Thanks to our hotel’s super close location (the Best Western Anaheim Inn), we didn’t have to wake up until 3am for the 5am race start. This was a nice change since in Orlando, we had to get up at 1:30 am to catch the bus for last year’s Goofy Challenge! We were able to EASILY walk to the start within about 15 minutes. There were tons of other people (mostly women) all decked out in wings and tutus, but we were able to use the port-o-potties with NO line and breezed right into the corrals! I was assigned to Corral A, but since all men had to start in B, I stayed with the husband before the start.
After the first corral went off, it was 10 minutes before the start of B. I didn’t recognize the announcers, but I did enjoy listening to them banter with the crowd. They also brought Minnie and Daisy up on stage and had Tinker Bell appear on the video screen. Finally it was our turn to go!
The first 5 miles of the race were fantastic! The lines for the first couple photos ops are always crowded, so I avoided stopping right away. This way I was able to get ahead of some of the crowd. Once we turned into California Adventure, I HAD to stop. Cars Land is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The attention to detail is incredible! You feel like you are literally in the movie. Since it was so early, all of the lights were on and it was a totally different experience than when we saw it later in the day during park hours. I stopped and got my photo with Lightning and Tow Mater as well as took some photos of the scenery.
I was also fairly dumb-struck by the sights in front of Mickey’s Fun Wheel. The colorful lights in the water were gorgeous, so I snapped a couple photos here as well.
I ended up skipping most of the photo ops in DisneyLand (including Tinker Bell). I stopped once in Toon Town and in front of the castle, but I was feeling good and having a blast looking at everything. I was also happy to be passing all the crowds that were lining up for the Princesses near Small World.
I don’t have any regrets, but I might have stopped for some more photos had I known the rest of the course was going to be totally void of entertainment. From miles 6 – 13 there was NOTHING. Luckily, being a Midwest native, I can stare at palm trees all day, but I was pretty bummed that there wasn’t anything for us in downtown Anaheim.
For me the race was never too crowded. I think the most I waited was 5 minutes for a photo since cast members do their best to make those lines move quick. I was never pushed around by the crowd and I was pretty much always able to get around people when I needed to. I can tell that I definitely should have started in A though, because I was constantly passing people the entire race. Normally I’m slower, so this made me feel great!
Paul on the other hand kinda struggled with the crowds. He is far from a B corral athlete and he spent up until mile 8 dodging walkers and groups trying to get around people. I know Run Disney wants a female to win the race, but they should really just have an elite female wave at the beginning instead of lumping a 1:20 runner in with the 2:10+ athletes.
I also learned a very important lesson this race. Everyone knows the rule of “nothing new on race day”.. well, I’m going to add to that rule and say “Nothing you haven’t worn since your post-IM weight gain on race day!” 😀 I chafed pretty bad!
I ended up crossing the finish line in 2:26:16 which I am more than happy with. I stopped a lot for photos (and Vaseline!) and I hadn’t run more than 10 miles since early December. I saw Mickey at the finish line and gave him a high-five and a hug. I was hoping Marathonfoto caught this on camera.. which they technically did.. but it was super blurry. FAIL 😀
All in all, I don’t think I would run the Tinker Bell Half again. I think I preferred Marathon Weekend over this race since in Orlando they had more entertainment and a better course. However, we both had such a blast and I still absolutely adore Run Disney! I heard they are planning two new races next year, so while it is definitely Paul’s turn to pick out a few races, I’m dying to know what they will be!