Well, the morning finally came around for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. It started at 5am, this time around, and I had a friend that is local to the area meeting me at my hotel before we'd head down together to our corral. There were six corrals for the half marathon (A-F), and we both managed to be in E. I didn't take my phone out at all during this race, instead I rocked out to my Disney playlist. Some of the photographs in this post, as a result, are from the official RunDisney Facebook page; and I've noted as such.
I wore a throwaway sweatshirt and the mylar blanket from yesterday down to the start line. It was about 45, but I was chilly. I'm not certain how much it warmed during the race. The sun did come out, but I never overheated.
Many people will wear items called throwaways, where they'll toss them to the side over the barriers, at some point. That way, they can stay warm while waiting around and get rid of the layer once they start to warm up while running. The items are donated to charities or the homeless. I threw mine off a few minutes before I crossed the start line. I didn't want it for running, just for keeping warm while waiting.
We headed down to our corral at about the same time; just a little earlier, than the 10K. So, about 4:20. People were grouped together about the same, and we were able to go fairly close up to the start of our corral. Come 5am, it took a little longer to get up to the start line and see Tinkerbell send us off. Not only was I in a farther back corral (5th versus 3rd for 10K), but there were more people in each corral, too (because the half has more people in general). I heard the Star Spangled Banner at one point; and apparently, was told someone sang. I didn't hear anyone singing back in corral E.
Because of the amount of people, as mentioned, I didn't start until 5:33AM. So, 33 minutes after the start time, I finally crossed the start line. The time goes by quickly, so it's not a problem. Just acknowledging that detail since it takes awhile to make it to the front. And, again, we were off.
The start of the race took us up Disneyland drive and up a hill/overpass type road. I wasn't really looking forward to a hill (no matter how small) at this point, but I guess the energy for that first mile took me up it. And it wasn't, by any means, any sort of discouraging elevation. Small, by any means. And, being on a ramp (or whatever it was), there was plenty of room for people to spread out. I still had to weave, but I was able to get past a good amount of people.
We took an opposite route through the parks than we did with the 10K. We entered California Adventure first, and where we had exited for the 10K. It was about mile 1.75 that we went into the park. Again, my Garmin, at mile 1, said 1.1.
Nothing in California Adventure really different too much from the 10K. Characters (Mike & Sully, and Mater & Lightning McQueen) were out in the same areas. I believe I also saw Mr. & Mrs. Incredible with their float.
I kept a good pace without making stops unless I was walking while getting water. The water stops were set up about ever 1.5 miles, with some having more distance between and others having less. There were well spaced, though. I never thought to myself "I'm dying of thirst, I need water, when is the next station?!?!" So, well done on that, Disney. Not only did they have water, but also Gatorade, and at one stop, a gel. I only took water. I had brought a small packet of Trader Joe's Applesauce for energy; which I ate between mile 8 and 9.
After exiting California Adventure, we made our way into Disneyland Park the same as the 10K had exited; through the large entry way between parks, inside a closed off section with barriers on either side for people cheering. The same 6-people distance happened. I found, unfortunately, all 6 people in front of me walking - straight across, blocking me. I tried to run around one and ran into the bannister with my arm. No big deal (though I did develop a bruise), but I was kind of irked. Just because the pathway narrowed, didn't mean everyone had to walk. I was able to get around shortly after, and was off again and going past Terk and Louie and down Main Street, with Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and Tinkerbell to my right. Tinkerbell, yes. BUT, she was on top of a trailer spreading pixie dust & there was no way to take a picture *with* her.
The castle was lit up wonderfully; and we ran through it. Front to back. I didn't see any photographers near the castle. I would of thought they would like to get our picture. Maybe I had missed one (though, I didn't have any pictures online of it either). This is another spot, where it would not be good to walk in the middle of the path. ;)
Outside of the Castle and into Fantasyland, I saw the Lost Boys at the Carousel. I read some people (in an earlier corral) saw them riding the Carousel. They were near the exit gate when I was there & people were taking pictures. But, there was no official photographer or character greeter, and I didn't want to stop, nor ask someone to take my picture, so I passed them.
Moving on, we went around the Matterhorn and back towards the front of the Castle to go through Tomorrowland. I saw Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers out there. Their line was incredibly long. It's Darth Vader, after all. Then, we found ourselves back in Fantasyland, going towards It's a Small World. Cinderella by herself; and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider together, were just across from them. I believe it was at this point we went backstage. Again, the Custodial Staff welcomed us and some cast members were cheering us on. I believe we entered back near Splash Mountain, as we did in the 10K. Running past Pirates and out a cast member exit that would put us into Downtown Disney. I remember seeing Jack Sparrow somewhere, too... but I don't remember where - probably near Pirates. He had a good likeness.
At this point, we were at mile 5.5; and going through Downtown Disney wear the Red Hat ladies were, and a bunch of family and friends were cheering runners on. I was about 5 minutes over an hour at this point. And, by the way, way behind the leader of the pack (granted I did have that half hour starting difference). This woman rocks, and she was crossing the Finish Line while I was running past New Orleans Square:
After Downtown Disney, we headed into Anaheim. Pretty much 7 miles in Anaheim. Which was fine, but there wasn't really a lot to look at. Family had come out for some people. Homeowners in the neighborhood were out on their porches, watching us while drinking orange juice (or mimosas?). These miles weren't hard, but they weren't too much fun, either.
I started walking at Mile 8, and didn't really stop. It was a fast pace walk - keeping at around a 15 minute walk - but that was fine by me. There was a point around Mile 10, that I looked at my watch and thought to myself "If I start running again, I could finish this sub-3," but decided against it. I didn't want to hurt myself, I didn't want to exert myself when I wanted to roam the parks later, and it wasn't necessary. I was way ahead of pace. And, I'd still end up PRing by about 20 minutes. Somewhere around Mile 10, one of the websites/podcasts (I wish I remember who, so I could give them credit) were giving out candy and fruit. I took a handful of oranges. They were deliciously refreshing at that point in the race. Though, sticky. I washed my hands a bit at the next water station with the water I didn't drink near the trash can.
I put on a run for the last quarter mile; kind of like I did for the 10K. The setup at the finish line was the same - 3 Disney characters (none of whom you could get a picture with). I did high-five someone (I forget who it was, Donald?), but that picture isn't online. I was definitely happy to be done. I was in at 3:08. Now, I stopped my Garmin just after crossing the finish line and it said 13.37. No amount of swerving could make up for an additional 1/4 mile on the Garmin. I think the course is slightly long. Hey, thanks for making me run the extra quarter mile, Disney.
I went up to a volunteer to get my medal, and it happened to be my friend's husband (who had volunteered all weekend). That was nice.
I've forgotten to mention my race outfit. I went with the same getup as the 10K, but in green. It's simple, but it worked well. After I obtained my medal, I headed over the medical station. I had a blister on the arch of my left foot. I could feel it starting after the 10K, but it didn't really bother me while I was running. I went to the "self-help" station and was able to pick up a bandage to put on it immediately, and grabbed another for good measure (and after my tub soak).
Then, while waiting for my friend, I headed over to the snack station and picked up the goodies. Look at quantities they had, they were well-equipped:
Once I met up with my friend, we went back to my hotel room. The race ended at the same spot as the 10K, so another easy walk. Overall, a great race. Here's my rundown on the Pros and Cons:
- Characters. There were a good deal out of the Half Marathon in comparison to the others. That was nice. However, I'll note here as I did before, where were the Fairies? They were the main theme of the whole weekend, why were they not out? And TinkerBell, while out for the Half, was high above everyone. You could get her "in" a picture, but not with you. And, I'm not sure everyone even saw her, as she was off to the side and above. I rectified this by going into the park with my medals and getting a picture with her. But not everyone has that option (a park ticket).
- MarathonFoto. I didn't stop for character pictures, but the lack of photos is kind of depressing. While I knew ahead of time the photographers would only be in the parks and at the Finish Line, I thought there would be more of them. I understand that taking pictures in the dark, or in morning light, is difficult to rapidly fire off and catch everyone, but maybe, they could have hired more people. I have more pictures for my 5K than I do for my 10K and Half combined. Someone on a Facebook also noted that their pictures with Terk and King Louie weren't showing up. After contacting MarathonFoto, they were told that those characters had a copyright and they couldn't put them up. Why have a photographer there if you can't post the photos later? That seems kind of pointless, and confusing.
- The Water Stops. I touched on this, but they were well placed and plentiful. The volunteers were great. I never went thirsty.
- The race length is 13 miles and while it went by fast, only about 4.5 of those were in the park or backstage. I still really enjoyed it, though.
- The medical station seemed on it. I was easily able to help myself. And, while I didn't witness them, I heard that a few people had life-threatening injuries or attacks and they were able to survive thanks to the medical staff. Well done, there.
Please be certain, that despite these "complaints," I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I think it's important to not "spice up" something with pixie dusts and rainbows just because I love Disney so much. And, it's important because there can always be improvements, no matter how small.
Stay tuned for my last day at Disney - which includes meeting characters, including TinkerBell, and seeing World of Color. This was such a fun race. If it hadn't switched to May for 2014, I might have considered doing it again. But, hopefully another race (rumors are abound, but I won't post until there's something more official) takes its place and I might be interested in that one.