When training started for this race I had high hopes and big goals. I set big PRs at this race the last two years by breaking 1:30 and 1:25 respectively and this year the goal was to break 1:20. Two weeks into training I realized I had a problem. I had focused much of the year on ultras and setting PRs there that I had lost a bit of my speed. I resigned to trying to get back where I was last year and chose a different race later this year to try to break 1:20.
Training didn’t go so well. Last year was pretty cool which helped me train through the summer. This year wasn’t so forgiving. It made hitting my paces during speed work extremely difficult and turned long runs into a suffer fest. My motivation for this race was in the dumps until about three weeks out when I started to string together a few decent training runs.
There was one other factor that I would need to take into account for this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon. I had signed up for the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge which means I would be running the Disneyland 10K the day before the half marathon. The plan was to take the 10K easy and then shoot for a 1:22 for the half. While I didn’t push it on the 10K, I didn’t take it easy.
Race morning came quickly with a 4 AM wake up time so I could get ready to meet with Kris and Mindy. The plan was to run with Kris who was looking at a similar goal time. Luckily they were staying a couple doors down at the Disneyland Hotel so it was easy to find them. After a short walk we found ourselves standing in corral A waiting for the gun to go off.
The first mile started out fast and I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be my day. We clocked a 6:18 mile on our way into Disney California Adventure but it felt like so much more work than it should have been. I silently let Kris fade away from me and tried to lock down a pace that I could maintain. The next mile took us through the back of DCA and then around Paradise Bay. I slowed down to a 6:35 but I was still miserable. As we entered Cars Land I saw DJ parked outside Flo’s V8 Cafe and I honestly contemplated stopping for a picture which is something I’ve never done before in a race. Mile 3 continued the slowing trend with a 6:57 and my 5K split was 20:55.
Upon entering Disneyland I was defeated mentally and we were only three miles into the race. I decided to ditch any time goals and turn the race into a training run. Then it happened. I stopped to take a photo with Disney characters for the first time ever during a race. Genie, Jasmine, and Aladdin will always hold a special place in my runDisney history.
Now that I had officially stopped racing I could focus on getting through the miles and to the finish line. The run through Disneyland took us through Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Toon Town. There was a decent array of characters out including Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers in Tomorrowland, Daisy Duck and Clarice in Town Town, and Princess Aurora with Prince Phillip outside her castle.
After exiting Disneyland you pass the four mile mark which I clocked in 7:15. Last year I didn’t log a mile above 6:40 so logging something over 7:00 brought me down a little. The next few miles brought some cheer squads, bands, Hula and Mexican Dancers. Mile 5 clocked in at 7:14, Mile 6 was 7:12, and my 10K split was 43:21.
The next mile was rough for some reason and I clocked a 7:31which would be my slowest mile. Shortly after the 7th mile you turn left onto Cerritos Ave and are treated to about a mile long car show. runDisney started having car clubs line the street starting last year and it has really helped spice up this boring section.
After passing the Honda Center the course ends up on the Santa Ana River Trail. This year we spent a little more time on the trail than in previous years. There is construction where we previously left the trail so the course had to be altered. I found the new transition from the trail to be a little easier. Mile 8 clocked in at 7:28 and mile 9 was 7:14.
Next up is my favorite part of the course. As an Oakland A’s fan I hate the Angels but I love running through their stadium during this half marathon. runDisney fills the stadium with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their cheering is loud and infectious. I tried to give a high five to as many scouts as I could while I was running though here. Feeding off the energy from the scouts mile 10 came in at 7:09.
The next couple miles I just focused on finishing. There are a few more cheer squads and bands during these miles. Miles 11 and 12 clocked in at 7:14 and 7:11. I usually feel good on this section of the course and try to push the pace but with nothing to gain I just cruised it.
For some reason I decided to try to pick off a few runners in the final mile which helped me drop the pace down to 6:55 for mile 13. With the finish line and Mickey and Minnie in sight I felt relieved that this race was done. A quick high five to Minnie and Mickey and I crossed the finish line in 1:33:35. Good for 98th place overall and 15th in my age group. Not even close to what I was hoping for.
In retrospect the one thing that killed my half performance more than anything was lack of sleep the two nights before the race. I can usually get away with one poor night of sleep before a race but more than that leaves me feeling drained. Of course the heat and humidity played a role as well. Last year’s men’s winner Jimmy Grabow was a little more than two minutes slower than last year and women’s winner Cindy Lynch was about a minute slower.
Next year I’ll probably pass on doing the Dumbo Double Dare. I loved being a part of the inaugural running of it but I prefer to give the half marathon my full attention. I’m not focused on the bling so the additional medals aren’t enough to sway me to come back… at least not until they change them for the 5th anniversary!