who crosses the the runDisney double double dare challenge & disneyland half marathon finish line & immediately bursts into tears? ME! that’s who.
even now, weeks later, recalling that morning and the days & experiences that followed, results in tears streaming down my face.
i’ve come to realize that every race has a story.
& for me, this especially is true when it comes to the disneyland half marathon – i like to think of it as my runner-versary…
runDisney disneyland half marathon
4 years ago, the disneyland half marathon was my first race - EVER. four months post baby & after two weeks of training, i laced up my sneakers, loaded up the playlist & hit the pavement running. i crossed the finish line that day with an new addiction (some might even call an obsession) to running.
3 years ago, the disneyland half marathon was my “coming out party.” after four months of being unable to run (due to an injury that left me hardly able to walk), three different doctors, one active release technician, one physical therapist, & one reiki master/healer/guide/intuitive/past life guide (yes you read that correctly), i decided it was time to throw caution to the wind. two weeks prior to the race, i laced up my sneakers & went for seven training runs, before running this magical race once again. i crossed the finish line that day, re-confirming to myself that running wasn’t just a hobby – it was a necessity.
2 years ago, the disneyland half marathon was was the race i had looked forward to all year. & when i smashed my previous PR by 15+ minutes (while running in wings), i couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear as i
crossed flew across the finish line.
last year, the disneyland half was more of a “fun” run than a race. mid-marathon-training, coming off hood to coast relay, with little-to-no taper (running 50+ miles the previous week), working the expo for two days from sun up to sun down, & spending nearly every other free moment riding rides at the disneyland resort – i didn’t have high expectations. & yet, i missed a PR by a mere 20 seconds. not too shabby.
this year however, as the disneyland half marathon approached, i found myself excited, nervous & extremely apprehensive…
due to a long, hard & incredibly stressful summer, my training was pretty much non-existant. in fact, the week before, i ran 13 miles just to make sure i still had it in me.
and yet, returning to the disneyland half, celebrating my 4th runner-versary, once again reminded me how powerful, how clarifying, how life changing running can be.
& as cliche as it might sound – at the disneyland half marathon, there really is magic in every mile.
despite waking up race day morning grumpy, in a lot of physical pain, not really wanting to run (& in retrospect i really probably shouldn’t have run, to be completely honest). every worry & care seemed to melt completely away, once i reached the starting line for the disneyland half marathon…
surrounded by literally thousands of runners, you could practically feel the excitement in the air.
for some people this was their first half marathon ever.
others were hoping to PR after months & months of training.
for a number of runners this race was the final step to completing the inaugural dumbo double dare challenge (running both the disneyland 10K & the disneyland half marathon in a single weekend, at total of 19.3 miles).
& for an even fewer number of people (myself included), it was the final step to completing the unofficial dumbo triple dare challenge (running the disneyland family 5K, disneyland 10K & the disneyalnd half marathon in a single weekend, a total of 22.4 miles).
many people were looking forward to earning their coast to coast medal, having already run a half marathon at walt disney world during the calendar year, entitling them to extra “bling” at the finish line.
but i think it’s safe to say that every single person was looking forward to, thrilled, eager & very much excited to soon be running & walking through the disneyland resort, exploring anaheim & experiencing the “magic” of the disneyland half marathon.
training to run a race, is hard work. months & months of training all boil down to one single run. & for the participants of the disneyland half marathon – that day was “today.”
& luckily for me, everyone’s enthusiasm was incredibly contagious.
although i may have still been wiping the tears from my eyes following a moving rendition of the national anthem, from the moment the starting line fireworks burst into the air, i was ready to rock the race…. or chase the white rabbit down the rabbit hole at the very least.
& while i may have been bound & determined to run this race despite my health problems (having taken the mad hatter’s words of wisdom to alice to heart after she proclaimed “this is impossible.” & he responded “only if you believe it is”), i wasn’t planning on setting any records or shattering my personal best.
that particular morning, running the race, embracing the magic of the disneyland half marathon & running across the finish line strong, was all i needed, all i could ask for. i was just grateful to be able to run.
double triple dare challenge:
disneyland half marathon
& so we ran. down disneyland drive, with a short little jaunt on harbor blvd., before entering the disneyland resort via disney california adventure.
inside the parks, chEAR squad spectators, employees, disney characters & entertainment clapped, cheered & high-fived us as we ran – past world of color, around paradise pier, through cars land, past tower of terror, through hollywood studios & right on into the disneyland park through the main gates.
we ran around frontierland, through the castle, around tomorrowland and the matterhorn & into the rarely-seen-disneyland-backlots before exiting the parks, only to be greeted by crowds of spectators lining disneyland drive.
as we ventured off into the city of anaheim, the streets were lined with aid stations & entertainment. motivational signs, high school bands, cheerleaders, dance teams, mariachi & hula dancers, classic cars, spectators & strangers handing out orange slices, handfuls of pretzels & licrorice whips, literally lined the streets.
we ran past the honda center, home of the anaheim ducks, along the santa ana trail “overlooking” the santa ana river, & through angel stadium, home of the mlb’s los angeles angels of anaheim – which is always a highlight.
& just like every other year, i found myself wiping away the tears from my eyes as i exited angel stadium. with hundreds (if not thousands) of boy & girl scouts, cheering & high-fiving runners as we round home plate, it’s practically impossible not to get emotional. & trust me when i say, i high-fived nearly every single one.
with angel stadium behind us, the next 3.1 miles are an absolute blur. & before we knew it the finish line was already in sight.
and yes, almost immediately upon crossing the disneyland half marathon finish line i burst into tears.
as people celebrated & congratulated one another, tears streamed down my face.
partly because at several points during the race, i doubted whether i would actually be able to physically finish due to the pain i was experiencing as i ran.
partly because the entire summer & especially this race in particular, had been an emotional roller coaster – up, down, around & back again.
partly because no matter how many times i’ve crossed the finish line before, it always feels like i’m crossing it for the first time.
but, at the end of the day, despite how i felt, despite how i ran, despite the emotions, the disneyland half marathon was still, & always will be one of the happiest races on earth.
nothing can, or ever will, change that.
and completing the dumbo
double triple dare, only made the entire adventure more amazing.
from the energy of the racers, the generosity of the volunteers, the on-course entertainment, the amazing spectators, the costumes, the photo opps, the bling, the chance to high-five literally hundreds of people as you run, & of course – running through castles & down main streets, running disney always makes for a magical experience.
each & every time i race runDisney, i am reminded that they are my absolute, most favorite running events. especially when you get to share it with friends.
& just like most runDisney finishers i celebrated they day’s victories by wearing my medals the remainder of the day.
i have to admit, hearing the cling clanging of my multiple medals was music to my ears as I spent that afternoon at the urgent care, & when i checked into the hospital later that week for “monitoring” & eventual surgery.
remember at the beginning of the post when i admitted i probably shouldn’t have even run the race?! well, let’s just say that that’s a fairytale for another day…
double triple dare challenge:
disneyland half marathon by the numbers
* total chip time 2:04:32
* 111th place out of 1,600 women in my age group
* 177th place out of 10,019 women
* 1,744 place out of 15,874 runners
* 5K split time 31:04
* 10K split 1:00:59
* 15K split 1:31
* number of medals collected in a single weekend: 4
i don’t know what it is – the energy, the spectators, the entertainment, the pixie dust? somehow runDisney races always prove to be the most fun & often time my fastest races i run all year. i’d definitely say that runDisney races bring out the “best” in everyone.
so if you haven’t run disney yet – do it. whether it’s your first race, or your tenth, you’re sure to have a magical time.
disclosure: i was invited by runDisney to attend the event weekend as media – meaning they were kind enough to provide me with race entries. of course – all thoughts & opinions are 100% my own, because as you already know… i absolutely, totally & completely LOVE runDisney events, especially the inaugural disneyland 10K.