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Monday, November 17, 2014

So You Wanna Run a Disney Half?? My thoughts

As many of you know yesterday I completed the Disney Avengers Half Marathon.  I have a lot of friends who have expressed interest in doing one of the Disney races.  They have a ton from Tinkerbelle to Star wars and every Princess in between.   But, the cost for registration is nearly twice that of other races and spots go quickly.   I had the opportunity to pre-register for the Avengers half, but once general registration began the race sold out in 110 minutes.  --That's insane.  

The Disney Avengers is at Disneyland (not even Disneyworld could make me go to Florida) and takes you into and around both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Bib pick-up and the Expo are located at the Disneyland Hotel and are super easy.  It was crowded but there was plenty of available parking, it was well organized, the t-shirt was cool and I got to grab lunch at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen before heading home and going to bed and hoping to feel better for the race.

That’s right.  I was sick, so it is possible that being sick colored some of my experience.  I also should offer my thanks to Sudafed.  Without the Sudafed I would not have been able to complete the race.  As my runner friends may know pseudoephedrine is not recommended while running as it can cause both dehydration and affect heart rate.   So, I am in no way endorsing its use during races (and my mouth did feel like sandpaper for most of the race).  I'm just saying that without it I couldn't have done it.  My head was fully congested when I woke up; I was tired (it was 3:30 in the morning) and achy.   But, by the time I reached the starting line I was feeling okay -- although it was cold.   Layer people.  Layer.  

Speaking of that starting line -- it is super easy to get to.   Some of you runners know that is not always the case.  There is nothing worse than arriving at a race only to have to walk a mile and a half even before you run.   You can be dropped off or park in the Disney Structure ($17 to park on top of that $175 race fee you already paid).  I was dropped off at about 5:00 am and walked to my corral with time to spare before the 5:30 am start time.    Yep.  You read that right.   

The corrals -- this is important for all of you serious runners considering a Disney run.  If you do not submit an official time from a previous race you are placed in the last corral.    I don't need to tell you that sucks.   It especially sucks in a race with a LOT of walkers who are just trying to make it through the race without getting swept.  (Disney demonstrates its trademark efficiency by making sure everyone is off the course exactly 209.6 minutes from the time the last runner leaves the corral).    I had no plans to run any other races during the year and hadn't run one in recent enough history to submit a time.   So I was left in the last corral.   This actually ended up being totally fine being I was sick and ended up walking a good portion of the race, but if I had been at the top of my game it would have driven me crazy – and even the top of my game is the bottom of a lot of other people’s game.  So, if your going to do a Disney Run - get an official time submitted.  

Another reason getting the time submitted is important is because - as if slow people weren't bad enough - a lot of this course is narrow!   Very narrow.   Trying to run the first three miles through the park I felt like expended way too much energy trying to keep from running into people.  Although it was still pretty awesome.  

Throughout the parks there are a few photo ops so you can stop and take pictures with characters.   I took a few selfies but didn't want to stand in line for photos. 

I already knew I would be slow and didn't want to slow down too much more and, more importantly, I didn't want to cool down after already running, especially being I was sick. I'll get my photo taken with my doppelganger, black widow, another day.    (I did, however, stop to use a flush toilet – because I could.)

After the first three miles the race heads out onto the streets of Anaheim where it is -- just like every other race.   Nothing special here.   Yesterday was crazy windy.   I mean insane winds.  I saw a few runners (much more serious than myself) give up running around mile four because the winds were so bad.   Mile four was the first mile marker to go.  

 At one point the race narrows considerably to a path -- where I was located in the pack it was virtually impossible to really run this part.    It was more like a shuffle.   The path was dirt and along a dry riverbed.  With the winds as bad as they were I was thankful for my nifty buff.   There were, however, a bunch of Marvel cos-players hanging out cheering the group on which was definitely a highlight of the race.  It is actually the only spot I regret not having stopped to take some pictures.    

The course then went through Angel’s stadium.   This was fun.   Nothing special - just fun, and gave me a little boost to get through mile 10.   There was also another cheering group dressed in military gear (in keeping with the heroes theme).  

I am consistently someone who loses momentum at the end -- those people who get that final boost of energy to take him or her through -- not me.   I'm more like, well, I'm tired now, let's have a drink.   Thus, traveling through the back of the parks for that last 2 miles was pretty grueling.     I was definitely ready to cross the finish line, get my medal and be done with the whole thing.  

Speaking of the medal -- it's pretty awesome.  Definitely the best one I've ever gotten.  If you want a cool medal for your collection -- then Disney might just be the way to go.  

After the race was totally uneventful.   Medal, water, blanket, food box and out the door.   There is no after party here.  Which I thought was a little disappointing.   I mean, sure there is Disneyland right next door, but I thought they could do something.   Family meet-up is also chaotic.   I was really surprised considering Disney's usual efficiency but it was total chaos.  And, traffic was so bad Justin didn't even make it to the finish line.  I walked out to the street to meet him and jumped in the car.  

As I was telling Justin about the race on the way home I told him I probably wouldn’t do another one.   Actually, I said I thought I was over long races.  I love running those first three miles but after that, they are kind of painful and boring.   I also told him I wouldn't do another Disney one for all of the reasons above.   But, by last night as the memory was starting to fade I found myself wondering what a different Disney race would be like...

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