Back-to-back runs is something new for me, so I wasn’t sure how Saturday’s 10K run was going to affect my run in the half on Sunday. Even during training, there were no back-to-back runs. I was following Jeff Galloway’s training plan for the Dumbo, and in that training plan he has you do long walks, rather than runs, on Saturday, and then the long runs on Sunday. That seemed odd to me, but who am I to question the master? So that was my training regimen, imperfectly followed to be sure, but long walks on Saturday and long runs on Sunday.
The good news is that I did not feel any ill effects from Saturday’s 10K. No soreness, aches and pains, or notable fatigue as I was getting ready on Sunday. And I decided the motto for the day was “no excuses”. Saturday was done, it was not going to affect my performance on Sunday. The weather was again unseasonably warm, and while that would undoubtedly affect my speed, it was not going to keep me from finishing and having a great time. I had three medals waiting for me at the finish line and I would run, walk, or crawl across that finish line to get them.
The corral situation was less confusing today. As soon as I turned the corner to head to my corral, I saw the “G” balloon clearly — and now that I know where G corral actually is, I’m pretty sure that the marker balloon had not been there on Saturday. I knew I’d be slow today, and that starting in the last corral gave me no margin to fall behind pace, so I wanted to at least give myself the advantage of being in the front of the corral. Mission accomplished — I was ready to enter the corral at 4:20 a.m. and was in the front row. I sat on the pavement and passed the time texting and Facebooking, although I eventually realized I had better make sure I had enough battery power for the race and put the phone away.
We watched corrals A-F start; I think the intervals were 7 or 8 minutes apart. As F was moving to the start, they began moving our barricade forward, and we edged our way closer to the start. Once F had gone they moved us into place — so I had a front row view of Mickey, Minnie, and our race announcer as they counted us down to the race start.
First half of the race
And then we were off. Being at the front of the corral certainly has its advantages — yesterday I had been so hemmed in that I felt like I couldn’t set my own pace at all. Today with nothing but pavement in front of me, I was able to establish a good pace early, and the first couple of miles established a good faster-than-PR pace that I hoped would carry through. Very early on I realized that there was some lingering effect from yesterday’s run — although I had felt nothing standing or walking, once I started to run I felt some twinges in the thighs indicating that I wasn’t 100% recovered from the 10K. But this never became a factor, just something I was aware of without feeling it was affecting my run.
We did not run around by the convention center today, instead turning left on Katella, and then left on Harbor, to enter the park earlier than in the 10K. Somewhere before mile 2, there was a big cheer coming from behind us, I turned in time to see the eventual race winner loping past us (Mile 2 and Mile 12 ran parallel for a while behind DCA). Interestingly enough, I did not see the 2nd place or any other runners, so I have to assume the winner took it by a pretty good margin.
Our course through the parks was different than yesterday. Instead of coming in through Cars Land, we ran behind Paradise Pier and California Screamin’, and entered the park at the western side of the Pier. World of Color was again on for us as we ran along the northern side of the lagoon and headed into Cars Land. From there we ran in front of the Tower of Terror and then headed toward the front of the park, essentially the reverse of yesterday’s course. As we passed Soarin’ we turned right and exited the park, crossing the Esplanade and then entering Disneyland.
Our course through Disneyland again took us down Main Street, but this time we went left rather than right at the hub and entered Frontierland. We were able to run the Big Thunder Trail — this has been closed the entire month I’ve been here due to Big Thunder Mountain construction, I wonder if it will be closed again after the race. We came out into Fantasyland, ran through the castle (yay!), and then turned into Tomorrowland. We wound our way past it’s a small world and through Mickey’s Toontown, this time exiting Toontown through the same backstage entrance that we came into Toontown through in the 10K. Our backstage run here was more curtailed than yesterday, heading straight out onto Disneyland Drive and then making a right towards Ball Road. (I was a little unclear on the exact geography here … it seemed like we were running through the same area the corrals had been. But that can’t be because the early wave runners would have been through here before the late corrals had emptied. But I’m now curious — if I’d been at the back of the corral rather than the front, and looked behind me, would I have been able to spot the first wave of runners coming out of the park?
The Mile 4 marker was just as we came out of the park. Now we had a long stretch of road running ahead. At most of the mile markers, a couple of sweepers on bikes would tell us how we were doing vs. the required pace — 8 minutes ahead, 8 1/2 minutes ahead, 9 minutes ahead. I’ve never heard these announcements before, but then I’ve never started in the last corral so I guess I’d never cut it as close. The good news is the numbers were going up, I was building a little buffer ahead of the sweepers at each mile.
Miles 6 and 7 were all just road running. Water stops were more frequent than the 10K (the 10K had been criticized for not having enough). I was getting water at each stop, but had not adjusted sufficiently for the heat and humidity — I didn’t realize it at the time but I was not hydrating enough, and that was going to bite me very shortly.
Second half of the race
Between Mile 7 and 8 we went by a series of classic cars that lined both sides of the route. I was amazed at how many there were — I figured there would be 20 or so cars, but then you’d turn the corner, and there was another row, We entered the parking lot of the Honda Center, and there were still more. There had to be at least a couple of hundred cars on display. I was really starting to feel the heat at this point; I stopped trying to follow my pre-programmed run/walk ratio and decided instead to just run enough to keep my pace ahead of the required 16 min/mile pace.
At mile 9 we came to Anaheim Stadium. We got a lot of encouragement here … cheerleaders, marching bands, scout troops — a lot of organizations had turned out to cheer. (And actually there had been a lot of this along the route prior to this — but this was the main concentration).
It was nice to have the cheerleaders rooting us on, although a lot of them were encouraging us to fight, which seemed a bit strange for a friendly run. Must be an L.A thing, maybe our race jerseys looked like gang colors.
About this point, the heat caught up with me. I walked my way through the stadium, not running at all between miles 9 and 10. I assured myself I just needed to cool off a bit, get some fluids into me, and then I could pick up the pace for the last three miles. But the reality was I was done running, for all practical purposes — I’d do a few short 15-20 second runs maybe once a mile or so, and across the finish line, but I just didn’t have anything left in the tank.
Mostly it was the heat that had gotten to me, but I won’t deny that I hadn’t been as consistent with my training as I should have been, and always trained in the coolest part of the day in a more temperate climate — so I just had nothing to prepare me for the heat wave that manages to follow me to every runDisney event. Also, it’s hard to find that motivation to run when everyone around you is walking … we were definitely the back of the pack at this point, and I think everyone within sight of me was content to just walk it in from this point in the race. (Also, those helpful sweepers who had been calling out our pace at each mile marker did not appear again after mile 8 … I suspect that due to the heat they may have relaxed the pace requirement.)
Somewhere along mile 11 I realized I wasn’t even walking a straight line, so at the next water stop I took a little extra time to get more fluids in me, and had them refill the water bottles I was carrying (one was empty, and the other was as warm as bath water).
The finish was uneventful … I remembering walking by the spot at Mile 12 where we had spotted the leader run by 3+ hours ago, and walking around the Paradise Pier hotel and crossing through Downtown Disney, where we were being cheered on by a lot of the early finishers. Then we rounded a curve and I could see the finish line. I didn’t think I could run it from there, so I waited until I’d closed about half the distance to the finish line before I broke into a jog. I made my way to the left side were Goofy and Mickey were awaiting, and got high fives from both just before I crossed the timing mat.
After the finish, I turned into the post-race area and had the big “D” Disneyland medal hung around my neck. Then I made my way over to the Dumbo Double Dare tent, where I exchanged my wristband for a Dumbo medal. And then to the Coast-to-Coast tent, where I again exchanged a wristband for a medal. (Dumbo is for doing both the 10K and the half this weekend, Coast-to-Coast is for doing a half-marathon or greater at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the same calendar year)
Water and Powerade were next — not just cups, as along the race, but full, cold bottles. I took two Powerades and drained them right on the spot, then a water bottle to carry with me. Photographers were moving through the crowd taking pictures, I had two or three taken around here so I bypassed the photo lines were you got your picture in front the official backdrop. I grabbed a food box at the runner refreshment tent and sat down on the pavement to rest a bit — the walk back to the buses was a half mile or more and I needed a minute before I headed out.
I think I sat for 5 to 10 minutes. I posted something to Facebook saying I’d finished, and then stood up (an amazing accomplishment) to head through Downtown Disney and to the shuttle bus area. About midway through DTD, I felt I needed to sit down for a minute. I had gotten a little light-headed. I still had my water bottle with me, so I sat for probably 15 minutes sipping water. I spotted a drink cart nearby, and decided another Powerade was in order. I stood up again, found that the lightheadedness had passed, and walked to the drink cart, and then continued on to the buses.
I took a few hours of rest in my hotel room, and then put on my Half Marathon shirt, hung my medals around my neck, and headed back to Disneyland to get some pictures with my friends the princesses.
Next up: Wine & Dine half marathon in early November. Between now and then, I’ll be doing my training runs in Atlanta, where the humidity will be more comparable to Florida. And I’m hoping to get cool weather for that one … my WDW and DL halves have set the bar pretty low for a PR, so there’s no reason not to clear it easily in my next run.
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Course Maps and Corral Placement (runningatdisney.com)