Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Race Report: Disneyland Half Marathon

I knew ahead of time that the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend was going to be a whirlwind, but I didn't even fathom how much of one it would be! :)

My mom and I arrived at our hotel around midnight Pacific time on Friday night/Saturday morning, which was 3 AM Saturday according to our body clocks! I laid out all of my race gear to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. We settled down to sleep by 12:30, but both of us were up by 5 AM thanks to the aforementioned body clocks! :) We talked for a bit, then decided to get up and head over to Disneyland. We had to meet Terri from the ROTE boards at 9 AM, because she had graciously offered to get a Coast to Coast shirt for me at the Expo when she was there on Friday. I'm very glad she did, too, because when we got there at opening on Saturday they were already sold out!! I picked up my shirt from her, and headed to the Expo to get my race bib for the Half Marathon and wristband for the Coast to Coast Challenge. The rest of Saturday was spent at Disneyland and California Adventure. It was unbelievably hot, and I was thankful I had packed a couple of running skirts at the last minute, as I ended up wearing those at the park on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

A very cool thing happened at California Adventure. I had the numbers of 3 ladies from the ROTE boards that I was supposed to contact about meeting up at the tent before the race. I hadn't heard from any of them, and I was uneasy about calling folks that I didn't really know well. I decided to send text messages. Then I decided to ride Tower of Terror one time before we went back to the hotel room to get ready for dinner. Since Mom doesn't ride, I got in line by myself. When I got to the front of the line, the cast member took me past 2 other cars and put me on one car that had one space left. As soon as I got in line I noticed a lady wearing a ROTE shirt. I had been trying to get over my shyness by introducing myself to anyone I saw who was wearing ROTE gear, so I tapped her on the arm and said hi. She said hi back and said her name was Julie. I couldn't believe it! This was one of the ladies I had just texted an hour or so before! :) We talked for just a minute (as much as you can going into and out of Tower of Terror) and decided upon when and where to meet in the morning. It was such a relief to know the face of a person I was meeting at 4:30 in the morning! LOL I still can't believe I managed to run into her on the ride!

Saturday dinner was with my dear friend, Sadie! She and I have known each other online for a decade, and have talked on the phone and texted and IMed for all these years! It was a pure joy to get to finally meet her in person! It didn't feel like a first meeting though, because we've really known each other for so long. I could have sat and talked to her all night long, but I did have this pesky race to run in the morning. And my body clock was telling me it was long since time to go to sleep!

We got back to the room and I showered and made a final run-through of everything I needed for the morning. Texts were sent back and forth finalizing meeting times and places, and then I settled in to bed. I actually slept much better than I had before the Princess, despite being woken up at 9:30 by the fireworks at Disneyland! I got up at 3:30 to start getting ready! Since I had a group of folks to walk to the start with, mom was going to shower and go over to the Esplanade to watch me pass by before heading over to the finish. She got up in time to take pictures and see me off!

When I got to the meeting place at 4:30 AM, there were already a good number of ROTErs there and I nearly turned around and went the other way! I have such a hard time with large groups of people! But instead I just stood on the edge of the group and took everything in! I couldn't believe how much energy everyone had so early in the morning! I think it was Joey who smiled and waved at me, and I'm sure a few other folks talked to me, but I was really overwhelmed and nervous, so it's hard to remember exactly what happened. Julie arrived, and I felt less uneasy, just seeing a familiar face. I wish that I had been able to do some of the other pre-race stuff with the ROTErs so I wouldn't have felt so nervous at the beginning. We all walked over to the start and I chatted with Julie on the way over. She is very nice, and we talked about our families and stuff. I wasn't feeling nervous about the race. Yet. LOL We got over to the start area and dropped off bags and hit the porta potties and hung out with the ROTErs, and then it was time to walk to the corrals. It wasn't as far as it was at the Princess, but it was SO crowded! We took some pictures in Corral D, and then the National Anthem was played. That's when the nerves kicked in for me, big time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Looking back, I think I would have preferred to be nervous all night and all morning than for it to hit me that hard.

We waited for our corral's turn - with no fireworks for ANY of the corrals (BOOOO!) - and before long, we were passing Mickey and Minnie! Julie, Rachel, and Chris were doing intervals so I said goodbye to them and headed out. We ran down a street and then turned into the parks. It really all fell apart right there. I was really disappointed at the lack of characters (compared to the Princess), and when there were characters - like Mary Poppins - the lines were really, really long. I wasn't too terribly obsessed with my time, but I was worried about my legs bothering me and didn't know if I would need to allow extra time for walking later. So I didn't end up stopping. I did get to see Mom on the Esplanade, which was very cool! I was afraid I would miss her, but the crowds were light there. But I did miss the photo op in front of the castle because I assumed it would be like it was for the Princess and there would be someone at the base of the castle when you came out. But as near as I could tell, you were supposed to stop as you went around the castle the first time. Then, to make matters worse, I didn't even get a picture of the castle at all (except for the one I took coming up Main Street) because I was trying to figure out what I had done to the video setting on Mom's camera I was using. I figured out later that I had accidentally turned the dial, thus making the video in black and white. So I was all messed up through Disneyland, which wasn't even a very long time. By 3.5 miles, we were already off Disney property and onto the streets of Anaheim.

And this is where it got ugly. My brain kicked into high gear. Since I started running, I've always had to battle the little voice in my head telling me I can't do this. But it was screaming at me during the Disneyland Half. And running through the streets of Anaheim was boring. Horribly boring. There were bands and cheerleaders, but quite honestly, the last thing I want to hear is a bunch of teenage girls screaming at me when I'm running. Thankfully, I had tossed my mp3 player into my skirt pocket at the last minute. As soon as I realized I had 6 miles until we were going to reach Angels Stadium, I put in the ear buds and cranked some Blue October. It helped, without a doubt, but I battled the voice in my head the entire 6 miles. It was really horrible. It makes me want to cry just remembering it.

On a good note, my legs did not bother me - at least there was no pain as there had been during some of my later training runs. There was the usual twinges and stuff that come along with running such a long distance, but nothing bad. Around mile 12 I sent up a prayer of thanks for that!! :)

Angels Stadium was the high point for me! I had fixed the camera problem and was able to shoot some video while running, interspersed with some pictures of me in the stadium! :) As we left the stadium, I felt much better mentally. I did turn my mp3 player back on just in case (I had put it away during the run through the stadium so I could fully enjoy it!). I'm glad I did, because at the part where you run through the tunnel under the interstate, there were probably three sets of cheerleaders - screaming in the tunnel. Do you know what happens when cheerleaders scream in a tunnel??? ACK!!! Echoing cheerleaders! It was horrible! Who thought that was a good idea during mile 12?? One thing did happen towards the end that I thought was pretty cool, and maybe significant, was that at the Mile 11 marker I thought, "I'm going to do this!" At the Princess, it had been Mile 12 before I had that feeling!

I put away my mp3 player at the Mile 12 marker, since that was when we made the entrance back onto Disney property. I was looking forward to the finish, but with a mile to go, I decided to distract myself by looking for a rock to take home to Reece. When I asked the kids what they wanted me to bring them home, she said "A rock"! Can you believe I never found one?? @@ But it kept me busy until the final stretch anyway. (And I found one later at the hotel. LOL)

I was looking hard for Mom. I knew she would be disappointed if she didn't get pictures of me at the end of the race. We had agreed I'd be on the right hand side so I was running on that side and looking and looking in the crowds... and then all of a sudden, there were no more people on the right side. They all had to be on the left! ACK! So I started looking for her on the left, and I found her, right behind an ASI photographer! I made my way over to the other side as quickly as I could and waved and smiled as best as I could... then headed for the finish! I was relieved to get there, but I don't think the picture will turn out good as someone bumped into me at the end trying to get past me.

I didn't cry this time, like I did at the end of the Princess. I picked up my DL Half medal, and then went over to get my Coast to Coast Medal. When they put the Coast to Coast medal on me, I looked down at it and said to myself (or maybe out loud), "This is what I came here for!" As a side note, the medal is much, much prettier than it looked online!! :) Physically, I was OK, but mentally I was completely wiped out. Just utterly wiped out. In a funny twist, I actually finished 3 and a half minutes faster than at the Princess - 2:23:25, officially. I would have liked to have finished under 2:15, but I'm also satisfied with the time I ran.

I made my way through the refreshments, picked up some water and a banana, then went to get my bag and find mom at the H tent. There were no ROTErs there, but we hung around and waited while I called home, stretched, and put my crocs sandals on. I would have waited longer, but we only had one day left for the parks and quite a bit to accomplish. I also really needed a shower to clear my head!!

I don't think I will be doing this particular race again! LOL I have my Coast to Coast medal now, which is all that matters! The trip itself was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time alone with my mom. And I'm so glad that I got to experience Disneyland and California Adventure! But think I'd rather spend my energies at Disney World! I AM also pretty hooked on meeting up with the ROTErs again! I think I will feel more comfortable seeing everyone again, and maybe I could get to more of the rallies to spend time getting to know folks. I really wish I could manage to do the WDW full Marathon in 2011, but financially that just won't be possible. I will have to stick with aiming for it in 2012, like I have planned!


  1. Congratulations!! I ran the race as well and have been searching through the blogs and reading up on everyone else's experience with the race. You did great!

  2. My favorite part of this whole post? Saturday night. :-D