Monday, September 29, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2014 Part II by Donald S. Hite

Don't know what this is about? Go here.
For Part I of this story, go here.

Day 3 - Expo and California Adventure

We made it back to the expo at opening because Robin really wanted to have her knee taped (KT tape booth).  I had mine taped during Marathon week and it lasted the entire four days.  I believe it helped with my IT band.  Since last January, I had been using the foam roller more and my IT hasn't been as tight.  I highly recommend a foam roller.  We made it to the booth and they weren't open yet.  It was next to Marathonfoto booth.  I saw the expo pre-event certificate and decided to get one.  I didn't get one at Marathon week and could have saved $25 on photos.  It's a risk of actually getting photos you would want, and I decided to get it.  Now I had to make sure I looked for the photographers on course to make it worth it.  We got out knees/legs taped and I wasn't feeling good about it.  My legs are quite hairy and I tend to sweat a lot especially when it's humid and hot out.  I asked if she was going to shave the area she was going to apply the tape, like the other trainer did in Orlando.  She said it wasn't necessary and sprayed it with adhesive spray.  It didn't last the day.  After the expo, we went to California adventures.  After riding Grizzly River Rapids, where I was soaked, the tape peeled off.  I'll do it myself next time.
Anyway, the second day at the expo wasn't crowded.  We visited each of the booths and there wasn't a line to get to the runDisney merchandise.  The first day, however was a different story, with two hour waits to get to the area.  It wasn't as large as Marathon week in Orlando. 

   We finished up touring the expo and headed to the second park, California Adventure. 
We had paper tickets.  No magic bands here.  When we entered, a cast member took our photo in case we lost our multi-day ticket and needed to replace it.  This park reminded me of Hollywood Studios in Florida.  It had Tower of Terror like Hollywood studios and Soarin' from Epcot, but it also had unique areas.  It had Cars land,  Bugs Land, Pacific Wharf (food court), and Paradise Pier.  and Grizzly Peak.    I was like a kid in a toy store!  I wanted to explore and try everything.

We first went and got fast passes for Cars Land Racers.  I was told by a friend to get fast passes for the racers and World of Color before you do anything else.  We met with our running group friends, Mandy and Jeff.  I thanked her again profusely for bringing my shoes.  I think I owe her a Cannoli.  We then met with other runners in front of Paradise Pier for the iconic picture of the California Screamin' Coaster and the Ferris Wheel.  We took on Grizzly River Rapids, then headed for the Coaster ride.  We met Donald Duck along the way.  This coaster was fast and fun!  I took a video of it, and I'll try and find a way to share it.  We then went to the Ferris Wheel.  It wasn't simply a slow moving view of the park, we picked a sky bucket that rocked back and forth and also traveled on an elliptical path  as it circled the wheel. 
I found the first ride that I couldn't ride, simply because I was too tall and my knees wouldn't fit under the lap bar.  Goofy's Flight School.  It's a smaller coaster that whips you around similar to Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom, Florida.  I waited at the end and it wasn't but  two minutes later, my traveling party all told me how lucky I was to have avoided it.  They thought they had broken ribs and whiplash from being knocked around.  They all noted, smaller kids would love it, but they hated it.   We picked up dinner in the Pacific Wharf area.  This is like a super Mall Food Court as it had four different restaurants and a couple of adult beverage vendors, and of course Ghirardelli Ice Cream Parlor.  They have also added healthy food options and Gluten Free options at each of the restaurants as well. 

We went to Cars Land and waited in normal line for 50 minutes for the Racers.  They have cool mist sprayers for when it is really hot.  I loved the ride, but others in the traveling party who had not seen the movie, not so much.  They didn't think the ride was worth the wait.  We still had fast passes for the ride a couple of hours later.  They declined to ride it again.  We moved on to Bugs Land, where we met Flik, the ant.  Here the decor is made to look gigantic as if you were suddenly shrunk bug sized.  It was a fun and creative area, with mostly small kid rides.  We passed through on toward Tower of Terror.  Here, we dropped about nine times, completely random for each ride.  We luckily didn't revisit our dinner. 
Mandy and Jeff headed back to the room to get rest for the 10k the next morning. We made our way back to Cars Land.  The park is completely different atmosphere at night, and with all the neon in Cars Land, I felt like a kid, completely in awe of the detail that went into creating Radiator Springs. Robin rode Racers with me one more time, and then she also headed back to rest up.  I just had to close the park again and waited to see the World of Color Show.  This is a light, water, and video show similar to beginning of Fantasmic as Hollywood Florida beginning, but much better orchestrated.  The plumes of water and color show responded to the action of the movie and songs played.  It was dynamic.  The water seamed to get as high as the top of Mickey's ears on the Ferris Wheel.  Each of the nearby rides stopped along the bay, to prevent distractions or interruptions to the show, and because anyone close by the lake, gets wet.  The park breezes carry the misty to those nearby, and everyone gets wet.  This is a don't miss show.  If you did miss it, I'm sure someone has posted it on you-tube.  Being there in person, is simply an incredible experience.

The show was great, but leaving the park was not.  The park doesn't have a straight venue like a main street to funnel people out.  The streets of the park meander, twist and turn.  I remembered that there was a park exit into the Grand California Resort and bypassed everyone trying to leave through the main entrance into the plaza and Downtown Disney.  It was a short walk through the resort and I was back into my own resort.  When I got back to the room, I set out my gear for the morning and couldn't get to sleep.  Around midnight, I dozed off.

Day 4 - The Disneyland 10K

We woke at 4am and headed out by 4:30am.  We thought it would only be a short walk to the Disneyland Hotel for the start.  Nope!  This is where Disney specializes in getting you warmed up for your race.  They navigate you through side streets to get to the staging area.  I think this added at least a mile before we ever began.  What I noticed was no security bag/running belt checks.  None!  They did have plenty of volunteers and barricades set up to funnel the correct bibs to the correct staging areas.  No corral jumping here, till the area overflowed and late arrivals, filtered in.

Our starting corral was D.  We obviously got there late as we were in the back of the already filling corral.  We managed to weave our way forward mid way.  We were so far back, we couldn't see the Jumbo-tron Monitor that was displaying the opening ceremonies.  This race was Stitch Themed and he had a favorite celebrity to co-host the event, Elvis.  Elvis sang the National Anthem.  This wasn't a lip-sync of the real Elvis, it was someone pretending to be Elvis, attempting to sing the National Anthem.   This could have been skipped and replaced with a real singer.  It was rough.  what was rough was, "Let it go" played at the beginning of every corral start.  No Fireworks.  Just, "Let it go, let it go..."  

I started out definitely too fast.  I started my running app early as I didn't want to fool with it as we started.  My First  mile pace was 11:13 and second mile was 11:12.  This was city street running to circle the Anaheim Convention Center and head into the back of California Adventures .   I took photos of each of the Stitch themed mile markers.  As we entered the backstage area to Cars Land and Bugs Land, there were cheerleaders. 
We came into Cars Land where Lightning McQueen and Mater were waiting.  We ran on through Paradise Pier.  Here is where I really added some time (five minutes).  I hoped onto King Triton's Carousel and took a spin with about thirty others.  Wasn't as exciting as Everest at Animal Kingdom, but fun to ride a ride during the race.

 I was back at a 12 minute pace as we headed out of the park via Grizzly Peak and  Hollywood Lane.  There was a large Bear that appeared to be scared of all the runners.  We rounded Condor Flats where Soarin' is located and passed the next mile marker.  We continued down Hollywood Lane to a back stage area that led to our first water and Powerade station.  We then came up a tunnel to a very narrow walkway to the Plaza.  This area was so congested.  I had to run on the gravel flower bed area to get around groups walking side by side.  We came out to the Plaza and were greeted by numerous spectators with some great signs.  One I loved was "Runners Win When They Cross the Starting Line".  Another was "You Feel Like Crap but You look Good".  We went into Disneyland under the Train tresses where a marker read "Here you leave today and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy"

  We ran down Main Street and turned toward Tomorrowland.  We passed mile marker 4 and was greeted by a smiling Matterhorn Mountain.  It appeared to be smiling to me.  I then saw Officer Chip and Inmate Dale, along with Jailhouse Rocking Elvis.  I had to stop for photos.  This added about 6 minutes off my 12 min pace.   We went across the railroad tracks, back stage past parade floats and back into the park through Toontown. 

     We left Toontown headed back into Fantasyland.  Unfortunately, the tea cups were not up and running for rides.  We made our way into Frontierland and towards the rivers of America, where Elvis Stitch was posing for pictures.  We ran through the Castle and out of the park into Downtown Disney.  We passed Mile Marker 6 and was on the home stretch back towards Disneyland Hotel. I was back on pace with 12:35 mile.  At the finish line, Minnie was waiting for high 5's.  There was staff yelling to keep moving, "no stopping, no cellphones!"  It seems, prior to my arrival, there was a jam of people stopping to pose for pictures with the characters using their cell phones, causing congestion. I had to be stealthy and take mine running and blurry.  We were ushered to a line to get our Stitch 10k medal, and runner's box, water and Powerade.   We snaked around another set of barricades to photo stations and then finally out to family meet up in the Lilo Lot.  Here, Mandy (dressed as Maleficent), Jeff, and Robin met me at the end.  We waited for other members of our group and took a group photo. 

 I finished with a time of 1:34:41.  I took my time at the picture locations and had fun.  This wasn't my best 10k, but it was my PR for Disneyland 10k.  
Afterwards, we walked another two miles to an IHOP on the other side of California Adventures, near the convention center we first passed, and had pancakes.  I learned it was a Team Awesome tradition. 

After breakfast, we cleaned up at the hotel and ventured back to Disneyland to ride some rides we missed, Space Mountain, and see Fantasmic.  I found another ride I cannot enjoy riding at Disneyland.  Space Mountain at Disneyland seats two side by side.  I am too tall. I squeezed my legs in under one bar and embedded my knees into the metal seat cover in front of me.  The imprints stayed with me for a couple of days.  Fantasmic was better than Hollywood Studios.  It didn't have Chernabog, but instead had Maleficent and the Dragon.  Peter Pan battled Captain Hook on the Columbia, and Steamboat Willie piloted the Mark Twain.  The show was great.  We kept our spot, and Robin finally got to see 'Magic' fireworks at Disneyland.  We again closed the park and wondered if we would regret it in the morning when we awoke early for the Half Marathon.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time in the 10k Donald! Loving all the pics too!
    Can't wait to hear about the half. This blog series is making me want to do a Disney race more than ever!

    1. Come join the dark side Sarah... we got ice cream and beer.

  2. Ice cream and beer? Sold!!!! :)