Mr.Abominable’s Disneyland Half Marathon Trip Report, 9/2-9/4/07
This trip is one of the rare times that we are staying off property at DLR. Our short flight from Vegas arrived at John Wayne Airport at a little after 10 AM. The quick cab ride brought us to the lava lamp decorated entrance of the Hotel Menage in about 15 minutes. All of the Disney Hotels were sold out on the this holiday marathon weekend so we decided to check out this “boutique hotel” that had been getting some press as a hip hangout in Anaheim. We entered the empty, techno music filled lobby and proceeded to the check in desk. Concrete floors and modern accents filled the lobby as well as the K’Ya restaurant that was located there. There were some light draperies that hung from the ceiling over some European style couches that implied a kind of South Beach Miami hotel look. The best news is that we were only paying 125.00 per night and our room was ready. We walked out of a backdoor of the lobby, past the empty but cute tiki bar and pool and then entered outdoor hallways that reminded me of my many childhood stays at Motel 6. Not that I am knocking Motel 6, in fact on my first trip ever to DLR we stayed in one on Katella, it is just that this place was suppose to be boutique and trendy. We went down a dimly lit hallway and then emerged to the freeway facing side of the hotel. We exited a gate that required a room key to enter to finally get to our room, guess they wanted to keep unwanted guests out of there lobby but did not care if they hung out by our room, lol. Our room did look pretty cool, stained concrete floors, a bed with a leather headboard and a suede comforter. The 42” plasma HDTV rocked and all of the lamps and furniture fit into the modern theme of the room. It was spacious except for the bathroom, well the toilet-shower room. It looked as if it had not been remodeled at all with its shallow tub, rough towels and old toilet. We proceeded to unpack our pin lanyards and head over to DLR to meet the other half of the Abominables(Jamie and Scott) who had arrived yesterday. Our next reminder that we were not on property was the fact that to get the park, we needed to take the Anaheim Trolley Shuttle which comes every 30 minutes. This of course had just left so we decided to walk over the 5, down Harbor to the park. The walk was not bad except for the fact that it was 105 degrees outside.
We met up with Jamie and Scott in the lobby of the Grand and headed over to the Disneyland Hotel Convention center to check out the running expo and register for the race. The expo was huge with lots of fitness vendors, guest clinics and of course a Disney merchandise area. We headed to the back to register, we received our number bib, goodie bag and a chip to tie to our shoe so that they could track us throughout the race. We also registered online so that Sunnie and Jamie could receive time updates of us throughout the race. Since I have not been much of a runner in the past, I needed some gear, so I bought a Disney race shirt and some shorts from the Asics booth. We received a short in our goodie bag but it was long sleeve. I also bought a limited edition Half Marathon pin but passed on the “I Finished” pin, just in case, lol.
We headed into DCA to spend a hot, relaxing afternoon with all of the Labor Day crowds. Lunch at Taste Pilots was good though I did pass on the burger in favor of a chicken sandwich, I was trying to make up for my lack of training by eating somewhat healthy! We rode all the E-Ticket rides in DCA, did an animation class in the backlot and then headed to Downtown Disney to meet Scott for dinner. There was a special runner’s pasta buffet at Naples but of course they were full and we rarely make priority seating. We headed over to Catal where the hostess said that there was an hour wait upstairs, turned out to be only about 15 minutes. Believe it or not, this was our first meal at Catal, it just never really appealed to us in the past. We did try once, but when we sat down, it was so hot and stuffy that we decided to leave. My dish of balerina pasta with shaved machego cheese was tasty, Scott’s paella was good too but the girl’s ziti with crunchy garlic was pretty bland, it was just way under seasoned. After the meal, Scott and I decided we had better head back to the Menage for some sleep since we were suppose to run 13 miles in about 9 hours. As we took our walk back over I 5, we were amazed at how close we were to the fireworks, there were even people photographing them from the Harbor bridge. Back at the tragically hip hotel there actually was some people hanging at the pool bar, enjoying the sounds of the lobby based DJ. This place was just weird, lol. I got my stuff together for the next day, all my running gear, bib and water and tried to get some sleep.
4 A.M. arrived with Scott knocking on my door, I then stumbled into the shower, which helped to warm up my stiff morning joints. I gathered up my bag of gear and headed out to meet Scott in the lobby. This was the first time that the Anaheim Trolley was actually convenient, there were several other runners waiting out front for the final marathon shuttle at 4:30AM. We were dropped off on the Harbor side of the esplanade so we had to cross over to starting area, which was in the Lilo lot next to the Disneyland Hotel. There were people everywhere, we even passed a jeans and Marathon polo clad Ed Grier, he was up early and actually seemed to be involved in making sure that everything was going ok. We walked into the enclosed lot which was filled with people, booths and a stage with characters getting everyone hyped up. There were runners of all shapes and sizes, many dressed in Disney hats and several in full costumes such as Tink, Buzz and lots of Princesses. We grabbed some bottled water and decided to head towards our corral. The corrals are setup so that the best runners are allowed to go first so that they are not crowded by us sluggish amateurs. They started with A and finished with H. Scott and I were in E, which seemed to be the biggest corral, stretching all the way from the stoplight by the Lilo lot and up the hill to the Guest parking structure. It was already hot, amazing for 5am, we just sat down in the street with everyone else and tried to limber up before embarking on a journey the likes that I had never been on before! Influenced by the lines at the popular Porta-potties, I decided to visit the unpleasantly scented, plastic saunas before it was time to start. Soon thereafter, there were a few announcements up at the starting line that signaled that the beginning was near.
The fireworks launched from the starting line and from up on the parking structure, it was very exciting. We noticed the other corrals heading out and soon the time was ours. It was awkward running in the crowds, Scott was weaving in and out and leaving me behind. We passed through the start gate about 20 minutes behind Corral A but our official time was being started by the chips on our shoes passing past the sensors. On our left, Mickey was cheering us on and above was a monorail full of cast members were encouraging us to give it our best. I tried to keep Scott in my sites as we passed the Paradise Pier Hotel. It turns out that Jamie and Sunnie had woken up and were on the curb to send us off, we caught them by surprise so there was no time for a pic. We turned left on Katella headed toward a left turn on Harbor, the field was finally spreading out a bit. The next turn led us into the entrance of the resort and the first water and powerade station of mile two. As we dodged empty cups and puddles of water he entered DCA under an Emile manned Arc de Triomphe from Rataouille. He slapped me a high five as we passed the Mission tortilla factory and winded around the Paradise Pier area of DCA. Next character on the list was Stitch, who was stationed by Pizza Oom Mow Mow, some runners were getting autographs on there race shirts. We exited DCA and crossed the Esplanade into the Magic Kingdom where where we headed backstage near the Mad Hatter shop on Main Street. This path took us behind the scenes of Tomorrowland, the were lots of cast members cheering us on as we past offices with time clocks and a plain white door with the Pizza Port logo on it. We exited this area into Tomorrowland between Pizza Port and Innoventions. Buzz Lightyear was up on the old Astro Orbiter tower as headed toward the subs, I have to say that it was tempting to get in line for the subs since this was the first time I had ever seen an empty queue. The waterfalls were flowing down the Matterhorn, which is not always the case when the park is open. We passed the spinning teacups and merry go round as we exited Fantasyland through the castle gates. Next leg was a quick jaunt through Frontierland where the highlights were Captain Jack Sparrow firing cannon shots from the Columbia and a CM making sure that no runners hit the corner of the frozen lemonade cart while making the turn past Pirates and into Adventureland. As we exited into the hub I noticed that there was no Dole Whip station for the hot runners, what kind of production was this? Lol. Main Street was also full of CMs who were encouraging us as we ran over the rubber pad covered trolley tracks on our way out of the Magic Kingdom. At his point I could still see Scott’s white hat but I started to fade a bit as we headed up the side of the resort towards Ball. Crossing the Ball bridge over the 5 into the direct sunlight was when it really started to get hot and I had to take a breather. This was the beginning of the boring part of the race which was only highlighted by different groups of cheerleaders, policemen and hula dancers that were there to encourage us along the way. The only real excitement during this part was the mile markers, water stations and the nursery worker who instead of watering the plants, was shooting his hose into the street to cool us off. It was a long stretch before we arrived at the Honda Center where we were greeted by more cheerleaders including the ones from the Stanley Cup Champ Anaheim Ducks. Next was a stretch on a dirt path along the Santa Ana “River”. I was a little disappointed since the river was not much more than an algae and dirt filled ditch. Along this path there started to be people laying down on the side getting medical attention and a husband on a bike showed up to encourage his wife who was running near me. We exited the dirt into the parking lot of Angel Stadium, which was especially busy with tons of rowdy Boy Scouts slapping us high fives and yelling our names. Before heading into the stadium we received a Cliff Bar fruit flavored gel which is packed with electrolytes and caffeine, it affectionately called goo by most of the runners. One of the most exciting of the run was entering Angel Stadium in the right field corner, seeing ourselves on the Jumbotron and hearing our hometowns announced over the PA system before we passed the dugouts and exited in the left corner. This was the 10 mile point and where I realized that I could actually finish the race and do it in less than three hours. My legs began cramping pretty bad at this point but I had the three hour deadline as extra motivation to keep pushing as much as I could. The next two miles lead us under the freeway and down Katella and consisted of me taking periodic walking stints to fight off my leg cramps, catch my breath and attempt to wipe the extensive amount of sweat from my face. I always manage to run through the areas that were filled with spectators out there encouraging us to the end. It was encouraging the spot the Tower of Terror which is where we entered DCA once again, this time past more CMs as headed out of the backlot, across Sunshine Plaza and exited by the airplane at near the Grand Californian. There were tons of spectators and people who had finished the race lined up in Downtown Disney, I really tried to run through this area just in case Jamie and Sunnie were there waiting to photograph me in all of my pathetic glory. The 13 mile mark was next to the ESPN Zone and this made me think that .1 of a mile cannot be that far away, I pushed as hard as I could around the corner where I could hear the cheers and see the Finish Line.
Mickey was still there as I crossed the finish line, I spotted Sunnie who motioned for me to come to the fence to take a picture. This is the point where my legs felt like they may stop working as I shuffled over for my finishing line picture. I hobbled around the corner where I received my precious medal, had my time sensor cut off, I had finished in 2 hours and 53 minutes! and headed for the water and a snack station filled with oranges, bananas and Dole fruit cups. I have to say that that was the best orange I had ever tasted! I decided that a silver mylar blanket was the last thing I wanted to wrap around my melting body so I headed back to the R-Z tent to collect my stuff from this morning. Scott was there waiting for me with a congratulatory hug and we headed out into the center of the crowded Lilo lot to find our wives. They were both extremely excited that we had finished and took more pictures as I sat down on the hot asphalt. Everyone said that I should not sit but I literally felt like I was going to pass out! I have to say that finishing this 13 miles gave me one of the most accomplished feelings I had ever had, I could not believe that I had made it.
We hobbled back to the Menage, we actually waited for the trolley this time…and it took forever, lol! I took a little nap and then showered, took some Ibuprofin, hooked my finishers medal to my pin lanyard and headed back to Disneyland. We decided to have lunch at Tortilla Joes but when we walked in, it was literally 110 degrees in there. We had a beer while Scott checked to see if the AC was working in the House of Blues, it was so we headed over there and had a tasty lunch with mediocre service. My buttermilk fired chicken was good but the service was just lame. After lunch, Jamie and Scott had to head to the Airport and we headed to Disneyland for a little while. We finished up our day a little earlier than normal with a sandwich at La Brea, which was good and then headed back to the Hotel where slept in till about noon the next day, boy was I tired! After that we packed up our stuff, we could not wait to leave the Menage! We called for a cab and had them take us over to the Grand. We checked our bags there because we did not want to have to head back to the Menage after our day at DLR. Our day was pretty low key, highlighted by the fact that it was a little cooler and we waited about an hour for Nemo and then rode in the Handicap version. I have to day that this was well done for those who cant climb down into the subs. Even the lockers were a nice touch as far as the theme goes. Our time was about up so we headed to the Grand, grab our bags and took a 15 minute cab for our plane ride back to reality! Oh god, how I love to be at Disneyland!
PS. The Tokyo DL report is nearly done, it is going to be so long! lol I think I kind of like this trip report writing thing! J