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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I headed down Main Street, I was able to stop and took a picture with the Three Caballeros (minus Donald).
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.
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!
We ran out of the castle and into Tomorrowland where I was able to take a picture with Darth Vadar!
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.
We headed out of Disneyland and into the backlot where we were greeted by the custodial staff and the beautiful Clydesdale horses.
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!!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
I am a runner!! Yup, I said it. See you all at the starting line!
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.