Thursday, November 19, 2015

Avengers Half-Marathon 2015 Recap

Yes, I will say I am an expert of the 24 hour trip. Ever since I've started running, it is not uncommon for me (and several of my friends) to take a quick drive or plane trip to do a race then come back within a 24 hour window. It can be a little hard but in my opinion, worth it. While it would be more ideal to spend more time on a "racecation" with work, school and life it just isn't realistic. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun! Plus, it can be more doable on a budget than a longer trip. The adventure started early Saturday morning!

I highly recommend flying into the John Wayne/ Orange County Airport as opposed to LAX if you are traveling to Disneyland. John Wayne is much smaller and less crowded plus it is only 15-20 minutes away from Anaheim. LAX can take good hour (sometimes close to two hours in rush hour) to arrive in Disneyland. We soon arrived at Paradise Pier Hotel for the one night stay. Paradise Pier is the more "budget friendly" option of the three onsite hotels. It is super convenient and perfect for race weekends!

Making a quick stop over at the expo to pick up my bib and do a little browsing. Yes, I have an Infinity Gauntlet Challenge bib but decided not to do the challenge this year. I almost always do the challenges if the option is offered but my knee has been giving me trouble so as hard it was to make the decision (I love the extra bling!) so I opted out of the 10k and "only" did the half. Packet pick-up was smooth and effective, the expo had tons of vendors and if you love the Avengers you would have been in Heaven!

We spent the rest of the day exploring California Adventure and Disneyland. My absolute favorite thing was the Haunted Mansion which had been turned into The Nightmare Before Christmas, it is amazing! They sadly don't offer this option at the Florida theme park so it's a real treat to experience the fun at Disneyland!

One thing that is hard is ALL THE SNACKS at the park! I want to try everything but know you have to limit your consumption. While you do have a race coming up, don't just eat tons of empty calories and junk food. It does not make for a fun race experience. However, you can still enjoy some treats at the park, it's only natural to do so! Pace yourself and add balance to your pre-race meals. Also, hydrate! Especially if you are out at the parks all day, you will need the hydration and energy!

After a long, fun-filled day at the parks, it was time for bed and an early wake-up call would soon follow. Staying at one of the onsite or nearby hotels is such a timesaver and you can't beat the convenience. The start line is literally right down the street! Anticipation and excitement always fill the runDisney corrals and start area, it's always fun to see all the costumes, characters and the spectacle of the pre-race.

Soon the race clock was counting down and then Corral B was off! This course is interesting since there are only two miles or so in the actual parks while the rest of the course takes place in the streets of Anaheim as well as a run inside Angels Stadium.

Seeing the Christmas decorations and Cars Land lit up was so magical! It's the moments like this that make me keep running in Disney. The scenery and on course entertainment are always there to entertain runners. I also love that I get to see my favorite West Coast running buddy! My friend Laurie and several other serious hard-core runners were running the Avengers Half then flying or driving to Vegas for the half or full marathon that night! It's always fun to have running friends and even though we only get to see each other at races throughout the year, it's like no time has passed since we last saw each other.

There were lots of Avengers character stops, my advice for those who want pics: run to the parks then take your time once you are inside, once you leave the park that is it for official park characters so make the best of your time in there. Don't let lines scare you, they have always gone very fast for me and the cast members do an excellent job to keep the line moving!


I wish now I had waited to get the Thor picture but he was a Chris Hemsworth look-a-like! Here is a albeit blurry idea of how the character stops look and work. Sorry I was running while taking several of these pictures!

Once you get out of the parks, this particular course does contain the shortest times in the park, it looks very similar to this for much of the race. Disney does do their best and has high school bands, dancers, and for this race, non-official characters! What that means is there was a long row of Marvel and other types of superheroes and while they are not officially part of Disneyland (think people dressed up that you see along Hollywood Blvd) some of them had legit costumes and the look down to a T!

Soon we were running into Angels Stadium and almost done with the race. This comes at like mile 9 or 10 of the race so it was a welcome change of scenery! Making your way around the stadium and hearing all the cheers provided a much needed boost.

Exiting the stadium, runners were welcomed to a scene that looked straight out of Captain America circa WWII. I loved seeing the dance floor! All of it just looked so classic and glamorous at the same time. Even though we weren't in the parks through most of the race, the magic was still there!

Also, special shout-out to the AMAZING volunteers and spectators! They always have the most creative signs, snacks and whenever a runner needs that extra spark with a cheer or clap so THANK YOU! Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish! I was pretty bummed I didn't get to take the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge Medal (the Captain America 10k looked pretty awesome too) but my knee felt great during the race and I was able to stop for plenty of pictures and characters. All in all I would call it a success!

As always runDisney always delivers a fun and well-organized race! If you want more information on the Avengers Half-Marathon Weekend find out more here! Or if you want to find your own race experience perfect for you, check out the official runDisney site for races in Walt Disney World, Disneyland and the Disneyland Paris resort. These events sell out fast so be sure to register early!

Happy Running!


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