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Disneyland Half Marathon Training- How I Walk/Ran The Happiest Race On Earth

Updated on October 9, 2011
T-shirt from the run expo :)
T-shirt from the run expo :)

Some History

When I was in high school gym class, that day always rolled around that each kid in class hated (except for the super physically fit minority of us): running day. One day a week, we had to run the dreaded mile *cue Psycho theme song*.

We were all convinced that our crazed gym teacher had a vendetta out for all of us...anyway, moving on. After my freshman year in college, I decided that I needed a way to stay/get in shape. My dad threw me the invitation to run the Disneyland Half Marathon with him that coming September.

I figured that if i was EVER going to run a half marathon, it was going to be at Disneyland, so I accepted the invite! Now, remember...I am NOT a runner by any stretch of the imagination, so I knew that I would have to start training early...very early.


The entire race would be 13.1 miles, so I began at a pace Eeyore could be proud of, walking one mile a day on our treadmill. I figured out that if I could walk at a 4 mph pace, I could walk the entire race within the alloted amount of time. Runners have to run at at least a 16 minute per mile pace in order to finish on time.

Me and some of our other friends had nightmares of a giant people scooper coming up on us while we were running. Talk about motivation. However, I am vertically challenged, and can't keep a 4 mph pace for longer than a few strides, much to my dismay. So, I decided to run a mile, then walk a mile, and so on.

During the first part of my training, I started to look into the race a little bit more. Dad had run the race the year before, so I got a lot of information from him. Basically, racers run through Disneyland and California Adventures, and then around Anaheim and through Angels Stadium.

I was getting really excited by this point. He said that the Disney characters all come out for it and wave the racers on throughout the parks. While you run through the city, people come out to watch and wave you on too. When you get to Angels Stadium, you actually get to run the bases. Awesome right?

Oh yeah
Oh yeah

Still Training

I was able to step up my running a little bit more each week. I basically laid out a calendar, and counted back from the day of the race. Each week, I chose one day for my long run *cue up that psycho music one more time*.

One week before the race, I ran 10 miles on my long run day. That was the most I ran before the race. The week before that one, I ran 9 on my long run day. Each week I counted back like this. During the weeks, I would run shorter distances ranging from 2 miles a day up to 7 (when I got past 5 miles for my long run).

I remember being so excited the day I ran 10 miles. I took a picture of the mile counter on our treadmill, and I sent text messages out like crazy. My friends mostly thought I was insane, but they were still super supportive.

Ready to go
Ready to go

Day of the Race

My family and other friends we were running with all met down at Disneyland a few days before the race to put in a little park time before the race.

One of our friends and I decided that we needed a little extra momentum when we ran, so we bought some Tinker Bell wings for the race. These suckers lit up too. Go big or go home, right? We looked pretty sweet, let me tell ya.

The day of the race, we all woke up at around 4:00 am to scarf down some energy bars and peanut butter with crackers. We strapped on the wings, took loads of pictures with our group, and headed out.

The Starting Line
The Starting Line

And They're Off!

Runners are grouped in corrals A-G. The sprinters and fitness masters of the universe are in Corral A...and we were in Corral G. I'm sure you get the picture. They release each corral in order, so the faster runners don't trample the walkers (ahem... Corral G).

When it came our turn to start, I could just feel the buzz in the air, we were all ready to start. I could see the people up at the front of the group begin to start moving, and pretty soon, we were taking our first steps. It was a pretty slow walk, then a faster walk, then it opened up, and we could start running.

It was amazing! If you want to feel like a celebrity for a day, sign up for this race!

Disney characters inside the monorail waving us on
Disney characters inside the monorail waving us on

The Run

The whole thing was kind of a blur. I remember running through the parks, and anaheim, and Angels Stadium.

They had to double the amount of water stations that day, because it was so hot.They told us after the race that the heat was within 2 degrees of having to cancel the race because it was so hot that day. Luckily, nothing like that happened. And I'm sure we all appreciated the extra water stations!

The finish line was at the end of Downtown Disney. That last 0.1 mile was a killer! The little song from Dumbo kept going through my head " I think I can, I think I can..." Finally, I passes the finish line! Best feeling in the world.

The whole gang
The whole gang

1/2 Marathon Take 2!

Now, 2 years later, I am signed up for another Disneyland Half Marathon! I began training about 2 weeks ago, and am up to about 3 mile runs a few days a week. And by run, I mean I run one mile, walk the next, and run the last. Its a good system that worked for me last time.

My mom is running with us this year, and so we all make ourselves go to the gym about every other day to run. The race is September 6. Wish us all luck! I do not think I'll be needing the light up Tinker Bell wings this time around, however, me and mom are thinking little tiaras this time.

2 Weeks Away!!!

My 2nd half marathon is looming ahead, and I'm getting more and more excited as the days pass. My mom developed a bad case of shin splints, and is giving it her all to try to still run the race. As for dad and I, we ran 10 miles yesterday morning at 7:00 am! Let me tell you, my legs are still very unhappy with me.

But, we survived the 10 miles, and were finished in 2 hours and 25 minutes. This is very good news because that time is under the minimum requirement of a 16 minute mile. So, despite my gimping around the house all day yesterday, and most likely most of today, I am excited!

I'll do one more long run before the half marathon on Sept. 6. I'm thinking 8 miles should do the trick. But, I want the day of the race to be as comfortable as possible, so I'll be running at least 5 miles three times a week till then. Disneyland here I come!


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    • Tall Clovers profile image

      Tall Clovers 5 years ago from Southern California

      I am completely in love with Disney races (and the finisher medals)! Great post!!

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 6 years ago

      Hilt - thanks for the feedback! I'll take a look at your site.

    • profile image

      Hiit 6 years ago

      Great post , thank you for publishing it.

      I like your site

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 7 years ago

      Jaynie- running a race with your family and friends brings the excitement to a whole new level, give the Disney races a try next time you want to run!

    • Jaynie2000 profile image

      Jaynie2000 7 years ago

      Great story! I love these kind of stories because I've got one of my own. I race in Madison, WI, which is known for its hilly courses. Ran my first 1/2 in 2008, my first 26.2 in 2009 and another 1/2 this year. Now I'm coaching Girls on the Run! Like you, I couldn't run down the block to save my life three years ago...and now...there's no stopping me.

      Thanks so much for sharing your fun story. I'll have to try Disney sometime. I love it down there and that race has always been intriguing for me. My oldest daughter could run it with me and my husband and youngest could cheer us on!

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 8 years ago

      Kevin1877uk- thanks for the encouragement! This last half marathon went so much better than my first. It was an all around better day to run too. I've been slacking off recently though...I gotta keep up the running even if im not training for another half marathon!

    • kevin1877uk profile image

      kevin1877uk 8 years ago

      well done on running your first few half marathons, hope that there are many more, i sure the more running you do the better you'll be come, and by coming better your times will become lower and you'll be faster at doing your miles, take it steady have fun and i wish you all the best in the future half marathons that you might have planned.


    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 8 years ago

      Ooo a fellow racer! You are going to love it. I haven't been in any other race, but I don't know if a better one is out there! The website gives requirements of a 16 minute mph pace in 3.5 hours at most. I find that I can't run for more than 2 miles without having to stop, so thats when I came up with the walk/run plan.

      This time around, I have even broken my pace down further to walking half a mile and then running half a mile. I don't get as out of breath, and I can recover more quickly to pick up a faster pace when I begin running again. But my walk isn't a slow walk by any means, its at about a 3.6 mph pace. During the last half marathon, I found myself going MUCH faster than I had trained at :D I think is all the adrenalin and people and excitement of it all.

      Just make sure you do your 10 miles about a week(ish) before the race to give you time to recover. It is so much fun, I hope you have a good time! See you in Disneyland!

    • profile image

      Thania 8 years ago

      Thanks so much for writing this its exactly what i needed. I'm doing the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sept. 6 too!!! Its my first race ever. Its my attempt to get in shape. Im going to walk it with some short I'm absolutely terrified that Im not going to finish b/c either im too tired or don't meet the 16 min pace. I did the same thing...taking a pic of the mile counter when i did 8 miles. Im shooting to do 10 mile long day before the race. Any advice on the pace? I have estimated i can do 13 miles in 4 hours. I think im going to do some sort of walk/run strategy.