A couple weeks ago I ran the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon and it was amazing. I also completed the Enchanted 10k the day before the half. These two races are known as the Fairy Tale Challenge and are 19.3 miles of fun and fatigue. Below is my race report for the weekend.
The Challenging Part of the Fairy Tale Challenge
The Fairy Tale Challenge was really challenging and not because of the distance, but because of:
Tired legs from a week of Disney days
Racing on a diet of Disney snacks
Heat! RunDisney issued a heat advisory because of high humidity
To complete the challenge I was up Saturday and Sunday at 3 AM. I nursed the baby, ate some oatmeal, grabbed my water bottle and dashed to the bus in a quick 30 minutes. We decided to start our Disney World vacation the week before the race so that we could adjust to east coast time. Otherwise we would have been waking at what would have felt like midnight.
Princess Half Race Weekend Recommendations
If you want a magical weekend of fun and fatigue then make sure you sign up for a RunDisney challenge. Here are a few of my recommendations:
After each race, go to the medical area and get ice packs wrapped around your legs so you can speed up recovery.
Try and have a chilled out day on the Saturday after the 10k.
Dress up for the races.
Bring some cash to your race for a Joffrey’s iced americano.
Be prepared to walk to the start line for the Half – my fitbit indicated that I walked 42 minutes from getting off the bus to stopping in my corral!
I think the 10k race was probably my favourite of the two, but only because it was my first RunDisney race in Disney World and I wasn’t exhausted. I was also in corral A, which meant I started the race within 5 seconds of the start line. As seasoned RunDisney runners know, the closer to the start of the first corral, the shorter the line-ups to get character photos. In the lead up to the race other runners had been talking about 15 minute line ups and I was nervous about that. In my Tinker Bell Half Marathon a couple years ago there was barely any wait so I wasn’t sure what to expect in Disney World.
I ran both races with my mother and we decided to only stop for characters that we knew. This meant we skipped the photo with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch since I haven’t seen the movie. The first characters we came across were just passed the 1 mile marker and it was Belle and the Beast.
The sun began to rise at the 5 mile marker, but even some of our finish line photos look like it is still the middle of the night. While we ran through Epcot the PhotoPass photographers were hard to see because it was still so dark and I hate to miss a good photo op! Haha!
I was thrilled to see Mickey Mouse available for a photo as we were leaving World Showcase and transitioning into Future World. For a “Princess” race I found it a bit light on Princess photo ops, but I am more of a Fab 5 kinda girl than a princess.
We got photos taken by PhotoPass photographers with:
Belle and the Beast
Jasmine and Aladin
Goofy in his baseball uniform
Inside Out characters
The Epcot ball
I’m not sure where my Donald Duck photo ended up since we stopped with him too.
I found the 10k race route to be nicer, but I think that is to be expected with a shorter distance. I really enjoyed running along the Boardwalk since I wasn’t visiting that part of Disney World outside of the race on this visit.
Princess Half Marathon
I won’t lie, I was bummed to be starting in corral C and not A or B. That said, I ran my qualifying race 6 months postpartum and it was the farthest I had run in almost a year at that point. I really shouldn’t have had a pity party over this since before the race started I felt like a car running on fumes. I got caught up in the need for short character line ups. In the end I had an amazing race with my mom and we finished closer to our marathon times than our half marathon times. At the 4 mile mark we acknowledged that we were having lots of fun, we were tired, and that we didn’t care about our time enough to skip photo ops.
It took us about 32 minutes to run a kilometer through Magic Kingdom. We stopped for a selfie near the castle on Main Street. In Tomorrowland, we stopped for Buzz Lightyear, which was about a 1 minute line. We waited in a very long line for Belle and Gaston and then ran about 100 metres and stopped for Cinderella which was probably 15 minutes. In front of the castle there were 5 PhotoPass photographers taking photos so this made for a fairly short line.
I was shocked that the majority of runners don’t stop for photo ops. Why not? With the bottle necks that occur when lanes on the road are reduced it would be difficult to run the race course for a PB so I would recommend getting your moneys worth and stopping for characters.
First Half vs. Last Half of The Half
The first half is exciting and fun – I felt like a puppy! It was dark out and fireworks were set off every couple minutes to light up the sky. The monorail would blare its horn when it passed by the runners. You’re on your way to Magic Kingdom and that made me feel like I was on a mission. Then you run through the Park and it is as magical as its name. However, once you’re in the back lot and making your way behind the Grand Floridian you still have another 10 kilometres to run. I felt like I’d accomplished what I wanted and suddenly on tired legs I had to run 10km. Even on the roads back towards Epcot there were a few character stops, which was fun. There were also a lot of water stations to keep us going through the humidity. Knowing my two girls, my husband, and my dad were all going to be at the finish kept us going!
It. Was. Amazing.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve done a RunDisney race or if one is on your bucket list!
Recently I’ve had a lot of friends head south to Disneyland for a family vacation. Since Disney Parks are my jam I thought I’d post the top 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation. I remember going on a spontaneous Disneyland vacation as a kid and it was memorable, but the more planning you put into your Disneyland vacation the more you can get out of it. There can be fun in spontaneity, but these 5 tips will help ensure you get the most out of your Disneyland vacation.
Not What You’d Expect in a List
Below are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and I’m well aware that these 5 words may seem odd in relation to a vacation. Trust me, I’ll explain each below and hopefully you’ll realize I’m not as crazy as my list sounds.
In order to maximize your time in Disneyland, you should have a strategy. Depending on your personality you may not want to take a vacation that requires a strategy. However, a basic strategy will help you manage the Parks. Each Park has multiple “lands” that you’ll want to explore with interesting attractions in each part. A simple strategy would be to pick a land that you want to start in and then decide which ride you want to do first (ahem, Peter Pan in Fantasyland) and then you could finish exploring nearby attractions in that land before moving to the next land. I find having a plan fun and I like to memorize it, which I’ll admit was difficult when I planned our trip in 8 minute intervals starting at rope drop.
Have a starting time and a starting point.
Conquer each land instead of pinball’ng around the parks.
Decide whether to watch parades or go enjoy shorter lines on rides at this time.
Plan whether to eat your meals slightly early or late to avoid crowds at restaurants (i.e., more people in food lines equals less people on rides).
Don’t forget about Disney California Adventure – it is an amazing Park for all ages (and serves alcohol).
I mentioned Rope Drop above and it is worth mentioning again. If you want to:
Beat the crowds,
Maximize your time in the parks,
Get a daylight castle pic with not many people in it.
If those appeal to you then you’ll want to find out what time Disneyland opens and aim to be there 45 mins to 1 hour earlier (and earlier if its a holiday or a Monday). This will give you time to get through security, the ticket gates and into the rope drop crowd on Main Street.
Even on vacation you can’t escape technology. First thing you must do is download the Disneyland App. You can create an account, link your tickets, buy additional items (i.e., MaxPass), make dining reservations, obtain and view your park photos, and even order food from certain places when you’re in Disneyland.
I’m Canadian and the wifi in Disneyland isn’t fully reliable. I actually had to rely on my mother’s iPhone back in October because she had a US data plan and I hadn’t bought one for our trip. I would suggest purchasing a US data plan so that you can use the Disneyland App.
With all this technology and the inevitable use of your phone as a camera, you’re going to need a plan for how to keep your phone battery from dying. As an iPhone user I suggest using the “low power mode” for the battery in addition to keeping a portable charger with you. Or use the tag team method and use one person’s phone until it dies then move on to the next phone.
I love food and if you can’t indulge on a vacation then when can you?! Your vacation will not be complete without devouring some Mickey shaped foods, such as waffles or ice cream bars.
When we go on any Disney vacation (world or land) we always try to ensure that we have a sit down meal at least once a day. We have always been travelling with a child under 3 so we find a sit down meal important to slow the pace and give us all a much needed break. You can book your Disneyland advance dining reservations (or ADR as the cool kids say) at select restaurants up to 60 days in advance. Go crunch the dates and find out your earliest booking date and get right on it – there’s no time to lose! You can even change your mind later so book it early and change it if necessary.
Character Dining is expensive, but waiting in line ups to meet characters can be viewed as a waste of time by some. You’ll have to balance your budget so consider what option is best for you. My daughter hates characters and has continued this trend the last few trips. She finally warmed up to princesses last October. We ate at Chef Goofy’s and Goofy sort of snuck up on my toddler while she was eating a cake pop and she almost knifed him. So maybe don’t waste your money, unless you’re me and are hopeful that one day she’ll get over her fear.
I have found that Disneyland was more expensive for food than Disney World and if you want to keep costs down be aware that you are allowed to bring food into Disneyland. I normally bring snacks, but you could pack sandwiches and treat yourself to churros for a dessert.
As a parent I’m constantly trying to manage expectations and that’s important on your Disneyland vacation. Before you tell your kids how amazing Splash Mountain is you’ll want to check if any rides are closed for refurbishments. This information can be found on the Daily Event Schedule on the Disneyland website. I was heart broken my baby missed out on It’s A Small World when we visited in October.
All the minimum height requirements are also listed in the Disneyland App (seriously, what are you waiting for – get this App!). We kept a growth chart for my daughter and specifically marked 40″ as “Splash Mountain” and now all the neighbour kids know they are tall enough to ride it when they do a Disney vacation.
Not only do you need a strategy and technology for this fun family vacation, but you also need to learn the lingo of Disney. Are you sure you haven’t just signed yourself up for a business conference? All of this work is actually fun and your family will have no idea all the time and effort you put in behind the scenes to make sure this Disneyland vacation feels effortless.
You’ll need to decide if you’re going to be a paper-based (free) FastPass user or upgrade (for a cost) to MaxPass. This debate deserves it’s own blog post, which the Magic Kingdom Mamas have already done here so check it out.
Depending on your family dynamic you may be utilizing Rider Switch or Single Rider lines. I do not advocate for families using Single Rider lines to avoid waiting in the main line. Riding as a family is fun and waiting in line as a family can be fun too (there’s even an App for that).
Single Rider lines are for singles – like when I went back to the park when my baby and hubby were sleeping and I didn’t want to wait in line. Rider Switch is for when hubby and I can’t leave the baby unattended.
Other lingo you may encounter is listed below:
DCA = Disney California Adventure
DLR = Disneyland Resort (the hotels, Downtown Disney, and 2 parks)
ADR = Advanced Dining Reservations
FP = FastPass
GOG = Gaurdians of the Galaxy
AP = Annual Passholder
CM = Cast Member [employee]
PH = Park Hopper
That’s All Folks
Those are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and it will certainly be a memorable trip. Remember that even with all the pre-planning, there will be meltdowns, there will be chaos, there will be surprises, but there will also be magical moments that make it all worth while. Have fun and please let me know how your vacation goes– I’d love to hear about it!
I’m a goal setter. I write it down and then I make a plan and I work towards crushing that goal. Pre-kids I would make short-term, long-term, and stretch goals. Now with kids I’m more of a planner and longer term goals have become plans. I have spreadsheets with details of vacation plans, races, club activities for 10 years down the road. Some [hubby included] think its crazy, but I love my plans. But let’s talk about this year and the next 12 months. I’ve broke it up into PROFESSIONAL, FITNESS, and PERSONAL.
I’ll be heading back to work at my corporate job in mid-October and with only 2.5 months to contribute there, I don’t have a big corporate goal for 2019. My company is great and I even received a promotion when I was on maternity leave with my first child. So for 2019 my professional goal is for this BLOG:
In order to even be eligible, I need to step my game up. I’m committing to having new posts weekly and to increase my social media presence. I want to be your go-to place when you want to read about running, Disney, or know that you’re not alone in this crazy parenting life that we’re going through together. So be a dear and leave me a comment if there’s something specific you’d like to hear about and I’ll try to make it happen.
Nominations typically take place in April so hopefully I’ll get a pulse check on this goals progress by mid-year.
I’m a runner. Always have been and always will be. I remember running in kindergarten around the 3 soccer fields at school and feeling the runners high, which maybe was just excitement that I was the fastest kid in the class. Whatever it was has kept me running for nearly 30 years. My 2019 fitness goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. My 2019 fitness goals are to:
Run under 2 hour half marathon
Run under 50 min 10km
Complete the Fairy Tale Challenge with a smile.
A lot has changed since I ran my first half marathon in 2007. I’m comfortable and proud of who I am today and I don’t want to be my old self, I want to be me: the runner mom with an unhealthy Disney obsession that knows she shouldn’t eat the nightly ice cream bar.
I really do feel like these goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. The Fairy Tale Challenge is the cumin – a nice to have with little to no expectation and no limitation. However, I need a faster 10k time if I’m ever going to run a faster 1/2 marathon time. Long, slow distance makes long, slow runners. If I focus on some speed training and push myself in a 10k, then I can take that strength, power, and confidence into a half marathon and hopefully run my fastest post-pregnancy half marathon.
The Fairy Tale Challenge takes place February 23 and 24 with a 10k race on Saturday and a 1/2 (21.1k) race on Sunday. I’ll be running it with my mom and as long as I cross those finish lines with a smile I’ll be happy.
My personal goals are:
Read 3 novels
Spend time away from my baby
Take my Instapot out of the box.
I know what you’re thinking, “wow, Shelby, what a wild year 2019 will be for you.” I used to read a lot and it brought me joy, but since having my first child in 2015, I’ve barely read. I think I’ve only tackled the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy. Chic-lit is fine by me – no judgement – so hopefully on some upcoming flights with a sleeping baby I’ll put a dent into this goal [a girl can dream, right?].
My baby goes insane when anyone else picks her up and I want her to know she’s loved and safe with family and friends so hopefully I’ll be able to feel comfortable leaving her for an hour or two every once in a while. I’d really like to take my 3 year old to a movie and not have a massive amount of mom guilt over leaving the baby with her father or grandparents. I know its an attachment phase right now and as annoying as it can be it is pretty awesome knowing that to this cute little baby I’m the best thing since canned spaghetti. *
*Canned spaghetti is disgusting, but my Italian family has always used that expression and we find it hilarious.
I am excited for 2019 and all the new adventures that will be heading my way. Leave a comment about your 2019 goals!
One week ago I ran my first 10K race since having my little baby munnchkin. Next Sunday I will also be lacing up my shoes and running another 10K race.
Pre-kids I planned out my races and mostly raced above 10k race distances. Now I’m willy nilly about my 10k races!
Hubby ran with me last weekend because at 6 months postpartum I’m lacking speed.
10k Race Info
These 2 races are both organized by MEC https://events.mec.ca/ and are only $15. You don’t get much for it, but all I’m after is a chip timed race.
The Real Reason
I’m pushing myself to run these races so I can submit a time for my upcoming Run Disney races in February. They have multiple corrals and place runners according to their anticipated finish time. If you’re in a corral at the front you have short wait times when you meet characters in races and pose for pictures.
In my first RunDisney race, while in line to get a pic with Tinker Bell, the runner behind me explained that you run hard and go for good times when you’re not at Disney so that when you run Disney you get to enjoy the faster photo lines and less busy course.
My 10K Race Goal
I don’t like talking about times anymore because I want to be running sub 47 minute 10k races, but I’m happy to be less than an hour!
This reminds me of my running mantra, “Respect the distance” as it applies at different times and different distances. Sometimes just a 1 mile run seems daunting especially when you have run a marathon. Or you wake up with a cold and your usual 8k route feels like an ultra. If you persevere and just respect where you’re at, you’ll get through it.
Wake up extra early? Check. First in line at the bus? Check. Through the ticket gate and in time for Rope Drop? Check. Take digital SLR camera out in preparation of Welcome Show? Check. Take 1 test picture? Check. Drop camera and have pieces fly everywhere? Check. That was how we started our 2016 Walt Disney World vacation and the reason I became familiar with Disney PhotoPass.
The purpose of this blog post is to save you having to go to the trouble of smashing your camera to find out about Disney PhotoPass. We recently traveled to Disneyland and now I’m sharing my knowledge of the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland with you!
What is Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland?
Disney has photographers located at most key photo spots (more on this below) where they will take your photo with their professional, high quality, digital cameras. The photographer will initially give you a bar code (via app, web, or a card) that links to your photos. You can continue to give this bar code to each photographer and the pictures get added to your account. A full list of photos included in the Disney PhotoPass is listed in the paragraphs that follow. After your vacation you can download your photos within 45 days. Trust me, it’s easy to use!
Why I Like the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland:
Saves you from bringing a camera.
We rely on our phones for the majority of our photos, but we still want some vacation memories we can frame. The Disney PhotoPass pictures are top quality and perfect for framing.
You can be in your vacation photos.
No more playing photographer or asking a stranger to do that. We also like that some photos don’t look like you’re at Disneyland – they look like we sweat a lot and then hired a professional photographer for family photos.
It is a good value to buy a Disney PhotoPass, especially if you want Dining Photos.
One day is $39 and one week is $78.
Disney PhotoPass Options + Pricing
You can purchase a one day Disney PhotoPass for $39 or a one week Disney PhotoPass for $78. The photos covered by both options include:
Disney PhotoPass photos (including RunDisney race photos and photos from character greetings).
Dining photos (i.e., the coveted Mickey Mouse family photo from PCH Grill).
Magic shots (i.e., photos with embellishments added by the photographer).
The price for the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland doesn’t change based on when you purchase it. Unlike the Walt Disney World Memory Maker, the price for a Disney PhotoPass doesn’t increase if you buy it last minute. Also, when you buy it isn’t the same as when you activate it. I bought mine on a Monday, but didn’t activate it until the Thursday when we encountered Mickey Mouse out for an unexpected stroll.
One thing that surprised me was the cost of Dining Photos at the character dining restaurants. If I recall correctly, the photo package at Goofy’s Kitchen was almost $40 and if I didn’t already have the PhotoPass I’d be horrible at saying no. A person actually comes to your table with your photos printed out in a beautiful portfolio, which also includes recipes from the restaurant you’re at and they sell it as a package. Thankfully, if you have the Disney PhotoPass and can show that it is active for that time (take out the App and voila) then you get the digital pictures without having to buy the printed out package.
Stop for Photos
If you’ve spent the money on the Disney PhotoPass, make sure you stop and get your photos taken. Using the Disneyland App you can view where the photographers are located. That said, it is pretty intuitive – almost all of the must have photo spots have a Disney photographer present.
I mentioned above that you can get some photos taken that don’t look like you’re at Disneyland. This adds to the versatility of the Disney PhotoPass because now you have some great professional looking family photos that you don’t necessarily associate with a Disney vacation.
Also if you’re on an attraction that has photos, you’ll want to stop at the end and record the code associated with your photo so you can link it to your Disney PhotoPass account later. I found it easiest to snap a picture with my phone of the code rather than try to enter it on the App in the moment.
Tip: if you want a less crowded Castle picture then get it taken earlier in the day. However, we’ve never had a problem with the number of people floating through the background of our photos.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for a Magic Shot
We weren’t having any magic shots offered to us so towards the end of our trip I asked a photographer if they could take a Magic Shot. The photographer was happy to do so, but didn’t tell me what “magic” they’d be adding. The photographer only advised how to pose. I’m really happy with how the magic shot turned out and its extra special since we were in Disneyland for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.
Alternative to Disney PhotoPass
One alternative to the Disney PhotoPass is to ask the Disney PhotoPass photographer to take a photo with your camera. They are going to get a pretty good photo and while they’ll snap some with their official camera, you can simply choose not to buy them. Even during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, cast members (not official photographers) were ready to take a photo with your phone/camera for you.
Just so we’re clear..
I don’t get paid for supporting or speaking positively for any products on this blog. Anything I choose to endorse is because I truly believe in it.
My hobby, sport, and way of keeping in shape is running. I’m a fan of the half marathon distance. I ran my first half marathon just over 10 years ago and have enjoyed many others since. My husband’s first half marathon race pic just popped up in my Facebook feed as a memory from 10 years ago, which was funny since he was 100% in the friend zone at that time and I kicked his butt in that race!
Half Marathon: The Perfect Distance
I find half marathons the perfect distance since it is far enough that you can’t skip your long runs, but not too far that your training runs take over your life. With a 10 kilometre (km) race, I could rest on my laurels and while it might be painful, I could jump into a 10km race and survive it without adequate training. However, in a half marathon, the level of discomfort and risk of injury is much higher if you don’t complete your training runs.
My longest training run for a half marathon would be under 2.5 hours long. If I started my run at 6 AM, I could be home in time to eat breakfast with my family.
My 3 Tips for Successful Half Marathon Training
Find a plan and routine that works for you.
Be realistic when making your plan. For me, I can’t commit to more than 3 days a week.
Also plan out your runs; determine what time of day works for you and make a routine out of it.
Find a race and register for it to keep you motivated.
Having a goal to work towards will keep you motivated. I tell lots of people about my upcoming race far in advance so I feel accountable.
Find a training partner or run club.
While I enjoy running on my own, I couldn’t imagine all of my long runs by myself. Having someone with you can make your long runs fly by. Running is a form of therapy for me since I talk through problems, vent, share memories with my running partner.
Running After Baby
After having a baby, running was a major challenge for me. The motivation to loose weight was certainly there, but my body wasn’t ready for that kind of intensity. My body had changed; I was nursing and had major nursing boobs that could not be tamed. Running wasn’t comfortable so my plan to run 6 months after giving birth and to start half marathon training went out the window.
I tried once more to run when my baby was 13 months and I had been back at work for a few weeks. While my body cooperated with running this time, I found it difficult to stay committed. Part of the problem was that I ran alone at 7:45 PM, after the baby was nursed and in bed. I was exhausted, it was dark out, and Netflix was calling me.
Third time was the charm! I survived a busy August at work and I knew the fall was going to be busy at work so if I didn’t get running soon I’d never maintain my fitness during the winter. Baby was now 18 months old and I was daydreaming about Disney vacations and it struck me: why not run a Disney race!?! My timing could not have been better as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon’s registration was coming up in mid-September. I laced up my runners and tried to run and this time, with the right motivation and a better fitness level than the other two attempts I kept up my training and ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon last month.
Baby Steps: Initial Running Plan
Starting my half marathon training in September for a May half marathon gave me ample time to build a foundation before I had to start logging long miles. September, October, and November focused on a run/walk program. This meant each week I’d run 1 minute, walk 1 minute until I’d reached 12 to 15 minutes of total run time. Then the next week I’d bump up my run time. After a few weeks I was running 10 minutes and walking 1 minute. From this, I switched to distance based training with 3 to 4 km runs during the week and a 5 km on the weekend. Each long run (weekend run), I’d increase by 1 km. I also listened to my body and decreased every few weeks to let my body have a break.
While I was focused on this training and really happy with my progress, I should note that I was nowhere close to the times I once ran. I don’t blame pregnancy on this as I had a health scare in the years leading up to pregnancy that I think took its tole on me. I’m a highly competitive person, but I took this slower pace in stride (pun intended). Now that I’m a mom, I’ve chilled out a lot more and having time to run and pursue my own fitness makes me happy. I’m not longer focused on my splits, although slow or not, I always aim for a negative split.
My mantra for running post pregnancy is: No expectations, no limitations.
Find a Training Plan that Works for You
A quick Google search can turn up dozens of half marathon training plans. In some you have to run 5 days a week, in others only 3 days. Some have steep build ups in long run mileage, while others are more gradual. I suggest you open a spreadsheet, take what you like from multiple plans that you’ve reviewed and plug that into your own plan.
For me I have a simple long run build up that I don’t mess with in the 7 weeks leading to the race, which is as follows:
16, 16, 12, 18, 18, 20, 8 km.
While this builds my last several weeks, most training plans should cover a minimum of 18 weeks with a minimum distance of 10 km to begin. Keep this in mind as you set your sights on your goal race and plan accordingly.
Plan Your Runs
Plan out when you are going to run, then make it happen. I nurse my daughter to sleep at 7 PM daily and I only have an hour with her before bedtime so I know during the week I need to run later that I’d prefer. Running at 7:30 PM means most of the year it is dark so I have a reflective vest and my husband knows my route.
For my weekend long runs, I aim to be home by 8 AM. This means I may need to be up before 6 AM or for a shorter run, closer to 6:45 AM. Yes, it is early, but I’m committed to my training and I find running enjoyable.
Importance of a Training Partner
I’ve got an amazing training partner that happily runs at my odd ball times. She supports me, loves me, and let’s me talk on and on about whatever is bothering me. You won’t find a training partner better than mine, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and find one. I forgot to mention, my training partner is my mom – my IRONMAN, marathoner, more energy than I’ll ever have, MOTHER!
Let Me Know…
Let me know if you have questions – I’m passionate about running and happy to help you figure out how to juggle it into your busy life.
If you are looking for a magical experience and an opportunity to get your family excited about your half marathon training then stop reading this and go sign up for a RunDisney race. I ran my first RunDisney race at the 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Mother’s Day and it was amazing.
This post is going to focus on the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race itself – future posts will include planning a RunDisney vacation (i.e., how to enjoy the parks without wearing yourself out), the registration process, having your kiddo in a Kids Race, and the race expo. For now, I’ll focus my attention to the actual race day.
Three Key Points for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
If you only take away three things from this post about the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, make sure they are:
Smile every step of the way and buy the Disney PhotoPass for your vacation.
Throw away your time goals.
Have someone at the finish or along the route to cheer you on so that you’ve got another reason to smile.
Getting to the Starting Corrals of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
On Sunday, May 14, 2017, at 4:10 AM, my alarm clock woke me from the sofa bed in my hotel suite. My toddler was fast asleep in her crib in the bedroom, as was my husband. To not wake them, I slept on the sofa bed in the living room. By the light of my cell phone, I got dressed, opened my mother’s day gift (a Mickey Mouse backpack!), and exited the room. As I walked the dark streets, other runners were exiting hotels and joining in on the pilgrimage to the start line.
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon final instructions brochure indicated that I should plan to be in my corral one hour before race start, which meant 4:30 AM, but I felt that was too early. The corrals and starting areas were very clearly marked, but getting to my corral involved a lot more walking than I had anticipated in order to get to the security check points. Even without line-ups at security, it still took 35 to 40 minutes to get from hotel to corral, which would have been a 12-minute walk most days.
I wasn’t cold waiting in my corral, but I’d have been more comfortable had I worn a long sleeve top. I typically wear a top on race day that I throw off at the start and a charity group picks them up, but I didn’t see any of that at this race.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon Pre-Show and Race Start
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon pre-show was energetic and achieved its purpose of getting thousands of runners pumped up about the miles ahead. I was actually feeling nervous and dreadful standing in my corral. All of my training was complete, but in the days leading up to the race my knee had started to ache and I hadn’t been eating as healthy as I normally do. I tried to stay positive by repeating the mantra, “no expectation, no limitations.”
For the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I was in corral B and we started about 1 or 2 minutes after corral A. When Tinker Bell fluttered across the big screen above the start line and we broke into a run, I realized that it was going to be hard to pace myself as I was instantly overwhelmed with excitement and adrenaline.
Entering Disneyland at Start of Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race
Entering the back lot of Disneyland at about 1 mile was very emotional. I’d dreamed of running through the park and it was finally going to happen. When we turned left in the back lot, I could see that our entrance into Toontown was only a few strides away. It was finally happening – I was running through Disneyland! I’d been in Disneyland twice in the days before but we hadn’t visited ToonTown so it had been almost 20 years since I’d seen it.
First Encounter with a Disney PhotoPass Photographer
Exiting Toontown I saw my first Disney PhotoPass Photographer of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race and I was sure to smile my widest smile to them. Just outside of Toontown was the first character stop. I’m not up to date on all of my fairies even though the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is all about Tinker Bell and her squad. Since I did not actually know who these fairies were I decided to keep going.
In the first miles, I was still wrestling with how I was going to run the race. Only two weeks prior, I had run a half marathon and had been just over two hours so I knew I could break that today. I ultimately decided to embrace the magic of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race and not worry about my time. I was going so smile, wave, and get lots of pictures. To anyone thinking about running a fast race you ought to reconsider.
Fantasyland in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon course hugged right at Storybook Canal entrance and continued into Fantasyland. The attractions were running and I could see Dumbo in flight. Time for a selfie! Then I ran between King Arthur’s Carousel and Pinocchio and followed the path to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I was warned that while there were photographers capturing us running through the Castle, you could not actually stop running for them to take your picture. To try to guarantee myself an awesome Tinker Bell Half Marathon race souvenir, I slowed down and ran through the Castle with the biggest smile. I felt like a kid again, and as for the souvenir pic, I have 13 from that moment to choose from (two different angles included below)!
I went to the right of the roundabout and I saw a Cast Member holding a picture frame cut-out. Nobody was stopping so I jumped over and got a picture of myself in this memorable spot.
First Stop for my Character Photo in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
Next I was on Main Street and I almost ran right past Chip and Dale! My first characters of the race! The line was short, maybe one minute. Each character spot had multiple Cast Members that paired with people at the front of the line so they could take your phone and snap pictures while the Photopass photographers also snapped your pics.
The Disney firetrucks were even on display and as we passed by City Hall, we could see Peter Pan and Wendy waving at us. I had a mental checklist of who I should be on the lookout for during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon since it was themed for Tinker Bell. I was too scatter-brained to notice during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race that all of the non-Tinker Bell related characters were actually dressed with pirate accessories.
Running through Disney California Adventure
As the Tinker Bell Half Marathon exited Disneyland and dashed across to Disney California Adventure, I was actually able to connect to wifi so I sent my husband a text letting him know that my knee pain had vanished! As a Canadian, without wifi my phone is as good as a paperweight in the USA. Knowing my body wasn’t breaking down was a positive sign for the rest of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race.
Running between park entrances resembled a finish line area, as there were dozens of people lining the way, screaming and cheering with every step I took. I entered Disney California Adventure through an unofficial entrance, which was beside Soarin’ Around the World. There were pirates lining the way up towards Grizzly River Run shouting their best “Yarrr!” at us. I enjoy running on trails around Vancouver, BC, so it was nice to run through all the trees in Grizzly Peak – it felt like we were really in nature.
Take Me to Paradise… Pier
Soon I was running past the entrance to The Little Mermaid, which happens to be one of my favourite attractions because I can sing all of the songs. Combining memories and nostalgia makes running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race seem not as daunting. I was constantly smiling and trying to soak in the whole experience.
With my two year old along on this trip I didn’t have the opportunity to stay for World of Color (bedtime was much earlier than start time), but fear not, as we entered Paradise Pier, the fountains of World of Color were dancing for all to see. There was not an official photographer here so I stopped for a selfie instead.
As I ran down towards California Screamin’ I was starting to realize that in-between selfie stops, I was running at a pace that would be difficult to maintain. It was also difficult to talk myself into slowing down when I was overflowing with excitement [see picture below as evidence].
The Lost Boys Need a Mom
King Triton’s Carousel was nearby and I wanted to get a picture of it for my daughter. The closer I got I realized that it was the Lost Boys from Neverland riding it round and round. One of the Lost Boys asked me if I’d be his mother and since it was Mother’s Day I told him yes.
This got loud cheers from all of the Lost Boys and as I ran away [bad new mom] they were shouting for me to read them a story. What a hoot! Having the attractions all operating and characters peppered around kept me looking forward to each mile. Pluto was posing for pictures before I exited Paradise Pier and entered a back lot.
The Remaining Lands of Disney California Adventure
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon course ran through another back lot and then it popped us to the start of Cars Land by Radiator Springs. More smiles for photo ops!
I was pleased to stop in for a photo with Mater and McQueen – probably the only characters in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon not offended by my sweaty odour.
After a quick run through “a bug’s land”, we were into Hollywood. Running down the main drag here I almost missed a photo with Captain Hook. My Munchkin ran into Captain Hook a few days earlier and he scared the beejeezes out of her – later I learned any character would have that same effect. If my Munchkin saw me posing cordially with her arch nemesis it could upset her even more, which is why I struck a “mean momma” pose.
The Last Park Hop of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
I crossed between the parks again and entered Disneyland for the last time – it is a blur to me where we were in Disneyland at this point, but I know I hit the 5km marker in a back lot near Tomorrowland. We ran from the depths of Tomorrowland towards the Castle and then veered away from the Castle and towards the Matterhorn. I assumed this is where Tinker Bell would be since it was right by Pixie Hollow and after all, it was the Tinker Bell Half Marathon! The line to meet Tinker Bell was the longest, but still only about four minutes for me (corral B).
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Streets of Anaheim (9k to 18.5k)
After meeting Tinker Bell the course curved into more of the back lot and it never returns to the accessible areas of Disneyland after that point. In a sense, you are off to never, neverland… on the streets of Anaheim. While you are in the restricted areas, you catch a glimpse of Cast Members moving about as they start their day.
For me, I knew nothing about Anaheim and at this point of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I realized I had 14 more kilometres to run and for the first time my body was starting to not match my all-smiles appearance. This was my dilemma part of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon – I wanted to walk because I felt out of steam, but that meant it would take me longer to get to the finish line and get to brunch! I did not find Anaheim to be the most exciting place to run, but there were porta-potties, bands, and spectators along the way to keep me going.
The Finish of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon (2.5km)
The last kilometres of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon dragged, but it was nice to be in a restricted area of Disneyland – it felt like I was an insider. This was the only part of the course that I had been on before and as I looped around the Disneyland Hotel I finally felt like I’d really accomplished something huge: running a half marathon after three days of walking and eating my way through Disneyland! As the Tinker Bell Half Marathon course entered the home stretch, I could see my husband and my Munchkin. With 100 metres to go, I kissed my loves and finished strong to the finish!
Thank you for reading my Tinker Bell Half Marathon race report. I started strong, smiled a lot, and then reflected on the joy of the first part of the race to get me to the finish line. I would most certainly run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon again. I’ll gladly answer your questions in the comments below.