I’m finally getting around to a race recap. On November 17 I ran the Disneyland Avengers Superhero Half Marathon (that’s a mouthful!). This was the second part of the Coast to Coast challenge that Disney puts on, where you run a full marathon at Disney World in Orlando and a half-marathon at Disneyland in LA, all in the same calendar year. If you have read any of my previous posts, you probably know that Disney World was my first marathon, er…race, ever. I also ran both of these races with my mother in law, who is also one of my closest friends. We didn’t go just to run the half, we decided to make a full on, four-day, jam-packed vacation out of this trip. If you don’t want to read all of the extra stuff, just scroll down to the “Race Day” section in bold.
We arrived at LAX Thursday night and decided that our first stop would be Hollywood. We went with our friend Mary R, who happens to be a travel agent for Disney, and totally geeked out. I should start by saying that we are all major Disney geeks. My MIL and Mary are both into “pin trading” at Disney. There is an ice cream/soda fountain on Hollywood Blvd. that is owned by Disney and Ghiradelli. This place has exclusive limited edition Disney pins that you can only get there, so of course this was our first stop.
At this point I was brand new to pin trading and was excited to get into it. On our way there we were walking down Hollywood Blvd and notice at the end of a long dark alley there are tons of photographers. Of course we had to run down and figure out who it was! Lo and behold, it was Jim Carey!
He was on his way in to the Jimmy Kimmel show. Pretty neat. We made our way into the soda shop and got our pins and noticed there was a red carpet event right across the street. Found out it was the premier to Steve Carell’s new movie, “Foxhunter.” We were there in time to watch him arrive. Our timing was impeccable!
We finally made our way to our hotel in Anaheim and got some rest. The next day was spent enjoying Disneyland magic. I couldn’t imagine a better way to prep for a race! Here we are receiving Walt’s blessing prior to the half.
The next day was Saturday, the day before the race. We had fun exploring Disney’s California Adventure and checking out the race expo. This expo was much smaller than the one in Orlando, but we enjoyed it. Mary R got new shoes and committed to training for her first 10k! That’s half the reason I love races, they are so inspirational. No matter how great of an athlete you are, meeting other people who share the same passion that you do inspire you to be better.
Sunday morning we were up around 3:30 am, grabbed a bagel and made our way to the corrals. Logistically Disneyland was so much easier than Disney World. We could actually walk from our hotel to the starting line. It started off fairly cool that morning, about 50 degrees, which was great. We took off at about 6:00 am.
Neither of us felt very good about this race. We hadn’t trained as hard as we had for the marathon and overall just felt unprepared. The first three miles we weaved through the parks and were feeling okay. It was around mile three that the wind began to pick up, and so began the rough journey to make it to that finish line.
After we ran through the parks we were out on the city roads, which was where we spent the majority of the race. The Santa Ana winds blew in and we began running against the wind, which would continue for the entire race. At first this was just annoying, but after we passed about mile 5 we made our way into an area where we were surrounded by sand and loose gravel. We spent the rest of the race running with sand in our eyes and occasionally being pummeled by small rocks. Not the most fun run.
I don’t have great details about this race because we were pretty numb the whole time, just taking it a mile at a time trying to finish. Around mile 8 we really began having a hard time and realized this run was just about making it to the end without quitting. I tried to keep a positive attitude and be encouraging so that we would keep running. Somewhere near mile 9 I noticed that the wind was knocking all of the porta-potties over. We were so close to being done, but the wind was getting even worse
The last three miles went on forever. Someone gave us gels, which at that point I didn’t want. A slight pick-me-up came when we saw a group of what we thought were WWII vets cheering us on. “Ok, Mel. Get it together and run. These guys who have been through more than you ever have are out here cheering you on.” We began thanking a few of them as we ran by. Then we begin to really look at them and notice how young they are.
“They’re actors!” Mary shouts. Actors?! Ok now I felt foolish.
We were at mile 12. One more to go. Mary said she needed to walk. I felt the same way, but I did not want to cave after we battled our way through 12 miles in these winds. Finally the finish line is in sight and she doesn’t think she can take one more step.
“We have to!” I said, “We have to run!” At this point we saw Mary R in the stands cheering us on, and we crossed the finish line.
I normally don’t post my time because I’m embarrassed about how slow I am. But, what the heck. I am working on becoming faster; it’s a work in progress. There will always be someone behind me and someone in front of me. For now, I’m ok with that. Baby steps.
We got our medals, but the usual photo spots and expo tents had all been taken down due to the wind. They were filtering everyone out of the area, and even had to cancel the awards ceremony because the stage was hazardous with the winds. We had our own photo opp and headed back to the hotel.
We had done it, but that race was a rude awakening to how out of shape we were/are. It was humbling and inspiring. It made us want to be better. After a shower and a nap I felt like a new person. We spent the rest of the day celebrating in Disneyland.
Disney Animation Studios
The following day was Monday and was a very special day, because we were getting a private tour of Walt Disney Animation Studios. We got to see where Snow White, Cinderella, Lion King, and most recently, Frozen, were all made. This was a seriously a cool trip. Here we are in front of the animation studio. You might recognize this scene from the recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks” with Tom Hanks. It was filmed there, and throughout the whole tour I felt like we were in a movie. Seeing how many different people work on the art that becomes an animation is absolutely amazing. The whole time we were there I almost felt like I was in Neverland. We got to go into the Disney archives and see photos of Walt Disney and his team working on projects, and it was there I learned that Walt started this whole studio in a shed with a couple other guys. More than anything, this trip was inspiring. Do what you love and work hard at it; look where it got Walt!
We had an amazing tour guide, Robert, who was good friends with a woman named Lisa. To back up a bit, Robert was giving us an unofficial tour, but during our tour we bumped into his friend Lisa, who is the official tour guide of the studios! Lisa took over the tour and took it to the next level. She brought us by the sets where shows like Modern Family and The Middle are filmed, and we got to see the “stages” where classic films like Mary Poppins were filmed. We learned so much about Disney and film making while we were there. It was my dream come true.
After our tour, Robert was kind enough to give us a tour of Burbank. We “fan-girled” a little bit and drove around celebrity neighborhoods. We even saw the original Brady Bunch house!
We ended the day by going to see the Hollywood sign; Robert knew where the best spot in town was to see it. The spot he took us to also had an amazing view of Hollywood/LA.
Despite the race not being our best, we still had a great time and learned so much during this trip. Gotta keep running.
Until next time!