Category: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

Race Weekend Dining at Disneyland Resort

Disneyland has some incredible dining options and choosing which ones are best while you are visiting for a race weekend can be a tough decision!!  You want to enjoy all that goodness, but you have to keep in mind the optimal nutrition for the races.  Now after the races are a whole different story…

Well I’m happy to say that Jenna is back today with a TON of tips and delicious food porn from her recent trip to Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.  If you are hungry, you have been warned!

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Whether you eat to optimize your running, or run so you can eat all the things, you’ll be able to find something great to eat on a race-cation to Disneyland. I took full advantage of the diverse choices available.

TangaroaTerraceSalad

While you’re at the Race Expo at Disneyland Hotel, why not stop over at Tangaroa Terrace for this beautiful salad? The Tangaroa Terrace Salad has mixed greens of lettuce, cabbage and kale, and is topped with pineapple, grape tomatoes and toasted macadamia nuts. It comes with crispy marinated tofu, but I opted for sautéed shrimp instead. It was extremely good and fresh tasting.

BreakfastOfChamps

The one big drawback of staying on property at Disneyland is that you are somewhat limited for early breakfast. I couldn’t find any information on whether Paradise Pier was going to have food for sale early on race days, so I packed a package of bagels and some single serve peanut butter packs for breakfast. That banana cost me $2 at the coffee/breakfast stand at Paradise Pier. All subsequent bananas were 2 for $1 from the 7-11 a half mile from Disneyland. The ART bus makes that trip a little shorter, but you’ll still have to walk a ways. I understand Von’s grocery store delivers!

CarnationCafeVanillaLatte

After an early morning running the 5K, I needed two things: caffeine and carbs! The Carnation Café on Disneyland’s Main Street met both needs admirably. I started with a lovely vanilla latte.

CarnationCafeAppleGranolaPancakes

Then I moved on to the apple-granola pancakes. The pancakes are light and fluffy and the apple and granola toppings are yummy! It comes with either hickory smoked bacon or chicken-apple sausages. I had the sausages and added a side of fresh fruit. They serve breakfast until 11:00. A later breakfast meant no lunch for me that day.

StageDoorCorndog

A corn dog and fries is probably not the healthiest choice for race-cation dining, but there’s no denying that it’s a tasty choice! Stage Door Café in Disneyland and Corn Dog Castle both sell hand-dipped corn dogs that are better than any corn dog you’ve had in the past, hands down. If you want to healthy it up a little bit, you can opt for apple slices instead of fries.

ParadiseGardenGrillBeefSkewer

For a far healthier choice in the same general area of Corn Dog Castle in DCA, one of the Mediterranean skewer platters at Paradise Garden Grill is excellent. You can select your choice of grilled steak, lemon-oregano chicken, spicy meatball, or grilled tofu and vegetables. You then choose either chili sauce, chimichurri sauce, or tzatziki. All platters come with rice pilaf, cucumber salad and pita. I chose the grilled steak with chimichurri sauce. The steak was well-marinated, tender and tasty. The whole platter was delicious and I would definitely recommend Paradise Garden Grill for someone looking for a good counter service meal in DCA.

ParadiseGardenGrillBand

As a bonus, Paradise Garden Grill has lots of comfortable outdoor seating and a bandstand for entertainment. I just happened to sit down when the Ellis Island Boys jazz band was playing. It was a great way to enjoy a meal!

RiverBelleTerraceRoastTurkey

If you’re in the mood for a homey, filling counter service meal in Disneyland, I recommend the River Belle Terrace. I had tender roast turkey and gravy, roasted potatoes and succotash with a buttermilk biscuit and a side of cranberry marmalade. They also have roast beef, fish, black bean cakes, as well as sandwiches and salads. Its close proximity to the Rivers of America make it a great choice for a quick meal before staking out a spot for Fantasmic.

WineCountryTrat_Bruschetta

If you haven’t opted for the Pasta in the Park party the night before the half marathon, but you want to carb load, Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure is an excellent choice. We were seated a few tables over from runDisney hero Sean Astin, which confirms my opinion. We started with the rustic bruschetta with roasted artichokes, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions. There were four pieces of bruschetta (two of our party were a little quick to grab theirs, so the picture is missing a little something), which turned out to be the perfect portion to share.

WineCountryTrat_CampanellaBolgnese

All three of us chose the campanelle Bolognese as our entrée. The servings are quite large (I only ate about half of mine) and the sauce and pasta are excellent. The “pasta your way” at Wine Country Trattoria comes with three pasta choices (campanelle, spaghetti or tagliatelle) and five different choices for sauce.

When you’ve finished your race or races, you will naturally want to celebrate! Luckily, Disneyland offers a lot of different choices for a celebratory meal or drink! I chose to celebrate the 5K and the Half Marathon three different times, just because I’m like that!

MendocinoTerraceSparkling

Immediately after recovering from the half, I texted my friends “I need champagne.” They didn’t need to confirm. We knew where we were going. Mendocino Terrace in California Adventure is next to Wine Country Trattoria and offers a lot of different red, white and sparkling wines, as well as beer and soda. I started with a sparkling flight poured by friendly and knowledgeable sommelier, John. Flights are not listed on the regular menu, so you do have to ask if you want that option, and because they use glass glasses instead of plastic, you do need to stand at the bar while tasting. It soon became apparent that the St. Hilaire was my favorite, so my friends and I had an additional flute or two while enjoying the afternoon parade from the terrace.

MendocinoTerraceCheeseBox

I also got the cheese box which had an assortment of cheeses (including a fantastic bleu)), grapes, candied walnuts and a couple of packets of grissini breadsticks.

ArielsGrottoView

But how would you like to have dinner with a view like that, knowing that you’d have an equally great view of World of Color later? We had our post-race dinner at Ariel’s Grotto for the World of Color package. It’s a fixed price meal, and you really can’t beat the view down on the lower terrace.

ArielsGrottoBread

ArielsGrottoSuperfruitSangriaRed

Upon being seated, we had beautiful bread and the superfruit sangria that’s available at nearly every Disney lounge. I’ve even had that sangria at Disney’s Vero Beach resort!

ArielsGrottoButternutSquashSoup

The meal starts with a choice of two soups: butternut squash and crab chowder; or a house salad. I got the delicious butternut squash soup and my friends had the crab chowder, which they said was excellent. The serving size is exactly right for a three course dinner.

ArielsGrottoBBQTriTip

There are a number of different entrees on the dinner menu, but I didn’t stray too far into the exotic. I had the red oak smoked honey-whiskey barbecue tri tip. It came with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the sauce and the beef was cooked exactly the way I like it. My friends had the tri-tip with the addition of a grilled lobster tail.

ArielsGrottoDDessertTrio

Dessert at Ariel’s Grotto is a trio of petite desserts: a chocolate covered strawberry, s’mores cake, and crème brulee. All were delicious and right-sized.

The dinner package includes preferred viewing for the California Adventure night time show, World of Color. The viewing area is not the innermost “wet zone” ring around the lagoon, but is just inside that ring. I got thoroughly misted by the show, but had a fairly unobstructed view. I had a FastPass for World of Color the previous year and would have to say that this viewing area is better and less crowded.

FantasmicDessertView

If a view like this and a chance to celebrate while sitting and enjoying decadent desserts is more your celebration style, I can’t recommend the Fantasmic! Dessert Party enough. It’s a little pricey, but definitely worth it if you don’t want to stake out a spot hours in advance to stand up for the duration of Fantasmic with what might still end up being an obstructed view. I was lucky enough to have a front-row center seat for the show. And besides that: dessert!

FantasmicDessertBox

When you’re seated for Fantasmic, a server takes your drink order. Coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, soda and water are all available. I had hot chocolate and water. Then your server brings you a large box filled with tasty treats. This included flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, a coconut macaroon, a lemon tart, and a huge, raspberry-filled cookie. The box also contains a bunch of red grapes, five pieces of individually wrapped cheeses, two packs of crackers and two truffles. The box’s size and shape makes it a neat lap top table/container and makes it easy to carry leftovers out of the park. I was only able to eat some of the desserts, and took the rest, all of the cheese, crackers, and truffle back to my room to enjoy later.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating my way around Disneyland and I think it’s clear where my running/eating motivation lies. What are your favorite Disney foods to eat on race-cations?

ChEARing at the 2014 Disneyland 10K

ChEARing at a runDisney race is not only motivating for the runners, but for the chEARers as well!  Hey, it’s what got me to run my first race!  As a runner, I love when spectators get creative and make signs, wear funny outfits and simply give out high fives.  All of the effort they put into chEARing us on is one of my favorite things about Disney races.  Jenna (who you might remember from her Disneyland Half Marathon recap) is no exception!  She recently chEARed a few friends on at the Disneyland 10K with some super fun signs and has some great tips for spectators.

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When I was chatting with my friends Andy and F.J. making plans for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, I snuck one little secret plan into my itinerary. While I did run the 5K on Friday, there was no way I was ready for back-to-back races. Unlike my friends, I didn’t register for Dumbo, and not running the 10K on Saturday left a gap in my race morning schedule. I could have slept in, I suppose, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun!

Instead, I woke up just a tiny bit later than the runners and got ready to cheer my heart out!

While still at home, I studied the course map and figured out what I thought would be the best places to watch. Unfortunately, the runDisney site is a little vague on viewing locations, but I thought I could fit in three viewing locations without crossing the course while runners were on it.

I decided to make signs to show my support. I made three custom images and taped them to a tri-fold foam core board.

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Sign 1: A picture of Patsy and Edina from Absolutely Fabulous which F.J. had posted to the Team Mousejunkies Facebook group. This one got some confused looks, but a couple of people at least smirked. Grade: B-

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-AwHon

Sign 2: A picture of Sissy from the movie and TV show Sordid Lives with a comment about how crazy most people think Dumbo Double Dare runners are. No one knew what this sign was. It was very specific to my friends and I decided to switch from it pretty quickly. Grade: D+

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-AKAIDOGE

Sign 3: A picture of Andy and F.J.’s Shiba Inu, Akai, done up in the style of the Doge internet meme. This sign proved to be pretty popular. Everyone loves Doge. Even if they don’t know Doge, they love fun dogs. Grade: A+, with extra credit for being personal.

On Saturday morning, I studied the more detailed spectator maps in the race weekend program, then headed out with my sign. I followed the runners and immediately got misdirected.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a volunteer in front of the Lego Store.

“I don’t really think there is a place where you can watch the start.”

I checked the program map and confirmed that the starting line was listed as a viewing area.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a Disneyland cast member a little further down.

“Well, the starting line is that way. Follow the runners.”

Hmm. I ran the 5K the previous morning and I didn’t remember anything like that near the actual starting area.

“I’m looking for the starting line viewing area?” I asked a security person waving runners toward the race start.

“Starting line is this way. Follow the runners.”

By this time it was about 5:00 AM and I knew I was running out of time to find the mythical viewing spot.

“I’m looking for the place listed in the program where you can watch the runners at the starting line?” I asked a runDisney staff member who saw me aimlessly wandering through a darkened parking lot with a sign in my hand and asked if I needed help.

He promptly pointed me to the spot in Downtown Disney overlooking the tunnel the runners go through right after the race start. I found the area, but it’s very small- only about 15 feet wide- and it was already full of spectators. I realized that not only was there no room for me, there was no way anyone was going to see a sign above them in the dark!

On the other hand, most of the coffee and snack places in Downtown Disney open early on race mornings. A quick trip to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express and it was time to take my coffee down to the next spectator spot on my list.

The next viewing spot was outside the main entrance to Disneyland (known as “the Esplanade”), where the runners go from one theme park to the other. This is one of the places where the route for the 5K is very different than the route for the 10K. During the 5K, you actually exit California Adventure through the main gate, run across the Esplanade between the two parks, and then enter Disneyland in front of the train station. In the 10K, runners bypass the DCA main gate and head back stage for a bit before running through a quick corner of the Esplanade, and then into Disneyland.

Soon, we heard the race staff calling out that the first wheelchair participant was coming. The wheelchair leader flew through in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment. The spectators whooped and hollered. Then the first runner was coming through, bringing more cheering from the crowd. After several runners had passed, the staff announced the first woman runner was approaching. The cheering was punctuated by a few calls of “Go, girl!” I noted that the leading woman was dressed as Tinkerbell, complete with wings. Not only was she the first woman on the course, she was the first costumed runner on the course!

My first sign got some confused looks and then some smiles. My big worry was that they would think that I actually had booze to give them. No such luck!

I cheered on the pack as they ran through the short space on the Esplanade. Whenever I recognized a costume, I called it out by name. “Woo! Go, Jessie! Go, Captain Jack! Go, Mary Poppins! Run, Buzz Lightyear!” When there were no costumes, I cheered, “Woo! Go, runners! You look great! You’re awesome!”

I kept looking for Andy and F.J., knowing that they would be running together and what they would be wearing. Suddenly, I spotted them. “WOOO!! Go Andy and F.J.! YAY!” As far as I know, that was the first they knew that I would be up and cheering for them. I saw F.J.’s head snap around and the guys waved quickly, but that area goes by a little too quickly for more than that.

I switched my sign to the next in the stack and took it down to the next spot, Downtown Disney. Both the 5K and the 10K routes run through about a quarter mile of Downtown Disney at the very end of the race. I positioned myself near the fountain in front of La Brea Bakery, right after the runners exit Disneyland. I soon found out that I’d put myself in an area with an excellent echo, so my cheers were amplified even more. It was also getting light, which helped immensely!

The only reaction to my second sign from everyone who looked at it was confused looks. Sordid Lives is an LGBT cult classic, but not exactly widely known. I realized that this was probably the only chance I had for my sign to be seen by Andy and F.J. as they ran and I had to make it count. So I switched the sign to Akai as Doge. Sorry, Beth Grant!

It was awesome to get to cheer for the 10K runners! I saw so many Dumbo Double Dare bibs. I saw people in fantastic, meticulously planned costumes. I saw lots of people in regular running clothes. I saw a single-leg amputee running on a blade.

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-bladerunner

And I saw so many people recognizing and smiling or laughing at my third sign. A lot of people love Doge and the sign turned out to be a huge hit. One guy yelled “So mileage!” as he ran past and later, when he was walking past after the race, stopped and said, “That sign is so great! I love it!”

Soon, Andy and F.J. rounded the corner and I cheered louder than ever. The looks on their faces when they saw and recognized the picture were priceless. After the race, F.J. told me he teared up three times during the race: running through the castle, at the finish line, and when he saw the sign. “It was like having Akai with us!”

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-AFJ_10K2

After my friends passed, I moved up the route a little bit to the 6 Mile marker to continue cheering and wait to meet up with the guys. When they made their way to me, they took over the sign holding and joined in with the cheering. We stayed through the last runners, yelling “It’s just around the corner! Go, runners! You look great! Keep going!”

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-AndyFJAkaiSign

And when we saw the last few people coming through on golf carts, we applauded them for their effort. It’s got to be so hard to get so close to the finish line and not finish, but just getting out there and trying is a feat that most people won’t achieve and wouldn’t dream of attempting.

Some tips for spectators at Disneyland races:

  • Have fun making signs! The bigger the letters and shorter the message, the better. Make it personal, but make it something everyone can recognize and enjoy. (Cute pets are universal.)
  • Some of the Downtown Disney coffee and snack places are open early on race days (e.g., Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express).
  • Pick your on-course spots carefully.
  • During the 5K, the best spot to watch is along the route on the Esplanade between California Adventure and Disneyland.
  • For the 10K, you can watch from both the short stretch along the Esplanade (closer to the left of the entry is best and most visible) and along the route in Downtown Disney. If you can only do one, pick Downtown Disney.
  • The Half Marathon has a number of places where you can see runners, but keep in mind that you may have a hard time reaching some of them due to road closures. The City of Anaheim website publishes detailed road closure information about a week before race weekends. The most popular spot seems to be the halfway point (in the current race route, that is in front of Ganahl Lumber on Ball Rd.). I can tell you from personal experience that gummies, licorice, and other favorite running fuels are a welcome treat at that point!
  • The 5K, 10K and Half Marathon all have bleachers available at the finish line. For the Half Marathon, this seating is reserved for ChEAR Squad Gold and Platinum packages.
  • If you can, stick around to cheer for runners who are finishing at the back of the pack. That encouragement means so much to people who are struggling to finish.
  • Show appreciation for the costumes! You never know when you will run into something like this marvel. She’s the Tiki Room. Best. Costume. Ever.

2014-Disneyland-10K-Spectating-Jenna-TikiRoom

First Time Running Disney at the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon

Your first race is something you will never forget.  Your first runDisney race is a memory of a lifetime!  I remember every second of mine like it was yesterday.  This year, Celissa’s first half marathon AND runDisney race was the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Just look at all the fun she had!

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It never crossed my mind that I would one day run a half marathon. I never pictured myself running such a long distance and saying that I am a runner. But today, I am extremely proud to say that I am a half marathoner!! Not only did I complete a half marathon; I completed a runDisney half marathon!!

I signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon under heavy medication after having my wisdom teeth pulled out. I disliked running but I have always wanted to participate in a runDisney event. A couple of weeks after signing up and after my little sister pushing me, I downloaded the training plan by Jeff Galloway and started my new running road to complete the half marathon in once piece.

Well August came fast and it was time to head to Disneyland to attend the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo. I had read that the expo had been chaotic in the past, but it was such a breeze. I was so excited to get my bib and t-shirt!! Words cannot express the emotions going through my body at the time. This non-runner was going to try to complete a half marathon.

After my mom, sister, and I picked up my bib, we headed to the expo. WOW! We were completely overwhelmed by how many vendors there were. We were able to visit the KT tape table who graciously retaped my shins since they were giving me problems throughout my training. We were also able to see Sean Astin from The Goonies and Lord Of The Rings speak about his experience as a runner. He is such a great speaker and gave us great advice on keeping positive throughout our runs.

kt tape-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

jeff galloway-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

sean astin-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

The next morning, we were up at 3:10 a.m. on race day. I stayed calm as I put on my Goofy costume, but the excitement was creeping up.

goofy mirror-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

As I packed my last Gu in my running belt, all I could think of was what if I was picked up by the sweepers? What if I overheated? Is that possible? Then before I knew it, we were walking towards the Disneyland Hotel and trying to find our way to the corrals. As we followed every runner that was headed the same direction, I started to calm down and enjoy the positive energy that was radiating throughout Downtown Disney. Everyone had a smile on their face amidst the humidity that was starting. We finally made it to the corrals and I had to part with my family since they were not running.

family run-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I was on my own. I was placed in corral J since I had never ran before and did not submit a running time. Once I reached my corral, corrals A and B were off and the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen started playing. Then corrals C and D were off. And then corral E. F. G. H. I. As we started to move closer to the starting line, I had noticed that we had been standing in the same place for close to an hour. Even before my feet realized that they were hurting, we were off! Here we go!!

We reached Mile 1, which seemed to be right around the corner. Mile 2 was filled with school marching bands, color guards and drumlines. They cheered everyone on as we passed by.

incredibles babsy-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We had finally entered California Adventure and immediately ran into the Green Army men from Toy Story. I continued running and finally hit Paradise Pier! It was so neat seeing all the colors coming from Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

feris wheel-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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I continued running and before I knew it, I was out of California Adventure and into Downtown Disney. While running towards Disneyland, I was able to see my mom and sister waving and gave them high fives as I ran by. Running into Disneyland was AMAZING! Somehow the feeling doesn’t compare to that of just walking in. I ran onto Main Street and saw the drummers from the Soundsational Parade. They totally kept the atmosphere positive and upbeat.

drummers-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

As I headed down Main Street, I was able to stop and took a picture with the Three Caballeros (minus Donald).

birds and me-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

The course took us in front of the partners statue and into Frontierland, having us pass Thunder Mountain and into Fantasyland. I had just missed Dumbo flying in the air when I took my picture, but there wasn’t a line so I asked the cast member to take a picture.

dumbo-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

All the cast members were so helpful and never hesitated to take pictures. I passed the carousel and heard Cinderella’s step sisters yelling at us from the horses. I continued the course and ran into Sleeping Beauty’s castle!!! This is one of the highlights of the entire race and it was fantastic to hear music coming from the castle!

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me and castle-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We ran out of the castle and into Tomorrowland where I was able to take a picture with Darth Vadar!

darth-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

The course went from Tomorrowland then between the Matterhorn and Finding Nemo. As we were running to ToonTown, we saw Jafar and Maleficent out for pictures as well as Dr.Facilier and Cruella De Ville. I ran into Toon Town and got a picture with the Army Men from Toy Story. I thought it was so neat to begin and end the course throughout the parks with the green army men.

army men-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We headed out of Disneyland and into the backlot where we were greeted by the custodial staff and the beautiful Clydesdale horses.

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From then on was all highway. There were plenty of water and Powerade stations to refuel yourself along the way. So many marching bands and cheerleaders, florklorico dancers, Polynesian dancers, and rows and rows of classic cars entertained us.  Thank you spectators for getting up so early to cheer us on!!

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I headed towards the Honda Center, which I had never seen before, and then the course lead us onto the Santa Ana trail which was dry but gorgeous. And hot! The sun had decided to peak his head out and join us for a 13.1 mile run.

honda center-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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We continued running and finally saw the Anaheim Angles Stadium! Oh. My. Goodness! Running into the stadium was amazing!  Everyone in the stands made us feel like rockstars! It ended too soon, but that meant that we were close to the finish line!

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Miles 10 to 12 became extremely blurry since I had pulled a muscle and was running with a little bit of pain, but I was still determined on finishing strong and upright. We passed some more encouraging cheerleaders who were yelling that we were almost there.  And there it was…the back of the Hollywood Tower Hotel! Next came mile 12 and I could hear the cheering getting louder!

mile 12-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We passed the back of California Adventure and rounded the corner that lead us to the Disneyland Hotel. I saw it! Mile 13! I felt my smile getting wider and my eyes get teary because I, the non runner, made it to mile 13.

mile 13-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I saw my little sister close to the finish line and I heard her yell “You’re almost there! Take a selfie” WHAT!?! I turned and almost fell and thought GEEZE that would have been awful to be feet away from the finish line and fall!

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I ran to the right to give Minnie a high-five and crossed the finish line SMILING!! I turned to see my sister and she was cheering her head off. My sister is my inspiration for running! I ran this race for her! She is the runner in our family, but sadly, she was attacked by dog and injured one of the discs in her lower back. I ran this race because right now she can’t. I also ran this race because I wanted to prove to myself that I could! And Disney made it more magical. I received my medal and just couldn’t stop staring at it. I met up with my family and the waterworks started! 13.1 miles! Not a lot of people can say that they ran a half marathon!

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I am now a half marathoner and I am so happy that runDisney was my first! It was such an amazing event! All the soreness and pain that is caused by training is so worth it at the end. I wanted to pick my favorite part of the race but the whole race was my favorite part. From start to finish. If you think you can’t do, you CAN! And once you cross that finish line and receive your medal, you will be so happy that you signed up!

I have signed up for the Avenger Half Marathon in November and I can happily say that I have become obsessed with running. I feel the strength in my legs and lungs. I will continue to run and train until I can cross that finish line with my sister.

medal--2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I am a runner!! Yup, I said it.  See you all at the starting line!

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*****

Celissa has been a lover of Disney since she first kicked in her mothers tummy 29 years ago. She now enjoys running and hopes to run along side her sister in the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon. She hopes to one day work for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank,Ca. She has amazing support from her mom, dad, sister and husband.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Recap – A Story of Strength and Solidarity

We’ve all had those races that are a struggle.  Either we are not prepared or the weather is bad or we are just not mentally in the game.  Jenna went into the Disneyland Half Marathon not feeling so great, but ended up persevering and finding new friends along the way.  I first met Jenna during the 2013 Princess Half Marathon Weekend and we have remained friends since.  Her positive attitude, infectious smile and ability to laugh during the difficult times make her a joy to know.  All of that is what got her and others through a difficult race. I dare you to not tear up by the end of this race recap…CONGRATS JENNA!

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Before the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon, I had a pretty strong feeling that this was one race I would not be finishing. I was undertrained, overweight, and had half-healed injuries. Two weeks before the race, I made one last attempt to get in a 10 mile run, but got a blister 6.5 miles into it, so quit after 8 miles. All of this left me extremely worried as race day got closer. I studied past results and run blogs obsessively. My one goal was to get to the other side of Angel Stadium, where I knew I would see the last sweep point.

I did the 5K on Friday and had a nice, fun run around the parks to settle myself down and enjoy the scenery without worrying about my timing chip. On Friday night, I watched the Magical fireworks show at Disneyland and heard the words “Wishes make your dreams come true.” No, I thought. Hard work makes your dreams come true. But if I had one wish, I knew what it would be.

On Sunday, I got to the race start just after the corrals opened. I was in Corral I, so I had plenty of time, but I wanted to get as close to the front of the corral to squeeze out as many extra minutes as possible.

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I had met a cast member in my corral on Friday night and Christina and I spent the endless time before our start chatting with her and trying not to worry.

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And then we were off!

I felt pretty good at the beginning, though I kept thinking about the 20 ounces of water I drank in the corral. My calves felt tight and my shoes felt loose, so as soon as we were in California Adventure, I stretched one and snugged up the other. One quick bathroom break in Cars Land and it was back to sticking to my intervals as much and for as long as I could.

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Along the way, I settled into a pack and chatted with people around me a bit. I got a piece of advice from one runner that would prove to be invaluable in more ways than I knew.

She advised me to breathe more deeply, from my diaphragm and gave me some techniques to help. It was great advice and just what I needed. I remember thinking, she knows what she’s talking about and she’s going about my pace. If I can keep her in view, I will finish this race. She was easy to spot in a mermaid patterned Sparkle Skirt, purple shirt, white ball cap and CamelBak. And this plan absolutely worked. There were times when I’d pass my mermaid runner. There were times when she passed me. But we were usually pretty close.

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Through the middle third of the race, I was acutely aware of my blister. Though it had healed in the week prior to the race, walking around Disneyland for three days before the race had brought it back and made it… angry. I’m pretty sure it broke sometime around mile six. So while I remember the Mexican folkloric dancers on Cerritos Avenue and the step dance crew on Lewis Street, I was way more focused on the pain in my foot.

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Soon, I’d reached the halfway point and the sea of signs cheering on runners (mostly from MousePlanet). I knew I didn’t have a sign there, but it didn’t stop me from making a muscle for Parker or cheering for the real men who were running in kilts. I was just so happy to see that spot! I was also happy to see my mermaid runner making a beeline for the Team MousePlanet support tent. Got a hug from Ken the Free Hugs (to end racial discrimination) guy, and I was off and trudging along again.

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Mile 7 found me totally distracted by the sheer number of flooring, kitchen and bath stores on State College Rd. A little voice said, “Drop out! Buy tile instead!” I think I was delirious.

Angels Stadium… Angels Stadium… It became a mantra for me. And at one point, I could see the top of the A. I tried to take a picture of the A. And then my music stopped playing and I couldn’t get my phone to work again. So I had to be stuck in my own head for the rest of the race. That is not a happy place to be when you’re rapidly approaching the furthest distance you’ve run in 18 months. (Unbeknownst to me, it started working again two miles later and took pictures from inside my pocket.)

I didn’t even notice when we passed the Honda Center, even though I was looking for it. I said out loud, “My feet feel like water balloons.” A passing runner said, “That’s really… That’s a really good… I know just what you mean.” My feet were so swollen within my shoes that I could feel the fluid in them and later discovered that my pinkie toenail sliced right into the swollen piggy that didn’t have roast beef.

I could see other runners struggling. There were the sisters dressed as the Potato Heads. There was the woman who was literally pulling her friend up the hills. There were all the people telling each other how much they hurt, as they kept walking, running and moving forward.

When we got on the Santa Ana Trail, I heard the dreaded sound: balloon ladies calling out, “We’re behind pace! Pick it up! Don’t slow down!” They were right behind me! I did what I could to get back to intervals whenever possible, but the trail was getting narrower and the pack was getting more confined. When we approached the bridge underpass and people realized that Angels Stadium was still on the other side of the Orange Freeway, you could actually feel people slow down in disappointed shock. Then the balloon ladies yelled again and it sent us scrambling down the hill.

The tunnel into Angels Stadium was wet, downhill and gritty, but you could hear the roar of the crowd on the other side. All of my exhaustion and soreness was no match for a stadium full of cheering Scouts! I high-fived every kid in reach! In the melee, I didn’t notice precisely when the balloon ladies passed me, but by the time we emerged from the tunnel out of the stadium, they were in front of me. And so was some guy running with a small broom. Oh, no! No, no, no! I didn’t come this far to get swept! I could see busses at the far side of the parking lot. I could see security guards.

I ran past them.

I don’t know how long after that they closed the last sweep point, but I was past it!

About a half mile later, I caught up with my mermaid runner, thanked her for the breathing advice way back in Disneyland and we fell into chatting. She said her name was Janna and she told me the story of her Tinkerbell Half experience. At some point on the route, she was shoved by another runner, stepped into a pothole and twisted her ankle. She didn’t finish. She was doing Dumbo this time, after months of loss and illness.

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Janna’s Feet From Inside My Pocket

“I just don’t want to get swept again.”

“Janna, we’re past the last sweep point.”

“What?! Where is it? Never mind, don’t tell me.”

“It’s almost a mile behind us. We are finishing this race.”

“I’m not getting swept? I’m finishing the race?”

She started crying in relief and I gave her a sideways hug as we kept walking.

“You are crossing that finish line if I have to human crutch you across it.”

From then on, the race was all about sheer stubbornness and solidarity. We stuck together the remaining two and a half miles: keeping an eye out for mile markers; keeping our feet going; keeping each other’s spirits up. At some point, when we were finally back on Disney property back behind California Adventure, a couple of high school cheerleaders danced alongside us chanting “WE’RE! SO! PROUD OF YOU! WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU!” I grinned like an idiot. I was proud of us, too!

Finally, we were into the finish line viewing area and I could see my friends, F.J. and Andy cheering for me. They were in Corrals A and D and were showered and changed already! I hugged them and got them sweaty again. They told me how proud they were of me. I ran back to catch up with Janna. “There’s no time for hugging our people!” Janna said, right before she ran over and hugged one of her people.

I saw a sign that said “You look hot when you sweat!” and said “Darned right I do!” and started strutting down the approach to the finish line. The remaining, die-hard crowd went wild!

Then I turned to Janna and said, “You ready to run across that finish line and end this thing with style? Gotta look good for the pictures! “

“You know I am!” she said. We ran the rest of the way, dodging people going in for the hug with Mickey and Minnie.

Across the finish line, we had another tearful hug and got our medals (Half for me, Half and Dumbo for Janna!), then went our separate ways. I was off to gear check and medical (dry socks and ice packs were all I could think about), and Janna went to find her husband. We are now Facebook friends and I think of us as foxhole friends. Shared strength and solidarity are vital pieces of running gear!

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The 2014 Disneyland 5K, a First for a runDisney Veteran

I’m so excited to begin coverage of the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend!!  To kick things off, Minnie (yes that is really here name – how fun!) is here to recap the Disneyland 5K.  Minnie is a runDisney veteran, but this was her first time running a 5K.  You know why she did it?  Well you’ll have to read on to find out!

***

My name is Minnie Paule and I have been doing runDisney races since January 2013.  Tinker Bell was my first half marathon and runDisney race.  Since then, I have participated in the 2013 Disneyland Half, 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge, 2014 Tinker Bell Half and now the 2014 Dumbo Double Dare.

This past weekend was my first runDisney 5K and the first time I signed up for all three races.  I decided to do the 5K after the medals were released.  Registration was already sold out for the 5K.  I had to find a way to register for that race to get that medal!  Luckily, I found an organization called TSA (Tourette Syndrome Association) that was selling bibs and asking for a fundraising minimum of $200.  At the time I registered with TSA my awareness of what the organization and disorder was about was limited.  I am now educated and proud that I chose this organization to associate myself with.  It was truly an honor to race for those dealing and living with Tourette Syndrome.  I even got to meet Dash Mihok from the Showtime hit series Roy Donovan at the Thank You Luncheon for TSA.

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The night before the race, I laid out my costume.  I was pink Minnie Mouse to match my pink runDisney New Balance shoes.  I also prepared my fuel belt, drink and breakfast.  I was taught to “dress the chair” so that you aren’t pressured and rushed the morning of race day. (Sarah’s Note: Great tip!!!)

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I was assigned to corral C and waited for our corral to move up to the start line.  In the meantime the race announcers, Rudy Novotny and Carissa Bealert entertained the crowd.

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My sister, Mildred and I were doing the race together.  We are walkers but we jog to get around bottle necks.  We keep a 14 – 16 min mile pace.  Here is my selfie at the mile 1 marker.

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A 5K is the best time to take pics with all the characters and landmarks in the parks!

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Receiving that beautiful medal at the end makes the race all worth it!

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Overall, the race was not too difficult but the humidity and heat made it a little uncomfortable but doable.  Definitely need to hydrate and stay focused on your breathing and form.  Other than that, Have fun, smile and enjoy the experience!

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*****

Minnie Paule has been a runner since October 2012 beginning with the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco as a member of Team in Training (TNT).  She continues run for TNT in support of her best friend’s mother who is battling her third bout with lymphoma.  Besides running to raise funds, Minnie really runs for the bling and has in total run 8 half marathons, 1 full marathon, several 10Ks and a couple 5Ks.

If you would like to make a donation, please go to her website: http://pages.teamintraining.org/gba/nikesf14/mpaule

 

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