It’s 4:15am and I am freaking out because I’m technically running late. There’s only one thing in the world I could be late for at this hour: the Tinker Bell 10K at Disneyland Resort, of course.
Disney Style’s pals at runDisney invited us to take part in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend, where running fashion is just as important as the race itself. Instead of just covering the event, I decided to go ahead and run in one of the races to get the real runDisney experience, and so I could provide tons of tips and wisdom for those of you who might be curious about trying a runDisney event for yourself!
Real talk, I am no runner. I work out regularly, do ballet and yoga and other types of cardio, but we all know that running takes training. That said, with a little prep and an open mind, even I had a blast on this run and can’t wait to do another. If I can do it and love every minute, then you can too, especially with my expert tips and advice from my first Tink 10K…
…Cut to Saturday morning before the race, about an hour before start time, and I’m still in bed! Oops.
I knew that Tink-inspired fashion would be a big part of the race (check out Leslie Kay’s article on DisneyBounding for the run), so I was prepared with my bright green Nikes, fairy shoe wings on each foot, and arms full of gold temporary Tink tattoos. Luckily I had all of this laid out and ready to go so sleeping in didn’t keep me from getting to the Park on time. Pro Tip: be sure to get to bed before 10pm the night before you run. It was tough to hit the hay knowing that I could also just run to DCA and hop in the single rider’s line for Radiator Springs Racers, but I ended up getting the exact right amount of sleep for the big day!
When I arrived, I quickly realized that prepared I was NOT, in fact I was woefully under-dressed. Not only were there some amazing Peter Pan, Tink, and Disney Fairies DisneyBounders at every turn, almost every person in the sea of participants had cool sparkly skirts, Tink tutus, hats, fairy wings, Disney socks–there was no end to the creativity! My personal favorites were the folks dressed up as Smee, and the red beanies were actually perfect for the cold morning. I officially have to do the race again next year so that I can better represent Disney Style with my running outfit. My lack of fairy wings was shameful.
At this point, I went into full excitement mode waiting for the race to begin. It’s not every day that you are standing outside the happiest place on Earth before sunrise, surrounded by thousands of people with music booming and cameras flashing. I did some light stretching, jumped around to keep warm, and continued to brainstorm what I’d wear to the race next year.
FINALLY they shouted “go!” for my group and we passed under the starting line as bright lights flashed and the audience cheered. It was such a fun feeling of camaraderie as we all started to jog up Disneyland Drive at 5:30 am, and headed down the street into the Park.
The first hill was kind of a downer (joke!), but blasting my favorite songs got me through. Pro Tip: create an epic playlist. You shouldn’t play your music too loud as you won’t be able to hear race directions and announcements. That said, before going to bed on the eve of the race, I created a super fast and fun playlist on my phone to keep me motivated throughout. It actually worked too well because at the first mile, I realized I had been running a scoche too fast and was probably going to wear myself out prematurely. The tunes just had me too amped.
One of the best parts of the event was that the course takes you backstage. Backstage! For non-cast members who don’t work at the Park, it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get to see a little bit behind the magic. While backstage, workers and cast members cheered us on and passed out much-needed water.
The course takes you into Disneyland where you run through the tunnels and onto Main Street U.S.A. Everyone knows that running in the Parks is totally forbidden, so this is the only time you’ll be encouraged to run, as fast as you can, all over Disneyland. The feeling is surreal, but also glorious. Pro Tip: be sure to stop at one of the photo ops throughout the race with the Disney Fairies and other characters, which double as the perfect excuse to stop and take a breather.
Whenever I’d get a little winded, it was easy to keep running, due entirely to how entertaining and fun the course was. That’s saying a lot considering running isn’t really my thing. Before I knew it, I’d already passed the mile 3 marker, and I didn’t feel like stopping anytime soon (shout out to coffee!).
Just like that, I had passed the 5 mile marker, and in all honesty I was pretty bummed that the race was almost over! Folks stopped and took pictures at the 6 mile sign, and I sped up for the last .2 miles of the race.
If you’ve never run in a race before, you should do it if only for the rush you feel as you come down the final stretch. Disney music played loudly as I ran as fast as I could past the crowd of family and friends cheering, into the waiting embrace of a Powerade and my Tink 10K medal.
Now that I’ve actually done a Run Disney event, I have tons of wisdom to impart.
1. EVERYONE SHOULD DO A RUN DISNEY RACE! They are so much fun, you forget that you’re running miles and miles. Unless you love running, in which case, this is really a win/win for you.
2. Go all-out on your race day ensemble: my one regret is that my style game was so weak. I was dressing for comfort, but comfort and Tink style are not mutually exclusive. Next year, I’m making a tutu.
3. Hydrate and train: You won’t have any fun if your body is screaming at you the whole time. To really get the most out of an event, make sure you’re prepared and well-rested. Safety first!
4. All it takes is faith and trust: since I’m not naturally great at running, I wasn’t sure if this race was going to be a slog, but I decided to go for it for the sake of experience, and now all I want to do is run around Disneyland with Tink wings on my shoes and a race number on my shirt.