stop…all were in the parks and in the first four miles. Then there would also be a lap through Angels Stadium, and about 8.5 miles of…not much.
And it would be a hot one!
Start of the race was much like the last two. Lots of photo stops, including my favorite ever race photo…being captured be Stormtroopers. The pic in Cars Land is another favorite. Often, there was barely 100 yards between photos.
Then, the parks ended. They did the best they could. There were two miles of classic cars on display. Running through Anaheim Stadium was a treat. But, otherwise, pretty boring, pretty hot and pretty sticky. I made no effort to pick up the pace. This was a long slow run and nothing more. The previous long day and the heat had drained the speed out of me.
The finish was a welcomed sight. I got my HM medal. I had collected two wristbands over the last 24 hours. The first confirmed that I completed the 10k. It was clipped off and I received the Dumbo Double Dare medal. The other proved that I ran in WDW earlier in the year. That was clipped for the C2C challenge medal.
Finish Time 2:25:53
Got my food and hung out a little. My last stand at Disney. First time I have been here since I was twelve. It was a nice merger of my childhood love of Disney and Star Wars, and my current passion for running. But, it was time to move on. I grabbed my gear and headed back to the hotel and then for the airport and home.