This post could also be titled “How I officially became a Dumbo”!
The final early morning, and it was time for THE BIG ONE!!! 13.1 glorious miles (or 21.1K) of running through the parks, through Anaheim and through Angel’s Stadium. I was nervous, excited and eager to get the Dumbo medal. The walk from the hotel was much better this time around, so many people walking to the course start from Harbor at 4am, this should have been the indication of how many people were running!
The weather was definitely a little cooler than the previous mornings, with a slight breeze that brought a chill. I knew that this wouldn’t be around for long, especially when the sun came up. I had read reviews of the 2013 race that described how nasty the sun was for half of the run, so I was prepared with sunscreen, my visor and my sunglasses (which were able to be hung from my Fitletic belt). I suppose I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared when it comes to running in the weather, I had even gone out and purchased the single 6oz. bottle for my running belt at the expo, certain that I would need extra water along the course.
I was in corral H, which happened to be one of the biggest and the one with the widest time – finishers from 2:30 – 3:15, and it certainly was packed full of people. The nerves were getting to me as I waited in my corral, I wasn’t sure how I’d fare especially given I was experiencing a lot of pain in my right foot. I had strapped it the night before hoping to relieve some of the numbness & pain, as well as sleeping in compression socks.
So back to corral H, now I was a runDisney newbie and wasn’t sure of the way they released the corrals. It was surprising to hear that Rudy & Carissa sending the early corrals off 2 by 2, and I thought that the wait wouldn’t be too long, that was until corral G – where they only released singularly. Additionally they played Let It Go after each group was sent on their way. It was a quick way to get really over that song!! Plus I was just ready to get out on the course!
The start was like the 10K, running in and out of the other corral H runners, walkers and run/walkers. People were everywhere. Once down we reached Katella, we turned left and continued along the park boundary until Harbor, which we ran up until Disney Way and once again entering the backstage area. Cheers and band sounds resonated down Harbor as you got closer to the Tower of Terror – and I knew that this race was completely different to the two previous Disneyland ones in the last two days.
There was a 12 mile marker at the entrance to the backstage area that had everyone stating that it was the easiest race they’ve ever ran!
The cheering was getting louder as we passed local schools that were up as early as us just to spectate! They certainly lifted the already excited mood as we approached Paradise Bay and the Green Army Man who was yelling at us all. Running through California Adventure there were definitely a lot more character opportunities than the 5K and the 10K, in hindsight I should have stopped for pictures but I was keen to get the distance done and the medal around my neck.
I must applaud the runDisney staff who managed to have 3 different courses through the park for the 3 events during the weekend. It really made it so interesting for those of us who did run the trifecta. As we ran through the plaza, there were so many supporters out with signs of encouragement and looking to high-five each runner as they went past.
As I made my way to Main Street in Disneyland Park the strangest thing happened. Even though this was the third time running down it this weekend (and many many times walked during park hours), the setting, the lights and the amazing chEAR squad supporters just made it such an emotional experience which was quickly overcoming me. Surely I couldn’t start crying less than 3 miles in!!
Winding our way through Frontierland and back into Fantasyland for the fabulous castle run through, I found my way making the best position that I could to get THE picture (and indeed I did get it!). The key here is to make your way to the side early – especially given that people will stop on the other side of the castle to take pictures. Just be wary as you run through of people who cross to get their picture taken.
From here, it was onto Tomorrowland as we were cheered on by the Third Shift Custodial team (and their Mickey hands), past the huge queue for Darth Vader (I can’t imagine how huge this line will be for Star Wars) and onto It’s a Small World. As we rounded past the Matterhorn, there were so many characters out and about in a Villains Extravaganza! Cruella, Malificent, Dr Facilier, Captain Hook – they were all there!! I joined the queue so I could get my pic with Dr Facilier/Cruella but decided not to wait – so I was off again (Hindsight: I totally should have waited).
Once again we were backstage, but this time we made our way outside the park onto Disneyland Drive. It felt like a brand new race as we paved the wide open space. My foot was giving me some trouble and started becoming numb, but I kept telling myself to push through and just get to Angel’s Stadium.
The most amazing thing about the course was the amount of entertainment that was along the course. I had heard that this course was heavily industrial however I really didn’t notice it. There were also adequate bathroom and water stops along the course. In fact, the only time I actually had to use my own water bottle was as I ate some pretzels picked from a spectator along the course; no choking mid-race!
By around mile 7 I had to stop and walk, my foot was incredibly numb by this stage and the walk would (hopefully) get some feeling back into it. I started off with distance intervals, looking at running 1km and walking about 500m. I must admit that I kept mistakenly moving over to the left. Don’t mind the silly Aussie!! Yes, we do walk on the left over here so instinctively I head to the left.
Turning back onto Cerritos Ave and passing the long line up of classic cars is definitely a highlight of the course, there are some AMAZING cars out there and the owners are awesome to cheer everyone on, I would imagine they too have been up as early as us, and their enthusiasm definitely added more spring to my step!
The cars continue underneath the freeway at mile 8 and into the Honda Centre carpark, where an awesome real-life version of Lightning McQueen was located. By hitting the Honda Centre, it meant that we weren’t that far from Angel’s Stadium, just the Santa Ana River Trail in between me and running on the baseball ground!
Again, I had heard that this section was the worst of the course due to the dirt and the sun. Luckily the sky was still overcast and more than half of the trail had been made into a genuine pedestrian path, possibly due to the construction on the Anaheim railway station. I’m certain here the mile marker was moved a little back due to the lack of space, but that mile seemed to take a lot longer than the others.
I was still maintaining my run/walk intervals but as we approached the stadium, I was determined to run in, around and out – not before taking an awesome selfie outside the big ‘A’.
Here at the stadium you’ll find the Clif Shot stop – there were 4 flavours to choose from, water and Powerade. Don’t eat Clif Shots? No worries- just run through like I did. I honestly haven’t nailed down the art of eating that stuff and not getting it everywhere so I avoid it all together – I didn’t mind the Clif Shot Bloks that were at the expo though.
As you make your way to the stadium itself, it is amazing the supporters out cheering everyone on. The girl & boy scouts (and their families) were certainly out in force, and greatly represented inside the stadium itself! As you run in you truly feel like a rockstar as everyone is screaming with excitement.
I’ve been to the stadium on game day but running through on ground level is truly something special. You are running on the outer dirt of the ground rather than the field itself, understandably given the team had a home game only hours after we all piled through. There was one poor groundskeeper trying to get the ground prepared while dealing with runners stepping on the grass (not allowed). We all need to just be aware of where we are standing, it’s awesome that we are able to run through the stadium (and one of the reasons why I decided DL Half over Tinkerbell) so let’s not ruin it by ignoring the requests of ground staff.
Angel’s Stadium was done and that meant there was about 5K to go! Making our way onto Gene Autry Way, I discovered the Mile 10 sign (and no queue for it!). I really think the combination of entertainment, not running the course before and the fact the mile markers were in miles made the race seem to fly. I was really having trouble with my foot at this stage, but determined to maintain a majority running kilometre.
Coming onto Disney Way I spotted the Matterhorn. Woohoo!! Keeping it in my sights, I felt myself lift. I’m almost there and apart from the foot, feeling amazing and that Half & Dumbo medal was going to be mine!! As the course made it’s way closer to the finishing line, more and more runners who had completed the half appeared alongside cheering everyone on. Suddenly the Tower of Terror rose in front of me, I do have a general knowledge of the layout of Anaheim, but even this surprised me!
Back inside the backstage of California Adventure, and past the Mile 12 marker for real, we then went up through Paradise Pier Hotel and onto Downtown Drive. Here the crowd is quite thick as you run past the Disneyland Hotel Sorcerer Hat and onto the finish line! I made it! I immediately thought that my Garmin time gave me a PR (although on loading the data I missed out by 20 seconds!). I also felt a sense of amazing and pain at the same time.
I gathered both my Disneyland Half medal and Dumbo medal and make the obligatory stop for pictures. The tip here is to keep walking down the chute until the further backdrops – there is next to no line, but remember the last 2 are Dumbo Double Dare backdrops.
I hobbled the remainder of the way through to the bag drop and took my shoes off instantly. It was becoming difficult to bear weight on my right foot, but overall I felt great. I made it! I was a Dumbo and I was ready to have a sleep in!
My Disneyland Half Weekend was coming to an end, and it was an awesome experience. I loved every race, and got to meet some awesome people along the way! I can understand how addictive runDisney events can be and you can be certain that I’ll be logging online to try and register for the 2015 Disneyland Half Weekend – especially given it’s 10 yrs of the Half and Disneyland’s 60th Birthday!