“My first half marathon, and definitely not my last. It won’t be long until I have another half marathon medal to hang next to the one I earned at the Disneyland Half Marathon!”
09/14/14 webpage post
The 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon was the first time I ran 13.1 miles. It wasn’t pretty, but I enjoyed it so much that I’ve run eight other half marathons since then. (I actually had trouble tallying them up in my head just now. I can’t believe it’s so many!) So when registration for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon rolled around I knew I wanted to take it up a notch. So of course I signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare – the 10K on Saturday followed by the half marathon on Sunday. I love the Run Disney challenges!
The Friday before the races I took the day off from work to pick up my stuff at the expo. I also got to spend some time at Disneyland before checking into my hotel and stuffing my face with spaghetti at Downtown Disney that night. On Saturday morning I woke up at 4 AM and got ready for the 10K. It was really hot that weekend so I knew that my race times weren’t going to be the best. Starting out with low expectations was liberating. Especially since it turned out that I hadn’t fully recovered from a cold I caught while in vacation in Alaska yet. My lungs just weren’t cooperating. So instead of worrying about my finish time I enjoyed the 10K instead. I even stopped to pose for a couple of pictures. I wanted to make sure there were at least a few good ones since my professional photos from last year were so horrible. After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal I walked back to my hotel for a shower. I was in a bit of a hurry because I had a brunch reservation at Disneyland later than morning. I had a huge breakfast of delicious apple-granola pancakes at Carnation Café to celebrate completing 6.2 miles. Carb loading at its best! It was too hot to spend the as much time at the parks as I would have liked so I walked back to my hotel after brunch and spent the rest of the day relaxing. And I discovered that room service spaghetti and meatballs isn’t half bad! It wasn’t the best meal in the world, but it was perfect fuel for my half marathon the next morning.
On Sunday morning I woke up at 4 AM again, this time to prepare for my second running of the Disneyland Half Marathon. I enjoyed the race a lot more this year, not only because I knew what to expect this time around, but also because I wasn’t worrying about my time. It was hot and I wasn’t healthy, so there was no use trying to break any records that day. I stopped for some more pictures on the course, which I shared back in September because they turned out so well. Due to the heat I wore some really ugly shorts for the half marathon, but I covered them with a skirt I bought at the expo on Friday. The bonus was that it also hid the fact that my pockets were bulging with energy gels to get me through the 13.1 miles. In the end it was nearly my slowest half marathon (about 3 hours), but I didn’t care. I was ecstatic to pick up my half marathon and Dumbo Double Dare medals after the race was over. I walked back to my hotel to take a shower. I was meeting friends for dinner at Disneyland later that night, but I decided to go home and rest for a while first. Not only are the parks packed during the Labor Day weekend, but it was just too hot to stay there all day. We had a reservation at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ that evening. It’s a family style restaurant that’s actually closing permanently in January due to major construction that’s starting after the holidays. I was glad I got to eat there at least once before it’s gone for good. The food was tasty, the company was pleasant, and I got to hang out with a couple of adorable kids for a few hours. Lots of fun. Actually, the whole weekend was a lot of fun. Not my speediest races, but I enjoyed them, and that’s all that really matters.
I’ve never been all that interested in shopping on Black Friday (especially not in a metropolis like Los Angeles), so I was intrigued when REI suggested the #OptOutside campaign. As an alternative to bowing to the altar of consumerism, REI proposed spending the day after Thanksgiving in the great outdoors instead. I certainly liked the idea. However, I already had plans for the day and they didn’t exactly involve hiking trails through national parks. But after careful consideration I decided that Disneyland still counts as outside! I knew I’d be spending money on food, and probably purchasing a pin or two to commemorate Thanksgiving, but I wouldn’t be participating in the pre-dawn rush of the Black Friday machine. That’s what counts, right?
I wanted to get to Disneyland before 8 AM so I got up early, checked out of my hotel, and walked over to the parks. A lot of new Star Wars attractions have opened there recently and I knew I’d need to be waiting at the gates before they opened to either get in line for or get Fast Passes for the most popular rides. My first stop was the new Hyperspace Mountain (Star Wars themed Space Mountain) for a Fast Pass. Before the Fast Pass became valid I hopped on a few other rides, including Small World Holiday, which had very short lines. I was meeting some friends later in the morning, but I was able to ride Hyperspace Mountain before they got there. It was awesome! The new Star Wars aspects of the ride are really cool. I caught up with my friends in Path of the Jedi, which is basically a really long trailer for “The Force Awakens” that’s preceded by a bunch of scenes from the previous six Star Wars movies. Of course it made me want to see the new movie immediately! I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends and their kids the rest of the day. I rode Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters with the 3 year-old, and was fortunately enough to get on Hyperspace Mountain for a second time with the 5 year-old. We also got great seats for the Christmas Fantasy Parade. I may have enjoyed that more than the kids! It was the perfect way to kick off my 2015 holiday season. I was supposed to stay at Disneyland for the Fantasmic! show at 9 PM, but by about 6:30 PM I knew I was just too exhausted to last that long. After dinner at River Belle Terrace I was struggling to stay awake while waiting in line for Haunted Mansion Holiday! It was time to go home. It was a great Black Friday. I got to go to Disneyland with some good friends and their adorable kids, and I got to experience a lot of great things. It might not have been as rustic as REI intended, but I feel like my day still honored the spirit of #OptOutside. Either way, it was the perfect day after Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving morning I woke up at 4 AM to get ready for the Oceanside Turkey Trot. What a way to start a holiday! When I was selecting a Thanksgiving race I figured why go to the closest one in Long Beach when I could drive halfway to San Diego instead? Even before the crack of dawn it was going to take about an hour to get to Oceanside from my hotel in Anaheim and I had to pick up my bib before the first race started at 6:45 AM. It was a chilly morning and even drizzling a little bit, but it was perfect for running. I was so anxious when the 10K started. My friend who was running with me did everything she could to keep my spirits up, but I was a nervous wreck. My time goal was a little ambitious and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to meet it. And at about mile 5 on the course I even said so. I was miserable and really discouraged at that point. Luckily with a lot of encouragement from my friend, and a little effort of my own, I achieved my 10K personal record! (1:09:20 which is more than 2 minutes faster than my previous PR.) I actually crossed the finish line 40 seconds under my goal which felt amazing! I definitely couldn’t have done it on my own so I was incredibly grateful to have a friend to push me to finish what I started. We got our 10K medals, crammed them in our pockets, and walked back to the start line for the 5K that was starting at 8:30 AM. I’m not sure why I thought a 5K right after running my fastest 10K ever was a good idea, but it turned out to be a nice relaxing cool down after a rough 6.2 miles. I walked about half of it, but I figured I’d earned it! The home stretch of the races was on the Strand, which is right along the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Due to the unusually high tides we were dodging waves that crashed on to the Strand during both the 10K and the 5K. It was a little surreal. Fortunately I was able to avoid the worst of it and keep my running shoes dry. After the 5K I collected my second medal, posed for the above photo, and got ready to drive an hour back to Anaheim. The Oceanside Turkey Trot had been very successful and I enjoyed both courses. I’d consider doing those races again in the future.
On my way back to Anaheim I stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast. I’d earned an Egg McMuffin after running 9.3 miles! I’d also earned a hot shower and a nap at my hotel. While I was recovering from the races I watched the annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon online. I love MST 3K, but there just aren’t enough opportunities to watch it anymore. The Thanksgiving marathon is always a treat. (And with the already highly successful Kickstarter to bring back MST 3K, I’ve got new episodes to look forward to next year!) When the evening rolled around I walked to Downtown Disney ahead of my Thanksgiving dinner reservation. I did a little shopping before wandering over to Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel for dinner. I’ve heard good things about the restaurant, but unfortunately the service was terrible on this particular night. I don’t know if they were overbooked or understaffed, but I was seated late and there was way too much time between courses. I ordered the Thanksgiving tasting menu which included butternut squash soup, turkey wellington, and a trio of holiday desserts. It was surprisingly affordable, but the food was just mediocre. The soup and turkey (which was more of a pot pie) were ok, bordering on good, but the dessert was really disappointing. I should have just ordered a steak from their regular menu. Oh well! I’ll make sure to eat somewhere else next year (and try Steakhouse 55 again on a day other than a major holiday). After dinner I briefly walked through both Disneyland and California Adventure. The parks weren’t that crowded, but I was too tired to spend a lot of time there. I did buy a Frozen holiday pin to add to my collection so the night wasn’t a total waste! After walking back to my hotel I wrapped up Thanksgiving 2015 with more of the MST 3K marathon and an early bedtime. I needed to be ready to meeting some friends first thing the next morning at Disneyland so we could get Fast Passes for the new Hyperspace Mountain. More on that in my next holiday wrap-up post!
NaBloPoMo 2015 fail. I’m starting to think that I should pick another month to attempt to update my webpage every day. November always seems to be way too busy for such an arduous endeavor, with Thanksgiving and other holiday preparations taking up so much of my time and energy. And this year I went a little crazy and ran seven races in November. It sounds nuts, but I figured I’d regret it if I didn’t capitalize on the amazing running weather after the scorching and seemingly interminable summer that we had in Los Angeles. The races were great, but they did take up a lot of my free time on the weekends. On top of all that, I went to Orlando earlier this month and travel isn’t exactly conducive to writing. The good news is that I’ve been enjoying the holidays as best I can so far this year. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t spent as much time in front of my laptop lately. Not a bad reason, really, but I hope I can make December more productive!