I’m going to warn you non-runner types up front: this week is going to be heavy on the race recaps.
Which if you are a runner type, you’ll be all YAY!!!
If you aren’t, well, apologies.
I’ve had this particular race recap on the calendar for, oh, let’s say weeks because that sounds less slackerly than the months that it has been.
As I’ve finished some other races and reflected on them, I realized that they all tie back into this one. To get to Marathon (o.m.geee yall… I completed a MARATHON!) and the Star Wars recaps (can we say redemption runs?), I need to go back to how I felt with the Avengers weekend.
So here we go. One of my favorite race weekends EVER had a big finish when we ran the half marathon on Sunday.
If you don’t have a running friend like Julia, you need to GET YOU ONE.
This girl is amazingly confident and fun, and I cannot wait to run the Princess 10K and Half in a few weeks with her. She’s thinking about Disneyland Half, Avengers, and even Marathon this year… so I’ve decided 2016 is the Year of Julia.
She’s seriously the best.
The morning started out with the usual early wake-up, get dressed and head to the corrals. Yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill. We started running and went through DCA first.
My costume this year was a nod to one of my favorite movies of 2015, Ant-Man.
If you don’t get it, watch the movie- which you should anyway, because it’s great!
I was struck by my lack of, well, I’ll be honest, whining with this race. I am a big pre-race negative Nancy with the whole “wahhhh… why do we have to run 13.1 miles today?” type of thoughts going on. This race? No whining. Or at least very little of it going on. HUZZAH!
Flashback to the races I ran in 2014-2015, and this one mental change showed massive growth. I think taking some time off and hitting reset paid off mentally, even if physically I wasn’t any faster. (foreshadow, foreshadow…more to come on that!)
If you’ll remember, Avengers in 2014 was pretty awful for me. I had gastro issues and stopped at every.porta.potty.I.could.find. It was a struggle to finish, and those crazy winds did not help!
For 2015, the weather, my attitude, my potty issues, and the company all added up to a fun race experience.
But all was not perfect in Asgard, er, Anaheim.
What remains an issue on this course: the course.
It’s just not fabulous.
Now, let’s be clear: it’s BETTER than 2014. runDisney listened to the complaints and altered things just a bit. But it still wasn’t enough, in my opinion, to make this a good race course.
The biggest issues are the same from 2014 and weren’t addressed this year.
(1) Only about 2 miles of this Disney race takes place on Disney property. Um, hello… that’s why we pay the big bucks! Show us the magical miles, yo!
(2) There were just four official characters on the course. The same four characters, in fact, for all three of the weekend’s races. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America.
Don’t get me wrong: I love these guys! But for anyone running #alltheraces, it’s not cool. Adding some Fab 5 characters in Avengers costumes would go a long way in making this race more entertaining. Or, you know, putting Falcon, Ant-Man, or anyone from Guardians of the Galaxy out on the course would help.
Really. How hard can that be? You are in LA, for goodness sake, and you are DISNEY. Finding, training, and costuming some suitable characters can’t be outside of your wheelhouse.
Oh, my word- what I would give to see a Groot on the course. Amiright?!
(3) And finally, there was WAY, WAY too much time on the dusty, dull, narrow Santa Ana trail. I think it was close to 2 miles of mostly walking and shuffling going on during this section. Even if you wanted to run (and we were trying to stick with our intervals) it wasn’t easy to find running room.
So there’s all the bad stuff about this course. Even with my complaints, I’ll reiterate that this was better than last year’s course. Hopefully, runDisney will continue to respond to criticisms and finally come up with the right plan for this race weekend.
What I fear is that they will stop running this race.
That would make me a very sad Shenanigans. This theme has a ton of potential; it just needs a little love. C’mon, Disney, love Marvel like we love Marvel! Make this one work, the nerds beg of you.
What did I love about the Avengers?
The support from Anaheim, natch! Tons of locals out cheering plus the cosplayers and WWII vets make this one a blast, despite the issues.
Julia gets the award for Best Moment on a Race Course.
She is from the LA area but now lives in Atlanta. As we passed by Winchell’s Donuts (just past Baskin Robbins), she lamented on how much she missed their sugary goodness.
With one look I could see how much a donut might mean to her, so I encouraged her to get one! Cause you know, I wasn’t in any hurry. Ha.
And the crowd (teen high school cheer group) when WILD when she exited the store. She was totally their hero that day.
Just a few miles ahead were the cosplayers, and just like in 2014, were amazing.
Since Julia has a little thing for Loki, this was HER moment.
New this year were the swing dancers that showed up with the WWII reenactors.
I saw a few runners stop and take a twirl on the dancefloor. LOVED that. Somehow I didn’t get the dancing on film- I’ll do better next year. It was a super fun group to stop and chat.
ETA: my pal Erika sent me this picture— it’s ahmazing! Thank you, girl!
Thanks for being there!
This group was even bigger than I remembered last year and a highlight of the race.
Soon after these sections of the race, Julia started hurting. She was running this with a recurring injury, and it flared up a bit.
I’m not sure how bad it was, but around mile 11 I noticed she had gotten quiet- which is not like her. There were even a few tears. Nooooo!
We talked a bit, and I discovered she was not doing well. I offered to do whatever it took to help her: speed up, slow down, change intervals, stop and rest, go away, hold her hand, sing kumbayah… whatever we needed to do, we’d do it!
She elected to keep moving at her pace, stopping a few times to stretch. We ended up staying in sight of each other since she would stop and do her thing when needed, and I was content just to keep moving at my slow and steady pace.
Hydrate! Perfect sign for this race. And yeah, when DOES this thing end? Loved the spectators on the course.
When we headed backstage just before mile 13, we were together again, and the pain seemed to have lessened a bit. We put smiles on our faces and ran toward that finish line.
I LOVE this picture of Julia.
You can see it on my face: I am in awe of her ability to show such joy when she runs.
You know I wasn’t a fan of the Infinity Gauntlet medal when it was released. But now?
I’m getting nerdier by the minute as I admit that it’s grown on me. I find my eye going to it on my medal rack, and I’m smiling BIG when I see it.
#NerdAlert for sure.
The takeaways from this race for me: slow and steady is a good thing. I found the intervals that worked and kept me from crashing mid-race. I didn’t feel defeated or tired or negative at any point and knew I could have put in a few more if I needed too. Slow ones, for sure, but my legs weren’t too shot and that was a cool feeling.
I made the mistake of admitting this to Tania.
Oh, that Tania.
She has a way of talking me into doing things that scare the bejeezus out of me. Again, if you don’t have a friend like that, GET YOU ONE. Because they will help you overcome the mountains you’ve built in your mind.
Like running a marathon.
Next up: the Walt Disney World Marathon race recap. Holy snizits, yall, I still can’t believe I started much less finished that one.
Did you run the Avengers Half Marathon this year? Did you think it was better than the 2014 race?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)