Once again, I hand over the reins of my blog to my sister, Rachael, who participated in the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland over Labor Day weekend. To get a full scope of how exciting this opportunity was for my sister (the race, not the blog) we have to go back a ways. Like to the 1970s…
Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty, Sleeping Beauty’s castle… and now the Dumbo Double Dare. What better reasons to visit Anaheim for the very first time?
So Rachael, what did you think?
The pre-race was fun, with an enthusiastic DJ / Host that got everyone in the spirit and ready to go.
Heading to the corrals was not awesome.
When we were instructed to head to our corrals, there were no clear markers for which way to go. I ended up in a less-than-optimal route where the way was still barricaded to allow the “Mad Dash” runners to go through (those who ran both the 5K and the 10K races the morning of August 31.) And runners behind these barricades complicated matters by moving the barricades themselves, rather than listening to the event staff who were instructing them to wait until the way was clear (Some people!), which added to an already overcrowded traffic situation. (Ed. note: I heard after the fact that there was a medical emergency in one of the corrals adding to the cluster-you-know-what) Oh well, we all made it through and no-one got trampled. At least, I don’t think so. Then we were split out into streams depending on if you were in corrals A-C or D-G. I headed to the area marked Corral D, my assigned corral. However, there didn’t seem to be any race staff or volunteers to keep track of who went where, after that initial split, and runners had to walk through the first corrals to get to their own. I noticed a lot of E and F and even G bibs that never quite made it into their own designated corral markers. It made for a pretty elbow-bumpy start to the race.
After the first half-mile or so the faster and slower runners started to just naturally distribute themselves, and after a few minutes I was in amongst people who were all going at pretty much the same speed and I could just run with the flow.
My goal for the day was to run as fast as I comfortably could, and still get as many landmark and character photos as possible without getting swept from the course. There were photo ops a-plenty. Not so much in the first couple of miles, a bit of an out-and-back outside the park. After that, though, the course wove through both California Adventure and Disneyland. There were decorative mile markers, and characters between the mile markers. I managed to get most of them.
The photo line for Alice and the Mad Hatter at Mile 5 got cut just as I arrived, although I did manage a quick snap of just them between runners. Then the pace bike was there, warning us that we were a couple of minutes behind pace.
I had to sprint for a bit to get ahead of him, so I missed the Queen of Hearts and Chip and Dale as well. But I did get well ahead of the bike and didn’t see him again. If the Disneyland 10K had the infamous “balloon ladies” I never saw them at all.
I think I averaged about four photos per mile, and finished in 1:42:47. It was the worst of times, but it was absolutely the best of times. (Race pace 16:33. Moving pace, according to my Garmin, 12:30.)
Disneyland half marathon
There’s something to be said for running a west-coast race when your body’s on east-coast time. Also, because Disneyland is so much physically smaller than Disney World, and everything is so close together, it cuts out a whole lot of the transfer time. For the Disney World races, when you leave the hotel it’s so early that it’s still the night before. For Disneyland you’re getting up almost at normal “day at the office” time. So that was nice.
I met up with my Magic Miler friends outside the hotel lobby a little after 4am, and we walked over to the pre-race area. I headed over to the water table for a little pre-race hydration and then had a pre-race potty stop, so I missed the group photo. Great job by our enthusiastic hosts getting everyone pumped up for race time. Before we knew it, it was time to head to our corrals.
The organization and corral-checking was much better for the half than it had been for the 10K. Enthusiastically vocal volunteers directed us all to the right entrance, and people mostly went where they were instructed. There’s not enough room for us to line up in sequence like at Disney World, and their solution of having all the corrals radiate around the start line like spokes in a wheel (or I guess like fireworks, since this is Disney) I thought was pretty ingenious and an effective use of their limited space. Other race organizers with small pre-race corral linear room, take note!
The race hosts did a great job sending everyone on their way, and kept the same level of excitement going every time they said “Go!” all the way from corral A to G.
Truth be known, I felt a little bit like a cheater with the race I used for proof of time; it was from an all-downhill race. I’d heard enough grousing from faster runners about people going into corrals they don’t deserve, and I was a little worried I’d be in their way. I needn’t have worried. Once our corral started, I ran at pretty much the same speed as everyone else without any difficulty.
Since my first race I’ve learned how to do things like signal that I’m going to cross the field to start a walk break, or take a photo, and pretty much everyone behind me responded to the hand signals. So, yay, I don’t think I caused too many collisions.
There was that one when I came out through the castle and saw Princess Aurora, and instantly turned into a three year old, but I apologized profusely to the lady behind me, and she saw the look on my face and she was very understanding about the whole thing. (Sleeping Beauty was my original inspiration to start doing cartooning, so getting my photo with her was kind of a big deal to me.)
There were a few near misses where there were groups that were walking four across with headphones in and either didn’t respond to my quick “excuse me / coming through / on your left” or else they responded by moving in the direction I just warned them I was coming through. Turns out, the weekly trips I’ve been making up and down Yonge Street to my local comic book shop, and along Queen Street to get to and from work had prepared me fairly well for moving through crowded spaces with pedestrians doing unexpected things, and I managed to not trample anyone.
The race course took us on a winding route through California Adventure and Disneyland parks, and I averaged about five photos per mile.
There was a volunteer group that prior to the race posted on some message boards that they would take requests for signs to be put up or held up after mile 8. I asked for a “run all the miles” a la Hyperbole and a Half blog. I was delighted to find not just one, but TWO “Run all the miles” signs! There were a great many fabulous signs to cheer us along. Thanks so much to all the volunteers from mousepad.mouseplanet.com! Your signs gave us a real boost.
After that we had quite a long parking lot to run across. And all along the route edges there were awesome vintage and classic cars to mark the way and keep it interesting. In many cases the owners were there as well to cheer us along.
Then we got to Angels stadium. Fortunately for me, there was a directional arrow at Mile 9 so I didn’t have to worry about my “Mile 9” curse of getting lost (during WDW half and during a few of my training runs).
There were so many boy scout and girl scout troops in the stands! Running around the warning track was super fun, and it was LOUD from all the enthusiastic spectators.
I was involved in one little collision here – I gave an “on your left” alert and the runner ahead of me veered left herself, and ran me into the wall coming out of Angels stadium. No harm done, though, since we were all slowing down due to the course narrowing to exit the stadium. So maybe that Mile 9 curse is still going after all.
After that it was just put it on cruise control and head back to Disneyland and the finish line. It was getting pretty hot by this time, and my belly was unhappy about it. I walked through a couple of my run intervals though, and everything was settled back down by the time I got to mile 13. Then I saw the finish line. Whee! I kicked it into high gear darting around the slower runners, and got a high-five from Minnie Mouse as I crossed the finish line. Race time, 3:36:59 – a tiny little bit slower than the Disneyworld half (3:32:24), but I took WAY more photos.
(Race pace, 16:34. Moving time, according to my Garmin, 13:10.)
Thanks to Run Disney for a great event, and to Jim and Pat Stone at Acclaim Travel for making it so easy to get there and for being such excellent guides for the weekend! Thanks to all the volunteers and staff for making it such a great event! Thanks to the people of Anaheim for coming out to cheer us along.
I had the most fun, ever.
Thanks for the great race report, Rachael! And congratulations on your sweet new Coast to Coast medal!
Don’t forget, Rachael is running in the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. If you would like to sponsor her (And you really would, wouldn’t you? Breast cancer is a bummer), please go to this link and give generously.
I am an actor/writer/director based in Chicago, IL.