Posts Tagged by paradise pier

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!!!

2013 Dumbo Double Dare Recap Part II – Disneyland Half Marathon

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For the 3rd day in a row, I was up before the sun.  Oh the things we do to run at Disney.  I ran through the same morning routine as the morning before for the Disneyland 10K, jumped on the bus and walked through Downtown Disney in the dark to the start line.  It’s oddly peacefully at that hour…

001 DLHalf-Downtown-Disney

I happened to look to my right as I was walking towards the Disneyland Hotel and saw a very empty starting line…oh the calm before the storm.

002 DLHalf-Empty-Start

I met up with Amanda at what was becoming our “usual spot” at the Sorcerer’s Hat. We were both a bit tired, but excited to take on the 2nd have of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge despite the warm temps.  You know it’s hot out when she shows up to run in a tank top…

003 DLHalf-Amanda-Sarah

We met up with Ashley who we ran with the day before and all headed to the corrals.  We had such a blast during the 10K that we all wanted to run together again!  Even though we were all tired we were determined to have a “PR IN FUN” for this race, which became our motto along the way.  The road to the corrals was a bit different this morning as these long chutes were put up leading to different corral areas.  It kind of felt like a cow being led to slaughter…odd.

003 DLHalf-Walk-to-Corral

But thankfully we made it to the other side unscathed and headed into our corral with time to spare.  Look we even ran into our friend James!

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005 DLHalf-Corral

An interesting thing about Disneyland races vs. Disney World races are the lack of fireworks.  In the World, each corral goes off with their own fireworks which adds to the excitement.  But in Disneyland, they can’t do that because we are technically in a residential area and there are noise restrictions.  Booooo.  But I was excited to see some super quiet fireworks during the National Anthem.  How do they get them so quiet???

And before we knew it, we were walking towards the start line.  There is a lot less waiting around in Disneyland and I like that!  It was great to see some spectators already out and cheering on the runners.  Seriously, how cute is this dog in the Tinker Bell costume?!?

006 DLHalf-Spectators

It was our turn to be counted down and we were off…well, slowly…

The course had the same start as the 10K, but we turned a block earlier this time down W Katella Aveneue where we got a glimpse of the sun just beginning to rise.

007 DLHalf-Katella

Before I knew it we were about to enter Disneyland just after mile 1.  This is also where the mile 12 marker which we came across at around the 41 minute mark. Here is where we saw an amazing site….the lead wheelchair competitor came zooming through.  Unbelievable!  I got the chills seeing this and couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.  It just goes to show that you can do anything with determination and drive.  On days where I’m doubting myself, you better believe I will be referring back to that moment.

Unlike the 10K, the half marathon enters the park in Paradise Pier and loops around into Carsland, so you get a completely different perspective from the morning before.

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009 DLHalf-Carsland

I of course stopped for a bathroom break while I had the real facilities available and told Amanda and Ashley I would catch up. Little did I know they were speed demons that morning!  I was able to catch up with them right on Main Street USA, but I had to run WAY faster than my usual half marathon pace to get there.  But I’m glad I did so we could take our picture in front of the castle!

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011 DLHalf-Ashley-Castle

I also met up with my favorite green army men in Toontown where I promptly dropped and gave them 20…nah, more like 2 🙂 Definitely my favorite photo op!

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And before we even reached mile 4, we were out of the parks.  It was kind of a bummer that there was such a short time spent in the parks, especially since the majority of the 10K was spent in there.  We headed out onto the streets of Anaheim and we greeted by an enthusiastic group of cheerleaders…the first of many!  These girls were awesome.

The sun had just come over the horizon and we spent what seemed like eternity running directly into it.  This made me realize that I really need to invest in a pair of sport sunglasses!  Even though it was bright…it sure was gorgeous.

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014 DLHalf-Anaheim

With the sun comes the heat and we were starting to feel it.  We found any shade we could on the course and wove across the road to try and stay cool.  Thankfully it wasn’t as oppressive as the day before, but with more than half the race to go I knew I had to try and stay cool where I could.

The entertainment on this race was much different from the other Disney races because there weren’t any characters outside of the parks.  Instead there were TONS of local entertainment!  This was pretty cool…check out these amazing dancers!

And Micheal Jackson was there…actually he was running and dancing at the same time!

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And an awesome group of signs and spectators…

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020 DLHalf-Signs

Somewhere around mile 6, RAD reader Hanna came up and said hi and we talked for a bit as we ran.  We also ran into Colin (@ParadisePeer) who went flying past us in an awesome Dumbo costume!    I seriously LOVE chatting with you guys on the course…it’s probably the next best thing after cats!

Next came the classic cars!  This was SUPER cool and was just like the cars on the WDW Speedway during the WDW Marathon, but better!  There had to be at least 300 cars along the course all with their owners cheering us on. They must have had to get there at by 5am at the latest to be set and ready for the runners…so RAD!

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One of my favorite spectators!

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Apparently the wake up call was too early for this woman, but at least she had the Disney spirit!

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After the cars, we came upon the Honda Center where the Anaheim Mighty Ducks play.  Being a huge hockey fan (Go Rangers!), this was an unexpected surprise.  Plus there’s that whole Disney angle to the team 🙂

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The course turned down the Santa Ana Trail, which was actually a dirt trail that created quite the dust storm with all the runners. Some volunteers were even sporting bandanas around they face to not breathe in all the dust.  Not fun while trying to run.

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I’m assuming the trail used to run along the Santa Ana River that now seemed to be completely dried up.  Nonetheless, it was quite beautiful despite the dust.

030 DLHalf-TrailWe were coming up on mile 9 and off in the distance we could see Angel Stadium.  I had heard that this was one of the highlights of the race and it also meant we were in the home stretch.  What I didn’t expect was the crowd…wow.

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In the parking lot there was a HUGE gathering of Boy Scouts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it was to see all those kids out there screaming and jumping for us.

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And there was this lady…wha??

034 DLHalf-AngelThen we entered the stadium and the stands were FULL of spectators, once again putting the trip around the Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to shame.  Not only were the spectators amazing but the stadium was beautiful and we got to see ourselves on the Jumbotron!

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Back on the road, we were making our way back to the Disneyland Resort.  I have to say that this stretch of the course was pretty boring, but we were met with more cheerleaders and even a color guard team to liven things up a bit.

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I was feeling pretty good considering that I had run the day before and it was unusually hot out.  My legs felt fine and I had a ton of energy.  The only issue I was really dealing with was chafing from the excessive amount of sweating that was going on.  TMI?  The girls and I were keeping our spirits up by reminding ourselves that we were having a PR IN FUN and actually managed to keep laughing through these long 2+ miles.

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As we got back to the parks right at mile 12, I witnessed a wonderful family reunion where a runner was beyond excited to see her parents and grandparents.  There were hugs all around and they were clearly so proud.  This made me smile from ear to ear 🙂

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The road to the finish line took us through a backstage area of Disney California Adventure where we were able to see some of the disabled ride vehicles…I always love that stuff.  Who knew those rafts were so deep??

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Seeing the Paradise Pier Hotel was an incredibly welcoming sight.  We were almost there…just under a mile to go and I was about to complete my first back to back race challenge!  As I’m writing this, I still find it a bit unbelievable that I even attempted this, let alone finished it.

044 DLHalf-Paradise-Pier

And then I saw this guy…dressed as Darth Goofy!  Kudos on the costume but DAMN he must have been HOT!  He had gloves on and all…insane.

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We turned the corner towards the Disneyland Hotel and there was another HUGE crowd there to greet us.  The home stretch is so exciting…you can’t help but pick up the pace and really give it your all for that last half mile or so.

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I found my own personal cheerleader Cindy (read all about her awesomeness in my 10K recap!) and of course had to get another photo…

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And there she was…the finish line!  I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we finished together like we have every race we’ve run together since my first half marathon a year and a half ago.  So emotional and I wouldn’t want to do experience all of this with anyone else.

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Again, not our fastest race by any means (3:25:31), but we did manage to get that PR IN FUN!  Running with friends is so different that running for time.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, this is what makes Disney races so special and I will NEVER be ashamed to be a slow runner here.  We crossed that finish line and we crossed it with a smile on our faces 🙂

B was in the family reunion area waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to see him.  It’s always great to see his smiling face after my races.  Amanda had to leave to catch her flight so I gave her a sweaty hug and headed to the photo area to get a few pics.  I had B bring all my medals so I could do this…

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052 DLHalf-Medals

WEAR ALL THE MEDALS!!  While I was waiting to take my photo, I ran into a woman who I met on the plane out there…crazy!  She had run Goofy earlier in the year and was also waiting to take her photo with all of her medals!

051 DLHalf-Medals

And the fun didn’t stop there…  After a shower and a quick nap, B and I headed to Downtown Disney for lunch at Uva.  Ever since my first half marathon when I had Fish & Chips as my post race meal, that is something I now crave after most races. Unfortunately it was really hot, so it wasn’t as enjoyable as I would’ve liked, but a nice cold beer definitely helped 🙂

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DLHalf-Uva-Fish-Chips

After lunch, we jumped on the Monorail and headed into Disneyland.  I LOVE that you can take the monorail from Downtown Disney into Tomorrowland and the ride is so fun how it winds through the trees and above all the attractions!  What would be nicer is if it had air conditioning, but like many things in Disneyland it doesn’t. HOT!!!

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I was hoping to get in some of my must do attractions like the Matterhorn and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, but the combination of long lines and heat prevented that from happening.  But I DID have more fun with my medals!! 🙂

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055 DLHalf-10K-Medal

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The day (and the trip) ended with an incredible dinner at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose.  Expect a full review of this meal soon!

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What a crazy few days.  The Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge was a lot of fun and something I would definitely do again.  However, traveling out to California is VERY expensive and I don’t think it is something I will be able to do every year unfortunately.  Living on the East Coast it is much easier (and economical) for me to go to WDW even multiple times per year.

I also prefer the races in WDW. Maybe it’s because I’m more familiar with the roads there and I know exactly where I am at all times.  Or maybe it’s because they feel more “Disney” to me.  Running through Anaheim was nice, but I could do that in any local race.  There wasn’t much about it (except for the 2 miles through the parks) that made it feel like a Disney race.  I love seeing characters throughout the whole course and it’s definitely something I missed here.  I’m not sure what my future for Disneyland races holds, but I do know I would love to go back…just maybe not next year.

Do you want to run a race in Disneyland?  Have you done so already?  What is your favorite part?

Never Land Family Fun Run 5K Recap

Today I have another guest post for you, this time from the West Coast!  Christina Drebushenko recently ran her first 5K in Disneyland, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K.  This gets me even more excited about Disneyland Half Marathon weekend 🙂  Big congrats to Christina for her accomplishment!

Disney has always been a big part of my life. I grew up going to Disneyland. I interned at Walt Disney World. I’ve celebrated Birthdays, Holidays, Spring Breaks, Random Thursdays, and all sorts of other things. But I’ve never been more emotional than when I was walking down Main Street for my first 5K.

DJ with Corrals C & D Photo Courtesy of runDisney

DJ with Corrals C & D
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

I got to Disneyland around 5:00AM and was placed in Corral C, which lined up down the front half of Main Street. (Corrals A & B, which wrapped around the “Partners” statue and the Hub, were already full!). There was a DJ playing music and our hosts were in a giant “Pirate Ship” in front of the castle. Since it was still dark, the castle was lit with different colored lights and patterns. Shortly before the start of the run, Tinkerbell flew over the Castle and sprinkled some Pixie Dust, lit off some fireworks, then we were off!

Tink! Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Tink!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

The first half of the course through Disneyland was mostly “backstage” with various parade floats on display and lots of Cast Members cheering us on! The second half I liked much better as we ran/walked through a good bit of California Adventure. There were more cast members cheering us on and they even had some of the fountains and lights on from World of Color. At the 3 mile marker, Mickey & Minnie were there to take pictures (the line was ridiculously long, as I had expected), and then everyone made a mad dash to the finish in Paradise Pier. As many of you know, there was even a proposal at the finish line!

After the finish line :)

After the finish line 🙂

Overall I thought it was a pretty good race for runners/walkers of all levels. Since this was my first 5K ever, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew that Disney would make sure every detail was covered! I ended up only running about 1/3 of the course because it was so crowded by the time my corral started, but I was happy with my 40 minute finish anyways! I am looking forward to running a local 5K in the next month or two, and the Inaugural Disneyland 10K in August!

My first "bling" and snack box!

My first “bling” and snack box!