Extremely late race recap. Between the holidays and some mental health struggles it took me forever to compile this.
For November’s race I signed up for runDisney’s Avengers Super Hero Half Marathon. This was a new race in the runDisney series and it sold out within 1:48 after registration opened. runDisney races have become extremely popular in the last 3 years so it’s no surprise that a new race would sell out quickly. This race took place at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. I took the opportunity to make this race a time to take a small vacation to California, my home state.
I decided that I would go to the health and fitness expo on the first day it was open, Friday. The expo opened up at 10 AM but I decided to attend it around 11 since I wanted to avoid the AM rush hour traffic that CA is famous for (my parents live about 45 minutes from Anaheim). I brought my father along since he had the day off and I knew I would need the help to keep a 2-year-old entertained. When we arrived, we were able to park at the Pinocchio lot across from the Disney Hotel. Since it was an expo day, parking for the Downtown Disney area was free for the first 3 hours, but you had to let the attendant know. We could have parked at the Simba lot as well but that was a bit more of a further walk than the Pinocchio lot.
First stop for the expo was getting my bib. I was a bit anxious to get it because I wasn’t sure which corral I’d be placed in. I signed up for this race back in May so I couldn’t remember which race I put for my half time. The cut-off for corral A was 1:55 so I was pretty sure I’d be in B. I knew I could run a sub-1:55 but this was the first time that runDisney would not allow corral changes on expo days (it’s a rule from here on out). It turns out I lucked out and got put in corral A. I know that there is some sort of loyalty preference given to past runDisney participants because I’ve gotten this corral for another race and didn’t have the time for it. Still, I was happy to be in the first corral.
runDisney kept up with their sales ploy of creating Dooney & Bourke Avengers purses. I got in line initially for it because, hey, why not? However, after 30 minutes of the line moving at snail’s pace I decided it wasn’t worth it. It would have been nice to have but I decided I would just drop the money on a nice jacket/pullover instead. It would come out to the same price so I figured I’d buy something I’d actually use (I have a Princess purse and my husband kept nagging me for never using it because he bought it as a birthday gift for me). The main portion of the expo was a zoo. Turns out people will skip out on work/class to come the first day. There was an actual line for race merchandise. It sucked but I got in it since I wanted that jacket. It moved a lot quicker than the purse line (I stood in it 20 minutes tops). Once I got in, I made a bee line for the Avengers pullover. At this point of the expo, they had already run out of size large in this pullover and out of all youth shirts except large (I was wanting to get a shirt for my daughter). I picked up some of the pins since I’m a collector and then headed out the door. I was so relieved to leave the expo once I was done. I think that partially had to do with my anxiety. Crowds overwhelm me and this place was extremely overwhelming. I didn’t feel my anxiety back down until we left the property.
The big day was Sunday. The race started at 5:30 AM. That’s right, 5-freaking-AM. I don’t know when it became earlier but I remember when it was a 6 AM start. My husband had bought the platinum chEAR package so we got to park across from the family reunion area. We sat in the car since we were there about 45 minutes before the start. Once it was about 25 minutes from the start, we got out and headed to the pre-race area. I noticed that everyone was starting to head to the corrals so I figured I’d better go to. The corrals get packed in the end so it’s best to get there early to get a “good” spot. On my way over there I was stopped by a photographer so I struck a pose. By the time I made it to the corral there was about 15 minutes until kick off. I just relaxed for a bit and started my Garmin up. I contemplated how I would handle my mask since runners can’t wear one while running due to safety issues. I ended up strapping it to my head and pulling it down whenever photographers appeared on the course. This way I avoided sweating under the mask and possibly violating runDisney rules. After the National Anthem we were off! They released the corrals a bit differently then they have in the past. This time 2 corrals were released at a time. A and B went first, C and D second, and so on.
The first 2 miles were along the Disney resort. I don’t remember much from running in California Adventure but we did briefly run through Carsland and the boardwalk. At Disneyland we ran through Critter Country, Frontierland, a portion of Fantasyland, then through the castle and out to Main Street. From there it was all Anaheim. Right after hitting mile 3 the wind started to pick up. Unfortunately, the course ran against the wind for the next 8 miles. It sucked pretty badly but I was grateful that it was keeping the sweat off of me.
Around mile 6.5 we started running on the bike trail that ran along the aquaduct. This part really blew. There was dirt and debris everywhere so I got pelted quite a bit. I didn’t wear my sunglasses this race because of the mask so I occasionally got dirt in my eye. I eventually ended up using my shield to block the dirt (yay for usefulness!). The one great thing along this route was the mural that was painted on a concrete pillar of the Avengers. Also, a group of cosplayers lined the course near mile 7.5 and that gave me the extra pep in my step. It was great.
Mile 8 took us through the Angels’ stadium. This is always a fun part of the course because there are so many people there and you get to be shown on the jumbo-tron. It was during this portion that my pace picked up 45 seconds thanks to no longer having to run against the wind. From this point on the course was mainly running downwind. We hit mile 9 outside the stadium and headed back to Disneyland for the last 4 miles. The tailwind gave me a nice boost and I felt renewed no longer fighting the wind.
At mile 11 I got a good laugh out of a driver who was livid because he couldn’t cross a street to his apartment. This race blocks off a lot of Anaheim since, unlike WDW, Disneyland doesn’t have enough property to have a whole half marathon in it. Traffic was a nightmare, as Manuel’s cousin found out. Still, they do a good job of announcing closures so this really shouldn’t be a surprise.
Mile 12 took us back to California Adventure where we ran along the maintenance route. Exciting, huh? Once we exited this part we ran by Simba parking lot and around the back end of the Disney Hotel towards the finish. When we were about a half mile away I picked up the pace and ran my little heart out. Rounding the corner was as great as always. I struck a cheesy Captain America pose as I crossed the finish line (I had to, lol). Gun time was 1:48:XX. Chip time was 1:48:17. I went through the finisher’s chute and took some more cheesy photos. After all that I went and found my husband and we cheered on his cousin who was running as well. It was a good finish.
After chatting with the cousin, we took off so I could shower and we could make our reservations at the Plaza Inn for brunch. Right as we left they closed down the family reunion area due to high winds. I later found out that winds were 35 MPH sustained. Throughout the race many of the mile markers with timers had been blown over due to the wind. The family reunion area tents were suffering the same fate. When we walked past the area on the way to the park, all the runners were congregating on the road outside the reunion area. It was quite funny to see.
Checking results, I found out I finished second in the women’s military category. I missed first by less than a minute. It was a pleasant surprise. I never thought I’d place in anything in a Disney race.
Back at the hotel posing with the shield I didn’t get to use
Medal front and back
In the end, it was a nice race. The majority of the course was flat with 3 uphills (with downhills) that weren’t too bad but sucked majorly in the wind. 90% of the course was in Anaheim, much to the dismay of a few WDW runners who realized that characters were only available at the parks, not in the city streets. If you ask me, that made the race much more bearable because there weren’t people dodging in front of you to get in line for photos. Participants were a lot of fun and actually chatted to each other to compliment costumes/make Avenger jokes.
This, however, will be my last runDisney race until 2018. As much fun as doing a Disney can be, dealing with the hoards of people and the over-priced merchandise is not worth it. Race registration is also so ridiculously expensive. I remember my first Disney race in 2011 cost me about 120, pasta party cost 80 per person and the twilight ticket was included in that price, and there weren’t 20K worth of runners. It was nice, slightly crowded but completely tolerable. Now It feels as though Disney is doing these races for the money with the way fees have skyrocketed and their introduction of new “exclusive” race merchandise that is only available in limited quantities. Way too many runners. Expos are nightmares to attend and good luck getting what you want for race merchandise because they always run out the first day. The headache just isn’t worth it. There were way more participants in the Baltimore Running Festival and it didn’t at all feel overwhelming like Disney does. Crazy fact: they don’t run out of race merchandise. Hmm. I just feel that I get more bang for my buck at other large races.