What a weekend! As I sit on the 6 hour flight back to Boston, I am so excited to write all about my adventure.
First off, let’s first get this straight: 16.2 miles. In 24 hours. I AM TIRED. …and still a bit sore.
So, we arrived on Thursday and spent the day in Disneyland. The Health and Fitness Expo was the highlight of Friday, where I bought far too many things with the “Tink Half” logo as well as a pair of the coveted runDisney New Balance sneakers! I also tried lots of different protein bars and running supplements, which proved helpful during my half.
And then the races began…
My parents and I ran the Neverland 5k on Saturday. We left our hotel at 4:30 am and arrived on Main Street USA, inside Disneyland around 5:00. The race began at 5:45 and brought us through Disneyland, the back lots where they store all of the floats and sets [one of my favorite parts], and finished at California Adventure. We finished in 38 minutes, but that wasn’t the best part. We crossed the finish line alongside Sean Astin of Rudy, Lord of the Rings, and 24 fame [who I will always remember most as the steroid-obsessed brother of Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates haha]. He is a big shot with runDisney and has his own organization called Run3rd that you should check out.
I know, I know, “photos or it didn’t happen.” Unfortunately, my phone crapped out yesterday but I SWEAR I do have one that I will share soon!
This photo belongs to Marathon Foto. I do not have any of my photos off of my phone, nor have I had time to order my own copies of these photos.
After the 5k, we were off to the parks, but I had to get to bed early because I was up again at 3:45 am for the Tinker Bell Half.
I put on my tutu, sparkly headband, glitter eye shadow, and Tinker Bell shirt and headed over to Corral D. There were so many female runners [over 14,000 to be exact] that you couldn’t help but be inspired! After Corrals A, B, and C began, Tinker Bell welcomed us to the start line and we were off! We started around the Disneyland complex and headed to California Adventure. Much of the first 3 miles was the same as the second leg of the 5k, but there was still much more to run this time. Next was Disneyland where we went through Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland [including the castle], and out Adventureland. After running through ton of spectators in Downtown Disney, it was out to the streets of Anaheim by mile 6. There were so many high school cheerleaders and bands that you couldn’t help but stay motivated.
That is, until mile 8. Boy, did I hit a brick wall. It felt like we ran down Broadway forever, and nothing on my iPod could keep me going. I hit a wall similar to this in my first half, but it wasn’t until mile 11 or so. I attribute this year’s wall to being sick for a good week before the race, but luckily, thanks to a Clif gel shot during mile 9, I was back in business. Not going to lie, I am not a fan of the idea of those weird little gel shots, but when the volunteers started yelling “caffeine,” I was THERE! I can honestly say, less than 10 minutes after I took the shot, I was back in business. It was magic. By mile 10, I was feeling great, and ran the last 3 miles at almost the same pace I ran the first 3.
The finish brought us through the back lot of California Adventure and back to the complex where we started. There were so many cheering people, and it was a perfect finish. My favorite part [besides getting the medal] was hearing the announcer read my name right before I crossed the finish line. I was so happy!
Even with my mid-half roadblock, I finished 3 minutes faster than I did in my first half with a time of 3:08.
It was such a rewarding experience. Like everyone else who competed, I proudly wore my medals through the parks for the rest of the day. It was so fun to congratulate other runners as well as be congratulated by cast members, fellow guests, and even characters!
Now you might be asking, what was better: the Walt Disney World Half Marathon or the Tinker Bell Half Marathon? I would say that there were definitely things that were better about each. In Florida there were: more characters, more overall spectators [spectators were not allowed into the parks in CA, but were in FL], more photographers, more time on Disney property [which meant more opportunities for characters], and a more enthusiastic group of runners [more cheering each other on during the race]. In California there were: more marching bands and cheerleaders, more time in the back lots, a more organized start and corral system, a wider overall course with less bottle-necks, and a more organized finish, medal distribution, and post-race food distribution. In both races, we ran through 2 parks, so that was even.
All in all, I would have to say that the race in Florida, was my favorite. I think it’s just because my first race will hold a special place in my heart, but both were phenomenal.
Thank you all so much for reading and for supporting me through this experience. Even though I’m still a bit sore today, I am so happy that I did it, and I cannot wait for November!
In the next couple days, I will put up a few of my favorite photos of the trip as well as my phone photos and professional photos from runDisney.