Last Updated on September 29, 2019 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
|How can you NOT love a race where you get to do THIS? Ole!|
News flash: I LOVE runDisney. Yeah, yeah, it’s probably not secret, I only post about them whenever I get a chance But seriously, in both my grown up, somewhat picky race connoisseur AND my “still a 7 year old at heart” opinions, runDisney puts on some of the most fantastic races I’ve ever run (and believe it or not, in the last 5.5 years since I started I’ve run well over 50 organized races). So last summer, when the Inaugural Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland was announced, I knew I had to go. At the same time, I heard about the opportunity to run as a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training fundraising/racing group. Something seemed like a perfect fit: help raise funds to kick cancer’s a$$ + visit the West Coast version of my favorite races ever. Before I knew it, I was signed up.
And thanks to my amazing friends, family, and the online running community, I was able to raise $3,904.70. That’s some serious cancer a$$ kicking, THANK YOU ALL!!!!
So without further ado…the recap.
The flight to California, my first (and I really don’t like to fly) was relatively uneventful and smooth. I got to the Orange County airport (nope, didn’t see any housewives) just in time to welcome my favorite running partner in crime, Hope, to sunny California. We grabbed the most insane cab ride (seriously, Southern California highways are just as crazy as they look on TV) to our hotel, the Anaheim Sheraton.
|the hotel looked like a castle, how Disney appropriate!|
What surprised me the most about the local landscape: the mountains. I expected the sunshine, I expected the endless palm trees and crazy cab rides, but I did not expect all of the mountains. They were so beautiful and so vastly different from the mountains here in New England, that I longed to grab some trail shoes and just RUN up them. Though I’m almost certain I would have been met halfway by a mountain lion or rattle snake.
Hope and I spent the first night exploring downtown Disney, pre-pre-carb loading on Mexican food, and trying to get used to the time difference. Needless to say, we were fast asleep by 8:45 pm California time.
|Tortilla Joe’s in Downtown Disney = delicious!|
The next morning we were up at 5 am (yaaay time change!) with plenty of time to get ready for our TNT flex group run & breakfast. I practically FROLICKED down the street, not only was it in the 70’s and sunny, but the blue sky, the palm trees….it was just SUCH a much needed change from snowy, sloppy, grey New Hampshire. We even ran by the starting line!
After breakfast, Hope and I grabbed our bags and walked to the expo. We started by picking up our bibs:
|frolicking down the ramp like I’m wearing pixie wings, ha|
Then we headed to the main expo where we picked up our shirts/bags. I was a little torn over the race goody bag. It contained the bib, the shirt, and a luna bar. And that’s it. I love luna bars, don’t get me wrong. And I love that races are starting to go more “green” by not putting flyers for every race you could ever possibly run in the next 365 days in your race bag, but it was just so…empty.
So anyway, then we proceeded to spend A LOT of time oogling stuff. I was so stoked to see my friends from INKnBURN there with a booth, with their new prints & running skirts! Can’t wait to get my hands on one! And speaking of running skirts, the awesome chicks at “Running Skirts” were AMAZINGLY patient and awesome to us, as Hope built her Princess half marathon outfit…and a few others 😉 Thank you ladies! I also ran into a long time virtual friend, Stephanie, from the days of the myspace running group 5 years ago, that I had never actually met. This is one thing I LOVE about the running community. No matter where you go to race, you always know someone, and there is always a giant hug waiting to be had 🙂
So after much shopping, we headed home to relax, meet up with another amazing running mom Bethany, and get ready for our Team in Training Inspiration Dinner.
Dinner was yummy, and I was excited to hear that collectively, Team in Training groups had raised one MILLION dollars while fundraising/training for the Tinkerbell half marathon alone. Pretty amazing! I loved hearing the speakers talk, but to be quite honest with you, I was on East Coast time still, tired, and anxious for race day!
The next morning, 12:45 am came very quickly. Yes, 12:45 am. Hope’s iphone was still on east coast time, and our 3:45 am wake up call came three hours too soon, haha! So after we realized our error, we both crashed for a few more hours. Then we woke up, got ready, and headed to the lobby to meet with the rest of the team. A few group photos, and we started the mile or so walk to the start line.
While we all run for so many reasons, during the process of fundraising, a new, very important “fight” came about in our lives. One of our amazing running mom friends Denise, otherwise known as “Da Diva” is a CLL & cervical cancer survivor. She recently found out that she has to go back on chemo , or the “glow in the dark juice” as she calls it, to try and kick this cancer’s ass once and for all. She is a fighter, she is hysterical, and she is one of MY heros. Everytime she donates to one of our fundraising efforts, she always joked that she would “reserve the left cheek” for advertisement space. So DaDiva, these cheeks are all yours!
The starting line was your typical Disney starting line = fun! Lots of lights, lots of music, and LOTS of women in tutus and fairy wings, haha!
Soon enough the Disney version of the gun went off (fireworks!) and we were on our way. The weather was PERFECT for the race…probably in the 50’s and sunny. Everyone seemed content in tanks and short sleeves. I, always the chicken in the cold, was perfect in a running skirt and arm sleeves. My only complaint about the first mile or so was getting out from behind so many darn fairy wings, haha! I swear 75% of the runners seemed to have them on. It was really cute thought *slightly* annoying when you almost take one to the eye, haha.
Here’s a quick run down of how the Disneyland version of runDisney works. In DisneyWORLD we spend the entire race course ON property. So while you might not always be in a park, you are still in the wonderful world of Disney. Thus, you may encounter characters on the side of the highway in the middle of the course. DisneyLAND however, while certainly not any less magical, is much much smaller, and sandwiched in the middle of Anaheim, CA. So while you still certainly get the runDisney aspect, character photos, running through the parks…a good at least half of the race is run through Anaheim. Which, by the way, is a beautiful city! However, off property there are NO character ops. There were, however, tons of local bands, cheerleaders, dancers, etc on the sidelines cheering you on! The water/aid stations were right on cue, the volunteers had smiles on their faces, and the people of Anaheim as well as all of the spectators were the most amazing cheerleaders of all.
Now, onto MY race. I don’t run Disney races to PR. That is, unless you count it as a Personal Record in FUN! There are way too may pictures to be taken to try and beat any times. OK, OK, before I get called out by my running buddies Hope and Bethany, I will say I had a cranky “back of the front of the pack” runner moment where I told them, at a 5 minute porta potty stop, that we HAD to finish before 3 hours or my ego would be shot or something really rude along those lines (sorry gals, I have this issue with seeing HUNDREDS of people pass by as I stand still, haha). And we did, around a 2:33 I believe. A good 40+ minutes from a time PR for me, but as far as fun goes, I’m pretty sure this race took the cake 🙂
|Kat, another survivor and AMAZING woman, I was so glad to be on her team and have the chance to meet her! See you at Wine and Dine my friend!|
|Some of the RMM: me , Hope, mama Cathy, and BB|
|One of my two favorite little dudes, cheesing between the bling!|
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.