January was a whirlwind of back to back weekends of racing Disney style. Following the completion of Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge. I returned to Los Angeles to participate in the second Tinker Bell Half Marathon. I know kind of crazy, that in less than a seven day period I ran 52.4 miles. When I first learned that Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and Tinker Bell Half Marathon were back to back weekends, I thought that was poor planning on RunDisney’s part. I am still not sure what the logic was behind that planning. Remembering what a blast I had participating in the Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I knew that I did not want to pass up an opportunity to not only participate again, but I wanted to keep up my legacy status.
Last year was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of running costumes! That year I ran for the first time in a tutu and I have been hooked on running in costumes ever since. This year I decided to up the ante and I even ran with wings! I visited the expo with a game plan in place, I knew which booths were my must sees and where I wanted to go first! Knowing full well that my bib will always be there for me so I picked that up last. As always RunDisney always hosts the best race expo’s! This year in addition to the race tech shirt, which I love, it also came with a Tinker Bell mesh drawstring bag, similar to the bag they provided at the 2010 WDW Princess Half Marathon. I wish that all RunDisney races would come with these bags, I simply love them and always throw my running gear in them.
This year I am not sure if it was planned, but there were even a few characters standing outside the main ballroom. They might have been overflow from Goofy’s Kitchen. Still coming down from my Goofy high from the previous weekend I simply could not pass up the opportunity to take another picture with Goofy! I think that this Goofy euphoria that I have been walking around with will last me a really long time.
On the way to the restaurant for dinner, the night before the race I bumped into Jeff Galloway. It was really great that he took the time to speak with me and discuss all things running! I loved that he was wearing the New Balance RunDisney shoes, too bad mine where in the hotel room!
I am not sure if it was due to the previous weekend catching up with me, but I was ready to go back to hotel room right after dinner. Being lucky enough to stay at The Grand California, I did not have far to go. With Flat Melissa ready for race day I went to bed early because I was spending yet another Sunday in January getting up way before the sun comes up. This year Disney bumped the start time from 5:45 am to 5:00 am.
I woke on a very quiet and chilly morning as the weather had been unseasonably warm up to this point, I decided last minute to wear the race tech shirt that came with my bib under my costume. It worked in my favor that it complemented my costume quite well. That was the best last minute decision that I have ever made on race day. Again, I grabbed my banana and the typical last minute hotel picture and I was out the door.
I am not too sure why, but it only felt like I was standing at the start line for a couple of minutes before the fireworks went off and I was on my way to not only completing my second Tinker Bell Half Marathon, but also my coast to coast medal.
Being that the race started so much earlier than previous year, the course was darker a lot longer than last year. Luckily this year they modified the course and did not have runners turn right into the park running down a very dark and narrow road. This year we turned left and run under a tunnel which had lights. Thank you RunDisney for this change, I really did not feel comfortable running last year feeling squished and cramped in the dark.
After running through this tunnel runners emerged into the back stage area of California Adventure. Eventually we made it inside the park and they even had the “World of Colors” fountain playing for the runners. This is one of my favorite shows in the California Adventure park. I never get tired of seeing this show, each and every time I do it simply takes my breath away.
After running around California Adventure and seeing all of the sights, we ran across the entry plaza and into Disneyland. This I have to say is always my favorite part of any RunDisney race. Being able to have the opportunity to not only run down Main Street, but to also run through the castle is the highlight of Disney racing.
After running down the beautifully lit Main Street, Captain Hook, Smee, and a few pirates were waiting for runners to stop and take pictures with them. Running as Tinker Bell, how could I not stop.
After taking a moment and stopping to say hello to Captain Hook, I had another favorite picture spot right before turning into Tomorrowland. I love my beautiful castle with the winter wonderland icicles.
The next stop for me was in Tomorrowland, where I stopped to take a picture with Darth Vader! I think that this was by far my longest line, but well worth the wait! I only wish that this area was better lit, the picture came out a little dark, but welcome to the dark side!
After saying so long to Darth Vader I headed into Fantasyland. Last year I did not run with my iPhone or my camera so I was not able to stop and take a picture with The Lost Boys. I was needless to say very disappointed at the time. This year thanks to SpiBelt I was able to run with my iPhone and take as many pictures as my heart desired. When I turned the corner and saw The Lost Boys hanging out near the carousel I knew that I had to stop and take a picture. Oddly enough people kept running past them rather than stopping for a photo opportunity. It seems that Disney only brings The Lost Boys out during The Tinker Bell Half Marathon as I never normally see them in the park. I think that I should frame this picture!
Second star to the right, Peter Pan and Wendy were waiting to say hello. I’m not too sure why Michael and John were not there. Two other characters that Disney likes to keep in the vault. Stopping to take a picture with Peter Pan and Wendy was my last photo stop before running through the castle. After running through the castle, Frontierland, the back stage area, another favorite part of the race, and Downtown Disney runners were headed for the streets of Anaheim. As always the Red Hat Ladies were there waiting and cheering for runners at the end of Downtown Disney near the Sorcerer’s hat.
I loved the course this year and felt that more time and miles were spent actually inside either California Adventure or Disneyland this year than last year. Running through the streets of Anaheim is not necessarily my favorite part of the course, but, I love that the city comes out to cheer the runners on. As a runner, I always appreciate having people cheering me on, even if they are complete strangers.
I almost hit a wall at mile 9 as I had a sudden GI attack, thank you Crohn’s for always rearing your ugly head during the most inappropriate situations. I needed to use a restroom and I needed it immediately. Thank you to both the police officer who stopped traffic on the opposite side of the street and to Carrow’s Restaurant for allowing my wings and I to use your clean restroom. It really saved the race. I am sure that I looked crazy, dressed as Tinker Bell with wings and mouse ears running across traffic holding my stomach.
As I never allow my GI issues to bench me, I proudly walked out of Carrow’s straightened my ears and wings and I started walking. I knew that I could finish this race despite the stomach cramps that I was still experiencing. I might not have run a lot during the last few miles, but I simply did not care. I was there enjoying every moment, I was running a race in Disney of all places, and that was all that mattered in my heart.
As soon as I saw Tower of Terror in the distance I knew that I was getting close. I had just crossed over the 10 mile mark and I was in the home stretch. In no time I was in the back stage area of California Adventure and running under the same tunnel I had ran under a few hours earlier.
Once you crossed Disneyland Drive you could clearly see the finish line. There was one last run around the parking lot and I decided using my motto from the previous weekend, GO BIG OR GO HOME, I ran to the finish line. I crossed the finish line and gave Mickey Mouse a hug. I was sort of bummed that RunDisney officals would not allow me to take my picture with Mickey. They told me to keep moving. To me, it didn’t matter, I was so excited that I completed the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Coast to Coast Challenge!
QOTD: What was your favorite character’s that you saw along the course? If you did not participate, what character’s would you like to see along the course?