It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 13, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon - Double Bling

Well, as many of you know, after running the Walt Disneyworld Marathon in January, I had my eyes set on a new prize – the coveted Disney Coast to Coast medal!  All you have to do is run a marathon or half marathon at both Disneyworld in FL and Disneyland in CA in a 12 month period and you get an extra medal for your AMAZING accomplishment.  Disneyland does not have a marathon (thank goodness) so all I had to do was find my way to California for a half marathon and I’d be set.  The Disneyland Half Marathon is held over Labor Day weekend – perfect. 

Already in our corral...still dark
Lucky for me my middle sister lives in LA.  So in February, I e-mailed her and asked if Labor Day would be a good time for me to come out for a visit….and oh did she want to run a half marathon with me by chance.  I was actually kind of shocked when she said yes!  She has done a half marathon before, and even triathlons….way before I ever thought about doing either, but it had been several years since she had participated in an organized race.  I was super excited when she said yes.  I knew it would be fun to do the race together and I knew she’d be much more enthusiastic about the 5:45 am start time if we were in this thing together!

Me & Caroline
I arrived in LA late Friday night, but the race wasn’t until Sunday.  So Saturday my sister Wendee and I headed over to the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo to pick up our packets, and I also got to meet Caroline of Canadian Runner in Exile!  She was just as sweet as she seems in her blog.  It was exciting to finally meet her.  Wendee and I walked around the expo some and checked out what little merchandise they had left.  Man that stuff goes fast!  I had hoped to get a Coast to Coast t-shirt, but all they had left were plain unisex cotton tees….no thanks!  The expo was pretty typical of a larger race with the usual vendors.  It was nice, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.

After picking up our packets, we headed over to the hotel to relax.  Disney recommends you arrive at the race by 4:30 am to get into your start corrals.  My sister lives about 45 minutes from Disneyland, so we opted to get a hotel the night before so we didn’t have to get up even earlier.  The hotel was a quick 10 minute walk to the race which would be perfect….or so we thought more on that later.

Pre-race runs in the family!

We got up bright and early about 3:45 am on Sunday and got ready.  We snapped a quick world famous pre-race dance pic, got our gear together and headed out the door.  There were 7 corrals for this race A-G.  The corrals start 5 minutes apart.  I was assigned Corral D, but since Wendee didn’t have a qualifying race time in the past 12 months she was automatically assigned Corral G.  You can move back a corral, but not up, so we had no choice but to start in Corral G if we wanted to run together (which we of course did). 

We walked to the race – which was a short 10 minute walk – checked our gear in and then walked to our Corral.  I looked at my watch – it was 5:05 am.  The race didn’t start for another 40 minutes, and since we were in the last corral we wouldn’t start for well over an hour!  The time actually went by fairly quickly, but by the time 6:15 rolled around and we finally started we both had to go to the bathroom.  I was surprised there were no porta pottys in the corral lines – there were at the Disneyworld Marathon, but not here.  Once our corral final moved up we noticed that there were porta pottys just before the start line, so we opted to go ahead and go before our time officially started.  However, by doing this we were some of the very last people to start the race.  We were totally at the back of the pack. Disney has a strict 16 minute mile rule.  They have a final pacer with a big set of balloons….stay ahead of the balloons they told us.  I thought we should be fine, but I knew we were going to walk quite a bit of the race.  I had recently had a flare up with my back and my sister had only done 4 miles as her long run going into the race, so I really didn’t know what to expect!


I suggested we do a run/walk method from the beginning to conserve energy.  So we did a 5 minute run/1 minute walk and also walked the water stops.  This ended up working out great!   We were maintaining a decent pace and staying well ahead of the dreaded balloons!  The first mile or so is outside of the park, but of course since it’s early in the race it goes quickly.  Miles 2-3 are inside Disneyland which was so fun.  That’s why you do these races right?  We stopped a few times for some pictures with characters or just some pictures of the park.  Then from mile 3-9 you run on boring streets!  I have to say I was pretty disappointed with the route overall.  Yes, at the Disneyworld Marathon you are outside of the parks a lot too (probably 20 of the 26 miles), but at least you kind of run in and out several times.  This was a long, long stretch of nothing.  They didn’t even have characters or anything outside of the park.  Again, comparing to Disneyworld they had characters all along the route.  They did have cheerleaders, and cars, and things along the way, but all in all it was kind of boring. 

Angels Stadium
 Finally at mile 9 you get to enter the Anaheim Angels Stadium.  This is pretty cool.  You get to do one loop on the warning track around the field, and there is a huge crowd inside the stadium cheering you on.  They have the Jumbo Tron on so you can see yourself on TV.  However, it was terribly narrow, and there was pretty much no way to run through there.  You had to walk the entire time, which was ok with us, but I imagine others weren’t too happy about that.  After you leave the stadium it’s back to boring streets, you never go back inside the park again. 

Mile 12....almost done!
Overall, I still had a blast and was glad to experience this day with my sister, but I was pretty disappointed in the overall route.  Almost the entire route was on very narrow streets and with so many people racing, it was wall to wall people the entire time and it was often hard to run.  I would have to say that the Disneyworld Marathon was much better!  If you want to do a race at a Disney Park I would definitely recommend that Disneyworld over Disneyland. 

We ended up finishing the race in 2:55 which was pretty good I thought!  I had honestly thought we would be over 3 hours.  We finished the race and got our medal which was AWESOME.  And then I also got my coveted Coast to Coast medal!!  I loved having the double bling, and was surprised by just how many people also had both.

Coast to Coast on the left, finisher on the right
After the race my sister met up with a friend of hers who had also ran but had finished about 30 minutes ahead of us.  She asked us where we stayed the night before and we said the Sheraton – oh, she stayed there too she said!  Small world, we were both at the same hotel.  We left the race and started walking.  I said, we didn’t come this way, and she said, oh she was heading back to the shuttle bus.  We told her we didn’t take the shuttle because it was only like a 10 minute walk, so she said she’d walk back with us.  She put the address in her phone and we headed that way.  We walked and walked forever.  My sister said, man we must have taken a different route, because it was much shorter this morning.  She said, oh well it’s just up here on the corner and she named a couple of streets.  I said….um that’s nowhere near where we stayed.  It was then that we realized she had stayed at a completely different Sheraton.  Oops, there were 2!!!  I put our address into my phone, and we were 2 miles away from our hotel!!  We had just walked about 2 miles, and now we still had 2 more to go, after doing a half marathon!  We had to laugh so we wouldn’t cry.  We had literally been about ¾ of a mile from our hotel, and now we were going to walk 4 miles to get there!!  We had started walking to the hotel at 9:40 am.  I think we finally arrived around at 10:45!!  We were exhausted!  So with the extra mileage and the mileage to the race that morning, I guess we had done somewhere in the neighborhood of about 18 or 19 miles!  I laughed and said I guess we were ready for a marathon.  And remember, my sister’s longest run going into this race was 4 miles!! 

Yes, we will finish!!  That was an order!
When we finally got to the hotel, we asked for late check out – 4pm – awesome!  So we relaxed, went to the hot tub, and then hung by the pool before heading back home.  Overall, it was a great day!  It was so much fun to get to do the race with my sister!  It was a great bonding experience.

We had a wonderful few days afterwards as well…..but I’ll write about that in another post!  Let’s just say we ended up on TV later that week….so stay tuned.    


  1. Exciting! Congrats on finishing with your sister!

  2. Nice bling!!!! How much fun that must have been to do the race with your sister. Sometimes it's just about the company and not the time.

  3. Congrats! What a fun experience to have with your sister. I have my eye on that Coast to Coast medal. I've gone Disney World 8 years in a row but still haven't made it to the west coast to claim another medal! :)

  4. I did the Coast to Coast in 2010 - the same year that I did the "Goofy". I just went all out that year. Those are 2 of my favorite medals. I ran several of the races that year with my children. Good times.

  5. Oh my goodness this made me so happy! Your sister is no joke! Seriously wow she is so brave and I am so impressed. What an amazing experience that you will cherish forever. And yay for bling. :):) I'd consider that extra 4 miles an awesome strength training session carrying all that around.

  6. Oh man, I would have been so mad if I'd walked all those miles after the race! You were good sports about it. :)

    Congrats on your medals!

  7. I have bling envy!!!! Nice job and you always look like you're having fun - best part of all :)

  8. Oh that is SO cool!!! Congrats on your awesome race, and even better that you got to experience it WITH someone. NICE WORK! :)

  9. Congratulations on a wonderful race! Yay for bling! Sorry the course itself was disappointing though. :(

  10. Despite the boring course, sounds like it was a fun time with your sister! Congrats on the 2 medals!

  11. Awesome you got to race with your sis and get bonus bling to boot! That sucks about the extra mileage. I might have called a cab.

  12. How awesome having your sister with you. How did you get the picture of you and your sister at the 12 mile marker? I guess somebody was nice enough to take it for you. That is cool about having a pacer with the ballons to make the end. Too bad the route was boring though.

  13. How great that you got to race side-by-side with your sister! That is a dream of mine, too--I need to find a 5K for her to do in Missouri near where she lives (she's a total homebody and won't travel) and then be able to get there to do it with her. Workin' on it.... looks like you had a great time and have a special medal to commemorate your coast to coast adventure.

  14. Congrats! I wanted to get Coast to Coast when I did goofy in 2009 but alas I was unable to make the trip west. I am jealous of your bling! :)