Sunday, September 9, 2007

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Report

Disneyland Half Marathon Report

Last year was the inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon. We wanted to run it, but it was right when school was starting so we didn't. A friend, Jill, ran it and came back with this great medal of Cinderella's Castle and stories of how awesome it was. So I emailed my sisters Tammy and Kim and said "Hey, want to do this next year?" Tammy said she'd rather gouge her eyes out with a fork, so I took that as a "maybe" and Kim said "SURE!"

At the Seattle Marathon Expo the Disneyland people were there and we had the opportunity to sign up to be told when the pre-signups would happen, since the race fills really fast. We signed up to sign up, so to speak, and were on our being able to sign up. A few months later we got an email saying that we could now sign up before it opened to the public. I signed up Roy and I, and we sent Roy's email to Kim so she could sign up. Tammy mentioned something about a spork this time, which to me was indication that she was softening. After all, you can't do quite as much damage with a spork as you can with a fork.

Throughout the year Kim and I emailed each other about our training. I had shirts made that said "See Kim, See Kim Run, Run Disney" (and Tory and Roy) with a picture of Mickey Mouse on the back dressed in running garb, holding a water bottle, wearing a headband, and a race number. We wore those to remind ourselves we were training together. I live in Washington and for some reason Kim lives in Minnesota. I've been to Minnesota once and it was so cold I froze my ass off. Seriously. My ass is still in Minnesota. Some people leave their heart in San Francisco, I left my ass, frozen to a bench, in Minnesota. I'm still at a loss to explain why people live there on purpose...but I digress.

Tammy continued to mention various eating utensils and I think "shards of broken glass" came up a time or two, but I was still pretty sure she'd join us. However due to her lack of enthusiasm for anything beyond silverware, she did NOT get a shirt. (See Tammy. Just a little "yes" and you'd have a stylish shirt.)

As summer came we coordinated our plans, made our reservations, and chatted online often about Disneyland and all the rides we were going to ride, and the ways we could torture our respective husbands ON the rides. It was SO exciting because I don't get to see Kim very often. We didn't grow up together (she was from one of my father's previous marriages...the 13th or 15th I think...okay I exaggerate a tad...) but we happen to have a lot in common. We both LOVE Disneyland. We married fantastic guys who put up with us. We are both very passionate about what we do (she is a nurse, and i are a teechur). We both have the fitness bug thing going for us. And I believe neither of us have an ass, because I can't imagine you can actually LIVE in Minnesota and not freeze your ass off.

Roy and I arrived on Friday morning. We didn't check baggage because our goal was to sprint from the plane, no bathroom stops allowed, jump in the nearest cab, drop our luggage at the hotel, and hit California Adventure as SOON as it opened (it opens at 10, our plane arrived at 9...we were set). Kim was to arrive later in the day. We made it perfectly, and I even allowed Roy ONE potty break. We did DCA all morning long and had a blast. Kim arrived and we continued to tear up the park, seeing the Aladdin Show for a second time (Roy and I had seen it that morning, but it's worth seeing more than once), getting soaked on Grizzly Rapids, being shot 90 feet into the air on the Mali Boomer, and rocking on the sunwheel. We talked and talked and talked and our husbands listened to us talk.

Oh yea, but we came to run a race...and you're probably more interested in that. Okay, so Saturday we did Disneyland and corral assignments. Roy and I were in corral B wave 1, and her and Mike were in corral C wave 1. Bummer! We shopped and dropped WAY too much at the expo. Sunday we also did Disneyland, and went back to the expo to see Danny Dryer, author of Chirunning. He was GREAT! He had us even practice proper posture and run around the conference area using the chirunning pose and made it to the expo, which was huge. Not quite as big as Disneyworld, but pretty darn big! We got our race numbers and our shirts (we're modeling them on the right). Very cool.

I also got to meet an online friend, Joanne, at the expo. We had a nice talk and a big hug. We met on in the Lifetimers and Maintainers forum. Joanne is a mentor for Team in Training! Isn't that cool?

Monday morning the alarm went off at 3:00 a.m. I hopped right out of bed. I'd laid everything out the night before, so I was ready. I'd actually slept quite well, which was surprising to me. I had done a Very Stupid Thing the week before. I'd done the Lake Sammamish Triathlon on Saturday and then Sunday I ran 22 miles with a friend. Since then my knees had been hurting. I'm sure I was more aware of them because of the race, as I always am. But I was honestly worried on Saturday, so I was surprised I didn't lie awake with worry all Sunday night. Roy meandered out of bed too. I donned my running skirt, my Runner Girl shirt, shoes (I left off the gaiters that I got at since I figured we wouldn't hit any dirty areas, but I should have brought them), race belt, camera, hat, and sunglasses. I was a vision in pink. Roy was a vision in "Hey, I probably shouldn't wear a long sleeve shirt during a heat wave, huh?" He'd picked up a new shirt at the expo and was wearing the same running shorts he always wear. Why is it that I have a running wardrobe that rivals my regular wardrobe, and he won't buy two pair of shorts to run in?

We took our pre-race picture together:

...and headed to the shuttles!

We grabbed the shuttle about 4:30 a.m. It was still dark, but it was already warm! Can you believe that? It was WARM at 4:30! I'd say it was about mid-high 60s. I had brought a jacket to toss after we started, but didn't need it at all.

We got to the staging area and it was so cool. It was VERY much like Disneyworld. There was a large stage with a screen and a DJ. Music was playing...apparently the person who chose the music had quite a sense of humor. There were songs like "Hot Hot Hot" "Disco Inferno" "Hot Times in the City." Yes we get it. It's going to be hot.

Posted all around the staging area were these signs:

Eeep! Even before we started, we were at red flag. At every aid station, they explained, there would be someone waving a flag. The flag would indicate what heat index warning level we were at. We were warned a number of times that we should NOT run if we had any concerns about the heat. A number of people should have heeded that warning because we saw a lot of sick people at the aid stations. If it hit black, they would stop the timing of the race and it would become a fun run. We decided right there that we were only going for fun, no personal bests.

The DJ kept things going and then about 5:00 Sarge took the stage. He started barking orders at us and teasing people in the crowd. He was HILARIOUS! He mocked anyone sitting down, flirted with the girls in the Tinkerbell costumes, made fun of the guy in the Goofy garb and kept things light. He also reminded us of some important safety tips in the heat, which was so necessary since most of us were not from this area. I know that we consider it "hot" if it hits the 70s during a run in the PNW!

Soon we were heading out to our corrals (per Sarge's orders) and it was getting warmer by the minute. We hadn't found Kim and Mike yet, but we had told them we'd be in the back of our corral so that they could find us if they went to the front of theirs. There were hundreds of people out there! Many were in costume. Some were so inappropriately dressed it was amazing...long pants, long sleeves, dark clothing. Wow. Sucked to be them, I'm sure.

Finally just as we hit the front of C corral, we heard our names and there were Kim and Mike! We talked and hugged and were all SO excited! They were sure they wouldn't be able to catch us, but my plan had been to try to hang back and find them so we could run together. We posed for a picture and then Roy and I headed to our corral since the race was going to start in just a few minutes.

The race started with a lot of hoopla! The announcer was still playing the "hot" music. Mickey and Minnie took the stage and wished us a great race. We counted off the wheelchair racers as the Monorail rolled in full of Disney characters. Fireworks shot off in front and all around us. It was SO freaking cool!

Soon it was our turn and we were OFF! As always, we started off very slowly making our way to the start line. I tried to hang back for Kim and Mike, but it was just too crowded so I hoped I'd find them later. As we passed under the start line I snapped some pictures of Mickey and the monorail.

We took off into the parking lot and towards Disney's California Adventure for our first 2 miles. It was great. The park was closed, but the employees were out in force to cheer us on! There were also lots of characters! We had decided to stop for all photo-ops, since who knows if we'll do this race again. The first thing we came upon was the Ratatouille float under the Arc de Triumph in the parking area. This was the start and finish line for the Family 5k the day before (we didn't sign up in time, darn it) and then once we hit the parks, where were the rats! Remy and Emile greeted us as we entered DCA and we ran over for pictures.

Not two minutes after we left the furry vermin, we found another pest:

Obviously if one sees a man-sized ant on the side of the road, one must have ones picture taken with said insect. So we did. We were surprised that not very many people were taking advantage of the photo ops. C'mon people! It's not like we're in a RACE or anything. Oh wait...

So we ran on, because we ARE serious runners...We ran through the Boardwalk under California Screamin' (which is my favorite ride in DCA because you go upside down. It is not Roy's favorite ride because he is a wussbag). We hit mile two and I started to look at my time and then said "Who cares?" It was already starting to get not just warm, but WARM and I didn't want anything to make me push myself.

A few minutes later we saw Lilo. Of course we had to hula with her...who wouldn't?

Our last character sighting in DCA was Koda from Brother Bear. Now normally when I'm out for a run and I see a bear This time I stopped and smiled for the camera!

He only tried to maul me a little...

You can see we are VERY serious runners!

We ran across the courtyard area in Disneyland. Again the streets were lined with employees cheering us on! We ran around through back stage (which Roy LOVED because he's such a Disney Phreak) and the first character we found was THIS goofy looking guy:

I think he needs to see a chiropractor.

We ran past the first medical station, and the lady was still waving a red flag. Oh good! It was definitely past "warm" at this point, but not to a dangerous level. We'd already hit two water stations and had decided that we'd do two cups of water at each one. One cup would go down the throat, one over the head. I also had Endurolytes with me and we both used those, as well as Gu and Jelly Bellies. We were pretty set. I hadn't trained with the drink on the course, Accelerade, but I took some at two of the water stops just to make sure.

We did a few more character pictures in the park with Daisy and Donald and Clarabelle (you don't see HER often) and then we got to the BEST part. We got to run through the castle! That was SO cool!

I think Daisy is "mac-ing" on my man there...don't you? Might have to take her down.

Enough of the play in the park! By now we were nearing mile four, and it was time to get to the serious business of running the rest of the race. As we headed out of the park into the "scenic streets of Anaheim" (as the announcer put it before we started) we were SO excited at what was to come. Not only were we promised "scenic" but there was the beautiful Santa Ana River (and if you know Southern California, you know that they do have beautiful culverts...I mean rivers), and Angel Stadium.

We hit those scenic streets and headed STRAIGHT into the sun. Now it was REALLY starting to heat up. But we were having too much fun to care.

While we didn't hit the entertainment quite as often once we were out of the parks, they still did a great job at keeping us distracted from the fact that we were making our way through heat that rivaled the circles of Hell. We started in the first circle just as we came out of the park. Uncomfortable, but doable. The further we got into those infamous scenic streets, the further our spiral into Hell. Who knew Hell would have hula dancers, flamenco dancers, and cheerleaders. (Well I had suspected that cheerleaders might be part of Hell...but I was surprised that I didn't see Leona Helmsly. Perhaps she was off cleaning toilets.)

One of the more scenic points was when we came across Brer Possum just a 'lyin' in the road. He was sleepin' soundly. So soundly in fact that the feet of hundreds of runners didn't seem to wake him. Sleep well Brer Possum. Sleep well.

The excitement mounted as we entered circle five and neared the aformentioned Santa Ana River. Oh I couldn't WAIT to see. I heard it was up for eighth wonder of the world and it was indeed, wonderful:

We were heading into the Angel Stadium area, and got to run for a short while on a bike/running trail right along this beautiful site. The gravel was a nice relief from pounding hot, melting pavement, and the breeze coming off the river (ahem) helped some. Or maybe it was the smell...

We entered the parking lot to Angel Stadium and it was LINED with people! How cool! The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were all out there cheering us on with thunder sticks, cowbells (we did, however, need MORE cowbell), and TONS of high fives! Seriously, how cool is that? We were entering circle five at that point, so it was like Africa Hot, and here were all these kids and their parents lined up along the route just cheering us on! Why did they do that? I don't know, but I loved it! I high fived a LOT of kids! So cool.

As we entered the stadium our pictures were flashed up onto the jumbo tron and an announcer was announcing names and cities. We got to run around the outfield and saw ourselves on the "big screen." Very fun! Roy was starting to waver a bit and was behind me some, so I kept slowing for him to catch up. I think the heat, at this point, was really starting to get to him. He should have worn a running skirt because while I wouldn't say I was "cool" at least the skirt flapping against my legs was providing a slight breeze to the nether regions.

As we ran out of the stadium there was a decline. I was slightly ahead of Roy, having run up to try to get a picture of him running in the stadium. I heard an "oomph" followed by a "splat" behind me and I knew what it was. I yelled, "Roy! Are you okay!" and turned to see him doing a very nice tumble down the little hill. My poor clumsy man! I ran to him to help him up, and he irritatedly snarled, "I'm fine!" (which is unlike Roy..he does not show his fangs often). We did a quick once-over to make sure all his bits and pieces were still in place and kept running. Again I got slightly ahead so I turned around and saw him clutching his neck...he has had incidences of asthma on races in the past. I ran back and asked if he was okay, and he said he couldn't breathe. Eeep! Breathing is definitely a pre-requisite in running, so we stopped and walked over to the side. He calmed down and was able to relax enough to get his breath back. My poor clumsy blue man. Unfortunately he was also having tummy issues, so a stop at the porta-potties (no line...yay) was in order. After that he was feeling a lot better. He popped an immodium (magic in a pill) and we walked through the water station. I have to say that the seven circles of hell have a LOT of water stations...didn't expect that! Actually, Disney did an awesome job. There were scheduled to be 9 water stations, but there were 13 and they were VERY well organized. I never had to wait for water.

We both drank and then doused ourselves. By this time it was at least the high 80s and creeping towards the 90s. We were entering circle six.

We ran through some more of those "scenic streets". I have to say that I think the organizers need to look up the meaning of the word "scenic" because it does not mean what I think they think it means. Maybe in California scenic means "dirty and hot." Finally we were heading back because I saw a sign for Disney Way! Yay! I'd never been on Disney Way by foot, so of course I had to take a picture. I also chuckled at this sign:
Hee hee...although trust me, it didn't feel like "half" of anything at that point.

Only about THREE miles to go! I was talking Roy through a tough patch, assuring him that we could do a 5k in Hell. Nothing to it, right?

We headed back into DCA and more characters! Wee! First we saw a big Monster! Now I did expect monsters in Hell, so I wasn't surprised:

But I was surprised to see this guy:

Frozone? In Hell?

Don't we look calm, cool, and collected? Yeah, we're faking it.

We made our way into circle seven and the thermometers all exploded. Sweat was pouring off people...seriously, men would run by me splashing (I'm not was rather gross). It was starting to look like the Bataan Death March as we neared the finish line. We hit two aid stations in the last three miles and people were lined up. I iced my knees with Biofreeze (tip...when in hell, always carry biofreeze). Man that felt good! I've run many half marathons and seven marathons, and I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a finish line! I mean I was doing "okay" but I was REALLY getting concerned about my honey. He was listing to one side, as he does when he's about had it on a race. He was sweating profusely (thank heavens...if he'd stopped we'd have had trouble). He was just miserable. We rounded the corner and saw that beautiful "F-Word" and I said "Smile! We have a photo op coming up!" We grasped hands and held onto each other tight as we ran towards the finish line at a loping, pathetic pace.

We held up our hands and Roybee even managed a big smile as we crossed the finish line! We did it! Someone put a medal around our neck that weighed 10 pounds if it weighed an ounce, but it was beautiful and gold! (Not real gold.) We were both SO hot that all we wanted was water and more water.

We grabbed some fruit and bagels and headed into the finishers area. After a picture, Roy headed for the bathrooms and I headed for the massage line. Free Massages are two of my favorite words after a race. Jill, from Seattlefit, found me and we chatted in line. I was really hoping we'd see Kim and Mike (we obviously hadn't found them on the race), but unfortunately we didn't. Roy finally came back and found me (I was getting concerned) and insisted I go ahead and get the massage while he headed to the shade with water and a towel to dry off with. Poor guy looked MISERABLE!

Kim and Mike came in about 20 minutes after we did. They looked GREAT! I sure wish we hadn't missed them.

I had a great massage...they were supposed to be ten minutes, but the guy worked on me for at least 20. It was great! I wanted to go do the dance thingy, but Roy was looking too sad so we headed back to the hotel. Nothing like walking another mile after a race! We walked through Downtown Disney and to the hotel where we both laid around in ice, got a good shower, and became new people again!

My only disappointment was that we didn't get to run with Kim and Mike...but maybe next year!

After we were "human again" we met Kim and Mike for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and then the four of us did Disneyland for another few hours!

What a GREAT trip we had! I can't wait to do this race again!

Listening to: Amy Winehouse - Love Is a Losing Game
via FoxyTunes

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