Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon weekend!

This is a September post from my fundraising page that I'm just now getting around to cross-posting on Blogger.

I’m writing today with an update on my training and races. I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon (13.1 miles!) on August 31 with my best friend, and it was AMAZING. We spent two days at Disneyland, ran on the third day, and spent the following day at Disney California Adventure Park.
I’ve been fighting a knee injury since May and suffering mightily while training in the grueling humidity and heat. Kaitlin hadn’t been able to train at all because of work. So after two awesome days on our feet in the park, we mentally prepared for a long, painful race day. We got up at 3:30 a.m. to dress, eat, catch a shuttle to the park, and walk to the starting corrals for the 5:30 a.m. race, not realizing that starting in the last corral meant starting closer to 6:30 a.m.
The weather was glorious, and Kaitlin let me push us through a ‘run two minutes, walk one’ routine. The delayed start, however, meant we soon needed a bathroom break, and we lost at least 7 minutes in line for the porta-potties on the course. When we rejoined the other participants, the cutoff pacers were drawing up just behind us. Bicycling volunteers followed them, warning/encouraging participants to catch up or be pulled from the course for not meeting the minimum pace requirement.
By the 5k mark, we were averaging 17:29 minutes per mile, way behind the required 16min/mi minimum.  At 4 miles, Kaitlin was struggling mightily, and I was the most irritatingly cheerful personal trainer/cheerleader I could possibly be. “Walk fast or jog slow, but we’re not walking slow! You’ve got long legs; you can do this!” I told her I’d push her to 6 miles before letting her quit. We enjoyed running through the parks, briefly picking up speed and smiling for photographers, and bopping our heads to the music played by local marching bands and drumlines along the course. But we didn’t have time to stop and wait in line to take pictures with costumed characters.
At about 5.75 miles, the sun came out, we slathered on some sunblock, and we parted ways. I picked up my pace to try to catch the rear pacers, who’d just fallen out of sight. At the 10k mark, I’d picked up some time and was averaging 16:46 minutes per mile. I hit the 7-mile marker feeling unbelievably strong! The course then wound toward the Angels stadium, through it, and back out the other side. Local high school cheerleaders cheered us and gave high fives and I passed what must have been a mile of classic cars and their owners lining a stretch of otherwise boring street.
I alternated running and walking most of the course as needed, following no set plan or timer. My longest training run had been 10.65 miles about two weeks prior, and I had stopped back at my house for water two times in the middle of it, and yet I found myself feeling strong and exuberant throughout the race itself. I threw my arms in the air in a crazy dance while listening to my iPod and passing many other runners. At the 15k mark, my pace had improved to an average 15:50 minutes per mile.
Running the first half with Kaitlin had helped me pace far better than I could have on my own, and I definitely noticed the low energy of participants around me in the last 4 miles. I was tired, too, but I still had a lot left to give, even in spite of a painful blister. It was approaching 10 a.m. and getting quite warm, so the last mile or two was definitely tough. But I found it in me to sprint the final stretch and cross the finish line with my arms raised in the air. I didn’t have a set time goal but had been hoping for 3:30. My final time was 3:22:04 with an average pace of 15:25 minutes per mile.
Another way to break down the math is that I ran the first 3.1 miles in 54 minutes, 22 seconds; the next 3.1 in 49:49 (16 min/mi); the next 3.1 in 43:24 (14 min/mi); and the last 3.8 in 54:29 (14:20 min/mi). Some pretty impressive gains as the morning wore on!
I met up with Kaitlin at the end, and she told me she’d made it to 7 miles, which was WAY more than she thought she could do! She even got her finisher’s medal, too! We hobbled back to the shuttle and soon drove to a nearby spa to soak and unwind before meeting a local friend for an idyllic picnic dinner on the beach.
But there’s no rest in store for me. I’m looking forward to a gorgeous 10k trail race on October 4, my first duathlon (a 500 m swim + 5k run) on October 14, my next half marathon on October 19, the Spartan Beast 10- to 12-mile obstacle race on November 1, a possible back-to-back half marathon challenge on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and my first stair climb race, the Big D Climb (1,276 stairs in 58 stories) on January 31. Why? Because I like challenges and new things and just want to be able to say at the end, “I did it!”

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