Thursday, November 20, 2014

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Race Recap: Disney's Avenger's Half Marathon

What a whirlwind weekend! I flew out to California Saturday morning for Disney's Avenger's Half Marathon and flew back to Chicago Sunday afternoon. I will admit that I had certain expectations of the race because I have done a Disney race before in Disney World. Well, I get to Anaheim and I'm immediately thrown off guard because the parks are located in the city. Of course, it's located in a city and Disney World is also located in a city, buy Disneyland isn't on a massive compound like Disney World. Disney World feels like it's own city and, once you enter Disney World grounds, you forget that anything else exists. Disneyland, on the other hand, doesn't have this feel and, to me, it felt like a regular theme park (it reminded me of Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL) that was put in the middle of a bustling city.

Then, I went to expo and that too threw me off because I was expecting a bigger expo, like the ones I've been to at Disney World. Don't get me wrong, they had everything a person could want out of an expo, but expo is like my playground and I love spending as much time there as possible and I was done with this expo after about half an hour.

One of the things Disneyland has over Disney World is the proximity of everything. That's the perk of being a smaller park! From the expo, which was held at a Disney hotel, I walked through Downtown Disney and straight to the parks. There is one common area that has the entrances to both parks, California Adventure and Disneyland, and this is really convenient for moving between parks, which I did.

Let me tell you, it was nice going through the parks alone and going through the lines fast as a single rider. I went on a few rides, but mostly I just walked around and enjoyed my mini vacation. What really wowed me about the parks was the "It's A Small World" ride. I can't even begin to describe how beautiful it was lit up and decorated. Seriously, mind-blowingly beautiful.

Now, on to the race. I'm glad to report that Disney races universally suck with their start time and my first alarm was set for 3:00am for a 5:30am start time. The race itself was ok and, after mile three, felt like a "regular" race. I say this because the first three miles are on Disney grounds and through the parks. After that, you run through Anaheim and Angels stadium and there are no more characters for photos. I know that not everyone does these races to stop and take pictures, but for me, stopping for pictures is part of the fun and part of what helps me get through the distance. I will say that there were a slew of superhero characters between miles 6 and 7 and military characters (where any of them real?) around mile 9, but they didn't feel like official Disney photo ops.

The wind. If you were at the race or spoke to people who ran the race, you know that the wind was no joke that day. If you haven't heard about it, then let me tell you. The weather was perfect for running in the beginning and was in 60s when the race started for me. About an hour into the race it got really windy. As in, I thought I was going to get blown away by the wind windy. Once the wind started, it seemed like it never ended and the entire time we were running against the wind. The wind was so strong that it even knocked down mile markers along the course. That definitely made for an interesting run! The reunion area was closed off because the wind was knocking things down so everyone was asked to leave as soon as they exited the finisher's area.

Finishing felt great and finishing always feels great. This race marked half marathon #15 for me and my first time traveling to another state for a race. I can see how taking "racecations" can become addictive!

What I liked:

  • The race shirt is long sleeve and awesome. 
  • Running through the Disney parks. 
  • Meeting up with old friends and meeting new ones. 
  • Finisher's medal. 
  • Disney!
  • Plenty of water on the course and gels at mile 9. 
What I didn't like:
  • The course: again, it felt like a regular race after mile 3. 
  • Expo: bib pickup and shirt pickup where in two different areas. 
  • Start time: I'm a baby and like the extra hours of sleep. 
  • The wind was crummy. 
Would I do the race again? I think so, but mostly because I would want to go back to California with the family and have them experience Disneyland, too. I could run other races, but the idea of running the inaugural race and continuing to run over the years (Perfect Superhero?!?) is so enticing!

My next race is The Ugly Sweater Run on the 29th. I'm debating whether I want to run a Turkey Trot this year so another 5k might be in the mix, too. For more on my fitness and running, follow my on Instagram @thecookierunner.


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