Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Sweatiest Race on Earth

I ran the Disneyland Half-Marathon.

The race had an insane start-time of 6:00am. A group of us rented some motel rooms near the park the night before, but we still had to wake up at 3:30. (well, 3:45 because somebody accidently left their phone alarm on "vibrate". No names.) The event was very Disney-fied: they had fireworks during the National Anthem. A monorail pulled up on cue above the starting line. Everything was veyr big big, very bright, very Disney.

The first couple miles went through Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland theme parks. The parks seem much smaller when you're running through them and not fighting crowds to get on to the next ride. I made sure to high-five every character I passed: Goofy, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, Flick, Lilo... We even had pirates firing at us with canons! How cool is that? Best of all, although sadly I didn't have to take advantage of them, the public restrooms were open for us. No porta-potties, they had real flushing toilets and sinks with running water! Almost made me want to chug some extra Gatorade just so I could use them.

The course took us out through the streets of Anaheim, with some of the best supporters I've ever seen. There were several school bands playing. Many cheerleading squads. The Boy scouts were in full force cheering us on. And the students weren't simply standing around, they were all very enthusiastic. Bravo. At one point they had a couple of hula dancers in the road. I had to cut over a few lanes to get to hem, but I thought it would be fun to do a few spins with them. Bad idea. Sure, the crowds laughed and applauded, but after running 6 or 7 miles, the last thing you want to do is start spinning. I was feeling pretty queezy after that. We went through Anaheim Stadium, home of the Angels. They had a camera set up so we could watch ourselves running on the Jumbotron. Again, how cool is that?

It was then back into California Adventure and through Downtown Disney for the big finish. Goofy was waiting there at the finish line for me.

So, we have a flat course, great spectator supporter, festive themed lands, and fun cartoon characters. Sounds like a perfect race, right? Well, there was one tiny problem.

The weather.

Sunrise was at 6:27. Thirty minutes BEFORE THE SUN CAME UP, it was already 76 degrees. It quickly jumped to the 80s, with unusually high humidity for Southern California. I did not know that they had 3 special categories of race-weather-warnings, but they had them posted. Yellow means "use caution". Red means "no, seriously, you really need to be careful out there!". A black flag means they turn the race into a fun run and don't publish fiinishing times for anybody. We were at "Red Flag" status, so things were pretty bad.

We all seemed to agreed that we hit the Wall coming out of Anaheim Stadium around mile 10. The heat was just sucking so much energy out of us. I was hoping to finish in 2 hours, and I was still on target up through mile 10-11. But then I jjust gave up and had to walk a bit. I finished in 2:06. Most of us were slower than we expected to be, although Brian (husband to run-leader Leah) came in 5th in his division for a medal. Suh-weet.

I wasn't feeling very well after the race. I think my legs were fine, I just had some mild form of heat exhaustion or dehydration. (I was sucking down Gatorade by the barrel for the next 2 days.) I hung out a while to watch everybody else finish, and headed back to the hotel around 10:00. I didn't want to deal with the shuttle lines, so I decided to walk. It was another 1.7 miles to the hotel. In the upper 90s. After running a half-marathon. I'm an idiot.

It's a shame that the heat is what we all remember most, because other than that it really was a great race.


Blogger Robert Laurita said...

I left my phone on vibrate on purpose. I needed those extra 15 minutes and I'm not sorry.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Brent Buckner said...


2:38 PM  
Anonymous Smart Dutch's g.f. said...

Shame you didn't have photos of the hula dancing. If I find them, that's leverage.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous badler said...

Thanks for the props, Mike. That finish was a surprise.

It was a brutal race, indeed. We were all slowed by the weather.

Still have not seen any medal...

Leah's Brian
(The Spandex Pirate)

4:24 PM  

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