My husband and I flew down to Anaheim to run in the second annual Tinkerbell Half Marathon held last Sunday. First off, this race was not about time but about enjoying the experience. I am a Disney fan; I was born 6 months to the day before Disneyland opened, so Disneyland throws a big party for me when I reach milestone birthdays, or at least that's what it feels like. We lived in Southern California for many years before moving to Washington, and we got season passes to Disneyland for the year before we moved. Running in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon was in a sense going home for us.
My husband and I arranged to take some vacation time with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Anaheim before the race, so we had a couple of days to see California Adventure and Disneyland with them first. Smart? Stupid? I'm not entirely sure; we walked around 20,000 steps a day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before the race on Sunday. It's not exactly the way one normally prepares for a half marathon, but we had a blast watching our 3 1/2 year old grandson experience the parks for the first time! My sister-in-law, her husband, and her husband's sister joined the five of us at the parks on Thursday to celebrate my birthday as well, and we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to be all together.
Back to the race! The Tinkerbell Half Marathon was everything I expected and more. The expo was large, perhaps not quite as large as the Rock'n'Roll expos that I've been to, but much larger than most race expos. We took some time away from our kids and grandson on Friday to go to the expo in order to pick up our packets and shop. I got a new Team Sparkle skirt and princess sleeves as well as some leopard print compression socks and headband that I wanted to wear for the race. (Yes, I know, nothing new on race day, but these were just different colors of things I've used before.) Then it was back to the park to meet the kids and finish spending the day with them. They had to go home on Saturday, so we spent as much time with them as we could.
On Saturday some of the Tinkerbell 2013 Spark Team were going to try to meet up at the expo. Our Southern California family, however, wanted to take us to San Diego to a barbeque place they love that day. I had a sliver of a hope that we'd be back in time for the meetup based on what they said they anticipated for timing, but I wasn't counting on it. As I suspected, we got back after the expo had closed so I missed any meetup. Too bad; I really would have liked to meet some Spark Friends while we were there, but I couldn't pass up family time--it's rare now that we live so far away.
Saturday evening was spent carefully putting together our race gear. Water bottles were filed and in the refrigerator, gels and chews were loaded in the belt, personalized bibs were attached to the race belt, clothes were laid out, wings were attached to the shirt and tested along with the tutu; we were as ready as we could be. We went to bed and rested as best we could.
The Tinkerbell Half Marathon starts at 5 a.m. so that everyone can be finished with the run through the parks before they officially open. That means be there by 4 a.m. and in your corral by 4:30 a.m., making for a very early wakeup time. We were staying close to the park at one of the 'Good Neighbor' hotels, so there was a free shuttle to the start line that we planned to ride. We dressed for the race, ate a light breakfast and walked out to go catch the shuttle. My wings and tutu were a dead giveaway as to where we were headed, so a couple of ladies (mother and daughter) who were staying at the same hotel offered us a ride to the race. What a pleasant surprise! They were from Duluth and encouraged us to get in the lottery for Grandma's this year when it opens up next month. I love the running community; there is such a great sense of camaraderie and friendship.
We were dropped off and said our goodbyes to our new friends as we headed off to our respective corrals; this was their first half marathon, so they were in Corral E. Based on our best half marathon times, we were in Corral C. I was a little nervous about that since we haven't run a half since November, but I know that where you start doesn't matter a whole lot in these races.
It was fun seeing all the costumes and creativity of the other runners; there were lots of wings and tutus, as well as some Peter Pans and even one man dressed like Walt Disney, complete with suit and tie. I was very glad that I'd done some research on how to run in wings and a tutu; I saw quite a few people who were having trouble with their wings and frustrated with them. I had no problems at all with either the wings or tutu, hardly knew that they were on. Here's a picture before the race:
And my Prince Charming as well:
Corral A was the first to start; Tinkerbell gave the cue to GO! Then Corral B moved up, and about 5 minutes later they were off. Now it was our turn; Corral C (C for Create your own magic!) moved forward, and by about 5:10, we were off. First was a run around the outside of Disneyland, starting on Disneyland Drive and going around the north side of the park. Then it was a turn south and into California Adventure. One of the reasons I wasn't counting on a great time was the stops I knew we'd be making for pictures. Different Disney characters and floats were around the park especially for that. I didn't stand in line to have a picture with any of the characters, but I did slow down as my husband snapped some pictures along the way. I loved seeing the water and hearing the music for the Magic of Color show they put on in California Adventure as we ran by, it was so beautiful in the early morning darkness.
Now it was time to run through Disneyland. This was definitely my favorite part of the race; I commented to my husband that this was probably the only time we would see either park with so few people in it! Seeing the park lit up with various characters and floats was special. Here's a picture of Main Street:
That's me front and center with the wings and purple tutu. And of course I had to stop for a picture in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle:
We ran through part of the back area of both parks; in Disneyland, we ran under a banner that said "Disney Custodial Welcomes You!" Many Disneyland staff were there to cheer us on, and I told some of the custodial staff that they were the real heroes of the park. That brought a lot of smiles, and I meant it. They are the ones who really keep the place going.
Somewhere toward the end of our run through Disneyland (around mile 5, I think), my husband had to take a bio break, so we said goodbye and I continued on my own. That's our agreement; if one of us has to take a bio break, the other is free to keep going. I'm glad we were able to at least do that much together, though I wish we could have done the whole thing together.
The rest of the race was through the streets of Anaheim. One of the great things about this race is all the crowd support, both inside the parks and as you go through the town. Lots of people cheered us on, and various high school and university cheer squads were out there supporting the runners. One of the funniest signs we saw was the one that showed up a couple of places: "Worst parade ever, terrible choreography." Only at a Disney race would you see something like that!
As the sun came up, it got warmer, and by the time I was done, I was wishing I'd worn shorts instead of capris. That's always a balancing act for me; I hate being cold waiting for a race to start, but I get so warm running that I have to be careful not to overdress either. I have a hard time getting it just right. Using the arm sleeves rather than a long sleeved shirt worked well, though, because I could roll them down once I warmed up. That helped a lot.
To finish the race, we circled back to one of the parking lots for the park and ran into there. I could see the finish line ahead, but we had to run around the parking lot to get to it--so close yet so far away! I managed to find the energy for one last burst at the end, and I finished in 2:56:24. My number one goal, of course, was simply to finish the race; I was hoping to finish in under 3 hours, and I did that. Faster would have been nice, but considering we stopped along the way and haven't done that many long runs recently, I'm very happy with that time. And I'm more than happy with the "bling" from the race. The medal is huge and beautiful; here's a picture of our bibs and medals:
The Tinkerbell in the center spins, way cool. This is an expensive race (no surprise there--it's Disney), but it's one I definitely want to do again. I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday!