Monday, September 6, 2010

Running my first Disneyland Half Marathon...

I've had a day to recover after the 5th Annual Disneyland Half Marathon (and my first ever half marathon) and have had my race time confirmed as 1:44:30.

Mickey and Minnie start the race
Disneyland Half Marathon Mickey and Minnie
I was the 508th fastest runner of 12,358 race finishers, 418 fastest male and 73rd fastest in my group of 35-39 year old men.
5th Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
We stayed overnight in Anaheim after a picking up my race packet and number and watching Disneyland's new World of Color light and fountain spectacular.

Race packet pick-up the day before
Mickey and jason in Disneyland
We had an early 4am start after about four hours sleep and the race started at 6am to beat the Californian heat.

Essential pre-race training
Jason enjoys Disneyland ice-cream
The running conditions were perfect though, a nice misty morning to help cool down the 14,000 runners.

Waiting in Corral D before the race
Disneyland Half Marathon Corral D runners
I ran in Corral D and didn't cross the Start Line until about 6.20am. By that time I was dying for a pee and I had a stitch as I started my run.
Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
There was a great crowd spirit and once we began the half marathon we headed into the parks to run through Disney California Adventure, around Paradise Pier, and then into the Disneyland Park.
Corral D Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
Bands, characters and staff lined the course to offer encouragement and loads of people were stopping to have their pictures taken with their favourite Disney characters. There were also lots of fun runners dressed in Disney costumes, with around 64% of the entrants being women.
Disneyland Half Marathon start
After running through Sleeping Beauty Castle we left the park and ran out onto the streets of Anaheim, where locals and cheerleading squads offered their support and encouragement, which was a real boost. I think I found the first five miles harder than the last three to be honest, but the upbeat tunes of Kylie Minogue and the Scissor Sisters kept me going strong.

Mickey and Minnie cheer on runners
5th Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
The course took us past the Honda Center, down long the dried-up Santa Ana River and through Angel Stadium, which was my first time to a baseball stadium ever, and it was cool to see all the supporters in the seats and see yourself projected on the big screen as you ran around the baseball field.
Mickey and Minnie Disneyland Half Marathon
Not to get all sentimental, but I found the race to be oddly liberating and emotional, it was as if all your cares were falling away as you pounded the road. There's something about doing something just for yourself, for the sake of it, and I've always liked the idea of one day running a full marathon.

Racing to the finish
Running Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
I'm also sure it was because you were running as a part of a huge group of people, young and old, who all loved Disney, plus seeing all the banners of support from friends and family was really touching. After all it is the Happiest Race on Earth.

Jason in Hollywood after the race
After Disneyland Half Marathon 2010
When I reached the ten mile marker I knew I wanted to pick up the pace, as I had a real chance of beating my practice personal best of 1:56 for the 13.1 miles. I dug in and as I passed other runners I could hear their words of encouragement.
Disneyland Half Marathon 2010 finish
It was also really satisfying to catch up with people you'd used as pacers earlier in the run, who'd taken off ahead of you and were now flagging. I'm so glad I trained well for the half marathon.

5th Disneyland Half Marathon T-Shirt and Medal
Disneyland Half Marathon 2010 T-shirt
I still felt strong at the last mile marker, thankful for all the multi-coloured Powerade I'd grabbed at the watering points, and I just went for it realising that I may even be able to finish in under 1 hour 45 minutes. I ran straight past my partner, Charlie, near the finish line without seeing him (who'd been freezing on the sidelines since 5.15am).
Disneyland Half Marathon 2010 medal
I felt so elated passing the Finish Line and a great sense of achievement. My legs didn't feel too bad at all and I checked my phone straight away to see if my race time had been texted to me. I was thrilled with finishing under 1 hour 45 minutes and really had a great race.

I think I deserve a massage this week to celebrate and whilst I'm enjoying that I shall be contemplating whether or not to do a full marathon next...

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