In mid January, one week after our wedding, Hank and I decided participating in a half marathon was a good idea. To be completely honest, we signed up for the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland last summer hoping that its proximity to our wedding would help keep us in shape. We’d train for the race, be in stellar shape for the wedding, and run an amazing pace. Great plan, right? Oh… plans. That’s cute.
The way it really worked out was we signed up for the half marathon, basically forgot about it until a month before, which happened to land in the middle of the holidays, called running 5k’s “training runs” and well, we’re both wildly anxious going into the weekend. This was to be Hank’s first half marathon and my third… and I was nervous like it was my first. I mean, “nervous” as in I knew this was going to hurt afterwards. Not nervous like I thought I was going to die or something. And hurt it did. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Being one week after the wedding, the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend acted as a sort of mini honeymoon for us. We don’t plan to take a full blown honeymoon until next year, so this was our quick getaway post-nuptials. We arrived on Friday night to the Anaheim Majestic Gardens Hotel, which we love! The hotel is within reasonable walking distance of the park and the prices are great. An extra bonus is the two times we’ve stayed there we’ve been upgraded from a standard room to a suite for free. Considering a suite is bigger than our small San Diego apartment, this is true luxury. This trip we also go an unobstructed view of the Disneyland fireworks. Both a blessing a curse… because fireworks are loud.
Saturday morning, we arose early to pressure our bodies into a weird sleep schedule. We definitely wanted to head to bed early that night to rise for our 3:00AM race wake-up call. We walked over to grab some food the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney and watch the finishers of the Star Wars 10k. There were so many truly great costumes!
We quickly popped into the park to get our Just Married pin and celebratory ears. A must for newlyweds!
Afterwards we headed over to the runDisney Expo at the Disneyland Hotel. I’m always in awe of the runDisney Expo. The people-moving is perfectly engineered and Disney is sure to provide plenty of photo opportunities. However, the expo is a little overwhelming with hoards of people and vendors. So many vendors! We quickly visited my favorite vendor Raw Threads, who makes clever Disney-themed workout attire from sustainable materials. Of course, we also had to stop by the official runDisney merchandise booth. Thankfully, we agreed to a price limit on souvenirs before going and walked away with our bank account still intact.
After the expo, we went back to the park for dinner at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Hank has never had it and we thought it would be the perfect mini-moon/pre-race meal. For those who are unfamiliar, Blue Bayou Restaurant can be seen from The Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s technically part of the ride and beautiful. We both ordered the surf and turf dish, which was so delicious looking that we forgot to take pictures of it. Ha!
Post dinner, we rode a few rides, including Matterhorn.
Disney Tip: Riding Matterhorn at night is really the only way to ride it. Views of the park lit up can’t be beat and the night cover adds another level of creepiness to the theme of the ride.
Don’t mind my crazy eyes… I was trying to take the picture quickly before the bobsled moved, thus dooming my phone to an untimely death.
Then we headed home to rest up for our run.
That 3:00AM wake-up call came reeeal early. Hank and I opted to not wear full costumes this race. Normally, we would have but with the wedding planning, costume planning fell to the wayside. Instead we wore the famous his/her shirts of Han and Leia “I love you / I know.” I paired my shirt with a Graced by Grit black long sleeved shirt and Victoria Secret Sport black capris. Ultimately, the warmer outfit was a good decision. The weather was about 50*F but it felt chillier.
We walked over to the pre-race party to see how they were amping up the racers. It was too cold to get amped up. I just wanted to start running. Unfortunately, we were in corral H (went through J), so we had a while to wait until we actually started running. Corral A’s gun time was 5:30AM. We didn’t get to the start line until 6:00AM. By then I was frozen from the waist down and the last thing I wanted to do was run 13.1 miles. The good thing about the wait time was we got to do a little pre-game interview.
Now, I love runDisney races. As their tagline states, “Every Mile is Magic.” This race was no different. From the moment we started running, it was magical. The course was flipped from the previous year, starting in California Adventure, then going through Disneyland, and finally out to the streets of Anaheim. Paired with smaller corral groups, this made it much easier to navigate the course with over 12,000 runners this year!
My favorite moment in the park was running through a service tunnel. Lasers and music were set up in the tunnel to give the sensation of being caught in the middle of a X-wing battle. So cool!
I love running races, in general. The running community’s camaraderie is really heartfelt and inspiring. The number of people cheering for each other filled me with hope for the world. The Star Wars theme added a fun element of people cheering on their fellow Rebels. We are on the Light Side after all!
In regards to how the race went, surprisingly, Hank and I both felt really great. We were surprised when we got to the 10k mark (6.2 miles) and we hadn’t stopped for a break yet. I’m telling you, runDisney runs are so distracting. You don’t realize how far you’ve run! We both continued to feel great until Mile 10 when we began to run out of fuel and our joints started to hurt (my ankle, his hip). But we kept each other motivated and with some careful interval runs, we finished strong!
The medal we got was totally worth all the effort. It’s a spinner with Han and Leia on one side and the Medal of Bravery on the other! How could you not love it?!
After the race, I knew we couldn’t stop. If I stopped moving, my body would seize up. So we refueled, courtesy of runDisney, and enjoyed photo ops with friends during the post-race festivities.
Finally we made our way back to the hotel. We showered and totally crashed. Out for nearly two hours. I never nap, so this was truly shocking for me. Upon waking up, it became clear that we needed to get heat back into our muscles. My muscles were incredibly tight and my joints hated me. My poor body – the lack of training was starting to rear its ugly head. We took the hotel shuttle (they have one that runs every 30 minutes) to the park, because walking was completely out of the question. The park was loaded with people.
Disney Tip: Race weekends are always very busy, but paired with a holiday weekend, they are truly tough to maximize. Expect this!
We planned ahead for crowds and decided this would be our photo-op day. We had these adorable Mr. / Mrs. Disney shirts made by a seller on Etsy and really wanted to get some fun shots in the park. The perfect agenda for a busy park.
We were able to get in more walking and dinner with a good friend. But by the time the sun went down and the temperature dropped, it became clear that we were pushing our bodies too far. Bedtime for these two runners.
The next morning, we woke up and decided we had a little gas left in us. My legs would have liked me to tell you otherwise. We spent four hours in the park doing some shopping (finally bought myself a Disney Pandora bracelet!) and getting a few final rides in. Seriously, we could live there if we could. But we had to say good-bye to Disneyland (for now) and our amazing weekend.
But that’s not the end of it. I think I’ve created a monster. Hank is already planning for our next runDisney half marathon. Oh boy!
Until next time!