Monday, September 3, 2007

So Hard

OK - here's another huge thing I can check off my list!

First things first: yes, I did finish, with about 45 minutes to spare. And I did get my medal!

Today we ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. I'll admit that this was a much better idea this time last year when I saw the giant castle medals. We've been running smaller races all year to get ready, but the cruise and starting school have kind of put training on the shelf for the past month. Either way, I was pretty bound and determined to get a finisher's medal even if I had to take off my shoe and throw it across the finish line (with the chip, of course).

Here is the race course:

First, we got up at 3 a.m. I could hardly sleep last night, I was so nervous and a little bit excited.
At 3 we rolled out of bed, got dressed, and out the door. When we finally got there I was like I am when I'm at the airport not holding my ticket - very, very nervous and cranky. I kept reciting the pace marks that you had to keep to avoid getting picked up: 1:26 for 4.4 miles, 2:04 for 6.8 miles, about 3 for 10.3 miles. Plus, I was cranky when I realized that I was in the second to last wave to start, with all the older people and walkers. We also got into the chutes much too early (although I was glad to be closer to the front) and had to wait nearly an hour before start. But even at 5:30 in the morning, it had to have been just shy of 80 degrees out. The announcer said there were three "flags" that would be posted on the medical tents - yellow, for a heat warning; red (the current flag, even at start) which meant it was pretty dangerous to be out, much less running; and black, at which point they said they'd stop official time and you could take as long as you needed, or quit. The start was pretty fantastic, with the National Anthem and fireworks for each wave. My wave started 21 minutes in, so the clock was off for me the whole time.

Miles 1-3: These went along Disney's California Adventure, inside and all around and through California Adventure, and then through Disneyland. It was great running through, but I was still fighting through the crowd of slow people. There were a few characters out when I went by, but no princesses. Andy managed to get a video of himself running through the castle, which was so neat!

5K time: 36:13

Miles 4-7: This was through "scenic" Anaheim. If you're local, you know it's actually mostly industrial park. Hiking over the overpass was pretty rough, but luckily that was the steepest hill we encountered the whole time. The best part was running past the nursery (of the plant variety), where a sympathetic gardener was spraying runners with a hose. Once I got past the 6 mile mark, that meant I was pretty much passing the farthest I've ever run, and not even halfway done. But I had done that much in the time they had allotted for running 4.4 miles, so I knew I was going to be able to finish. Along the way they had marching bands, color guards, hula dancers, and a mariachi band. That helped pass the time, as there wasn't much else to see.

10K time: 1:15:08

Miles 8-10: This was entering what I'd call the "sporty" part of the run. We ran around the Honda Center where the Mighty Ducks play, and where they have a bunch of concerts. I kind of wish we could have run through, because it was really hot. There were Mighty Duck cheerleaders there, as well as a few other high schools. The way to Angels Stadium was along the Santa Ana river bike trail, and most of the bikers were off to the side just watching. That was also the point where I first saw a woman out cold along the course. I saw 3-4 in all. Also, right before we got to the stadium parking lot, my iPod decided to quit. I charged it to full, but it's a mini and a few years old. I always pick out a song to help me get across the finish line at the very end (today's was going to be Moby's "Extreme Ways"), but now I wasn't even going to have anything to cover up my huffing and puffing. Also, here, they passed out Clif power shots. I had slobbered all over it trying to pull it open with my teeth, and it tasted like crap. And my stomach was iffy at that point anyway, so I threw it out and vowed to stick with the Powerade for a little extra energy. It was about a mile through Angels Stadium, where you run along the 1st and 3rd baselines, and they put video up on the jumbotron of the runners. Just outside the stadium was mile 10, which meant there was only another 5k left to go.

15K time: 1:56:04

Miles 11-12: There were a ton of people watching along the course at this point, because it was on the way back to the finish. Everyone's first name was printed pretty large on their number, so people could yell for you specifically - that was great! This must have been more of "scenic Anaheim;" it wasn't too scenic here; mostly just along Disney Way to get back to the parks. I think I walked most of this way, because there was no shade until we went back under the highway. But I knew it was so close to over, so I pushed pretty hard even still.

Mile 13.1: One last little pass through California Adventure, where most of the staff was really enthusiastically cheering everyone on. It was at this point that I discovered my knee really, really hurt. And I was limping. But it was so close! And everyone was so encouraging! But whenever I ran, my legs disagreed, and I made little squeaking noises when I breathed (which was actually a little embarrassing). Once we were in Downtown Disney, it was packed with encouraging spectators and a bunch of people who had already finished, and said the finish was right around the corner. For the record, I've been to Downtown Disney. I know how long it is. And there was still a long way to go! At a certain point I was walking (OK, hobbling), but there was a pretty big group of kids that were cheering me on specifically, despite me being in bad shape - but I'd credit them with my 3rd wind. And I ran so fast down the last 0.1 mile, because I could hear that beep that meant I was so close!! When I crossed the finish line, the net race time was 3:06.

Final time: 2:47:17. Not bad for no training and 80 degree weather!

I couldn't for the life of me remember what the clock said when I started, but I knew I'd at least beaten 3 hours. First they clipped everyone's chips off, then handed out mylar blankets. I don't recommend those in extreme heat, by the way, not even to get out of the sun. Then, finally, was my medal!!!! I could have gone home right then. But there was also water and Powerade set up, and bananas, oranges, and bagels. For some reason, I was really excited about the oranges. I've had a craving lately. I couldn't get my water bottle open because I was so slimy. It was pretty crowded but I went right by the professional photo ops to look for Andy. He was kind of tough to find in the crowd. We rested for a little while, and I sat down - I was in so much pain I could hardly move, and by then my knee was just worthless. I only had a couple of moments where I thought I might throw up, but they were few and brief. Andy and I took our own picture together, then a professional one, and then left.

Once in the car, Andy brought up McDonald's breakfast, and by then I was pretty hungry too. That was the best McDonald's breakfast I've ever had! Then I got to thinking: I sent my parents a link that had live updates and finish times (which they watched diligently, I love them!), and thought we could probably see our final times already. Sure enough, there they were! Then we showered and went back to bed.

I got up about 4 p.m., took an Advil and iced my knee. Neither of us wanted to cook, so we tried Don Chente in Hawaiian Gardens. It was a little expensive, but so good. Although I think we were both just really hungry. And we looked pretty pitiful walking in, although I know I felt much better. My parents had called, I guess right after the race, to congratulate us. They sounded so proud - I'm so glad I could at least share the live results website with them. I called them after dinner, and they scolded us for running in a heat advisory, which I have to agree was not the best idea. But they were still proud and happy.

Next up: 5 mile Nike RunHitRun Remix race! But I really don't want to think about that right now.

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