Disney is not called "The Most Magical Place on Earth" for nothing. I will admit, I am a Disney fanatic...I spent all my birthdays growing up at Disney, I have yearly passes and I use them often, and I am still not too old to stop and take pictures with the Disney characters--will I ever get too old for that?! So when thinking about doing my first half-marathon, doing Disney was a no-brainer.
Disney knows how to put on a show! When you run a Disney race, you are going to be able to see a lot of the backlots, a lot of the parks without tons of people crowding the views, and there is going to be lots to see so that you forget about how far you are running. The thing I love so much about this race, is
This year was no exception. I loved the 10K on Saturday, because that is the distance I love to run. I was able to run this Lilo and Stitch themed race in just over an hour even with falling in the first few minutes of the race and stopping to take pictures of characters and with friends. But there is something special about this half marathon!
To begin with, I think any time you do a "first," it is going to have a special place in your heart. This race four years ago was the first time I proved to myself that I could run long distances, it headed me on my road to a better more improved me, and I met some lifelong friends training to conquer this 13.1 mile race.
I also feel it is special because of the people who choose to participate in this race. The volunteers are amazing, the costumes people wear are unbelievable, and the number of people that choose to perform along the race to entertain the racers is unbelievable! In addition to the characters, there were also the usual Polynesian dancers, mariachi band, high school marching bands, cheerleaders and dancers, and they added hundreds of classic cars since I last ran this race last time. There was no way to get bored, and the miles flew by because of this.
Personally it was also special because I was running it with friends. My friend Kim, my college buddy, came down from Northern California for the entire weekend, and my morning running partner Mark got to join me to do his first Disney race as well. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to gather your friends around you to do these things. It is so much more fun when you're not doing it alone!
This race takes off early, just like the 10K, so I was at the start line again by five in the morning for our 5:30am start. And as my friend Mark shared on his Facebook post before the race, we were surrounded by thousands of our closest running friends. Once the race began for us, it was a quick run through California Adventure and Disneyland before hitting the streets of Anaheim toward Angel Stadium. Once you run through the stadium, are energized by the screaming fans in the stands, and see yourself on the Jumbotron, it is just a little more than a quick 5K to the finish line.
This was no piece of cake because of the heat and humidity, but thankfully the sun did not break through the clouds until I finished the race. I also ran across my friend Stephanie with Team in Training twice during this route, and I even ran into the Leukemia Survivor who I photographed four years ago and is in the photo collage at the top of my blog. I was so proud of this race. Four years ago I ran it in just barely under three hours, and I finished this race in 2:24:16, a full thirty-five minutes faster than I ran this race the first time. While this is nowhere near a PR for me on this race length, considering the number of times I stopped to take pictures and hug people, this was a triumph. I felt great after completing both the 10K and the half-marathon in one weekend, and I actually felt good enough to think about running on Tuesday before deciding I really needed to rest my body instead no matter how good I was feeling. I honestly felt like I had been sprinkled by Tink's magical fairy dust...and then I had to leave the protection of the Disney magic glow.
Now before I get messages about how hard I am being on myself, please know that I am aware that I have made incredible progress and that I am miles away from the old me, but I do know that I need to gain some sort of control. I continue to work out consistently, which is my saving grace, but no amount of working out is going to counter my crazy eating choices. It is time to remind myself that I can only do the best I can given the amount of time I have in one day, take some nice deep breaths to center myself, and then continue to push forward focussing on the strategies I know work best for me. I am a survivor and I survive this little bump in the road.