Avengers Superhero Half Marathon Recap
The time has come.
It’s been a long time coming, a 4-year plan of saving and training since 2014 to reach this moment. I was excited and a little sad that this crazy journey was going to end today. I have found that when you get really deep in any subculture, it’s difficult to just quit and get out of. While not leaving Disney running any time soon, I will be stepping back from the “full time” aspect of it. It has consumed my life for 18 months and it was time to let it go.
The morning of the race was pretty much par for the course. The weather was great, slightly cool with a light breeze. I meet with the running team and then headed off to the corral. The Galloways and I had talked about finishing out the West Coast races together, but I could not for the life of me find them in the corral with me. In the final moments, I gave in to the idea that this was going to be a solo race and tried to quickly plan out my new strategy for the race: run fast and see what happens.
I figured I would pick up the characters again and have some fun. If nothing else it would give me a break to rest for a minute.
An unusual thing was happening at the character stops, lines were forming deep and early. It’s usually not the case when I come through because the people are more focused on running the course than stopping for pictures. I waited several minutes for Thor and then after my picture, as if by divine appointment, there are the Galloways! Relief and happiness swept over me. I now knew I wasn’t going to try to kill myself on this race and that I would get to enjoy it with others.
It was fun running through the parks together and then we headed out east on the newly drawn course. Our destination was pretty much straight to Angel Stadium and then back to the resorts. This was my favorite route so far out here. There weren’t a bunch of turns back and forth and only one bridge that I can remember us going over.
The time out in the city went by really quickly. We enjoyed the pockets of supporters on the way to the stadium and shared a bunch of stories with each other along the way. I had been give a side mission while out in the city.
A friend from Alabama had some friends she made online in the cosplay community and they were going to be out on the course somewhere cheering us on. I was sent a picture of them and was told they were going to dress up from the first Captain America movie. It was going to be a challenge, but I would give it a good try to locate them. 7 miles in and nothing so far.
We made it the stadium and there were a ton of World War I and II reenactors cheering us in to the stadium. They had even built a little dance floor and were having period accurate dances together! The Galloway group was also there and it was fun interacting with them for a moment.
Running the stadium again was really fun. There weren’t nearly as many people inside as there were at the Disneyland Half, but there also wasn’t as big of a lead up into the stadium last time as there was this time. We took the corner out of the stadium and and started heading back to the parks.
Recently I wrote on my own site about some life lessons learned while doing Disney Races. (Check it out here) One of those points was to stay humble. I do get recognized from time to time as the Disney Runner, or from the WDW Radio group or just that guy that’s at all the races. When I run with the Galloways, zero people care about me. Jeff gets stopped a bunch for pictures and running selfies. He’s a great sport about it and never says no to a person. Barb and I will keep going and he’ll catch up to us. Running with them keeps you humble for sure.
We run into this crazy group of Marvel cosplayers on the backside of the stadium and I’m sure if I haven’t already missed the people I’m looking for then this was going to be my shot. After combing through some Deadpools and Wolverines, I find Steven and Millie! I was so excited to find them….and they were just as excited to find me. I stopped and got some pictures with them before heading on. You know what? They didn’t know who I was running with, they were just happy to see me. It was a highlight of the race for me. (And that’s the power of the internet.)
I found them!
I caught back up to the Galloways and it was off to the finish. A 5k was all that was left. There were a bunch of bands and cheer groups along the last stretch before returning to the parks. This is typical for these races, but it’s always a welcomed boost right when you need it.
Once we were back in the parks, I could feel myself getting sentimental as we were closing in on the finish. I shared some of that with the Galloways and we had a nice moment heading in to the final stretch. Sharon couldn’t make it out West, so I was thankful that I was about to share this moment with them as we crossed the line together.
We decide to finish strong into the last straightaway and to the finish. I turn on the hype machine and start trying to get the crowd going as we enter the finish area. Carissa was announcing then and gave us all shout outs as we approached. Jeff leaned into the announcing booth and then Carissa recognized me for all the races this year.
I cried a little at the finish.
It was an emotional thing to realize the moment you had been thinking about and planning for, for so long. 195.3 miles of Disney races.
We took our finisher pictures said our good-byes (We’ll see each other later this month at their races held in Atlanta) and I proceeded to my treat-yourself area: The massage tent. Now Luke makes fun of me because It seems like I never get the nice ladies. This time was no different. I was man handled by two very large men at the same time. I also went and hung out for a few minutes at the annual pass retreat. They had a gift bag of a full set of the cokes today!
I then went back to my room, got cleaned up and went to go take my ultimate bling photo. I had lugged every medal out to California to get this picture. It was an interesting time going through security at the airport!
Looking back, the finish was amazing, but the journey was where the true magic was. I’ve made many long term friendships this year, heard so many inspiring stories and got to experience so many incredible things that I did not anticipate.
Thank you to my wife Sharon for supporting me this year and half.
Thank you to my running team for your love and friendship.
Thank you to all of you in the online world who have sent me words of encouragement.
It’s off to the next challenge.
Disneyland Half Marathon Recap 2106
You laugh, you want to cry and you run through the occasional homeless camp
Its morning three, and I’m glad we are on West Coast time. I try to stay on Eastern time as long as possible when out here. It makes getting up in the morning a breeze. The downside is that if you get to bed at 9pm it’s super late. My body didn’t jump to Pacific time until the day I left. It made the red-eye flight back a soul breaker.
I was a little concerned about this race. I hadn’t done this distance since I was last out here in May. To go further back, I’d only done this twice since April. As much as Luke and I had our Wonder Twins power activated yesterday, I’d suggested that he run on without me. This was going to be one of those things you’ve just got to dig in and will yourself through. Luke is also half road runner, so I didn’t want to be a burden to him.
Being the friend that he is, Luke fell back from A corral to B corral with me and said that he wasn’t going to do this one without me. Neither of us knew it at the time, but Luke would pull me through some demons to finish this race.
Gotta love the “You weirdos” look on the face of the lady to our left.
We fell right back in to our zone for the first six miles. There was a fun mix of characters out on the course today.
I love this picture. Flick is full on in “This guy” pose because I was joking with him. Meanwhile Atta has the 1000 yard stare holding Lou’s head.
After we left the Pinocchio villains, I began talking to Luke about our almost obsessive hobby of character hunting, (over 550 different ones now) and let him know that if by chance we ran across any that I didn’t have, to be prepared for a freak out. Well it just so happened a pair off my top ten list was just around the corner.
The three Caballeros!
I flipped! I mean I started jumping up and down and throwing my hands up in the air like I was at a Katy Perry concert. Luke thought it was rather humorous but he was excited too. Forget getting them at Disney World. It’s not happening under current conditions. I’d missed them on a surprise pop up by about 10 minutes out here a few years ago. The closest I’ve gotten since then is seeing them in a parade. I only count it if I can get a posed picture with them. Seeing them from afar doesn’t count.
We picked up a few other of the race mainstays: Goofy, Max, Lightning McQueen and Mater. We were having a few runners catch us on the course and telling us how they’ve seen us all weekend and loved us. The same thing happened with cast members and spectators. Where we becoming race famous?
It was fun interacting with the spectators. Some got really excited to see us, and some were bewildered that we were congratulating them on showing up.
Remember my advice from the 10k about getting good pictures? Well Luke was bubbling like a champ at the race today. It works people!
We had several that used us as pacers throughout this race. One was this gentleman from the UK. He basically laughed for 4 miles as he watched and listened to us. Glad we could be a good comedy act for you good sir.
It was time to enter out into the wasteland that is Anaheim. There’s not too much going on out on this piece of the race. It’s 7 miles of just get it done and finish. They did have more than last time out today though and the route was different from before, which was nice.
The UK guy is still pacing us at this point. (Right behind me)
This part of the course was really tough for me. At the Disney World races, I can actually run on less training because I’ll get an adrenaline boost and a slight rest when I meet the characters along the way. There is nothing specifically Disney out here since it’s in the city. They did have some good bands set up and we did stop for a Hispanic dance group. They danced right into us when we stopped.
There were small pockets of spectators along the course. We made sure to greet them whenever we saw them. They also had pretty good signs out too. One giant sign just read BGR. Was it a sign for boogers? I mean all the hip places are taking vowels out of words these days. Bangers? Burgers? It turns out it was likely for Black Girls Run. They are a nationwide running group that has a huge chapter in Atlanta. They are a fantastic group and I’ve never met any of their runners that I didn’t like. Booger on ladies.
They had over a mile of classic cars out on the course which was pretty neat. Luke and I each took a side of the road and greeted each driver and family and we made our way through the gauntlet.
We transitioned off to a running trail that went through a couple of homeless camps. I’m sure they weren’t prepared to be woken up by several thousand runners. I started to deal with some demons at this point. It’s tough when you don’t know what to expect and your body is telling you to stop.
We did get a boost going through Angel Stadium.
It was pretty incredible. There were hundreds of boy scouts and their families in the the stands. I also got shout outs from the announcer as we entered the stadium. I got a high five line going that went at least 50 people long which was fun.
The last two miles were really tough. I was acknowledging the demons at this point and starting to think to myself, “It’s OK to walk or stop, you are hurting” Luke kept me in the game though, encouraging me and picking up the hype piece for me when we passed through some groups. I just didn’t have the energy to go crazy anymore.
During the last half mile, Luke went wide left to get in the crowds faces and get them going. This game me a chance to hug the short track and slow down enough to get some energy for the final spectator push. We turned the corner and both started going nuts for the crowds. We again got shoutouts at the end from the announcers. Another one done!
Of course our photographer was waiting on us at the finish. We had fun doing all his poses.
We couldn’t finish off the weekend without a picture with our favorite photographer. Introducing Manuel everybody!!!!!!!!!
We must have finished right before Jeff and Barb. We got a picture together and then he made a suggestion for a future race that would go down as a running career highlight if it happens. Stay tuned on that one…..
Luke and I enjoyed a nice massage together. (It wasn’t weird at all!) In typical fashion, I got the man-handler and he got a nice lady. My gal tells me how concerned she is and that I should immediately ice my whole lower body. Maybe those demons weren’t telling me total lies after all.
It was time to hit the parks again that afternoon. I brought in all the medals from the Disney World and Disneyland series to get pictures. The photographers loved all the medals! One did a whole mini shoot just with them. (The picture at the top of the post). Mickey was thoroughly impressed as well… oh and bonus on the Steamboat Willie Mickey!
You’ll see Luke and I together again at the Disney World Marathon weekend in January. This is now the race I’m most looking forward to. In the meantime, I’ve got six more Disney races to take care of this year.
UP NEXT: The Expanded Wine and Dine Half Weekend!
Tinkerbell 10K and Half Marathon Recap 2016
I thought there were characters here….
It’s crazy how much of a community this race series is. I’m on the other side of the country and I’m riding on attractions and doing character meets with friends Derek and Jennifer. I run into Beatrice in the rain as I was heading to see a movie. Dave and I are getting photos in the Autopia booth at the expo….and of course there is the WDW Radio Running Team. Big groups or small, we always look out for each other.
The one thing that Disney has no control over is one of it’s biggest draws: The people and friends you make on the course.
WDW 10K Group
My mind was psyching me out for a week before this race. Some friends had told me that this was one of the two best times to go for 10K PR or placement at a Run Disney event. I mean it didn’t matter that I had only run a total of nine miles in 3 weeks. This was going to happen.
By the time I stepped on the plane, I had talked myself out of going for speed at any race. Then the Tinkerbell 5K happened. Immediately after the race my brain brought back the thought of a quicker 10k. I fought it and believed that I had won until the start of the race.
They did have probably the coolest announcer stage so far here. People would come in and out of the doorway.
It was raining off and on that morning before the race started. It was also about 52 degrees. I had bought some arm warmers to wear because I was not prepared for the cooler starts, and boy I’m glad I did! It turned out the rain stopped about 15 minutes before race time. My brain then switched in to “game on” mode and it was time to get going.
I was super stoked to see Vidia. These fairies are so hard to get now on the east coast and I’ve always missed her. (Yes I know I’m a nerd) She thought it was hilarious that I was so chipper and excited to see her. This is one of my favorite pictures, because she’s laughing and pointing as she says, “I love this guy!” I love you too Vidia.
Another fun moment was that I was the first one to get a picture at the partners statue. The photopass people were awesome. In general I have enjoyed them more than the outside group that used to take pictures at races.
I really didn’t get too many pictures at this race. I did stop for one other Fairy stop. There was also Tinkerbell and Peter Pan out as well. Not much different from the 5k as far as characters.
I ended up finishing top 2% in the 10K which was really exciting. I even got some shout outs (the picture above) for the running team as I crossed the finish line. I would have easily blown my PR out of the water had I not stopped for pictures on the course. I didn’t take the “shortcut” back to the hotel this time and made it back pretty quickly. Up next: The half marathon!
OK, I did better than expected on the 5K and 10K. Today truly was going to be a cruiser type of race. We met up for our team picture and headed out to the corrals. It was busier today, but still not anything compared to the DisneyWorld races. In fact, they were still trying to sell tickets to this race two weeks out. (DW races sometimes sell out in minutes.)
WDW Radio half marathon group
Frank and I were in the first “dudes allowed” corral for the race. He was telling me his goal for the race which was a pretty good pace. I told him about cruising today and it was just as much about telling myself that so I wouldn’t kill myself for day three.
There was an awesome photopass guy that worked the front and back of the race. He was giving high fives out like candy all three days. He danced with the runners at the pre-race party and was super excited to see each individual runner after they finished. We saw him dancing again this morning before the race, and wouldn’t you know it that Frank and I ran into him in our corral. He was making everyone do specific poses for him at this point. We get up there and Frank leaves me hanging on the tough guy pose! He also forgot his team shirt so I’ll just shame him right here.
There were a ton of people in our corral! We were also further back than I typically like to be. I don’t do a sea of people running very well. I then made a decision to just get out in front of this corral and then take it easy. The corral goes off, and I swear I’m swimming in people! I stick to Frank and let him part the ways for the first 1/2 mile. It took a mile and a half to get fully through the corral. I was feeling pretty good at this point and then made a second change to the original plan: just keep the pace until you want to slow down.
It was still fairly crowded going through the parks. It’s hard to know because the numbers are on the front, but I think I hit corral A around California adventure. It was here that I got one of my favorite pictures of the day. WDW Radio and Mickey Milers are probably the two biggest groups that are out on the course. You can identify us by our Lou Blue and them by their bright yellow with a touch of purple. We aren’t rivals by any means, but I had to make sure I got in this shot. You never know who is behind you!
The stories about the DL races are true. You do about half the race in the parks and half out in the city of Anaheim. Sometimes they throw you in to a cool place like the nearby baseball stadium. This time? 7/11. The back half of the race really is like any other road race. You have the occasional school band out playing but that’s about it. No characters or Disney touches besides the mile markers.
The fatigue was starting to set in at mile 7, but then there was the final change of plan. The brain was fully in control now and just told me to keep pushing. 7-11.5 was a beast. There were some cool people out cheering on the course though.
You enter back in to the park for the final stretch where the course parallels itself for a bit. The balloon ladies were on the other side and they were calling out time every thirty seconds. They also tried to do a good job of keeping people crossing the line into our later lane. (That would cut about 7.5 miles off the course) I did see at least 3 people cut over. I don’t understand it, but to each his own I guess.
Great crowds at the end, and I can honestly say I was tapped out at the end. There is usually a little bit in the tank for a final push in the end, but not today. I did run into Disneyland Run Mickey at the end. (DW does black/red DL does blue/white) He was trying to wave me through and I wasn’t having any of it. I needed to get a least one new character today!
In the end I finished in the top 5% for the half! It wasn’t real close to my PR, but I was really pleased about it anyway. I would never had thought that the weekend would have turned out the way it did.
It was also Mothers Day! The park was giving out free flowers to moms which was a nice touch.
Series completed! Next up is the Disneyland series in September.