We were up bright and early for the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was September 2012 and my second half marathon ever.
I’m used to eating oatmeal every morning, so I had packed some instant oatmeal as part of my half marathon breakfast. What I forgot to bring was a spoon, so I ended up having to try to drink it. Oops.
Dan and I left the hotel and walked over to the start line. That was another thing that I liked about the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was easy to walk to the start instead of having to catch a shuttle bus and then walk like at the Disney World Half. We weren’t exactly sure where we had to go but that was no problem because we just followed everybody in running clothes. As we walked through Downtown Disney we passed Lego Buzz Lightyear and I said a silent prayer to him that I would be speedy. After this half marathon he kind of became my hero.
Dan was in Corral A and I was in Corral D so we walked to the Corrals together and then said goodbye at around The Magic Way. I managed to squeeze my way into my Corral (it was very full and hard to get to the right spot). When I found a spot I warmed up a little. There were some women standing near me who were hilarious. One said that she had three hours of music on her iPod and that was motivation to run faster because she didn’t want to run without music.
We heard the countdown for the other corrals and moved up as each corral left. Finally it was our turn and off we went. I heard the announcer ask how many people were run/walking and I saw some hands go up so I made a note not to run behind them. Once the half started we went straight into the theme parks (unlike in Disney World where there’s a lot of build up to the theme park). There are pros and cons to doing it either way. For Disney World it gave us something to look forward to. For Disneyland we got to go there right away and then the rest of the race was like a regular road race (which was also fine with me, there was great crowd support!).
First off we ran through California Adventure Park and through Cars Land, which was really exciting. We also ran through Paradise Pier where there was a mini light and water show while the World of Colour song played.
After California Adventure Park we headed over to Disneyland and iconic Main Street USA. Of course one of the highlights for me was running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. There were Disney characters all over the park and you could stop to take your picture with them. I decided that I would only stop if Stitch was out (spoiler alert, Stitch was not out that day!). In the Disneyland park they had all of the princesses in a row, so maybe if I run it again I’ll stop and take my picture with all of them.
After Disneyland we headed out of the park and onto the road. The sun was starting to rise and it was beautiful but also really bright! I kept having to hold my hand out to try to keep the sun out of my face.
I had an amazing time running on the roads. There were a couple of miles of Classic Cars that were fun to look at and people cheered for us from them. There were also cheerleaders and marching bands from different schools. There was a lot of energy and I felt really good.
At one point I ran past the 2:30 pacer. I could hardly contain myself (my Disney World half marathon time was 2:36). For the rest of the run I kept thinking the pacer was behind me, so I didn’t want to stop. I remember at around 16k (around the spot where I broke down during the Disney World half) I thought “I could use a walk break” and my brain responded “Run to 17k and then we’ll talk about it.” Yes, I have conversations with myself when I run. It’s therapeutic.
Soon I reached another highlight of the Disneyland half. I got to run through Anaheim Stadium! They put you on the jumbo screen when you run and they call your name. It was amazing.
At around 19k or 20k my calf started to tighten up and I said “no” and did some of my yoga deep breathing and it helped my leg loosen up. Before I knew it I was at the finish line. Chip and Dale were there when I got there (it was Mickey and Minnie when Dan got there. He high fived them as he crossed the finish).I crossed the finish line with a new personal best time of 2:21:54. That was 15 minutes faster than my previous time.
I was overjoyed. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when I finished. I had such a good time on the course, I felt strong throughout and just felt like I ran really well. Thank you Buzz Lightyear! At the finish I waited in line with the other people who had just completed the Coast to Coast Challenge. There was another girl there and she was excitedly chatting with everybody. She told everyone how she tried to move from Corral D to Corral C and Disney wouldn’t let her because she had never run a half in 2:30 before. She proudly proclaimed “2:21! Take that! My last PR was 2:36!” Those were my times too! What a coincidence. Then people in line started talking about the feeling they had as they ran past the 2:30 pacer. It was great knowing that we had all shared this similar experience. Finally I got to the front of the line and they cut my wristband off and gave me my medal.
So that was my second half marathon and I will forever love Disney and Buzz Lightyear. Next I’ll recap what we did after the race (Disneyland!) and why I love Buzz Lightyear even more.