As most of you know, last weekend I was in Disneyland. I went to run the Disneyland Half Marathon and to earn my Coast-to-Coast medal (for running at both Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year.)
I flew out to California by myself, and actually ended up having a fabulous time enjoying the parks on my own, despite being a little nervous about it. I won’t write about it too much here, because I wrote a guest blog post about my solo travels that will be appearing soon on Go-Go-Go.org.
However, I did want to give a little recap of the race, because it went much better than I had expected. I went into the race with low expectations. From Day 1, I wanted this race to be a “fun run” for me, since just one week later I would be running the Chicago Half Marathon – my goal race, and the race I was hoping would earn me a PR. Plus, if you’ve ever run a Disney race, you know that there are characters and photo ops all along the way, so I promised myself I would soak it all in, take as many photos as I wanted, and not worry at all about time.
Just to really reinforce the fact that this race was meant to be a fun one, I got myself decked out in my Minnie Mouse SparkleSkirt I earned from volunteering at their booth at the Expo, and my red and white polkadot headband. I still don’t think I can ever run in full costume, but the Minnie Skirt was just the right mix of festive and utterly comfortable for running. I started the race in Corral C. (Disney tends to have a lot of walkers, so I guess I was considered “fast” by comparision – although, there was one older man who was speedwalking the entire race and pretty much kept up with me! I saw him at the start, and again at Mile 12!! And the man never ran once!) Mickey Mouse, all decked out in his track suit, waved me goodbye as I crossed the start, and I headed off for 13.1 miles of the happiest race on earth.
Running past Mickey in a blur as he waves me on.
The first several miles flew by, as we ended up running through both Disneyland and California Adventure right off the bat. I stopped to take a couple quick scenic photos, but only posed with characters once, because I was saving photos for later on. (Plus, for some reason I tend to like actual costumed characters, rather than the princesses, which for some reason tend to creep me out.)
Paradise Pier at California Adventure
However, by mile 4, we were already out of the parks, and unlike at the Disney World Marathon, there were no more characters along the course.
The only character photo I took along the course.
After the parks, we had a long stretch along the streets of Anaheim. I was told that in the past, this stretch from mile 5 to mile 9 is tough, because there’s nothing to look at. However, in most races I run, there isn’t anything to look at during the whole race, and Miles 5-9 tend to be my best miles. So, I was prepared for this stretch, and was pleasantly surprised by nearly 4 miles of people and their fancy cars lined up, honking and cheering.
But just around mile 9 came my favorite part of the entire race – running through Angel Stadium. I can’t even describe how incredible it was. The stands were full of fans cheering, the Jumbotron was on just for us, I had chills. And this is coming from someone who has run through Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, and walked the warning track at U.S Cellular Field. I don’t know. Maybe there really were Angels in the outfield.
Running in the tunnel and seeing Angel Stadium for the first time.
Where are the angels?
After running through the stadium, I was re-energized. Despite the fact that miles 9-12 tend to be the hardest for me, I was feeling good.
And then, around mile 11 I checked my watch, and it hit me. I had just over 2 miles to go, and I was 30 minutes head of my current PR. 30 minutes to run 2 miles, and get a PR.
There weren’t any more course highlights. No more characters. Just people cheering, and the last leg of the race. I was going to PR at Disneyland! Despite stopping a couple times for photos (and once for the bathroom), I had somehow had a pace better than my previous races.
The last mile was rough, and I just wanted to be done, but I kept pushing, knowing that a celebration awaited me at the end. My 5th half marathon under my belt, my Coast-to-Coast medal, AND a new PR!
I crossed the finish line 9 minutes ahead of my previous PR, and 11 minutes faster than my last half marathon, just a month and a half earlier.
I felt amazing!
I spent the rest of the morning hanging around the parks, showing off my medals. Donald Duck was very excited for me. (Seriously, he took me by the hand, paraded me around Main Street, and made everyone who was waiting in line to meet him give me a standing ovation.)
And of course, I couldn’t wait to show Mickey.
I earned my Coast-to-Coast, and now I can cross another thing off my List!