Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

In January, I completed the Dopey Challenge as part  of the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. To recap I wrote a four part series. This time, however, I am hoping to finish my recap in just one piece. The Dopey Challenge was one of the reasons that sent me to Disneyland Resort for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. I participated in the 10th anniversary of the Goofy Challenge, and thought that running the 10th Anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon would be a fabulous way to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge.

Festivities for the 10th Anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon started on Thursday night with the 5K being run Friday Morning. Unfortunately, my flight didn’t land until Friday Afternoon. Thankfully my friend picked me up at the airport and I got to experience the 2 hour drive in LA Traffic to get to the Disneyland Hotel for us to pick up our packets. NOTE: This was my first visit ever to the Disneyland Resort.

There were plenty of signs directing traffic to parking and then inside to packet pick-up. The layout for packet pick-up wasn’t what was shown in the guide. The volunteers were vocal about reminding the Dumbo Double Dare participants to get our photo taken before leaving; but this would have been a non-issue if the original layout was adhered to. I, however, entered the expo with my To-Do list so that I wouldn’t forget any steps (this included the Dumbo Double Dare photo).

After packet pick-up we headed upstairs to pick up our t-shirts, grab our transportation passes, and check out the merchandise. The t-shirts were solid. But many staff members were clueless about the location for transportation passes; thankfully we found the table on our way out. As for the official merchandise, if you’ve ever read a blog on runDisney events you know that these items sell and they sell fast. Since I was arriving almost a whole day late, I had absolutely zero expectations that I would find anything. Yes most everything was picked over or sold out, but I was more than happy to find a Dumbo Double Dare car magnet to match my Dopey and Goofy Challenge magnets.

Then it was on to check-in to my hotel and crash for the evening. 3:00am came quickly Saturday morning, and before I knew it I was out the door at 4:00am, 30 minutes earlier than planned. The mile bus ride went quick. Then it was through security’s bag check which was definitely a choke point, before a half mile trek to the runners area. I contemplated a morning stop at Starbucks, but thought better once I saw the line. I arrived to the runners’ area way faster than I anticipated. Without a bag to check, it was just me wandering aimlessly. Around 4:45am, I started my yoga warm-up routine and decided against a warm-up mile. My race plan was simple. To start out slow for my first mile to warm-up and then to hold a steady yet comfortable pace for the remainder of the race. I didn’t want to run too hard with a long day planned and an even longer race the next day. Around 5:00am I started towards the start line, thankful that I was in Corral A for a change. I did seed myself towards the rear so that I wouldn’t be tempted to be swept with the crowd and run faster than intended. Since I skipped my morning coffee, I enjoyed a GU Salted Watermelon with Caffeine. This was my only energy source, besides the Luna bar I had ate for breakfast before leaving the hotel.

Despite being in Corral A, I was surprised to see so many walkers in the first quarter mile that I had to run around. And even though I had tried to memorize the course map, I was still surprised by how many miles were spent in the parks. Definitely a perk! The way the parks are lit up at night is pretty spectacular. I settled (quickly and) comfortably into my race plan, except I felt fatigued during mile 6. I came into the weekend fighting a head cold that had been plaguing co-workers. I did enjoy the last mile through Downtown Disney. That was my favorite stretch for this race, especially since the sun was coming up and I could actually enjoy the sites. Right before the Mile 6 sign, I saw two girls sporting costumes of a football team I’m not exactly a fan of, so this was my little burst of energy to finish faster than them. Childish, maybe, but I needed a little something to drive to the finish line. And just like that I had my medal, my waters, powerade and snacks. The 10k was over. I walked back to the buses, hoping to get a ride, but the next bus wasn’t leaving for 20 minutes so I decided to take the mile hike back to the hotel. A runner from Las Vegas made part of the trek with me. I love meeting other runners randomly at races, especially hearing their stories.

My post-race routine was to soak in Epsom salt for 30 minutes. I also attempted to steam up the bathroom to help with the stuffiness I was feeling. Then I wanted a nap. But sleep eluded me, so I decided to tackle the parks. I took the bus back to the parks, knowing I needed to conserve my legs for the half the next morning. It was different seeing the parks during the daytime, but still got me excited. I saw every part of California Adventure, but declined any rides. I was starting to get my post-race appetite and wanted food quick. I ate a packed snack and headed to Disneyland Resort where I immediately hopped on the train. Once I had completed a full loop around the park, I wandered up Main Street looking for souvenirs. Feeling an onset of a migraine approaching, I contemplated Starbucks but the line was so long and I worried that having caffeine later in the day than normal would prevent me from sleeping, so I talked myself out of it. I didn’t walk the entire park. I decided to head to ESPN in Downtown Disney to grab a bite to eat to help me feel better and to hydrate, which was perfect timing to watch some College Football! I thought I would give the park another stop after lunch. I stopped at Sephora on my way to pick up samples since I accidentally put my moisturizers back in the bathroom cabinet instead of my travel bag. Once at ESPN I was told it would be a 30 minute wait, so instead I headed upstairs to the bar to order food. Despite consuming half of my order of nachos and two glasses of water, I wasn’t feeling any better, and headed back to the hotel instead of back to the parks. I settled in on the couch and quickly fell asleep. The nap was just what I needed. When I woke up, I ate dinner and prepped for the next morning while watching College Football.

Disneyland 10K Results: PR!

  • 653/9044 Overall
  • 200/5791 Women
  • 46/1046 Age Group
  • 3/41 Military Women

Although this was only my second 10K, I was fairly happy with my PR and excited to have placed 3rd!

My wake-up Sunday morning wasn’t pleasant. My head cold felt like it was clearing up Friday and Saturday, but it returned with a vengeance. I brewed two cups of coffee to help combat whatever was going on. I showered and started my pre-race prep. I really wasn’t feeling well and was forcing myself to eat half a Luna Bar for breakfast and consume my coffee. I ignored the water for now, hoping I was hydrated. Soon enough it was time to head out the door. If I hadn’t put so much time and money into this weekend, I might have actually considered not running, but I knew I was going to finish even if I had to crawl.

The bus came quickly but it was not as fast of a journey as the day before. The security checkpoint was a huge bottleneck. I didn’t make it to the runners’ area and bag check until almost 4:50am. I had a bag for bag check with my 10K medal for post-race pictures. My friend was driving in and had a smooth ride until hitting the parking garage where traffic was at a standstill. I waited and consumed my GU and briefly did some yoga. Once we met up, we grabbed a few pre-race pictures before we jogged over to the start and just arrived at Corral A as it was emptying. We wished each other good luck and she was off and I lagged behind. The first 4 miles through the parks were just as magical as the day before even though slightly different. It’s almost overstimulating to have the parks and the characters and then all of the runners and their costumes. It’s a lot to take in at once, but I knew once we came out of the parks it was a long stretch of city street running. I was surprised at how many people were out to watch the race. It was amazing, and made the Disneyland Half Marathon my favorite runDisney race hands down. I lost track of the miles and of my time. When I did check on my progress I was holding a constant pace, not as fast as I would have liked, but all things considering, it was satisfying. The amount of spectators and the course entertainment made the miles go by fast. Soon I was finishing my Clif Bloks and tossing the water bottle I had elected to carry. I was shocked at the number of people in the stands at Angels Stadium, I wanted to stay and take it all in, but knew this was where I really needed to push forward. My training going into this weekend wasn’t lacking but I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped so it did worry me slightly going into the last stretch of the race. Around Mile 12, I saw Sean Astin up ahead. He was using the Galloway method, and let’s just say when he runs, it’s a burner. I set my eyes on keeping up with him and hopefully passing him. I didn’t end up passing him, but it was close and I was happy to find motivation in that last mile. I was dazed going through the medals. Stopped for all the pictures and then for ice. My ankle didn’t hurt, just felt funny, so I decided to take action. I found my friend and we took pictures before we can up with our post-race plan. I headed back to the bus for the hotel. I did another Epsom salt bath and decided to play on social media while I soaked. I ended up on the event page and was shocked at how many people complained about the (lack of) Official Merchandise at the Expo. I guess I just never expect to buy any good swag at a race expo, unless I show up when it opens; this isn’t just a runDisney expo either, some of my other favorite races will also offer special event merchandise for sale at the expo only and it sells out quick. Soon I was packing my bags and waiting for pick-up ready for my next adventure.

I spent the rest of the day visiting Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach. I got to check out Fiesta Hermosa. We ate our post-race celebratory dinner at Palmilla Cocina y Tequila before enjoying the beach and dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Eventually we made our way to Finn McCool’s for a celebratory drink where I got to have a Magners Cider since I fell in love with Bulmers in Ireland. I slept well that night.

Disneyland Half Marathon Results:

  • 1846/15228 Overall
  • 604/9486 Women
  • 136/1800 Age Group
  • 11/105 Military Women

I was sad for Monday to come because I knew I would be leaving soon. But first we headed to Soho Yoga for Sweat and Stretch. We walked along the Hermosa Beach pier with coffee and ate breakfast at Good Stuff. Next thing I knew I was showered and headed to the airport. The trip home went quickly with short layovers. I watched THE Ohio State football game via GameCast on my flight. And then I was home.

CONCLUSION: I would love to run Disneyland again. And I hope I will. It was overall a magical experience. The only thing that wasn’t a success was despite the number of photographs that littered the course, there were hardly any pictures of me taken! This vacation was a combination first trip to Southern California and a race weekend, so there was a lot to do in a short amount of time. My training going into the weekend was sub-par (according to me), but my 10K performance was the same VO2 as the Emerald City Half Marathon I ran last year. At the same time although my half marathon performance was one whole minute per mile slower than my Glass City PR in April, it was the same VO2 as the Ohio State 4 Miler last September. I’m trying to analyze my performance based on other factors other than miles of training, such as cross-training, to see what works best for me in order to tailor my future goals and race plans to correspond with my training.

I think that was a lot just thrown out. Since this wasn’t my usual recap format, I’m sure I missed something.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments! Or ask me on Twitter 🙂

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