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January 23, 2013

runDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon Recap

As promised, here is my race recap of the second annual Tinkerbell Half Marathon which took place last weekend on February 20 at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.  This was my second runDisney event and I honestly must admit that I am completely hooked. I began training last year for the Tower of Terror 10 miler and my life has been changed ever since.  I am suddenly hooked on running every day, eating a healthy, organic diet, and actually making it to the gym to meet my trainer... why? you might ask.... Well... because it feels great.  In fact, I've never felt better! (and the cute clothes and shoes are a bonus too).  I find that I am living my life from race to race all of a sudden and I just can't get enough!  (Did I addition to several local and Bay area races, I've already signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare during Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend this Fall with hopes of returning for the Tower of Terror 10-miler and earning my Coast to Coast Medal at the Wine and Dine half Marathon in November) Is it August yet?

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum aka Me and FiddleDeeMe's Ashley!

There's something amazing about running long distances... it's really hard to articulate, but it's such an inspirational feeling to know that I am capable.  I never dreamed that I would be embarking on a new athletic journey at 31, but here I am!  I just can't believe I am a runner... but now I have the medals to prove it... and trust me... I look at them a lot!!!

My race weekend kicked off with a fabulous runDisney meet up which really got me pumped up for Sunday's main event.  After picking up my bib and shopping for a while at the runDisney Expo at the Disneyland Hotel, I spent the afternoon on Friday and all day Saturday enjoying the Disneyland Resort theme parks before heading out for an evening of Carb loading with pasta and some good friends!  The race began early, at 5 am, so I knew I needed to try to get some sleep, so I settled in around 10:30 expecting to "be up all night."  Surprisingly, I dozed off pretty quickly and awoke to my alarm at 3:00 am!

I boiled water in the coffee pot to pour into my French Press (I'm a coffee snob and never travel without it) and then boiled another round for my breakfast (Organic Oatmeal with a banana).  Just as I was getting dressed, my running partner Courtney arrived and we sipped our coffee and made finishing touches to our running costumes before heading over to the corrals which were just across the street.  We packed a bag containing our oatmeal (in compostable containers), some bananas, and some bottled waters to enjoy a little in-Corral picnic prior to the gun.

It was about 3:50 when we left the room and we made it to our assigned "B" corral by 4am.  We purchased inexpensive fleece blankets from Target to snuggle up with in the corral so we were quite cozy while enjoying our breakfast!  Although it was still early, the excitement was extremely palpable as scenes from the previous year's race filled the jumbotron which was directly overhead.  As the clocked ticked closer to 5 am and "Go Time" familiar songs filled the air and runners filled the corrals.  Since we arrived so early, we were at the very front of "B" and had a great view of the stage area and the jumbo screens.

Waiting in the Corral!  I decided to dress as Tigerlily from Peter Pan!  

Before we knew it, it was time to go, so we tossed our blankets aside, did some last minute stretching, and prepared ourselves as the "gun" was fired and the "A" Corral was on its way.  We began moving up to the starting line and it was a blur because it was a bit nerve wracking being at the very front of the group.  My adrenaline was on overdrive and I looked to my right to see my favorite characters on the stage.  I took a deep breath and before I knew it, I was running!

Course Map

I had trained at a 2:00 / 1:00 run/walk interval in hopes of a sub 2:45 finish but to I decided to keep running for the first 3 miles because I felt so good and they FLEW by!  Before I knew it, I had ran through California Adventure (as World of Color splashed away for us) and I enjoyed seeing the attractions running with no one in them!  Radiator Springs and Cars Land welcomed us with glowing neon and the old Hollywood tunes on Buena Vista Street bid us farewell as we headed through the gates and across the esplanade to Disneyland Park (but not before stopping for my first of 3 potty breaks).

I entered Disneyland Park and had that feeling like I was "home"... I have walked down Main Street many times, but running through is such a unique experience!  As we rounded the bend from Tomorrowland into Fantasyland, I could see the lights on "it's a small world" glistening in the distance and I knew I just had to stop for a photo with my favorite Princess before turning the corner to spy the Lost Boys goofing around on the Carousel!  From there, it was back through Sleeping Beauty Castle into Frontierland, past Pirates of the Caribbean (and Jack Sparrow) and then somehow..I think... we ended up backstage, where floats from Mickey's Soundsational Parade were setup in various locations!

Stopping for a picture with Snow White in Disneyland

After that, it was off to the streets of Anaheim.  To be honest, I was a bit worried about keeping up momentum after leaving the parks, but surprisingly, I was still feeling great and found that I was ignoring my "low" interval to keep running!  I was stopping at most of the water stops, which by the way were sufficiently staffed and stocked with ice cold water and powerade.

The streets of Anaheim were filled with cheerleaders, marching bands, a string band, street performers, glee name it!  I remember passing by The Red Hat Ladies at some point and they were my favorites!  I was throwing high fives like it was nobody's business.

I can remember passing Mile 7 and I was feeling a bit hungry and starting to feel my energy dwindling. That's when I remembered that Clif shots would be handed out at mile 8.  Just thinking about it gave me some extra oomph and I powered through until I saw that red Clif banner blowing in the wind!  It was like a beacon of light on a dark night!  I ended up exchanging my Vanilla shot for a Raspberry and held onto it until the next water station where I diluted it with water to get it down without gagging.

By this time, I met up with two girls from my home state of NC and we began chatting for a while.  Before I knew it, the shot had kicked in and we were already past mile 10 (I'm getting chills BTW).  I heard one of the girls mention that they had been maintaining a 12 minute mile and it occurred to me to check my Facebook page for the race tracking (I wasn't wearing a GPS watch or keeping up with mile times b/c I was having too much fun)... OMG!!! I was maintaining just over a 12 minute mile and was expected to finish in just over my goal of 2:45.  Well I couldn't have that, so I picked up the pace, once again ignoring my interval timer and running as long as I could and walking for about 30 seconds in between.

Next thing I knew, I could see Matterhorn in the distance and I was busting a Left on the all too familiar Harbor Boulevard.  I was texting friends and family as I ran under the Monorail track and into backstage of California Adventure.  We ran through a tunnel and on the way out, I noticed my fingers looked like sausages which alarmed me.  I began swinging them in circles over my head and decided to slow down a bit.  It wasn't long before I looked up and saw the Finish line up ahead in the parking lot of the Paradise Pier Hotel.  It was SO close, yet so far away as we still had to zig zag a few times through the parking lot to get there!

Goofing around!

As I neared the finish, I noticed the time! And I sped up to give Mickey a high five and a hug!  I did it!!! I finished 13.1 miles at the Happiest Place on Earth and I beat a goal that I had expected to be unachievable with a finish of 2:41!  I hurried to grab my medal snapped a terrible picture of myself swollen face and all!

Swollen Face and hands and all, but the bling is worth it!!!

I headed over to have my picture taken and wait for my friends to finish I realized that I felt really good!  I chowed down my banana and bundled up in my new runDisney space blanket and admired my new bling!  It was a good day! Can't I just runDisney everyday??? (I can't wait to receive my images)

Kudos to my buddy Courtney who finished her first Half Marathon!

Thanks to runDisney for this incredible and inspiring experience!

1 comment:

FiddleDeeAshley said...

I'm so proud of you! I knew you could do it!