Ah, yes, that would be the elusive Disney Coast-to-Coast Challenge medal. In order to obtain this special prize, you have to run either a Walt Disney World half or full marathon (or in my case this year - both) in Orlando, Florida AND run the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, CA in the same calendar year.
So basically, it's for the super awesome runners... you know, just like how doing Goofy was for the super awesome as well. My goal during race weekends is to one-up as many people as possible (in a way that does not involve speed). "Oh, you're doing just the full? Not me, I'm doing Goofy." *smirk* "Just getting the half marathon medal today, huh? Not me, I get the awesome Coast to Coast one, too. See my special wristband???" *double smirk*
I'm just kidding about that part. Well, kind of. But it's no fun to have your accomplishment overshadowed by something bigger. Right? OK, whatever, so yeah it's
(I don't know what those numbers represent specifically... not dollars, although sometimes it feels like it.)
Anyway, to be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to this race since I have pretty much been on a running hiatus since the Goofy Challenge in January. But I needed to get that medal plus it's Disney so it's not like I need to worry about my time so off I went.
This was another one of those "wham bam thank you ma'am" kind of trips. I flew down to Anaheim Saturday afternoon and flew back Sunday afternoon. Unlike 2008, I didn't even get a park ticket.
I will say this about the Disneyland Half - it is a very convenient race in terms of getting around. You don't need a car, I just took the Disneyland Resort Express to the hotel, which by the way, can be quite affordable. If you want to be as close to the race start as possible, you could definitely stay at one of the official Disney hotels. Otherwise, they have tons of less expensive motels that are still nice enough that are right on the perimeter of Disneyland so it's still walking distance to expo and race start (I would guess 20 minutes vs. 5 minutes.) I stayed at the Anaheim Camelot Inn both years, mostly because it's cute and is not far from the main entrance to the Disney parks. Save more money and grab a runner to stay with you - that's how I got Roadbunner to be my roommate. :)
I got there a little toward the end of closing. When I first arrived, there were all these signs about previewing some of ABC's new fall lineup. In case you didn't know, I'm a TV junkie and I'm all over stupid things like getting early access to new TV shows. I did one in Vegas with my sister where we got to preview this medical drama called Three Rivers and then answer this 45 min questionnaire afterward. I'll be honest... I thought that was fun! One of the main things I remembered was that the show didn't have that "processed" look yet so instead of a primetime drama, it looked like a daytime soap opera and it was really hard for me to get over how cheesy that looked. HA! I'm sure that was helpful info to the production team.
ANYWAY... I was tempted to ditch to watch TV shows but knew I didn't have the time for that nonsense. So I went straight to packet pick up to collect my stuff. As usual, the shirts were a unisex style and ran large so I would be swimming in the one I got. I noticed a bunch of peeps were waiting in the "Size S" line. I guess they would allow you to start swapping sizes at 5PM (a couple of hours from that point).
|This is very boyish.|
I walked around the expo for a bit but surprisingly didn't see anything I liked. Not even at the official merchandise booth... I don't know if it's a Disney issue or a Champion issue but somebody is dropping the ball because they rarely have cute stuff. Not like the cute stuff that Nike delivers.
By the time I finished my rounds, I decided to go ahead and wait in line for the shirt exchange as well since I had time to kill. The line eventually got really long and once we finally moved, a lady cut in line. Now I believe it's possible that she just got confused where the line ends since it was really crowded in that area, but I was completely amused at how quickly the other women ahead of me were all "I don't think so!". I guess there were only 20-something size S shirts left and there were at least double that in line. So, you know, it was a DIRE issue.
After that, I shopped around Downtown Disney, making sure to text my Disney-loving sister images of where I was at to make her jealous. Bwa-ha-ha-ha... It's OK, I got her and her little boy some souvenirs so she didn't hate me.
Then I went back to the hotel to wait for Roadbunner to arrive. We later had a late dinner with my favorite Glee crew member, Penny. This was my first time meeting her so it was nice to actually hang out with a good Twitter buddy. Sadly, we forgot to take any pics at dinner.
Race start was at 6AM. I have this thing where I like to consume all my pre-race liquids and fuel as close to 2 hours before the race as possible so I was up at 4AM. Bleh.
Roadbunner and I later headed to the race start. Neither of us had gear check bags which was nice. After the potty stops, we wished each other good luck and goodbye at the start corrals. She had an early airport shuttle pickup right after the race so I was certain I wouldn't see her then. Once in my corral, I realized I had lost one of my yurbuds - so sad.
I had no time goals for this race. All I wanted to do was take lots of pictures and cross that finish line, no matter how long it took. And boy did I take my time!
The course was pretty similar to when I ran it in 2008 - except for a big part that I will get to later. You start down Disneyland Drive and the course is pretty ho hum for the first mile and a half. Then you enter California Adventures! From there, it's about two miles of sightseeing through the parks with tons of characters to take pics with. And since I wouldn't actually be going to the parks separately, I decided to make the most of it. During those two miles, I had a blast! I was truly happy to be a runner and to be participating in this event. It didn't feel like I was running a half, it was more like a scavenger hunt where I was going from character to character collecting pictures. I was mostly successful, well except for Woody and his gang from Toy Story. So rebellious, that crew! Toward the end of the parks I ran into Penny and her running posse who were sporting the cutest tutus! (And I hate to brag, but me and Julianne did the tutu thing early on - are we trendsetters or what??? *snort*)
Here are just some of the highlights through the Disney parks:
|Arriving at California Adventures|
|Moving on to Disneyland|
|Walt and Mickey - just like on our medal!|
|Approaching Cinderella's Home|
|Storming the Castle|
|Hanging with my fellow princesses - we went for tea later|
|What kind of chafing do you think this costume causes?|
Once I got out of the parks, I was hit by the brutal realization that oh yes, I really am supposed to do a half marathon here. The middle of the race (miles 5-8) was pretty dull as we were just going up and down the streets of Anaheim. They tried to make it interesting with school bands and cheering squads which I appreciated, but they were definitely nowhere near as fun as going through the parks.
|Again, I have to wonder about the chafing|
Oh did I mention we were also on the jumbotron? Like any good picture whore, I immediately tried to determine where that camera was angled at... I had to ask one of the lovely cheerleaders for assistance although to be honest, all I had to do was look for the line of runners (same thing with all the characters in the park). While waiting in line, I watched to see what the other runners were doing in order to capture the jumbotron shot. I pointed my camera at the jumbotron and then when I was ready, I looked into the big camera while clicking my point and shoot.
I was sad to leave the stadium because that was such a fun rush. Plus it was nice to experience something new from my previous Disneyland Half.
After that it was another 3 miles to the finish on nothing but boring streets. That was another part of the course they changed but not for the better. Last time, our last mile was through Downtown Disney which was fun because there usually would be a lot of people cheering at that point. But that's OK, I'll gladly sacrifice Downtown Disney for Angels Stadium.
I wasn't surprised by my finish time which is once again, a new personal worst for the half. Although I do find it funny that I missed a sub-3 finish by mere seconds.
At the finish area, I saw Penny again and this time we got a picture!
Check out the bling!
We got a special medal for the half because it was the 5th anniversary of the race. Now I know some people have some strong feelings about this (something to do with the 5 making it look like a 5K medal and celebrating a 5th anniversary is like "celebrating mediocrity" LOL) but I don't mind it. Actually, I *prefer* anniversary years at Disney races. Why? Because your medal is unique, no one else from any other year will have a medal like yours. Otherwise they use the same medal for at least four years in a row but just change the year and the strap. Like my Coast-to-Coast medal, it's pretty much identical to the one I already have. Makes me wonder why I went to all the trouble to get something I already own. :P I actually really like the castle medal this year... it's extra "blingy" which I like. And I also like that it has some color in it, too.
|Overall Place||9268 / 12372|
|Gender Place||5447 / 7857|
|Division Place||943 / 1311|
Afterward, I picked up this post-race treat in Downtown Disney. A candy and chocolate coated caramel apple. It was delish!!! Although, admittedly, it took me days to finish... that would be a lot of sugar in one sitting.
So that's about it for Disney races. I won't say "never again" but I will say definitely not in 2011. I've already got plans to spend my race $$$ elsewhere next year.