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2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

Posted Sep 03 2013 8:06pm
NameHometownVERA LORDANSIMI VALLEY, CA

Another Labor Day weekend, another Disneyland Half Marathon in the books! Our race weekend started on Friday this year. I took the afternoon off so hubby and I could drive down to the Expo a day earlier than we usually do... only to be SO SO SO disappointed in the enormous crowds. We could barely move beyond the front doors because the line for race merchandise was weaving all around the entryways. Ridiculous. It was as if all 20K runners decided to show up at the same time. Someone told me the line got up to 3 hours. To buy a shirt??

Clearly, Disney did not account for the 8K+ runners and their families who had certainly arrived a day earlier for the 10K or Dumbo Double Dare challenge. I was instantly regretting not buying something with "Coast-to-Coast" on it back in January at the Disneyworld Marathon Expo. Hubby and I decided we would come back the next day after we checked into our hotel to see what was left. I'll spare you the suspense.... there was NOTHING left late Saturday afternoon except some Disneyland Half Marathon shirts. Thanks. I've got plenty of those!  We did have a nice lunch in Downtown Disney Friday afternoon and even saw Jeff Galloway hurrying by the cafe where we were sitting. Hubby yelled out to him and he slowed to yell Hi back.

Our race day alarm went off at 3:15a Sunday morning. I rolled out of bed and got myself into the shower. We wanted to be out the door at 4:15 so we could be in the corrals by 5am. I made it into Corral A this year and my corral would be off and running at 5:30a. A little coffee, a mini pumpkin oat muffin (I'd made a fresh batch on Saturday and brought them to the hotel with us)....and we were off to meet my sis-in-law at the race tents before we all retreated to our respective corrals.

Me and hubby - Pre Race

Me and sis-in-law, Erika - Pre Race
And with that, we all wished each other a great race, said our good-byes and headed off to the corrals. Corrals A and B were barely filling in. C looked like it was getting crowded already when I walked by. I walked through B, feeling like people were staring at me, wondering who the hell put me with the "real" runners in A. Ah, Self Doubt - rearing it's ugly head 30 minutes before the Start. Nice.

I step into Corral A and now I'm wondering who the hell put me in here with these "real" runners. I can see the 1:50 and 1:40 Clif pace groups forming a little ahead of me. I thought about positioning myself in between the two pace groups since my goal was 1:45 so I could use them as a gauge along the course of how I was doing but that seemed like more pressure.
View of the Start from Corral A
Hubby was in Corral C which was looking like this before the Start Hubby's view from Corral C
I heard from other runners after the race that the later corrals (D-G) were overflowing with participants. So much so that they were being forced into other corrals because there wasn't enough room. I'm sure Disney will get this figured out before the 2014 race. They never cease to amaze me with how well they adapt organization plans to fit the crowds. The first year of any new race is bound to present unforeseen challenges and I think that's just what was happening this year with the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare.

The Disney race announcers come out on stage. Local celebs who are running the race get up and say a few words of encouragement to everyone. Corral A was pretty quiet - except for the 2 girls next to me who were screaming "'N Sync forever!" and "I'm coming for you Joey"  when Joey Fatone was on stage. That got some good laughs but I think we all just wanted to get going already. Now I'm definitely noticing it's hot and sticky but I don't even want to go there in my head.... Time to move!

National Anthem, fireworks, countdown.... 3...2...1... GO!  And we're off.....
Joey Fatone Image credit

About 3 or 4 minutes in, I see Joey Fatone immediately to my right. He was putting an earphone back in. I hollered "Go Joey" as I passed by. People seemed to be leaving him alone. I think he had a couple of people running on either side of him to keep him isolated from the masses. One of the announcers had asked him what was harder: training for Dumbo Double Dare or keeping the 'N Sync Reunion on the VMAs a secret. He laughed, hesitated a little and then admitted keeping the reunion a secret was harder. lol


As usual, the first 5K goes by way too fast. I'm feeling pressure not to take my walk breaks even though I'd practiced and planned on using 4 min run/ 0:25 sec walk right from the Start. We are all going so fast and are right on top of each other for these first few miles. As I pass the 1:50 pace group on Katella Ave, I hear the leader saying "I can respect people who want to walk, but they shouldn't be starting in this Corral". A little part of me wanted to whip my head around and say "Oh really, it's okay that I can maintain an 8 min/mile pace while walking every 4 minutes, but it's not okay for me to start in the same corral as you because I don't accomplish the time goal in the exact same way you do?" Since I was already in my head about all the "real runners" around me, I kept my mouth shut and my spirits up. I'll show him - "watch me finish this race before you WHILE WALKING."

Because I wanted to stay with the flow of runners and not have to pull way over to the side, I decided just to slow to a jog for those 0:25 sec breaks for the first few miles through the parks. Once we got out on the streets, I could break away from the crowds much more easily and feel more like I was able to do my own thing.

Park highlights: The World of Color lights and the music were amazing...almost peaceful in a way. I still haven't seen that show! Cars Land was so awesome with the backlighting on the mountain and all the neon signs that I actually yelled out "Awesome" as it came into view. Last year, my friend Charlene and I ran through here together, oooh-ing and aaah-ing at the scene. I was really wishing she was there with me again in that moment! Hubby snapped a pic with his phone (it was much darker when I went through) Entering Cars Land in CA Adventure
From CA Adventure, we run into Disneyland, up Main Street, hang a left into Adventureland, then through Sleeping Beauty's castle, another left into Tomorrowland and within a very short time, we're back on the streets of Anaheim.

I hit Mile 4 on Disneyland Drive, just outside of the park. So far, my Garmin and the Mile Markers have been almost dead on with each other. Now that we're on streets, I'm focusing on settling into a manageable pace once I'm on the other side of the freeway overpass just ahead. It's time to start taking regular walk breaks. My breathing is a little heavier than I wanted at that point and I know I need to find a way to relax a little now that I have some room around me! It's good to get out of the parks from a heat perspective. The narrow pathways with high walls in the parks traps in body heat and makes it harder to breathe.

Miles 4-8 are filled with spectators, cheerleaders, marching bands and classic cars. All wonderful! What isn't wonderful are the boring streets with the looming sun threatening to break through the thin layer of clouds. Stay focused. Stay focused. Push. Push. Push.  These are the things I'm saying to myself. A few times when I'm walking, other runners are encouraging me to run. I know they don't know these are planned walk breaks so I smile and thank them. :-)  I thought about having a fuel at 5 miles (45 min), then at 6 miles... but I don't have anything because I'm not feeling like my tummy can handle it.  "Bah, you don't need it. You had Honey Stingers before you started. Just keep going".  Uhhhhh... okay, whatever. This should have been my first clue I might have been working a little too hard in that heat.

At mile 8, we're in the Honda Center parking lot. I think there were more classic cars here but I might not be remembering that correctly. What I do remember back from about mile 7 or so are all the classic car owners and their spouses, friends and family members. Everyone was SO NICE and extremely supportive. THANK YOU for coming out! What a treat!!! :-)  Anyway, back to mile 8 - I know we're about to hit that damn Santa Ana trail/bike path. I really do wish there was some other way to get us to Angel's Stadium from the Honda parking lot. Now I know I really need to have that Gu because once we're off the trail, we'll be at the Stadium, which means the home stretch is almost here! Not to mention, I'm starting to think negatively and I'm struggling to maintain my pace. These are both huge signs that I need fuel.  I decide to just have a little bit at first to see how it sits. I seem to do okay with it so I continue to consume little portions over about a 6 minute period. At least it's giving me something to focus on other than how much I freaking hate this part of the course. There was a small section with loose, chunky gravel that was tough to get traction. The path is super narrow and isn't closed to the public. It feels like a big unnecessary crowded mess every year and this year was no exception.

The good news is we were really close to Angel's Stadium as soon as we popped out of the trail. After a
short distance through the parking lot, we hit the 15K mat just outside the ball field. Then for some reason, I decided to do something different and hit the Lap button on my Garmin.  In that moment, I was thinking I wanted to see what happened with my pace and mental state since we were A) about to hit the baseball field  and a cheering crowd and B) I'd had that Gu w/ 20mg of caffeine about 6-7 minutes earlier). The crowd inside the stadium was bigger and louder than ever. I had chills running down my arms and legs as I ran by thousands of Scouts (girls and boys) and their families yelling and screaming for all of us from the stands. The Angels announcer was on the field, reading off some of the runners names and their hometowns over the loudspeaker. The Jumbo Tron was on but I forgot to look for myself - I was too distracted by that awesome crowd! One thing I did hear the announcer say: "Mile 10 is just outside - you're almost there!" YES!!!!!

The sun was out and these last few miles are mostly out on the streets again as we head back towards the parks and the big Finish, close to the Disneyland hotel. Although it's early in the morning, that sun is feeling HOT. I'd been drinking a little water at every other water stop, pouring half of it over my head to keep cool. I grab more water just outside the stadium and try to get myself focused on my plan for the Finish.  I know I am close to my PR time and that I'm within striking distance of beating it, but not by the 3.5 minutes I'd hoped and trained so hard for. I didn't care - I just wanted to PR at that point. "Even if you hit the same time as last year, it would be an improvement with this heat". Stop making excuses and RUN Vera. You can still beat that time! Don't quit. Don't give up.

I love brain tug-o-wars in the middle of a race.

I hear my Garmin beep and without even thinking to look at it, I assume that means I'm at mile 11 already and start to speed up. I hear this voice in my head saying "wow that last mile went by so fast!" - again, not looking at my Garmin. My breathing is getting too heavy and too rapid - and where is that damn Mile 11 marker? I finally look at my watch and notice that I'm at 10.66 miles. DAMN. Hitting the Lap button at the 15K mat threw everything off. I kicked too early. I slowed to a walk... it would be the second to last walk break I'd take until the Finish line.

For the next 2 miles I am trying to throw in short surges as my legs would allow it, but looking back at my Garmin data, it looks like those surges were really just keeping me around a 7:45 min/mile pace. With a quarter of a mile left to go, I'm at 1:45 and I know I can cross close to 1:47 if I can just hold this pace a little longer. LET'S GO Vera - what are you waiting for??? I give it one last kick at mile 13 to a 6:40 min/mile pace. I can see the official clock is close to 1:48, but I'm not sure how far off my chip time is. I barely remember that final stretch - the only thing clear is seeing the finish line and knowing I was going to PR. I crossed with a minute to spare: 1:47:32.  I was happy but a little disappointed too. I worked so hard for 1:45 and it just wasn't going to happen that day. I didn't realize how completely soaked with sweat I was until I started wringing out my running skirt to keep it from sticking to my legs. Gross.

These were my official splits and results

Place
BibAgeDiv PlaceGender Place5k Split10k Split15k SplitClock TimeNet Time
464503401810725:1350:171:16:131:48:321:47:32






A post race/PR selfie
I looked up my 2012 results (F 35-39) to see how they compared to this year (F 40-44) since I turned the big 4-0 in February. I did improve my overall stats:

2013 results: 1:47:32; 18/1,354 AG; 107/10,008 G; 464/15,847 Overall
2012 results: 1:48:39; 22/1,242 AG; 171/9,340 G; 689/14,825 Overall

I was so happy to be able to spend time with my buddy Charlene in the Finish area while we were waiting for our hubbies. She ran all 3 races (5K, 10K, Half Marathon) and walked away with some major bling - 4 medals!  Hubby and I ran Goofy's Challenge earlier this year so we also received an extra medal for completing the Coast-To-Coast challenge!

Disney knows how to bling!

On a side note, the dropout rate seemed particularly high this year. I don't know if it was the heat or too many over-zealous runners and walkers??

From the  results page : 15,847 finishers (10,008 F/5,839 M) which means 2K runners who were registered for the Half did not cross the finish line. Whoa. My sis in law, who started in corral F and finished around 9:45am, said it was literally as if people were passing out all around her. I finished close to 7:20a I think, with a 5:30a Start. Runners in the last couple of corrals wouldn't start until 6am or later. In 80 degree weather. 
Lastly, here are some other fun facts about this year's event and a link to runDisney TV's video recap!

http:
Registration

5,300 are registered for Dumbo Double Dare 8,400 are registered for the 10K (includes 5,300 in Dumbo Double Dare) 5,000 are registered for the 5K 1,500 are registered for Kids Races
Celebration

17,800 Runners are registered for the half marathon 14 is the age of the youngest runners in Dumbo Double Dare and the Half Marathon 81 is the age of the oldest female running Dumbo Double Dare (and oldest runner for the overall weekend). The oldest male is 80 years of age. 460 Legacy runners in the Disneyland Half Marathon 4,700+ Running for their Coast-to-Coast Medal - See more at: http://disneysportsnews.com/2013/08/26/2013-disneyland-half-marathon-weekend-by-the-number/#sthash.PrhtesEM.dpuf
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