The Happiest Run on Earth: Part I

After neglecting this blog for a while again, (I know, I'm the worst) I'm excited to share my happiest run on Earth! Alice and I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon last weekend and it was seriously one of the best experiences of my life.

To recap our experience, I want to make sure we talk about everything - from the registration to the training to the packing to my one big mistake to the race itself. So let's start at the beginning:


So registration opened in February of this year. runDisney races sell out like crazy so be sure to plan accordingly for registration day. I had a doctor's appointment that morning and had to rush home to make sure I didn't miss the time. Alice was luckily able to be at home that morning.

When you get to the runDisney site to register, you get placed in a virtual wait room. And once you get past that, you have a certain amount of time to complete your registration or you have to start all over. Yikes.

A photo posted by Risa Xu (@risaxu) on

Luckily, Alice and I were both able to complete our registration in a timely manner and successfully.

Also bear in mind that you have to submit a valid race time by a certain date (ours was in June) or you get placed in the last corral. Someone we met while we were waiting to start the half said that she forgot to submit her time last year. She ended up getting placed in the last corral and said the experience was quite unpleasant. So be sure you submit your times!


Prepping, Packing & Getting there

I'm currently marathon training for the NYC marathon this year (remember to keep donating to my fundraiser!) so with NYRR's awesome virtual trainer, I was able to schedule in this race into my training. There wasn't much more prep on my end past that - Alice and I had also run our first half marathon together this past April so we knew roughly how we'd fuel ourselves throughout the course.

The packing was pretty easy and this was probably the lightest I've ever traveled to go back to the West coast. Alice brought just a backpack which fit all her race gear, as well as clothes for the day before. I was able to bring a carry-on and it fit everything I needed for the trip. (I was also lucky in that my fiancé was coming with us and I could use his carry-on for any extra storage.)

Being that I rarely go home to Las Vegas, my dad wanted to spend some much needed quality time so he offered to drive Nicholas and I if we flew through Las Vegas. Labor Day Weekend tickets into Vegas are definitely not cheap but the trip itself was worth it. Alice flew from Boston into Long Beach Airport (which is TINY) but was closest to Anaheim. Her cab ride did cost about $70 though. And the third leg of our tripod, who didn't run but was there for moral support and the day in the park, flew from Las Vegas into LGB as well. There is a shuttle that is available from LGB to Anaheim hotels but you do have to book in advance.


The Day Before

Alice and I pretty much got there, had a day to spare and went our separate ways back to reality. Many people run the Dumbo Double Dare (10K on Saturday and 13.1 miles on Sunday) so our packet pick up actually wasn't too crazy. The location of the pickup was a little confusing for us, but that was probably attributed to the fact that we didn't know the layout of the Disneyland Hotel. The t-shirt pick up area is also within the expo and not where you pick up your bib and we were definitely not leaving without our shirts.

Risa Xu disneyland 2015 half pickup

We didn't spend much time at the expo at all (really wish I stopped and bought some of the limited edition KT tape) since we had four people waiting on us and I had made a reservation at Carnation Café for breakfast. I think next time, I'd definitely love to take a look at the New Balance booth and all the limited edition stuff different brands make for Disney. There's always next time right?

Now the big mistake that Alice and I made... We did the park the day before 13.1. We didn't have much of a choice considering we were all heading back to our respective homes Sunday. I'll explain more of why I actually regretted this decision multiple times during the course of 13.1 miles later on.

That's not to say we didn't have an awesome time. Alice, Kate and I have been to Disneyland together a total of four times now and we plan to keep going. Since we live so far from one another now, it's great that we can still get together and enjoy each other's company, just like we used to.

The park was surprisingly less crowded than I anticipated considering how many people ran the races and I imagine they brought their families. (Not complaining about it.)

A photo posted by Risa Xu (@risaxu) on

What really made this trip special is that I had my dad and my fiancé with me. The last time my dad took a trip to Disneyland was almost 20 years ago. I was tiny and cried at everything, including Star Tours. (Ugh, I know. Embarrassing right?) So it was great to finally be able to go on rides with him and show him I'm not a giant cry baby anymore (sort of.)

It was also the 60th Anniversary Diamond celebration for Disneyland. My first real trip to Disneyland was during the 50th Anniversary with my orchestra in middle school.

risa xu disneyland 60th castle

I have to admit, this was my favorite Disney trip so far. I got to spend quality time with my dad and my (not so) baby cousin, my best friends were able to reunite and I was finally able to share one of my favorite places on earth with Nicholas. We're already planning our next trip to a Disney resort – I guess you can say I've officially converted him :)

I hate to split this into two posts but I don't want to overwhelm you with giant blocks of text. So... stay tuned. I promise I'll have part II, the actual run, up next week!