Right up front I want to say the following and then I’ll never say them again:
I did not break any land speed records during these races.
I am crazy proud of how well I ran back to back runs (not just a run – a half marathon!) being on the undertrained side
I’ve have this bipolar feeling between wanting to be crazy proud and also acknowledging that I kept up a pretty steady 12:30-ish pace (which is slow by most standards). So, I’m just going to get them out of the way and now tell you a little about the events.
I arrived in California with my mom in tow Friday morning around 11am. We got our rental car and headed straight to the expo where I warned her that would probably be our only event of the day, anticipating lots of crowds and lines.
No lines. I was very surprised and delighted at this. We quickly picked up both race bibs and mom’s chEAR squad gear (gEAR?) and went upstairs to get race shirts, swag bag and visit the booths at the expo.
We stopped at the Dannon booth and got some free yogurt, I bought some sport sunglasses, we listened to a speaker, browsed the Disney merchandise (where I bought nothing – I had two race t’s – how much stuff saying Tink Half did I need? I don’t make the same promises for the Princess half… Did you know the name Sarah means Princess?), and all the apparel booths. Having mom along for this was funny, we’re not sporty people and a run expo was a first for her. She could not believe the variety of sparkle skirts available for purchase. I don’t think she was prepared at all for how many people would be dressed up in some form or fashion the next two mornings.
We left the expo and found the condo I rented for our stay (I really wanted a kitchen), dropped our stuff and then headed to a grocery so I could buy the few things I needed for the next few days: bananas, coffee, and a bottle of champagne. I had packed pita bread and almond butter. Being on East Coast time was a blessing. I was asleep by 7:30pm and wide awake at 3:30am the next morning when I had to start getting ready.
I had decided that my 10K outfits would be simple and I would dress up more for the halves at Tink and Princess. I wore a Lulu running skirt and a t-shirt I bought at Hot Topic that said “Keep Calm and Kiss The Girl” (Little Mermaid) on it. I broke the cardinal rule of racing – I had never worn either of those things before race morning! Can you believe it?! I could have ended up in chafe city, but all was fine. I ate my toasted pita bread with almond butter and banana and half a cup of coffee and was ready to go around 4:15 for the 6am race.
I bought mom the Platinum Spectator package as a Christmas present which meant she got VIP parking – which to me was worth every penny. She also got a t-shirt, noise-maker, blanket (a nice one!), access to Main Street for the half, and special grandstand seating at the finish line. We parked and walked for two minutes to get to the pre-race party zone. We took a few pictures, figured out where to meet afterwards and then I made my way to the corral as soon as they said to. I was one of the first people in the corral which meant I was way at the front of it and loved that. I did not love standing around for an hour, but, them’s the breaks. I was in Corral C for the 10K and fine with that. I crossed the start line about 12 minutes after the first racers and never felt the course was crowded, never felt a bottle neck and loved every second of that race! The first four miles took us through Disneyland and California Adventure. I have never been to these parks so I spent the time looking around and taking in the magic (yes, cheesey, but still magical) of being in the parks before dawn and waving to happy groups of cast members (seriously, third shift custodial staff was more exciting to run by than any character). I found myself feeling a good running momentum so didn’t stop for a character picture until I saw one with only 5 people in line (most had 15 – 20 and I wasn’t willing to wait for that).
Yes, the Cars were the one character stop I made. I stopped and took a few selfies of me in front of the beautiful fountains at California Adventure and the itty-bitty castle at Disneyland, but never pulled over to the side for long. I ran through the parks without my earphones and just really enjoyed the run. We left the parks for the final 2.2 miles and I put my earphones in then to pump me up for the finish. I was surprised at how strong I still felt (pixie dust in play, for sure). My best 10K time ever is 1h 7 m. I did this one in (out of 8,328 runners):
I was surprised to see my 5K time was that slow, I thought it would be closer to 36 minutes, but, whatever. I ran every step of that race and ended feeling like I could do some more…which is good, because there was a half marathon the next morning!
I found mom and we spent the rest of the day at Newport and Huntington Beaches. The weather was perfect in LA and we relaxed, ate a super delicious (and carb-y!) brunch and then went back to nap at the condo. We went to McCormick and Schmidt’s for an early dinner (salmon and pasta) and I was back in bed by 7:30pm again.
The Tink Half starts at 5am, an hour earlier than the day before, but since we knew where we were going, how close we could park and how long it took to get to Corrals, we got there about the same time as we had the morning before. I had the same breakfast (plus I grabbed a Nutri Grain bar to eat while in the Corral) and once we arrived, we did the same quick spin around the pre-race party and then I was off to my Corral (C again – which was excellent!) and was back at the front of it. Tink came on a giant screen and sent each wave of runners on their way. Our route was reversed this time, doing California Adventure park first, and then running down Main Street and through the castle at Disneyland. I saw my mom at the start and then knew I’d see her again around mile 3.3 on Main Street. Once again, I ran with no headphones and enjoyed the path through the dark parks. The miles seemed to be flying and before I knew it I was entering Disneyland. Mom and I had agreed she would be on the right side of the street, but I quickly realized no spectators were on the right side. There wasn’t a big crowd on Main Street and I had a hunch my mom would be as far down the street as she could be. I was right! I saw her towards the end of the row of spectators and she had a camera and a giant Mickey glove on waving at me. She caught a few pictures and then I ran on, grabbing a selfie of me in front of the lit of castle, of course! Mom told me later that while I thought the parking was worth every penny of the Platinum Spectator package, she said being one of so few people on Main Street before dawn was worth every penny. Ahh, a cheesy magical mother and daughter team are we!
Again, I stopped for no character photos. There weren’t any that really interested me. And, as non-athlete as I am, I really didn’t want to kill the momentum of my strong running. I might have stopped with Cinderella, and imagine I will at the Princess Half (especially since my costume is Cinderella!!). The characters along the course weren’t appealing enough to make me stop. Who am I?
About 5 we entered Downtown Disney were a lot of spectators with great signs were standing. My favorite: I trained for 6 months to hold this sign! Loved it. Also, I bet a quarter mile of Red Hat ladies lined the course just outside of Downtown Disney. They were AMAZING! They were playing music and cheering and dancing and high fiving everyone. They made me smile and laugh as I ran through mile 6.
Then it was out on the streets of Anaheim. I put my headphones in at this point and moved to an interval run/walk method. Every time a new song comes on I walk until the chorus and then run the rest of the song. It works for me. I can’t always look at a watch when I run, it makes me crazy. I kept that up the rest of the miles. What’s fun about running a town you never have before is that you get really caught up in looking around and forget you’re running for a while. Old town Anaheim was super cute, lots of bands, cheerleading squads and neighbors were out supporting the runners. Several local running stores had tents set up giving out orange slices and “candy to strangers” (licorice). Miles 6-9 were a blur. I remember mile 9 and thinking 4 miles seemed like quite a bit to still go, but got over that pretty quickly.
I will hand it to Disney – there was a water/Power Ade stop at least every 1.5 miles – which was awesome. I never wished there was more, in fact they usually appeared way before I was expecting or needing one. Thanks, runDisney!
We headed back into the back of the park at mile 12 for the last 1.1 mile and I was so happy that it was nearly over and happy that I felt strong and would finish well. My Rock n Roll half time from 2012 was 2:40 on the nose and part of me wanted to beat that, but part of me knew I would be happy with 2:45 as well…which is exactly what I got. (out of 11,498)
I felt fine after the half. I was sore, but nothing I wasn’t expecting after back to back races. Mom and I went to Hollywood and saw some tourist stuff and then back home around 5 where we stayed the rest of the night. Monday was a little harder to get moving. We went to play in the parks that day and I was hurting. I had a couple of blisters on my feet and my quads were just sore, but we powered through the parks from 7:40am until about 2:30pm when it was getting really crowded. We hit all the rides but one I really wanted to go on. Overall, I’m just a Disney World in Florida kind of girl. I’m glad I did this race first. It was an excellent experience, I got the medals I have been coveting and I have a renewed confidence that I can pull this whole thing off again next month!