I sent my goodbye emails, logged off my machine and put on my coat, that Friday morning (14th November 2014 at 11:30). I wondered if my jacket would be warm enough. Temperatures, in Ottawa, were on the chilly side that day… Frost had lined the rooftops and puddles were iced over, as I had made my way in to work that morning. I had decided to wear a lighter jacket, as I didn’t fancy lugging a huge winter one around with me when I got there. But as I left the building there were a few snowflakes falling!!! Does that mean autumn is over already!! Winter in Ottawa had begun. I am leaving, albeit briefly, at the right time 🙂 20+ degrees here I come!! Luckily my bus was not too long a wait. Off to the airport it was, to start my Disney Avengers Half Marathon long weekend in Disneyland!!!
I got to the airport in ample time, I collected my boarding pass and then sat and had lunch at Tim’s’. Then off through to security. I made sure to pack as light as I possibly could, so that I only had carry-on luggage. I was hoping this would help me out, since it was not a direct flight. Had I of worked out that it was a dinky (toy) plane I might have been more relaxed. The plane was the tiniest plane I have been on in a long while. Granted, it wasn’t a propeller plane, but it was small enough that there where only three seats per row, and approximately 25 rows. It was so small, such that hand luggage would not all fit within the cabin on a full flight, so once we got to board, they checked are bags in anyway – only bonus was that it was free, and we got it back as soon as stepping off the plane, no waiting at the baggage carousel! The stop over was at Chicago O’Hare Airport – which is huge! – and I was there for about 3 hours. At that point it was approaching dinner time, so I had a Chicago style pizza – yum. Then it was on to Disneyland via Santa Ana Airport. I didn’t arrive, to the hotel, until well after 9pm (but my body clock said midnight). I ordered room service, got my self unpacked and then went to bed. The expo would be the next morning.
I was looking forward to experiencing a Disney Expo. I had expected it to be overwhelming with runners, as an Instagram picture the previous day showed a line up out the door. The time I had arrive, just after lunch, it was not as packed as the picture. That was good. It was a lovely sunny day, and I was able to walk from my hotel to the Disney Hotel, along Magic Way. The first thing I came to, when approaching the hotel, was the red carpet leading towards the entrance, with the avengers character, in poster form lining the way.
So of course I wanted a picture with the Hulk, as that was who I would be “dressed” like when I ran the race itself. I chose the hulk, because he wears purple 🙂
I followed the red carpet into the exhibit area, but realized that the race kit pick-up was not in this part of the building. I had to go back out, and it was basically underground. I eventually found where I needed to go, and picked up my race kit, which was basically the bib number and bag check number, a program/guide and safety pins. You then took your bib to collect the race shirt. This was a nice long sleeve tech shirt – dark blue with the Avengers detail. I also was easily able to change my shirt from a L to a M …check me out! 🙂
There was a Dooney and Burke sign pointing to a black cloth covered table – but it was empty. I was a little disappointed at first, as I thought they had sold out the previous day. I was later happy to find, that they had moved the remaining bags up to the main floor Disney merchandise area. I was able to get one of the smaller cross body bags – so I was happy again! Whilst walking round the main exhibit hall there were more posters/banners of the Avengers characters – yes there were others, but I had to get me with this version of the hulk.
I was trying to take a selfie, and a nice lady offered to take the picture for me! I returned the favour of course. We chatted a little, I found at she had come out on her own to, although she was fairly local, and this was to be her first half marathon. We exchanged tips and thoughts on the race tomorrow, and before I knew it was time for Jeff Galloway to speak.
She didn’t stay for his talk. We said our goodbyes and good lucks for the race, and I went down to see Jeff. I found it interesting and happy to see and hear Jeff in the flesh. He talked about his run-walk method, and completing the Half. And answered quite a few questions which was also very good.
The rest of the Expo was fairly similar to the others I have now been to. Energy/Nutrition companies providing samples of food bars, and drinks. Sport shops selling, clothes and trainers. I went to the Hoka stall and tried on the new Hoka One One Cliftons. I wasn’t able to buy them, as I had no room in my carry-on luggage. But I do see what the fuss is about. They are so comfortable and cushioned, but was from just walking around. Who knows what it will be like to actually run in them! I did buy a couple of things though, a Sparkle Athletic purple skirt, and a fitletic hydration belt. They were last minute items but worth it – the Sparkle of the skirt made my outfit and he fitletic belt is welcome addition. The rest of that day I just walked and window shopped around Downtown Disney. I made sure to have an early night, as the race was to start at 5:30 am the next morning.
Back at the hotel, I had spaghetti and meatballs for my “carb loading”. A cool thing about the restaurant was that each both had a personal TV – great if you’re traveling alone – and also (more likely) for keeping the kids occupied. I knew the restaurant would not be open early enough the next morning, so before I left, I asked if I could get some fruit. They offered me a couple of bananas – no charge! Very kind of them.
Race morning arrived. I was not far from the start line at all, and due to my corral placing was a lot closer too, so I made sure to set my alarm for the latest time possible! My aim was to be up dressed and out by 5am – an I was. I wore a hulk t shirt, purple capris, with the purple sparkle skirt atop, and my trusty Saucony’s.
It was pretty novel walking towards the corrals, pitch black and seeing people walking along in costume. I caught up with a guy who had also come from the same hotel as me – and we got chatting. Fellow runners are a friendly bunch. He had a similar t-shirt to mine but his was Ironman. I gathered that he normally runs full marathons, but had to run this as it was the very first Avengers race. When we reach the crowds he had much further to go, as he was in the early corrals. We said our good byes and good lucks, and went on to our corrals.
As I settled in for the wait, the US National Anthem was sung. And at the end there were fireworks. Then the wheel chair races started. The runners were shortly after. The corrals were started two at a time, so A and B started, then C and D and so on. I was in G, so I didn’t actually cross the start line until at least 30 minutes after the original start. It was still pitch black when we left.
The course runs approximately 2 miles or so through the park, and then out through streets of Anaheim, past the lovely looking Christ Cathedral , along the Santa Ana river towards and then through Angel Stadium. Back through the streets, and then finishes around the perimeter of the park, ending up in the Disneyland hotel car park.
The daylight slowly crept in and we entered Disneyland.
By Mile 2 it was day light – and I wasn’t doing to badly at this point around 26 minutes – but 13 minute miles is on the slowish side – but I had stopped to take some pictures, so that’s ok with me. I knew this would turnout to be the slower of my races. And where better to take it all in, then the original DisneyLand.
Got to see snow white and the 7 dwarfs – although I didn’t catch Snow white 🙁
Let me take a selfie – see I was there honest 🙂
Running through/under the Castle – It was tiny – so much smaller than I thought it was going to be.
This is the closest I got to Mickey and Minnie – as the line ups were long. The selfie I tried to take was a fail so this is all I had.
The Christ Cathedral was passed first, but I didn’t manage to get a photo. After the run up and along the Santa Ana river, we came to Angel Stadium. We entered the stadium, and run round it to fits of cheers. A band was playing and cheerleaders were cheering.
The course was a comfortable one this far. It was not chilly at all, even at 5:30 in the morning. Thankfully, it was not a hot race either. Given these conditions you would have thought it would be a great race for a PR. However that was not to be the case, for me anyway. Well besides the obvious, stopping for pictures, it was also a very windy day! Reports of Winds gusting between 25-50 mph. The worst of it was between kms 7-9 and 12-14- the volunteers were having a very hard time keeping the cups upright. A big thank you to all the Volunteers. The wind blew the cups over, and at one point one of the tables went over. It was so bad, that they were having to pour water/powerade into the cups, one at a time, for runners holding them. This slowed me down too. The next bad gusts were along the Santa Ana River – the gusts were throwing up sand into our faces – lucky to have put on sunglasses at this point. They had Marvel Characters along the river too! I took advantage of the water stations – and it seemed like there were a lot – well that’s what my bladder kept telling me. I can normally last the whole race without the dredded potty break, but at mile 16 I couldn’t take it any longer and had to stop for a loo break. Luckily at this stage of the race, there were not that many people wanting a toilet break so there was no line up :).
Afterward it was “just” a 5k until the end of the race. It was a looooong 5k but I made it to the end. And picked up a medal to make the occasion.
Running round Disneyland was a brilliant experience. It was fun and you are exposed to much more than you could see if you attend the parks. I had a blast. I only wish that my trip was a couple of days longer – as I didn’t get a chance to go through the park, and I was also not able to take advantage of Hollywood not being so far away. Next time for sure.
Completion of this race – being my 3rd Half Marathon in 57 days – qualifies me for Half Fanatics membership. I am now HF #9694 🙂