Sunday felt very much like deja vu, as I woke at 4:30 am to head down for the start of the half marathon. I felt a little stiff, but otherwise surprisingly good considering the 10K and all the park time I put in on Saturday. Compression socks are a great thing! The wait for the elevator was way too long for my tastes, so I made the brave decision to head down the stairs from the 5th floor. Brave because a) I’m clumsy on a good day, so tired legs and early mornings on all of those stairs risked disaster and b) my poor muscles may have protested all of that. Thankfully, I got safely and relatively painlessly down the stairs. The kick-off to the race was pretty much identical to the 10K, but still fun. I’ll confess that those first two miles, which were streets around the park and backstage areas, were fairly miserable. My shins hurt, which is really odd for me. I never get shin splints. I was wearing my newer shoes, but they’d been run in plenty and weren’t the ones I’d worn for the 10K and park time Saturday. I started to worry that I was going to hurt myself. My sister had swelling in her shins enough to cause anterior compartment syndrome and nerve damage after a charity walk and suddenly I was worried that the same thing was happening to me (overreacting a bit to shin splints? Maybe). I reminded myself that a) lots of people do these challenges – it doesn’t require superhuman athleticism and b) I’d specifically trained for this back to back running, so I was going to be fine. I don’t know if it was my self-talk or my muscles warming up or the magic of entering the parks, but my legs and brain got themselves sorted out around mile 2 and things were seriously fun from that point on!
Running Main Street never gets old
I stopped for an official photo in front of the castle before continuing on through Frontierland like we had the day before. The lines for Chewie and Darth Vader were again crazy long, so I was very glad I’d done Darth Vader the day before. With my legs finally warmed up and shins not hurting, I didn’t want to wait in the long Chewie line as much as I’d have liked that picture.
Love my ice-skater-finishing-pose, right?
There were random Storm Troopers patrolling things like the carousel, which was a funny touch, and a photo stop with Luke and Leia, which I skipped because they really aren’t my favorites (the incestuousness of it not really my thing – if they’d thrown Hans in, I’d be totally on board!).
We were discouraged from stopping for photos here, which I found a little odd.
Before I knew it, we were back out of Disneyland and into California Adventure. There were a couple of Storm Troopers set up for photos there, as well as photographers in front of the carousel with no line at all:
I’ve always loved seeing this picture from other people’s Disneyland races. If only World of Color had been operational!
This part of the race really flew by and before I knew it we were out on the streets of Anaheim, seeing the race front runners heading back toward the finish line already! I’m glad I didn’t wait in line for Chewie because I had the chance to get a photo with this dancing Chewie not long after I hit the Anaheim streets:
This guy was awesome!
It was a gorgeous day to run, with cool weather, flat streets and mountains off in the distance. I thought I would be disappointed with the course once we hit Anaheim, but it was surprisingly great!
Gorgeous California day!
All along the route, there were cheerleaders and bands playing. I honestly didn’t need the music on my Shuffle and actually rarely noticed because there were always distractions around (in the best way). The crowds really thinned out on the streets as well, with plenty of room to run after the relative congestion of the first few miles.
Loved this dancing guy at the fuel station!
Along with the official fuel stop at around mile 8, there were lots of water stops with great volunteers (my favorite was the group making wookie noises) and lots of spectators passing out water and candy as well. There was even a group passing out orange wedges, which made the following quarter mile smell great thanks to the oranges littering the side of the road.
Between miles 8 and 9, we had an endless string of costumed entertainment thanks to the fantastic 501st legion. They were fantastic! High fives from a long line of Storm Troopers is a great morale boost!
Loved these guys!
If I hadn’t gotten Darth on Saturday at the 10K, I totally would have gotten this guy.
I confess I’d forgotten all about the Jawas (bad geek!)
There were also a few crazy Star Wars themed cars out:
We ran through the quaint little main street of Garden Grove and headed back out through more bands and cheering spectators:
The amount of crowd support makes this a really FANTASTIC course.
Before I knew it, we were heading back down the street towards the hotels and the finish line. At the very end, we wound through a parking lot, which would normally be a really boring way to almost end a race except for the all of the bands and cheerleaders. I was able to finish strong, which was a great mental victory for me, and sneak in a high five with Darth Goofy at the finish line (was a little disappointed that this was the only place we saw the Star Wars themed Disney friends).
Final time: 2:50 with 13 minute mile pace overall, but according to hubby watching my splits, I was definitely getting faster as I went along.
RunDisney learned their lesson from the bad social media chatter about the lack of foil blankets at marathon weekend, because they had loads for us as soon as we finished. I really appreciated that as the breeze was a little chilly! I got my half marathon medal and my blanket before heading over to the Rebel Challenge booth. At the Expo, they’d taken our photos for the Rebel Challenge but skipped the wrist bands that had been used with other challenges. Instead, after finishing the half, we went to stand of the timing mat and a volunteer with a computer confirmed that I matched the picture associated with that bib and that the bib had finished both races. There wasn’t any confirmation like this after the 10K, so I wonder how they keep one person from running the 10K with the bib and another from running the half? Regardless, I took my two medals and happily headed off for drinks and snacks.
In case you’re wondering, the back to back races are totally worth it for the extra bling.
The snack boxes had a cute little Star Wars logo that I hadn’t noticed the day before and a much appreciated tiny bag of Skittles. 🙂
Cash in hand for a more substantial post race snack and COFFEE.
There was a big post race area with a band, but I headed out with a friend to get some more substantial food. A friend from school was also at the race and we actually ended up running together from miles 3 on, which was interesting. It was my first time running with someone else. Thankfully we both agreed that we were taking the race easy, with walk breaks when we felt like it, and permission to run off and leave the other when we got near the finish line if so inclined. 🙂 The distraction of someone else definitely made the miles go quickly, beyond the usual chatting with other random runners as you went along (although I enjoyed some of that too).
All in all, it was a great race experience. Perfect weather, fantastic easy course to run with lots of entertainment. I was worried I’d be disappointed in the half course because so much was off property (and would therefore not have any Disney-official stuff after the first few miles), but I wasn’t AT ALL. The community of Anaheim does a great job supporting the runners. I also really liked doing the 10K first and getting to take so many pictures during that race so I didn’t feel bad about skipping long lines with the half. A half marathon is long enough without adding a hour of pictures. 🙂 I worried that the parks part of the half marathon would be less fun since I’d just run most of it the day before, but the magic of running through a Disney park really doesn’t get old.
I would definitely recommend the Disneyland races and StarWars in particular. While there weren’t nearly as many character opportunities as there were at Princess, the community entertainment along the course more than made up for it. Plus, the medals are gorgeous:
The challenge medal is a spinner with Yoda and Darth Vader.
I’ve completed 3 half marathons in the last 365 days. How crazy is that? When did I become that person? I’ll have more posts over the next two weeks about the back-to-back racing experience itself, the Expo, the Wookie Welcome party and working with a travel provider to book a race. You’ll probably get tired of hearing about all of it. 🙂 Plus, Friday’s Favorites this week will be devoted to the truly spectacular costumes the other runners wore for all of the races. The creativity (and ability of people to run in those things!) was astounding and definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me.
Thanks to all of you for following along and cheering me on through the weekend!
PS Also now at 22.4 miles of my 100 miles of races goal for 2015!