Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Main Event

Running a half marathon was far more exhilarating and enjoyable than I ever would have imagined. There were 14,000 people registered for the race and just participating in something with that many people was quite the experience.

All of the information that we received at the Expo said that we should plan to arrive at the race at 4:30 am and be in our starting corral no later than 5:15 am. So we were on the shuttle by 4 am which means we woke up around 3:30 am. This may seem crazy early but I wasn't able to sleep anyway. I rarely have trouble sleeping but that night I did. As I was lying sleepless, I thought to myself that I should have stayed for the 10:30 pm World of Color show because I wasn't getting any sleep anyway. Oh well, on to the race.

When we originally signed up for the race Crystal & I weren't sure how long it would take us to finish so we just said that we'd finish in 3 hours. This landed us in Corral E (out of G). In order to get to Corral E we had to walk at about 1/3 of a mile beyond the starting line. At 6 am there was a singing of the National Anthem and Mickey kicked off the race but we couldn't see much of that from our location. Around 6:20 we began walking and crossed the starting line at 6:30 (officially 30 minutes after the start). Luckily, we had sensors on our shoes so our time didn't start until we crossed.
Waiting for the Race to Begin

The first 3.5 miles were around the perimeter of Disneyland and through the parks. There were so many people and the walkways get narrow through the park so we were continuously maneuvering through the crowd. There were several characters out in the parks to cheer us on. I learned that I could be a much bigger Disney "nerd" as there were many people stopping to get pictures and autographs with the characters. I was focused on running and didn't stop to see any of the characters but enjoyed running through the parks. It reminded me of my trips to Disney as a youth when my sister and I ran through the parks from major attraction to major attraction (this was before Fastpass).
Running down Main Street

The race course opened up once we got outside of the parks so we picked up our pace a little. The big take away from the middle section of the race was that there are some pretty dull and rundown areas right around Disneyland. A local told us that this wasn't representative of Anaheim but really the only place that they could shut down roads without horrible implications to traffic. The excitement picked up and there were large crowds to cheer us on as on as we ran through Angel stadium. Our race bibs included our first name (Disney has always been about first names) so it allowed the spectators to cheer for us by name which was inspiring. The home stretch running back to Disneyland was exciting because we knew that we were running farther than we ever had before. But the last mile or two seemed long and I think it was because the crowd kept saying we were almost there but until I saw the finish line I didn't want to hear that I was almost there.
Finish Line

I am still amazed that I ran 13.1 miles and am so glad to have shared the experience with Crystal! Crystal did awesome especially considering that she really only had 6 weeks to train after she got over her virus. She has said that she wouldn't recommend the 6 week program but was quite proud of the accomplishment. We finished in just under 2.5 hours which was in the top half.
Results - Provided in an email from Disney

A couple of random takeaways from my first half marathon:
  • I was surprised at the number of people walking even during the first couple of miles. I guess I always just assumed that people ran the entire distance.
  • I am proud to say that we ran the whole distance and never really felt winded. Training in the altitude is for real!
  • I wasn't able to visualize how crowded 14,000 people would be so I was surprised at how difficult it was to maneuver throughout the whole race. And it didn't seem that walkers followed any sort of unwritten etiquette like moving to the right. Some people even STOPPED right in the middle of the course at the castle to see the characters.
  • With all of the excitement, I didn't listen to my IPod at all.
  • Crystal was amazed that I was able to eat my Mickey shaped rice krispie treat after the race without puking but I can't think of a better way to refuel after a long run.
  • In honor of my accomplishment I wore the finisher medal for the rest of the day except for a few minutes for Elias to try it on. I'm sure I looked a little silly at the Rockies game but I was proud of myself.
  • As the day wore on the soreness set in for both Crystal and I. It wasn't really muscle soreness but more like joint pain. A different kind of soreness than I have ever experienced. We learned that we probably would have been better off staying at Disney and walking around instead of getting in the car and driving to San Diego. Or a massage would have been wonderful. Guess we can call this a rookie mistake.
  • This definitely will not be my last Disney race. Anyone up for the 2012 Princess Half or Disneyland Half? Aaron thinks 2011 should be a Disney free year for the Bells. I don't think any year should be Disney free but life is full of compromises.


  1. I think it's fantastic that you did the 1/2 marathon and that you were able to eat the rice krispy treat after!

  2. I'm up for the 2012 Princess Half. And what is a Disney free year? I'm not familiar with that concept?!?!