Sunday, September 6, 2015

2015 Disneyland Half Marathon

It's finally here! Every single Labor Day, I've had to make sure I'm in town so I can run the Disneyland Half Marathon. It's been 10 years since the Inaugural race. I found an old picture of me and T, after we had finished that first race and received our medals.

Okay, now fast forward 10 years. It's just me running it this year. T happens to be 7 months pregnant, so there's no way she'll be joining me this time.

Race day mornings are always the worst. Disney starts their races ridiculously early to make sure everyone is out of the park before the normal operating day starts. For us, that means a 5:30am race start. Yuck.
I got all my gear ready the night before, was awake by 3:30am and out the door by 3:45am. There was no traffic on the freeway and I was at the exit for Disneyland by 4:15am. That's when I ran into a little bit of traffic.
Now I think Disney does a fantastic job with how they've organized the actual race. I think they could do a lot better though facilitating parking before and after the race. For instance, the overpass that lets you bypass the light on Ball Road. Why isn't that open right now? There shouldn't be anyone leaving the structure. Why not let people use it to get in? Also, why weren't all the lanes open to pay to park? This created another needless backup.

30 minutes later, I was parked and heading to my corral. Ain't it always the case. The women's bathroom is really backed up. Men's, not so much.

I made my way over to Corral D. Corral placement is based on anticipated finish time. Disney requires proof of time from a past race if you want to be in the first corrals. When there's 17,000 other people on the course, it's best to be in front of as many of them as possible. I was towards the front of Corral D, and look at the sea of people behind me.

I love seeing the creative costumes people come up with to run in, and this race didn't disappoint. Here's a Swiss climber along with a woman dressed like the Matterhorn. She's even got a little Abominable Snowman she's carrying. Along with those, I saw a guy with a full Superman suit, including the cape, a few people dressed as the emotions from the Pixar movie Inside Out, and even a guy with a Mighty Ducks jersey with the name Goldberg on the back. Awesome!

Just before 5:30am, we heard a beautiful singing of the National Anthem, which included fireworks at the appropriate points in the song too!
The countdown started and when the race announcer yelled Go all the people in Corral A started.
They're releasing us all in waves, so after Corral A cleared the start line, Corral B was led there and given their own countdown. Corral C followed, and finally it was time for Corral D.
That whole parking situation back at the Mickey and Friends lot was still causing some issues. I had two friends who were running today who were still in the line to park when the race started. Eventually they weren't even making people pay to park. They just pushed as many cars through as possible.

Back to the race. At 5:55am, 25 minutes Corral A started, it was time for us to go.

A quick Hello to Mickey and Minnie at the start line, and I was off! Being so close to the front of Corral D really paid off. Because they held us 2-3 minutes after Corral C had left, there was no one on the course in front of us. And being at the front of the corral meant I was able to avoid lots of the people who would be walking side-by-side.

Now, I always have the best intentions to train better for these races. This year was the least prepared I've ever been though. My last run of any sort was the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend back in January... Yikes. I'm just hoping I can finish without hurting too much.
Because I really didn't know what kind of pace I'd be able to maintain, I chose not to stop for any of the character photo ops. Some of the lines for them can take minutes to get through, and I wasn't willing to risk taking photos, and not being able to finish in the required three and a half hour time limit. So instead, you'll see all the characters I saw on the course, but only as I run by them.

Places I could stop for a quick selfie were fair game though.

After a quick trip through Radiator Springs, we headed backstage. Here there were a few parade floats you could get a photo with.

Back on-stage, the World of Color lagoon had all the fountains going and looked fantastic.

Pinocchio was taking photos, along with Honest John.

And here's Aladdin and Jafar. Am I detecting a theme? Hero and Villain?

I loved these Nightmare Before Christmas inspired costumes. Lock, Shock, and Barrel.

Finished with our run in DCA, it was time to cross the esplanade into Disneyland.

Smiling for a photo in front of the floral Mickey.

And on Main Street a few of the vehicles were parked and honking their horns for us.

After running down Main Street, then through Frontierland, we continued through New Orleans Square, then Critter Country before heading backstage.
I think Tiana and Dr. Facilier would have been better suited to New Orleans Square, but instead they were beside the Golden Horseshoe.

I think the Disney runs are a great opportunity to see some things behind the scenes you wouldn't normally see.

Wonder what this is from? Looks like it came off the Matterhorn.

This is from It's a small world, right?

Continuing behind the scenes, we ran beside the Circle D Corral. Here, a couple of the Disneyland draft horses were out for photos. This is Ducky. He's 9 years old and weighs nearly 2000 pounds! How much to ride him to the finish line?

Running behind the Toontown foothills, then heading back on stage.

In front of the carrousel were Snow White and the Evil Queen, along with a runner with green body paint for her Envy costume (from Inside Out).

Self photo behind the castle.

And another one in front. Next the course wound us through Tomorrowland. In all the past DL races I can remember, Tomorrowland has had Darth Vader and/or Storm Troopers out for photos. This time there was nothing. Wonder if they're saving them for the Star Wars runs only now?

The course wound around the Matterhorn, over through the small world mall. Here, Hook and Peter Pan were greeting runners.

And not far away were Lady Tremaine and Cinderella.

Again we're back stage, this time seeing the Roundhouse Facility.

Monorails on top. Trains on bottom.

Finally Mack from the new Paint the Night parade was out for photos.

And we got an early preview of the giant Mickey pumpkin that is installed on Main Street during Halloweentime. After this, we were done with all the running we'd do inside the parks. The rest will be out on the streets of Anaheim.

Here's some Star Wars characters! This Storm Trooper and Scout Trooper were on the course cheering on runners.

And there were so many high school cheer squads and bands out giving us motivation.

The Bravo Mexican Grill has been here as many years as I can remember, with dancers and people in costumes cheering us on.

I love seeing the relief tent every year for a few reasons. First, they're always set up at the halfway point of the race. Getting this far means the run is half over and if I've made it this far, the rest is doable. Second, they are always handing out refreshments like Red Vines, pretzels, orange slices (my favorite), and cold sponges.

And third, there's all sorts of witty signs that make you smile. They'll even make signs for people who want to cheer people on, but can't make the race themselves.

Just after mile 7, were a group of Hula dancers.

In the last few years, classic cars have started lining the course around Mile 8. There's so many this year, they lined up even sooner than normal.

I bent down to get a picture with Herbie. That was a mistake. After 8 miles, it was not fun trying to stand back up.

His and Her Love Bugs.

This style camper looks familiar. Where have I see it before?

It really looks like McQueen's Biggest Fan from the Pixar move Cars.

And who knows what other cars you might find. Like this classic Batmobile.

Or KITT from Knight Rider.

After running along the Santa Ana River Trail, we emerged at Angel Stadium.

Here there were lots of Boy Scout troops cheering us on and holding their hands out for high-fives from the runners.

The mood in here is electric. As soon as you emerge from the tunnel onto the field, you're greeted with a wave of screaming and cheers.

Who's that on the jumbo-tron? It's me!

John and Michael from Peter Pan. I couldn't imagine running in that pink sleep outfit.

Almost at the end! I've survived! Find a cute butt and follow it, the sign says.

There's the finish line!

Done! Year #10 is in the books!
In the end, I finished with a time of 2:42. Not fast by any means, but I probably could have stopped for a few characters if I'd wanted. It was well under the 3:30 cut-off time.

Receiving my special Legacy Runner lanyard and medal. I'll have a photo of it later.

Showing off the bling. Disney is pretty good about giving nice heavy medals you can be proud of showing off.

In the end, there would be a little over 15000 finishers. That's a lot of medals. Immediately following the race, these show up on ebay, with some selling for $75.

I suppose that warrants a security officer to watch over the medals.

After collecting my medal, I grabbed a refreshment box, banana, and headed over to the main stage to stretch and recover.

Hey! It's Andrew Kim! We've been friends on for a while now, but this is the first time we've been able to meet in person! Congratulations on finishing your Dumbo race (10k yesterday and half marathon today).

And here's my other friend Judy who also ran a Dumbo.

One more photo with the Legacy Runner sign.

And there's my name again.

What better recover meal is there than a delicious Holiday Turkey sandwich from the Earl of Sandwich.

Around 11am, I headed back to the parking garage to see how insane it was. Would I be able to leave quickly, or would it take forever like it did last time? Well, there was a line of cars backed up all the down each row on my level and no one was moving. That's not a good sign. Let's go check the middle area to see what's going on there.

Let's follow that Corvette. I snapped a photo of the line of cars when I got to the center spot. 10 minutes later, that Corvette has moved maybe 4 car lengths... That's ridiculous. Come to find out, the overpass was letting people into the structure, but not out. Really Disney? With 15,000 race finishers who might be trying to leave, the best option was to merge everyone who was trying to leave down to 2 lanes, and only be metered by the light at Ball Road? Surely this could be handled better in the future.

Because leaving isn't a great option, I met back up with Judy and we went back into the park. Since she completed her Dumbo race, she said it's tradition to ride Dumbo. I can't remember the last time I rode the Flying Elephants, so why not?

Showing off her Dumbo medal on Dumbo.

And me showing off mine.

Finally after getting confirmation that the parking lot situation had improved, we both headed back to the Mickey and Friends structure. The overpass was still closed, and it still merged everyone down to 2 lanes to get through the traffic light, but it didn't take too long to get through it.

After an uneventful drive home, it was time for the part I dread more than the running even. 40 lbs of ice, a bathtub, and me sitting in it for as long as I can stand it. So far, that's the best way I've found to help my muscles recover.

Let's take a look at that medal. The center portion is a spinner, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Disneyland on one side, and Mickey in his runDisney pose on the back. Each side has a gem, celebrating this diamond anniversary.

And here's the lanyards that come with it. The blue lanyard is what everyone receives. The gray lanyard is special for the legacy runners.

Well that's year #10. This time next year, where will I be? Is an 11th race in the cards for me? Guess we'll have to wait and see!

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