As I battled the heat and a sunburn to my face, I thought to myself, “Why, Christina, WHY do you do this to yourself?” The 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon was the worst race I’ve ever run in my running career.
Oh yeah. THIS.
Let’s start from the beginning. Earlier this year, I registered for the Disneyland Half. Being an LA native, I thought, yeah I should do this race. So off I go, registration in hand, and EXPO here I come. But the last race I ran was the 2011 Long Beach Half Marathon. No matter, shiny things caught my eye and I wanted one. Truth: I did not train well at all. I barely trained for this race. My race result? I deserved that for not training. (All photos taken with my iPhone 5.)
If you didn’t know, this is a very very popular race. It’s Disney! It’s Disneyland! It’s part of the Coast-to-Coast medal program – race one here, race in Orlando, get a big honkin’ medal proclaiming your superhero status! And because it’s Disney, there are thousands of runners who dress up in costumes. I saw a Peter Pan, lots of Alices, Dumbos, Minnies, and so on. I think I saw a Mulan. Yeah, Asians represent! (And one that actually fights back. Booyah!)
I picked up my bib (someone helped me take a blurry picture), stood in some lines for snack samples, bought a new pair of Zensah leg sleeves in orange!, and looked on as Sean Astin spouted words of encouragement to the masses. Goonies never say die!
Unfortunately the Disneyland Hotel’s conference center is just too small to house tens of thousands of people. The expo was small, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not lingering. I picked up my bib, and I left for home to prep.
I woke up at 3:45AM, made my coffee and breakfast, and got dressed. The Wife stayed up until 4:30AM so he could wish me good luck! Sweet man. I head down, and there are lines to get into the Mickey & Friends parking structure. It is OK if you don’t get there by 5:30AM. If you’re in the last Corral like I was, we didn’t get moving until after 6:30AM.
It was a cluster to get to my Corral (the last corral – G). I kind of gave up and waited until the other corrals started going. I made a friend and chatted with her while we stood around.
Then we’re off. This is where the fun starts! We run out of the Disneyland area and back into the DCA (Disney’s California Adventure). As always, my first mile of any run is sh*t. It is the sh*ttiest mile I ever run. Evar. But that’s ok because it’s impossible to get around my fellow runners and walkers.
I had no intention of even trying to PR (personal record). With a race like this, you are bound to stop and take photos with Disney characters. That’ll slow your time. I just made sure I ran ahead of pace.
There were lots of Disneyland cast members out there, cheering people on. Either they were off their third shift or they were there to work the first shift. I loved seeing their enthusiasm.
We ran through DCA and into Disneyland! I stopped for photos. Hello, have we met? I’m Asian.
I forgot to tell you how hot it already was. By the time I started running, it was probably 70-F. That’s like 85-F when you’re running. (That’s not good.)
Once we left the park, it was 8+ miles of sun. Literally. The sun was in my face the whole time. No one could catch a break from the heat and humidity. What made the race fun were all the volunteers and kids along the route. There were a billion cheerleaders, dance teams, community groups, car gangs, random people out there, cheering us on.
Oh and check THIS out. Who do you know that has a Star Wars: Episode I-themed van? THIS GUY.
My new friend that I made caught up with me at Mile 8. So she helped me take a pic with Marker 8.
As the mileage piled on, we headed toward the Honda Center (home of the Ducks *cough Go KINGS Go! cough*) and THROUGH Anaheim Stadium! This was the fun part – when else are you ever going to be ON the field?? Plus I was still 4 minutes ahead of pace!
All the while, I only took one sleeve of Clif Shot Bloks and drank at least two cups of water at every water station. This was an OK strategy as I mostly run-walked Miles 4-9. I think that if I had trained better, I would have brought my own water to hydrate between water stations.
As we run closer to the stadium, you start to hear noise. Cheering? There are hundreds and hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their families in the stands!
There were loads of signs that made me laugh. Here are two of my faves.
For the last few miles, we rounded back to the Disney properties. We’re back behind DCA and then towards the Disneyland Hotel. This was the last bit of running I did. It was so hot. At the end, my time was … wait for it… 03:32. Worst.time.ever. It’s even worse than my first half marathon back in 2009.
But ya know what? Doesn’t matter. I finished. I got my medal. And I have my running mojo back. This race motivated me to go back to running regularly.
What’s next? I’m not sure. I wanted to complete the Coast-to-Coast Challenge but all of the 2014 Disney races are sold out. So I’ll have to wait until 2015 to try to complete the challenge.
If you’re interested in taking up running, do it! I didn’t get to 13 miles in a day. No one does. It starts with just one step. (Go through my archives if you want to read about how I trained for my first 5K.)
All in all, I’m glad I did this race. I’ll see you in 2015, Disneyland Half. I’m gunning for you.