Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tinker Bell Half Marathon race report

3:45 came really early, despite the fact that we went to sleep relatively early. But with a 5am start, well, them's the breaks. Felt pretty sprightly after yesterday's Tinker Bell 10K -- no stiffness or soreness at all.

We met Suz by the pool and started our quiet trek across the park entrance plaza at 4. (Four!!!) Still, it's better than needing to be on a shuttle no later than 4 for a 6am start, I guess…

I do like the walk to the start -- seeing the other runners, getting a sense of occasion, looking at costumes. Disneyland is super quiet at this point, and most of the runners are quietly making their way to the starting areas. You can tell that a lot of people feel nervous, others resigned, others excited.

We had talked about walking the short way around the back of the corrals, but then fretted that maybe they wouldn't let us get in that way... besides, the dark march though Downtown Disney is a Disneyland race tradition!

Eventually we got to the first big group of porta potties and decided that we should part ways there. Wil had been assigned corral B (again, no boys in corral A, apparently, as I had been placed there), and Suz was in D so I jumped back to run with her. Took a quick pre-race photo with Wil -- this would be the first time we had run the same race but not together!

Team Wil-Sun before the race
 Suz and I continued on to the start village, where I grabbed a cup of water, smiled at another Cheshire Cat, and admired some other costumes. They were already sending people to the corrals, so we decided we might as well mosey that direction. Since Wil and I had both been in A the day before we didn't know how long the pauses were between waves, so we didn't want to linger too long.

Here's what's funny -- the chatter on Saturday was that we couldn't hear corral D from where we were in corral A. Well, in corral D we could only just barely hear the stage because we didn't have any speakers in our area. I'm guessing it was in deference to the guests of the hotel right there, but it definitely made me feel a little disconnected from the events. Basically, we only knew when the national anthem started (sung this time, not nearly as nice as the trumpet!) because there were fireworks to go along with it. Even then, most people chatted through about 75% of it because they couldn't hear. But eventually we heard Corral A start.

photo courtesy runDisney
Turns out the wait between corrals was 10 minutes, which meant we barely moved up for 20 minutes, and then started at 30 minutes or so after the main start. On weird little thing -- apparently Minnie and Daisy were on stage for the start of the first few corrals... but I only know that because I heard the announcers say, "Bye Minnie and Daisy! Thanks for joining us for the start!" as they walked off stage. And, no, no characters came to replace them. Boo.

We took a pre-race selfie as we moved forward… but a better shot was captured by the race photographers:

A little closer, when we were "on deck" to start.

Then, finally, we got to start! I like the first little stretch of the race, when you're on the outside roads, nice and broad, plenty of room to manoever. And there was a bit of manoevering to do, since the corrals are so big! And then it was fun to make the first turn into the tunnel across the front of the park -- and a little weird to realize that we had to stay to the right because they needed to keep the left side clear for the runners in the first corral who would be catching up relatively sharpish! I'm a little pleased to note that I don't think we actually got "lapped" by the leaders... though it wouldn't have been surprising to see them!

I wanted to keep Suz to a 15-minute/mile pace so that we could bank a little time and not worry about getting swept. For much of the race, we did! I had asked Suz before if there was a particular character she might want to get a photo with; she didn't want to take the time if lines were too long. Of course, I think we both know she would have stopped for Cruella if we had seen her!!!

Pics of us on the course:
on Hollywood Boulevard

not sure where we are, but it's early in the race (still dark)
(slight tangential aside -- a few miles later, after it was light, a man dressed as Wreck-it Ralph ran up to me and said, "I don't mean to be inappropriate, but that tail is MESMERIZING!")

Later on we crossed into Disneyland, where we stopped for a castle pic (okay, not that great a pic, but I'm not the official selfie photographer of Team Wil-Sun!):

really, that's the castle
(Yes, that's the castle behind us. I promise. I'm still always a little surprised at how modest the Disneyland castle is vs. Disney World..)

Another surprise: FINALLY Tinker Bell was on the course! Okay, she was on top of a float, but still. Yay for that!

photo courtesy runDisney
hello Tink!!! (photo by runDisney)

One of my favorite things is that the Lost Boys ride around and around on the Carousel. But when we got there they had been allowed to take a break and were standing posing for photos.

photo by runDisney
Of course, as at all runDisney events, you leave the parks too soon. We headed out through a quiet Anaheim neighborhood with cute houses and a slightly out-of-place Holiday Inn. I liked the signs that said, "Shhh… neighbors sleeping!", though some runners groused about them.

Then into downtown Anaheim, past the Ducks' practice rink and the very lovely Muzeo. At some point on this promenade, a Disney group (Mousechat? Am I making that up?) had a tent set up and were handing out orange wedges, pretzels, and Red Vines. I wish I had taken a moment to snap a picture of the sign that said, "TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS!" I took a couple of Red Vines -- my all-time favorite race food, and something I am already planning on bringing with me as a treat on the Inca Trail later this year…

One we went. I kept us moving at a pretty steady 15-minute/mile pace, sometimes gaining a few seconds, sometimes losing a few seconds. At mile 10 we spotted the sweeper buses -- still parked, but clearly waiting at mile 10. There was a lot of chatter around us about the hundreds of folks who got swept during the 10K the day before. I calculated that we had at least a 33-minute cushion at our pace (13 minutes, one per mile, plus 20 minutes for the additional two corrals), but I didn't want to let up yet. We were GOING to earn those wings, darn it!

We eventually came back into the park through the same tunnel before mile 12. Lots of grumbling about "all the hills" -- ha ha ha ha ha! (Really, folks, this is a very flat course, with a couple of inclines…)

Then we were on the long backstage road -- always fun to see the "backside" of the Cadillac Range in Cars Land! We had slowed down pretty significantly by this point -- 18 or so minutes per mile -- but I knew we were "safe" so I didn't push it. Suz got a bit nervous in the last half mile because there were lots of cyclists, but I explained that they were medical crew (red shirts) just making sure everyone was okay.

A couple of other on-course pics:

less than a mile to go!
turning out of the back road to head to the parking lot finish

We headed through the crowds of spectators in the finishing stretch. I kept encouraging Suz to run, but she was pretty much done. We crossed the finish line in 3:22:12.

One odd thing: we seemed to hit a bring clot of people just after crossing as people tried to capture photos. A lot of volunteers and race staff kept telling us to keep moving, not to stop, so we tried to keep herding the runners forward. But when looking at the "provisional assignments" (photos linked to us by finish time), there was a strange shot of a stretcher, some aid workers, and a line of volunteers with arms linked trying to make room for the fallen runner. If you look very carefully, you can just spot us in the top corner. (I decided not to include the pic in the blog so as to respect the privacy of the fallen runner -- I hope he or she is okay.)


We took a quick photo and picked up some liquids and our snacks. Wil had texted -- he'd finished an hour and a half or so before (starting 30 minutes before us, and then finishing in 2:17) and was back at the hotel. 

Suz went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and rest, but Wil and I decided to take advantage of the quiet morning to get our Disney on. It was lovely and quiet and actually absurdly funny to walk around the park in a fuchsia running tank and skirt plus a furry hat, tail, and pair of leg warmers. 

Some random memories:
- lots of great costumes, especially the Colette and Tiki headdresses we saw just before the finish!
- the amazing crowd of Red Hat Ladies along the course -- HUNDREDS of them! -- such a boost
- Vanellope and Wreck-it Ralph on the course
- "Your tail is MESMERIZING"
- "I've been chasing your tail for miles!" "All the girls tell me that!"

photo by runDisney
I admit that I was a little sad not to be running with Wil -- but I'm glad Suz got to experience this race and earn her wings! I'm already looking forward to the race in May 2015!

same nice spinner medal -- maybe they'll do something special for the fifth running?
2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal


  1. I love Disney races but man they do come early don't they!! I want to try the tinkerbell maybe next year! I did the dopey challenge a few weeks ago and wrote about it on my blog!
    Congrats on finishing a great race!

  2. Congrats. Sounds like you had a great time. I love early morning races...but not that early!

  3. Enjoyed reading your blog and reading about your ambitious goals. Especially at the brickyard. We were going to come out to see you at Tinkerbell but didn't think I would be able to find you and Suz - now as I see the photos I realize I could have picked you out of the crowd after all!!