After running in the 10K on Saturday, I was feeling pretty good about how the Disneyland Half Marathon would turn out for me. My wife and I had time to rest and relax at our hotel after the 10K before heading out to a lunch with my parents to celebrate our birthdays at Downtown Disney. Then, we had a few errands to run before meeting up with some of our friends from Orange County for Dinner. We ended Saturday with watching the Disneyland Fireworks from the comfort of our hotel room again. It was a great way to end the day.
I was up at 3:15am on Half Marathon day. After missing the #team run Disney meet up for the 10K, I was determined to make it for the half marathon meet up. I went through the process of getting ready without much thought to it and was out the door exactly when I had planned. I shared the elevator with another runner and we ended up chatting all the way to where my meet up was to be held. Although there was a line of people waiting for the shuttle, we both decided that it would help us wake up if we walked. After all, we were only about a mile away.
I’m glad that I made it to the meet up spot early this time. The first person I met was Scott Raimes. He was really nice and I was glad that he reached out to introduce himself to me first. It made me feel welcome with these people whom I’m only interacted with online. If I were more awake, I would have taken some pictures with these new running friends. However, I didn’t. Some of the peeps I got to meet included Matt Marcella (who runs the Facebook group and writes the Dad Runs Disney blog), Mark Acosta, Kimberly Markey who writes the Maker Mother Marathon Runner blog and Mikey Wellmon who writes the Running with Wishes blog. It was great to meet all of these people since I had such bad luck with meeting other bloggers whom I follow. Plus, they were all really cool people. If you don’t read the blogs I’ve linked here, you really should.
Anyways, after the meet up it was time to head over to the starting corrals. I was once again in corral G.
This time, everything was more organized and they had people checking your bib for what corral you were supposed to be in. So, I would actually start in corral G. When you’re in the last corral, you have a lot of time to wait until you get to start. There were over 17,000 runners for the Half Marathon.
Here I am waiting to go…
Corral E was huge…
While we were waiting to go, it was fun to chat with those around me to see where they were from and talk about the 10K from the day before. Yes, there were official Dumbo folks in corral G. We waited for a little over 45 minutes from the first group before it got to be our turn.
Finally, we were getting closer!
When you get to the stage, it’s exciting because you know you’re about to go. And we were off on our 13.1 magical mile journey to completing the Disneyland Half Marathon and Dumbo Double Dare!
The path started off just like the 10K, except we turned left on Katella Avenue and didn’t go all the way to the Anaheim Convention Center. You will notice that I didn’t take as many photos on this race because I did care about my finishing time in this race.
We passed the Mile 1 marker just after turning left on Harbor Blvd. from Katella Avenue. It took me a little longer than I would have liked for the first mile. Although, it did NOT take me over an hour to get there. The clock you see will show you how long it was from the first runner starting. I was about 50 minutes after that. The thing about the first quarter of a mile is that there are so many people around you that it’s pretty slow. By the half mile point, I finally found some breathing room and didn’t have to weave in and out of runners as much.
We entered the back stage area of DCA the same as we did in the 10K. However, we remained back stage longer and found our way on stage on the other side of the Paradise Pier. Just like the day before, the music for World of Color was playing as we passed and the fountains were going. I’m sure that this looked much cooler 50 minutes earlier. As you can see in the picture, the lights providing the color to the water were on. You just can’t see them as well in the daylight.
Mile 2 was around the Little Mermaid attraction. By this time, I was starting to get frustrated with how crowded the path was. My time was slower in this mile because I had many of my run intervals interrupted by walls of people whom I could not get around. My time in the second mile was so disappointing. I tried to tell myself that I could make it up once we left the theme parks.
Since my time was so slow, I was very tempted to get in line for a picture with these guys. However, because my time was so slow, it wasn’t that tempting. I really wanted to limit my losses.
By the time we got to Cars Land, I decided to just have as much fun as I could in the theme parks and enjoy that part of this journey. I would run as much as I could and not get upset that my run intervals would constantly be cut short by slower runners and walkers who formed a wall I could not go around. This was a Disney race and I LOVE being in the parks!
If you remember from my post on the 10K yesterday, we were running the opposite way through Cars Land for the 10K. It’s kind of cool that we got to reverse that on our second trek through Cars Land. I really like that they don’t have you go over the exact same path in the theme parks as you did in the previous day.
I don’t know why, but I just love this sign. We saw it on our way up Route 66.
This time, we took the pathway from Cars Land towards Bugs Land and back stage. I think Disney needs to have someone with a camera at the top of the Tower of Terror taking pictures of all of us runners as we pass by.
Continuing the trend of reversing course, we approached the Monsters University float from the other side in the Half Marathon. I loved Monsters University!
Then it was a quick trip up the Hollywood Backlot area and out the entrance of DCA.
As we crossed the Esplanade, I LOVED this sign…May the Course Be With U!
I was really happy that we got to enter Disneyland through the proper main entrance this time. The line was just too long for me to get in it. However, I love the entrance so much that I had to get a quick picture.
The line for a picture with Aladdin, Jasmine, and the Genie was even longer. So, again, I just took a pic and moved along.
For the second day in a row, I got to run up Main Street U.S.A.!
Since the line for a picture with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was so long, I decided to take one of myself and continue on. After all, it was much quicker.
Unlike the 10K course, the Half Marathon course veered to the left and went in towards Frontierland. Also, this time we rounded past the, still under construction, Big Thunder Mountain and took the pathway that would lead us to Fantasyland. On the way, we found the 3 mile marker! Great! 3 miles down, 10.1 to go!
We made our way through Fantasyland and towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. See the guys with the white t-shirts closest to the camera? It was a guy named David and his friend who let everyone know it was David’s birthday. David got lots of happy birthday wishes. Then, as we went through the castle, we all started singing “Happy Birthday” to David! Fun times!
We proceeded through the castle and made our way towards Tomorrowland. I think the line for a picture with Darth Vader and Storm Troopers was the longest I saw all day. So, I just took my picture and kept going. After all, my time was looking slower and slower as I went along. Small pathways and lots of runners can really slow a person down.
After a stop at the restroom by the Fantasyland Theatre slowed me even further, I couldn’t wait to get out of the parks. I knew that once I saw this sign, the roads would open up and I hoped to make up some time. As we made the run onto Ball Road, we saw this…
I was glad that I was prepared for this and brought my shades. They really helped as we made our way down Ball Road with the sun right in our eyes. On the overpass, I continued to be frustrated with the wall of walkers and/or slower runners who would stop me in my tracks. The next time I race, I really need to just give a warning that I want to pass like so many others did. It might help me out. One of the many lessons learned.
Along Ball Road, there was entertainment to keep us distracted. However, I was so focussed on making up some time that I didn’t want to stop for any pictures. Right around the point where we turned off of Ball Road, I was finally able to get back to my run/walk intervals like I wanted to be doing all along! From Miles 5-8, I felt very good about keeping to my planned intervals. When we crossed the 10K mark, I realized that I was a little more than 10 minutes faster than the Tinker Bell Half Marathon! When we crossed that mark, the runner next to me high-fived me! We were both feeling pretty good.
From miles 7 through the parking lot of the Honda Center we got to see a lot of really cool cars. I had heard about this in race reports from previous years. However, I didn’t expect the string of cars to go so far.
As you can see, the sun was still really bright. The cars were a nice distraction, but they would have been more enjoyable without that blinding sun in my face.
With the 8 mile marker, it was good to get a break from the sun in my face. I enjoyed this brief stretch until we got to the Honda Center parking lot.
If you look at this picture closely, you’ll see a dude dressed as Michael Jackson. This guy is the race director for the Awesome 80’s run that my wife and I finished the weekend before this race. He is also the winner of the Disneyland 10K race! It was cool to see him out there running. As we headed into the Honda Center’s parking lot, it was back to facing the sun. What kept me going during this small stretch was knowing that we wouldn’t be facing the sun for very much longer! Yay!
There were more cars lined up in the parking lot of the Honda Center. When I saw Lightning McQueen, I had to stop and take a quick photo. From the parking lot we headed to the riverbed part of this run. That meant running on dirt for a while. The pathway was so packed that I stayed on the dirt portion so I could make my run intervals.
As we came to the end of the riverbed portion, we came to the mile 9 marker! Only 4.1 miles to go! Also, this was the best mile of the entire course for me. As we approached, you could hear the noise building.
Welcome to Angel Stadium! The crowds for this part of the course was amazing! They were very loud and it gave me goosebumps to be running!
Plus, we got our Cliff Shots here!
I’ve been down this path twice before for two Angels 5K races. However, the crowds were never this big nor loud. I couldn’t wait to get into the stadium! I love the Big A!
As an Angels fan, it’s always cool to be running on the grounds that my Halos run during the baseball season. If only they’d allow us on the grass. No one is in the stands on the sunny side.
However, the stands had plenty of people cheering us on in the shady side!
If only the Angels 5K would have this many people in the stands rooting us on, it would be a much cooler event. For me, this was THE most magical part of the entire Half Marathon!
As much fun as we were having, the course didn’t end here.
Sadly, we’d have to leave the stadium and journey on. Outside of the stadium, however, we were greeted with two bands! Then, to keep the energy going, there were a few cheer squads to cheer us on as we exited the Angel Stadium parking lot and onto Gene Autry Way. Also at the end of the parking lot was another water station. It was at this point that I was taking on two cups of water. I would not allow myself to become dehydrated! It was really hot and I was too close to the finish to let anything get in my way.
Once we got onto Gene Autry Way, it was time to text my wife to let her know I was at around 10 miles so she could make her way to where she was going to stand and cheer me on (by the 12 mile marker). The sun was so bright that I could not see the screen very well and ended up calling her rather than texting her. It was all good. However, by this point, the heat was really messing with me mentally. Plus, by the time I got to the 10 mile marker, I figured out that I probably was not going to make the time I thought I’d get. That seriously bummed me out and I felt defeated at that point.
I walked a little more than usual as I tried to get over that realization. Eventually, I’d get to the point of trying to limit my losses and see how close to my goal time I would get. I also really wanted to finish in under 3 hours. Up until I saw my wife, it was a difficult stretch both mentally and physically as the heat was taking its toll. I took more walk breaks because I wanted to look strong when I saw my wife.
Mission accomplished. In the picture, I looked happier than I felt. I was tired and just ready to be out of the sun. However, seeing my wife perked me up. She encouraged me by reminding me that I only had a little more than 1 mile left. If you look in the photo behind me, there was a lady laying on the ground right next to the mile 12 marker. She was being attended to by medical staff. I truly hope she’s okay. Whenever I see things like this, it reminds me how badly things can go. So, even though I wasn’t going to make my time goal, I was going to be able to finish the race.
The last mile was brutal. It was so hot and I just wanted to be finished. We went backstage at DCA again. This time we would not be going in the theme park, but out and across Disney Way into Downtown Disney. The crowds were awesome in the last part of the race. They kept encouraging us that we were getting so close. When I saw the 13 mile marker, I knew I needed to run as fast as I could to have any chance of finishing under 3 hours. Along the way, I saw the Disney characters near the finish line. Once I spotted Mickey, I knew how I wanted to finish. He was on the opposite side of the lane as I was. So, I weaved my way over to that side….
This is how you finish an 18 weeks of training, 19.3 miles of running journey. You give Mickey Mouse a high-five! I crossed the finish line in a time of 3 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds. That represents a new half marathon PR! I beat my Tinker Bell Half Marathon time by 11 minutes, 22 seconds exactly! While it was slower than my training times, it is a PR none the less. Considering the heat and the (at times) crowded pathways, I’ll take it. Parts of the Half Marathon were brutal and other parts were pure Disney…
18 weeks of training and the victory lap is now finished! Tomorrow, I’ll have some concluding thoughts on this great race weekend. Thank you all for taking the time to read about my journey. If you raced this weekend, please share your experiences in the comments section. If you have a blog and a race recap, please share the link to your blog. Reading about the experiences of others who raced the same path as I did is so encouraging. I’d really like to hear your story.
9 thoughts on “The Victory Lap – Disneyland Half Marathon Recap”
Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story and all of the pictures! I’m running the WDW Marathon in January – my first running event EVER! Now I know what sort of thing to expect crowds-wise. The photos you took also really made me look forward to the race! I want to finish high-fiving Mickey now! x
Thank you for your kind words. I’ll be running the WDW Marathon in January also! You’re brave making a marathon your first running event ever. I’ve been working my way up to the full marathon distance. The WDW Marathon will be my first full marathon. You absolutely should high-five Mickey at the finish! That’s what I want to do! Good luck to you as you prepare for your first running event.
Congrats! Great recap! And great job with the new PR!!! 🙂
Greg recap. It was an awesome race. Definitely my top 3 off all the Disney races I’ve done (which is all but Tower 10 Miler). It was nice to meet you as well and thanks for the plug! And to Amanda from the above comment, my first race ever was the 2011 WDW Marathon. Its a great race.
Thanks Mikey! I think that what you’re doing this year…racing in ALL of the runDisney races and raising money for Make A Wish…is amazing! I have no problem plugging your blog.