Category: Running Coast to Coast
|October 22, 2014||Posted by Running at Disney under Guest Posts, Race Recaps, Running Coast to Coast|
It’s time for the second installment of Running Coast to Coast! This month Joe is here to share his experience as a new Disney runner, a first time marathoner and of course a first time Coast to Coaster! Congrats on an awesome finish!
Hey guys. My name is Joe Quattrocchi and I wanted to share with everyone my experience with completing the 2014 runDisney Coast to Coast challenge.
This was my first year “Running at Disney” and the reason why I decided to start running at the Disney theme parks was to become a healthier person. I am a reformed cigarette smoker and quit smoking about four years ago. When I quit smoking, like most people who quit smoking, I gained some weight (about 25 pounds or so). I did not feel good about myself and for the first time in my life, I hit the 200 pound mark. This is when I decided to make a lifestyle change for the better and as someone who grew up going to Walt Disney World twice a year, what better place to sign up for a marathon and to get in shape and lose the weight than at Walt Disney World! So I decided to take the plunge, sign up, and start training for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon. Not only did my journey to better health begin there, but also my passion for runDisney began.
I started my 19 week marathon training program that would lead me up to the WDW Marathon. Before I knew it, January 2014 was here, I was twenty five pounds lighter, and in the best shape I have been in a long time. I was ready. I had studied the course map, read every runDisney blog imaginable (Thanks RAD!), ordered books on Disney Marathons, listened to the Mickey Miles Podcast (Thanks Mike and Michelle!) for tips on Marathon weekend etc. I then arrived in Orlando and was ready to hit the expo. I was excited to pick up my race materials, marathon bib, take photos, and walk around the expo and take in all that marathon weekend had to offer. When I arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a feeling of excitement had overcome me that I had not experienced ever. I felt elite, like I was part of an exclusive club that I was going to have the privilege and honor of running in the Walt Disney World Marathon. This was a race that sells out so quickly and I was going to be a part of it. At the same time, immense jealousy plagued me as I saw the booths at the expo for the “Dopey” and “Coast to Coast” challenges. Thinking about how excited I was, I thought to myself, oh I got to do that next time!
Marathon morning came and you could not ask for better weather! It was a nice and cool 55 degrees with little humidity. I was in corral “E” and ready to take on 26.2 miles of magic that were in front of me. The countdown for the race started and one by one, each corral was released with a spectacular fireworks display. For lack of a better phrase, it was awesome, and I got Goosebumps as my corral was released. The miles ticked away quickly and before I knew it, I had arrived at the TTC and the first real sign of spectators. Then, we headed past the Contemporary Resort and hit the Magic Kingdom and Main Street U.S.A. Main Street was packed with spectators and as a Disney fan, it was everything you could imagine it could be.
The miles ticked away as we passed the Grand Floridian, Polynesian (where I got my picture with Lilo and Stitch), and headed to the rear of the Animal Kingdom. Running through Animal Kingdom was pretty cool and I was very tempted to jump on Expedition Everest for a quick ride, but decided against it! However, I did see a few runners take advantage of this perk! At this point, we were at the half marathon point (about 2 hours or so) and the crowds started to build everywhere. We then headed down Osceola Parkway which was probably the worst part of the race. This road was just extremely straight and just boring, but once we hit ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, I knew we were starting to make some head way towards the finish. A few miles in ESPN and back out to the roads and headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was another favorite part of the race for me as by the time we hit the studios, it was open to the public for the day. It was amazing to run through the park as it was functioning at the same time. Some of my fondest memories of that race day was random guests cheering my name telling me to “keep going” and that “You (I) could do it!” Just amazing!
Lastly, we exited the studios, ran past the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and entered EPCOT where we were down the home stretch. Many things were going through my mind at this time. I could not believe that I actually made it this far and that I was about to cross that finish line and complete a marathon. Secondly, I couldn’t believe that something that I had thought about as a kid, thinking it would be cool to run the Walt Disney World Marathon and not knowing anything about long distance running at all, was actually going to happen. Lastly, I didn’t want this journey to end. It was a year long journey from deciding to run the race, to signing up for the race, to training for the race, and then actually running the race. I didn’t want my runDisney journey to end.
Well, I finally saw Spaceship Earth and made that right turn and crossed the finish line in 4:56:19. It was an awesome feeling having that marathon medal put around my neck knowing I completed a goal I had set for myself. I wore that medal proudly for the rest of my trip. When I returned home, there was one thought I could not get out of my mind. That thought was, “I gotta go Coast to Coast!”
I made my decision to sign up for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend and the Dumbo Double Dare. (Actually signed up for the Disneyland 5K too!) As someone who had never been to Disneyland before, this was going to be exciting not only visiting the “Happiest place on Earth” for the first time, but also to get my coast to coast medal. It was a long trip across the country (from New Jersey) to Anaheim but it was totally worth it. Arriving at the Disneyland Hotel and entering the convention center, the excitement which I experienced in January was present again. I picked up my Dumbo race packet and got my Coast to Coast Challenge wristband, I was ready to go. I then proceeded upstairs to the expo and began to wait online for official race merchandise. While standing in line, I began to strike up conversations with others who were also attempting to complete their coast to coast challenge. Everyone started to share stories of which race they completed in Florida and how that experience was. It was almost a bonding experience you were sharing with other runners that you just met but running the coast to coast challenge, it felt like you were on a different level as a Disney fan!
The next few days passed very quickly as I completed the 5K on Friday and then the 10K race on Saturday. These races were a lot of fun, but I was looking forward to the Disneyland Half Marathon where I would not only complete my Coast to Coast Challenge, but also the Dumbo Double Dare as well.
Race day was finally here and I was all set to go. I started in the B Corral and was waiting for the start of the race. The command was given and we were off! One thing I was disappointed in was that there was no fireworks shot off at the start of the race ( I am sure it was because the hotel and neighborhoods are so close to the starting line). However, runDisney made up for it with lots of lights and lasers and goodies like that. The crowds were fairly good at the start and unlike Walt Disney World, we saw spectators right from the start of the race which was really a nice touch. We raced past the outer perimeter of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier Hotels and made a left hand turn into Disney’s California Adventure Park. Like Walt Disney World races, you get a lot of backstage time in the theme parks and Disneyland was no different. We entered the rear of DCA and then ended up in “Cars Land” which was probably one of the hi-lights of the race.
Now, unlike a Walt Disney World race experience where essentially you are running completely on the property and are surrounded by areas where characters and entertainment are set up for you, in Disneyland, about mile 4.5 or so, you exit and hit the streets of Anaheim and head towards the Honda Center and Angels Stadium. Even though you are not in the parks and are not seeing any character stops for 8 miles or so, Disney has done a great job of organizing local car clubs, ethnic group performers, cheerleaders, and local bands to help entertain you while you run outside of the Disneyland property. Its not quite the same experience as Walt Disney World, but Disneyland does the best they can with what they have. This is one of the main reasons I think that there is and won’t be a full marathon at Disneyland. Just not enough room. As the end of the race approached, it was a real treat to run through Angels stadium and see literally thousands of people that were outside and inside the stadium and to watch yourself on the jumbotron of a Major League Baseball stadium was pretty cool. In Walt Disney World for the marathon, you also run through the baseball stadium at Wide World of Sports, but this was just way better.
Coming to the finish, we ran around the parking lot of the Disneyland Hotel and finished beside the hotel. The finish was good but not as good as the finish in Walt Disney World where you see Spaceship earth and hang a right hand turn and head home with large grandstands on both sides of you. But don’t get me wrong, every finish at a runDisney race is Magical!
Finally, heading through the finisher corral and getting that Coast to Coast medal was an amazing feeling. After just completing the half marathon and Dumbo Double Dare, I wasn’t even looking forward to those medals. The one that I had my eyes on was that beautiful Black and Gold medal depicting the partners statue.
After receiving that medal, walking around the parks all day and striking up conversations not only with other Coast to Coast finishers but with other park guests in general comparing stories was a lot of fun. This experience is something that I definitely plan on doing again in the future and I hope that runDisney continues to grow this program!
Joe Quattrocchi is from Riverdale, NJ and is a proud member of the Essex Running Club. He has been visiting Walt Disney World for much of his life and has taken over 30 trips to the resort. Having recently caught the runDisney bug, Joe is the running correspondent for the ResortLoop.com Podcast and has recently joined the Mickey Milers. He is now registered for the 2015 Dopey Challenge and you can follow along with his racing adventures on Twitter and Instagram!
Have you completed the runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge? Want to share your experience? Send me an email to email@example.com to be featured on an upcoming Running Coast to Coast!!
|September 24, 2014||Posted by Running at Disney under Running Coast to Coast|
I’m super excited to be starting a new series here on Running at Disney called Running Coast to Coast!! Last month when I was looking for contributors for Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, I had an overwhelming number of people want to write about their Coast to Coast experience. So instead of limiting it to one story for that race weekend, I thought it would be great to hear from everyone since I’m sure all stories are very different.
Today Jes is here to kick things off with her Coast to Coast journey from Princess to Disneyland! Not only does she have a fun story, but her costumes for all of the races are AMAZING! Check it out…
My journey to the coveted Coast to Coast medal began before I even knew it existed in July 2013 when I signed up to be one of St. Jude’s Heroes and run the Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge. I signed up on a whim, having no worldly proof that I could run a 10k, much less a half marathon and raise $1800. At the time, I had only been training for 5ks, but this was just the motivation I needed to take my training to the next level.
Having never run a Disney race or anything longer than a 5k, I immediately began to do research online and found a bunch of great blogs like Running at Disney. While I was reading every blog I could find about runDisney races, I quickly learned about the upcoming Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare and the Coast to Coast Challenge and just knew I had to add these to my list of goals for 2014. With proper training, I knew I would be able to complete the challenge. When registration opened for Dumbo in January, I still hadn’t run the Glass Slipper Challenge yet but knew I had to sign up right away because it would sell out, so I did!
In February I headed down to Walt Disney World to run the first leg of my Coast to Coast. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Florida, so Walt Disney World was a place I got to visit quite often and I was no stranger to the heat and humidity that Florida has to offer. However, after training through one of the coldest winters I can remember in the north east, the heat and humidity really did a number on me, and I threw any time goals I had for myself out the window. My only goal now was to finish.
I got through the 10k, dressed as a St. Jude Hero version of Rapunzel and moved on to the half marathon dressed as Snow White (with a St. Jude cape, of course).
I did it, I survived, my first half marathon was complete, and boy was I sore. I couldn’t believe I had signed up to do this again. Eventually the soreness went away and I was pumped to tackle another challenge and make my first trip to Disneyland.
Fast forward through a couple more half marathons and triathlons to August and I was on my way to Disneyland. Also at this point, I found myself smack dab in the middle of training for the New York City Marathon, and the Disneyland Half Marathon had a very specific time range for me to meet for my training.
We arrived in Disneyland on Thursday morning and had somewhat of a less-than-magical experience, but we pressed on and headed next door to the Expo. Once we made our way downstairs at the Disneyland Hotel, I found my packet pick up spot; it was the only one without a line! Finally something was going smoothly for the day! That’s when I realized there was no slot in the book for my Coast to Coast wrist band! I asked the volunteer what to do about this and she flagged down a runDisney employee. He asked me if I was sure that I had done a race in Disney World and if I had marked off on my registration that I was participating in the Coast to Coast Challenge. I said yes, and he sent me off to wait in a line at the Runner’s Relations booth. When I made it to the front of the line, the woman at the booth asked for my identification and which race I participated in. She then looked me up in the official results and strapped that green Coast to Coast Challenge bracelet on my wrist. PHEW!
Apparently it is quite common for there to be mistakes with the Coast to Coast Challenge wristbands. If there are any mistakes from one registration to another, such as a new address, a change in name, or in my case, my birthday was a day off on one of my registrations, it won’t sync up right in the system. So if you know you’re supposed to be earning your Coast to Coast, don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t have you marked down for a wristband on packet pick up day!
We spent all day Friday in the parks and had a plan to take the 10k slow, have fun with it, and stop for pictures and then focus on a PR on Sunday at the Half Marathon.
Everything was going according to plan, and we were about to hit the 5k pad in California Adventure.
Right in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant, I looked down and saw the trolley tracks. I told myself “DON’T TRIP ON THOSE TRACKS!” as; I have a habit of falling down running. The next thing I knew, my foot was caught, and I was going down hard. I twisted my ankle and slammed to the ground. It seemed like slow motion as my iPhone and water bottle flew out of my hands. My arm was bleeding, my ankle was throbbing, and I sprung up from the ground. A few runners gathered around me to make sure I was okay; one told me that I had a great recovery. Two or three Disney workers tried to escort me off the course to a nurse’s station, and I refused. I wasn’t about to give up my Stitch or Dumbo medals, so I pressed on. I hobbled/jogged/walked to my worst 10k finish time ever, but I did it.
When I got back to my hotel room, I realized my arm was in pretty bad shape, but my ankle seemed okay enough for a day in the parks, but probably not well enough to attempt that half marathon PR, so once again I was throwing my time goals out the window. Luckily, it’s a runDisney race, so even without a PR I knew I could still have a good time and get that Coast to Coast medal.
On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and got dressed for the race.
My leg that I had gotten stuck in the trolley tracks was doing some weird muscle spasm thing that I never had before. I’m sure it was some combination of falling, spending all day in the parks and dehydration. I made sure to fuel throughout the race and take as much water and PowerAde as possible. I loved that at the Disneyland Half there were so many spectators handing out food to the runners. It was nice to have an orange slice, red vine and a pretzel instead of just ShotBloks and water.
I started the race out slow and got faster bit by bit. My leg wasn’t feeling the best and the muscle spasms continued, but I just kept thinking of that Coast to Coast medal waiting for me at the finish line. Then finally there it was the finish! I crossed the line just three seconds slower than at the Princess Half Marathon and collected my Disneyland Half Marathon Medal, Dumbo Double Dare Medal and most importantly the Coast to Coast Medal!
My super speedy friend Matt had finished nearly an hour ahead of me, and my boyfriend Tim was stuck on the other side of the course with spectators, so we all agreed to meet up at the hotel room. I hobbled back to the Paradise Pier Hotel alone with my leg cramping up. I was nearly in tears from the pain, but people walking by me kept congratulating me on my Coast to Coast and that kept the tears at bay.
When I got back to the room, I took a shower and my legs was cramping up worse and worse. I downed a bottle of water with Nuun and took some Aleve and a nap. When I woke up it was time to head over to the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for all you can eat ribs and chicken.
Later on, we headed back to California Adventure and I did a dramatic reenactment of tripping on the trolley tracks.
Overall, the Coast to Coast Challenge was a great experience despite a few minor set-backs. Running through Disney World and Disneyland have a lot of differences and I’m glad that I got to experience both. I can’t wait to do it again next year to earn my pink medal when I take on The Glass Slipper Challenge and The Pixie Dust Challenge!
Jes is a full time engineer, part time toy maker and runner in training living in Maryland. She began running in 2013 after making a deal with her Dad that if she lost 30 pounds, he would get his long overdue colonoscopy. Her first half marathon was the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2014. Since her running journey began, she has run five half marathons, three 10ks, completed two sprint triathlons and numerous 5ks. She is currently training for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon and Goofy Race and a Half Challenge. Follow along with her journey at runsandcrafts.com or on Instagram @epictoychest.
Have you completed the runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge? Want to share your experience? Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured on an upcoming Running Coast to Coast!!
|September 18, 2014||Posted by Running at Disney under Guest Posts, Race Recaps, Running Coast to Coast|
I’m excited to bring you this prelude to a fun new monthly series here on RAD called Running Coast to Coast!! This week Alice is not only bringing us her Coast to Coast story, but also taking us through her first run at Disneyland…it’s so magical running through Walt’s footsteps and she has a great recap of all that magic. Make sure to come back next week as the new series officially kicks off on Wednesday…can’t wait! 🙂
To all that come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
I’m a west coast gal, but the Dumbo Double Dare (DDD) was my first runDisney event at Disneyland. I love Disneyland but hadn’t been to the park since 2008 so was really excited to see the changes there. My last event at Walt Disney World was the Glass Slipper Challenge (GSC) so I thought I might try to compare the two race weekends in which my sis, Lala, and I participated to earn our awesome Coast-to-Coast Challenge medals.
For the GSC, Lala and I stayed on Disney property at All-Star Sports. We don’t spend much time in our room and we want to keep costs to a minimum (to save up for more runDisney races!) so Value Resorts are perfect for us. I love not having to drive on vacation, so I never rent a car and make full use of the WDW transportation system. You are able to take a Disney bus to and from your resort to the Runner’s Expo and all running events. The WDW Expo is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which provides plenty of room for vendors and participants – although wear your sunglasses for the walk to the convention area because the glare from the concrete is crazy! (Sarah’s note: That’s no joke!)
I am not a morning person, so getting up at 2:30 AM on WDW race mornings was not magical. But once I put on my running costume and headed out for the bus with all of the other runners from our resort, I was starting to feel the magic. It was great fun looking over the costumes while waiting in the very long line for the bus and the excitement was starting to build for everyone. For the 10K my sister’s costume was Jiminy Cricket (her favorite!) and I was Cinderella Warrior Princess. For the Half Marathon, Sis wore Beast Mode (inspired by Beauty & the Beast and the Seattle Seahawks – Go Hawks!) and I wore Super Cinderella. I was inspired to do my versions of the Cindy costumes after I ran the Warrior Dash in 2013.
For the DDD, we stayed at an inexpensive motel on Katella Avenue (that’s the Anaheim Resort Transit Bus Route #8 – all runners receive a free ART pass for race weekend), which was about ¾’s of a mile from the Disneyland entrance on Harbor Ave. and also about the same to the race corrals and Expo in the Downtown Disney area. I’ve been to quite a few different race expos and I have to say, the Disneyland Half/DDD Expo at DL has been my least favorite. It felt like a maze or a quest where the prizes were our race bibs, shirts and pins. I think one part of the Expo was in an underground parking garage. Disneyland has much less space to work with than WDW, which factors in to several differences on the two Coasts.
At DL because there aren’t the long bus lines like at WDW, there’s an opportunity to sleep in a little on race mornings. I slept in until 3:30! I know some runners slept in until 4:30 or so and then trotted over for the race start but I need more time in the AM to get my cranky self up and moving. ART busses are running on race mornings but we chose to walk-jog over to warm up. We saw a couple of runners from our hotel, dressed as Nemo and Madame Ulanova from Fantasia (shout out to Julie!), but there wasn’t that same feeling of camaraderie and magical excitement as being with a large group at WDW. For the DL 10K my sis and I dressed as clowns inspired by the Dumbo Bucket Brigade game at Paradise Pier and the circus from the movie. For the Half, sis was the Stork who delivers baby Dumbo and because of a malfunction with my planned outfit (doh!) I instead went with a very simple and last minute Elsa costume.
At WDW, when you get off the bus at the race center, many people are gathered around the DJ area and dancing along for fun and to warm up. There are also several photo ops, gear check and meet up areas.
People are mingling, taking photos of each other and having a good time even at that oh-so-early hour. There are portapotties in this area but there are also portapotties in the corral areas. It’s a fair walk from the race center area to the corrals but it was a good way to get focused. People were chatting and excited for the start. And it’s fabulous to have fireworks at the start of every corral for all Disney races!
At DL, there are the same areas with the DJ and gear check but for both the 10K and the Half, but we didn’t see people dancing along to the music and the DJ didn’t seem very involved. I didn’t see any photo op areas other than just these signs around the light poles but I may have missed them.
The start for the Disneyland 10K was a little crowded, but not much more so than the Rock-n-Roll runs or other Disney races I’ve done. For the 10K we were in E (which stands for Everybody Else!) and for the Half we were in H (Help Me Make It To the 1st Bathroom Stop!). The 10K was fun and easy breezy – the Disneyland Half was a whole ’nother deal! The other runners we saw the morning of the Half seemed intent on getting to the portapotties and then on to the corrals as soon as possible. Boy, once we got back to the corral areas I could see why – it was a sea of sparkly-skirted, ear-hatted, polka-dotted running humanity! I have never been bothered with claustrophobia (Mission:Space? No problemo!) but wow, after about 20 minutes of standing shoulder-to-should, hip-to-hip and front-to-back at about smack-dab in the middle of the pack of about a gazillion other Happy Hoofers in corral H, I was ready to look for adventure in the great wide somewhere.
But giving up is for rookies, right? – and after what seemed about 40 minutes we hit the start line. I was never so thankful to be moving. Even though the start for our corral wasn’t fast and furious, we saw a couple of people go down – I hope they were ok and able to finish the race.
We were spoiled by the amount of characters and photo ops along the race routes at WDW for the GSC. Especially when you are a back-of-the-pack runner like me, abundant character stops mean that I may have a chance to stop for a few coveted pics with favorite characters.
And here’s a pic of my fave sign from the Half – muggy and sticky? You betcha!
And we loved this guy!
But one of my very favorite moments from the Princess Half was running by the “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” area with the music and the beautiful swooping kites. Sometimes when I’m running in training or at another race I randomly break into that song and smile at the memory. I’ve even heard a shout of “Princess Half!” at a race when someone recognized the song.
In the earlier corrals the runners know they have more time before the balloon ladies and the sweepers come along. In the later corrals we know we have to keep moving so Sis and I pick only those character and photo ops that are near and dear to our hearts, and even at that if the lines are long we must skip them. I so very much wanted a pic with Cinderella for the GSC, but alas, that was not meant to be.
There were very few character ops for back-of-the-pack runners at DDD, especially in the Half. If I’m remembering correctly there was Elvis, Stitch with another Elvis, and TowMater. I know there were quite a few more for the faster runners and those in the earlier corrals. We did stop for a few pics on the course!
However, there was great community support along the Half route and because we were having a pretty rough time of it that day – tired, hot, and frazzled by the race start – I’m not sure we would have finished ahead of the sweepers without that support. The classic car clubs were so wonderful; clapping and encouraging us and seeing the beautiful cars was a great way to make that section go by more quickly. Trudging through the section by “the river” was tough; I think many people felt as I did because it was very quiet, no chattering or encouraging words. So at one point “Elsa-me” broke into a quick chorus of ‘Let It Go’ and when that was well received I led a round of M-I-C-K-EY M-O-U-S-E! Great support along the course also from several different Disney-themed web pages and groups, and from the Boy and Girl Scouts at the Angels stadium. Running through there was great fun and the announcer even called my name over the PA system!
In both race weekends, running through the parks is magical – if you are a Disney lover, it is enough to put a lump in your throat and bring tears to your eyes, all the while making you want to laugh with joy like a child.
I have two upcoming race weekends at Disneyland; the Avengers Half and the Star Wars Rebel Alliance. I know we’ll head to the corrals earlier and try for a better corral placement for Star Wars, and just be more mentally prepared for the crush of the crowd in the smaller space available at Disneyland.
If you haven’t tried a runDisney race, what are you waiting for?!?
Let’s go fly a kite up to the highest height, let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring! Up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear – oh let’s go fly a kite!
See ya on the course real soon!