With the Super Heroes Half Marathon weekend over, the Disneyland runDisney races are going on hiatus. It’s a hard thing for many, and it feels like they’re done for good. They’ll be back at some point. But, I am glad to have been part of them up until now. Although my journey started only in 2014 as far as running goes.
From Never to a Neverland 5k
I never thought I’d run for fun, and especially not pay for running. That’s what I’ve been doing for about four years now. I used to think people were crazy for running for fun. I would volunteer at the runDisney races and have that in the back of my mind. The more I volunteered, the more I’d be inspired to run. So, in 2013, I decided to give it a try and trained for the Neverland 5k in January 2014.
It was hard at first, of course. But, I was able to complete the 3.1 miles before the race. The race was something I had never experienced at the parks before. It was starting very early morning on Main Street. Tinkerbell flew over the castle with fireworks to signal the start of the race. It was a magical experience. Then, it was off through on stage and backstage, past Peter Pan and Lost Boys, around Paradise Pier’s water fountains, and finishing with a roaring crowd and loud music!
When I crossed that finish line I thought to myself “That’s it? I could do more!” So, I signed up for a 10k in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.
A Steady Progression
The Disneyland 10k was the first “big” race I did. Like the 5k, I crossed the finish line and thought “I could do more!” I was hooked with just two races under my belt. Of course the natural progression was to gear up for a half marathon. Some were coming sooner than others, but I decided that my first half marathon would be for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend during the 60th anniversary. What better way to celebrate a milestone run than with a milestone for Disneyland?
In the meantime I still participated in other Disney races along the way. I did an Avengers 5k, and a Star Wars Light Side 10k. I didn’t feel ready to take on a half marathon right away, but needed the motivation to keep going. Disney races were great for that. There was so much excitement from start to finish, and I knew I could do these runs.
As much as I didn’t feel ready to take on a half at first, I didn’t just sign up for that for my first half marathon. I signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare! The excitement I felt from the races fueled my finger as I clicked on the link on registration day. A couple days later I was thinking “What in the world did I sign up for??” I had never gone beyond 6.2 miles, and now I was going to do that and double that the next day!! But, I trained for it and was as ready as I could be.
At the end of the half marathon my thought was “That was good. I can rest now.” I didn’t sign up for a marathon at that time.
From Disneyland and Beyond
Since 2015, I have done 8 other half marathons. A few have been at Disneyland and a few others have been at Walt Disney World. One has been at Disneyland Paris as of this last September. Disneyland races have been special to me. There is such a magical atmosphere while running through the parks. It feels like a completely different place than when I’m strolling through. I love seeing the set ups in various parts, and little magic that is in various common seen things. Like the marquee for the Animation building in Disney California Adventure. There’s always a message in line with the theme of the race for runners to see. World of Color fountains are always dancing in the Paradise Pier area. Stormtroopers have patrolled around Tomorrowland for the Star Wars races. Very Merry Christmas Parade tree floats would be available for pictures in January races following the holiday season. There were some amazing sights to see during these runs.
What I didn’t anticipate is how it has helped me. I enjoy running now. Me. It’s still a little crazy to think. It has, of course, helped my health. 13.1 miles are second nature to me. 3.1 miles were so daunting at first. I’m gearing up for my first marathon now at Walt Disney World. And it started with a 5k at Disneyland. I never anticipated doing things like this. And just because the Disneyland races are going on hiatus doesn’t mean I’ll be quitting running. What it means is I’ll be carrying a part of these races at any other race I run. It’s the inspirational races I started with. Any other race I compare to Disneyland ones. It’s just how it’s been for me.