You get three for the price of one with this race report, since chicks Cam, Vic, and Meri all participated in the runDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon on Jan. 20, the 2nd annual women’s-focused race at the Disneyland Resort.
Backstory and race prep – Meri (not weather!)
Victoria and I planned a trip to visit our long-time bestie in LA and since she’d run the Goofy challenge the previous weekend at Disney World, she figured Tink was a good way to obtain her Coast to Coast medal. Cam lives in CA and when I told her about our plans, she quickly signed up, right before the race sold out in July.
So, what are three ladies to do when they have months before their race? Train? Well, yes, there is that. But almost as important as training, during a runDisney race, you’ve got to have a great costume! Now, let me just say that if I were in charge of costumes… well, I’d have never been in that situation because I’d never take that on. Thankfully for Vic and I, we had Cam! She’s way more crafty that either of us and came up with not only the idea for our costumes but carefully crafted them.
Now, let me just say, I had my doubts when I saw all the pieces of this costume. I thought that there was NO WAY I’d be keeping the hat on the entire 13.1 miles. But, oh, I did.
If you’re not familiar with the Disney classics, we were Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather – the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty. I was informed that I was Flora and that she’s bossy. Apparently I have a reputation…
We practiced our poses and took pictures together since Victoria (Fauna) was going to run fast. And Cam and I? We were not going to run fast. Cam was just recovering from a chest cold so our plan was to just take it easy and get done.
The Disney races start early, early, early in the morning. (yes, three earlies are necessary.) Thankfully our hotel was directly across the street from the start (Best Western Stovell Inn – it was perfect and clean and exactly what we needed). We woke up at 3:30 and began with the pre-race rituals. Most people who take part in races can tell you that they have a set routine that works for them when getting prepped for a race. And mostly, they overlap with other runners.
We had laid out our outfits the night before, pinned the bibs on the morning of, and proceeded to get ourselves fueled. We’re fans of wheat bagel flats or flatbread and Justin’s nut butter because they come in handy packets that you can purchase wherever and bring along. Portable works well when you’re traveling across the country for a race.
Making last minute adjustments to our costumes (safety pins on the capes rather than the velco), pinning on our bibs, and adjusting hats, wings and double-knotting our laces, we were nearly ready to go!
We bid adieu to Vic as she headed out the door a few minutes before we did. Cam and I wrapped up in the hotel and made our way across the street, found a nice, comfy spot in corral C and waited for the race to begin.
Ready to go!
Fauna flies – Vic’s take
Everyone thought I was Tinkerbell.
I get it. I was a fairy all decked out in green for the Tinkerbell half. But no. I was Fauna and I was going to fly.
I wandered into corral A about 30 minutes before the 5 a.m. race start, chatted with a few fellow runners about race plans and runDisney. Soon enough, we were off.
Within 100 meters my hat was off my head. Near the end of mile 1, I saw a man with a stroller and a toddler in tow and asked him if he’d like a fairy hat. He enthusiastically accepted. We rounded some Anaheim streets and turned into Disney’s California Adventure Park and past a rockin’ high school marching band.
Much of what happened in the parks was a blur – I do know I stopped for dozens of pictures! (here are a few)
Running through Cars Land
World of Color by Paradise Pier – WOW!
We soon ran out of California Adventure, around mile 3, and into Disneyland, where I promptly stopped for a (blurry) pic with Mary Poppins and Burt, snapped another of Tink and one of me on Main Street USA, which is my favorite moment in any Disney race – running down magical Main Street with hundreds of other runners.
I passed by the castle and headed into Tomorrowland where I saw the Star Wars crew and surrounded by an extremely long line. Sorry Vadar, next time. May the Force be with you.
Instead I stopped to say hi to Snow White. She wished me as well as I ran into the dark. Side note: my sneakers look filthy.
I zipped past It’s a Small World, still decked out in Christmas lights and rounded onto the Land’s back lot for the next mile or so. We passed parade floats and broken parts of rides, an animal barn and more. Was able to gain a bit of time here.
We veered back into the park, through Fantasyland and up to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Ah, how I love running through the castle!
After pausing for and tweeting a photo (thanks Siri!), I turned into Frontierland and passed New Orleans Square, where Captain Jack Sparrow was all alone outside the Pirates of the Caribbean, one of my favorite Disney rides.
Capt. Jack told me to beware because the photographer had a hankering for fairies. So I bolted.
The course took me out of the Land and through Downtown Disney, then past the Disneyland Hotel (and mile 6) and into the streets of Anaheim, where I high-fived a moonwalking Michael Jackson impersonator.
The next few miles were a bit dull, so I concentrated on my breathing and speeding up. As I passed each mile marker, I saw the minutes tick by and I reeled more and more racers in. I dropped my pace below 10-minute miles, then below 9:30, 9:15, 9.
When I rounded a corner at mile 12, directing me back into California Adventure, I really opened up. With my pixie wings, I flew. With half a mile to go, I was down to 8:30 pace and I spotted a familiar face, Laura, from my starting corral. I said hello as I caught her and encouraged her to keep moving. She looked great and was about to CRUSH her goal time of 2:10. I assured her she was well ahead of pace (I knew since we started together) and headed off around the last bend.
I could see the finish! I sprinted through a less-than-exciting parking lot to a rather-thrilling finish! I was all smiles as I crossed the finish line. 2:07:23 Top 10th percent, not too shabby.
Flora and Merryweather’s journey – Cam’s jam
When my east coast gals sent word they would be traveling to the happiest place on earth for a run, I jumped on board. As a lifelong Southern California resident and a Disneyland annual pass holder, running 13.1 miles through Disneyland with some of my favorite people dressed as a fairy sounded like a dream come true.
I had booked a handful of races for the end of the year, including a Ragnar Relay race in November to help keep my training on track. But with the holidays and then a supermassive head and chest cold, I found myself severely under-trained by the time January rolled around. I was really stressing about this run. Like nauseated kind of stressing. But Meri assured me there would be lots of stops and we were running for fun and so I arrived in Anaheim Saturday night to pick up my race paraphernalia and pre-race dine with my chicks.
As already indicated above, we were snazzily dressed and at our respective corrals in the wee, cool hours of the morning. Like Meri and Vic, I had planned on ditching the removable parts of our costumes, but once we started running, we were inundated with compliments. I have to say, our costumes were kickass. And we definitely got noticed! I really didn’t want to ruin the effect. So we ran in our hats and wings and capes. For 13.1 miles.
The first six miles were great. It didn’t even feel like a race. We skipped through Disney, danced to great music, stopped to chat up our favorite characters and the air smelled like candy.
The best part were the spectators. My favorite was the “Course Liar” who shouted things like “Mickey’s giving massages at the finish” and “You’re almost there” at mile 3. We high-fived dozens and dozens of the lovely ladies from the Red Hat Society and waved to little girls watching from their living room windows.
And then there were people like this who made me want to stop and hug them.
After we turned onto the streets, things started to get a little difficult. Without the magical music and candy air, I was really starting to feel my lack of training. We got news that Vic was already back at the hotel ice bathing and Meri was quite the trooper, jogging along beside me while I tried to ignore the shooting pain up my knees. Walking was worse, so I plugged along, moving my feet at an unbearably slow pace that could hardly be considered running.
Meri helped me find other things to occupy my mind.
Like taking pictures of Meri flying on street corners.
Or contemplating shopping opportunities.
Around mile 10, my knees really started to become a problem and I started to doubt my ability to finish the race. I envisioned myself getting picked up by one of those guys on the golf carts. I was starting to go to that dark place when Meri made a fabulous suggestion.
The best thing on the planet.
Look how happy I am!
I had to stop twice to freeze up my knees. I also had to stop twice in the last 3 miles to use the trusty portable toilets. I was good and GU‘d up and my digestive system was starting to rebel. I was dying for that finish line, silently cursing myself for slacking off on training, my stupid cold and my aching knees. Right as we rounded back into the park, we saw this gentleman running up ahead.
“There will be days when I don’t know if I can do a half marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have.” The ‘a’ was crossed out and numbers were added – this was number 20 for him.
When I read the back of his shirt, I lost it. I know this feeling, it was the same thing I thought when I started running three years ago. It was the same thing I had thought that very morning, that there was no way in hell I could do this race. I started bawling like a baby because here I was, even after so many races, still doubting myself. And then again, here I was, after 13 miles, still running and minutes from the finish. Meri grabbed my hand and we crossed the line together.
I had to remove my pointy hat so I could get medaled.
Post ice bath. Oh, the sweet, sweet glow of victory!
As Vic so graciously dumped buckets of ice into my bath, I vowed never to slack on my training again. Despite all my bodily malfunctions, I became a huge fan of the Disney race series. So much so, I’m heading to Florida with the chicks for the Wine and Dine half at Disney World so I can pick up one of those hot little Coast to Coast medals. We’ve already got costumes in mind!
Have you ever completed a runDisney race? Will we see you at Wine and Dine? How do you recover after a race – ice bath, the Stick, or something else?