For a while now I had it on my mind to accomplish running a half marathon in my lifetime. I was never an avid runner, but slowly wanted to get into it more. After chatting with Angela, who has a few Disney Half Marathons under her belt, I told her the next one that she did I would like to do with her.
She called me up last summer saying registration for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon was in August. The race would be Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8th 2016. With no further ado I told her “Let’s Do It!”
I began training in January. That gave me 5 months to start getting in shape, and in the hang of things to prepare for the big race. Of course I decided to go to my all time favorite spot Pinterest to research and find the right training plan for me. I came across this 16 Week Half Marathon Training Program for Beginners from Pop Sugar. I’m not going to lie training was TOUGH in the beginning, but as the weeks progressed so did my strength and endurance to keep on going and pushing myself each extra mile.
Friday May 6th finally came along and it was off to California! My family and I ended up finding really cheap flights from MSP to LAX with Sun Country Airlines. After a 3 1/2 hour flight, Chris, my mom, dad, Joe, Janice, and myself were finally in California! Later that day we met up with Mitchell, Angela, Melanie, and Eric. Angela, Janice, and myself would be running the race together.
Our first day was pretty low key: Waiting to get our rental car from the airport, driving through crazy LA traffic during rush hour to get to our Sheraton hotel in Anaheim,(which by the way try to get rooms facing Disneyland so you can get a porch view every night of their reoccurring fireworks show! Every night we watched them from our beds! How cool right!?! ) We ended the night walking around the area and scoping out what was all located around us, and ordering a few pizza’s for our late night dinner.
On Saturday we ventured to the runDisney Race Expo. The Expo is where you pick up your official race number and packet, check out the newest Official runDisney Merchandise, and get a sneak peek at the latest in apparel and fitness equipment. They also had a station to create posters to cheer on the runners, which my family stopped by and made.
After spending around two hours at the Expo that morning, we had most of the day to venture off and explore more of California. We decided to go check out Huntington Beach for the afternoon.
Huntington was everything I had imagined it to be: Surfers out trying to catch a gnarly wave, bikes cruising along the busy boardwalk, golden rays of the sun shining down, tan beach babes everywhere, and it just so happened to be that the AVP Huntington Beach open was going on! Bringing the worlds best beach volleyball talent, the ultimate festival featured music, food, free wine and beer tasting, and so much more! It was so cool to watch because this is a sporting event that is not very popular back in Minnesota.
While browsing through the local beachside market I even got to meet U.S. Volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh! (Sadly I did not get a picture with her)
After watching some intense volleyball and walking around the pier and boardwalk, it was close to dinner time and we were all getting pretty hungry. The group decided we were going to go out for Italian because us girls needed to carb load for the big race!
We stumbled upon Luigi’s Restaurant. An authentic Italian restaurant serving a variety of dishes and cocktails in Downtown Huntington Beach. It also happens to be a popular Hollywood movie on location scene.
After filling our bellies on pasta, we headed back to the hotel to get a goodnights sleep. When leaving Luigi’s it also started to rain….
Every trip I have gone on, rain seems to pop up. I always bring my rain jacket now at all times incase a shower or two pops up. I absolutely LOVE my rain coat/Spring/Fall jacket from Eddie Bauer! It’s super light weight, comfortable, and does its job keeping you nice and dry and warm from wet/cold weather. Eddie Bauer also stands by all of its products. I got my first coat back in 2014, and the zipper was now starting to wear off. I recently brought it into the nearest store with the original receipt and they said I could exchange/get store credit for it. I ended up getting the exact same coat, and since it was on sale from the original price I had bought back in 2014, I also got a $20.00 store credit! It was a win win!
Anyways, back to the Half Marathon….
We would be waking up in the wee hours of the morning for our race…
3:30AM BEEP… BEEP…. BEEP….
My alarm goes off…
Rise and shine, it’s Race Day!
For those who don’t know, a lot of big races start early into the morning, while the temperatures are nice and cool to run in. Our race started at 5:30AM but everyone had to get there in advance to find their bracket/starting spot, check in, and do any last minute things one needed to do, for example: use the bathroom one last time (I know I did!)
Surprisingly I was wide awake once my alarm sounded off, I think its because I was sooo excited and nervous at the same time! Today I would be running 13.1 miles, the most I ran for training was 11!
4:00am I met up with Angela and Janice and we ventured off to the race starting point. The cool thing about runDisney races? You get to run through their parks! For the Tinkerbell Half Marathon we would be running through Disneyland and California Adventures. Wooo Whoo!!
One by one, hundreds of women (and a handful of loving caring husbands who either got conned into running this, or genuinely are All Star Husbands) dressed up like fairies, started to show up. Music was blaring and everyone was singing and dancing along. After waiting for over an hour, our bracket made it to the starting point.
Together everyone began to count down
And off we were! This was happening, I was running my FIRST EVER HALF MARATHON!
My emotions were filled with excitement. Running through the parks definitely bestowed a magical feeling. Everywhere you looked there was something different and exciting to see. When running out of the parks and on the streets, bands and cheer teams lined up, volunteers were passing out water, juice, and food to refuel and rehydrate. Towards mile 10 there was a HUGE group of the red hat society ladies, handing out licorice and high fives as we continued on. Once we hit mile 12, it was all a breeze, we only had one more to go and then we would be done! Running towards the finish line, our cheer squad and the crowd was going wild!
I completed my first ever Half Marathon! I had so much energy left that I could have kept on running afterwards! It was such a rewarding feeling.
Since running this half marathon I definitely want to run another in the future. Maybe not a runDisney one because their prices were not so magical to sign up and run, and it is definitely not a race to go for time on, but to take in and enjoy the whole experience. Overall this forever will be an accomplishment and experience I will never forget.
P.S. —> I filmed the whole race on my Go Pro Hero 4 Silver so I will have video coverage from that coming soon!
Have any races you recommend I should try and check out?
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