Sure, I completed a half marathon last weekend, so maybe I should have taken a week or two off from racing. But, I had wanted to do this race last year, but wasn’t able to, so I decided to go for it this year. I talked my friend Stef into doing it with me.
It was in the upper 30s when we got to the zoo — not the coldest I’ve run in, but not my first choice. Apparently it was in the teens last year, so we couldn’t complain too much. We tried to stay warm while waiting for the start.
Here’s Stef crossing the start:
I hung back a bit more, because I wanted to stay out of the way of the faster runners. The first part of the route went through Druid Park – near a lake, and the looping back to the zoo’s entrance.
Andrew caught me near the zoo entrance:
Shortly after I hit the half-way mark, Stef was nearing the finish. (She used to race competitively…she tried to tell me how “slow” she would be in the race. She finished 7th in her age group, and pulled off 8:20 minute miles. Yeah…so slow!)
In Mile 3, the course plunged down a hill. I had fun running down the whole hill — my 30-30 intervals be damned! I knew I’d have to come back up it, walking, so I wanted to enjoy the downhill. I slogged up the hill, through part of the zoo, and into another uphill. But I knew the end was close.
I stopped to hug the penguin on the way to the finish.
Afterwards, we stuck around the zoo to say high to some of the animals.
Disney pulled me back in — I thought I was done with running half marathons, but then Disney goes and puts on an Avengers-themed race. (And a Star Wars-themed race, which I will also be doing in January.)
I started getting into the theme right away at the expo. Here I am with my new boyfriend:
I stayed on East-Coast time, so getting up at 3:30 AM wasn’t TOO bad. I had flat Barb ready to go.
So I got up and ready in a flash.
The hotel was fairly close to Disneyland (just across the street), so I walked over the start, dropped off my bag, and a that point the runners were being called to the corrals. There were lots of runners in costume all over. I loved this Tony Stark, playboy, though I can’t imaging running in a tux!
Corral H, the last corral for those of us slow-pokes, was HUGE. It had more people in it than the first three combined (give or take). I made my way close to the front of the corral and seeing the rest of the people stream in over the next 30 minutes gave me hope that I’d have the extra time I needed to finish the race. I started chatting with a couple of other ladies – one of whom had followed me as I was threading my way through the people in the corral to get as close to the front as I could. It was their first half marathon, so I chatted about my experiences at my previous halfs, and I think it helped them feel a little better. If nothing else, it helped pass the time until we were able to move up to the start.
One thing I did this time that I forgot to do at Dumbo, was I enjoyed the course. I took the time to take in the sights and all of the other people in awesome costumes. Sure, I got into my own groove, focused on my intervals, and tried to keep up my pace, but I also remembered to look around. In particular, I remembered to look for the photographers, so I have a slew of decent race photos this time. (Though, I accidentally ordered them on CD, rather than as downloads, so I have to wait a couple weeks to get them.)
I didn’t stop much through the parks, but I had to grab a picture of the Haunted Mansion, all dressed up for the holidays.
The parks took just the first 3 or so miles of the race. Once we got out of the park, it was much less crowded, making for easier running. But, around mile 5, the wind picked up. When I checked the weather later, we had been having gusts of 20-25 mph (!). Starting around Mile 5, many of the mile markers were down – we could see the clocks, but the rest of the signs were down.
I kept up my running through the 6 mile mark, managing a negative 10k split. But then, the wind overtook me. Either that, or I had gone out too fast — my training maybe didn’t prepare me to keep up the pace I had initially set. I’m not sure which.
The other problem was that the course then turned onto the Santa Ana River Trail — a big dirt trail. Combined with the wind, it was hard to run. We were treated to the this street art, though:
Around Mile 7-8, Disney had invited a cosplay club to cheer us on. I didn’t count how many were there, but it seemed like a lot. My favorite was Star Lord, who, sadly, I didn’t get a picture of.
Soon thereafter, we got to Angels Stadium. I remembered to enjoy this experience, which I’m not sure I did last time. Taking in the stands, and they had a marching band going on the field as we ran through.
I was excited when I passed Mile 10, because they tend to relax the sweep a bit at that point. Though, that was also when I noticed the pace bikes more and more, so I didn’t get too complacent. I was walking full time, but didn’t let myself slack.
The wind had not let up at all. There was a f–king tumbleweed rolling down the street. A TUMBLEWEED.
I walked in the rest of the race, crossed the finish and got my medal. I managed not to cry after crossing the finish – that’s a first for me.
The family reunion area was closed due to the wind, and I suspect they had taken down the backdrops for finisher photos (though maybe they didn’t have them to begin with??).
Turns out, I had a PR…by 8 seconds. Heh. Not much to write home about, but given the change in my training, I’m actually happy. This time around, I trained at a slower pace than my previous races. I think this strategy helped me avoid injury during training, but didn’t do anything for my confidence. I’m going to change up my training plan a bit for Star Wars, but I’m jumping into the middle of the plan, so I don’t want to do anything too radical.
It’s been turning cold here in the DC-metro area, and I did NOT want to get out of bed this morning to run. But, my t-shirt and medal had already arrived, so guilt won out over warm blankets and cuddly cats.
I haven’t been running for several weeks, because my ankle started giving me problems a couple weeks after Dumbo. I’ve gotten out on my bike a few times, but didn’t want to aggravate my ankle. However, it’s been feeling better, so I decided to go out using the run-walk strategy from C25k week 1. Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would make it for the full 3.1, given I hadn’t run in a while, but I made every single run interval. Yay!
Not my fastest 5k, but not my slowest, either. Overall I’m happy with my 49:47 time.
When I got home, I changed into my t-shirt, and donned my medal for a couple pics.
A few months ago, my crazy aunt posted this to Facebook:
It sounded nice and easy, especially since I knew at the time that I would have finished Dumbo a few weeks earlier, and should have some time to get back on the bike. The big unknown was the swimming, since I haven’t really swum in…oh…a few decades. I’ve played around in the water, but swimming to actually get somewhere? Not so much. Though, since we were going to just hop in the river and let the current take us, I figured it would be a fun post-Dumbo goal.
I made up t-shirts and bibs for us, and for our road crew (my husband and my uncle, who would both be accompanying us on the bike portion of our tri).
The big hitch in our plan was that the river and air temperatures were too low for us to swim in the river. My aunt lives out in the sticks, so our only alternative was the closest YMCA a half hour away.
Since it was unseasonably chilly, we didn’t hurry out in the morning. Plus, the YMCA didn’t open until 1PM, so we wanted to time it so that we would finish the bike and run, hop in the car, and arrive at the Y just after they opened.
We took off at about 10:30 AM on our bikes with our road crew. My uncle, Jim, took the lead so he could take a few pictures along the way. My husband, Andrew, played the role of the sweep, making sure that nothing went wrong.
I was probably the most worried about the bike ride, because our route was primarily on gravel roads. I have hybrid tires on my bike, so I can handle gravel; however, as a kid, I had a pretty good spill on sand, and ever since, I’ve been a bit skittish about biking on gravel or sand. I worried for no reason, though, because our ride went really well. We did 6.4 bumpy miles.
The finish line for biking was my aunt and uncle’s driveway. Amazingly, Maggie and I arrived at exactly the same time 🙂
Next, we were off for our walk. I had hoped to run part of this, but we were going on a trail and my ankle has been a bit iffy still, so Maggie and I both walked together.
The walk was 1.3 miles through the woods, and it took us way longer than it felt like. I was just glad I didn’t trip on the tree roots!
Next we hopped in the car off to the YMCA. Our legs started getting a little stiff on the way, which we had worried about, but nothing to do, but get there and knock out our 400 meters. No pictures were allowed during the swim portion (our rules, not the Y!). The pool was saltwater and heated, so definitely much better than the river on that account, but we didn’t have the current to help push us along. No matter, we did our 16 laps for 400 meters.
And then we had a little party at Maggie’s that evening…after a spin in the hot tub, that is.
I won’t lie. I was nervous about this race. My last training run hadn’t gone very well, and since I was in the last corral, the risk of being swept was very high. Add in that Anaheim was experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures and humidity, and I was really not confident.
Kirsten had arrived Saturday evening, so we went out to Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping. It was good for me to get my legs moving so they wouldn’t cramp up before the next day’s race.
Bed early again, with the alarm set for 3AM. If I wasn’t still on Eastern time, it would have been brutal; though I was eating meals at local appropriate times, so my body was a bit confused for the whole trip.
Up, and ready to go in the morning. And, we got to the start in good time.
Kirsten decided to slum it in Corral G with me so we could hang out a bit longer. She was in denial about running a half marathon, I was delirious and seriously worried about finishing. It was still relatively hot and humid, and today was 13.1 instead of just 6.2. Here we are hanging out in the corral…the smiles were probably not real.
While talking with some of the other folks in the corral, we heard rumor that once we reach mile 10, we were essentially safe. I wasn’t sure if that was true, but, honestly, thinking about it kept me going through a good part of the race. I didn’t have to worry about pushing for more than 10 miles…I felt like I could do that. If it wasn’t true…well, I just decided that if they swept me at mile 11, then they were just bastards.
When we got up to the start, we heard that Richard Simmons was in our Corral. Weird.
And then, before we knew it, we were off. The first few miles were through the two Disney parks, so they were fun.
Again, I was running miles for people. I had also planned out a playlist that had songs for each person on my list that should play during their mile. Mom, Thea, Lorna and Brooke got me through the parks.
My lifeline, AND the bane of my existence, were the sweepers and the pace bicycle. At Walt Disney World, I was not in the last corral, and I must not have gotten close to being swept, because I didn’t have reminders along the way of how far ahead (or behind) pace I was. For this race, though, there was always someone at the mile markers telling us how far ahead of pace we were. I think that spurred me on for the first half of the race. Around Mile 2 I was 6 minutes ahead of pace. Mile 4 I was 7 minutes ahead. Mile 5 I was 10 minutes ahead.
The bane of my existence – pace bikes!
By mile 5, though, the heat was getting to me. I was having trouble keeping up my run segments, and found myself walking more and more. Mile 5 was for my nephew, though, and I kept trying to run as much as I could. Mile 6 was for Karena, and I kept running, but not as much. Mile 7 was for Melissa, one of my best friends, who I’ve inspired to start running. When I heard Time Warp come on the iPod, I tried to get in a few more run segments, but I’d be lying if I said I succeeded in getting more than a couple in.
The whole race was a bit of a mind game. I kept listening to how far ahead of pace I was, and wondering at what point I could just walk the rest of the race. I kept calculating how much time I lose over minimum pace when I walk, and how many miles I would have before my lead over minimum would be erased. My goal was mile 10 – holding out hope that the 10-mile rumor was true.
Disney had arranged for there to be “stuff” happening in each mile. Once we exited the parks, there were marching bands, cheerleaders, and ethnic dance groups along the race route. Around mile 7.5, we started running through classic cars (!). I started to see Model A cars and other very early cars. Over the course of the next mile, the cars got more and more recent, until we went through 70s-era cars. How cool is that? (Before you answer, I own a Model A, so I’m not being sarcastic – I love the classics!) This is also the mile where we ran past the Honda Center (coincidence?).
And, by this point, I was walking full-time. The sun was high, the temperature was up, and my body just wanted to quit. I knew I could keep it walking, but if I pushed it to run, I couldn’t guarantee that I would cross the finish. I was far enough ahead of the sweep, that if the 10-mile rumor was true, I should be okay. I kept going, thinking about Jessica for mile 8 and Jaime for mile 9.
Next up on the trail was Angel’s Stadium, which came during Andrew’s mile. We actually got to run through the stadium, which was a lot of fun. There were scout troops and other people in the stands cheering us on as we went. So cool.
I finally crossed the 10-mile sign. Was I safe? I had passed a bunch of shuttle buses in the stadium’s parking lot, so I felt like I had made it. Others around me were talking, and they seemed to confirm the rumor, and also added the tidbit that we basically had an hour after the 10-mile mark to finish. I could do that. Mile 11 was Sweetie’s. Mile 12 was Kirsten’s, and I knew she was waiting at the finish for me. I was going to get there.
I tweeted this, so Kirsten would know I was close.
At this point we were also back on Disney property. It was the home stretch. I ventured a smile when I knew the finish was close.
I used the last of my energy to run the last bit to the finish.
You don’t see the tears here, but they weren’t far off.
I traded in my wristbands for my Coast-to-Coast and Dumbo medals.
After picking up my water, nutrition box, and my checked bag, I found Kirsten in the reunion area.
I cried. I’ll admit it. I didn’t care what my time was – I had completed the Dumbo Double Dare. And, I was very proud of myself. (Still am.)
Oh, and somehow, I PRed! Shaving about 6 minutes off my Walt Disney World time. I think it was trying to keep ahead of the sweepers!
I arrived in California on Thursday before the race – I don’t always have the best luck traveling, so I didn’t want to fret about getting to the Expo and picking up my packet on the same day I was traveling.
After checking in to my hotel, I decided to walk the half-mile to a nearby grocery store to pick up some supplies for the weekend. Have I mentioned that I’ve been struggling with blisters throughout my long runs? And that I thought I had finally conquered them during my last long run. Yeah, well, I was done-in by that 1-mile round-trip to the grocery store…new blisters! Ugh.
Oh well…nothing to do, but bandage them up and move on. But I felt pretty dumb.
Next morning was the Expo. Good thing I hadn’t planned on doing anything else on Friday, because there were LINES!
Once the Expo opened, it didn’t actually take too long to get my bib (and Kirsten’s bib, since she wouldn’t be able to pick hers up before the race on Sunday).
After that, I walked the floor of the expo, and found a couple places to spend some money (of course!). Last thing up was to pick up some of the official merchandise….oof. I picked out a couple of shirts and few Dumbo things, and went to find the end of the line. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I got to hear some of Jeff Galloway’s talk, and some chick from Biggest Loser (hate that show with a burning passion), and then Sean Astin. I also chatted with a woman in front of me, which was, frankly, more interesting than the talks. After about 2 hours in line, I finally got to the front of the line. We probably should have gotten finisher medals for the merchandise line…no lie.
I laid low for the rest of the evening – watching movies in my hotel room and grabbing an early dinner before heading off to bed early. The alarm was set for 3AM, so no reason to stay up late!
As usual, I slept like crap worrying about whether or not I would get up on time, about finishing the race, and about finding the start. I must have dozed off at some point, because I dreamt about getting to the race. In the dream, I was there on time, but had forgotten my shoes in the car (even though I wasn’t driving in real life). I went to get my shoes and then got distracted at the theme park while getting back to the start. Perhaps it’s just as well that I didn’t sleep much more.
The alarm went off at 3AM like it was supposed to. I looked at the weather first thing, and it was still 77* – at 3AM (!). Nothing to do but go out, so Jo and I got ready for the race.
I left the hotel around 4AM, and walked toward the start. I wasn’t completely sure where we should be going, so I found some other racers and followed them.
The 5k race was happening before the 10k, and I got there early enough to hear them call away the 5k runners. While waiting, a lady approached me to see if I knew where we needed to be. She and I got to chatting, and waited to be called to our corrals together. We were also in the same corral, so Rosemary and I stuck together as we walked over to the corrals. I will say that the corrals for the 10k were not as well organized as they were for the Walt Disney World half marathon. Rosemary ended up pulling me into a corral. When I started asking if it was ours, she said, “Just stand here and act like nothing’s going on.” Honestly, I was just as happy to be in an earlier corral, so I shut my mouth and waited for the start.
Finally our corral moved toward the start. It was still 77* out. But at least today was the short race, right?
And we were off. Since I was in an earlier corral, I felt free to stop a little on the way to grab a couple of pictures. We spent a bit more than a mile on the streets of Anaheim, and then moved into the Disney parks. We ran through Radiator Springs first, and I stopped for a picture with Red, the fire truck from Cars.
Along the way, I was running my miles for different people. Through the parks, most of the miles were for the kids in my life. My nieces got the mile that include Radiator Springs, which is appropriate since my middle niece was in love with Lightning McQueen for a long time. My youngest nephew, my best friend’s son, had the mile that took me into Disneyland. And Sweetie had the mile that took me through the Castle.
I did my run-walk for about the first half of the race, but it was hot and humid and I was feeling like I was giving everything I had to keep that up. Knowing that I had a second race to get through and that I had gotten into an earlier corral (so I didn’t have to worry too much about being swept), I walked most of the rest of the race. I didn’t want to use up everything.
I’ll say that I initially didn’t want to write this race report at all. But I feel like I should have *something* here about my very first half marathon.
The morning of the half marathon, Kirsten and I walked as far as we could together toward our corrals. We say this on the way:
Shortly after that, we had to part, since Kirsten was in a different corral. I found mine, and waited for the race to start.
And waited, and waited, and waited! Finally, we heard the countdown begin, and saw this:
Of course, being in Corral G, we had a long way to wait until we were able to go. After what seemed an eternity, our corral was next, and we could see the start line.
Disney has fun things along the course, and I tried taking a few pictures along the way, but I didn’t really want to stop for those pictures, so the ones before dawn didn’t really turn out. But shortly after Mile 3, we came to this:
Yup, we were entering the Magic Kingdom! Before long, I was running through Cinderella’s Castle. (See me up front at about 15 seconds in.)
I’m impressed that I was running for the whole video! After passing through the castle, I looked back and snapped this, my favorite picture of the day:
It was when we were exiting the Magic Kingdom that things started going downhill for me. The road getting us out the park were fairly narrow, and with the crowds, I just couldn’t keep running my intervals. So I ended up walking for a couple miles. Somewhere in there was the halfway point…and the just-over halfway point:
I also saw a couple of familiar faces on the side of the road — Maggie and Meredith from work. They were cheering on some other friends, too, and Meredith would be running the full marathon the next day.
Sometime around mile 8, the road widened out so I could run. However, my legs had cramped up, so it was really, really hard. In retrospect, I maybe should have worked through it a little, and they probably would have loosened up in time. But I just wasn’t feeling it. The sun was up, the temperature was up.
Around Mile 9.5, I stepped off the road and got this:
I didn’t stop at the medical tent to get it patched up, though, because I knew that I was in danger of getting swept up. I did continue to try and run occasionally, and walked as fast as I could. Around Mile 12, we were told we were safe, and so I walked the rest, without even trying to run.
I was finally arriving at Epcot.
I mustered enough energy when I got close to the finish to jog through and high-fived Mickey on my way over the finish line.
I *love* this video of me crossing the finish. Even more so because I was actually jogging for the entire video! If they had started a few seconds earlier, I’m fairly sure I was still walking, but who cares?
I picked up my finisher medal and food box on my way out, and stopped to get my official finisher picture. (Next time, remind me to put down the Gatorade!)
Kirsten met me at package pick-up, and we found Andrew in the family waiting area.
I’d be lying if I said I was happy at the end of the race. I was pissed. I didn’t get swept up, but I should have…at least in my mind. The only reason I didn’t was because I wasn’t in the last corral.
I signed up for the Sisterhood Virtual 5k back in October when I had high hopes of doing the c25k program after getting my heel healed up. Well, I’ve been spotty at best about caring for my heel (please don’t yell at me – I have a plan and will come up with a stretching and icing schedule to make it better). But I knew that I could walk it no matter what.
When I went to take the dog out this morning, though, this is what I saw:
(Image the snow a bit more pristine and the air white with flurries.)
I don’t have access to a treadmill, so outside was my only options. So I started making excuses – I can’t go out in the snow! What if I slip? It’s only 28° out there – that’s cold! I should just cancel. No one would blame me for not doing it today.
But I ignored those excuses. I bundled up, grabbed my iPod and camera, laced up my walking shoes, and headed off on the course I’d mapped yesterday. Here I am heading out for my virtual 5k:
For the first mile or so, I was thinking about all the girls at Disney – about the training they did and how awesome it will be tomorrow when their training all pays off. For the second mile, I was mostly concerned about not slipping – the terrain was downhill then uphill, and I had to be careful about where I was stepping.
For the third mile I started to marvel at how far I’ve come in a year. Last year the idea of walking outside in the snow and cold would have been laughable. In fact, the idea of doing a virtual 5k at all would have been weird. Not because I couldn’t have walked that far – I’m pretty sure my husband and I do it all the time when we go downtown to visit the museums – but because it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do it. I’m also starting to figure out that exercise is not something that takes up time that I could be doing something else, but is the something else that I should be making time for. I haven’t been 100% with exercise and training this past year, but each time I fell away from it, I went back. And I went back faster each time.
I snapped a couple of pics along the way, but then realized that the pics make it look like I was walking out in the country…I wasn’t, I’m in one of DC’s suburbs, so these were just carefully chosen shots to show the snow.
And my footprints on the snowy sidewalk:
And here I am back home, after my 3.5 miles (yes, longer than a 5k, but it was the closest route I could find that I actually wanted to take):