I was really looking forward to this race for a long time. Last year was the inaugural running of the race, and I heard nothing but good things about it. It was primarily a women's race, with 11,000 women and 1,000 men runners. I did the Disneyland Half Marathon back in 2010 and really liked it, so I registered for Tinker Bell over the summer as soon as registration opened. I planned on going up with some friends, and this time I even wanted to dress in costume (for the Disneyland Half I only wore Mouse ears). I chose Cruella de Ville, as I already had the basis for the costume and only needed to add a few accessories to make her come to life.
This race was also important to me because I wanted to pace my friend Andrea to her first sub-2:45 half marathon. She's a strong runner (heck, in September she ran three half marathons in three days in Lake Tahoe) but had yet to run one under 2:45. I really wanted to help her meet this goal. We met earlier in the week to discuss strategy. I would need to slow down a bit and she would need to speed up some. We decided to try the run/walk ratio I had been using for my half-Ironman training, which was to run 0.4 miles and walk 0.1 mile. I was hopeful that together we could meet her goal.
Saturday morning I drove up to Anaheim with three other friends, Kelly, Ingrid and Tammy. It was Tammy's first half marathon, and as I'd been cheerleading her on throughout her training since the fall, I was very excited to share the experience with her. We got up to Anaheim, checked into our hotels (we stayed at the Best Western Stovall Inn, which was DIRECTLY across the street from the starting corrals....a great score!) and went to packet pickup. After picking up our bibs, we headed downstairs to the expo. The race shirt was great (long-sleeved tech in Tinker Bell green). I normally don't buy much at expos except for headbands sometimes (and this time was no exception, I bought a black sparkly headband for my costume) but there was a booth from Raw Threads with the cutest Disney-themed shirts I've ever seen. I particularly fell in love with this Captain Hook one, and just had to have it. Check out the back of the shirt, which is what clinched the deal for me.
|"Captain" and a picture of a hook on the front...|
|...and a crocodile tail and "run" on the back Adorb!|
As is almost always the case the night before a race, I hardly slept. Kelly and I turned the lights off at 8:00, but I tossed and turned until almost 10....and then was up every hour. I was up for good about 2:30. Sigh. Finally it was time to get up and get ready. My Cruella de Ville costume consisted of: a black running skirt, a black tank top, red arm warmers, white socks with puppy paw prints on them, a white feather boa, red lipstick, and, of course, white hairspray. I only wanted to spray half my hair white, so for the first time ever I ran in pigtails. I also brought along black and white gloves to toss ($2 from the clearance section at Target!) and my space blanket from my last half marathon to keep warm in the early morning chill.
|Cruella de Ville, ready to race!|
At 4:00, Kelly and I met up with Ingrid, Tammy and Andrea, and started to walk across the street to the corrals. As I was crossing the street, I heard my name being called...it was my neighbor, also there to run! How she found me amid all the thousands of runners I'll never know....I guess some things are just meant to be. Ingrid, Kelly and I were supposed to be in Corral B...Andrea was to be in C...and Tammy was to be in E. We all ended up going to C, as they were checking bibs and wouldn't let anyone in without an "A" or "B" bib past a certain point, and we all wanted to start together. A quick stop in the port-o-potties (no line!) and we were ready to wait. As it was so early, it was still pitch-black, but already we could see so many wonderful costumes. My friend Ingrid was adorable in her Jessi the Cowgirl outfit (from Toy Story). The national anthem sung with fireworks (red ones on the "rocket's red glare" part, and then red, white and blue ones at the end) and it was time to run...for the A Corral. But soon enough it was our turn. As we were walking up to the start line, I found $40 on the ground. I asked the people around me if it was theirs, but it wasn't. With thousands of runners, who knows who dropped it, so I had to pocket it.
Tinker Bell (on a screen, of course) sent us on our way, along with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I really wanted to take pictures, but the ones I took didn't turn out at all. It was just too dark outside. We crossed the starting mat and were off! Andrea and I kept a slow, steady pace for the first mile, weaving in and out of walkers (I really wish walkers would walk to the right). At mile 1.4 I started us on the run/walk ratio. We ran around the outside of the Disney property, and then suddenly were in California Adventure.
Like the Disneyland Half Marathon, I LOVED running through the parks! It is so amazing to run through. We ran through the new Cars Land, which was still under construction last time I was there. It is so cute, and looks exactly like Radiator Springs! We ran through the Hollywood area and the Paradise Pier, among other places. All the rides were in motion, and music was playing, and it was so festive! Again, I really wanted to take pictures, but didn't, as I knew taking pictures in the dark, while on the run no less, would not turn out. I loved seeing the lights lit up on the water, I guess from the World of Color, which I've never seen.
We exited California Adventure and ran past a HUGE crowd of spectators as we ran into the Magic Kingdom. We ran up Main Street, and into Tomorrow Land, then Fantasy Land, Frontier Land, and New Orleans Square and beyond. The Small World ride was still lit up for the holidays, and was absolutely gorgeous. Characters were out in full force, and runners were lined up at each one for a photo op. I saw Snow White, Belle, Cinderella and Rapunzel; Darth Vader and Storm Troopers; Mary Poppins and Bert; the Lost Boys riding the Carousel; Peter Pan, Wendy, and Captain Hook. I know there were other characters out, but I don't remember; I was too focused on keeping the pace and seeing my way in the dark. Most of the course was lit up well enough, but there were a few darker sections.
After we left the Magic Kingdom, we ran up Downtown Disney, past a ton of spectators and cute signs (my favorite: Worst Disney Parade Ever. The Choreography Sucks). Almost forgot another funny part--there was a guy with a sign that said "Course Liar", probably at about mile 2 or so, shouting out "You're horrible! Your running is so slow! You're almost done!". Very funny stuff. We ran past a HUGE group of Red Hat Society women, who were a riot! After that, it was bye-bye Disney, and onto the streets of Anaheim.
It was still dark at this point, and we were running through suburban streets. I amused myself by talking to Andrea, listening to music, and checking out the costumes the other runners were wearing. So many were wearing sparkle skirts, and lots also had fairy wings on---this WAS the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, of course! I even saw several men in sparkle skirts and tutus! There were runners dressed like the three Sleeping Beauty Fairies; the Cinderella Fairy Godmother (I ran by her and asked for a wish...she told me "bippity boppity boo"); Pluto; Minnie Mouse, Peter Pan, Captain Hook; Pocohontas; the Incredibles; and, of course, tons of Princesses. Several people recognized my costume, and I got many shout-outs of "hey Cruella!". That was fun, and made the effort I put into dressing up worth it.
As the sun came up, we turned into what I guess is downtown Anaheim. I'm not exactly sure, as I'm unfamiliar with the area. Although there are no characters out of the parks, there was plenty of course entertainment with bands and cheerleaders, although if memory serves me right there was more course entertainment during the Disneyland Half. At around mile 7, I saw my friend Mihael! He totally surprised me by coming, and even had a sign for me! I literally shrieked with surprise and gave him a big hug. It made me so happy, and truly lifted my spirits for the next several miles. I got to see him twice, as we circled the block.
Around this time Andrea started to get tired. More than tired, she was out of breath. I had warned her before the race that I would get tough with her, and I did. I tried to keep her going, tried to motivate her, but she kept slowing down and needed more frequent walk breaks. I knew our chances of hitting a sub-2:45 was going down the drain, but she was so miserable. Finally, at mile 10 1/3, she told me she was giving up on the goal. At that point, I knew it was out of reach anyway. I didn't want to leave her, but also I couldn't walk the last 3 miles. She told me to go on ahead, so finally I did. I ran the last 3 miles on my own. Although she didn't reach her goal, she told me she ran the fastest 10 miles of her life with me, and I'm very, very proud of her for going that far, that fast!
Meanwhile, I was having a GREAT race. Not only was I having fun, running with Andrea and on such a fun course, but I was feeling fabulous! I had some of my feared pains, but most of them were dull the entire race. My pains never really acted up badly until about mile 12, and even then it wasn't terrible. I was never, ever, out of breath, not during the whole race. I wasn't hot at all; the weather was perfect. After my last half marathon, which was an absolute fiasco, I really needed this positive experience. I got tired at the end, but I wasn't miserable. In fact, in almost every other half marathon I do, around mile 10 I hit a mental wall and start questioning my sanity in signing up. This race, I never hit that wall. I truly enjoyed every mile.
I finally crossed the finish line in about 2:47. I was very happy....not in much pain, not too tired, and I know I had it in me to go faster. I felt renewed as a runner, something I desperately needed. I got my medal (it's gorgeous, and the Tinker Bell in the middle of it spins!) and a box of snacks, then met Andrea, Kelly and Ingrid at the Family Reunion booth. We didn't get to see Tammy after the race, but she ROCKED her first half marathon, and is now hooked!
All in all, it was a GREAT race. I loved running through the parks, and Disney does such a great job of putting on a classy race. The volunteers were amazing, great entertainment, and the water, Power Ade and Clif Shots they were handing out seemed plentiful. I loved that it was nice and cool. The only thing I didn't like, which couldn't be helped due to the 5 a.m. start, is that it was too dark for me to take pictures; but then again, I got to see the parks lit up, which I didn't get to see during the sunny Disneyland Half.
Next up---this weekend's Carlsbad Half Marathon, the third of three half marathons I'm doing this month!