Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon - my 9th year running it

It's been a busy weekend already and now it's finally time to run! Yep, Sunday morning super early is the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon.

Both Theresa and I are running it this year.

In the early years of the race, RunDisney requested racers arrive 2-3 hours before the race start time. I didn't see anything like that in the program this year and going from experience that was excessive anyway. The race this morning is at 5:30am (I know, that's too early to do anything). Theresa and I left the house at 3:40am and with no one on the freeways arrived at the Mickey and Friends parking structure at 4:10am. Here's how busy it was for us an hour and twenty minutes before the race. Not bad at all.

We parked and spent the next 30 minutes finishing breakfast, hydrating, and getting our race gear together. At 4:45am we left the parking garage to head to our starting corral. The restrooms at the bottom of the Mickey and Friends structure certainly were popular, especially with the ladies. Continuing onward though, there were plenty of port-a-potties with no lines. If you don't mind them, you'll definitely have a shorter wait there.

The corrals this year like every year are split up based on your anticipated finish time. If you're ever going to run a Disney race I highly suggest you get a qualifying time by running a 10k or longer. Doing so will mean you start much closer to the front of the pack with a chance to see the main stage and race announcers instead of just hearing them on speakers. If for example you can maintain an 11.5 minute/mile pace, you'd be in front of 2/3rds of all the other racers.

Just me, T and a couple other runners. How many? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 18,000. Let's see, 18000 x $200 = $3.6 million. Add on additional hotel rooms, park tickets, etc, and this looks like a pretty good moneymaker for Disney.
A few more statistics, of those 18000 people, approx 66% are female. The oldest runner is an 82 year old woman from Portland Oregon. The oldest male is an 80 year old from Hacienda Heights California. There are over 400 Legacy Runners, of which I am one, who have run every Disneyland Half Marathon since they began in 2006. So where do they fit all these people? See those overpasses in the distance? People are packed in the streets all the way back there.

5:30am rolls around and we hear a beautiful version of the Star Spangled Banner, we get a race countdown and off go the elite runners. There are a few minutes between when each of the corrals are released and being back in the H corral, it's 6:05 before we get up to the start line and are released.

And we're off!

Through no earlier coordination at all, I happen to run into my co-worker Judy. She's a Dumbo Double Dare participant who ran the 10k yesterday and is running the half marathon today. Go Judy!

Nearly 2 miles in and we're inside California Adventure. Just inside the Southwest Gate near where the old Maliboomer was we encounter three Green Army Men from Toy Story taking photos with guests and cheering them on. T and I posed for a quick photo in front of the World of Color fountains then continued running.
Normally I'd stop and take a photo with every single character on the course. This year starting near the back it's going to be a little more difficult. There are more people in line waiting for the characters and I'm worried about getting swept off the course if I wait around too long. For those who are interested in seeing characters during the race, here's everything I saw leading up to California Adventure and inside California Adventure. Backstage there were two parade floats from the Pixar Play parade available for photos. Inside DCA were Green Army Men, World of Color fountains, DJ from Cars Land, Lightning McQueen and Mater, Red (the firetruck), Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), and I saw the trolleys parked on Buena Vista street, but I don't know if anyone was taking pictures near them.

We crossed the Esplanade into Disneyland and took a selfie in front of the floral Mickey and the Disneyland Railroad.

At the front of Main Street, the drummers from the Soundsational parade are keeping a festive beat going for the runners. At the end of the street was Donald Duck in a sombrero posing for photos.

Also at the end of the street was an opportunity to take a photo with the Partners statue.

Running through Frontierland, we saw three more Green Army Men with a runner on the ground doing push-ups in front of them while they yell at her.

Prince Charming, Anastasia, Drizella, and Lady Tremaine were all riding together on King Arthur's carousel, waving at guests as they passed.
T and I got a photo on the back side of the castle. 

And there were no characters in front of the castle, but they did have someone there to take your picture if you wanted it.

Off to Tomorrowland where there is a long line for two Stormtroopers.

One of the longest lines of the day I saw was for Maleficent. It appears that where princesses were lining the street leading to it's a small world last year, this year the villains have taken over. 

Because next we see Jafar and the Evil Queen.

And Cruella and Doctor Facilier are at the end of the street. Love the Robin Hood and Maid Marion costumes of the runners too.

We encountered a few more Green Army Men while running through Toontown and it was time to exit the parks. We're going backstage again!

There's a few places on the course where it gets so congested the pace slows to a walk. Add in a water and powerade stop and it's slows down even more.

Behind Big Thunder Ranch were three big draft horses plus a little miniature donkey that you could take pictures with. And that does it for all the characters throughout the park. Honestly I was a little disappointed at the number of characters and floats that were out to take pictures with. To me it seemed like there were fewer this year than in the past.

Well we just exited backstage and are about to head out into the streets of Anaheim. We're 4 miles in and Theresa has accomplished what she wanted. She hasn't had time to really train this year, only going on 3 training runs in the past month, so she isn't up for the 13.1 mile half marathon. She decided she was just going to run the fun part through Disneyland and leave me to finish the rest myself.

That's not saying I've done any training for this year either. I can honestly say that in the past 6 months I have gone on a total of zero training runs. Hopefully my other activities (beach volleyball and indoor volleyball) will count for something...

Time to put in the earbuds and grind through some miles. I had a couple inspirational Disney songs on there like Hercules' "I Can Go the Distance" and Princess and the Frog "Dig a Little Deeper". I think the most appropriate one was from the MTV TV show Jackass titled "If You're Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough". It was definitely dumb not to train for this and I'm sure I'm going to be paying for it later. Here's the song in case you're curious.

Along the way, there's lots of marching bands playing, cheerleaders cheering and dance groups performing while we run past. There's also lots of kids just holding out their hands wanting high-fives from all the runners as they pass. To me, that always makes me smile and gives me a little boost.
Outside Bravo Mexican Grill on the corner of Anaheim Blvd and Cerritos there are always wonderfully dressed dancers and festive music playing.

At the official halfway point, Team MousePlanet sets up, giving out very welcome Twizzlers, pretzels, orange slices, and cold sponges to thankful runners. They've also lined the way with inspiration posters. Thank you Team MousePlanet!

If you're into cars, once you hit mile 7.25 you are in for a treat. From here for the next mile both sides of the street have some amazing cars.

This hearse with a girl in a Nightmare Before Christmas Sally dress was great.

And hey there's Herbie!

Next we pass the outside of the Honda Center.

And run on the Santa Anna River Trail for nearly a mile. This is another narrow spot where it can get crowded and can sometimes slow to a walk.

Made it to Angel Stadium!

Here the people from Clif Bar are providing Clif Shots, their Energy Gel to all the runners. New this year, or maybe my memory from last year isn't great, but now they have signs and banners showing what kind of Clif Shot they're giving out. In previous years, you'd hold out your hand and collect whatever they gave you, and maybe you're just not feeling like a Mocha shot right now. It was great to be able to dodge the flavors you didn't want and just pick up the ones you did. My memory is fuzzy, but I think I remember seeing Citrus, Razz, Vanilla and Mocha. 

Time to go into the stadium where we get to run around the warning track! There are so many people here cheering as you run by. You can't help but pick up their energy and run a little faster.

Joe was here.

Once you exit Angel Stadium it's just 3.5 miles to the finish line. Some of my favorite signs of the day were "I'm only here because Trader Sam's isn't open yet" and "Worst Disney Parade Ever".

Just before going backstage in California Adventure again, I ran into a Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper. Thanks for coming out!

Backstage once again and it's just a mile to the finish line.

And there it is! This challenge is nearly complete!

Mickey and Minnie were on the side giving high fives to the finishers. You can bet I got my high five from them.

Congratulations to all the runners! Of the ~18000 entrants, there were 15952 finishers. The fastest male was Nick Arciniaga from Flagstaff Arizona who finished all 13.1 miles in 1:07:48. He averaged a little over a 5 minute mile for the entire race. Impressive. The fastest female was Jennifer Berry from Denver Colorado who finished in 1:23:33. She was even a Dumbo Double Dare competitor and ran the 10k yesterday!

I was nowhere close to their times but you wouldn't know it by looking at the size of these medals. They're always humongous and if you wear it afterwards, you're bound to get some people asking if you won. I'm happy to collect my finishers medal for the 9th year in a row!

Wow, look at all of them!

After collecting your medal there are stations providing water, cool towels, bananas and snack boxes. Also nearby there is a medical tent for people wanting bags of ice, biofreeze, or anything else they might need.

I found Theresa, we hopped in the car, and tried to leave the parking structure. What a mess! When I saw the overpass wasn't open, I knew it was going to be trouble. According to the timestamps on a couple of my photos, it took us 25 minutes from when we reached the bottom of the ramp of the parking structure until we were able to go through the light at Ball Road. Ridiculous!

We made it home and found Ian who had been hanging out with the grandparents all morning. He was pretty happy to see my medal. I'm going to assume he's impressed.

Legacy runner Joe.

Nine races down. Bring on number 10!

Here's a closer look at the medal. For legacy runners, there is an additional lanyard stating Legacy Runner 9th Year.

A closer look at the medal. They changed the design slightly compared to last years.

I still haven't been able to find my 2008 medal, so for now, this collection is incomplete. You can see how the medals have progressed through the year though. For the very first year, the word Inaugural appeared on the castle, with the date on the dangler below. For years 2-4, the word Inaugural was removed from the castle and the only difference was the date on the dangler. Year 5 was a big change to the medal, having a giant 5 behind the castle, showing Mickey on the front, being a silver color instead of gold, and filled in with enamel to add color. Year 6 through 8 was the Disney D with a smaller castle inside it. The only difference between them was the year that changed on the banner. Year 9 has the exact same, but slightly smaller D than previous years, and this time the whole thing is surrounded by a gold circle. Can't wait to see what the new design will be for year 10!

The lanyards have also shown some changes. Years 1-4 all came down to a V and attached via a clip at the bottom. In year 5 the lanyard started going through the medal. It also began the trend of adding the additional lanyard for Legacy runners.

Ah, my old nemesis.

I HATE ICE BATHS! Oh but I know they do wonders for helping my legs recover. I'm not nearly as sore if I can spend 20 minutes in here.

See you next year for the 10 year anniversary! And next year, I will do more training!

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