Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Race Morning:

The race started at 7:00am, which meant we got to sleep in, by RunDisney standards. We were meeting Kerry and Kathleen in front of our building at 5:45am to walk to Starbucks, before heading to the corrals. It was a bit chilly so I wrapped myself in a foil blanket to keep the crazy out – I mean, keep my body heat contained! Once at Starbucks I got some water for my water bottle and took advantage of a real bathroom for a quick pit stop. Our timing was great as the line behind us was super long by the time we left. We headed to the expo building to try to meet up with our group before going to our corrals, but everything had been taken down and the designated meeting spot no longer existed! We got a group photo and made our way outside toward the corrals. Everyone needed a port-o-potty by this time, so we found a line and waited only a few minutes. They had some type of urinal system for the guys, and the regular port-o’s had these foot levers in the floor that “flushed” when you pumped them. Amen to no stinky port-o’s on race morning! We regrouped and headed to the corrals.

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Whaaaaat?

In the Corral:

Since I was by myself in my Corral (well, without any of my friends) I used the time to relax and stretch a little. Around 6:45am I started wondering if I should jump out and use the port-o one more time so I wouldn’t have to stop on the course. Once I had the thought, it was inevitable that I would need to go, so once my corral started moving forward, I got out and got in line for the third (and final!) pit stop of the morning. I shed my foil blanket at this point and another girl used it as a privacy curtain to go behind the port-o. This line wasn’t moving as quick and my corral started starting, but I’d already committed so I stuck with the plan. These port-os were not as clean as the earlier ones as people stopped “flushing”, but it was a quick stop for me and I was on my way and back in the corral.

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Waiting to start!

Wave Start:

There were only four corrals for the race, but the way they started us was brilliant. We started in waves within our corral. Volunteers funneled about 100-150 or so of us at a time to the start line, we waited about a minute, and then they released us. This cut down on so much course congestion throughout the entire race and made for a much less stressful experience, especially when it came to narrow parts of the course, as it gave everyone a chance to spread out and find their groove without having to dodge and weave through a heavy crowd of over a thousand runners at one time (I’m looking at you, Dark Side Weekend 10k!)

The Course:

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I know some people are tired of hearing it, others think it’s just because it’s “new”, etc, but even a month later after more reflection, I still think this is my favorite RunDisney course. First of all, the wave start, as mentioned, had a lot to do with this being an excellent experience – not being crowded and being able to run freely when my intervals dictated was fantastic! Next was the amount of time spent in the parks. Given their size, I feel like we spent a good amount of time  running in the theme parks. The course support and characters inside the parks was fabulous and I wish I had stopped for more character photos. I did stop for a few selfies and two PhotoPass photos in Disneyland Paris – once in front of the castle, where I worked on my jump shot, and once for Little John

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Castle Jump Shot Photo

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Sheriff of Nottingham

After leaving the parks, we made our way out to the surrounding village, and the course support was great! The community was out to cheer us on, there were bands, performers, a large cheer group, and fuel stops all along the course, in addition to water and Powerade stops.

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Two kids from the cheer group

The middle part of the course was full of beautiful scenery throughout the French countryside. There was one part of the course that was basically trail running around a lake, which I walked most of, because I don’t trust my ankles not to roll! Then we were back on pavement for the last quarter of the race. This is where I ran into Lynda – it was soooooo good to see her beautiful friendly face and talk to her for a few seconds! Shortly after seeing Lynda, I made a new running friend, Patrice and we leapfrogged each other and then ran together for a little bit, until Kathleen caught up to me. She was killing it, and I walked with her for a few minutes while we chatted, until she was ready to take off again! By this time, we were running into Hotel Sante Fe, and then Hotel Cheyenne, including running right by the building where I was staying. For some reason, I always love running past/near my hotel – it happens frequently in Disneyland and Myrtle Beach, so it was a nice familiar thing to have happen here, too. I’m a dork, I know, but if you know me, you know it’s the little things that make me happy. 🙂

From there, we followed the same path we took to the parks toward Downtown Disney, past Sequoia Lodge and The New York Hotel, before going up, up, up, and over the bridge to the Newport Bay resort. I had reconnected with Patrice by this point, and she was staying here at Newport. Her roommate (who had already finished the half) was on her way back to the resort and ran the bridge with us – if she was still running, so should we, right?  😉  The finish was so close, and we stopped for photos at the 21k banner that was still being painted! We crossed the finish line together, received our medals and took photos of and with each other to send home, and parted ways – Patrice was so encouraging and great to run with!

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The 21k banner

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Patrice and me with our Half Marathon medals

Next I went to get my Castle to Chateau Challenge Medal, and meet up with Kathleen and Kerry who had also finished around the same time. The post-race snacks were awesome – water, Powerade, chocolate “milk”, bananas, peanuts, apple slices, cereal bars, and trail mix. It was refreshing to receive real food, even if I couldn’t have any of it, but I did miss the tortilla chips and cheese just a teensy bit. 😉

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Post Race Photo

We stopped for a castle backdrop photo while waiting to hear from Jen and Jamie. They weren’t too far behind us, but we had lunch at 2:00pm, three people in our room who needed to shower, and it was already 11:30am, so we started walking back to the room. 😁

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L to R: 2016 Marathon medal, Castle to Chateau medal, and Disneyland Paris Half Marathon medal

Update!

Hi everyone! Did you miss me? I managed to get way behind on blog posts over the last few months, so I’ll start with a little update since my last post.

In January, we once again ran the Walt Disney World Marathon.
In February, we ran the UNCC 5k and I ran the Disney’s Princess Enchanted 10k.
In April, we ran the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge and 5k.
Posts about these races will be coming soon!

It’s been a busy year for races, and I took some much-needed time off from running to strengthen and heal before the fall running season starts.

On the schedule for the fall are:

The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon – this was a recent decision, based on Get Travel still having open registrations and my friend Jen and her husband still looking for a roommate. Throw in affordable airfare, an extra day in the City of Lights, and how could I say no? I couldn’t. I’ve been dreaming of returning to Europe and now I’m going!

Next up will be the Myrtle Beach Coastal 5k and Mini Marathon (half marathon distance, long story over the name). This one is exciting because J and I designed medals for their contest and we both won! J’s medal will be given out after the 5k and mine will be the finisher’s medal for the half!

In November, I’ll be traveling to Disney again for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend. I love this race weekend because it was my first half back in 2012, but I’ll only be running the 5k and 10k this year. The 10k is new, so I’m really excited for this one. After the 10k, I’ll drive to Savannah and meet J there to run the Rock ’n Roll Savannah 5k on Sunday together. It will be a busy weekend but a ton of fun because I’ll be spending it with friends and J.

The next weekend, the sibs and I head to Disneyland for the Superheroes Half Marathon weekend. We’ll be running the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge which consists of the Dr. Strange 10k (super-psyched for this movie, too) and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon.

Marathon weekend in 2017 is going to feel a bit strange for me – J and the sibs signed up for the Goofy Challenge (1/2 marathon on Saturday, Full Marathon on Sunday), but I am only signed up the half marathon. It’s probably best for my health, and with aspirations to run Dopey again in 2018, I will give my body a break and take a year off from the full distance. On that Sunday, I will be the best cheerleader possible and look forward to supporting my family and friends running the full.

As much as I’ll miss the full next year, I came up with a consolation prize of sorts. I will be running the Star Wars Light Side Challenge in Disneyland the weekend after Disney World’s Marathon weekend. Kessel Run, here I come, as we plan to run the Dark Side Challenge again next year!

Injuries

Leading up to our first Disney race, I spent a lot of time injured during our training My calves were always tight, my inner thigh was always strained, I needed to lose about 100 pounds (still do – but this isn’t about weight loss; if that happens it’s a bonus). Our longest run prior to the Tower of Terror 10 miler was about a month before the race at 8 miles.

And here I am today – once again injured. We are 34 days out from out next scheduled half marathon, and I haven’t been able to run (let alone walk without pain) since August 22nd. It’s a miserable feeling. Especially missing the group runs with my family – sure, I get to make sure there’s a patio table waiting for everyone at Starbucks when they’re done, but I’d rather be running!

The race we have next month is one that J and I signed up for last November. We did this one in 2014, too. I had to walk it due to a hip injury. I was really excited to do this one running this year! It’s a super flat course with some nice views at the end, but now it looks like I may not even be able to walk it this time around. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. I am still hopeful that I will fully heal in time to participate this year!

Meanwhile, I’m excited about early Annual Passholder registration for runDisney’s new Star Wars race weekend at Disney World, which opens (and probably closes shortly afterwards) tomorrow at noon. I know I’m currently injured, and I have a half dozen other races between now and then, but I have so much fun at Disney races that I can’t deny the irresistible force.

New Shoes and Training Plans

I knew from everything I read over the last several weeks that I needed special shoes for running. I had never heard of such a thing, but who am I turn to turn down an opportunity for shopping and new shoes? Therefore, I went to a local running store, as recommended by everyone on the internet, to buy special running shoes. I told the rep about my goals, and we got started. He watched my gait while I “ran” and determined I was a slight pronator in need of a shoe with moderate support to counteract my pronation. We tried several shoes, but the ones that felt the best were the Adidas Supernova Sequence 4s. Of course needing a women’s size 11 shoe for running meant there were not any pretty girly colors to choose from, but they were comfortable and that is what matters.

I got the shoes, time to start training.

I used a Jeff Galloway training plan that I found on runDisney.com and started following a beginners training plan. The plan called for two weekly 30 minutes runs, and then a longer run on the weekend, gradually increasing mileage until a couple of weeks before race day. I could do this. My first training run was on 1/12/12. I did short run/walk/run intervals, and finished 2.03 miles, with an average pace of 17:34 per mile. The pace was definitely not great, but not bad for my first time out there. One thing I knew well from all of my research on Disney races, is that runDisney requires a 16:00 minute per mile pace to stay on course as a runner and avoid the sweeper bus. I had some work to do.