Pre Race Morning
Disney requested participants be in their corrals by 5am since the race began at 5:30. That meant waking up at 3:30 am to leave the OC by 4! My morning consisted of making instant oatmeal with banana for breakfast, putting on my clothes, letting Chloe out to pee, hydrating, grabbing my race backpack and heading out the door. Mom and grandma were troopers to get up that early and thanks for driving grandma! Fortunately there was no traffic on the 5 FWY at 4am, but we did hit a bit of a slow down getting off the freeway. At least it was MUCH faster and smoother than the EXPO since police were directing traffic and giving us the right of way to get into the parking structure. FYI go to the far left of the parking structure, the lines to pay were shorter (we cut through and saved time!). Once we got to the starting area, I handed my backpack to my mom, hit the port-a-potties and headed to corral C.
Waiting in the Corral
It was boring waiting around for almost 40 minutes, but I managed to sort of warm up with some yoga (hard since lots of people around) and kill time by taking pictures and video. Plus I was SO GLAD I moved up corrals! Even in corral C I was toward the front of the large crowd of 17,000. P.S. Looking around, it was surprising that not everyone was in costume. I’m the sort of person who loves to dress up to go anywhere, so I just assumed if you run Disney you are that way as well (apparently not!).
3, 2, 1 GO!
After the wheelchairs and corrals A & B left, corral C finally started around 5:50. It was nice watching the fireworks at the start of the race, though I wish they changed the start music for each corral (listening to a pop version of Cinderella’s A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 4 times was plenty). Check out my video race recap below, pictures and all!
Miles 1-5: Disney Parks
It took almost 1.5 miles just to get into CA Adventure. We traveled a round about way to the back entrance and once there, pics with characters were available. If I do another Disney event in the future, I would love to run with friends, so that we could take pictures of each other easily. I also decided that it is a huge advantage getting into higher corrals since there are fewer lines for photo-ops. But being my first half, I wanted to absorb the scenery and just push myself to see what I was capable of accomplishing. Hence I decided to forego the 10min+ character lines. Plus I knew it was only going to get hotter and I didn’t want to spend lots of extra time in the hot humid Anaheim weather than was necessary (see miles 11-13). My original plan was to do a walk/run routine, but I couldn’t hear my phone tell me when my intervals started/ended, but I did stop for some pics and selfies. After 4 miles, we started our trek through Anaheim.
Miles 6-10: Honda Center & Angels Stadium
Even though Anaheim is not a scenic place to run through, Disney had SO MANY volunteers along the course: high school bands to play music, cheerleaders to scream non stop and even spectators who pitched EZ up tents offering ice, orange slices etc. for runners who needed an extra pick me up between water stations. I also commend Disney for the numerous water stops, it was necessary to hydrate continuously in that weather. Even though I drank almost 2 cups of water at each station, I never had to pee during the race (though there were real restrooms in the parks and lots of port-a-potties along the course in Anaheim). During these miles, I did resume my normal walk/run routine since it was much easier to hear my phone talk me through each segment.
Around mile 7, we passed by A MILE of cars parked along the road: Oldies classics like woodies (and one had a Woody character sitting on the car, nice pun!) and hot rods in front of the Honda Center. Many of the owners would continuously honk their horns as we ran by. It was really cool hearing the funny old horn sounds! I tried taking pics, but we were facing the sun so everything was in silhouette and didn’t photograph well. Anyway, around mile 8, I saw the official 2:30:00 pacer hit the port-a-potties and it was MY GOAL to stay in front of him till the end. After we passed the Honda Center it was time to hit the dirt Santa Ana Trail toward Anaheim Stadium.
People around me were complaining that it wasn’t paved, but I LOVED it since my normal route is half dirt/sand and half asphalt. I knew that my legs would be dirty since it would stick to the sunscreen slathered all over, but it would be less impact on my body. And yes, so far my body was holding up well, little aches here and there, but my left foot was good, so all was well.
Ok one of THE COOLEST parts of the race was running through Angels Stadium. No I’m not a baseball fan, but it was so amazing to enter where teams usually do and run on the dirt around the field!!! Plus they had a portion of the stadium filled with people just cheering you on and the official announcer was there to keep the crowds going. It was awesome!
Milles 11-13: Hot, Humid & Tired
Once the glory of running through Angels Stadium faded around mile 11, I had to put everything I had into just finishing the race. The sun was up, the temperature went up and it was still on the humid side. Around this time I did less walking because I wanted to FINISH and get out of the heat. Those last two miles felt ENDLESS!!!! My legs were getting stiff, I had been sweating buckets since mile 8, and I felt like a hot mess those last two miles. I was so grateful that I applied some body glide for my legs, since I would have had some bad chafing from the booty shorts under my skirt (would have felt much worse otherwise). Every few minutes I’d check to make sure the pacer was still behind me, though looking at my phone, he did seemed a bit behind his pace time.
Once I hit mile 12, I was huffing and puffing and hoping that with each turn I’d be able to spot the finish. Nope, nope, nope and one guy even lied and said, “One more turn and you are there”. Nope, still had a half mile. I did take a couple short walk breaks, but I just wanted water and shade. FINALLY I passed the 13 mile marker close to the Disney hotel and crossed the finish line. I sort of looked for my mom and grandma and hoped that they were getting texts letting them know when I had finished.
Yep, I was a bit on the dehydrated side since it was all I could do to get my medal and walk around the CRAZY maze to get water and food. I called my mom, but I couldnt hear anything she said and I could barely catch my breath to talk to her anyway (carrying stuff so not able to text). Eventually I made my way through the bag pick up tent to the recpetion area where I met up with my mom. Then it was time to stretch! After 10 minutes, I was feeling much better; hydtrated, ate some food, drank Nuun, donned my compression socks and stretched/rolled in the shade. I had a feeling we would be in a parking lot, so I brought a towel to sit on (score one for me since I didn’t get a dirty butt!). Oh and they gave us a cool down towel which was awesome for wiping all the sweat and dirt off my body!
As you can see I got faster and faster with each segment. I fully intended to keep a steady 12min/mi pace since that was how I’d trained, but after mile 8, I just wanted to beat the pacer and get out of the heat….hence my speed toward the end. So I officially PR’d, completed my first half marathon and smoked my estimated time of 2:45:00 by finishing in 2:33:27!!! P.S. I did actually finish before the 2:30 pacer! Even though I was about 3.5 min away from my dream goal, I’m still super stoked about my time!!!
It has been a few days and I am still a bit sore in my leg muscles (not in an injured way thankfully). Overall, its a pretty even, light soreness, but my quads and shoulders feel it the most (probably from those last 2miles). No hamstring issues, no foot issues, no patellar femoral issues, no sunburn, I pushed myself (even with the heat), earned an awesome time, and so I couldn’t have asked for a better race!!! Since race day went well, I have forgiven Disney for its flop of an EXPO and would love to do another half with them someday! Maybe not this one since its still summer and super hot, but they have many others to choose from!