Sunday, September 01, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon - Anaheim - Part 1

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At the beginning of the year when I was back in Portland, I met up with my friend, Valerie Chinn, who happened to be in town too. (I recounted the story before of how her dad, who went to high school with Bruce Lee, saw the one-inch punch in person.) While catching up, she mentioned that she and her husband were planning to run the Disneyland Half Marathon and asked if I'd be interested in joining them. Ever since I went to see lil' sis finish the Disneyland Half Marathon, I've had it in the back of my mind as something to do one day. Valerie's husband is a serious racer though, having run half a dozen half marathons and almost as many full marathons in the past few years. But when she mentioned that she mostly walked the races, I figured I could do that.

She alerted me when the registration opened a few weeks later. This was the eighth year for the half marathon and the first year Disneyland was offering a 10K as well. Doing both, back to back, was called the Dumbo Double Dare. The 10k and the Dumbo Double Dare sold out within hours. The Disneyland Half Marathon sold out the next day. So just a heads up that if you want to do this, be prepared to pony up a chunk of dough and to do it fast. Registration was $175 for me. When lil' sis ran it three years ago, it was $150. *Gulp.* That was a lot of money, but it'll only get more expensive each year, so I bit the bullet.

My plan was to run three days a week -- two short runs on weekdays and a long one on weekends, adding a mile every other week. I figured it was doable if I trained for nine months. Ha! With my dad in town for several months at a time to work on the house, a sprained ankle, and just life in general getting in the way, I ran a few times a week, but never more than 5 miles at the most.

All too soon, race day drew near and I was woefully unprepared.

After picking up my friends from Union Station (They took the FlyAway Bus in from LAX.), we met up with Valerie's brother at Mei Long Village - San Gabriel because he wanted to try their xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings). We ordered up a storm, including the Ma Po Doufu (Chinese Pockmarked Old Lady's Tofu), which they liked so much that I stopped off at the Asian grocery store so they could get some packets of House Foods Chinese Mabo Tofu Sauce to bring back with them to Louisville. We also stopped off at Oh My Pan Bakery & Tea - San Gabriel for some black sesame cream puffs and so they could grab a few sweet buns for breakfast the next day. My friend mentioned that frozen yogurt just started getting popular in Kentucky. I know! So many years after it became popular here. So I decided to introduce them to something they couldn't get back home yet, shaved snow at Salju Dessert - Alhambra.

Finally, we made our way to the Disneyland Hotel to pick up our registration packets.

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After signing off our waivers, we went over to the Health and Fitness Expo to check out the exhibits and to pick up our race shirts.

It might not be health and fitness-related, but can't pass up a chance to sell the Cinderella package for brides who want fairytale weddings.

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Look! It's Ali Vincent of "The Biggest Loser."

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Ugh! The half marathon shirts were orange.

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After this weekend, Valerie's husband would get all seven medals. Back in January, he got the first medal for running the Disney World half marathon, the second for the full marathon, and the third for running them both back to back. I know! The fourth medal is for the 10K this weekend, followed by the fifth for the half marathon we were running. Sixth medal for running the Disneyland 10k and Half Marathon back to back, referred to as the Dumbo Double Dare. And the seventh medal for running two Disney Coast to Coast races in one year. I know! Crazy! Even crazier was the asking price of $300+ to mount all those medals in a display case.

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We passed on most of the merchandise and I took them to Brodard Restaurant - Garden Grove (Little Saigon) for dinner. They liked it so much that they went back again later with her family. The next day, after my friends ran the Disneyland 10k, I met up with them for Korean barbecue at Seol Ak San - Stanton.

I probably should have been working on my costume instead of eating and hanging out with my friends all weekend. I didn't get to Jo-Ann to buy fabric until late that evening and was up until past midnight sewing it by hand. Can you tell who I was supposed to be?

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It's Belle in provincial blue dress, although a lot of people thought I was Alice in Wonderland. Not the best costume, but not bad for $3.

I grabbed a few hours of sleep before I had to be at Disneyland at 4:30 a.m. From the top of the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, I could see people lining up in the corrals already. Another heads up, if you're slow or a first time runner and are stuck in corral G, line up early so you can be at the front of the corral to buy you extra time.

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I made my way to the exit of baggage check-in to meet up with my friends though so I didn't line up right away. Saw lots of awesome costumes, but my point and shoot camera couldn't capture the images well in the dark and with movement.

Here's just a small sample.

Mario and Luigi.

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On the far right, Captain Hook clutching a hook in his left hand.

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Despicable Me.

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Toy Story's Jessie.

After finding my friends, we made our way over to the corrals. You can see the parking structure in the far left of the photo. It was packed already clear to the back.

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Shhh! We were supposed to be in corral G, but snuck our way into F to buy us a few extra minutes. My friend's husband was supposed to be in corral E, but stayed behind with us.

I don't know how he'll run 13.1 miles with that banana on his head, but admired his fanny pack of snacks and water. Prepared! I was not. My friend's husband gave me a Clif Bar to eat for fuel while we waited.

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At 5:30 a.m., we were off!

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Not really.

That was for the corral A people.

So my friend and I sat down to wait our turn.

Look! Nemo! You can even see his fins.

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More than 45 minutes later, we were finally off!

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No time to get a better picture of Mickey and Minnie as I ran to the starting line.

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I stopped running regularly about a month before the race. So lazy. So out of shape.




Why did I think this would be "fun"?

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We'll run two light posts and then walk one, said my friend's husband, who was coaching me onward.

Run. Walk. Run. Walk.

My friend's husband had a timer to make sure we were keeping under the 16 minutes per mile pace that was required.

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Mile 1!

Subtract about 45 minutes from all the times since it took me that long to reach the starting line.

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The fun part of the race is running through Disneyland.

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We hit the back lot first and saw some Incredibles.

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Through California Adventure.

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Had to stop for photos in front of the ferris wheel.

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Mile 2!

Going kinda slow though because we stopped for a bathroom break. Do it while you're in Disneyland since the bathrooms are plentiful and clean.

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The rule was we'd only stop for photos with characters if there were a few people in line. Otherwise, it was drive-by photos as we sort of leaned into the picture.

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I haven't seen the new Carsland yet. So cool! No time to look.

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It's Mater and Lightning McQueen.

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Monsters University.

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Then we made our way over to Disneyland.

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I don't know if I can do this.


The first few miles are always hard as the lactic acid builds up in your body, said Valerie's husband. After they burn off, it'll be OK.

I have no idea what he's talking about, but I'll believe anything.

Aladdin and Jasmine!

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I love Main Street, USA. There's Sleeping Beauty's castle ahead.

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Mary Poppins had no time for us. Not even for a drive-by shot.

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Mile 3! Too slow! All the photo opps ate up time.

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Why didn't I just run the 5k? I'd be done by now. Sure, it's not the half marathon, but I'd still get a medal!

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The orange stripes warned us that we were under the 16-minute-mile required pace.

Peter Pan and Wendy!

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Through Sleeping Beauty's castle.

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No time for a photo in front of the castle!

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Darth Vader and Stormtroopers?! Oh! Forgot about Star Tours.

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Lines were way too long for Cinderella!

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And Snow White too. When lil' sis ran, I saw a guy wearing a Snow White costume. In the photo he took with Snow White, he had his head tilted just so with his hands poised like hers too. Hilarious.

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More Toy Story soldiers when we got to Toontown.

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Even Disney custodial staff came out to cheer us on.

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Mile 4!

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It doesn't look like much, but the hill was a little steep. Especially since I was tired already. Can't I walk more?

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No more scenic run.

Now, we're in the industrial parts of Anaheim for the next four miles.

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OK. I can run downhill.

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Mile 5!

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Oh no!

Her sign says, "Disneyland Official Half Marathon 16-Minute Pacer."

Gotta go faster, urged my friend's husband.

If we're behind the orange flags, the sweeper vans can pick us up at any time and drive us to the finish line. If that happens, we didn't finish the race and don't get medals.

Run faster!

But I can't.




I need to walk more, but I'm not even walking fast enough.

Go ahead without me, I urged my friends. I didn't want them getting swept up in the vans and losing out on getting their medals because of me.

So they raced ahead to make sure they were plenty in front of the orange flags, and I trudged onward alone.



I think I can. I think I can.

To be continued in Disneyland Half Marathon - Anaheim - Part 2.

1 year ago today, guess where I'm wandering 5?
2 years ago today, Ding's Garden - Alhambra (Closed).
3 years ago today, House Foods Chinese Mabo Tofu Sauce.
4 years ago today, my sad little tomato harvest.
5 year ago today, a garden tour and outdoor party.
6 years ago today, whipped cream, clotted cream, Butter with a handheld mixer.


  1. What a fun run! I wish I could do something like that one day, but I've only just begun running and am checking out the local scene so far.

  2. Happyeverafter Bride,
    I'm not a runner at all and I still managed to finish. You can do it! Plus, all the characters and people cheering us on provided plenty of distractions along the way.


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