Friday, October 3, 2014

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

Day 5 - Disneyland Half Marathon
I awoke before my alarm at 3:15 and couldn’t sleep.  I tried to be quiet and got up to get ready.  I forgot to turn off my alarm.  I heard it sounding and it woke up my sister.  I had gathered my gear the night before and it made it easier to head out the door.  We made our walk over to the Disneyland Hotel and there were Marathon Photographers everywhere.  This was the bigger race and definitely had a higher attendance.  We were making our way to the corrals early by 4:30 and we were able to get near the front.  We both had Corral H.  I thought it was funny that my bib’s corral assignments were my initials. (D/H)

There were groups gathered the in corrals, some stretching, some singing and dancing to the warm- up music, and some telling personal stories a little too loud.  The corrals seemed more narrow and cramped, but longer (city street wide).  There wasn’t enough room for the late arrivals and some jumped the fencing to squeeze in the front.  Everyone stood as time progressed for the start and the National Anthem was sung, followed by a short burst of fireworks as the wheelchair participants began.  They were followed shortly by both Corrals A & B.  They sent both together; as well as C & D, and E & F.    Corral G was the beginning of the lone starts.  When we began walking after the corrals started, it thinned out and people had room to stretch and breathe again.
Some notable differences with this half and the one in January included no security bag checks at Disneyland, nor were there fireworks before each corral.  There were only a couple of minutes between the corrals, that weren’t joint start, versus the 5+ at Disney World, with separate starts for each corral.  We began by running along the neighboring city street to the back side of California Adventures and into the park, similar to the previous day.  We were greeted by Local High School Bands.  They were rocking it early in the morning.  They played awesome!  They have a tradition of having runners ring the bell. We continued running backstage and entered the park at Paradise Pier and the World of Color Show.  The water was illuminated.  We crossed over to Cars Land shining bright with Neon. There were long lines for Lightning McQueen and Mater, so I jumped in with the car, DJ.  It’s the one who woke the sleeping transport truck in the beginning of the movie (I think).  We continued on towards Hollywood Tower of Terror and Hollywood Boulevard.  He exited the park and ran across the plaza into Disneyland.

After entering Disneyland, we ran down Main Street.  Approaching the Castle, there were lines of runners to get the photo in front of the partners’ statue of Walt and Mickey, with the Castle in the background.  It was so packed, that I couldn't tell if Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) was there or not.  We ran past Matterhorn and circled the Fantasyland.  At the Carousel, just about every runner in a Cinderella costume was in line for a picture with Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the two step-sisters.  So far, I wasn't enticed to stop for photos.  We entered Tomorrowland and the line for pictures with the Storm Troopers was at least a 30 minute wait.  I didn't see Darth Vader. When I passed by, he was on break.  I also missed Donald, Jose, and Panchito (the Three Caballeros).  I also passed by the villains, Maleficent, Evil Queen from Snow White, Dr. Familiar,  Cruella DeVille, Hook, Jafar.  I did get some pics as I ran by.   We then went backstage and greeted by the Disneyland Custodial Staff and a water stop.  I noticed a cast member cheering us on with an awesome trading pin lanyard.  I had a couple in my pocket for later, and made a trade.  I asked if anyone else had traded with him yet, and he told me that another runner about thirty minutes prior also traded.  I wasn't the only one. 

We left the park and entered the city streets near Disneyland Drive, almost around the corner from where we started our corrals.  We passed the four mile mark and turned onto Ball Road.  Here we encountered an overpass to beat all others.  It’s one of those that when you are driving and it looks high up, and it looks twice as high when running!  This one crossed over Interstate 5 and was massive.  At the top, I happened to look down and found a street marker "131".  I had to take the pic, being so close to 13.1.  Coming down the overpass was great and I got a speed boost.  We toured the city streets and industrial park area till we made it to the half mark.  Along the way we had high school bands, cheerleaders, dancing ensemble, Latin musicians/dancers in costumes/folk attire, and hula dancers (male and female).  We passed by an area that had signs posted to inspire us and spectators passing out orange slices, red Twizzlers, and cold ice sponges. 
We headed toward the Honda Center and entered the classic car show area that seemed to last for a couple of miles.  The car owners were cheering us on.  This was definitely an improved distraction from the industrial park buildings.  I saw a hearse with fake coffin beside it.  I asked the owner if she could take my picture as I lay beside it and the coffin.  She did, but she took a close up of me and didn't include the car and coffin.

 I realized I needed to specify my request.  The cars started from the oldest to the newest.  Just before the Santa Anna Trail leading to the Angels' stadium, I found Batman's car and Lightning McQueen as a real car.  The trail started off gravel and dirt and went along the banks of a dried up river.  There was no water.  I did see a kid riding a dirt bike in it, jumping mounds of dirt.  We left the river trail and were greeted by the giant "A" outside Angel's stadium.  Here were hundreds, if not a thousand, boy scouts and girl scouts as we passed Clif gel tables.  We entered the stadium via a tunnel that rivaled the tunnel at Richard Petty speedway at Walt Disney World.  It was just as steep.  Exiting the tunnel, were the thousand scouts and families cheering and waving signs.  A thunderous applause!  We saw ourselves running on the Jumbotron Screens.  I took a pic of my sister who caught up to me.  She was about to take mine when someone tripped taking out a barrier post. Just as I was pointing it out to her, she snapped my pic.  No smile for me, just a weird expression.  We exited to mile 10 and the sun was out in full exposure. 

I started slowing and feeling horrible.  I was drinking water and PowerAde.  I ate a couple of sports gels along the way, but something wasn't right.  I struggled to get back into sync with the run, but it just wasn't happening.  I was questioning if I started too strong, too fast.  I was stopping to take pictures and videos, and had a great pace going, (12:30 to 13:30 min pace).  We had more high school bands playing and then cheerleaders as we approached Disneyland Drive again. .  Being on the homestretch, I had to give it my all.  One couple holding signs inspired me to keep going, "Remember when you thought you couldn't do this", and "Take a break! Grab a balloon from that lady behind you!"   We came into the back stage area of California Adventure and back out. I sought out whatever shade I could find.  I was baking in the sun.  I slowed to a 14 minute pace until we passed Paradise Pier Hotel and somewhere deep down; I had more energy to keep on going.  It was probably the crowds at Downtown Disney as we approached the Disneyland Hotel finish.  I came upon a runner who had taken off his shoes and was crossing the finish in his socks.  He joked; he was running so fast, he ran out of his shoes.   We crossed and received out half Marathon medal.  We were herded toward the maze to get the water or sports drink, ice towels (great addition to the end).  I went and collected my Coast to Coast Challenge medal and the Dumbo Double Dare Medal before heading out to find my sister and our running group friends.  I stopped at each of the Marathon Photo spots and made my way out, stopping only to pick up a runners' snack box filled with goodies (chips, cheese spread, Clif bar, Almond pops, and chocolate candy item).   I met up with the group and we discussed how our run went.  The general consensus of the group was we wished there was more run in the parks instead of the city.  This run had a different feel than Florida's which made it unique to California.  One of our group members, Jeff, had hurt his knee and had to ice it up at an aid station.   There were plenty of aid stations and volunteers.  (If you weren't able to register for a Run Disney race, definitely consider volunteering). 
Later, we ate, swam, slept, and went back to the parks.  It was good to walk around at night in the cool breezy air.  Most runners in the parks wore their medals.  I didn't because my Half Medal was defected with poor finish and scratches.  I didn't want any of the other medals to get messed up as well.  I wished I had checked it when it was handed to me, but as tired as I was at the end, excited to have finished, and wanting to pick up the other medals, I didn't look it over.  I was told to contact Run Disney and check on replacement.  I noticed later on Facebook postings with different groups, I was not alone. 

Day 6 - Labor Day
This was a morning I thought would be crowded in the parks.  Since I was a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) member, we were invited to a morning party event at the Disneyland Hotel reception room.  Here we had beverages, pastries, and played a trivia game.  I won a Mickey Head luggage tag. We watched a video of different DVC opportunities that included the parks, cruises, Adventures by Disney, and Holiday celebrations.  We all got a special DVC trading pin.  The meetings usually had a sales pitch, but this one was more a celebration event.  It ended with everyone getting a picture with Mickey, who just happened to pop in.  We then headed to the parks.  We met with our friends and had a blast at both parks.  I got to play tour guide.  After getting pictures with Goofy and in front of the castle with medals (I borrowed one for the pictures), we made it to the Dole Whip station.   It was a treat!  We rode the major attractions at Disneyland, and then ventured over to California Adventures.  We ended the night with a ride on Hollywood Tower of Terror and a snack at Ghirardelli Ice Cream Parlor.  It was an early night since we had to pack for our departure the next morning.  At the hotel, I realized, I had lost my camera.  We called lost and found and made a claim.  I was upset with myself and had difficulty sleeping.
Day 7 - Departure Day
The next morning we had breakfast at the Grand California Storytellers Cafe.  We had some time before breakfast and walked to Disneyland.  They were not letting anyone through the security checkpoint and we couldn't reach the Lost & Found office.  I called and the cast member told me that it was located in the Tower of Terror.  He was kind enough to bring it outside the park to me.  I was relieved at the fact, I still had many pictures on the camera and it had been found.  All the cast members that I had contact with this week were incredibly helpful and nice.  We made it to breakfast which was a hidden gem.  It was a buffet character meal with only the animal characters, Chip & Dale, Pluto, Brother Bear, and the Raccoon from Pocahontas. For a holiday, mid-morning, the restaurant was almost empty.  There was no waiting to get food here. There were quotes all around the restaurant, and one stuck out to me.  It read, "With each new adventure, A story begins". 

Robin contacted our shuttle, and we made it to Orange County Airport within twenty minutes.  TSA checkpoint was as soon as you enter the airport.  With all the medals in my carry on backpack, along with camera, phone chargers, I thought I would get the full search, but I didn't.  No hassles at all.   The flight seemed longer on the way back.  I enjoyed the week and new adventure in the parks, but I missed my family.  I wished they could have come with me. 
Would I do it again?  Yes.   
Which parks/races did you prefer?  I loved the Paradise Pier and Cars Land at California Adventure, but I preferred Disneyland.  In regards to the races, I liked the 10k simply because it ran mostly through the parks, Downtown Disney, and ended at Disneyland Hotel. It had the 'Disney' feel to the race.   If the last part of the Half Marathon ended through the parks, instead of the beginning (similar to Hollywood Studios and Epcot during the Marathon), I probably would have loved it more. 

Next Race? My whole family will be joining in the fun of Tower of Terror 10 miler at WDW.  My daughters are excited that they finally get to participate.  My wife, a non-runner, said she will walk it.  I think I’m almost as excited for them joining me in a Run Disney event, as I was completing the Dopey Challenge.  We’ll see in just a few days. 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on a great race! Sorry to hear about your medal being scratched. Hopefully they can do something about it.
    Loved reading your recap and I am definitely going to be doing a Disney race someday!