The race may have been back on November 10, 2016 but my age group award from the Doctor Strange 10K arrived in the mail last night! This race was a part of runDisney’s Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. You can read my race recap here.
I’m not sure what motivated me, but I decided to dust off the old blog and post a new entry. From November 10th through the 13th runDisney hosted their Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. This time around I was only running the Doctor Strange 10K since I am still rebuilding after running the Cascade Crest 100 in late August.
My initial hope was to take a shot at the masters win but a few training set backs put that goal in doubt. I settled on goal to finish under 39 minutes which should at least land me in the age group awards. Given some of my training paces this should have been achievable, but again, some late training set backs may have made it an overly ambitious goal.
The first mile is mostly a straight shot down Disneyland Drive/West Street before turning left into the Anaheim Convention Center. I was slightly over goal pace clocking in at 6:18 and it didn’t feel as easy as it should have at this point. I was sitting in around 15th place overall and figured I needed to be top 10 for the masters win. At least I knew I could throw out my original goal at this point.
The second mile of the race weaves through the Anaheim Convention Center and its neighboring hotels before dumping out onto Harbor Boulevard and later a left hand turn on Disney Way which takes you backstage of Disney California Adventure. While running through the convention center I was still feeling decent but once on Harbor I could feel my pace slipping. I found a comfortably hard gear that I thought I could maintain and clicked off a 6:27 second mile. Not even close to goal pace.
The third mile took us through the wharf and into Radiator Spring’s back entrance by Radiator Springs Racers. We then ran through Bug’s Land, up the parade route, and started cruising around Paradise Pier. Thor was hanging out on the parade route by the main Cars Land entrance. My race performance was holding steady at this point. I wasn’t where I wanted to be but I was maintaining pace. Mile three was in 6:30.
Mile four is the last in DCA finishing off the pier, winding down Grizzly Peak Trail, past Soarin’, through Hollywood Land where Black Widow was hanging out and past what remains of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, and going through a stretch of backstage DCA. 6:35 for that mile and I got passed a few times. I was likely sitting in around 18th place at this point. At the rate I was slipping, age group awards may have been out of the question.
Mile five takes us through the service tunnel between DCA and Disneyland, through a long stretch of backstage Disneyland before entering Toon Town, and by “it’s a small world” which was decorated for the holidays. This mile was slow and miserable for me. It seemed like there were a lot of sharp turns that wreaked havoc on my pace. I don’t even recall if there were any characters stationed along this portion of the course. Mile five took 6:55 and I lost a few more spots. I think I was sitting around 22nd place at this point.
Mile six takes you by the front of the Matterhorn before heading into Tomorrowland. You exit by the hub and head towards Pixie Hollow and the back of the Matterhorn where Dr. Strange himself was waiting for runners. We took a quick jaunt through Fantasyland before darting through Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Finally we headed down Main Street, through the front gates, and started through Downtown Disney towards the finish. After a pitiful fifth mile I decided to make an effort on mile six. I ran it in 6:39 and even passed a runner.
The final two tenths takes you through the end of Downtown Disney and finishes by the Disneyland Hotel. I was able to pick off one more runner in this stretch who started his kick too early and finished in 20th place overall in a time of 40:24. Somehow that was good enough for an age group win.
While I was thrilled to get the age group win, I was pretty disappointed in my pace. Earlier this year I ran a half marathon at that same pace. I still have a bit of work to do to get myself back to where I was earlier this year before I got injured.
I’m back. 2014 was a rough year and my fitness and running slipped. I watched all of my times creep up and performed horribly at the races I focused on. In July I ran my first 100-miler, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. The learning curve was huge and while I thought I was in shape to do well, I made a few mistakes along the way and paid for them. I finished in 31 hours and 35 minutes. That was a long time to be out there and it took even longer to recover from. In August, September, and October I hardly logged any miles.
Towards the end of October I started training for a series of half marathons I had already registered for. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angels Half Marathon, the Morgan Hill Half Marathon, and runDisney’s Avengers Half Marathon. I progressively improved my times from a 1:41 at Los Angels down to a 1:35 at Avengers. Still a far cry from what I am capable of.
That brings us to 2015. I’ve been working hard. Track Tuesday is now a staple of my workout week. My training volume is increasing at a slow but steady rate as I prepare for a slew of upcoming ultras, but before that I had something to prove to myself. That I can still run a fast. Fast for me at least.
The first test was the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend! I would be running the 5K and the Rebel Challenge which consisted of the Star Wars 10K and the Star Wars Half Marathon the following day. I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan my entire life so a race that is put on by runDisney that revolves around Star Wars could not be missed.
On Thursday we attended the expo for the race. Merchandise for this one was going to be a hot commodity and likely fly off the shelves. Luckily we got there early enough that we were able to get everything we were looking for. I picked up a few pins and a pint glass. It ended up being relatively painless since runDisney had us queue up in a conference room where they were playing Empire Strikes Back on a big screen.
Friday brought the Star Wars 5K which I ran with my wife and oldest daughter. We had a blast running through Disneyland and California Adventure. The lines for photos were pretty long but we couldn’t resist stopping for Chewie! After the race we collected our C-3PO medals and headed off to the parks.
Next up was the Star Wars 10K on Saturday. I had originally planned to take this race easy so I could save myself for the half marathon on Sunday but at the last minute I decided to see if I could race both. I took the first four miles at a relatively easy pace averaging a 6:20 mile which I thought would be enough to put me in a good position to get an age group award while still saving something for the half. The next couple miles I ended up running in no mans land by myself and slowed a bit to save even more. This ended up being a huge mistake as I ended up being bumped out of third place in my age group by a mere 5 seconds. I ended with a time of 39:45, a PR, and in 19th place overall and 4th in my age group.
After just missing out on an age group award in the 10K I was going to give the half marathon everything I had left. The first 9 miles went well and I was on PR pace. Then I paid for pushing it on the 10K the day before. The wheels fell off and my pace increased by 30 seconds a mile until the end. I finished in 1:26:52. My second fastest half marathon which I am quite proud of considering I’m still on the comeback trail. Unfortunately, I missed out on an age group award for the second day in a row. This time by 39 seconds.
Last year during the runDisney Dumbo Double Dare I had a hard time racing both the Disneyland 10K and the Disneyland Half Marathon. I knew going into the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend I was going to have to choose one to race and just coast the other one. Since men were able to win awards at the Tinker Bell 10K I chose that event as the one I would race and I would do the Tink Half for fun.
Once again I participated in the race as a team with my mother. This year we would be competing as team Motherboy not to be confused with the ’70s rock band Motherboy. Although we opted to leave our sailor suits at home and run in traditional running gear.
After an early wake up call, the race starts at 5 AM, I made my way down to the corrals. In the past men have had to start in C corral but this year we got to start in B. My goal for the day was to get to the Haunted Mansion as quickly as possible. During the 10K the Bride and Parasol Girl from the stretching portraits were out for photo ops and I raced by them. If they were out today I was going to stop.
Corral A was sent on their way promptly at 5:00. After about eight minutes corral B was was finally released onto the course. The first three miles were a blur of skirts and fairy wings as I tried to pass as many corral A runners as I could. Somehow amongst the flurry of fairy wings I spotted my former co-worker Jindy and offered a quick “hello”. Even though this was a “fun run” I still wanted to beat as many people to the Haunted Mansion as I could. If the Bride and Parasol Girl were out again, there would be a line.
While cruising through Disney California Adventure I noticed that lines had already formed at most of the character stops. Most were about 15-20 fairies deep but the further I got into the race the shorter the lines were getting! I more or less ran in the mid to upper seven minute pace until I got out of DCA.
Upon entering Disneyland we were greeted by Turk and King Louie. There wasn’t a line for these guys but I couldn’t stop. Tink, Captain Hook, and Mr. Smee were stationed at the far end of Main Street. I opted to keep heading towards Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
Waiting on the other side of the castle was Peter Pan and Wendy Darling. Up along the rails around the carousel were Pan’s men, the Lost Boys. I should have stopped for them but I was on a mission. We rounded our way through Fantasyland and past Pixie Hollow (no fairies once again) on our way to Tomorrowland! Darth Vader and a couple Storm Troopers stood guard there but there was a line for them so no stopping.
Next we ran past It’s A Small World before heading backstage where we passed the train yard and roundhouse and Circle D Ranch before dropping into Toon Town. From there we turned backstage once more behind the Storybook Canal where you could spy the boat house. After a quick run through the tube we were in Frontierland and closing in on my goal of reaching the Haunted Mansion.
I spotted Captain Jack Sparrow as we ran through New Orleans Square with two runners. This gave me hope that if the Bride and Parasol Girl were in front of the mansion the line would be short.
Finally I was there. The Haunted Mansion was in full sight but I didn’t see what I was looking for. I wasn’t worried yet since they were on the back side of the mansion for the 10K. Unfortunately they were not there either. What a let down. Eight more miles to go.
Feeling defeated I cruised through Critter Country and Downtown Disney. My pace slowed to an eight minute mile. The ladies of the Red Hat Society were out starting at the Disneyland Hotel once more. Each year there are more and more of them out there to cheer on the runners.
Then it was time to “Shhhh” as we ran through sleeping residential Anaheim. This is hands down the most boring part of the course. The streets are long, dark, and silent. By this point I was bored and ready to be done with the race. Eventually we turned into Downtown Anaheim which was a nice change of scenery.
One of the reasons why I was so content just cruising this race was because my hamstrings were killing me. They were tight at the start and never loosened up. Finally around mile 9 they felt a little better. I stupidly picked up the pace a hair and by the middle of mile 10 I paid the price. Full knotting. I was reduced to a shuffle throwing down nine minute miles with periodic stops to stretch.
Around the 11 mile mark I had a racing first. I stopped at the medical tent to get some Biofreeze for my hammy. After several pumps of the jug I had enough in my hand to slather the offending leg. It was a huge relief but I kept my pace in check in order to keep a larger injury at bay.
The next few miles were uneventful and I just wanted this race over with. I finally crossed the finish line with a time of 1:48:39. Team Motherboy didn’t fare much better landing in 75th place in the co-ed division. Turns out mom had some medical issues herself that day, she’s fine. I grabbed my third fairy wing medal and headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower.
Oh, yeah! This little guy got his first medal of the year as well!
And I’m back. The past two months have been tough. I’ve battled illness and a total lack of motivation after not gaining entry into a couple races I qualified for. Add in some work related stress and I’ve become a mess. I’m undertrained and overweight. There is nothing like a race or two to verify it.
As a male runner the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is a tough pill to swallow. It is a women’s themed event and men can not start in the first corral. Men are also not eligible for overall or age group awards. The only reason why I do it is because runDisney races are great family events. My kids run, my wife runs, and my mom runs. This year runDisney made that pill a little easier to swallow by adding the Tinker Bell 10K to the weekend’s events. Men were eligible for all awards here.
Originally when I signed up I had a lofty goal of placing in the top three overall. I didn’t have anything else on my race calendar and the 10K was going to be the race I focused on for the fall. Of course that was before my training went into the toilet. My new goal was to shoot for an age group award. Even this might have been a stretch given the three weeks of training I had under my belt.
Right off the start both of my hamstrings felt tight. Not a good way to start a race that you’re underprepared for. You can almost see how awkward I started in the picture above (orange singlet). The first mile is the all-too-familiar trek from the start down Disneyland Drive before heading into the backstage of Disneyland. I was surprised that I felt relatively comfortable running with some speed. The first mile clocked in at 6:37. Far from what I’m capable of BUT much faster than I’ve been doing. The question then became how long could I hold this for?
During the second mile of the race we passed the Haunted Mansion. To my surprise the Bride and the Parasol Girl from the stretching portraits were in front of the mansion for photo ops. I have never been more tempted to stop for a picture during a runDisney race in my life. At this point of the race I was feeling good and running in the top 20. Despite the temptation, I carried on and clocked a 6:43 mile. Slower but still holding on!
The next mile would wrap us around the Matterhorn and past Pixie Hollow. Seriously runDisney, how do you not have the fairies out during their own race? From Pixie Hollow we made our way down Main Street and over to Disney California Adventure. After cruising down Buena Vista Street we made a hard right down Condor Flats and eventually wound up at Paradise Pier. 6:51 for mile 3. I felt like I was about to pop at that point.
The fourth mile took us around the back side of Paradise Pier, through Cars Land and out of the Park via Hollywood Land. I rolled through the 5K mark with a split time of 20:55. Shortly after that I popped and ended up running a 7:02 fourth mile.
After exiting DCA we headed up Harbor Blvd and hung a right onto Manchester Way. We followed this road along the freeway until intersecting with Disney Way where we headed back towards the parks. My fifth mile ended during this section. Clocking in at 7:05 it was my slowest mile.
When we got back to Harbor Blvd we turned left and headed towards Katella. At this point I knew all I had to do was hang on and I would more than likely place in my age group. I tried to as hard as I could to reel in a couple runners in front of me but I wasn’t able to. I even lost a spot to another runner who was able to run me down as I was closing the gap on the runners in front of me. My sixth mile came in at 6:57.
After a quick turn back onto Disneyland Dr and then a finish in the Simba parking lot and we were done. With a finish time of 42:48 it was far from a PR for me but it was good for 23rd place overall and 2nd in the 35-39 male age group. Another bonus of the race is that it coincided with a Strava challenge. I was able to log my fastest 10K of the month for the Strava Races 10K.
Shoes: Mizuno Ekiden
What else can I say that isn’t in the title? Last year I placed fourth at the Disneyland Half Marathon in the 35-39 age group. My goal this year was to place in that race again but it didn’t happen. Luckily I was fast enough to place third in my age group in the Disneyland 10K which was the day before the Disneyland Half Marathon as part of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. I think it’s pretty cool to receive an award for the inaugural running of the 10K so I’m not terribly disappointed with missing my goal of placing in the half.
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!