Warning! Lots of photos ahead!
I’m an early riser, generally speaking, but 4:30 on a Saturday was still early even for me. The race didn’t start until 6, but I had some finishing touches to put on my costume (which ended up being me hand stitching some trim on in my bra since the fabric glue didn’t hold), and I wanted to find my friend Tara in our corral (she’ll also be my roommate at Pop Century for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend).
I have to admit, I was more than a little excited about starting in Corral A. I’m definitely not the fastest runner out there, but because of all the opportunities on course for photos and things, the “race” can take a long time and your pace can get pretty slow. Being in an early corral helps you avoid being swept by the pacers who come behind the last runners and get them of the course so roads can reopen.
We started promptly at 6 am (the latest of my race starting times this weekend) and headed through some “regular” streets connecting the parks to their parking lots before finally entering the backlot next to It’s a Small World and running through Fantasyland, past the Mile 1 marker, and into Mickey’s Toontown. I had resolved long before this weekend, mostly because of my lackluster training, that I would stop for just about every photo, and my first opportunity was in Toontown with Clarice and Daisy.
The character lines at this point were really short, but I knew they’d get longer the more time we spent on course as other corrals (with people who were afraid to stop) caught up to us. I was thankful the stops were speedy – have my phone camera ready, hand it to a cast member, click, go.
We left Toontown and spent about a half mile running through more backlot before re-entering the public areas of the park through Critter Country. This side of the park seemed monotonous to me, mostly because all the walkways and buildings are brown to look like wood, so things blend together. But before long we were in New Orleans Square, where I stopped to say hello to Chip and Dale.
I also jumped in a short line to see Bert and Mary Poppins (and my flash didn’t fire – boo!) before we passed the two-mile marker.
The course route then took us back through Fantasyland and into Tomorrowland, where Buzz Lightyear was waiting (and the lines were getting longer).
We were almost done with Disneyland, with one important landmark left to see – Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Lots of people stopped to take each other’s photos, but I didn’t want to wait in the insane line for a cast member so I snapped a quick photo before heading down Main Street toward the Disneyland exit, where I stopped for a photo with the floral version of Mickey.
For all my lack of training, I was feeling pretty good at this point. The photo stops were enough to give me little breaks to relax, and the run between Disneyland and California Adventure was filled with spectators cheering us on, which gave me a little adrenaline boost. The pictures will show, though, that I was getting good and warm. We’re definitely in California!
After entering California Adventure, we turned toward Condor Flats and ran through Grizzly Peak and past the hotel, where I was pretty sure Jason was still asleep. Lucky! The walkways from Grizzly Peak connect up with the front size of Paradise Pier – a massive photo stop. Again I was thankful runDisney had cast members out to take photos for solo runners like me.
The course headed around to the midway portion of Paradise Pier, where we hit the halfway point before exiting the Pier and heading into Cars Land. And I was still feeling great.
Cars Land had lots of characters out, and I stopped for all of them – DJ at Flo’s V8 Cafe, Lightning and Mater in the middle of the street, and Red the fire truck on the road between Cars Land and A Bug’s Land. This whole stretch was just bouncing from one line to another.
I ran right through Bug’s Land – if there were characters out, I missed them – down through Hollywood Land, and past the Hollywood Tower of Terror before stopping for a photo with Sully and Mike and their cheerleaders.
And at that point we hit the four-mark and headed out of the parks for some brief Anaheim street running (for reference, when I’m not stopping, the time at Mile 4 is what an entire 10k would take me).
The streets of Anaheim? Not terribly exciting. Especially where we were running – it was mostly hotels along the street that cater to Disney visitors who want to save money and stay off property. The most interesting part of this section of the run was passing a couple running as Russell and Kevin from “Up.” I had to admire that woman’s commitment (and other people were actually running back to get pictures of her).
I texted Jason to let him know when I turned onto Katella and was heading toward the finish (at this point we had about half a mile left), but he and Evan were still in the room so we decided just to meet back at the hotel. And before long, we turned back onto Disneyland Drive for the home stretch.
Mickey and Donald were at the finish line in their track suits, and I high-fived them as I went past. Sadly, no photos. 🙁 I grabbed my heavy, clangy medal, another round of awesome snacks (the same as yesterday), and headed back to the room feeling not-at-all sore and only a little tired.
We hung out in the room for a bit, had breakfast with Andrew and Beth before they went out to the parks for the day, and then got ready for the day’s next event – the Kids Races. We’d been preparing Evan and telling him about running and his race and his medal, and he was ready to go! The Kids Races were held in the same parking lot as the finish line of the 10k (and the half tomorrow), and Jason stayed with Evan to run alongside while I went to try and get a spot along the “course” (he was only running 100m, so not a lot of space).
For some mysterious reason, instead of starting with the youngest kids, they started with the oldest. Meaning the little kids, the ones most sensitive to the sun and heat and most quick to tire and become irritable, were hanging out in their corrals for almost an hour waiting. You could tell as the races went on that kids (and parents) were getting frustrated. The more waves ran by, the more kids were fussy, crying, or being carried by their parents. But – at last – it was Evan’s turn. And thank goodness he looked like he was having a blast.
Jason said he did great for the most part in the corral; he was fussing with his bib so it got moved to his back. He also did great in the race until the very end, when he got distracted by Mickey and the others. Oh well – it was still a blast. And the cheapest race we did all weekend!
[Aside: The eczema on Evan’s chin looks awful in this picture! Poor guy. He was drooling a ton from cutting some molars. Thankfully, it has all cleared up.]
We went back to the room briefly, where Evan became obsessed with his medal. And mine. He may have gotten confused about which medal belonged to who.
The rest of the day was spent in the parks, for the most part. We watched the Disney Junior live show (which Evan LOVED) before having a princess lunch at Ariel’s Grotto with Beth and Andrew. We also strolled down the midway at Paradise Pier and bumped into Jessie (my inspiration for tomorrow’s costume) before Evan passed out in the stroller. Jason headed back to our villa, and I headed over to Disneyland to make one crucial stop that’s practically a requirement during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend – Pixie Hollow. Tink and Rosetta were out, and I got to show off my fairy-themed medal (Rosetta was very impressed with her likeness). I got back to the room an hour later to discover Evan hadn’t really napped much. To the pool we went! The hotel conveniently had swim diapers (not that we needed them since we brought our own) and life vests poolside that we could use, so Evan got to experience the sensation of floating for the first time. He had a blast, but the sun was heading behind the hotel and it got cool out pretty quickly.
The evening has mostly involved eating dinner and working on tomorrow’s race costume – nothing like the last minute! Beth, Andrew and Jason all went to watch World of Color while I work. 3:30 am is going to come very quickly…
Tomorrow: The main event – the Tinker Bell Half Marathon!