It’s odd to think that this time last week I was at about mile 7 of running round Disneyland. For the last 18 weeks, it’s been the focus on my weekends – and a fair few posts, but now, it’s all over and all I’ve got left to show for it are some shiny medals, a few nasty chafing marks that haven’t healed yet and some amazing memories! So, now it’s time to share some of those with you as I sum up the Disneyland Half Weekend.
FRIDAY 9.45am – LET’S START WITH THE EXPO
For the non-runners among you, the Expo is where you go pick up your race number – and depending on how the race works, maybe a goodie bag and your race shirts. There’s also often a lot of stalls selling clothing, runners food (yes, we eat special things) and entries to other races – in other words, it’s a geek fest for running types. The Disney one opened at 10am on the Friday morning, I turned up at 9.45 expecting a bit of a queue – I walked into line-mageddon. There were people everywhere, queues snaking in all different directions and a palpable sense of panic in the air! Despite this I was surprised to see Jennifer from The Final Forty sitting in the queue to the Expo – being slightly jetlagged and not quite believing I’d spotted someone I recognised, I made a complete twit of myself by heading up to her and saying ‘hello, I know you from the internet’ – not a good opening line. To add insult to injury, I then kind of wandered off into the chaos probably leaving her thinking she was being stalked online by crazy women with British accents!
Thankfully, the one thing Disney know how to do it’s organise a queue, and so with the rapid arrival of a man bearing coloured sticky tape, lines were drawn on the floor and order was restored. It was still chaos, but it was organised, jovial chaos – and once the doors opened the line to pick up your race number moved really fast. My main job after picking up my number was to try and get moved up a corral in order to buy myself a bit more finishing time which I did. I then pootled round the Expo. I had thought about buying a Sparkle Skirt – but the queue was out the door and nothing on any of the other stalls appealed. Thankfully I also didn’t want anything from the official Disney merchandise as apparently that was a zoo – a zoo of madness, where the other animals were snapping up stuff to sell on ebay leaving massive great holes in what was left and creating a queue to pay of over two hours. There were a few raised voices going on over that in the foyer when I left! I however had legs to rest, so after a carb heavy lunch at ESPN cafe I went back to the hotel……
SATURDAY AM: THE 10km – START TIME 6.15am
✔ Running tiara.
This is how your pre-race check goes when you’re running in a Disney race. And yes, you have to check shoes and shorts because you’re up at 4am – and because it’s a US hotel room, there’s no tea-making facilities (and I don’t drink coffee), let’s just say I was not exactly fully awake when I left my room, but thankfully my lovely running buddies from the WISH team were also staying in the same hotel so they could guide me in the general start-related direction via the 7-11 for an industrial sized cup of English Breakfast.
We got to the staging area about 4.30 – I don’t like to speak to people before a race so I headed off to a little corner to eat my breakfast, then as soon as they opened the corrals I headed to my spot in Corral D. I was expecting to be a bit over emotional but I managed to get through a rendition of the US national anthem (which normally always starts me weeping) and some fireworks without sobbing. The first two miles went superfast – in fact, I was running 10 minute miles which is pretty speedy for me. Then we entered the fun bit of the course – running through the two Disney parks – California Adventure and Disneyland. I’d already planned to have fun on this course as I was confident I could easily run it all faster than the 16 minute mile we had to keep to, so I had a great time having my photo taken with various bits of Disney scenery, there were characters en-route but the queues to have pictures taken with them were really long – I made an executive decision I would only stop for Eyeore and Tigger (neither of whom were en-route) – but then I saw Sully from Monsters Inc, all plans went out the window with an internal cry of ‘Kitty’ – and I spent 10 minutes waiting for a picture which ate into my time buffer a bit. I then came across a baby cow and a donkey which I also had to spend some time cuddling.
The result of all this fun was that just as I was leaving Disneyland I ran past a race marshall who said ‘come on people, you’ve trained for this – you don’t want to get swept off the course’ – at this point, I realised my 10 minute pace had slipped to about a 14.5 minute one – queue a very rapid final mile and a bit once we’d got out of the park. I finished with a time of 1.24. And a really itchy right wrist – I think I might be ever so slightly allergic to cows! Thankfully I had a shiny 10km medal to take my mind off scratching.
This was absolutely THE most fun race course I’ve ever run – including the other Disney races I’ve done. Because it was only a 10km, there’s so much less stress and pressure which means you can really enjoy it. Plus you spend a greater percentage of time in the parks which made the time – and miles – pass extremely quickly. There was so much to see and I spent the whole time with a huge beaming grin on my face – except when I turned corner and someone said ‘smile everyone you’re just about to enter Disneyland’. Then I dissolved into huge choking sobs – trust me, it’s really, really, hard to run/breathe while sobbing – your lungs get really confused not knowing if they’re supposed to be gulping in air or breathing out. Thankfully they worked it out – passing out due to lack of air in front of the castle would not have made a great race photo.
By the time I crossed the finish line (with Mickey Mouse to welcome us in) I was really looking forward to the half marathon the next day. Funny how things can change within 20 hours – but more on that tomorrow………