Run at Disneyland—it’s for the Children!

As most of my lovely readers know by now, this blogging adventure began all thanks to the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon and the endeavor spurred the creation of my first blog. The blog bug bit hard and I haven’t stopped writing since. You might say that this whole blogging thing reignited my love of writing in general, which has led to my pursuit of writing children’s literature, which will lead to the many books I am one day bound to publish. (Bound to publish! That’s pretty good). I guess you could say, therefore, the Disneyland Half Marathon is responsible for all of my dreams coming true. The race—it’s that good.

It’s that time of year, we are registered for the 2016 half marathon and getting ready to plan out our training schedule. This year’s costumes involve a mandatory 20 lb trim down, so the stakes are high! More on that later.

If you are considering registering for the half marathon or Dumbo Double Dare (miraculously they are not yet sold out), you might consider putting your registration money to a worthy cause instead of in the pocket of runDisney. If you would like to run the 5k or 10k, they ARE in fact sold out, but you can still sign up another way!

Several charity groups participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. I was recently contacted by the Children’s Bureau to help promote their team, and as soon as I read about their mission it took me about two seconds to say yes. Children’s Bureau helps children lead happy, healthy, productive lives through a combination of prevention, treatment, research and advocacy. Children’s Bureau is committed to providing vulnerable children—especially in the early years—the foundation necessary to become caring and productive adults by:

  • Preventing child abuse and neglect both at home and in the community;
  • Protecting, nurturing and treating abused children;
  • Enhancing the potential of families and communities to meet the needs of their children by bringing them together to create safe and secure environments;
  • Advancing the welfare of children and families through superior programs in foster care, adoptions, child development, parent education, mental health, research and advocacy.

There is a small fundraising obligation, but trust me, as someone who has raised money through running events several times, it’s easier than you might imagine. Especially if this is one of your first forays into running—your friends and family will be eager to support you knowing that you are running not only for yourself, but for a worthy cause.


It will make your training easier. A 10 mile training run can be hard. A 10 mile training run in honor of a child in need is exponentially easier. Also, a big full generous heart pumps more blood to your tired muscles. True story.

To join Team all4kids just click on over to the Children’s Bureau website. Like I said, the 5k and 10k are both sold out through runDisney so an opportunity like this may be your only chance to participate in one of these incredible race events. Just look how the Disneyland Half Marathon changed my life. It can change yours, with the added bonus of changing the lives of children in need.

I know the fundraising component can feel daunting. If you sign up with this team be sure to comment and let me know so I can help promote your fundraising efforts. I will even make a donation to the first three readers to join the Children’s Bureau team! Run for change. Run for the kids.

Happy running!






Rapunzel and Flynn Rider Run a Half Marathon (VIDEO!)

Hi friends!

My husband aka personal videographer extraordinaire just finished our recap video for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon. Scroll down to the bottom if you just want to watch the video and don’t want to read my rambling.

To sum up, I think this may have been the best race yet. Here are 8 things that I absolutely loved about this year’s Disneyland Half.

  1. The weather! After last year’s humid nightmare I was praying for relief this time around. The uncharacteristic humidity we experienced in the weeks leading up to the race had me so nervous. Mother Nature pulled through. The morning was pleasantly overcast (which is a runner’s dream), not too hot, not too cold, and just a teeeensy bit of humidity to make sweating actually feel good.
  2. Roomy corrals. I don’t know this for certain, but I feel that they must have added more corrals this year and designated less people in each. The past couple of years our corral has been so overcrowded (probably largely due to earlier corral starters moving back to run with friends which is allowed but makes the back corrals overstuffed), that we actually got bumped into a later corral. No runner likes that. You want to start as close to the A, B, C world as possible. This year we had plenty of room and no bumpage.
  3. Plenty of water. Last year was the first time ever that the course ran out of water at some stops. I blame the insane heat and humidity but it left me woefully unprepared and dehydrated. Super bummer.This year runDisney obviously stocked up. No lack of water on the course for me.
  4. Our costumes! My favorite ever. I simply love Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider is definitely the swooniest Disney dude since Prince Eric. Perfect for a pair of running newlyweds. Plus, thanks to Rapunzel, I developed a new item for Whimsy Do. Flower braid-in extensions.
  5. New race shirts. FINALLY runDisney created gender specific (in cut only, not style) race shirts for the Disneyland Half. The new shirt fit like a dream, and the color is super cute. Love it.
  6. Our first race as a married couple. Enough said 🙂
  7. This marked my 10th half marathon. How did that happen!
  8. Fancy dinner. The day after the race Brad and I spent our requisite day of celebration in the parks. Since this year marks something special, I thought it was finally time we checked out Carthay Circle. So elegant. So delicious.


magic recovery drink aka chocolate milkshake from Denny's

magic recovery drink aka chocolate milkshake from Denny’s


In the park

Loved Rapunzel so much I did a little Disneybounding in the park the next day. I wore my flower braid-ins...

Loved Rapunzel so much I did a little Disneybounding in the park the next day. I wore my flower braid-ins…

... and brought Pascal along for the ride.

… and brought Pascal along for the ride.


Pretty darn excited to get this button at City Hall

Pretty darn excited to get this button at City Hall

And then of course there were a few downsides.

  1. No cheerleaders. This was the first year ever that my Mom and Dennis weren’t able to make it down for the race. They are always there to cheer us on, and they usually run one of the events themselves, but due to scheduling it just didn’t happen this year. We really missed them but they cheered from afar.
  2. No Disneyland dream pool. For three of the years we’ve run this event we splurged on stays at Disneyland resort hotels. We’ve now stayed at all three, once each. My favorite hotel is the Grand Californian for its rustic beauty, but the Disneyland Hotel Pool has everyone beat. It’s an absolute dream. Huge, festive, and has a truly thrilling waterslide. Not to mention the proximity to Trader Sam’s and all the tiki drinks you could ever want. It’s the best and I missed it. This year Brad and I stayed off property. Pool was sub-par, and no tiki drinks. Though we did have an amazing two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen.
  3. Foot pain. I’ve been running for a while in Newtons. While I love them for anything up to 6 miles, I learned through this race that any mileage over 6 my feet can’t seem to take. Around mile 7 I developed serious shooting pain in my left metatarsal. I was actually concerned I may have a fracture. Of course I ran through it, like ya do, and the pain ebbed for a while. At mile 11 it hit me again to the point I actually had to walk. That definitely threw off my flow for the last three miles. I had been on track for a PR before that happened :(. There’s always something to keep that elusive PR just out of reach. I guess it was an educational moment. I now know that I’m going to need a bit more shoe for the marathon. Did someone say more shoes? Ok if I must.

Those are the only negative points I can think of and they weren’t super biggies. Everything was pretty much just incredibly fun, celebratory, and relaxing as usual. Once again I’m left looking forward to Disneyland Half Marathon 2015. But first, we have to get through the WDW Marathon. *Gulp*

What you’ve been waiting for: VIDEO!

Every Second Counts

I’ve been meaning to write this painful post since November. The holidays, life. It takes up time. Here I am sitting down to write this and trying to figure out exactly how to convey the heartache that perhaps only a runner can understand. A crazy, obsessive, competitive (with self) long-distance runner. After meditating on the right choice of words, I think perhaps the answer is none. I think the numbers speak for themselves. But first some brief back story.

I’ve been chasing a new PR (Personal Record) for a while. Between a busy life detracting from my running schedule, extreme humidity, and getting a stupid nasty cold a week before a race, a new personal best has eluded me. I felt so great during the Big Sur Half Marathon that I ran last November that I thought maybe the time had come. Allow me to share my standing PR, which I earned in 2012:

2012 Disneyland Half Marathon

FINISH – 02:39:55

proud with our medals

and now allow me to share my most recent race results…

2013 Big Sur Half Marathon

FINISH – 02:39:56

Running Sweets

One. Second.


And that’s all I have to say about that.

Couple a Dumbos! Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Video)

My fiance made such a great recap video of this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon festivities, I feel that I don’t need to say much in a recap post. I’ll just post the video for now and follow up later with a narrative recap for anyone who is interested. I do actually have a couple of criticisms of this year’s event (gasp!) but mostly they involve the weather. My beef is with Mother Nature. Girl, what was with that humidity!? All in all runDisney put on another wonderful weekend celebrating running, accomplishing your goals, health, and of course Disney!

I think this is the best video of the event Brad has ever put together. Good job honey! Enjoy!

sweating in the summer heat wearing a silly costume

You thought I was talking about Burning Man didn’t you? Nope. Not quite.

The Burning Man Festival took place just a couple of weeks ago.  I first heard of Burning Man 6 years ago. I was doing a summer Shakespeare festival in Los Angeles and a fellow actor in the play was talking about how he was saving his money to go to Burning Man. What is Burning Man? I asked. His response set the tone. He just kept going on and on about how he couldn’t describe it. About how it was something he couldn’t put into words. This of course intrigued me even more. I managed to extrapolate only a few details from him; it was in the desert, it involved trade instead of cash, it was a little temporary city, sometimes there were drugs involved. Really not much to go off of, but the seeds of mystery were planted. I’ll admit, from his sparse and mysterious description it sure sounded a lot like a drug-addled cult of hippies hiding out in the desert for a week. His enthusiasm and reverence in talking about the festival gave me pause however, and I withheld my judgement and allowed myself to be intrigued. Burning Man. Huh.

In the past 6 years since that summer social media has changed our world. Now I don’t have to ask my friend’s what some rising event in pop culture is, I just have to log-on to Facebook. Over the past few years it’s come into clearer view. Burning Man. In the desert, yes. Looks like camping is involved. Fun. Lots of people in silly costumes. Dig it. Late night dancing, communal feasting, riding of bicycles, and art. This all looked more and more intriguing to me but there was still a piece missing. I still didn’t “get it.” I mean I saw the details. I saw the whats, but I guess what I still didn’t understand were the whys. How is this different from any other art festival. How is it different from camping with a bunch of friends? I put the question out to the Facebook universe. What is this Burning Man, in seven words or less. Responses: celebration of art, adult camping, epic communing experience, music, dirt, sweat, high hippie hipsters. Ok. All of those things I had pretty much pieced together, but there was one response that really started to get the message across. What is Burning Man? Freedom.


That I get. That one little word started to gel all of the details together and make me realize why Burning Man was different from a week of camping with your buddies, playing music, and smoking pot. Freedom. Now that is something we all need.

I was curious enough at this point to consider that I might want to attend myself one day. See what all the fuss is about. I looked up the details and immediately realized that was never going to happen. I would never attend Burning Man. The festival is always the week prior to and weekend including Labor Day. There is another event that is the same weekend every year. The Disneyland Half Marathon. This realization bummed me out for about 10 seconds, and then I got over it. Not because I’m not curious. I genuinely am. But because The Disneyland Half Marathon is my Burning Man.

I can hear all of the loyal Burning Man enthusiasts scoffing at their computer screens. Disneyland? Really? In fact some of you are probably offended at the suggestion. I’m sure there are those out there offended that I would compare a giant commercial endeavor, the behemoth of capitalism itself, to Burning Man. That’s fine. To me, one of the parallel threads of the two events is non-judgement, so maybe keep reading before you write off the notion. After all, there’s two sides to every coin. The commercial capitalists are right now accusing you of being lefty hippie narcissists with nothing better to do than dance in the desert without your clothes on. But of course, you know that’s not a fair assessment. That doesn’t even scratch the surface. So let’s not judge.

I could go to Disneyland pretty much anytime and I can run pretty much anytime, so the technicalities of Half Marathon weekend are not what keep me from choosing it over a week in Black Rock City. What keeps me there are the same things that keep y’all in the desert. Freedom. I started to think about why I would never give up Half Marathon weekend and I started to draw so many parallels between what the weekend in the Land gives me and what Burning Man loyals purport to get from the Playa (you like how I’m using all the terms, even though I’ve never been there? I kinda feel like a tool, but it sounds weird to say Burning Man over and over so I gotta whip out some synonyms). Allow me to draw some for you, parallels that is.


The concept that makes it all worthwhile. We really need this. The world is hard and demands a lot of us. There are so many rules. Get a job, eat sensibly, get a good night’s sleep, wear clothes, shave your legs, do your hair, act like an “adult.” I’m just going to go ahead and quote Walt Disney. “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.” Being an adult sometimes feels like a terrible idea, and the only way we’re going to survive it is to get some days off once in a while. So here’s what Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend does for me that I think Burning Man must do for many others:

Freedom to be silly

BM 1

Freedom to Challenge Yourself… or Not

From what I understand, about 68,000 people attend Burning Man each year, and there are 68,000 different experiences had. Same is true for Half Marathon weekend. Running is an incredibly independent sport. It’s so independent in fact that I think the reason we do these huge races is to remind us that we’re not the only crazy people in the world who run 13 miles for fun. But the challenges are your own. You’re racing against your own ability and it’s up to you what kind of race you’re going to have. Are you going to push yourself beyond what you’ve ever experienced? Are you going to challenge yourself in new ways to see what you’re made of? Or maybe you’re going to hang back? Maybe this is a race you just want to finish, comfortably. Maybe you’re here more for the fun and solidarity than the personal challenge. Maybe you’re running to work through some shit (we’ve all been there), or maybe you’re running in honor or memory of someone. From what I understand, festival go-ers have this same choice at Burning Man. It can be as weird, fun, spiritual, challenging, crazy, low-key as you want it to be. Some years I run the Half Marathon with hopes for a PR. Others I run just to see the sights, take some pictures with Mickey, and have fun. I appreciate the choice, and that the weekend allows me to have whatever experience I want. Again, freedom. It’s pretty awesome.

Freedom to wear silly costumes

BM 2

Freedom to Relax

Nothing like true R&R!


Freedom from Judgement

I care what people think of me waaaay too much. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. I have INCREDIBLE anxiety about how I’m perceived. I constantly worry that I’m offending people, letting people down, making a fool of myself, behaving awkwardly, etc. I NEED a weekend completely free from that. I NEED a weekend where I can run through Anaheim dressed up as Donald Duck and not give two-shits what anyone thinks about it. I NEED a weekend where I can run my 12-minute mile and know that no one is judging me for being slow, but on the contrary, CONGRATULATING me. I need a weekend where I can celebrate myself and not apologize for my inclination toward themed entertainment, my slow running pace, my love of wearing costumes, and my love of the Mouse. No one at Dland Half weekend judges me for these things because they are there with me. They have their needs, their reasons they run. No questions asked. We’re all acting like big dorks together. All 20,000 of us. Burning Man too, oui?


This is a big one. We don’t have enough of it. We live in a global, digital world where our modern sense of community involves:


I’m not going to spiral off into an analysis of what Facebook is doing to the thread of our society. I just want to say that I think it’s important we still have events where we come together in person, under the same sky, we breathe the same air, we hear the same sounds, and we look each other in the eyes. I believe we are kinder to each other when we can look each other in the eyes. Every year at Half Marathon weekend 5:30 am rolls around on that Sunday morning and Brad and I find our way to our corral. Every year we’re awestruck by the sight of 15,000 people all joining together with a common goal. Every year I get a little misty-eyed when the national anthem is sung and the fireworks go off. Every year I love chatting with the runners around me as we wait to start the race. Is this their first year? It is! They’re nervous. We encourage them. They’re going to do great. Others tell us about all of the races they’ve run so far this year. That this one is their favorite. We pass the time together. We swap running stories. We admire each other’s costumes.

This year I dressed as Donald Duck. As we’re waiting in our corral I notice a few feet behind me a girl dressed as Daisy Duck. We lock eyes and grin from ear to ear. She clearly speaks zero English and I speak zero Japanese. We don’t say anything to each other but manage to decide through eye contact and body language to pose for a picture together. Donald and Daisy. We’re so excited to have found each other. You don’t really get moments like that anywhere else. Well, maybe at Burning Man 😉

BM 6

Community of Support

I’m not sure anything warms my heart more than the sight of the thousands of spectators at the race who have woken up at 6:00 am to come out just to cheer on complete strangers. Cheerleaders from local high schools, dance troupes, school bands, and just average Joe’s line the streets of Anaheim with songs and signs and snacks, WILLING us to succeed. Powerful stuff. From what I understand Burning Man survives on this kind of support. Cooking meals for each other and not for a paycheck. Sharing sunscreen because you’re neighbor ran out and you know what that kind of sunburn feels like. Passing along tips to first-timers. Supporting each other because we’re all in it together, and we expect nothing in return.

Last but certainly not least:


It’s easy to forget how much there is to celebrate in life! At Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend we get it all in. We celebrate 12 weeks of hard training paying off. We celebrate another year running together. We celebrate getting closer to Tahiti! We celebrate our first year running the race as an engaged couple (funny thing happens when you get engaged. Every milestone becomes, “this is our first time eating pasta as an engaged couple!” It’s adorable to us and probably sickening to everyone else. Oh well!) We celebrate setting a goal, working towards, and meeting it. More than anything, we celebrate for celebration’s sake. Because life is beautiful, humans have a lot of goodness in them, potential is magic, and it’s important to be joyful. I’ve heard that Burning Man is many things, one of which is a big frickin’ party. Sounds familiar. Dance and be joyful!

Sorry Black Rock City. You do sound awesome and I think you give a lot of goodness to a lot of people, but my “Home” is with the Mouse.

Why draw these parallels? I don’t know. It was interesting to me. Interesting that two events that could be considered polar opposites, in fact have so much in common. How many other opposing forces in our world might share the same traits if we looked a little deeper? Interesting to articulate that I wouldn’t skip out on Disneyland Half weekend for Burning Man not because I think it’s better, but because I think what Burning Man would give, I already got. I think more than anything I wanted to say that I hope you have this in your life. A place, or an event, where you can go every year and feel free. Feel inspired. Feel like a kid. Feel like an adult. Feel like whatever you want to feel like. Sad, depressed, challenged, relaxed, happy, spiritual, enlightened, skeptical, PROUD. Proud to be a runner, proud to be an artist, proud to be in love, proud to be human, proud to accomplish a goal, proud to be a nerd, WHATEVER. You need to find a place where you can feel, just, alive, with no expectations and no conditions. Because we are not our work, we are not our Facebook profile. We are cosmic beings thrown together from the stars on this big rock, trying to figure it all out. The only way we’re going to do that is with a little freedom.

BM 4

BM 5

BM 7

ONE last thing Burning Man and Disneyland Half Marathon have in common: Holy crap are they both expensive to sign up for. Someone asked me recently why I would pay so much money to run when I can get a bunch of friends together and run on the weekend for free. Probably the same reason all those Burners pay so much money for a week at the festival when they can just as easily get a bunch of friends together and go camping in the desert for free. Because getting some friends together and running/camping for free is not the same. Some things are just worth it. What makes it worth it? Well, everything I’ve tried to articulate in this article which may or may not have resonated with you. But maybe my friend from 6 years ago was right. Maybe despite my attempt to do so with this lengthy post, maybe you just can’t put the “why” into words. I can’t REALLY make you understand what it feels like to run 13 miles until you do it. Just like I can’t REALLY understand what it feels like to run 26.2 until I do it. Which is why I’m going to. In my search to understand Burning Man, I didn’t actually go, and I’ll probably never truly get it, not all of it. But I’m good. I have my little community of running Disney nerds who make me feel free for three days every first weekend in September. I’m good.

your half-marathon must haves, a checklist

The date is fast-approaching! There are about 15,000 runners out there who in just 12 days will be gearing up to run a half marathon!  I’m no pro, and I don’t have a degree in physical therapy or any professional experience with athletics, so I rarely feel like I can give proper advice about things like injuries or technique. I’m just a girl who’s been running for 15 years, some years more robustly than others, and the only advice I have to offer is what has worked for me. It may work for some, won’t work for others. Every runner is different! Today I offer such advice as you prep and pack for your trip to Disneyland! I’d like to share with you some of my must-have items for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. This checklist should apply to any half-marathon really. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out the Disney specific items 🙂 (e.g. you probably don’t need to bring your Mickey Mouse Ears to the ING NYC Marathon).

Let’s start from head to toe:

1.  Hats! I never know when sunglasses are going to give me a headache, so it’s best to have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. My runDisney hats are my favorite of course:

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

You’ll want a hat that’s lightweight and has some mesh along the sides that breathe.  Case in point, don’t just go running a half marathon in a regular old baseball hat. After a while you’ll start to feel like you’ve got a winter cap on your head! Visors are a great option because they don’t trap the heat (heat escapes from the top of your head so hats can be tricky on a really hot day). Visors aren’t so much my style but I could learn to embrace them. Maybe they’ll have some at the Health & Fitness Expo!

2. Sweaty Bands. I loooove sweaty bands! I first discovered them at the Dland Half Health & Fitness Expo a couple of years ago and they’re kind of like magic. If you don’t need or want to wear a hat or visor but still want to keep your hair out of your face, you must invest in some Sweaty Bands. They are basically just headbands but the underside is made of this magic velvety material and they DO. NOT. SLIP. I wore one last year when I ran as Alice in Wonderland and the thing didn’t budge once. Nor did it squeeze my head or bother me in any way. Love these things!

proud with our medals

black sparkly Sweaty Band

sweaty-bands3. Hair Ties. This one is for the long-haired ladies and gents. The first year I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon I completely forgot to bring hair ties! You probably wouldn’t make the same glaring oversight but I wanted to mention it juuuuust in case. I was scrambling at 10 pm the night before the race trying to find some hair elastics!

4. Sunglasses. This one is particularly important for the Disneyland Half Marathon. The way the course is laid out, you exit the parks and run east into Anaheim RIGHT as the sun is coming up. The timing is worse depending on what corral you’re in and what time you actually start the race, but for MOST runners you’re going to get stuck right in the eye line of a rising sun. The first year I ran I had to borrow Brad’s sunglasses for this portion. My eyes are super sensitive and his aren’t so much, so he took pity on me. One year we ran the race it was really overcast for most of the morning (as it often is in SoCal) and it wasn’t as much of a problem, but you just never know so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to be sure and get athletic sunglasses specifically, and test them out on a run beforehand. A lot of glasses will bounce on your face or fog up when you run and trust me, both are very annoying. Find a pair that work with your stride. Sunglasses.



5. Sunscreen. Speaking of protection from those UV rays, don’t forget to lay on some sunscreen. You’ll be outside running for 3+ hours. Skin cancer is bad! Brad and I really like the Neutrogena sunscreen shown below. There is nothing worse than sweating sunscreen into your eyes during a run (ouch that burns!) and this one doesn’t seem to do that. It works for us. Also, here’s a pro-tip for you: don’t be fooled by a high SPF number. Anything over 30, i.e. SPF 50, 75, 85, is negligible and is just a marketing ploy put in place by manufacturers to get you to buy their product and charge you more. True story. You’re good with SPF 30. Also make sure to get a broad spectrum sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is much more important than a high SPF.


6. Chapstick. I hate running with chapped lips! It makes me feel like I’m running through a desert and desperate for water. I’m usually fine if I put some on before the run. I don’t need to bring it in my fuel belt; but if you’re particularly prone to chapped lips, go ahead and bring a stick on the run.

7. Vaseline. Chafing is no joke people. This is an important one you don’t want to forget! Weak spots for ladies tend to be under the ta-tas right where your sports bra sits. Men, it’s more so on the nips. I personally also get chafing spots on my tricep area, which I’m sure means I need to work a little harder to get rid of those chicken cutlets I’ve got dangling (we can’t all be Michelle Obama!). A lot of people buy fancy athletic anti-chafing stuff like Body Glide, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve heard mixed reviews so I’ve never sprung the extra dough for it. There are a lot of options out there. This article from an ultra-runner gives a great breakdown of different products you can try. You have to see what works for you. Me, I use Vaseline. Works like a charm. I don’t love the idea of smothering petroleum all over my breast area but it’s better than chafing. A lot of people don’t like to use Vaseline because they say it stains their clothes. I guess it depends where you need to apply it. So far I haven’t noticed any staining on my sports bras or running shirts, so I’m going to stick with Vaseline. It’s cheap and easy to find.

8. Clothes! An obvious and very important item. You may be so excited to prep and pack your awesome running costume that you completely forget to pack the athletic clothing that goes with it. Also make sure you bring running clothes that you know don’t bother you. For example I have a couple of sports bras that are way more comfortable than others so I’m going to be sure that they are laundered and ready to be packed. Plan ahead. You’re going to want your most comfortable sports bras, undies, socks, etc. I also like to bring a spare of most things. You just never know! Don’t forget to also pack a swimsuit so you can luxuriate by the pool after your race!

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

The good news is that if you forget anything, there is a Target right down the street from Disneyland so you can pick up pretty much any clothing item you may need.

9. Fuel Belt. Everyone requires different amounts of water at different times on a long race, but I’m just going to tell you from my personal experience, I really don’t think you need to bring water on your fuel belt. RunDisney races are so well fueled. I’ve never ever been thirsty. Every time I feel like I really want a drink of water, there’s a water station right around the corner. Also, through the parks you will run past several water fountains. Water on my belt weighs me down and slows me down. I only wear it when I absolutely have to, like times that I know there won’t be a lot of water along my route. All that being said, I do still wear a belt, just minus the water, and I’d recommend you wear one too. It’s a must for holding various things you probably will need like an iPod, phone, earbuds, ID, gels, etc. The hard part is trying to find one that will match your running costume 😉

10. Phone/Camera. You will most likely want to snap at least a few pics along the course. Especially if it’s your first runDisney race! The parks look so lovely with all of the runners racing through, and they have so much entertainment along the course. Even the city of Anaheim provides a lot of great entertainment throughout the city. I just bring my phone which doubles as my music and camera. It’d be a bit much to have an iPod and a camera, though there are those who do it. Snapping pics with your phone will drain the battery faster, so there’s that.

11. Earbuds. You’ll be so sad to reach for your iPod to start your kick-ass running playlist only to discover you forgot your headphones. Wah wah waahhh. My absolute favorite brand is Yurbuds. I have been on a quest for YEARS to find earbuds that don’t fall out when I run. Never really found a winning pair, until now. I’ve been wearing my pink Yurbuds for a year and they have never ever fallen out while running. Not even once. They are awesome.


12. Compression socks/sleeves. I really love to wear compression socks on a long run. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I recover much quicker when I run long with compression socks. Pro Compression socks are nice. They’ll also have a good selection at the Health & Fitness Expo if you want to wait and buy some when you get there.


13. Shoes! It would be pretty silly to forget your running shoes on your trip to a race, but I’m sure it’s happened! And you know what, it’s totally something I would do. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I’m saying it here, don’t forget your shoes! And make sure you bring a pair that you’ve already broken in. You may be tempted to buy a brand new glistening pair of sneaks to commemorate your half marathon, but you do NOT want to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. Blisters! You’ve got to give yourself a few weeks to break in those puppies. Make sure to pack your race shoes, as well as whatever shoes you’re going to wear AFTER the race and in the parks. Your feet might be pretty swollen from running 13.1 miles so you might want to bring some comfortable walking sandals to wear on the following days. Give those ol’ dogs a chance to get back to their normal size 🙂

14. Running Fuel. You’ll get a Clif Shot, which is basically Gu, at mile 9, but if you’re like me and the mere sound of the word Gu makes your stomach turn, you’ll need to bring your own fuel. At Jeff Galloway’s suggestion, I use gummy bears! They work like a charm. Recently I tried a Honey Stinger Waffle on a 12 mile run and it was actually quite delicious and didn’t upset my stomach, so I recommend those as well. You can also try Clif Shot Blocks. They are nowhere near as gross as Gu, but they still provide replenishing electrolytes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two of these on a long run and they don’t bother my tummy too much.


15. First Aid. Hopefully you won’t really need any first aid from running your half marathon but you might get a blister or two and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be sore. Really smart to bring the essentials: band-aids, ibuprofen (or whatever pain reliever you prefer), antibacterial wipes. If you want to get more advanced, throw in an ACE bandage, some neosporin, an ice pack, or even some biofreeze. If you’re struggling with a running injury, I HIGHLY recommend you get some KT Tape for the run. It’s kind of like magic. They’ll have a booth at the Health & Fitness Expo and you can have one of their reps apply it for you. In short, it’s a very flexible synthetic tape that works optimally with your body movement. As you move, the tape lifts your skin away from your muscle allowing for more flexibility and circulation to the injured area, while also providing support without constricting movement. It kind of helps your body heal itself.  You remember Kerri Walsh in the Summer Olympics:


15. Park stuff. Are you going into the parks after your race?? I hope so! The best part is parading around in your awesome runDisney bling and/or race shirt so all of the cast members and guests can say congratulations to you! Also, Disneyland, duh. You didn’t travel all this way to run past Radiator Springs Racers but not RIDE it! So make sure to pack your park stuff. Comfy walking clothes, shoes, hats, and a backpack or fanny pack or comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging around all day. And of course, don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!

In review, here is your list:

  • Hat/Visor
  • Sweaty Bands or other headband to keep hair out of your face
  • Hair elastics (for the long-haired runners)
  • Running Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Vaseline or other anti-chafing gel
  • Running clothes: your most comfy
  • Swimsuit
  • Running belt
  • Phone and/or Camera and/or iPod
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Compression socks
  • Broken in running shoes
  • Extra socks, undies, sports bras
  • Walking sandals
  • Running fuel: Gu, sport beans, gummy bears, Clif Shot Bloks, etc.
  • First Aid: band-aids, pain relievers, antibacterial wipes
  • Park gear: backpack, Mickey Ears, comfy walking clothes, etc.

There you have it. Your basic checklist of things to pack for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Did I forget anything? Add on to the list by commenting below. Help other runners prepare for this awesome weekend!

You Never Forget Your First Time

The buzz and excitement continues for the upcoming Disneyland Half Marathon. I’ve been following all of the tweets and Facebook Group posts about it and at this point it’s pretty much all I can think about! Such is always the case a month or so before race weekend. I turn into a giddy little child counting down to Christmas. Today I can’t help but feel nostalgic. The reason I’m so giddy year after year (and so willing to fork over the dough for registration fees) is because my first year at the Disneyland Half Marathon was so special. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Just a short one. I promise. I know you all have runs to get in 😉

The year was 2010. I really can’t remember the month but let’s say it was March. This was back in the old days before runDisney. I know, hard to believe there was a time before runDisney, but it’s true! This was in the time when each park, the Land or the World, organized racing events on their own.  Sometime in the early part of the year (we decided on March, yes?) I came across a pamphlet in a coffee shop for the Disneyland Half Marathon. (This was also back in the days when the races didn’t sell out in 48 hours and you learned about local events from pamphlets in coffee shops). I really couldn’t believe my eyes. How did I not know about this? Running at Disneyland? That sounded like the coolest thing ever. Turned out it was 🙂

I had never run more than 9 miles but I figured, what’s 4 more? I can do it! I decided I wanted to raise money for a good cause while training and that’s exactly how I got into blogging. I launched The Happiest Runner on Earth to reach out to donors and share my training progress. The Disneyland Half Marathon is responsible for many things. It’s responsible for getting me back in shape, getting me running consistently again, and getting my writing out there. Although first-person narrative non-fiction isn’t my writing career target, it gets me writing, and it keeps me connected with all of the other thousands of running freaks and Disney nerds out there. Raise your hands people.

That first race was magical. Running through the parks early in the morning with Paradise Bay all lit up, the fog still sitting low on the ground, and the surprise of cheerful characters around every corner; it was a perfect run. The surprise of how many runners were in attendance (I would’ve never dreamed to see 14,000!), and the joyful gratitude I held for each and every volunteer there to either hand out water, or simply hold up a sign to cheer on strangers crazy enough to run 13.1 miles; it was a perfect run. The experience of running a RACE for the first time ever, getting a little bit competitive with that other girl with Tinker Bell wings who I haven’t managed to pass for the past 4 miles, hitting the wall at mile 11 and figuring out how to dig up true willpower to finish, crossing a finish line for the first time: it was a perfect run. I’ve written before about how you can never quite recapture the magic of the first time, and how there’s something inherently sad about that, but every year that I run this race I get a glimmer of the first year’s excitement; and no it’s not quite the same, but it’s worth it. And it’s worth it for all of the NEW memories we create every single year. Like falling down the rabbit hole at mile 9, or discovering the magic of gummy bears. Every race holds some new lesson buried within it. In running the race you dig up the lesson and you move on to the next exciting event wiser, faster, stronger. It’s a pleasant addiction. 

Your first day at school, first trip to Disneyland, first time seeing the Grand Canyon, first love, first kiss. Firsts are just plain awesome. You only get them once for a fleeting moment yet they leave a lifelong impact. You really never forget your first time. Thankfully my first half marathon was at Disneyland, and I’ll honor that joyful memory by running it every year until my legs (or my pocketbook) give out. 

Here are the videos of our first Disneyland Half Marathon to complete the stroll down memory lane. Ahh, memories 🙂