The path to my first half marathon has been quite an adventure and included injury, sickness, frustration, nerves and some crazy nightmares about sleeping through the start and being disqualified for a ripped race bib. But, by the time my alarm went off at 3:30am on Sunday morning, I was ready to go.
Colorado Sister and I got into our race clothes and ate some oatmeal and a banana to get some energy before heading out to find our corral. Colorado Dad gets major, major kudos for waking up with us at 3:30 and being out there cheering us on the entire way.
Since we were staying at the Grand Californian, we knew we’d have just a short walk to get out to the start, but once we got outside, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Corral C was literally right outside the front door of the hotel. Just one more reason to LOVE the Grand Cal! Colorado Dad dropped us off and headed off to find our friend, Suzanne, who braved the early morning hours and traffic to come cheer me on as well. We got there early enough that we were pretty close to the front of the corral, so had a pretty decent view of the big screen.
Corral C started about 10 minutes after the first group went and the first 1.5 miles went pretty fast. I was originally planning on starting my run-walk intervals right away, but with the mass of people at the start line, it was definitely easier to just start running and keep going until everything thinned out a bit.
We entered the backstage of California Adventure and headed out into the park through Hollywood Land. The characters were out almost immediately, with a couple of the Monsters, Inc. characters out as soon as we turned the corner by the Monsters, Inc. ride, but we decided not to stop. From there we ran down Route 66, which was gorgeous, through some more backstage area and then out past Paradise Pier. The World of Color fountains and lights were on and it was truly beautiful. Definitely one of the highlights of the run!
After a quick stop at the bathroom by the Little Mermaid (thanks to Disney for having the restrooms in the park open!), we headed out of DCA and spotted Colorado Dad and Suzanne as we made our way across the Esplanade. This was the first of 4 times we saw them and we somehow managed to be running every time we passed them, so our pictures looked good
Characters were out in full force as we ran through Disneyland. We saw the princesses, Captain Hook and Smee, a slew of feisty pirates and Darth Vader and a couple stormtroopers. In hindsight, I really should have stopped for that pic with Darth, but the line was crazy long, so we passed it by. As we passed the carrousel in Fantasyland, we ran into the Lost Boys, which was awesome, and then we found Peter Pan and Wendy. Since we were dressed alike that was one picture we had to stop for!
From there, we finished up Disneyland, headed through Downtown Disney where we ran into Colorado Dad again. We ran past a huge group of Red Hat Ladies and then out into the residential streets of Anaheim. We both ate a couple Clif Shot Bloks to keep our energy up, but I’ll be honest, this part of the race was not my favorite. After the excitement of the parks, it was hard to move into a very quiet residential area. The crowds thinned out a good deal, although I did see some of my favorite signs of the race on this section of the course (“You trained longer than a Kardashian marriage,” really gave me a chuckle). There were also several high school bands and cheer squads along the course which was great – it’s really amazing how much cheering helps you keep going.
Right about mile 8 I was starting to feel it, but knew I had to keep on going, so had another Clif Shot Blok and some Powerade which helped a bit. Around mile 10, another great sign gave me a little boost – “The finish line called. They’re almost out of wine. HURRY!” LOL. But, that boost didn’t last long and by Mile 11, I was starting to have doubts. Would I make it?!?!
By the time we got backstage in California Adventure, I was doing a lot of walking. We walked past a high school band and just as I went by, one of the kids looked at me and said “Holly, you can do this!” and then they started playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, which is probably the most cliche, cheesy song of all time, BUT it did get me moving!
Finally, the finish line came into view and right before I crossed the finish line, I found Colorado Dad and Suzanne cheering us on, so that was a great boost. I heard the race announcer call my name and high-fived Pluto and Goofy and then realized that I had crossed the finish line. I WAS DONE! I SURVIVED MY FIRST HALF!!
We quickly received our medals, got some food and drink and headed out to meet up with Colorado Dad, Suzanne and Colorado Sister’s boyfriend. Colorado Dad announced that we had finished in 2:50:28 which was about 10 minutes faster than I expected! A coworker told me I looked like I was ready to run the race all over again in this picture, but really, I was just happy to be done!
I never thought of myself as a runner and certainly never expected to finish a half marathon, but after completing the Tink, I feel like I am now, officially, a runner and I am actually thinking about signing up for the WDW Wine and Dine Half in November so I can get my Coast to Coast medal. runDisney does a GREAT job with these races and really makes everyone, even first timers, feel at ease. All of the entertainment along the course is very helpful in keeping your mind off the run, and even when you’ve hit a wall and don’t think you can go much further, there’s someone there to cheer you on and give you that extra little boost.
I do wish that I had had my camera out and taken more photos on the course, but I will know that for next time. And, I didn’t really have any plans to get many photos with the characters, just because I was trying to finish with an ok time, but there are lots of rare character opportunities during the races, so I’ll definitely stop more next time. It’s really all about having fun, not about getting a super fast time, which is why I think a runDisney event, especially one at Disneyland (because of easy access to the start line) is the best way for a beginner to get started with running!