Last year when the Tinker Bell half marathon was announced and the medal revealed my sister declared that we MUST run it. Being the Tinker Bell lover that I am I couldn’t argue with that so we ran it together and PRd, then I decided that since I did the inaugural race I might as well be “perfect”. For those of you who don’t know runDisney offers extra little perks at the anniversary races (5, 10, 15, etc..) if you have ran all of them, so why the heck not?
When I signed up for Tink this year I was excited. I knew the course and I liked it so you can imagine my disappointment when I heard the news that they changed it. I liked having Disneyland at the beginning and California Adventure toward the end of the race; it broke the parks up and gave me something to look forward to so I was pretty annoyed that they decided to do the parks back to back and then we were just let loose on the streets of Anaheim for the rest of the race. I quickly got over the annoyance once the vision of running through Carsland all lit up in the dark started to occupy my thoughts. Okay runDisney, I will forgive you this once.
Let’s fast forward to race morning, shall we? Shenanigans (Aka. Patty) and I were roomies for the weekend, which ended up being kind of funny since she is Ms. 5 am Texas time wake up while I was the newly relocated back to California, but very well adjusted, night owl. She set her alarm for 2:30 and I set mine for 3. I’m pretty sure neither of them actually went off since we woke up on our own. Just as I woke up I heard Patty heading out the door. She had a few prerace photo ops to do, while I am more of the roll out of the bed and head to the start line kind of gal.
We were staying at the Paradise Pier, which in my opinion is the best place to stay for this race, so I walked over to the window to see how the corrals were looking, at this time they were still pretty empty. I went ahead and got dressed and tried to eat something. Again I am NOT a morning person at all so this was quite a challenge. I ended up only eating a banana and an orange juice while I was waiting in corral B. I knew this would be an issue later in the race, but it was all I could manage to do. While waiting around in the corral I met back up with Patty and before too long it was time to get the party started. Corral A took off, we moved forward and before I knew it we were off on our way too. There is something about the start of the race, when you leave the loud hustle and bustle of the announcers and music at the start line and are on your way with only the sound of shushing skirts and tutus around you that makes you think “I’m really doing this”. It was at this time that Patty wished me luck, I told her I would see her at the finish line and off I went.
I had a goal in mind. I was hoping for a 2:30, but knew early on that wasn’t going to happen so I did what all runners do and set up a plan B goal, simply PR. The first couple of miles went by pretty fast and it seemed like we were entering California Adventure very quickly. They had the fountains from World of Color going and they were quite beautiful. There were lots of people taking pictures in front of it. I thought about it for half a second, but I didn’t have time for that I had a PR to go for! Lucky for me my friend Sarah is willing to let me borrow her picture to share with you.
Most of California Adventure was pretty dark, I did not like this at all. On top of that there were puddles and lots of wet spots that you could not really see in the dark so I slowed down quite a bit through here. That part of the race seemed to flash by and before I knew it we were already heading out of California Adventure and across the way to Disneyland. This was also the 5K mark. I had set myself up for runner tracking so I could get real time texts to keep track of how I was doing. Well unfortunately my 5k text was incorrect, but luckily for me the same thing happened last year at Princess so it didn’t phase me as much this time. I sent Patty a text to let her know that the tracking was giving “clock time” for the 5k again, so she would have a heads up when she got there.
We then headed into Disneyland! It was nice to see some spectators on Main Street this year since last year it was not allowed, but it was still nothing like heading onto Main Street at the Princess Half Marathon were the street is lined with spectators. I honestly don’t remember the exact route we took but I do remember that It’s a Small World looked fabulous all lit up for the holidays still. We then went back stage and came back out on the side of it through Toon Town. We ran around the park a bit more and were heading out behind Splash Mountain. It was at this time that I asked the CM if the bathrooms under the Hungry Bear Restaurant were opened, when she confirmed it to be true I darted off course to use the restroom. I didn’t actually have to go yet but I try to use “real” restrooms whenever possible and since I knew the rest of the race was out on the streets this was my last chance. I quickly rejoined the race and on we headed to Downtown Disney!
My mom had sent me a text early in the race and told me that she was in front of the La Brea Bakery, but when I got there I could not find her. At the end of Downtown Disney, in front of the Disneyland Hotel, was my all time favorite spectators, The Red Hat Ladies!! They were in the same place last year and I had heard they were going to be there again so I was really looking forward to them and they did not disappoint!! Their energy is AMAZING!! But sadly after leaving them we also left Disney property so it got very quiet and lonely very quickly. It was round this time I got a text from my mom asking me where I was and I replied 10k mark! She told me I was doing good and at this same time I got my next runner tracking text and I was looking good. They gave me an estimated finish of 2:34 and that would do just fine. The next section of the race was pretty uneventful and I started getting a bit bored.
I am somewhat of a social runner so without someone to chat with I start to get restless and antsy. I thought this might be a good time to start posting on Facebook and to text my sister back in Texas. Yeah, I really did. My 15k text came in and I was still looking good, estimated finish of 2:35 so I slowed a bit but as long as it was under 2:36 I was good. Up next was the mile 10 marker. I sent out a Facebook post saying I only had a 5k left and I was feeling pretty good at this point. Then I saw that mile 11 marker. I looked at my watch and it said I was at 2:10, I sent my sister a text telling her that and she replied back with some encouraging words. I was feeling okay with it. It was slower then the 2:06 we did in our training run, but still allowed me adequate time to sneak by with a PR and then I hit “the wall”. I’m not sure what happen but I lost a lot of time between mile 11 and mile 12, and when I saw the mile 12 marker was up a “hill” we had already ran up earlier in the race some very non-Disney thoughts crossed my mind. I tried my hardest to run up the hill but only made it halfway and started walking. This was the dreaded sign, don’t let it fool you, it’s not as innocent as it looks . . . trust me.
I told myself I would make up time by running the whole last mile straight, but that didn’t really work out very well for me. It seemed like it took forever but I finally saw the mile 13 sign and I knew I had blown my PR. At the mile 13 sign you make 90-ish degree turn and it is a straight shot to the finish line. I took off as fast as I could at this point and came across the finish line with a time of 2:38. I couldn’t decide if I should celebrate or not. I didn’t get the PR, but I was done and that was something to celebrate, right?
I got my medal, made sure to grab a mylar blanket, in case I needed it at Princess, and my refreshments and headed over to take my finisher’s picture. I was about 3 or 4 people back when the photographers declared they were not taking any more pictures for the next 30 minutes and they would not let us take our own using the background either. So not only did I not get my PR I was also NOT going to get a finisher picture. This added insult to injury for me. I headed out of the “safe zone” and was heading back to my hotel when I called my mom and started bawling. I have never cried at a race before, and this was my 4th half marathon, but I was just so disappointed. I felt like I had it right there in my grasp and just watched it slip away. Truth be told it was my second fastest time, but I wasn’t trying to hear that at the time. I finally found my mom and headed back to the room, still crying. I took a warm shower and tried to put things back into perspective. I got out feeling a little better and was now ready to head down to the PCH Grill for breakfast. Breakfast with the characters makes everything better you know?