Alright, get ready because this is a long one!
The night before the half marathon we were back in the room and in bed by 9:30pm – between traveling, being up early for the 5k and still being on east coast time we were all exhausted and I had to be up to meet Jenn and Patrick by 4:30am by the Disneyland Hotel.
Jenn and Patrick, who I met last year during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, had not originally been planning to do the Disneyland Half this year (they both did it in 2011), but temptation (and some peer pressure!) got the better of them when extra spots were opened just a few weeks before the race! I was definitely excited to have a few familiar faces to meet up with!
Not wanting to wake Jason up at 3am I laid out all my clothes and race stuff the night before so I could be as quiet as possible:
Disney races are just about the only time my alarm goes off at absurd hours of the morning and I jump out of bed (I’m usually a HUGE fan of the snooze button). I got up, got dressed and stopped at the restaurant in our hotel lobby for a quick pre-race bite. I usually do oatmeal, yogurt or peanut butter on toast before a long run but I’m pretty fortunate that my stomach really isn’t all that picky about my pre-run food because there was no way I could pass up this:
After my delicious Mickey waffle (if you’ve never had one they are soooo yummy!) I left to go meet Jenn and Patrick. One of the great things about Disneyland is that EVERYTHING is walking distance – parks, hotels, Downtown Disney and even the race start and finish! We took a quick pre-race (in the dark!) photo and wandered around the starting area before heading off to find our corral. I was excited that we were all in corral B together, it was the first time I would be in a starting corral with people I knew which meant people to talk to during the long wait until the start!
Before leaving for California Jenn and I had text a bit about our “race plan”. Since Jenn hadn’t been planning on doing the Disneyland Half she hadn’t been doing much running over the summer, so she wasn’t sure if she was going to try for a PR or not. I had no plans of running for a PR, partially because I didn’t think I had been training at a level that was going to get me to a PR and partially because I had decided never to really try to PR at a Disney race, there is just so much to see and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take pictures and take it all in. I figured I’d start off with Jenn and Patrick and see how it went, I was totally fine falling back if I decided I wanted to take it easy (my PR was pretty close to Jenn’s so if I was feeling good it would be a good pace for me too).
We started off at a comfortable pace as we ran through California Adventure and then through Disneyland.
I love the green army men from Toy Story! They’re always yelling out orders and encouragement during the races! They definitely helped get me up the hills during the full marathon!
The park running went by pretty quickly (it’s only the first 3 miles of the race) and soon we were out on the streets of Anaheim. I felt good running with Jenn and Patrick and it was nice to have some familiar faces around. runDisney did a great job of adding entertainment to the street parts of the course – we passed dancers, cheerleaders, bands and our own car show! (Unfortunately I was focused on running at this point and didn’t think to take any pictures!)
Between miles 9 and 10 we passed by the Honda Center where the Anaheim Ducks play and through Angels Stadium. Angels Stadium was definitely cooler than I was expecting because there were lots of spectators and scout troops in the stands cheering us on!
Once we were past Angels Stadium we were pretty much in the home stretch. I was surprised that I had kept up with Jenn and Patrick at this point since I had been training at a much slower pace. Occasionally Jenn would check to see if we were on pace for her PR and right around mile 11 I realized that if we kept up the pace we were going for the next two miles we’d be finishing right around my current PR time! When I mentioned it to Jenn and Patrick they encouraged me to pick up the pace a bit and go for it. I hesitated at first because I was pretty spent and not sure if I had it in me to speed up but eventually I figured what the heck, worse case scenario I pick it up and get too tired and just fall back and meet up with Jenn and Patrick again to finish.
As I sped up my legs were definitely feeling it and several times I thought about just slowing down and not worrying about my time, it’s not like I came out here hoping to PR…but at the same time after running 2+ hours I knew I’d be disappointed if I missed it by just seconds. Right past the 13 mile marker I saw Jason and my mom and sister! During the full marathon I had stopped to take pictures with them and I would have loved to have done it again, but being this close to the finish and a PR time I ran right by with just a quick wave. .1 miles later I crossed the finish line beating my PR by 46 seconds!
After crossing the finish line I got my Disneyland Half Marathon medal and went over to wait in line to get my Coast to Coast medal. By the time I got my medal I turned back towards the end of the line and sure enough there were Jenn and Patrick – Jenn had PR’d by over 3 minutes!
We made our way through the finisher’s area grabbing some drinks and snacks and went to find Jason, my mom and sister. After we took a few pictures I said goodbye to Jenn and Patrick and went to the hotel to shower. My legs were actually really hurting so I decided to take an ice bath…the minute I got in I immediately changed my mind and tried to get out, but Jason (husband and training staff in one!) forced me to stay in! (And I’m glad he did, I really think it helped.)
After my ice bath and shower we still had some time until breakfast so we went back down towards the race finish and stood by the mile 13 marker and cheered on the rest of the runners, we stayed until the last person crossed the finish line and by that time I was much in need of food! I intentionally booked a big buffet breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen for after the race because I knew I’d want A LOT of food!
With full stomaches and my medals around my neck we were off to the parks for the day! (A great way to walk out post half marathon legs!)
I LOVED the Disneyland Half Marathon and I’m sure I’ll do it (or the Tinkerbell Half) again soon! It was fun to be able to run with friends and I definitely would not have PR’d without them (thank you Jenn and Patrick!). I was so excited just to be visiting Disneyland for the first time, but running the 5k and half marathon just made the experience even more special.
Um, hello!?! What is up with miles 12 & 13 being under 9 minutes! I don’t think I’ve run a mile in under 9 minutes since middle school! I was excited to negative split this race (2nd half faster than the first), I’ve negative split every race I’ve done so far and it’s one of the things I’m proud of. A lot of new runners start off too fast and then slow down later in the race so it’s good to see I have control of my pace going out and am able to conserve energy for the finish!
That’s one more race in the books, can’t wait for the next!