Disneyland Half Marathon Report – Part 2
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 badly if 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 ChÃ¢teau 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…
See you all there! 😉
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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! 🙂
Great post, Tom. I did the 5k, 10k and half at Disneyland and loved all three of them. This was my first visit to DLR since 1987 and it was amazing. I completely agree with your view that the Disneyland half portion through Anaheim is superior to WDW’s trek from Epcot to MK and back.
You asked for thoughts on a running watch. I bought the Garmin Vivoactive a couple of months ago after comparing it, the Fitbit Surge and the iWatch. I’m very happy with my purchase and highly recommend the Vivoactive.
I’d like to see you do a weekly training blog covering things like:
– your search for a training plan (assuming you do follow one!)
– how many runs you did, distance, pace
– your experience with speed work, hill training, etc. (assuming you start to do these!)
– your gear research and shopping experiences
Finally, I agree that they should sell the “I did it” t-shirts at the finish. After my first runDisney race, when I followed my superstition that I shouldn’t buy something commemorating a feat I hadn’t yet completed, I now buy them at the Expo. After the Wine and Dine 2013, my first ever half marathon, I regretted not getting one so much that I bought the shirt online and paid the ridiculous shipping charges to Canada. If ever I don’t finish a race, I’ll give the shirt away to someone who did.
Thanks for the insight into more watches. I’ve been doing my own independent research, and have narrowed it down to a couple of different options, but both are still pretty pricey. That’s the biggest hurdle right now. I know what I likely want, but dang…those prices…
They are expensive but if you are at all data-driven then they are worth it. I started with a simple Fitbit Flex (about $100) and loved it but eventually found that it didn’t give me all the information I wanted and it didn’t have the accuracy of a Garmin or other GPS watch.
Tom, did anyone steal your fly Sorento?!?
Oh dang! I didn’t even resolve the big cliffhanger from part 1!!!
I know it’s going to come as a shock that the roaming bands of thieves at Disneyland Resort didn’t go after my Sorento, but…they didn’t.
Inspiring stuff! Your photos really capture the energy.
In response to:
“Anyone else thinking about doing the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon?”
… My excuse so far has been that (as a non runner) it’s unrealistic to travel thousands of miles and spend that time doing something I have no confirmed interest in. But with it in my “backyard”, I am very tempted – if only to feel the buzz and of course be part of a significant “first” (because I’m practically certain it won’t be the last they do!)
Unless the turnout is awful, there’s no way this will be the last. The wildcards are: 1) how many Europeans will sign up, and 2) if the answer to #1 is “not many,” will enough Americans be willing to fly to Europe for multiple races per year?
runDisney has a TON of diehards with seemingly limitless disposable income, so I suspect there’s enough demand between #1 and #2 to sustain at least 2-3 races per year. runDisney could be what “saves” Disneyland Paris!!! 😉
I am doing the Avengers 1/2 in November. I would love to get an “I Did It” shirt but I know I am on the slower side and it should take me right at the time limit and feel buying one would jink me – like if I get a bad blister or have issues that slow me down.
I am sad they don’t sell them at the end. 🙁
It seems like runDisney is at least somewhat responsive to feedback, so hopefully someone there takes note of all the comments there and decides to make a change with the “I Did It!” shirts.
First of all, congrats! These posts really are making me consider a RunDisney event. First I need to get back into running. I’d love to do an event at WDW, but I have a question. How long would you consider going for to get the most of out the trip with the race? I’d love to be optimistic about it not “interrupting” my trip because I’m sore, but I thought people were crazy for walking around the park after the princess half in February. I can’t picture doing that, and taking flights into consideration, I wouldn’t want my legs to lock up or something like that because I went home a day or two after running. How long are you planning on going for the Dopey challenge? Any suggestions would be great! Thanks!
If you’re physically fit and/or prepared for the race, I would recommend doing the race on the second day of your trip. That way, you have most of the trip (after the race) to eat whatever you want.
So long as you’re prepared for the race, your recovery time should be minimal. The same day of the Half Marathon, I was fine to walk all over Disneyland. Likewise, I would have been fine the following day.
That, however, was not the case after the Walt Disney World Marathon, but I didn’t prepare for that *at all.*
Hi Tom! Really appreciate what you do on this site man; I’ve used your articles to plan a WDW and DL trip over the last couple of years and hope to use them on a future Tokyo trip also! Great race report here too; I just have a quick question though. I’m running the Star Wars half marathon in January and was wondering how you got such great pictures? Were you actually stopping to take them? Or were you able to take a couple on the move? Also, any recommendation on whether I should be using my iphone for the race pics or a simple point and shoot Sony?
I really enjoy your posts and I am happy to see I am not the only who doesn’t necessarily love running but loves RunDisney events. I did the Princess in 2013 and since then I have done the Full, the Dumbo Double Dare, the Star Wars and I am signed up for Wine and Dine. Of all those races The Star Wars was my favorite. I think the on course cheering from the Anaheim community definitely surpasses that of the Florida races. I agree with you completely about the I Did It shirts…They were completely sold out for the Star Wars on day 2 of the Expo…At that point I was pretty sure none of us had “Done It” yet. I feel like buying one of those almost guarantees me a nasty fall down my hotel stairs and broken ankle pre race. But a lot of people are willing to tempt fate and I didn’t see a massive pile of casualties at the bottom of any stairs…
Great post Tom. I take it the car keys were safe?
I love your blog and drooling over all your pics hehe! 🙂 Were going to Mnsshp next month and i’m bringing my dslr in so I can hopefully can get some decent pictures. I have never taken it to the park before and i’m wondering how many batteries should I plan on bringing? I’ve only recently gotten it so I have never managed to take it to Disney.. I have the T3i and were planning on coming in a few hours before the party to get some shots in our costumes and such and then throughout the party and the parade. I only have 1 battery and I know that wont be enough and I dont want to sit by a charger station charging it for 2 hours lol..so I thought maybe you could give me a insight on how many you think I should purchase? I know each camera is different and you and Sarah bring a couple camera’s into the party but i’m still so new to this that I don’t want to bring 2 and then have a dead battery by time parade rolls around haha.
Thanks so much!! 🙂
One battery is probably fine, but I ALWAYS carry at least 1 back-up battery. You never know what might happen.
Congratulations Tom! I am definitely leaning towards signing up for the Disneyland Paris Half since I will be in England studying abroad then so a weekend trip to Paris sounds like a great plan!
Good Job Tom! Your blog is great! I’ve used it to plan our next Disneyland trip! Thanks for all the great info and pictures 🙂
Love your posts! Please tell me you framed the Astro Blasters photo! It’s totally awesome! Congrats on your marathon!
Of course I framed it! Our house is adorned with hundreds of my Astro Blasters photos!
Thanks for sharing Tom! I am going to be running the DL half next year (along with the WDW Half in January. Coast to coast! Woooo!!) so it was interesting to see some photos of the course. I will join your In-N-Out “meat” up! I’m ashamed to admit this but I have never had In-N-Out before. I’ve had the opportunity several times, but each time, I opted for something else. This WILL change though in December as In-N-Out is on the list of MUST DO dining!
You are not allowed to read this blog again until you have In-N-Out. Kidding (but only a bit). 😉
Great report (as always) I loved reading it and seeing the pictures. I will be signing up for the DLP half marathon. It will be their 1st run disney event and also my 1st half marathon.
Being British DLP is my home park and I agree with you, it will be interesting seeing how Paris handles all the US visitors and how all the US visitors handle Paris. 😀
Congrats on your finish…very nice pace. Check out the Garmin 220. (And possibly the LifeProof case for your phone-waterproof/sweat proof). I’m considering Paris as well.
I enjoyed reading your report!
And it was great to read that you are thinking about coming to Paris next year for the runDisney Inaugural!
I’ll be signing up to run the 5k at Disneyland Paris, since I think a half marathon is way out of my league, but I still want to experience that magical moment of running through the castle 🙂
Your report already got me excited about a race that is still more then a year away!! 😀
The only thing that would stop me from doing the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon at this point is the desire to go for the start of the 25th Anniversary in 2017.
On the other hand, I could get an Annual Pass in September, which would make it easier to “justify” a trip the following spring…
Maybe you can adopt a homeless Disneyland goat?
Unfortunately, they have all been claimed by Cast Members. I would if I could!
Thanks for posting; all your posts are always great! I was at the run and thought it was fantastic, but I prefer the course of the Tinkerbell Half (I feel like it has a bit more time in the parks).
Just thought I’d mention, since my Husband is an avid Dodger fan, it was not LA that wanted to claim Anaheim, it was Anaheim wanting to bring in more fans and revenue by calling them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, even when they are clearly not in Los Angeles. Funny because when you translate the Spanish it happens to be, “the angels, angels of Anaheim”. Though I see how they may want to market to everyone in the Los Angeles area, their entire charade does not make much sense to me…they have Disneyland after all in Anaheim:)
Haha, yeah, I was just kidding with the Angels thing. I assumed it was a marketing ploy by the team to tap into the huge LA population.
I’m doing the Star Wars 1/2 in January with a friend. It’s my first race since middle school & I’ve been nervous about finishing, but I’ve stated training & I know I’ll be able to finish. My goal at this point is to be able to run most of it. I’m glad to read about the shirts/merch. I agree with your stance on it, but I might pre-purchase so I don’t have to go without!
You’ll be fine if you’re already training. The per mile pace is a pretty low bar at runDisney events, so as long as you don’t suffer an injury, that shouldn’t be a concern.
The trick is to keep the training up until January, lol…
I have a garmin 220 that I like a lot. It isn’t top of the line, but it does the trick and isn’t too horribly priced as far as gps watches go. It’s easy to read, keeps track of current pace, mileage splits, and overall distance. I also like the garmin connect app, which can show your path, extra data from your run, and if you carry your phone in that stylish pouch, will create a site that others can pull up and see your real time location.
Good luck training for January!
When you said ‘isn’t too horribly priced…’ I went over to Amazon thinking I might pick on up. Then I saw the $200 price. Since you followed with ‘…as far as gps watches go’ I’m now afraid to look at the nicer models. I guess I either need to adjust my expectations for how much these things will cost, or try to find an amazing deal somewhere!
Regardless, thanks for the recommendation and info.
There are certainly cheaper watches, with fewer features that probably do just as good of a job, but there are also watches packed with more features that can reach $400-$500. I thought this was a good middle of the road watch. I have seen sales on this watch. I bought mine from REI, and as a member, I get a little dividend to help the sting of the price.
I scoffed at the idea of a watch for a few years thinking that I’m a slow, amateur runner and it would be silly to have one, but I’m glad I bit the bullet and got one to help improve my training and pacing. If anything, it is nice to know how far I ran. I found carrying a phone to be cumbersome and uncomfortable.
For a sport that seems like it should be really cheap/free to partake in (compared to say golf that requires equipment and greens fees) it is surprising how quickly costs can add up!