Posts Tagged by inaugural avengers super heroes half marathon

A Cast Member’s Recap of The Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

We all know that Disney Cast Members are one of the main reasons that make every visit to any Disney Park so special.  That’s because most of them love the parks just as much as we (the fans) do!  And like us fans, they also love to runDisney!  Christina is a Disneyland cast member and today she is here to share her experience running the Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon in her home away from home 🙂

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Have you ever dreamed of being a superhero? I sure have! That’s just one of the reasons I signed up to run the Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon.

Being a cast member, my journey into the running world started a long time before I laced up my first pair of running shoes. I worked every runDisney event in some capacity and when 2014 started, I added running a half marathon to my list of resolutions. By the time I finally got over the butterflies about taking on such a big race though, I had missed the deadline for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Through the runDisney website I found Team Muscle Makers for UCMD and started my fundraising campaign. Not even two months later, runDisney announced the Avengers Half and I signed up with Team Muscle Makers for that race as well.

Fast forward 6 months, probably the fastest 6 months of my life, and it was Avengers Half Marathon Weekend!! I spent both Friday and Saturday attending the expo, hanging out with my teammates, and visiting with my fellow cast members who were working the event. I have to say one of the best parts about running as a cast member is the encouragement from my cast before, during, and after the race. It was like I had my own personal cheering squad!

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Race day started bright and early (ok maybe not bright! Lol) and I set my alarms probably far earlier than I needed to. During the Disneyland Half I had stayed at a Good Neighbor hotel but this time I was coming from my house and I had no idea what kind of time I would need to park and walk to the gear check. After double checking my gear multiple times and putting on my Captain America costume, I added the final touch which was my Team Muscle Makers wristband. The kids we were running in honor of made us all wristbands to wear during the race. I ran for Joe.

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The drive and parking went quickly and left me with plenty of time to check out the stage by the family reunion area. I snapped some pictures with the Agents of SHIELD, who decided I am Hydra because I can’t Macerena. I also saw more friends from my work locations who despite my nervousness were quick to tell me how awesome they knew I would be and wish me luck!

The cast photo was scheduled for 4:15 am and we quickly assembled in front of the stage. 80 cast members ran in the first ver Avengers Half Marathon. As we were lining up, the announcer said something about missing a few people and naturally we all started looking around for the missing people. Right then out came the Avengers!! The cast members were as excited as the kids we make the magic for as Hawkeyes, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America took the stage. Once the photo was finished, it was time to head to the corrals! I met back up with Team Muscle Makers for a quick team photo and off to the corrals we went.

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I was the only one in Corral H from the team and so I had to quickly split off from the group. At this point, the nerves were starting to kick in and I decided to people watch. There are no shortage of things to see in a runDisney race and there are truly no limits to the costumes. I saw all the Avengers, some lesser known Marvel characters, and even one guy dressed as an LA King in full hockey gear! Just as I settled into the corrals, I realized I never checked my sunglasses with my gear but was far enough in I decided to run with them since I didn’t want to give up my spot. With more than an hour ahead of me in the corrals, I made small talk with other runners until race time.. One couple was running their first west coast race going for their Coast to Coast medal and another woman was running her first half. Time flies when you are having fun and race time was quickly upon us.

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Corral H was a very large corral and race start was crowded with lots of people straying on to the sidewalks to go around the packs of walkers. The course was quite different than my last race and we headed into California Adventure right away via backstage and into CarsLand. CarsLand was beautiful all decorated for the holidays and Mile 1 was there before I knew it. We headed towards Condor Flats, passing Grizzly River Run and I spotted my first character. Hawkeye was standing by Soarin’ Over California but had a huge line. I waited just a second until someone stepped away and took a quick picture of him. I’m a slower runner and I wanted every last second to make sure I didn’t get swept.

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Exiting Disney’s California Adventure and entering Disneyland via backstage, I spotted our Main Street Vehicles cast members waving and encouraging the runners along. Continuing backstage, we entered the park through Splash Gate and into Critter Country. This is the part of the course I was most excited about (second being Angel Stadium) because it’s my second home. I’ve been a cast member for a long time and I’ve been part of New Orleans Critter Country (NOCC) Attractions since 2008. We passed Splash and Pooh quickly and came upon a SHIELD agent warning us of the hill leading up towards the Haunted Mansion. I snapped a quick selfie with the gate of my house.. Yes, my house lol. I think I spend more time there than I do at home and once again debunked the rumor of death certificates as I ran by.

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Mile 2 and Black Widow was in front of the Golden Horseshoe but her line had already been cut off due to how long it was. Through Fantasyland and out through the castle was next, and I saw a big group of our third shift Custodial with a big sign that read “Third Shift Custodial Welcomes You” as well the the beginning of the chEAR squads. My favorite sign read “You look MARVELous!” I noticed there weren’t very many signs compared to last time but continued running down Main Street and out of Disneyland.

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The cast members pointing the way to Harbor Blvd had a ton of energy and were cheering us on all the way. As I moved down Harbor I saw mile maker #3 and that was the last one I saw for awhile. Right after I passed #3, I saw some of my Team Muscle Maker teammates with some signs and I stopped for a quick picture.

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Crossing Katella, I quickly noticed one big change. The WIND. It was blowing so strong that cones, markers, fencing and signs were blowing around the course! Dirt off the nearby construction zone had runners stopping in their tracks. Remember those sunglasses I forget to check? Boy was I grateful I had them!!!

Turning down Chapman made the wind seem worse bc now you were running straight into the wind. Runners were losing costume pieces, hats, and debris was flying at us. I made the comment (not knowing how loud I was – thanks headphones!) about “not realizing this was an obstacle course” which was met with cheers from the runners around me. We headed into The parking lot of the church (formerly Crystal Cathedral) and the volunteers were soaking wet from the water flying everywhere. Huge shoutout to them for sticking with us despite the crazy weather. I never saw the next couple mile markers because they had been destroyed or blown over by the wind. There was a huge hill just before the Santa Ana River Trail and I quickly snapped a view of the runners behind me.

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The river trail was a nice long straightaway that started with some gorgeous Avengers art on the wall. Along that stretch I met a runner who had done all the runDisney races this year and saw Ramiro (who was the inspiration behind my running shirt for this race). Also along this stretch was some of the best cosplay I have ever seen. My favorite was Loki!

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Leaving the river trail, we headed into Angel Stadium with a huge tailwind. I probably wasn’t but there were a few times I thought I was airborne! With the help of another runner I got a few pictures of myself on the field (including the photobomb I didn’t notice until after the race!). If I wasn’t being timed, I would have hung around the stadium all day. Leaving the stadium, I came across the WWII military set up. They represented very branch of the military and I was told that some of them were veterans!

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The wind was really bad at this point and had really slowed down a lot of people but with little to look at Mile 10 came up quickly. Just as I went under the freeway at

Disney Way, someone came running through yelling about the people sweeping. Everyone took off and seemed a lot like the stampede in the Lion King! I did see the bike guys as I crossed Anaheim Blvd but checking my watch I knew I was well above the pace. Double checking, they told me I was fine. From that point until we hit Harbor Blvd again was probably my least favorite part of the course. It was tight with lots of people and the cars were still traveling next to us and seemed to pay more attention to the runners than the road.

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Just before I entered backstage at Disneyland again, I saw cast members I worked with and they really pushed me to pick up my pace. At this point,

I saw the official runDisney 16min/mile walkers (aka the ballon ladies) and I realized how much time that tight stretch on Clementine had cost me. I picked it up all the way to Disneyland Drive when all out fatigue and hip pain hit me. I was so close!!

As I came into the Simba parking lot, there was a local high school chanting “Hail Hydra!” I laughed so hard, it shook me out of my momentary funk and pushed me forward. Just past the Paradise Pier, I saw Rhoda (another NOCC cast member) and I ran over for hug. Everything hurt and she just looked at me and said “You are at 12.9! Keep going! You got this!!” It was seriously just the thing and I pushed forward through to the finish line! Waiting there was one of my closest friends, Laura, who greeted me with a huge hug and walked with me to get my medal.

There is no doubt that “runner’s high” is a real thing because there is nothing like having that medal around your neck!

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I quickly grabbed my gear and headed towards Downtown Disney because the Fmaily Reunion Area had been closed due to the extremely high winds. There I met up with MaryJane (one of my moms closest friends since high school) who came out to see me finish the race.

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Despite the crazy wind, the Avengers Half Marthon was one of the most fun races I’ve been a part of. And the best part? I set a personal record!! I finished in 3:39 almost 7 minutes faster than my DL Half time!

I want to say a huge thank you to all the cast members and volunteers who came out to the race to make it a reality! Laura, Rhoda, Jessica, Michael and all the cast members who cheering me on before, during, and after the race – thank you! Thank you to my husband and boys who were waiting at home with huge hugs – thank you! And Team Muscle Makers for UCMD thank you for letting me be a part of your amazing team.

Coming From Australia to Get Her Coast to Coast! Part 2 – The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

As if running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in the pouring rain wasn’t enough after flying halfway across the world, Ashleigh took off to Disneyland later that week to run the Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon!  Here’s what it was like to run 2 half marathons in 1 week…

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After all the fun at Wine and Dine, we boarded a plane on Wednesday to LA in preparation for the Avengers Half Marathon. For me, the timing of Avengers was perfect. It meant I could fit in 2 runDisney races, and get my Coast to Coast in one 3 week holiday.

We had decided to stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel as I was a little nervous having never been to Disneyland before about getting around without a car. Although staying onsite was quite expensive in comparison to staying onsite at Disney World, I found the benefits of being able to walk everywhere to outweigh the cost factor (especially because it was our first time there). If we were to visit again I would probably choose to stay offsite, unless I was planning on doing a multi-day runDisney race with a few early mornings.

The expo was held at Disneyland Hotel, and I heard rumors that the Disneyland expos can get quite hectic, so even though the expo wasn’t scheduled to open until 10, my boyfriend and I went over at about 9 to get in line. THANK GOODNESS WE DID! There were a few different (long) lines- official merchandise, packet pick up, volunteers and Dooney and Bourke (I think). All the lines were set up in a downstairs area of the Disneyland Hotel- I want to say a carpark, but don’t quote me on that one. I originally got into the packet pickup line before my lovely boyfriend pointed out the long official merchandise line, so we made the very smart decision to move lines. We waited in line until about 9:40, when the line began moving into the expo area upstairs, and by about 10:15 we were in the merchandise area.

I had seen quite a few cute items posted on Facebook and Twitter, so first on the list was an ‘I smashed the Half’ Hulk tech shirt. I also picked up a few other bit and pieces- a hoodie, drink bottle, I did it shirt and a medal pin.

My expo haul! I love race expo shopping!

My expo haul! I love race expo shopping!

The official merchandise area was really hectic so I wasn’t keen to stay and browse. Check out had a line but it was very organized, and we were all done with official merchandise by about 11. We then went back down and I picked up my packet and Coast to Coast wristband (YAY!), and I was then directed to get my photo taken for my Coast to Coast medal.

The best bracelet I have ever been given! The Coast to Coast wristband!

The best bracelet I have ever been given! The Coast to Coast wristband!

The lines at packet pick up were super short and I was in line for less than a minute. We then went back up to the expo to pick up my shirt and I picked up a couple more things: a Sparkleskirt, a #teamsparkle visor and some GUs. Even though it was a lot of going backwards and forwards, getting the official merchandise first was a good choice for me, because I was desperate for the ‘I smashed the Half’ shirt. If you weren’t too fussed about merch you could probably do the expo in a much more organised fashion.

The cute Avengers background at the expo was the perfect photo opportunity!

The cute Avengers background at the expo was the perfect photo opportunity!

We had a relaxing day on Friday after the expo and chilled at the hotel pool, and on Saturday we headed to the park early and returned to the hotel around 4. I had the plan to go for a quick swim and spa to try and loosen up, and get an early night around 8:30. I fell asleep at 8:30, but woke up an hour later and couldn’t get back to sleep until past midnight. When the alarm went off at 3:30 I was sleepy but excited. I got dressed, having laid out all my clothes the night before and left the hotel around 4.

Flat Ashleigh/Captain America. I think I saw about 3000 Captain Americas racing!

Flat Ashleigh/Captain America

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I think I saw about 3000 Captain Americas racing!

I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but everything was well signed and I ended up chatting with some other runners on the way. I was in my corral by about 4:30, and just sat down and enjoyed the entertainment. I was in corral F, and I had made sure to get a spot towards the front of the corral. As it turned out, corral E and F were released together, so I ended up being the middle when we were released. It was a little congested at first, but the crowds thinned pretty quickly. The start line was really well decorated, but no fireworks like at Wine and Dine

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The first 3 miles through Disney property were amazing. Lots of crowd support, lots going on and lots of character stops. I stopped for a quick photo with the Green Army men, plus a photo with Mickey and Minnie on Main Street, and a photo out the front of Disneyland in front of the station. These lines were all quite short, so I could justify waiting in them.

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The lines for the Avengers characters were a different story. Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America were all on course, but with such long lines (approx. 50 people) I couldn’t wait. I am not a 16min/mile runner, so I have some leeway for photo stops, but I couldn’t risk stopping for those photos so early in the race, with no idea exactly how long the lines would take. After we left Disney property it was the end of the photo opportunities with lines, so in retrospect I probably could have waited in line, but I didn’t know that until later.

Miles 3-8 through Anaheim were a little boring to be honest. While there were school bands and cheerleaders out along the way, there were also large stretches of nothing. The wind was brutal and there were points of the races were I couldn’t even look where I was going as the wind was blowing so much dirt into my eyes. I really struggled at this point of the race. Lots of the mile markers had been blown over and many were missing clocks or the Avengers artwork.

Mile 6 marker missing its clock. Funnily enough this was one of the less destroyed mile markers!

Mile 6 marker missing its clock. Funnily enough this was one of the less destroyed mile markers!

It wasn’t until I saw Angel Stadium that my morale picked up a little. Running around Angel Stadium was the fastest part of the course for me, there was lots to keep me distracted, lots of people cheering and I knew I was in the home stretch.

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Arriving at Angel Stadium I knew I was almost there!

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The crowd at Angel Stadium was awesome- just the pick me up I needed

Just past Angel Stadium there was a line of Service men and women and I high-fived as many as I could. I powered through the last few miles and I was relieved when we finally stepped back onto Disney property. I think I was told I had 1 mile to go for about 2.5 miles. At this point some of the mile markers had completely disappeared, and even though I was wearing my Garmin, it had been over by about 500m from the 6 mile mark, and then I had lost reception going under some bridges, so I had no idea how accurate it was. When I ran past Disneyland Hotel I knew I was almost there. I picked it up a notch and sprinted towards the finish line. I was so relieved to have crossed the finish line. It had been a really hard race for me.

I was directed to the Coast to Coast tent, where they looked up my bib number (cross checked me with my photo I presume) and I was handed my medal. They had 3 people on computers at the Coast to Coast tent, and although it would probably depend on when you finished, I personally didn’t have to wait at all. I walked up and was checked straight away. After I put on my medal, I stopped for lots of photos, got my food and headed back to the hotel to relax. After 2 weeks, 2 half marathons and 2 coasts I was ready to relax.

I headed to the parks later in the afternoon (after a shower and much needed nap) and showed off all 3 medals! I love the way cast members just come up to and congratulate you, it makes it such a special day.

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Showing off all my medals!

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I had an absolute blast running Disney and would recommend it to everyone. With the right training and a positive mindset any one can complete a half marathon. Thanks for reading, and hopefully I will see you at Marathon weekend (I’ll be doing Dopey)!

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Congratulations Ashleigh and we can’t wait to hear all about Dopey!!!

RAD Recap for March 30, 2014

The big news this week is that I QUIT MY JOB!  I finally decided to take a leap of faith and follow my passions.  I’ve been stuck in a dead end job for 5 1/2 years that just doesn’t satisfy me anymore.  I want to be creative, I want to make a difference, I want to be happy and I’m finally on the road to making that happen!  Fun things to come!!!!

Follow-Your-DreamsTo celebrate, I made some Mini Chicken Pot Pies…you will want to check out this recipe!

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Now on to the crazy runDisney news of the week.  The Inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend sold out in record time!  The 5k sold out in about 30 minutes and the half marathon followed quickly thereafter in just under two hours.  I know that races in Disneyland are smaller than the ones at Walt Disney World, but I am always amazed at how fast they sell out.  Sadly, I’m not going to be able to make it out to the west coast for this race, but I can’t wait to follow along as everyone Smashes the Half!! Did you get in to one of the races?

Also this week, Arianna stopped by with some great travel tips for races days.  These are great for a runDisney race weekend or your local half marathon!

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Stacy also came back with another fun non-running runDisney experience…the ChEAR squad!  I know so many of you have questions about what the various packages entail and this will answer many of your questions!

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I’ve got some fun post coming up for you this week.  Yoga is such a great compliment to running and my friend Danielle has some great ways to incorporate it into you warm up and cool down routines.  Ashley returns with a look back at the Walt Disney World Marathon.  And finally, I’ll going to be diving into some Disney dining…it’s been a while 🙂

Hope you have a great week!

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