Thirteen Point One and Done

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Before my first half marathon and after: thirteen point one miles done and still smiling.

It was here and gone before I even knew what happened: race FOUR of 103, my first half marathon, is now complete. But what of the other three races?

Race 1, the Title 9k, was definitely a big one. My mom and I ran together and, like a fine wine, she’s only getting better with age. She hit a distance PR, with the two of us crossing the finish in just a touch over an hour. Every year, she’s faster! Perhaps next year is our sub-hour year. The video from the race tickles me in that you can hear my father giggle – he was surprised to see us so soon – but I’ll admit I was just happy for that big hug when we came across, no matter what the time.

Races 2 and 3 were trail races and, in my opinion, my ‘first’ real trail races. I had done a trail 5k before, about a year nitroturkeyplus prior, but the 10k was a whole different animal! Race 2 was a very small race and I was such a fan that I’ll definitely race the Run in the Park Series again. The second trail 10k was a much bigger race, put on by an event crew notorious for having courses that are harder than indicated. Naturally I pushed myself super hard through that one – despite not feeling ready, being a bit fatigued from not taking rest days, having to stop to walk and stretch more than once – but I finished upright, somehow, and didn’t barf on the nice lady who was trying to take my timing chip and give me a medal. Happily I managed to keep my gu down and smiled for a picture with the Nitro Turkey, of course while proudly wearing both my No Meat Athlete shirt and a Team Sparkle skirt. (Trust me: men, women, children alike, no one likes being passed by the lady in the sparkly skirt.)

Race 4 snuck up on me. In the wake of the holidays and a much needed rest week and a half, the neverland5kdays flew till suddenly it was time for me to fly to Anaheim! Everything I had done training-wise, all that “my first half marathon is coming up” talk was about to be put into action: it was go time. Notably while there, my old college roomie and longtime good friend Kari rocked out her first 5k in ages. Happily I can say she was bitten by the race bug and now has a medal rack she’s itching to fill up. Get ’em, Karebear! I also had a fangirl moment when I saw Kelly from Team Sparkle finish. (Yes the pictures are bad, but hey – it was a very early morning wake-up call and freakin’ cold for Anaheim! It’s hard to take pictures with an iPhone wearing run gloves. Try it. You’ll see how right I am.)

But yes: the race.

In short, it was amazing, beautiful, fun, not terribly painful, happily ‘easy’ and surprisingly very emotional! More than once, I definitely teared up, and more than once I wasn’t expecting to! There was something simply magical about the cold, quiet darkness as we set out at 5am. A few miles went by and next thing I knew, I was headed straight down the middle of a semi-deserted Main Street, running straight towards the fully lit castle. Out of no where, it hit me, a wave of emotion and the sting of happy tears. It was truly a powerful thing! There were other times where in my mind, my papa was joking with me and encouraging me in his low, raspy voice. It made me smile and tear up, but helped push me through the hardest bits and for that I am thankful.

Other notable moments:
– Team Sparkle was EVERYWHERE, which I loved. I rocked rainbow race legs, gold sleeves, a lime sparkle skirt and my T9k run angel tulle ‘mohawk’ hat, which helped Kari spot me in the crowd! Definitely a new race favorite.
– My original corral was E; for whatever reason I had quoted myself as finishing in 3:15! The man at the expo totally surprised me by checking my finish time on a previous race and immediately asking “Okay, A or B? A?” While I thought it’d be a push, it turns out Corral A for 2:15 and faster was the right fit!
– after flying all the way to Anaheim, I made friends with a gal at the start who was from San Jose.
– I’d never done a race this long or big. While I did a good job waking up and immediately cramming in black coffee and a banana, having to wait around at the start and in my corral meant that by mile 3 I had to bail out for the bathroom. I wasn’t alone, but for the rest of the trip, that one spot in California Adventure was known as “my bathroom.”
– Disney cast members, high school cheer groups, dance teams and bands, and random spectators totally made the race. The cheers were incredibly uplifting and I saw some pretty funny race signs including “Running: It’s not just from the cops anymore” and “Hurry! I hear they’re running out of wine at the finish!”
– There was a lady backstage near the Clydesdales who had two baby goats (kids) she was feeding as we ran past. Dorky, but that was totally a highlight. They were so cute!
– Planning ahead was super easy! Kari found herself a spot about 5.5 miles in. Seeing her and hearing her cheer there and right before the finish was great. Don’t get me wrong, all the spectators along the course were super encouraging. It just really meant a lot to have a familiar voice in the crowd yelling my name!

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me at the still empty corral A, pre-race, lookin’ nervous!

Throughout the whole race, what with the costumes and cast members and behind the scenes sneak peeks, I smiled a whole lot – as proven by the fact my cheesin’ for the many course photographers came out genuine – and luckily didn’t truly feel fatigued until the last 5k. (HUGE thanks to Clif for that Clif Shot at mile 8. I needed that badly!) That last 5k was definitely completely mental, especially considering my longest training run heading in was only 11.1 miles. Luckily I was able to get into my own head, remind myself that the last 5k was all mental because my semi-shot legs would do whatever my brain said, and carried on. The last 1.1 miles were just a trip: maybe I was hallucinating, maybe I was tired, maybe it was adrenaline or maybe it was runner’s high, but that last mile and change was everything all at once: glorious, painful, terribly long and wonderfully short. As I hit the 13 miles marker and started heading towards the finish, my mind was blown: I had hoped for a sub 2:30 race. As I noticed my pace at each well-marked, complete-with-a-clock mile marker, I thought, “Hey, maybe I could make it in 2:15!”

In that last .1, I saw the clock and knew that anything I had left was more than enough to ensure I finished in less than 2:09.

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I cruised through the finish beaming, accepted my medal, an emergency blanket, water and snacks. I took pictures. I smiled more. Finally I met up with Kari – and couldn’t believe it. Race four, my first half, DONE.

tradersamsYup. I totally deserved both the fun cocktails from Trader Sam’s, where we met a fellow runner to celebrate post-race, and that beautiful glass of wine and dinner later at Napa Rose (big thanks to the chef for cooking me an off-the-menu, special vegan meal!) I was aching, but thrilled – and still am. Ten toenails in tact, the worst damage being some residual soreness and a couple of blisters more likely from walking the parks after the race. It was nothing some stretching, walking, hot showers and a couple of bandages on toes couldn’t fix.

At the Tinker Bell expo, we were given the chance to sign up early for a new runDisney event in late August, the Dumbo Double Dare: Saturday Disneyland 10k, Sunday Disneyland Half Marathon. You run them both, you get a THIRD medal. And you’d best believe, I signed up early, and a good thing too! They opened registration yesterday morning and now everything – the 5k, 10k, half and the Dumbo challenge – are all completely full.

Here’s to knocking out races 5 and 6 as a 30th birthday gift to myself!

Race Stats
Bib Number: 9883
Women’s Open Division Finishers: 10,553
Division Place: 148
Gender Place: 938
5k Split: 32:35
10k Split: 1:02:36
15k Split: 1:32: 53
Clock time: 2:08:56
Net time: 2:08:40

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