2013 Disneyland Half Marathon & 10k Race Recap


Last week, I posted about my experience at the Disneyland Half Meetup. You can read that post here.

After the meetup on Friday morning, I went upstairs to wake up my wife and head down to get our GET Travel park tickets. As we were leaving our room, the housekeeping attendant and what appeared to be her manager were outside the room across the hall from us looking worried. As we got to the bottom of the tower, a security guard was waiting for the elevator, no doubt on his way up to the room. We still have no idea what happened, but when we got back to the room later that day the “do not disturb” placard was on the door and gone the next morning.



We headed over to the ESPN Zone where we were supposed to meet with the GET Travel folks to pick up our park tickets, but after fruitlessly circling the building for 15 minutes, we left. We found a cast member and she radioed to the expo to see what the deal was. Apparently, the GET Travel people needed to be in the expo early so they left ESPN Zone without as much as a sign for folks looking to pick up tickets. It would have been nice to have some type of communication, but in all fairness the people who gave us our tickets were very apologetic.



Expo

Initially, when we approached the area near the expo, it was a little chaotic. Volunteers were telling us to go one way and when we got there, other volunteers told us to go back where we came from. I don’t think Disney expected the sheer amount of patrons (which I guess is a good problem to have). Luckily, we got inside and were directed to use the “super-secret door” to get down to our tickets. We found our tickets and got our bibs. My wife didn’t have a Coast to Coast mark next to her name so we had to hang out in the Runner’s Relations line. Luckily, we found some great folks to hang out with in line so it wasn’t that bad. Upon arriving at the expo itself, it was an all out mad dash for rD merch. I hear tell some folks waited in line for over 2 hours to pay for their merch. I just wanted a DLR Half magnet so we decided to come back later. For the rest of the day, we hung out in the parks (tomorrow’s post).



Disneyland 10k

I didn’t sleep that well the night before Saturday’s 10k. I guess anticipation of the race mixed with jet lag did a number on my circadian rhythm and I was up well before my alarm. We headed downstairs and ran into a bunch of friends who were taking some early morning pictures so we hung around a bit talking and then decided to head out to our corrals. I had decided the night before to forgo my Corral A assignment for this race and start with my wife and friends in Corral D, so as not to burn through my energy for following day’s half marathon. I was also trying out some new racing flats (New Balance 1400s) and wanted to make sure they were fully broken for the half. It took awhile for rD to open the corrals, which I heard was due to the 5k racers taking longer than expected to finish. 

Hanging out in Corral D
After the usual fanfare and waiting for the other corrals to start, I was on my way.  The trip took me mostly through Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, which was a nice change of pace since I rarely get to run through WDW’s Magic Kingdom (except for that brief moment in the half/full marathons). Since I didn’t put any pressure on myself to perform at race pace, I relaxed along the route enjoying the sights and sounds of the parks. Running backstage, I got to see all the attraction vehicles that were in the shop getting fixed, as well as the animals that are still used in California’s parks, a very unique sight. About halfway through the race, I found another A Corraler who appeared to have the same race strategy as I, which allowed me to pace behind him for the rest of the race. I’m glad I ended up executing this race strategy as the heat and humidity were unbearable and it looked to be the same forecast for the next day’s race. Turned out, for the half marathon the weather was even hotter! I really enjoyed this race and felt like we got some serious running in-park time. rD certainly did well for an inaugural race. 
10k Medal
 
Disneyland Half Marathon

It seems almost as soon as I put the 10k medal around my neck, I was again jolted from my sleep by John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare” (my alarm ringtone for race days). Not much had changed in the way from the day before, save I was going to put in 13.1 miles instead of just a paltry 6.2. Arriving to my corral about 20 minutes early, I had plenty of time to stretch and visualize my race strategy. I originally wanted to make this a strong time race, however the forecast (high of 92 and 85% humidity) had me rethink my strategy to now just survive. Once the fireworks shot off, I was on my way. Similar to the 10k the day before, the course took us through Disney California Adventure, over to the Magic Kingdom and then out onto the streets of Anaheim. Something I didn’t expect was as I passed through DCA, the World of Color lights and water were on. Since the race had started earlier than yesterday’s and I was in the front corral, it was still dark and an exciting sight to see. I really enjoyed that.



Exiting Disneyland property, I strode confidently along Ball road, which was a long run. Disney mixed it up by cutting us up and down side streets, but the views weren’t much to look at. I did enjoy the locals cheering us on and setting up stands along the course, nourishing us with orange slices and frozen grapes. At around Mile 7, a car club had set up shop for what felt like a full mile of some of the coolest cars I had ever seen. Mustangs, Corvettes, Model Ts and other cars spanning the last 100 years were present and in perfect condition. I think I also spied a Datsun among the speed monsters. It was a great distraction from the sun, which was now fully visible off of the horizon making the race hotter than I was expecting. I turned on to the dusty Santa Ana trail and made my way towards one of the race’s highlights.



Mile 9 brought me to Anaheim Stadium, home of baseball’s Anaheim Angels and a load of kids dressed as Boy/Girl Scouts. I guess this was their mile and they were all going nuts cheering us on towards the entrance to the ballpark. Once in the ballpark, the seats were filled with more fans waving and holding up signs. It served as a great pick-me-up and I found my second wind. However, that was short lived as I made my way outside the ballpark where the sun was waiting with its blistering heat.



From here on, it was a pretty uneventful run littered with marching bands and cheerleaders, all of whom did a great job of motivating me to finish out the race stronger than I had started. The final legs of the race took me under I5 and backstage of Disney California Adventure where I had started one and a half hours earlier. About one mile out from the Finish Line, I noticed I had a very real chance of passing the two-hour mark. My PR for a half marathon is 1:43:50, but given the heat, I had set up a contingency plan to at least finish in less than 2 hours and it looked like I may miss that too. So, I picked up my weary legs and with everything I had, kicked the last half mile, finishing in 1:57:30. Not great, but respectable.



After receiving my half marathon medal, I made my way over to the Dumbo Dare booth and received my Dumbo medal (both the 10k + half), and then over to the Coast to Coast booth and picked up that medal. I have openly admitted on numerous occasions I don’t run for medals, but it felt good that day to get them all. Honestly, I have no idea where they currently are, though. After waiting for my wife and taking some pictures with friends, we went back to the room and relaxed, soaking in our recent achievements. 
A mess of medals

 I have mixed feelings on this race. I loved running through the parks and Anaheim Stadium, but it was also a lot of side roads. Being a seasoned WDW runner, where the course allows for more park running, I understand the Disneyland Half Marathon doesn’t have that luxury and rD does the best they can with what’s provided. Therefore, I’d say this race is definitely one not to miss, but if you are a WDW runner, like me, manage your expectations of what you will experience outside the parks.