Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Disney Family Fun 5K - 2009 (and other fun stuff)

Want to know about my weekend and the race? Well, buckle down because this is a long one.

So, I didn't get out of here until 5 Friday afternoon. Traffic down to Anaheim was actually pretty good, for the first half of the trip. Then things came to a standstill, literally. It normally takes me an hour to get from home to Disneyland. It took two hours to get to the exit. Then another half hour to get from the exit to the Disneyland Hotel (about 5 minutes without traffic). By now it was 7:30, and I had until 8 to check in. But once out of my car, I had no problem finding where I was supposed to be and getting my packet.

From there, I headed over to the Paradise Pier Hotel to meet up with Shirley and Doug. I snagged a copy of their room key for use the next day. Then it was off to Buena Park to check into my hotel. After dinner and a trip to Wal-Mart, it was time to go to bed.

Unfortunately, my mind wouldn't cooperate. I tried reading the book I brought with me. I tried reading the Bible. Nothing was working. I got maybe two hours of sleep. I'm sure it had to do with needing to be up and ready to meet the other runners at 6AM. Any time I have to be up extra early, I lay in bed worrying about being there on time and not sleeping. You'd think I'd learn not to do that by now, but there you go.

So, naturally, I was lying in bed wide awake when my alarm went off Saturday morning. And that's when I discovered that my hotel room only had hot water. And we're talking scalding hot water. So I had to change rooms before I was off to the race. Then the street I was planning to take to Paradise Pier was blocked off. Not sure why, since the race didn't affect it at all. Anyway, it was about 6:05 when I pulled in and parked. Only 10 minutes later. (And yes, I do find this funny now.)

The theme of the race this year was Mickey's Main Street USA. That means as we lined up in the tram path, the Dapper Dans were entertaining us with barbershop quartet music. That made me happy, or at least it would have had I been able to really hear them. People were talking, so it was hard to really listen.

Some people, like me, were just dressed to race. Others were dressed like Disney characters or at least wearing Disney hats. It made for a fun, festive crowd.

At 6:45, the Dapper Dans sang the National Anthem (it was beautiful), and we were off. We started out by running down the tram route from the Mickey and Friends parking structure to the main entrances to the Disneyland parks.

Of course, I use the term running very loosely. It was crowded. For the first mile or so, I ran when I could, but I was often forced to walk while weaving in and out of the slower people. Now this is not a complaint about the walkers. It is more a complaint about those who were walking next to their friends, spread across the entire path so no one could pass them. (I was talking to someone Sunday who did the half marathon, and it sounded like they had the same problem there. And in the marathon, you were supposed to start at staggered times so that the faster people wouldn't get slowed down by the slower people.)

Once we'd reached the area between the two parks, the route led us in a side entrace of California Adventure. We came in right by Soarin' Over California and then ran toward the main entrace. At the plaza in the middle, we headed right, but not before seeing our first "characters." In this case, I use the term loosely since it was the cast of the High School Musical 3 show. Some people were stopping for pictures (actually, there was lots of picture taking along the way), but I just yelled "Go Wildcats!" and continued on my way. From there, we ran through the Bug's Life kid's area and backstage.

Honestly, the fact that we were running backstage was one of the big draws for me. But I didn't get very much insight into the running of Disney from back there. It just looked like a bunch of wearhouses. Yeah, really thrilling.

By now we were at the one mile mark. They had a big sign up and a clock. Of course, the clock started when they started the race. Since I started two or three minutes later, I really don't know what my real times would be. But anyway, it was 18 something. Considering how much I had walked, I just remembered that and kept going.

About the time we emerged from back stage to run down the main street of Hollywood Backlot, I broke free of the pack and was able to run the rest of the way.

We were backstage quickly for a water stop at the mile and a half mark. I didn't get anything and just kept on running.

We left California Adventure and headed across the way to Disneyland. We immediately hung a right and headed back stage in Tomorrowland. I got a kick out of seeing a bridge the train must go over during the Grand Canyon or Prehistoric sections. I never knew we were on a bridge there.

We emerged by Innoventions and headed toward Main Street. Buzz Lightyear was on the platform in the middle of Tomorrowland to cheer us on. And at this point we hit mile marker two, which was at 29 minutes. I had just run an 11 minute mile? Impossible!

We ran to the cirlce in the middle of the park and headed across the drawbridge, through the castle, and into Fantasyland. There, they had Dumbo, the Carosel, and the Tea Cups going. Doug said later that Mary Poppins and Bert were on teh Carosel, but I missed them. The other attractions had no one. We then ran down by Small World and back stage through the gate the parades always take. There, one of the trains was sitting, and an engineer blew the whistle every so often in greeting.

This provided another interesting backstage tidbit. There is actually a road between the houses of Mickey's Toon Town and the mountains that provide the backdrop. I never would have guessed. (Then again, I'm the person who thinks that the sky always looks like it is part of the backdrop, so what do I know?)

By now, we're about 2.5 miles into the race, and we encounter both of the hills in the course. First up in the small dip going under the train track leaving Toon Town. Then we've got the hill by Big Thunder Mountain. Yes, I felt it, but I kept going.

Rounding Big Thunder, right by the Fronterland pin shop, was mile marker 3. My jaw dropped. It said 39 minutes. Only 10 minutes since the last one. I thought I was a steady 12 minute mile person. Okay, so I never kept track of the seconds, so I don't know what I truly hit as a mile by mile pace, but this still made me very happy.

All that was left as to run most of the way down Main Street. As I did, the announcer started calling off the time left to hit before we'd hit the 40 minute mark. I did my best to sprint down and beat that time, but I just missed it, finishing at 40:01. Honestly, I'd be interested to know what I my real start to finish times were. If I get that info, I'll pass it on.

The chute leaving was clogged with people picking up the "medal" for completeing it (really a plastic medal on the end of a ribbon) and then getting food and drink. I grabbed a banana, bagle, and some Gatoraide before walking back to the Paradise Pier hotel, where I used my room key to shower and get ready for brunch. Honestly, I couldn't believe how hot it was already, and it was only 7 in the morning. Humid for Southern California as well. I was dripping all over the place by the first mile of the race.

Anyway, after everyone had cleaned up, we headed over to the Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian for brunch. (Would you believe I had only been to the Disneyland Hotel before this weekend? How I've been to all three in one weekend.) Shirley and Doug hosted, which I didn't expect at all. It was delicious food. There were six of us all told. Shirley, Doug, me, Angelique, Sue Ann Jaffarian (who help corral me into the race with the bribe of a free book), and Sue Ann's friend Susan.

Once brunch was over, Angelique and I set out to do what we had originally planned to do that weekend, spend three days in the parks. We used two of the three days on a 3 day park hopper pass on Saturday and Sunday, then used free birthday passes for Monday. And we had a blast. We were tired by the end of the day on Monday and ready for no lines. Heck, I was in my car driving out of the parking lot by 10 with two hours left in the business day.

We were actually surprised at how light the crowds were in California Adventure on Saturday. At 11:50, there was a 15 minute wait for Soarin'. We went on Toy Story Midway Mania a second time because the wait was only 25 minutes. The lines were longer in Disneyland and the rest of the weekend. We only made it on Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain once because of the lines.

And boy was it hot! The weathermen kept predicting that temps were going to come down. It was still in the 90's yesterday instead of close to 80 like they were predicting. It made it less pleasant than it could have been, but we still had a great time.

And if you really want more details on the race, stop by and read Sue Ann's take on it.


Mr. Brian said...


I'm not into runs like this, but this is something I might just make an exception for. Why? Disney!!! That just sounds like a total blast running 5K ... just over 3 miles. Keep me posted ahead of time next Labor Day weekend. If my schedule allows it and I have the financial means ... I'm in.


L.B. said...

sounds like you had a great time! Plus the crowds (at DCA anyway) seemed to cooperate. 25 minutes? That's nothing for Toy Story.

Mark Baker said...

Brian, You got it.

LB, That's why we did it a second time that day. :) We love the ride but the normal wait makes it a once a trip kind of ride.