Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disneyland Half Marathon 8.31.08

Hi all,

Race number 22 was the 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, skirted the stadium, instead of rounding the bases, came back out onto the streets, ran back through California Adventure again, and finished up at Downtown Disney.

Goals: to run between water stations, to run a 2:20 (based on my training run from the previous weekend), or to run a sub-10 pace.

Pre race: I had originally planned to spend a long weekend in Orange County for this event, but, then, my friend, Laurie, invited me to her wedding in Palm Springs the weekend before and, all of a sudden, I was able to visit a lot more of my friends than I’d expected. The wedding was in Palm Springs at the Korakia and was amazing! It was a weekend event and I got to run up a small mountain on Sunday morning before Mass. Then, I visited my friend, Rebecca, and her family in Palm Desert. I got to run through the Living Desert on Tuesday morning. From Palm Desert, I went to Los Angeles, to see my friend Meher. She was very busy, preparing for a trip, but took time out to go to Universal Studios with me. I had a great time, but I think I prefer the Disney parks. From L.A., to the O.C. – a full day at the two Disney parks (taking time out to hit the expo), the kids races, which all four of my nieces and nephews ran, a night at the Disneyland Hotel, where we played in the Never Land Pool after the kids races. Dinner was at the Storyteller’s CafĂ© in the Grand Californian Hotel (best bread pudding I’ve ever had).

Race: My brother, sister and I shared a room on the concierge floor at the Disneyland Hotel (I learned my lesson - book early if you want a cheap room), so we had access to the concierge lounge, which overlooks the parks and Downtown Disney and is loaded with snacks and drinks. While I set out my gear and packed my race bag, my brother and sister held a table for me so I could watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, it was while I was packing my race bag that I discovered that none of the three inhalers that I’d brought from NY had made it into my overnight bag for the race. The yellow plastic in my purse wasn’t my inhaler – it was a medicine case that I got at a different race (I’m getting rid of it). That put a damper on my evening, so I skipped the fireworks and went to bed, tossing and turning, trying to figure out how to get through a half marathon without an inhaler.

We got up about a half hour before corral time (the race starts in the parking lot of the Disneyland Hotel) and went over to drop off my bag and see if we could find anyone. Shayna and I sent a few text messages back and forth, but I couldn’t find her. My brother and I were in the same corral, so we headed off to line up in B. The announcements finally started. The announcer proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes) and then we got going. It was very humid and I was nervous about going to fast without my inhaler. My brother stuck with me for the first mile or so, then headed off to run his own race. We skirted the parks, then headed into Disney’s California Adventure. At about the 3-mile mark, I saw the first medical tent and decided to ask for an inhaler. They had it! I took a puff, but was afraid to take more, because it wasn’t my prescription and I didn’t know the dose. I joined the course again, but tried to keep it easy. My muscles were already fatigued from running with diminished oxygen and were burning a little. I tried to focus on my breathing and keep my airway calm and clear.

We left the parks and at the 6-mile medical tent, I asked for another inhaler. This time, the woman told me to go ahead and take it, because she couldn’t use it again. I was so grateful! I tried to keep my pace steady and slow. I made rules for walking that started with walking uphills, then I added walking when I saw stars (which happened a couple of times before I got to the second inhaler), and it seemed like a good idea to walk the underpasses, too. My last rule about walking ended up being walk whenever I feel like it. But, before I got to that point, I was just trying to keep running from water station to water station. The cheerleaders along the course were great and so were the bands and dance troupes. I kept counting down the miles, reminding myself that I had easily run the remaining distance before and that I could certainly do it again. Finally, the back roads of Anaheim were leading towards the Honda Center (formerly known as the Duck Pond), which meant that one of my favorite sections of the course was coming up. After running the hockey player gauntlet (I think the Ducks’ cheerleaders might have been there, too), we get to run along the Santa Ana Trail for awhile. It’s dusty, which isn’t great for my asthma, but it’s beautiful and fun to run along. Unfortunately, this year, it was followed by a big disappointment. Usually, after leaving the trail, we get our Clif gel pack, run the Boy and Girl Scout gauntlet, scoot under the A of Angel Stadium, then run around the bases and smile wide for the Jumbotron. This year, we had to run around the outside of the stadium. Boooo!!!

For me, the stadium is also the indicator that the race is nearly over. Just a few more streets and we’re back inside Disney’s California Adventure. I waved at a Hollywood Hotel bellhop, then stopped to hug Sully, Boo, George, and Needleman (or was it Smitty?). “Monsters, Inc.” is my favorite modern Disney animated movie and with such a big collection of characters, there was no way I wasn’t stopping. I tried to get the photographer stationed there to take my picture, but he refused, because he wasn’t an ASI photographer. Next time, I’ll bring my own camera. Finally, I was running through Downtown Disney and just hoping I could finish faster than the NYC Half. I wandered around, trying to find anyone I knew, but couldn’t for the longest time. Eventually, though, we all managed to meet up again. We got our medals engraved, pictures taken, and collected a lot of pies from the “Pushing Daisies” pie van (my dad even got me a pie cutter).

The most important results: My brother came in first (of the four of us running) and both of my sisters finished in under 3 hours in their first half marathons!! I am so proud of all of them!!

Post race: More fun at the Never Land Pool, then back to my sister’s house. Sallie’s son was ill, so we postponed the post-race treats and just had a quiet afternoon at home. On Monday, we celebrated the race and my mother’s birthday – lots of good food!! I booked a connecting flight through San Francisco, so I could have dinner with Mike and Dan. My favorite SF restaurant was closed, but we found another place with pretty good food. We only had a few hours together, but it was worth it.

Official stats: my official time was 2:25:35, for an average pace of 11:07. My splits were 9:48, 10:27,11:18, 10:32, 11:29, 10:22, 11:50, 11:21, 11:47, 11:52, 23:22 (2 miles – average pace of 11:41), 10:32 and 1:02 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 4562 out of 10845 total runners, putting me in the 58th percentile. I was in the 68th percentile for women runners and for my age category. It was in the 70s and was very humid with 90% humidity.

Consolation treats: My sister, Sallie, made a delicious flan cake for our post-race treat and my parents brought tins of Doubletree Hotel chocolate chip cookies (which I love). I was spending the weekend with my family, so, of course, we ate very well!!

Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)

Race pictures are available here:

Pictures from the rest of my vacation are in a collection of albums from the various stops on my route:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why did the turkey cross the road?

Hi all,

I didn’t run this race. In order to automatically qualify for the 2009 NYC Marathon, NYRR members now have to run nine races and “volunteer” at one. I had hoped to volunteer at the Club Championships (I’m not a team member and not eligible to run that event), but I think everyone else had that idea, too. So, I picked the Fitness 4-miler, which holds difficult memories for me, anyway (I was hit by a car the evening after I ran this event in 2006).

My call time was 7:30. I had gotten up early to walk my neighbor’s dog and to cover any delays caused by the MTA’s continuing disruption of my subway line, so I ended up arriving just after 7. I received a goodie bag and a massage (there were no lines and I told everyone I was a volunteer) and then headed over and checked in about 10 minutes early. Because of NYRR’s communication efficiency, I didn’t receive an e-mail telling me where to check in (even after calling the NYRR and requesting the information and receiving a promise that I would get it by e-mail). I assumed I checked in at the start-line area, but was wrong. The woman offered to transfer me to chip-clipping, but I’d committed to being a Northwest course marshal and didn’t want to leave them short a person, so I walked a mile up the west side of the park until I found the group. Doug, the volunteer coordinator (wrangler?), was giving people instructions about course marshalling and pulling people off the group to stand along the course. I positioned myself in the center of the group, towards the inside of the course, so that I would stay in the group as long as possible and guarantee a short walk to check-out at the end of the shift. It turns out that there was an uptown check-in where I was supposed to have gone in the first place. Thanks for the info, NYRR! Anyway, I arranged it so that I ended up at the 72nd Street Transverse crossing. I could see the finish line from where I was standing!

There were 4 of us at the transverse with Doug. It’s a difficult area, because tour groups come in from Strawberry Fields and want to cross the course into the park. We cut off two of the three entryways to funnel the crowds and control them better. We had to keep them, the cyclists, the regular pedestrians, and the racers from colliding. The general plan is to allow a line of five to cross in two sections (first to the edge of the race course, across the cyclists and non-racing runners lane, and then across the race path), but the tourists didn’t always understand that clearly. Luckily, we had no collisions and only one or two nasty cyclists (I had been promised I’d be cursed out, but I won’t hold it against Doug that it didn’t happen). The entire event went fairly smoothly, with only two incidents of note.

During the men’s race, I was on my way up to help guide a tour group to the single pathway to the road and I turned back in time to see a Korean Road Runner fall. He clutched at the fence (wire mesh with 4” open squares), but couldn’t hold himself up and he hit the pavement headfirst. His head actually bounced off the road. I ran back, pulling a fresh bottle of water out of my backpack and Doug was there, too, along with some spectators. He kept insisting he wanted to finish, so, after cooling himself off and getting some fluids in (and washing some of the blood off his face), Doug walked him to the finish (he was on the phone with medical the entire time) and he went to medical after getting his chip clipped.

The other incident was the appearance of a wild turkey on the road. Apparently, there are two wild turkeys in the park and this one decided to wander around on the road while the men were racing past. She was unfazed by the activity, sauntered across the cyclists’ lane to peck around the grass for awhile, then wandered back into the road and settled into the inside course lane for a while. Finally, she flung herself up and over the afore-mentioned wire fence and hung out there ignoring barking dogs and snap-happy tourists (including me) until some curious children herded her out of my view.

Congratulatory treats (I finally qualified for the 2009 NYC Marathon): I went to Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle and got myself a chocolate bouchon and a plain scone (which was delicious with and without Nutella).

Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)

Turkey pictures are here:

9/11 Bells and Flags of Honor pictures are here: (Fr. Judge, who was the chaplain of the fire department when he died on 9/11, was from my church and there is a procession every year from my church (St. Francis of Assisi at 31st and 7th) to Ground Zero. These pictures are from the beginning of the procession when the vehicles and people were gathering in preparation for the Mass before the procession.