Yesterday, I ran the Avengers Half Marathon, my 29th Half, at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth!
I wanted to run this because I am a geek and I love the Avengers. Actually, I love Loki/Tom Hiddleston…
Um, what was I saying? Oh yeah, right…the Avengers Half. ;)
So, I was pretty excited to run it and had been thinking about what costume to wear for it for quite a while. Sadly, there aren’t many strong women characters in the Avengers movie universe right now and I figured there would be a ton of Black Widows so that was out. I thought about maybe being a female version of Hulk or Hawkeye or Falcon but that didn’t feel right. Finally, I decided to be Ms Marvel. I just needed a few key pieces and I would be all set. It also felt like it would be an easy costume to run in. Because though I planned to treat this like a training run, I was hoping for 2:20.
I went to the expo on Saturday morning to pick up my bib and shirt. I tried not to spend too much time there but did do a little shopping there and then in Downtown Disney. Oops.
I didn’t buy a skirt but 2 very cute shirts (Tinkerbell & Brave inspired - 2 of my fave Disney characters!), some headbands, and magnets to add to my collection. I ate lunch in Downtown Disney too and then drove back home went to Michaels to pick up the red ribbon for my costume. I finished putting together the outfit that afternoon. I was ready!
I hardly slept at all Saturday night. I was too nervous about missing my 2:30 alarm. Getting up that early sucks but I actually love that the race starts at 5:30. I got up with my alarm and had 2 breakfast crisps. Then I got ready, packed everything I needed to take and hit the road by 3:20. I got to Disneyland by 4:05, changed into my Cliftons, hit the restrooms at the parking structure (so much nicer than having to use the port-a-potty) and then headed to the start. I was in Corral B and I went up to the front since some runners I knew would be in Corral A. I saw my friend Ryan and we talked while we waited for the race to start. I had one gel about 5:15 and stuffed one into my arm sleeve. Who knew they could be a convenient place to store gels!
One thing I love about Disney is they go all out with everything they do. We had entertainment while we waited and the start was pretty darn cool. This is during the singing of the National Anthem.
Then it was go time! They were actually sending corrals A & B at the same time so there was no extra wait.
We were off! It was a little crowded at the start but not too bad. We ran into California Adventure first and it was all lit up with Christmas lights and there were characters out and about. They had stations where you could take your picture with each of the Avengers and there were quite a few Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. on the course “recruiting” as well. We left California Adventure and ran into Disneyland by Splash Mountain and then the Haunted Mansion (which looked amazing with its Christmas decorations). Next was Pirates, around the lake for Tom Sawyer’s Island to Big Thunder Mountain and then into Fantasy Land. I saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs riding the carousel and then we ran thru Cinderella’s Castle. Next it was down Main Street to the huge, beautiful Christmas tree in the square. I did a lot of sightseeing while in the park but I kept up a pretty good clip. My 5K split was 32:54, a 10:37 pace.
Once we left the park, we ran on city streets. As we were running down Harbor Blvd, we got a taste of what was to come. We could see the area ahead of us was really dusty and there was a cross wind kicking up. After mile 4 we made a left turn...into a headwind! It was blowing pretty strong. I tucked in behind this big, tall guy but then had to pass him because I was going faster than he was. We made a right turn at mile 5 so had a crosswind again but then a left run after mile 6 back into the wind. My 10K split was 1:05:12, a 10:31 pace. Which looking back on I think is interesting because I wasn't trying to go faster and thought I had slowed down with the wind.
At about 6.5 miles, we turned onto the Santa Ana River path. We had a headwind again here all the way til mile 8. I had planned on running the first 7 miles at a 10:40-10:50 pace and then dropping to a 10:20 pace for the last 6.1 miles. I changed my plans with the wind though. I didn't want to tire myself out by going too hard into the wind so kept at my same effort. I almost got hit by a huge tumbleweed in this stretch but luckily a volunteer stopped it just in time. I was really glad I was wearing sunglasses because the dust was horrible and we felt like we were sandblasted. During this stretch there was a huge Marvel cosplay group with all the characters which was a lot of fun, especially because there were a few Ms Marvels in it. I got a bit of an energy surge from all of their high fives!
After mile 8, we turned into Angel Stadium. We got to run around home plate and see ourselves on the jumbo tron and there were bands playing in there. It was a lot of fun. As we left the stadium, there was another Captain America WWII cosplay group. Mixed with true veterans, I think. I high fived all of them too. Once we left the stadium, it was time to turn up the pace! My 15K split was 1:39:02, a 10:40 pace. I evaluated how I felt and decided to drop to a 10 min pace and see how close I could get to 2:15.
My last 4 miles were 9:59, 9:58, 10:08, and then after mile 12, I picked up even more...9:26! I felt great all the way to the end. Finally, we hit the 13 mile marker and it was just a little bit more. I could hear the crowd and the announcer and I was looking for my mom but mostly I was smiling at how much fun I'd had. I crossed the line in 2:16:29! Yeah baby! Woo! I was so, so happy with that time. That was better than I'd expected or even hoped! Woo! Can you tell I'm still just a tiny bit excited?
I heard my mom yell my name just after I crossed the finish line and waved to her. Then I got my sweet medal.
A very cool spinner medal for the Inaugural Mission, wouldn't you say?
After getting my medal, I went thru the chute to get my water and snacks and head to the reunion area. When I got there though, they were kicking us out because they were worried the wind would knock over the stage and the tents. I found my mom though and she took a finisher's photo for me.
Then we went to Downtown Disney to find someplace to eat. We had breakfast at the Rainforest Café and then headed back to the car. I was a little sad it was over but I was one, happy Ms Marvel!
I think that I could have started my push earlier but I ran it smart and I finished with a time I'm very, very happy with. I love runDisney races. I know they are expensive but they are so much fun, especially if you enter into the spirit of the event. I can't wait for the Star Wars Half in January!