Magical miles with runDisney | Katherine Smith

You know what I love about being a grown up? Adventuring. Coming up with crazy ideas and dreams and getting to chase them.

You know what I love about being a grown up? Adventuring. Coming up with crazy ideas and dreams and getting to chase them.

At the end of 2012 I decided to take up running. The goal: to run one 5K. Lets just say that has morphed a bit and grown since then. Somewhere along the way I realized runDisney existed. And, of course, being the Disneyland geek that I am, I started researching the races and before long had picked one out. After all — California, running, a chance to see some of my best friends, and Disney — that didn’t take any arm twisting.

Last summer I signed up for the Tinker Bell 10K and last weekend was finally the big day.

So come last Thursday night it was off to the land of sunshine and Mickey I went.

Friday morning I headed over to the expo at the Disneyland Hotel first thing to try to avoid the giant crowds I had heard about — runDisney race weekends include several races and an expo. There was definitely a large crowd there. The lines weren’t bad at all, but I also didn’t even attempt the NewBalance runDisney shoes booth. Cute shoes, but Disneyland was calling. I had a ball meandering through the booths and seeing all the different vendors. I particularly had fun picking out some new headbands and browsing through the race merchandise.

Also at the expo was bib and shirt pickup, both which had virtually no line, so I zipped right through that part.

Also, did I mention the sunshine and 80 plus degree weather? That’s the magic of being 1,000 miles closer to the equator.

Then it was on to a day of Disneylanding and an evening at California Adventure.

Radiator Springs Racers is one of my new favorite rides. I might have ridden it twice in a row via the single rider line. Thirty-ish minute wait? That’s just too good to pass up as it’s still ‘new’ and the wait often grows quite long. And I specifically waited until after the sun went down because Carsland at night is amazing with the lighting effects.

One of my absolute favorite things about Disneylanding solo is the chance to talk to other guests and meet people from around the country and the world.

Once, when I was in college and at Disneyland, I met a woman and her grandson who were on summer vacation from New Zealand. That was pretty cool. Sometimes I wonder if she went home and told their family about the American she met who was doing homework at Disneyland.

This trip I got to talk to a woman who was from the East Coast who was on her first trip to Disneyland. She was running the half marathon on Sunday morning. I also met a woman who teaches eighth-grade English at a school north of downtown LA. She was chaperoning the school band’s field trip to perform in the park. We talked about her favorite books to teach and her thoughts on Common Core. I also met a fellow 10K runner from near Pasadena who was also doing her first runDisney race.

The 10K was Saturday morning, 6 a.m. to be exact. People get really into the runDisney races and come in all kinds of costumes and outfits, from color coordinated to princess themed to full on character costumes. I saw someone at the starting line with a paper mache Kevin from “Up”. Other notable costumes I saw included Princess Leia in the white dress from “A New Hope” complete with the hairdo and toy blaster and Ralph from “Wreck it Ralph”. Oh, and lots of people wearing fairy wings, it was Tinker Bell after all.

We started on Disneyland Drive and ran through backstage and into Disneyland, then across the esplanade and through California Adventure before doing a quick loop through Anaheim and ending at the Paradise Pier Hotel.

There were lots of photo ops throughout the course and groups of cast members along the route cheering on all the runners, plus all the people who came to cheer on their friends.

One of my favorite signs I saw someone holding said, “The cold never bothered Elsa.” “Frozen” reference for the win.

One of the touches that I found neat was that my friends and family could sign up to get texts about where I was when I crossed the starting line, halfway point, and the finish line, so they could keep up even if they couldn’t be there in person.

As soon as I crossed the finish line the texts from my family started coming in because they already knew I had finished.

The race was over faster then I realized — all the sights made the miles fly by.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with my friends and soaking up the sunshine.

And, as a side note, Downtown Disney was a fascinating place to be Sunday night if you enjoy people watching. My friend and I were browsing through the shops and I was obsessively checking Twitter for updates on the Hawks game. When Malcolm Smith came up with that interception at the end I started jumping up and down and my friend, who is from the Bay and really has no interest in football, thought I’d gone crazy. Almost simultaneously the 49ers fans started streaming out of ESPN Zone. Mixed in the sea of red were some jubilant Hawks fans, and those of us who were sporting blue traded “Go Hawks!” cheers.

Overall it was a great weekend and I’m already planning my next Disney race. If you like running and you like Disney, it’s an experience I highly recommend. After all, as they say, with Disney, “every mile is magic.”