Avengers Half Marathon

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:
Me and 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.
Flat Barb is ready

So I got up and ready in a flash.
Captain Barb ready to run

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!
Tony Stark, playboy

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.

Start line

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.
Haunted Mansion dressed 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.

The wind took out many mile markers

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:

Street art for the race

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.

Entering the stadium

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.

There was an f---ing 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.

Finish line

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.

Finisher!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – Half Marathon

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.
Ready to run?

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.
Kirsten and me in the Corral

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.
Running down Main Street USAThrough the Castle

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!
Watch out for the sweepers!

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?).

By the Honda Center

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.

Arived at Angel's Stadium

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.
Snapped this to let Kisten 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 see the finish!

I used the last of my energy to run the last bit to the finish.
Yeah, I ran across the finish!

You don’t see the tears here, but they weren’t far off.
Half Marathon Finisher!

I traded in my wristbands for my Coast-to-Coast and Dumbo medals.
Dumbo!

After picking up my water, nutrition box, and my checked bag, I found Kirsten in the reunion area.
Kirsten and me at the finsieh

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!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – Wonderland 10k

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!

Lines, lines everywhere

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).

Got my bib!

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.
Got my bib! Jo is ready to run as Alice in Wonderland

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?

Start line

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.

Me with Red the fire truck Running through Radiator Springs

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.

Running into Disneyland 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 had enough left to run across the finish.

Whew!

Picked up my medal and wristband for Dumbo…
10k Finishers! Two wristbands that will hopefully be medals soon

…6.2 down, 13.1 to go!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – What was I thinking?

It started something like this…


Dumbo Tweet 1

To which I sarcastically replied:


Dumbo Tweet 2

Yeah. I really did mean it sarcastically. But…well, the thought was in my head. Despite being pissed at how I had done at Walt Disney World, or maybe because I was so pissed about how I had done, I was thinking about doing Disneyland. Besides, it would get me the Coast-to-Coast medal if I do it this year. I was fairly sure I would never feel like doing another half marathon, so maybe doing Disneyland this year was my best bet. And while I’m there…why not do Dumbo (which is doing the 10k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday, so 19.3 miles over the weekend)? It was just another 6.2 miles. And bling!

So, by the time registration opened, I had decided to try and get into the Dumbo Double Dare. In fact, by then, I had my heart set on the Dumbo. But…it sold out before I could even get in to the website to register. What? NOOOOO.

I had one hope – there were runners groups that had bibs for sale, so I contacted a couple of them. It took until late in the night, and after the half marathon had sold out, but I got in with Jim Stone’s Group.

Yay!


Dumbo Tweet 3

And about three seconds later, I realized what I’d done.


Dumbo Tweet 4

So, that was in January.

I’ll fast forward through the intervening months, which included healing my tendonitis-riddled-ankle, training, trying to solve blistering during long runs, and a few minor freakpouts. My next post will pick up in California…

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