The Happiest Race on Earth

I finally completed my very first half-marathon! I’m tired and I’m sore, but I did it! It’s kinda crazy to think that the guy who always slacked off in PE would ever even attempt to do such a thing, but I’m not ashamed to say that I am proud of myself. When I first started doing 5Ks more regularly at the beginning of last year, it seemed like such an impossible task to try and get through 13.1 miles, but it actually happened. Which race did I do? The Disneyland Half-Marathon, of course! I love Disneyland and I even used to be (and may be again?) an annual passholder. After learning more about the RunDisney runs, I knew this was where I wanted my first foray into half-marathons to begin.

DisneylandHalfMarathon

Some people dress up in costume for RunDisney races, so during the week before the half-marathon, I spent some time putting together a Donald Duck outfit using some felt and a t-shirt that I bought at Michael’s. I also got a Donald Duck hat, yellow socks, and white shorts to complete the ensemble. It took me forever to hand-sew all the pieces, but I did like how it all turned out. One thing that I noticed while doing this was that the colors of the cartoon Donald differ than the character at the parks. The cartoon duck wears yellow and blue while the character costume is white and blue! I liked the yellow better, so I just went with that.

DonaldCostumeParkingLot

Race day started early Sunday morning and there were a lot of people there. We were all separated into different letter groups based on our anticipated finish times and since this was my first half and I didn’t have any proof of finish from a previous half, I was in Group I near the back of the pack. Though the run began at 5:30 AM, my group didn’t even make it through the starting line until a little bit after 6.

DisneylandHalfStartingCrowd

DisneylandHalfFireworks

DisneylandHalfCorral

DisneylandHalfStartingLine

One of the coolest things about the Disneyland Half-Marathon is that you do actually get to run through both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. They have different photo ops throughout both parks where you can stop and take pictures with various characters and whatnot. I ended up just stopping to take a picture in front of the World of Color fountains in California Adventure and the castle at Disneyland. If I had spotted Donald during my run, I would have definitely stopped to take a picture with him, but alas it was not to be.

DisneylandHalfCaliforniaAdventure

DisneylandHalfFunWheelPic

DisneylandHalfDlandEntrance

DisneylandHalfCastlePic

DisneylandHalfSteamboat

DisneylandHalfCastle

Besides the theme parks, the course also went through the streets of Anaheim past the Honda Center and inside Angels Stadium. There were a lot of water and gatorade stations throughout and also a bunch of supporters who came out to cheer the runners. You had various school groups, a bunch of vintage car-owners, and people who just decided to come out and hold some great signs. Some of my favorites included…

  • WORST DISNEY PARADE EVER!
  • BEST DISNEY PARADE EVER!
  • Do it for the D!
  • Turkey legs and churros at the finish (not really, just bananas)

Having so many people out there cheering really does help boost your morale and give you the energy to push on, even when you feel like you can’t. If you came out that day to support the runners, THANK YOU! It does make a big difference. I think wearing a costume also helped me in particular. It made me feel more energized every time someone would say “Go Donald!” or something similar since it made the cheering seem more personal. There are a lot of great costume ideas ranging from things that only require a few simple clothing items to more complex productions. It was fun to dress up as a character and I think it also does do something for the morale of other runners as well.

DisneylandHalfDancers

DisneylandHalfCars

DisneylandHalfHondaCenter

DisneylandHalfAngelsStadium

DisneylandHalfAngelsStadiumInside

The tenth and eleventh miles were the hardest for me to get through. By then, it was already starting to get hot and even though I made sure to drink water and gatorade every chance I got, I felt like I should have just grabbed a bottle of water to drink throughout that last stretch. Around that point, I started to get some minor cramps in my leg that would come in for a few seconds before disappearing. I made sure not to exert too much energy to make it worse and slowed down a little.

DisneylandHalfTower

I’m not a fast runner and I’m awful at keeping a consistent pace. I don’t really run to break records or place in the top of any division or even to lose weight or be healthy. I run so that I can reach the finish line and show myself that I can do something that I worked hard to accomplish. When I saw that I had reached Mile 13, I knew the finish line was near and started bolting for it. When I crossed, I felt a bunch of different emotions. I was relieved, happy, exhausted, and also a little sad. I guess it did hit me that I had been working towards finishing a half-marathon for a long time now and once I accomplished that feat, I didn’t know what to do. This was the last major thing I had been looking forward to and it was over. It was just…weird.

DisneylandHalfMile13

DisneylandHalfFinishLine

DisneylandHalfFinishSite

I got my medal, a nice cool towel, and some snacks and then reunited with my family who had come out to watch. We took some pictures and I spent the rest of the day trying to get some rest. I was a little sore, but it wasn’t horrible and I didn’t have any blisters or chafing problems that some other runners tend to get. My final net time was 2:59:52, so I barely made it under three hours with an average pace of around 13 and a half minutes per mile (though I guess you should also factor in the stops to take pictures that you don’t really do in other half-marathons). The minimum pace you can have is 16 minutes per mile, but I had this irrational fear where I pictured a bus chasing me down to pick me up for not running fast enough. That was definitely not the case at all and I guess that was just my anxiety talking. Either way, like I said, all I wanted to do was finish.

RunDisney Donald Duck Costume

Now that this half-marathon is over, I’m not quite sure where to go next. I am probably still going to do some regular 5Ks, but I am not sure if I want to try and tackle a full marathon or even another half-marathon any time soon. I think completing the LA Marathon is still a goal of mine, so who knows? I also want to get the Coast to Coast medal for finishing a half-marathon at Disneyland and a half-marathon or full marathon at Disney World in the same year. Oh, the possibilities.

DisneylandHalfGear

I have a love/hate relationship with running, but I feel like it’s something that I will keep doing long into the future.

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