It might sound cliche, but returning to Disneyland to run the Dumbo Double Dare was truly a magical experience! It had been a two year period since the last time I had been out to the West Coast for the challenge (2013 Inaugural Disneyland 10K recap here, 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon recap here) and I was excited to drink it all in and enjoy – and that’s exactly what I did!
As previously mentioned, one of the things I was really excited about for the race challenge was wearing my two-part running costume: Ursula for the 10K and Vanessa for the half. I had come up with the idea even before the “Villains” theme had been announced for the 10K so it just worked out great – both costumes were easy to wear, recognizable, and I got a ton of compliments on the light-up seashell necklace, which was pretty cool.
In the 19.3 miles of Dumbo Double Dare fun, I am also pleased to share that I had very minimal discomfort, and even exceeded my expectations for finish times. Although I had been training with Sweat Tracker somewhat consistently, the Florida heat and my general fatigue through earlier months of pregnancy had sidelined my diligence to stick to the plan completely. Still, I felt confident, with my long run of 9 miles three weeks before the race weekend, and knew that I’d be able to complete the distance.
But, this post is called a recap, right? So, here we go…let the recap begin!
One of the best things about Disneyland races (compared to Walt Disney World ones) is that you are afforded the luxury of a little extra SLEEP! With a 5:30 AM start time (and 5:15 corral time), that mean we could sleep in til around 4, walk to the start, and still have time to spare before the race began. Of course, race morning excitement woke me up even earlier (about 3:45) but that gave me more time to prep the costume.
At around 4:45, we all gathered and started our walk over – it’s another thing I love about runDisney events…seeing crowds of runners streaming toward the start area, it’s like an early morning parade of sparkle and excitement! We took a few group pics, then headed over to our respective corrals.
The race start went off without a hitch, and before I knew it, we were rocking the first two miles of the 10K through the streets of Anaheim, around property and near the convention center. Since I did not have a time goal for this race, I had left my Garmin in the hotel, and just decided I’d “jog” this one – which amounted to something near a 11 minute pace, or so. I was excited to see a handful of friends running, too, which is always a special treat at Disneyland races!
Right around Mile Marker 2, we crossed into Disney California Adventure Park through Cars Land! Seeing the park lit up in neon is always a treat. Then we moved on through Paradise Pier, past the center of the park, and onto Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land. The course had become a lot more clear, and soon enough, we were headed into Disneyland!
Once we crossed on to Main Street, U.S.A., I ducked into a real restroom (another fabulous perk of knowing the Disney Parks!) before continuing on my merry way. Running toward Sleeping Beauty Castle, I couldn’t wipe off my cheesy grin!
After a loop through Tomorrowland, then back through some backstage areas, we were back through the “top” part of the park, past “it’s a small world” (and a variety of more character stops), through the “core” of Fantasyland and the castle!
Heading out of the park, we made our way through more backstage areas, full of friendly and boisterous cast members and volunteers, and were treated to some pretty great entertainment, including bands, and rows of custodial teams out to give “High 4’s” with Mickey gloves! By the time we rounded out of the park and onto the path toward Downtown Disney, we could hear the area music and I was feeling super pumped!
Winding past the shops and restaurants of Downtown Disney, I shouted out to the spectators, and kept a keen eye out for my friend Jen, who was cheering outside of the Starbucks! Seeing her (and Sarah Phillips, who was right nearby) was the boost I needed, and I rode that runner’s high wave all the way past the Disneyland Hotel, and on to the finish line!
When I approached the final timing clock, I was surprised to see 1:30’s, when I had been thinking something around 2 hours might be more feasible! My final time for the 10K was 1:32:35, and you could not wipe the grin off my face the entire walk back to the hotel that morning. I didn’t think it was possible, but I had had even more fun that morning than the last time I had run the Disneyland 10K…good thing I was able to do it all over again the next morning…times two!
Disneyland Half Marathon
I woke up feeling very refreshed for this race, since I had retired somewhat early the night before after a delicious dinner at Naples with the whole crew. Since Sarah and I were in the earlier corrals, we left a little earlier and made it over with time to spare before race start.
The half also went off smoothly, and soon enough we were on local roads, circling the property. I, on the other hand, was feeling a little out of sorts after I had discovered that my Garmin was on the fritz! You see, I had fully charged it before leaving Florida, reasoning I could pack one less charger cord and I’d be fine…without double checking to see if I had, oh, you know – turned the watch OFF before traveling! So yes, the watch had been on standby mode for three days, and the battery indicator had just two bars left! This presented somewhat of a conundrum, as I had planned on my 3, :30 intervals for this race, but fortunately, that fear was quickly alleviated when I told myself one thing: it’s all for fun anyway!
So, for the first four miles, I adhered to my intervals as closely as possible. I was not planning on stopping for characters (unless they were some I had never seen before, of course) but in no time, I realized I’d be breaking that rule when I came across a bevy of rare ones!
I was a little off on my run/walk breaks, but that was okay. I ran into Mandy again, and it was nice to chat with her as we both did character dashes! When we rounded the corner near “it’s a small world,” I saw another stop that I ABSOLUTELY had to stop for…it’s one of my favorite pictures of any runDisney event I have EVER seen!
In the blink of an eye, we were headed off property and onto Ball Road. That’s when I realized I missed my chance to go to the bathrooms in the park, haha! So, after headed down a gradual slope (highway overpass) where I saw Patty cheering, I ducked in to some (really clean) portapotties and headed back onto the road.
Around that time, I saw my friend Mandy again! We chatted and informally decided to run together, which was really great. We kept a decent pace and walked through water stops – and by that point, I was on another runner’s high so started to ignore a few of my walk intervals since they were off-sync from water stops.
Around the 10K point, we picked up Sarah and we were running together! The pace was comfortable and we were excited about nearing the 7.5 mile stop where we’d see the Sparkle Athletic headquarters and more importantly, Baby Kate and the donut stop!
That sugar burst fueled our jaunt through the industrial area of the course, which was brilliantly lined with rows and rows of awesome classic cars! I had remembered that area from previous years, but this year there seemed to be even more! It kept it fun and interesting, and before we knew it, the Honda Center had come into view and we were being welcomed onto the Santa Ana River trail by cheerleaders and spectators galore!
Right before Mile 10 was another major highlight – running through Angel Stadium! It was packed with scouts and screaming fans! The energy really is unbeatable – and from that point, knowing that just about 5K awaits…well, you can’t help but smile!
By then, Mandy and I had ditched the walk breaks. She had checked her messages and she told me that her mom would be at Mile 12, so we pushed on!
That feeling of coming back toward the Disneyland Resort is just…indescribable – a high octane cocktail of race high + emotions + happy Disney memories…if I could bottle it up and sell it, I definitely could be a rich woman! We rounded the last few corners to the finish line and saw a sub-2:40 finish time…so we kicked in the finish and triumphantly accepted our medals! Final finish? 2:39:20!
Rocking this race 24-weeks pregnant added an extra level of happy emotions, and as I told Mandy, she became an insta-BRF (best running friend) after our miles together! We had just met in person the day before (after being social media friends) but that feeling of accomplishment with a friend is something that you never forget.
I absolutely loved this race experience, and could not have asked for anything more wonderful. I cannot wait to share these memories with Baby M when she is old enough to ask about it!
Did you run Dumbo? Have you ever experienced a race challenge?