We left off Part 1 of the Disneyland Half Marathon Report as the race hit the mean streets of Anaheim. I was dreading this portion of the course, which I assumed would be boring at best and depressing at worst. During the Walt Disney World Marathon, I found entering the parks or cool areas of Walt Disney World gave me a shot in the arm, as I thought about what I was passing, rather than the run itself, making those miles pass quickly.
By contrast, the Disneyland Half Marathon course was front loaded, with the “motivation” of the parks happening when such motivation wasn’t really needed. It was needed (for me at least) right about the time the running through the parks ended. I thought my fears were confirmed after about a half mile of nothingness outside of the parks, and I really felt myself slowing down.
Then, suddenly, we entered a sea of classic cars that stretched on for about a mile. Maybe more. I assume these were members of a SoCal classic car club, and there were a ton of people and their cars present.
If I had to guess, I would say there were over one thousand classic cars on display on the sides of the course (that number might be high). Now, I’m not much of a car guy, but I do appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of classic American automobiles.
Equally as important, I appreciate when people–anyone–take the time out of their day to come support runners. These mostly older folks could have been spending their Sunday mornings cruising the Pacific Coast Highway, but instead they had parked their cars along the side of the road in Anaheim and were sitting in lawn chairs in the sun, cheering on random strangers as they ran.
I got a bit sappy in the last installment, and I’m going to do the same here. It might sound crazy, but experiencing the enthusiasm of the volunteers, bands, cheer squads, and other people who come out to hold signs, pass out foods, etc. is really something else.
If ever you need your faith in humanity restored, run one of these events. The genuine kindness and encouragement these spectators and volunteers provide is both reassuring and motivating.
There are literally thousands of people from all walks of life–from Boy Scout troops to Folklorico dancers to American muscle owners to cheerleaders and even Storm Troopers–who get up in the middle of the night to come out and provide support to the runners, and every one of them seems happy to be there. Setting aside however I may feel about runDisney soliciting unpaid Cast Member volunteers, these volunteers always look–to me at least–like they are enjoying themselves.
This enthusiasm rubs off on me, and I honestly feel badlyif I walk past them. I know, that probably sounds crazy, but I feel like if they have taken the time and energy to be there to provide support, I am obliged to hold up my end of the bargain, and try to actually run…at least as I pass them.
Moving back to the actual race, during this portion of the course, I passed Mile 5.
Then Mile 6.
I seem to have missed photographing the Mile 7 marker. I hope you aren’t too upset about missing out on an exciting photo of a sign that looks almost identical to the rest.
After finishing the classic car stretch of the race, we headed past the Honda Center (home of the Anaheim MIGHTY Ducks), and then a dirt flood control channel.
Normally, I get pumped to see a flood control channel because it might have been a filming location for Terminator 2, which everyone knows is one of the great masterpieces of American cinema. However, this dirt one was not so exciting.
Suddenly, I was tiring again.
After a stretch of this, it was on to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, home to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (Seriously, LA, you have so much…why do you need to lay claim to a team outside of your city?)
We went inside Angel Stadium, and there were a ton of people in the stands! This was another awesome little stretch, and totally took my mind off of being tired.
After leaving the stadium, it was pretty much ordinary Anaheim until arriving back in the Disneyland Resort area.
However, the energy of the stadium had gotten me pumped and that energy carried me until at least Mile 10.
The trolling game of these signs is strong.
At this point, I realized I was in the home stretch, and my per mile time actually started improving.
For the last third of the Disneyland Half Marathon, my per mile time was 9:49. I know that’s not a great time for serious runners, but I was pretty pleased.
I have noticed a few “Run on Plants” shirts at the two runDisney events I’ve done this year, and that’s cool for those who are into that sort of thing, but this dude is part of the team I really want to join!
The last mile was my fastest mile of the race. At around Mile 10, I had started trying to do the math in my head, and thought a sub-two hour time was in the realm of possibilities. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the types of gear that runners normally carry, like a race watch, fanny pack, or even a running shirt (since it’s a faux pas to wear the shirt of the event you’re running, this left my only options as a black athletic shirt from the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, a black long sleeve Walt Disney World Marathon shirt, or a cotton In-N-Out shirt…since I’ve joked about being on Team In-N-Out Burger, I opted for the last choice).
Due to my lack of a watch, I didn’t know when I started the race, or my current pace. Due to my lack of fanny pack, I had left my car keys in the car, and held onto my phone (which actually suffered damage as a result and now doesn’t work!) and camera the entire race. I actually rectified the fanny pack problem yesterday when I saw this one on sale for $10, but I still need a race watch (any recommendations?).
Approaching the finish line, I was actually a bit disappointed that it was all over. Mind you, I wasn’t wanting to run a full marathon or anything that morning, but I wouldn’t have complained about a couple more miles in the Disneyland Resort area.
I ended up finishing with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes. If you told me this was the time I’d get before I started the race, I would have been pretty happy. Based on my (apparently inaccurate) calculations during the race, I thought I was going to finish at around 1:58, so I was slightly bummed out. Still, it was a solid improvement from my Walt Disney World Marathon pace, meaning that only a few weeks of actual training had paid off.
In the post-race area, there was entertainment and some random tents set up for various things, but there was no merchandise tent, like there was at the Walt Disney World Marathon. This was really disappointing to me, as I thought several of the merchandise designs were awesome, including the “I Did It!” shirt.
Rant time: it bugs me that these “I Did It!” shirts are sold at all before the race takes place. To me, actually “doing it” entitles you to purchase such a shirt. Personally, I would never purchase something celebrating an accomplishment that I haven’t yet accomplished, but to each their own.
With that said, it downright makes me angry that there was no possible way to purchase this shirt after actually accomplishing the thing the shirt celebrates having accomplished. I understand Disney is all about the $$$, but why not set aside some of these shirts for the people who won’t buy this pre-race on principle? I know I can’t be alone in this sentiment, and I probably would have purchased other things post-race, too. (Like the Coast-to-Coast shirt, which I also wouldn’t buy prior to actually completing the challenge.) I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here (am I?), and runDisney could probably sell more shirts total if they offered more post-race.
I was hoping to meet up with some friends post-race, but with my iPhone having a giant black ink blotch on the screen and barely working, I wasn’t able to send them a coherent message. So, I just headed to Disneyland by myself for some photos with my medals in various spots.
These self-indulgent shots speak for themselves, so I’m going to share some concluding thoughts and look forward to what’s next in between the photos…
Overall, I really enjoyed the Disneyland Half Marathon, and thought runDisney put on yet another exceptional event. Quibbles about the merchandise aside, in each of the 3 events I’ve done, runDisney has demonstrated it is one of the most well-organized and efficient units within The Walt Disney Company. Maybe part of my opinion is colored by having just experienced the other end of the spectrum at the D23 Expo (seriously, runDisney needs to send some people over to D23 to show them how it’s done), but I am continually impressed by how runDisney handles such large groups. Huge kudos for that.
Not only was the Disneyland Half Marathon efficient and well-organized, but it demonstrated that the organizers really know how to make lemonade out of lemons in terms of an enjoyable course in the city of Anaheim (I’d actually love to see a Disneyland full marathon that takes runners out to Seal Beach and along the Pacific Coast Highway and back). In fact, I would go as far as to say that this stretch was superior to the non-park portion of the course during the Walt Disney World Marathon! The team that organized the entertainment for this stretch of the course deserves tremendous accolades.
Due to the amount of fun I had during this event, I now find myself hyped for future runDisney events, and am seriously considering registering for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon when it opens up. If runDisney can make Anaheim interesting, surely they can do the same for the Walt Disney Studios Park (eh, wishful thinking) and beet fields of Marne-la-Vallee, France!
I think it would be cool to do an inaugural race and I’m fascinated by the thought of seeing so many Americans in Disneyland Paris. I think it’ll be an interesting dynamic, both in terms of how Parisians react to the influx of Americans, and how the Americans visiting Europe for the first time react to a park that is very different in terms of Cast Members and other guests. (Don’t expect anyone to feign interest in how “magical” your day is.)
Most importantly, if running through Sleeping Beauty Castle gives me goosebumps, running through Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant will cause me to…I don’t even know what. Plus, seeing Disneyland Paris for the Halloween season will be fun, and…and…I’m sure I can come up with other excuses to sign up as the date draws nearer. (Anyone else thinking about doing the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon?)
In the more immediate future, earlier this summer I signed up for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in January on a whim. My legs felt sore the day after the Disneyland Half Marathon–not so sore that I couldn’t walk, but sore enough that I know I could not have run a full marathon.
This means that I, without a doubt, actually have to do serious training. Not, “oh shoot, the event is 3 weeks away, time to start running” training, but dedicated training, starting now. It’s probably a good idea to have a regular exercise plan, regardless.
My plan to make myself more accountable and committed to doing this is to weave various runDisney posts into my rotation here on the blog. Now that I have a few races under my belt, I think I have some insight into how this all works, so I might be able to help beginners and simultaneously keep myself enthused about the Walt Disney World Marathon in January.
(While I may not have won the Disneyland Half Marathon, note that my Astro Blasters score afterwards was #5 for the day!)
About what I’ll write, I’m not sure (have any suggestions or questions I could answer?), but I think this is a sound plan. This is also where your obligation arises, in that I expect one of you to post a comment (comment being singular–I don’t need 20 of you pestering me about this) asking how my training is going in each of these posts to help keep me “honest” in my training. Seems like a good plan now…we shall see how it works!
As for these last few photos, the below one is special to me, as it shows how my goat homies at Disneyland’s Goat Galaxy reacted to my news that I had completed the Half Marathon.
Sadly, these guys won’t be around next year to help celebrate.
I won’t end on that downer, though. The day before the Disneyland Half Marathon, I joked about having a post-race meet-up at In-N-Out Burger. Well, no one else showed up to my meet-up, but I ate two Animal Style Double Doubles, so I consider it a resounding success (in case you didn’t know, I absolutely love In-N-Out Burger). The above photo isn’t the greatest, but In-N-Out was packed, and I already felt awkward taking a selfie with burgers while wearing medals and an In-N-Out shirt, so I wasn’t going to redo it.
Next year, I think I might actually try to organize an actual meet-up (you know, with other people). I already have a name for it: “Disneyland Half Marathon Double Double Meat-Up.” My pun game is about as strong as Disney California Adventure 1.0…
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Are you doing a runDisney event anytime soon? Considering the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon? Any posts you’d like to see about runDisney? Want to attend the Inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon Double Double Meat-Up in 2016? Any other thoughts? Questions about any of the above? Hearing from you is part of the fun, so please leave some feedback in the comments! 🙂