Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Disneyland Half Marathon 9.03.07

Hi all,

Race 26* was Disneyland Half Marathon. We started in Downtown Disney, ran around the back of California Adventure, then entered and ran through California Adventure, crossed the esplanade and entered Disneyland, ran through Disneyland, came back out onto the streets of Anaheim, ran back and over to Arrowhead Pond (home of the Mighty Ducks), ran along the Santa Ana Trail towards Angels’ Stadium, entered the stadium and circled the bases (not on the field itself, though), came back out onto the streets, and finished up at Downtown Disney.

Expo day: The best thing about the expo this year was Yamaha’s BodiBeat booth. I am definitely getting one of these when they come out. The expo wasn’t as good as last year, even though it was bigger. I spent a lot of time trying to find a visor to wear during the race, but no-one had any that were designed for runners. There were a bunch of cotton twill visors and caps, but one of the necessary features for a visor, to me, at least, is a sweat band to keep sweat out of my eyes and contacts! I ended up buying a cap from Race Ready. I went back to the expo on Sunday, because my parents wanted to check it out. I met up with RunJoeRun and Shayna K (who had very kindly taken family photos for us at Alice’s the day before). I stayed at the Radisson Main Gate again this year (thanks, again, Mike and Dan!!), so I could either take a shuttle or walk about a half mile to the start.

Goals: I had a seriously ambitious time goal for this one. I wanted to go sub-2. My half marathon PR was 2:02:49 and beating that would have been good, too. Plus my usual goal of running between water stations.

I took the shuttle to the race (it pulled up right as I was leaving the hotel) and walked through Downtown Disney (DD) to the start. BodiBeat was giving out flashing buttons under Merlin’s Hat, but it fell off about halfway through the race. I was trying to figure out how I was going to find Shayna in the crowds and there she was. With Vanessa, who I’d missed at the expo and hadn’t reached by phone yet! What luck! We hung out a while, then I dropped off my bag and found them again. One of the Toy Story soldiers got on stage and told everyone that it was going to be hot and that everyone should drop any extra gear (wings, tutus, etc., though he did say we could carry our wands). We eventually made our way to the start. I was in Corral B, in the first wave. I stretched and waited and finally the opening ceremony started. With a confirmation of Shayna’s news – there was a 3-flag system: yellow, which meant that we should be careful and not run too hard; red, which meant that it was getting dangerous and we should take it easy and anyone with heat issues should drop out; and black, at which point they were turning off the clocks and it would be a fun run instead. There is nothing fun about a half marathon, even if it is run partly through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA)! Then, he told us that we were already in a red flag situation. Yikes! I started reconsidering my goals at that point. The dignitaries were paraded out (including Mickey and Minnie in track suits), the monorail arrived with the special guests (including Goofy and other characters), and then the countdown started. It was really cool – soundless firework stars arced upwards from either side as the countdown hit 3, 2, 1 and then the big bang and the full fireworks display started as the gun sounded (presumably – I couldn’t hear it).

We took off running down and then up under an overpass, heading out of DD, passing the Convention Center and then coming back into DCA. I love running through the Parks!! The surface is great to run on and the characters were out to cheer for us. I remember passing Flik, Koda (or was it Kenai?), Stitch (I flashed the Surf’s Up sign at him as I passed), Lightning McQueen, and Mater. And, like last year, in addition to staff cheering us on along the way, there were wranglers there to take pictures of runners and characters with the runners’ cameras – a very nice touch and one of these years I’m going to take advantage of it! We left DCA and headed across to Disneyland, running behind Main Street, passing Chip (or was it Dale) and Pluto, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear, running through Cinderella’s castle, then past Woody and Jessie, Captain Jack Sparrow and the other pirates (he fired a cannon at us, but the ball fell short, splashing into the water instead), we passed the Genie and Jazmin on our way back to Main Street, which we ran down on our way out of the park and onto the streets of Anaheim. I knew that this was where it was going to get tough, because it was blazing hot and there is no shade in Anaheim! I should say, too, that I don’t usually start sweating until the 3rd mile, but I was soaked by the end of the first mile and already knew I wasn’t going to get a PR, much less a sub-2. So, I spent the first couple of miles out of the park trying to figure out what my revised goal should be. I would have been happy with anything under 2:10, but knew from my Bronx Half Marathons in July that 2:15 was more likely, given my recent running times (my fastest July Bronx Half was 2:23:26).

In the 5th mile, the palpitations started and so did my walking. My heart-rate generally stays fairly low when I run, so when it started going crazy, I paid attention and started walking whenever it got a little crazy. There were lots of cheerleaders and high school bands along the way, as well as a Mexican band with dancers (who had just finished a number when I passed, so I didn’t get to see them) and what looked like a Polynesian dance troupe (again, they’d just finished performing when I got there, so I missed them, too). Finally, I saw the hockey stadium coming up and knew that the end was in sight. Well, not in sight, literally, but I knew I was going to make it. I just had to hope that the clocks weren’t turned off until I got to the finish! Outside of the stadium (we don’t get to run inside that one), there were cheerleaders and youth hockey players giving us high fives as we passed. We hit the Santa Ana trail, which was a nice break from the asphalt, and then came up to the Clif gel mile for yet another walk break. Next up is Angels Stadium and on the way there, we passed Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Eagle Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and more cheerleaders, along with parents and spectators cheering for us. At the end of the gauntlet, we headed into the stadium and ran along the warning track around home plate. This year, the camera was lined up along the 3rd base line, so that the runners could see themselves on the Jumbotron. I waved frantically, hoping my family back at the finish area would be able to see me.** I headed out of the stadium, walked through another water station, then headed, gratefully, back towards the parks.

When I got to mile 12, my heart sank. The clock was off. Twelve miles in and all for nothing. I slowed to a jog and headed over to the clock. As I passed, I asked someone standing there about the clock, but he just told me what time it was. I had already run 12 miles, so I just decided to run it in. About a half mile later, just inside DCA again, there was another water station and a medical tent, which had a red flag! I told someone about the clock being off at the 12-mile marker and that people would think we’d gone to Black Flag and stop racing. She said “Oh Shit” and immediately ran off to get the situation resolved. I was very happy to see her immediate response and that she took it so seriously. I was completely done in by this point and just decided that I was going to enjoy the rest of my run. My favorite modern Disney movie is Monsters, Inc., and, last year, Sully was cheering us on as we headed through DCA in the last mile of the race. He was there again this year and, even though there was a line and I didn’t have a camera, I stopped, waited and gave him a hug, telling him I loved him. ‘Cuz I do! Rejuvenated, I took off running again, zoomed through DD and headed for the finish line. I heard my name called as I ran towards Mickey and Minnie (still in their track suits, but not sweating at all) and turned to wave to my parents and brother. I crossed the finish line in under 2:15 on the official clock, so I made my revised goal – the only goal I hit!

As soon as I crossed, I headed over to someone and reported the 12-mile clock situation and, again, was happy to see him run off to find someone to take care of it. Last year’s race was fairly well organized, but getting the official photo was a nightmare. This year, we passed through another gauntlet, getting our medal, mylar blanket, water, PowerAde, bananas, oranges, bagels, fruitcups and then found the photographers. There was an official photograph station set up outside each baggage tent, so that the lines moved smoothly. After the photograph, I grabbed my bag and passed through the tent into the family reunion area, where I found my family waiting for me (sort of). This year, for the first time in my racing career, I was able to get a post-race massage! My brother waited in that line for me while I got my medal engraved with my name and time and the rest of the group went to the Disneyland Hotel to wait. I was very impressed with Disney’s handling of the post-race crowds, but they’re so used to crowd control that it would have been surprising if they hadn’t improved the situation from last year. I love Disney!

Official stats: I finished in 2:13:00 for an average pace of 10:29 over the 13.1 miles. I was 2163 out of 8763 total finishers, putting me in the 78th percentile!! I was 821 out of 5779 female finishers, putting me in the 86th percentile. I was 143 out of 826 finishers in my age/gender group, putting me in the 83rd percentile. My official splits from my watch were: 9:29, 9:49, 9:24; 9:51; 10:06; 9:36; 10:25; 10:20; 10:20; 11:19; 11:21; 10:21; 9:46; and :57 for the last tenth of a mile. It was 84° by the time we finished with approximately 70% humidity.

Consolation treats: Forget slushy Dr Peppers – I had a Dr Pepper Slurpee!! Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!! And my brother who found it for me!! After that, we went to Chuao Chocolate CafĂ© at the Spectrum and, after a little difficulty explaining that I wanted a drink without coffee, I had the Chuao 73% (I think that’s what it’s called). MMM A few days later, I had some very special treats – the pictures are in the album.

Next up: The Queens Half Marathon (9/23), the Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29) and the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*What a difference the accident made. Last year, this was my 32nd race of the year. The accident cut me back by 6 races and I added 3 races this year that I didn’t run last year, so I should have been at 33, not 26, given that the race was moved up two weeks this year.

**My parents and brother were waiting right at the finish line, so they couldn’t see the Jumbotron. My sister and brother-in-law were in the finishing area, but only my brother-in-law saw me.

Yahoo photos is closing down, so I had to switch to another service. I’m on snapfish now. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the pictures here: You’ll need a password to get in. It’s 90307. Let me know if you have trouble and I’ll see what else I can do.


Jamie said...

Not a PR, but still a great job. Wow, you're really doing a lot of races! Very cool. Congrats on the half and get some revenge in Queens!

LeesMyth said...

I'm glad your fave monster was there! I kind of liked the one named Mike (and his Medusa-style girlfriend).

The snapfish group room doesn't seem to be working; it brought me to a place where it wanted me to log in with an email address and password. I tried my own, but that shut me out of the group room. I suppose I could try your email addresses as the ID with the password, but there's probably an easier solution (e.g., upload your pictures directly to blogspot?).