Tinkerbell Half Marathon Report, Part 2

…As we last left my race report, I went to bed early (-ish) on Saturday night with a belly full of churros and ice cream and after walking around all day at Disney’s California Adventure. I also forgot to mention that I did a quick (1.6 mile) run on Saturday morning to see if I could wear my new race shirt without fear of chafing. In all, Saturday was a bit of me bucking my normal pre-race trends of rest and relaxation. Another thing I tend not to do is to wake up on the morning of a race and barely leave time to get to the starting line. This was clearly unintentional. Just to give you an idea, under normal circumstances my relatives live two highway exits from Disneyland. On race day, it took me about an hour to get there and park. Madness. I love you, California highways.

At any rate, this race was clearly not designed with locals in mind. If you weren’t staying at a Disney-endorsed hotel, there was no shuttle available and you were forced to pay regular parking rates ($15, WTF) to park in the only one of the park’s parking structures that was open. Total BS. The only plus is that the parking structure was huge and lines moved quickly. By the time I parked, though, the start was 15 minutes and a half mile away. And I had to pee. Dammit. It was a sprint to the starting line and I got there literally just as my corral (the first one) was starting off. At least I had a warm-up.

The first part of the race was spectacular. The first five miles ran through back lots, the California Adventure park, Disneyland proper, and Downtown Disney. Crowd support was awesome. I couldn’t believe how many red hat ladies were out! Of course, because I was trying to PR I had to be conservative about stopping for character photos. Honestly, I figured I would build up a time cushion of a minute or two, and then stop for photos at the end. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that basically all of the character photo opportunities would be in those first few miles of the race, and there was no opportunity to loop back after the finish. I stopped for one and only one photo, with Captain Jack Sparrow. Because he had no line. Which I couldn’t believe, and I told him so. Sure, he’s not really Johnny Depp, but a girl can dream. Anyhow, also on the character photo note, I felt better about not posing for pictures when I saw some that were taken of other racers later on. Race start time was 5:00AM so obviously it was dark out, but some of the pictures I’ve seen (including my own) were quite poorly lit. Disney did do a great job with the race experience otherwise, though: Radiator Springs/Carsland, the Small World Cruise, the Castle, and Paradise Pier were lit up beautifully, and the World of Color fountains in the California Adventure park were extremely cool. I also had no problem with crowding or with the course being narrow. In fact, I was running the race of my life.

This was taken the night before, but just to show you what it looks like all lit up.

This was taken the night before, but just to show you what it looks like all lit up.

At mile 5, we left the Disney Parks to run around Anaheim. Obviously running down residential streets in the dark was less satisfying than being in the park, but once we got into the main streets of Anaheim there was plenty of entertainment. School bands, cheer teams, and spectators were out to see and entertain us. I hope these kids somehow benefitted from the race, since they were up extra early. At mile 8.5 I took a Cliff shot from the station and just kept going. Really, the race becomes a blur at this point. I remember the bands and the signs I saw, but this was unlike any half marathon I’ve ever run before. I felt no strain, no fatigue, I was just go-going at a consistent pace and feeling great. It was hard to even believe my Garmin as it was clicking off 10, 11 miles and I was approaching the parks again.

DL_MeI definitely got my butt in gear as I was approaching the finish, even though I knew by then I would meet my goal. I had intended to run the first 11.1 miles just as I did in my last long training run and then take walk breaks at the end if I needed to… But I felt so good I just kept going. Elation was the feeling as I approached the finish line and saw Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse and heard my name announced–more than a minute under my goal time of 2:10.

As others have mentioned, the finish area was a little uninspired. I wish there had been some characters, photos, more things to do or at least more places to watch the other runners finish. I did get a nice breakfast pack, though, and a heavenly massage. I was also initially disappointed with the race pics… but they put up a nice finish pic (see left) after all, so no more complaints. In all, I’m very happy to have had the Run Disney experience, and I would totally do it again sometime. Are these races expensive? Yes. But, in the end, there’s nothing to compare it to. And now that I have my 2:08-ish PR, maybe I’ll feel comfortable slowing down and enjoying the next one.

Next up: Lost Dutchman 10K 2013!

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Report, Part 1

Well, last weekend I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The weekend was so big that it’s going to take two parts to tell it all!

On Friday, I drove out to California. The plan was to hit up the race expo, visit Disneyland, and then return Saturday to spend another day at the parks and on Sunday for the race. The race expo was at the Disneyland Hotel and I had a bit of a hard time finding it, but that’s partly due to my failure to correctly read a map.

Screen shot 2013-01-23 at 3.27.25 PMLines moved surprisingly quickly, and I was able to pick up my number, test my timing chip, buy park tickets, and get a race packet without issues. The race t-shirt is a really cool design, which is also on my race number and program. In a stroke of genius, the race packet also includes a drawstring backpack with the race logo. I used this all weekend to carry things around the park. Aside from these items, there weren’t too many “goodies” in the packet. A snack-sized Luna bar and some race info, but not as many samples as I’m used to getting. The expo itself was also OK, but smaller than what I expected for a race this size. I’d say it was similar to what I saw at the Women’s Half Marathon event I did in Scottsdale in 2010, and it may even have been smaller. Nonetheless, I did make sure to scarf down some free samples of Cliff shots and Luna bars, plus I bought myself a glitter headband for my race kit. I didn’t have time to put together a costume for this race, but in case you wanted to do one last-minute, there were plenty of opportunities to stock up on wings, mouse ears, sparkle skirts, and Run Disney gear at the expo.

Visiting Disneyland by night was extremely cool. One discount (and about the only worthwhile discount) that the race offers is an evening ticket that is discounted by about $20 off the regular ticket price. I also had to buy a full-day ticket for Saturday and got a $2 discount on that… but come on, Disney. I think you can cough up a little more of a discount given how much I paid for this race in the first place. Anyway, on Friday night I got on many of the iconic rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, the spinning tea cups, the Matterhorn, and I saw the Captain EO tribute! Lines were pretty short, and everything lived up to expectations. I have to say, spinning in the tea cups and watching the fireworks go off overhead is a mental snapshot I will always remember.

DL_Castle
DL_SmallWorld

On Saturday I returned to the park to scope out Disney’s California Adventure. This newer part of the park celebrates several more recent Disney and Pixar films. I was very excited about visiting Cars Land, since I loved the movie. The layout did not disappoint. It’s really just like the movie come to life! Sadly, though, the lines for rides here were horrible. I never did get on the Radiator Springs roller coaster.

DL_Carsland


DL_FlosMy favorite rides at the California Adventure park were the Tower of Terror, and pretty much all the rides I went on in the Pier area. This part of the park has a ferris wheel, a roller coaster, flying swings, and a Little Mermaid-themed ride. The Never Land 5K race took place on Saturday morning, and I saw lots of people with their “medals.” I stopped a young woman and her family to take a picture of their medals. They reported that it was a great time and wished me luck on the half.

DL_5kmedal

I also had no shame about acting like a big kid all day long.

DL_Pin
DL_Pluto

At the end of the day, I watched the Pixar play parade and then headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house for an early bedtime before waking up at 3:30AM to get to the race the following day. The only question is, after a whole day on my feet and stuffing my face with ice cream and churros, would I be able to meet my goal time? (Dramatic music)

To be continued…

Next Stop: Disneyland!

Seeing blog posts and tweets all weekend about the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events in Orlando has really started to get me excited about the upcoming Tinkerbell Half in Disneyland! I’ve finally got my butt in gear about making plans, and today I did my last long run. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon starts at 5:00AM in California, but with the incredibly cold weather here in Tucson today I think it was a fine dry run. Check out these times:

Mile 1–10:03

Mile 2–9:41

Mile 3–9:37

Mile 4–9:37

Mile 5–9:44

Mile 6–9:51

Mile 7–9:40

Mile 8–9:45

Mile 9–9:47

Mile 10–9:49

Mile 11–9:52

Mile 11.1–9:10*

Total: 1:48:23

If I can manage this pace again next weekend, it will be no problem to cover the last two miles and finish in under 2:10, which is my goal. I’ve felt like I slacked off a little on training over the past week or two, but today’s run gives me confidence. Next stop: Disneyland!*

(*After I finish a full week of work, that is. Blah.)

2012 in Review: Running

So, as promised, here is my last year-in-review post. I saved running for last because I wanted to add to my yearly miles total with a last-minute run today, but also because I’m so proud of my accomplishments in this area. Eating right and losing weight is something to be proud of, too, but running is work. And even though I’ve been a runner for many years now, I still consider myself not much of an athlete, and I think of being fit and competitive as something I have to put a lot of effort into. So, here are the numbers and highlights:

1. By the Miles

2012 Total Miles: 757

December Total Miles: 100.3

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 6.17.45 PM

December was my first ever 100+ mile month of running. Part of that is due to training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon next month, but part of it is because I had a lot of time off and didn’t do as much cross training as usual while the gym was closed for the holidays. I’ll start to taper over the next couple of weeks, so January 2013 will be a lighter month. Nonetheless I hope to add to my overall yearly mileage in 2013. I’d like to continue averaging 20-25 miles/week, and to avoid some of the injuries that bothered me this past year.

2. By the clock

This year was the first time that I regularly kept track of my speed in training. Especially with 10Ks and half marathons, my goal in the past was always just to train and finish. This year, I got more ambitious and thanks to my purchase of a Garmin Forerunner 210 in the spring and some careful data collection from March onward, I got some great results.

Fastest Mile: 8:39 (Nov. 15, training run)

Fastest 5K: 27:59 (Sept. 25, training run)

Fastest 10K: 59:25 (Nov. 4, training run)

Fastest Half Marathon: 2:14:XX (Oct. 6, Arizona Half Marathon)

Each of these is an all-time personal best for me, and note that each of these times have come in the last few months. I’m getting faster. I started 2012 running 10:30-11:00 miles. I am now consistently running 9:00-9:30 miles, except on my longest runs. In 2013, watch out. I may become almost competitive. LOL.

3. In pictures

I got some great medals, great schwag, and a few cool pictures of myself.

Race medal

Temecula Half Marathon/5K Medal

Lost Dutchman 10K Medal

Lost Dutchman 10K Medal

Fast and the Furriest 10K

Fast and the Furriest 10K

photo-2

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5K

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5K

AZHalf_Web

Safe to say 2012 was my best running year ever… But I have a lot planned for next year, too. Thanks again to my blog friends and followers for your motivation, encouragement, and attention this year!

Let’s Get Serious

Screen shot 2012-07-05 at 1.08.57 PMWell, one of my goals over the holiday break was to start training seriously for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which I’m registered for in January. On the whole, I’ve been working out regularly and running more miles per week than I did in preparation for the Arizona Half Marathon. The downside, though, is that I’ve been unhappy with the length of my long runs. We had four days of rain last week in Tucson, and with end-of-semester grading I’m a bit behind where I’d like to be. Last week I did 9.6 miles on the treadmill and it was slow and generally awful. This week I hope to do a 10-miler and get a weekly total close to 24 miles.

OK, but I’m not here to write about the race I already told you about, as cool as running a race at Disneyland may be. No, I’m here to tell you something even more exciting. Last night I found out that I won a free entry to a race that I am super excited about and terrified of: The Zion Half Marathon in beautiful southern Utah.

I first found out about the Zion Half a few months ago and it struck my imagination, but I was wary of registering because of the cost, the travel expenses, and my concern about running an uphill race at altitude in the cold of March.

I hope the Zion Half people don’t mind me stealing their image. Free publicity!

Now that I’ve won this entry, though, I think this might be fate. I am already planning my Utah road trip adventure, and even if it is cold, I’m looking forward to pushing myself and to exploring Zion National Park after the race. Moreover, this trip will come about a week after my planned Spring Break adventure in Honduras, and a couple of weeks before I go to a conference in San Francisco. This gives me a lot to look forward to in 2013, and hopefully it will mean some very cool pictures and travelogues for all of you! If anyone has done an uphill half or a very challenging race like this in the past, feel free to share your training advice!

Race Recovery and Future Goals

Well, I’ve been recovering from the Arizona Half Marathon and I feel OK, though still a bit depleted. Earlier this week I also had a meeting with my dissertation committee and a big activity with my students, so it’s been a lot of living spread out over just a few days. I can, however, reflect on what worked well in my training for the race and what I’d like to do better in the future.

 

(If you’re interested, compare this with my race pics from February!)

  • Of my three half marathons, this was the first time that I did multiple 10+ mile runs. Many beginner half marathon plans recommend a single, 10-mile run as the longest run pre-race. Building to 12.1 this time really helped me prepare both physically and psychologically. It helped me prepare a good strategy for pacing, when to refuel with Gu and water, and just to get used to the impact of 2+ hours of running.
  • Before this race, I was also running four times a week which I’d never done before. My fourth (Friday) run was never more than 3 miles, but I think it really helped me get used to running on tired legs.
  • I’ve said it before, but swimming is great cross training. Swimming helped me think about form and posture.
  • What I wasn’t prepared for on this race were the hills. I thought the hills in my neighborhood and on the river path where I run would get me ready. I did meet my goal for this race, so I guess I can’t complain too much, but it’s obvious that I have no idea what a 100-foot hill looks like or how to climb one!

I don’t have much planned for the future as far as racing. I may or may not do the Dirty Six Mud Run in Phoenix later this month, depending on whether my co-workers manage to recruit enough people for a team. Next month, I am definitely doing the Girls on the Run 5K (an untimed fun run for the Girls on the Run program). I am not registered for any “serious” races until the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in California in January… but we’ll see. This is really when racing season ramps up in Southern Arizona, so I may be tempted to do something else. Or I may just do some fun hikes and take great pictures to share with you all. You’re welcome, people of the Internet!

California Report

Well, here’s a brief write-up and some pictures from my trip to Anaheim/San Diego last week. Unfortunately I’m still suffering from my cold and feeling a bit achy and sluggish, which means I haven’t been working out or running since I’ve been back. However, I can’t complain too much about getting ill after looking at this for a week.

San Diego skyline

The ship Lord Hornblower, on which my friend and I took a harbor cruise.

Commemorative statue and the USS Midway

2012 is the year of the water dragon, so I thought it was lucky to spot one!

I only got to run once while I was in San Diego, but I made it count with 4.1 miles along the Embarcadero along the bay. Other than that, I worked out a little at the hotel gym and did plenty of walking. I also stuck to my meat-free diet, which was not a challenge given how many seafood and veggie options were on the menu almost everywhere, but I did break my streak of not drinking. I gave myself permission to drink while I was away, knowing that I would face a lot of temptation to drink with relatives and colleagues. I mostly stuck to red wine, but I did drink a couple of margaritas one night. Long story made short, my hiatus from drinking has made me a lot more aware of what happens when I do drink. It made me feel sluggish and depressed the next day, which I guess was always true, but not drinking for nearly three months showed me that I have other options. I haven’t had a drink since I got home to Tucson, and I hope to keep it that way for a while! Now, if I can just kick the cold and get running again…