I was lucky enough to run the inaugural Disneyland 10K in 2013, which is an impressive achievements for obsessive egocentric runners, just for the bragging rights alone. And if the phrase “obsessive egocentric runners” seems a tad redundant, then you’ve been reading this blog for far too long. We just LOVE talking about ourselves and snagging as much pavement cred as we can, don’t we? Makes me sick to even write about it! But here I am. And here you are! So I’m glad we have each other and let’s just move on and talk about the 2014 Disneyland 10K, shall we?
What a weird opening paragraph…
The night before the 10K, Boots and Ann had decided to attend an Angels game. I passed on that event, simply because I wanted to get plenty of rest and be ready for the race the following morning. I met my buddy Jeff over at Uva Bar in Downtown Disney, where dinner consisted of a lamb burger, sweet potato fries, and a Sprite. The food was delicious! The service… well, when we asked our server to split our $42 bill evenly across two credit cards ($21 each for the mathematically impaired), he instead charged us *both* $42. When we pointed this out to him, he shrugged and said that he “slid the card through the machine too quickly and sometimes this happens.” With nearly 19 years of professional IT experience as a consultant, developer, manager, analyst, etc. etc. I wanted to lay into this blobular excuse for an excuse with all the wit and aplomb that would have made both Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde say, “Hey, cool it, he’s had enough!”
But this was Disney. And I was in a jolly old mood! So no snark or attitude.
Afterward I returned to my room at the Disneyland Hotel and chilled about until I gracefully managed to fall asleep somewhere around the 9 PM mark. The girls must have made a very silent entrance that night, because the next thing I heard was my alarm going off at 4 AM, with both ladies long since fast asleep. I knew there was no rousing them from their slumber, so I dressed quickly in the darkness and headed downstairs to meet up with my buddies.
I walked out of the Disneyland Hotel and was over at the Start Area within a matter of minutes. Hooray to quick and easy pre-race festivities! As I reached the area where the Mickey Milers Running Team were having our pre-race meet-up, I came to the sudden realization that I was very, very late. Oops! I mistook the 4:15 AM meet-up time as 4:45. Oh well! I still got to say a quick hello to Michelle, Kim, Jennifer, and other members of the team. I have to say that seeing all our jerseys together in one area looked impressively spiffy! Or was that spiffily impressive? Ahh I forget…
Anyway after everyone was bidding adieu, I started to make my way over to the stage, where Jeff, Suzannah, and I had planned to meet at 5AM. Suddenly I heard my name being called out, and there was my good friend Cambrey! Cambrey and I met last February at the Disney Princess Half Marathon. To sum up that story: we were in the same corral, she saw me in my full princess attire and wanted a picture, and when she found out I was running for charity she donated $20 on the spot. And we’ve been buddies ever since! Cam had also lost a lot of weight and was looking fantastic, which attests to how all this running can do a body good. We didn’t have too much time to chat, but it was a great reunion of sorts.
Now it was right around here where I needed to make a quick pit-stop at the Porto. This is generally par for the course for any race, so I figured I’d get it out of the way early. I went over to the seemingly endless array of porto-units and randomly chose a line that didn’t seem all that long. There were maybe three people ahead of me.
And who was the person standing directly in front of me?
If you read my 5K coverage from the day before, you would remember the extensive Sean Astin stalking coverage contained therein. To bump into the guy randomly, while in line for the porto-units, why that was serendipitous. And I can honestly attest that he is a very friendly, approachable, and warm guy to talk to. You’d think this would be the LAST time I might see him over the weekend? Hmm…
After taking care of business, I met up with Jeff and a “slightly” tardy Suzannah and we worked our way into our corral. We had decided that we would all start the race together, but that everyone would run at their own pace and intervals. This resulted in a full, lively corral time. This was especially pronounced during the singing of the National Anthem, which was… how can I put this? Cringe-inducing. I give whichever cast member who sang The Star Spangled Banner all the credit in the world for waking up early that morning, heading out there, and giving it their all, but there was a really badly-missed note that caused the entire crowd to mutter “Ohhh….” and shake their heads. Yikes!
But never mind that, because let me tell you friends, we were excited and ready to roll. The weather was very nice, a little warmer and more humid than the day before but still great running weather. By 5:30 the race started in proper, and at around 5:45 AM our corral was ready to cross the Start Line. I loaded up a Zombies, Run 10K mission, plugged in my headphones, hit the start button on my Garmin, and at 5:46 AM I was off and running the 2014 Disneyland 10K!
Let’s take a look at the course route, courtesy of my Garmin and Google Maps:
It was the same exact route as last year: south down Disneyland Dr./West St., then east through the Anaheim Convention Center, and north up Harbor Blvd. Once we entered Disney property, the rest of the course took us backstage behind California Adventure, then through California Adventure via entering through Cars Land, around Paradise Pier, up past Soarin’, Cathay Circle, and Hollywood Blvd, exiting by the Tower of Terror. Then it was north and then west until we reached Disneyland, where we jaunted up Main Street USA, through Tomorrowland, past It’s A Small World which led us into a backstage area north of the park. We looped around backstage, re-entering Disneyland by Toontown, then down through Fantasyland which took us right through the Castle itself. We then headed west through Frontierland and Critter Country, then backstage again as we looped out into Downtown Disney. The remainder of the race took us west through Downtown Disney before we curved north at the Disneyland Hotel to reach the Finish Line.
My goal for the 10K was to really RUN IT. I didn’t think I was going to PR — almost impossible at a Disney race, unless you’re up in corral A — but I’d been training hard all summer and wanted to see how much of my work had paid off. I set my intervals for 6:1 and had no specific time goal, except to (1) set a course PR (last year I had ran it at 1:04:28) and (2) keep my average pace to less than a 10 minute mile. I knew if I adhered to the latter, I’d easily achieve the former.
And then that first mile makes you want to scream…
I’m not going to rally against walkers because I’m 1000% pro-walker. Also, I’ve complained about poor race etiquette so many times on this blog that it has become more than a broken record, it’s twice-nuked Speak-N-Spell. But coming out of the gate, it was wall-to-wall walkers from every angle, both on the sides, in the center of the street, two abreast, three abreast, sometimes more. You just have to grit your teeth and know that when the course opens up some you can make up the time you’re losing stuck behind or bobbing around them. Some other runners, sadly, lacked my restraint and started screaming at people to get out of the way. There were more than a few F-bombs hurled about. Oy vey iz mir.
Anyway, by the time we passed Katella there was plenty of running room and I was able to find my stride. I kicked up into my desired 10K race pace but my Mile 1 pace was 10:08. Certainly nothing to be ashamed of, especially given how slowly we made it out of the chute, but I wanted to do better. Much better. I knuckled down harder and began to run faster, nothing like a full-out sprint or anything like that, but with a faster, sustained cadence. As I made my way through the Anaheim Convention Center, my stride felt even, consistent, and quick. I even managed to bump into The Mickey Miles Podcast co-host Michelle around the 1.5 mile mark, and she was deep in her running zone. I tapped her on the shoulder to say hi and we exchanged brief hurrahs and then it was back to the grind.
Exiting the Convention Center, I made my way north up Harbor Blvd until we turned left into Disney property at just before the Mile 2 marker. I ran the second mile in 9:33, which pleased me to no end. It was just a matter of maintaining pace throughout the remaining 4.2 miles. Right around here I also managed to spot the legendary Jeff Galloway (along with his wife Barb) making their way through the course. I had taken a picture with him two days previous and we had briefly spoke then, so I figured it’d be just best to keep running instead of bugging the poor guy yet again. But would this be the end of Hokeyboy/Jeff Galloway interactions over the weekend? Stay tuned, ever faithful…
We entered California Adventure somewhere around the 2.25 mile area, but my goal was to simply run and forget about stopping for pictures. I had taken plenty during the 5K, and there were sure to be enough decent ones from the Marathon Foto photographers on the course. What I did notice was that there didn’t seem to be all that many photo ops; there were a few characters out, including a somewhat bizarre Elvis around the Paradise Pier area. I hit the Mile 3 marker at a 10:01 minute pace. Slower than the last mile, but that was to be expected inside the park. I still wanted to pick up my pace.
We left CA, headed north and then west into Disneyland. I tore north up Main Street and hit Mile 4 in Tomorrowland, with a pace of 9:44. Cool! The course was getting narrower and I was starting to feel the heat, but the cool morning air and early-morning Disneyland scenery kept me going. After looping through the backstage area (and high-fiving more than a few happy Third Shift Custodians) I made it back into the park, and I made Mile 5 in 10:14 — my slowest mile yet. Thankfully my energy reserves were quite full and I felt no strain, fatigue, or pain in my legs. It was time to kick it up a notch.
I ran the Last Mile — the final 1.2 miles of the course — straight through. No stopping, no walking, no intervals. Just running. It actually didn’t feel all that rough, to be honest. This mile took us south through Fantasyland, through the Castle and out through Frontier Land. By the time I got to Downtown Disney, we were surrounded by cheering crowds, and that completely reinvigorated me. The encouragement from the spectators gave me that boost of energy and confidence I needed. By the time I made it to the Mile 6 marker, I had run a 9:18 minute mile.
Right after Mile 6, I made a right turn at the Disneyland Hotel and tore off towards the Finish Line.
Now here comes another Pet Peeve of mine: runners who see the Finish Line and suddenly HIGH-TAIL IT out of nowhere to make it to the Finish as fast they can without a care for who they might cut off or slam into. I have no problem with people who do this without causing a scene, without ZIG-ZAGGING ACROSS THE COURSE, cutting people off, side-swiping runners, almost causing accidents and sometimes actually colliding with and tripping other runners. Sadly this happened with me near the Finish Line, as some dreadlocked Trustafarian-looking jackball slammed into my left arm while passing me. I didn’t trip, stammer, or fall, but it fazed me for a few seconds. The trogolodyte muttered something to me afterward and without thinking I flipped him off with both cannons. I heard several spectators start laughing and cheering, although I definitely heard ONE woman reproachfully announce, “Well THAT isn’t very Disney-like!” She was absolutely right, of course, but then again the little f**ker deserved it.
But enough of that. I made my way to the Finish Line with as much steady determination as I could muster — WITHOUT cutting anyone off, mind you! I crossed the Finish Line, hit my Garmin, and checked my results:
1:00:49 — that’s a course PR, folks! It’s also the second best 10K I’ve ever run, which makes me one happy hokey dude. I even hit an average pace of 9:47 minutes per mile! I was quite pleased with myself, as evidenced by this rather elated selfie I took just outside the Finish Chute:
Hrrm… maybe this one is a little better:
Well anyway… I loved this race. Maybe because the weather was agreeable to me after a long, swampy, miserable summer, maybe because I had a really good performance (for me), maybe because I got to hang with running team members and friends (old and new, from near and far) and celebrities before (and during!) the race. If I had any complaints, it would be the same as my main complaint from last year: there simply were not enough hydration stations. There are only three, which does not feel adequate for a 10K. The 5K the day before had two, and that was half the length. They really need to add a fourth hydration stop.
Still, that’s it; everything else felt great to me. I’ll gladly run this race again anytime.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and having fun. Boots, Ann, and I went over to the Storyteller Cafe (in the Grand Californian hotel) for breakfast, which not only was quite delicious but an entirely festive affair. I even forgave their nearly trayfe “bagel with shmear” presentation. Nonetheless, we sat at our table, located next to a window overlooking the breezy Grand Californian walkway, as I talked excitedly about the run. And all of the sudden, who should walk entirely past us?
Sean Astin. Again. This was “encounter” number four of the weekend. Who knew??
After breakfast, I hit the Mickey Miler meet-up at the Hearthstone Lounge (also at the Grand Californian). It was a fun meet-up. For the COOKIES alone? Dayenu… I reconnected with team members I had already met and got to meet some new ones as well. It was a super nice time (with an appearance by Mike via Facetime, hooray) and I’m looking forward to further meet-ups in the future. Afterward, I head back to the Disneyland Hotel, spent a few hours chilling at the pool (surprise!), and we hit California Adventure in the afternoon for some rides (10-minute wait for Radiator Springs Racers!), attractions, and a deliciously carb-loaded dinner over at Flo’s V8 Diner.
The 2014 Disneyland 10K remains one of my favorite race experiences ever. It was a great race, I challenged myself and succeeded, and the rest of the day that followed was just as fun. The perfect trifecta.
- Click here for my write-up on our arrival and the Expo.
- Click here for my review of the 2014 Disneyland 5K.
- Click here for my review of the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon.
I leave you now with the video, which remains (in my mind) the single greatest running song ever: