Tag Archive | healthy-living

Couple a Dumbos! Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Video)

My fiance made such a great recap video of this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon festivities, I feel that I don’t need to say much in a recap post. I’ll just post the video for now and follow up later with a narrative recap for anyone who is interested. I do actually have a couple of criticisms of this year’s event (gasp!) but mostly they involve the weather. My beef is with Mother Nature. Girl, what was with that humidity!? All in all runDisney put on another wonderful weekend celebrating running, accomplishing your goals, health, and of course Disney!

I think this is the best video of the event Brad has ever put together. Good job honey! Enjoy!

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You Never Forget Your First Time

The buzz and excitement continues for the upcoming Disneyland Half Marathon. I’ve been following all of the tweets and Facebook Group posts about it and at this point it’s pretty much all I can think about! Such is always the case a month or so before race weekend. I turn into a giddy little child counting down to Christmas. Today I can’t help but feel nostalgic. The reason I’m so giddy year after year (and so willing to fork over the dough for registration fees) is because my first year at the Disneyland Half Marathon was so special. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Just a short one. I promise. I know you all have runs to get in ūüėČ

The year was 2010. I really can’t remember the month but let’s say it was March. This was back in the old days before runDisney. I know, hard to believe there was a time before runDisney, but it’s true! This was in the time when each park, the Land or the World, organized racing events on their own. ¬†Sometime in the early part of the year (we decided on March, yes?) I came across a pamphlet in a coffee shop for the Disneyland Half Marathon. (This was also back in the days when the races didn’t sell out in 48 hours and you learned about local events from pamphlets in coffee shops). I really couldn’t believe my eyes. How did I not know about this? Running at Disneyland? That sounded like the coolest thing ever. Turned out it was ūüôā

I had never run more than 9 miles but I figured, what’s 4 more? I can do it! I decided I wanted to raise money for a good cause while training and that’s exactly how I got into blogging. I launched The Happiest Runner on Earth to reach out to donors and share my training progress. The Disneyland Half Marathon is responsible for many things. It’s responsible for getting me back in shape, getting me running consistently again, and getting my writing out there. Although first-person narrative non-fiction isn’t my writing career target, it gets me writing, and it keeps me connected with all of the other thousands of running freaks and Disney nerds out there. Raise your hands people.

That first race was magical. Running through the parks early in the morning with Paradise Bay all lit up, the fog still sitting low on the ground, and the surprise of cheerful characters around every corner; it was a perfect run. The surprise of how many runners were in attendance (I would’ve never dreamed to see 14,000!), and the joyful gratitude I held for each and every volunteer there to either hand out water, or simply hold up a sign to cheer on strangers crazy enough to run 13.1 miles; it was a perfect run. The experience of running a RACE for the first time ever, getting a little bit competitive with that other girl with Tinker Bell wings who I haven’t managed to pass for the past 4 miles, hitting the wall at mile 11 and figuring out how to dig up true willpower to finish, crossing a finish line for the first time: it was a perfect run. I’ve written before about how you can never quite recapture the magic of the first time, and how there’s something inherently sad about that, but every year that I run this race I get a glimmer of the first year’s excitement; and no it’s not quite the same, but it’s worth it. And it’s worth it for all of the NEW memories we create every single year. Like falling down the rabbit hole at mile 9, or discovering the magic of gummy bears. Every race holds some new lesson buried within it. In running the race you dig up the lesson and you move on to the next exciting event wiser, faster, stronger. It’s a pleasant addiction.¬†

Your first day at school, first trip to Disneyland, first time seeing the Grand Canyon, first love, first kiss. Firsts are just plain awesome. You only get them once for a fleeting moment yet they leave a lifelong impact. You really never forget your first time. Thankfully my first half marathon was at Disneyland, and I’ll honor that joyful memory by running it every year until my legs (or my pocketbook) give out.¬†

Here are the videos of our first Disneyland Half Marathon to complete the stroll down memory lane. Ahh, memories ūüôā

BIG announcement, like, big

Last weekend I watched my friend not only finish the L.A. Marathon, but kick it in the butt. Brad and I drove him to the starting line at 6:00 am. The sun continued to sleep soundly somewhere past the horizon while Dodgers Stadium overflowed with 20,000+ eager and excited runners. As we pulled into the drop-off area, inspiration filled my lungs. I couldn’t believe not only how many people took on the challenge of running a marathon, but how many of them were in the same physical condition (and maybe even a bit worse) than me. I couldn’t help but excitedly think if they could do this, I could do this. And I can.

With no further ado I have an announcement to make. I will run a marathon in 2015.

In case you weren’t sure, that’s 26.2 miles.

I’ve been toying with the idea since about one week after I finished my first half marathon. Immediately after finishing I thought that running that distance twice in a row sounded like the most insane idea I’d ever heard of, and I couldn’t believe ANYone actually did it. But it only took about a week to forget the pain before I started thinking not only of running another half as soon as possible, but entertaining the notion of greater challenges. I imagine it’s a bit like having children. During childbirth and immediately after I think most women curse their spouse’s name and swear they’ll never do this again. Doesn’t take long before that cuddly little bundle wipes away the memory of the pain and you start prepping another baby’s room. So yes, I’ve been thinking about it for years, (the marathon thing, not the baby thing) and I’m done thinking. The only way I’m going to find out if I can actually do it, is to just frickin’ do it.

So I’m going to do it.

Why wait until 2015 you ask? Well I’ve got this little thing called a wedding to plan. Brad and I are getting hitched in July 2014 (BRAD AND I ARE GETTING HITCHED JULY 2014!!!!!) and I don’t need to add to the stress of wedding planning by trying to squeeze in 15 mile runs on the weekends. 2014 is the year ‘o’ love. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon, let the training begin.

The goal right now (and I hope I hope I hope I can make it work) is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We’re talking about a marathon people. My FIRST marathon. It’s a big deal. You want your first time to be special, y’know? Whether or not we’ll have enough money leftover to fly to Florida for a running vacay after saving for a wedding and honeymoon remains to be seen. If it doesn’t happen, then it’ll either be the LA Marathon¬†or the California International Marathon¬†that takes my marathon V-Card.

So there you have it! You heard it here first. Accountability officially in print on Running to Tahiti.

I will run a marathon.

special idiots run marathon copy

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Recap

I realize it’s been 2 months since the Tinker Bell Half Marathon but what can I say, better late than never? I always intend to do these incredible, inspiring, reflective, life-changing race recaps but the task becomes so daunting that I put it off and never get to it. Hence, nothing gets done in my life. So, in an effort to do things I say I’m going to do, I’m going to go ahead and write my race recap anyway because you know what, I had a great time and I’d like to share.

As is often the case, the race was not without its hiccups and challenges. The hectic holiday season (especially hectic this year) made training rather difficult and because I thought I was going to run/walk with my Mom and not worry about a PR, I wasn’t too concerned about a strict training regimen. It was only a couple of weeks before the race that my Mom decided she wasn’t going to be able to run with me. *Gulp*. Guess I should have trained harder, since now it looked like I was going to run with my fast fiance and our rather fast friend Chris, who was taking my mom’s place.

Sometime around the new year I realized another potential road block to Neverland. It was flu season. So far I had escaped unscathed, as had my fiance; but we got our hopes up too soon. Right after New Year’s Brad went down in battle. The flu got him good. He was out of commission for a solid 3 weeks. I grew paranoid about so many things.

A) His health and well-being. I became concerned his illness was turning into pneumonia and stubborn man that he was, he refused to go the doctor.

B) My own health and well-being. I mean, I can’t NOT kiss the guy for three weeks!

C) The race. Whose idea was it to schedule a half marathon during flu season. Curses!

About a week before the race, it happened. I started to feel it. The tickle in the back of your throat and the general ooginess that lets you know you’re being preyed upon by an unwanted bug. I’ve never fought off a cold so hard. Never drank so much water and OJ. Never took so many vitamins. Never slept so much. I don’t know if it was the copious amounts of echinacea and vitamin C or rather my strong will to race, but something got me through. I got sick, but never full blown. I was bad for about a day and half and started to feel better about 3 days before the race. Still, my immune system was obviously compromised and I had a half marathon to run. How I would reconcile those two things, I had no idea.

20130119_121409Chris, Brad, and I drove down to the Health & Fitness Expo the day before the race to pick up our bibs.¬†Brad came with us armed with an ample dose of magical thinking, hoping there was a way he could still run. That pipe dream was soon dashed. Poor baby was still so sick, and obviously really frustrated that he was completely out of commission. Come on people, you know those runDisney races aren’t cheap. When you pay for that, you want to run it. As we left the Expo he admitted defeat. He wouldn’t run.

I turned to Chris and realized, it’s just him and me now, and gosh darnit, we WERE going to run tomorrow and we were going to have fun!

I had made reservations to stay at a hotel that night since the race started at 5:00 am. Just too difficult to drive down from Venice that early in the morning.  Suddenly it dawned on me. A joyous long weekend of running in Disneyland with my mother and fiance had devolved into a night in the Travelodge with this guy:

Neiman

Neiman

The room smelled like pine sol and cigarettes and Chris had to sleep on a roll-away that barely fit in the room. What can I say? The universe is unpredictable. The important thing is, this makes a pretty good story now, and the MOST important thing is, we had a great time.

Got my running costume all ready the night before. Ok, so it’s not the most original costume choice in the world for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. I was sick! I had other things on my mind!

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On the shuttle to the start line. SO early.

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At this point Chris became aware that he was pretty much the only dude on the bus. I reminded him it was a “woman focused” event. He found the male/female ratio intriguing to say the least. (I love the look on the girl’s face right behind him, to the right. Classic)

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At the starting line!

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A sea of runners. Always majorly impressed by the turnout at runDisney events!

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Getting some encouragement from Minnie and Daisy.

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I LOVE all of the signs that the chEAR squad and spectators hold up along the course. This one had to be my favorite!

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After this we were off and running. I’d never run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon course before and it was significantly different than the Disneyland Half. I had to admit, jury was still out on which I preferred. In the Tinker Bell Half you spent the first mile running up Disneyland Drive and then around Ball Rd and back down Harbor. You ran a solid mile and half before you even made it into the first park. I do think there’s a benefit to that because it delays gratification a little bit and builds up the excitement for running in the parks. It also made me feel like I was in the parks longer before we headed out onto the streets of Anaheim. Getting that big hill on Ball Rd out of the way in the beginning when we were running on excitement and adrenaline was also a major plus. In the Disneyland Half you hit that hill just as you’re leaving the parks, which is a downer unto itself. To be greeted by a huge hill as you’re leaving? A challenge to say the least.

When we turned into the resort, we ran into a mysterious tunnel.

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I tell ya what, this place never ceases to surprise me. I know those parks backward and forward, and I had no idea this tunnel  existed. I have to admit, it was a little bit creepy; especially since it was still totally dark out. Ominous!

After that we finally ran into Disney California Adventure. The first thing we did was run through Paradise Pier. They had the lights and fountains going for World of Color and it was an inspiring sight. A perfect kickoff to this race. The sun STILL hadn’t come up so the fountains and lights looked gorgeous.

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Since I was feeling a bit ooky from my cold, I had decided that I wasn’t going to push myself in any way on this run. The goal was to have fun and to finish. That being the case, this was the perfect race to stop and take pictures! Each time we stopped to take a picture with a character Chris basically made it sound like I was subjecting him to torture, but I knew he secretly loved it. How could you not?

With Mary Poppins and Burt. Chris is a penguin.

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Stealing a pic with the Peter Pan characters. Even I could admit the line for this gang was ridiculously long, so we just sneaked in the back and slyly pointed in their direction.

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Me and Miss Bell

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Love this one! Two of my faves. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. And here you can get a shot of Chris’ EVIL compression socks. Aren’t those rad? Meanwhile I look like a doofus in my 3/4 pants and black compression socks. I don’t care though. Gotta have my compression!

Tangled

This had to be around mile 3 or 4 and yes, it’s STILL dark out

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Running through the castle!

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Disney custodial is all about the runDisney. And we THANK YOU Disney custodial!

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We made our way through the rest of DCA and Disneyland and I have to say, it was more fun than the Disneyland Half course through the parks. I don’t know if it was that first mile and half we burned before we even got there, but it really felt like we were in the parks for so much longer than the Dland Half. We approached mile 6 as we finally left Disneyland!

Then we were off on the streets of Anaheim. At this point Chris took off ahead of me. He was training for the LA Marathon and wanted to keep his pace up. I was still icky and just wanted to finish. I struggled at certain points along the rest of the course so I decided to employ the run/walk/run method to make sure I reserved enough energy to make it to the finish line. I have to tell you, that was the first time I’d ever officially run a sizable distance doing run/walk/run and I felt awesome! I couldn’t believe how good my time was considering I was under the weather. It’s basically magic. I don’t know if I’ll do it all the time, but I will say that when I finally do get around to running the Walt Disney World Marathon, I’m calling Jeff Galloway.

Let’s talk briefly about the course. I’m really split on my opinion of the Tinker Bell course vs. the Disneyland Half. There are pros and cons to both so in the end they probably come out evenly matched. The pros of the Tinker Bell half were that it was definitely more scenic. You ran through some rather charming residential neighborhoods and a really nice shopping area of Anaheim that I didn’t even know existed. On the Disneyland Half you spent a ton of time on the big, I’m sorry to say ugly, boulevards of Anaheim. The major pro of the Disneyland Half however was that you got to run through Angel Stadium. That was one of my absolute favorite things about that race, even though it’s where¬†I bit the dust last year. It’s hard to leave behind the energy of the parks, but getting to run through a crowded cheering baseball stadium at mile 9 and see everyone’s faces on the Jumbotron gave all of us runners the exact burst of energy needed to finish the race. If the Tinker Bell course ran through the stadium, it would be better hands down. HOWEVER, I’m glad it doesn’t. I’m glad that the Disneyland Half Marathon course gets to distinguish itself by having that treat.

Getting close to the finish! Unfortunately by way of that creepy tunnel.

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One more mile!

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Both feet off the ground!

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At the finish line with Minnie. Don’t you think this should be an ad for runDisney?? I think so ūüôā

R Minnie

Aaaand DONE!

I was so excited to get my thermal blanket. You just don’t feel like a distance runner until you get an astronaut blanket.

R finish 1

I really couldn’t believe how fantastic I felt finishing this race. Sometimes it pays to give yourself a break, do what you can, and re-calibrate¬†your goals to what you can actually accomplish. If I hadn’t gone easy on myself for being sick and insisted on pushing to meet my average pace for a half marathon, I would have made myself seriously ill, and very likely wouldn’t have even finished. I cut myself some slack and the running Gods rewarded me with a beautiful new medal to add to my collection.

I don’t even remember my final chip time or my splits and I’m not even going to look them up because I’m not worried about it. Sometimes it’s ok just to run.

After the race I met up with Chris who also had a really great run. First thing on our minds? Breakfast! We ate at Catal in Downtown Disney. I hadn’t eaten there in years and I must say, their brunch was amazing! I had the smoked salmon hash.¬†

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Chris had shrimp grits, southern boy that he is.

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After that we headed home. Unfortunately no time for fun in the parks this trip. With a sick fiance at home and my own immune system pushed to the max, what we needed was sleep.

Thanks to runDisney for another great event! My bank account however has quite a beef with you as I think I’m now addicted to another race. BUT, the price of admission is worth it to have so much fun while staying healthy.¬†

Did you run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon this year? How did you do?

new year, new RUNNING goals

Hello there faithful readers! Been awhile. I need to force myself to get back into the habit of writing more often because when I don’t, I miss it, and I feel all ooky and empty inside. Just like anything else it takes discipline to sit down and write everyday which is exactly what writers need to do if they are serious about their craft. I guess I just haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. The antidote to that problem is certainly not to spend hours in excess on social media while ingesting multiple episodes of The Walking Dead, although if you guessed my logic to curing writer’s block based on recent behavior, you may think so. Nope, the couch is a killer to creativity and I’m getting off of it. Today I want to talk about the opposite of laziness that is currently permeating the running community. Goal setting time!

The start of a new year brings a wave of eagerness and optimism. We runners sit down and set our running and racing goals for the year with enthusiasm and gusto. We reflect on goals missed and/or met in the previous year and make plans to either exceed those goals or to do better to accomplish them. It’s a time of high expectations and while it may be easy to write down in a journal that “I’m going to run 15 miles per week,” the reality sets in quickly that it’s far more difficult to actually accomplish. So how do we avoid this trap? How do we not only make running goals for the year but take action to meet them? Some runners simply have the discipline needed to do exactly that. They say they’re going to do something and they do it. I need more accountability or the couch and my favorite television shows slowly but surely suck me in to their grasp. May I offer my favorite tool for accountability as a tip to all you runners starting off the new year with a long list of goals? Sign up for a race. And one that happens soon.

Ideally I would have posted about this a few months ago and advised you to sign up for a race that happens in January. This is the first year I’ve done just that and man has it helped me to start the running year off right! Normally in January I’m slowly easing out of holiday mode and maybe getting in a few 3 mile runs a week if I’m lucky. This year I’m signed up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on January 20 and I need a lot more than 3 mile runs to get ready. Admittedly I’m behind on my training but I knew that coming into the New Year. I knew that I would need to make these three weeks before race day count. The challenge would be to put in enough miles to be ready for the race without injuring myself. So far, I’m kicking butt.

The reason I say either run a race in January or one that happens as soon as possible in the new year is because if you don’t, you’re not really avoiding the trap. Don’t get me wrong, taking that step to sign up for a race and challenge yourself is always a good thing but if the race isn’t until October then you’re not really lighting the fire under your butt to get out and run NOW. Don’t allow procrastination to present itself as an option. Immediacy is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think you should sign up for a distance you’re not ready for. You can’t go from holiday slug to marathon runner in a month. If you’ve been sluggish the past few months, sign up for a 5k that happens in February. Not quite a slug but still emerging from a slow holiday pace? How about a 10k before March 1st? You know your limits and your abilities. The most important thing right now as we start the new year is just to get out there and run, and for me a countdown to a race that I’m excited about really holds me accountable to that.

There are other ways to hold yourself accountable if your bank account is a little dry after the holiday shopping season and those entry fees are just a bit too much. Why not get a running partner and schedule runs together? You’re more likely to get up out of bed when that alarm goes off at 6:00 am if your friend is waiting for you outside. There are many ways to creatively motivate yourself. The most important thing is to figure out how to make your running goals a priority. For me, accountability comes in the form of pixie dust.

I can state with almost certainty that I won’t be setting any PRs at the upcoming Tink Half. The relief is that I’m totally OK with that. This is another important New Year’s lesson. Not every race has to be a record-setter. Sometimes it’s more important just to finish than to finish first. That’s my goal for this Half Marathon. I want to have fun. I want to finish. I don’t care about my time. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that’s a strange thing for me to say. I’m just excited to get 2013 off to a running start! ūüôā

Speaking of running at Disney, it’s an exciting time of year for we runDisney fans! Not only is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon coming up in just a week and a half, but bigger news is that the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is happening this Sunday! I still haven’t found it in me to sign up for a marathon but I know that when I do I want my first to be the WDW Marathon. I love connecting with all of my runDisney pals on Twitter and it’s been very cool to see the feeds exploding in excitement for this weekend’s upcoming events. I’m thinking of all of you! Especially everyone running the Goofy Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, check it out: if you sign up for the Goofy Race and Half Challenge then you run the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday. It’s called Goofy for a reason! Have fun out there and I can’t wait to read all of your race reports in the blogosphere!

One more bit of quick business about the upcoming Half Marathon. I need a costume. Now, it’s called the Tinker Bell Half Marathon so there is an obvious costume choice built right into the title. I’m certain there will be literally thousands of Tinker Bells running the race. My instinct is twofold. On the one hand I want to do something different to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, HOW CAN I TURN DOWN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS TINKER BELL? Yeah, I don’t care if I’m one in 10,000, I gotta dress up as Tinker Bell.

an afternoon in Neverland

an afternoon in Neverland

falling down the rabbit hole HURTS!

I’ve convinced myself that what happened at the race on Sunday happened so that I would have great material to write about for my blog. Who wants to read about something going as planned? Don’t worry, you won’t.

Running has given me life lessons at every turn and last weekend’s half marathon is no exception. You can plan and plan and plan for something and when it comes right down to it you can’t control what happens at go time.

I start the weekend with enthusiasm and confidence. I know I have trained hard and I have trained strong. I am ready. More ready for a race than ever before. There is practically nothing that can stop me from murdering my personal record.

I am so excited about my costume choice and have even convinced Brad to dress up as the White Rabbit.

ready to race

We make it down to the starting corral at 5:00 am and the nerves start to kick in. Not everything is perfect after all. I have a pinched nerve in my back that seems to flare up only at times it is unwelcome. Despite my best efforts to get up extra early and drink copious amounts of coffee I have not yet “gone to the bathroom.” Pardon me for the crudeness but this is a very important issue for runners. And lastly, I remember that my last long race was not strong at all. It was an 8 miler and it almost got the best of me. These things start to play on my confidence and I feel it wane a bit.

I suffer from allowing my race day energy to disguise itself as worry as I wait in my corral for the 45 minutes before we start running. Something I need to work on. Thankfully the energy is quickly put to good use as we move across the starting line. I feel the nerves turn into running fuel. We start strong. 5 Р4 Р3 Р2 Р1.. GO! The race is off. 

At just a 1/4 mile into the race Brad and I hear a loud smack and see a poor runner just to our right take a nasty face-plant into the pavement. Those street lane bumps, they’ll get you every time. It’s a bad spill and I feel so sorry for her. She gets up rather quickly, although I don’t know if she is able to stay in the race. I think to myself “Geez I’m glad that wasn’t me,” coupled with an eerie shadow of foreboding. I shake it off and keep running. Watch your footing, I tell myself.

The race is fantastic. I feel so strong. We’re passing people left and right which clearly means we’re going to pace out with a group much faster than in previous year’s. We do have to stop in Fantasyland for a bathroom break (dang coffee, NOW you kick in!) but luckily there is no line so it’s only about a 3 minute delay. Still. 3 minutes mean a lot to a runner trying to beat a PR. But it can’t be helped.

There’s not much else to say about the next 5 miles. They are incredible. I feel strong. I feel fast. I even feel a runner’s high start to kick in. I have a killer playlist to boot. Amazing what music does to put pep in your step. Good, good, better, better. Let’s skip to mile 8, shall we?

We turn the corner to enter Angel Stadium. This is one of Brad and my’s favorite spots on the course. There are so many people in the stadium there cheering us on. It’s exactly the burst of energy we need at mile 9 to get through the next 4 miles. We turn the corner to exit the stadium and that’s when it happens. I fall down the rabbit hole. The operative word being fall.

I have a fair amount of Disney music on my half marathon playlist. What can I say? I love it. Have you ever run to “Out There” from Hunchback of Notre Dame? Or even better, “Go the Distance” from Hercules? You’ll never run faster. I have one song on my playlist to pay homage to our costumes for the day. This song:

This is the song that Alice sings right before she falls down the rabbit hole. This is the song that plays as I turn the corner out of the stadium, catch half of my foot on the cement walkway and half on the dirt sidewalk, and fall on my face. This is the song that plays as I fall down a rabbit hole of my own, I kid you not. Not only do I seem to live my life in metaphors, I seem to actually BE Alice.

Many emotions and thoughts race through your body and brain when you fall in a moment like that. Amazingly you run the entire¬†gamut¬†of emotions in just the few short seconds it takes you to hit the ground. Forgive the dramatics as I describe this experience but the reason for them is that I have huge expectations for this race. I know what stellar shape I’m in. I know that we’re ahead of our PR and if we just keep at pace, we’ll beat it by a landslide. As I fall, first I feel denial. I feel that I can stop myself. I feel that I can catch my footing. Then I realize I can’t. Then I feel embarrassment. Good lord how embarrassing to fall in front of all these runners. And in a petticoat no less. I suddenly feel silly for wearing it. Then I feel dread. Oh no. I can’t believe I just fell. I can’t believe that just happened. What does this mean? I try to assess the damage but I can’t tell yet. Oh God what if I can’t finish?? I look down and see that I’ve scraped my knee rather dramatically. What just a moment ago was was a gleaming pair of white tights is now a torn dirty bloody rip across my knee. I don’t care about that. I can run with a scraped knee. What I care about is that I can tell something is wrong with my ankle. A new level of denial kicks in. No way. My ankle is FINE. I give it a good rub. A runner who is right in front of me when I fall is so kind. Even though she sees Brad is there to help me, she stops and helps me up and shows true concern on her face. She tells me just to stand for a few minutes before I start running again. There is something about her. She doesn’t show me pity. She looks truly concerned. She shows solidarity. I read in her face “girl, this happens to everyone at some point.” I won’t forget that woman and her random act of kindness. It really comforts me in that moment.

I take her advice and Brad and I stand there for a few minutes to see if I can put weight on my ankle. In the back of my mind I know it doesn’t matter. I am finishing this race if I have to crawl to the finish line. A few minutes of walking and I start to pick up the pace again. The tingling in my ankle seems to have stopped and I feel pretty much fine putting my complete weight on it and getting back to our previous pace. I figure I’m lucky. That I just escaped really twisting or spraining it and won’t be injured at all other than my bloody knee. I underestimate the power of adrenaline.¬†Looking back I know now that a huge dose of the wonder hormone surged straight towards my bad ankle and let me finish the race. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. Human bodies are amazing things. Of course a day later I’ve got a knot the size and color of ripe plum on the side of my foot, but in that moment I think I’m in the clear.

Within just a few minutes we’re flying again. I feel strong and fast and I’m doing my best just to laugh off the fall. Focus and determination to cross that finish line prevent me from looking back. Prevent me from playing the moment over and over again in my head and trying to undo it somehow. That would come in time.

I do my best to really pick up the pace these last few miles. I know we lost at least 4 minutes with the fall. We turn the corner at the end of mile 12 and I can’t believe how amazing I feel. I see a group of runners doing burpees at the mile 13 sign. Ok, so I don’t feel THAT good, but by my standards I’ve never felt better. The finish line is in sight and I fly toward it. At this point I try not to think about my time and just focus on finishing strong. I’ve never experienced the half marathon finish like this. Not a single ounce of nausea. Barely any fatigue. Minimal muscle tightening. I really could have gone farther. We fly through the finish line, Donald and Goofy cheering from the sidelines. Brad feels good enough to proclaim that he feels like he could run a marathon right now. Now there’s an idea.

Not too much time goes by and thoughts previously put at bay by determination and adrenaline start to creep into my mind.

WHY DID I HAVE TO FALL?????

Ugh. Why? How hard is it to put one foot in front of the other? How could I fall? I try to visualize it in my head in slow-mo and I can’t figure out how it happened. One minute I’m running, the next minute I’m eating dirt. If only I had been more careful with my footing. If only I hadn’t been so over zealous in trying to pass people. I would have stayed more on the center of the track and not gone near that lip that tripped me. If only I hadn’t chased that white rabbit. If only… if only… if only. I know it’s just the Disneyland Half Marathon. I know it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But I was doing so well! Why did I have to fall on my best run ever? Why couldn’t I fall on a mediocre run when there was less at stake?

I immediately start thinking about the Olympics. So many Olympian runners have fallen at clinch moments. 1st place with just 200M left and a hurdle gets ’em. Down they go along with their dreams of gold medal glory. If I feel this bad after falling during the Disneyland Half Marathon, I really can’t imagine how those Olympians who have suffered a similar fate felt when their life’s dreams slipped away. Truly. My heart goes out to you.

Even with these thoughts running through my head trying to undo what happened, the truth is I don’t feel terrible. I feel awesome. I feel better than ever before and though I don’t share Brad’s immediate confidence that I could run 26.2 miles in that exact moment, for the first time ever I start to think that one day I probably could.

Then I start thinking about our time. Brad used the Nike+ running app (which he is now completely converted to thanks to my review), to track our time so we’d be able to see our splits. We look at the final results. 2:33. Last year’s time,¬†2:43. That’s not bad. We didn’t shave 15 minutes off but we shaved 10, and that’s pretty darn good.

This realization is bittersweet. I know that this will not be our official chip time. Brad paused the app during our bathroom breaks and during my stumble incident, so while this is an accurate depiction of the amount of time it took us to literally run 13.1 miles, it’s not our official time. 2:33 is the time it took us minus all of the obstacles that got in our way, but it’s the obstacles that get in your way and what it takes you to overcome them that give you your real record. That’s why official times matter. Because you can’t subtract the obstacles from your life to measure your success. They have to factor in or the success is not real, it’s sterilized.

So how long did it officially take us to run the Disneyland Half Marathon this year? 2:39. Even with two bathroom breaks (one extra long) and a pretty dramatic tumble in Angel Stadium, we still shaved 4 minutes off of our race time. We still finished with a personal record. So why am I so dissatisfied?

Last year’s race and this year’s were so different. Last year’s training regimen was weak. We ran the race with zero stops, bathroom breaks or otherwise, and finished at 2:43. If what had happened this year on the course had happened last year I know that 2:43 would have been closer to 2:55. So somewhere in my heart I know that I actually did cut 15 minutes off of my race time. But it doesn’t count. What I did was cut 15 minutes off of my ability, and there’s value to that, but the official time is the official time. We run races for a reason. A race is what you do with 15,000 other runners around you. A race is what you do with a course you’ve never been on before. A race is what you do in a sudden rainstorm, or freezing weather. A race is how fast you pick yourself up when you fall down. A race is what you do knowing the clock won’t stop to make it easier. You can train for years and when it comes right down to it, you can’t control what happens on race day. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control your bowels, you can’t control if you fall (well, you can control it but you definitely can’t reverse it). You can never run in perfect conditions. This is why runner’s run races. Because life isn’t sterilized. Life doesn’t hand you perfect conditions so when you succeed in spite of the challenges, the success is so sweet and so worthy of celebration.

When a race doesn’t go exactly as planned, the challenges that got in your way motivate you to try again and circumvent them completely. Yes we finished with a new personal record. In the face of the obstacles presented to us we did incredibly well and yes, without those obstacles we would have done even better. Without those obstacles I would have accomplished what I set out to do, and that is cut 15 minutes off of my official time. Knowing that I’m ready to achieve that motivates me like crazy. We did everything we should have done. We trained right. We ran strong. Everything else was out of our control. Let’s just say, I’m counting down the weeks until Half Marathon 2013. I will not be falling again.

falling down hurts

but doesn’t stop me from smiling

proud with our medals

Alice

shot of the bunny tail

happy

Next installment of Running to Tahiti, “my visit to Wonderland.”

10 miles of bliss

Half Marathon training week 5 has come and gone! We are officially halfway to race day. So sorry that I didn’t post a schedule last week. I was too busy running! That’s no excuse. There may be at least one person who reads this blog and tries to keep up with the training schedule. To that loyal runner and reader, I apologize. Let’s get back on track here in week 6! But first, some great highlights from the past week and a half.

I ran 10 miles!!!! 10.5 to be exact. I could not believe it when Saturday approached and I looked at the training calendar. How did we already make it to the double-digit runs? Time has flown by and yet, Brad and I have not let the training schedule fly by with it. We’ve been scrupulous this year, following every training mile to a tee, and it’s paying off. The added miles are getting easier, the pace is slowly quickening. (Slowly quickening? Jumbo shrimp? Whatever it makes sense to me.)

So there I am on Saturday morning, knowing what challenge lies ahead of me. I intend to get up early and hit the pavement so as not to encounter that evil midday sun. We all know how that goes. But I wake up at 8:00 am with a cat snuggling on my belly and come on, I simply cannot move him. It would be cruel! 

he’s a paperweight for people

So I close my eyes for a few more minutes and before I know it, it’s 11:00am. Looks like it’s going to be a midday run whether I like it or not. I pray for marine layer, or at least a cool breeze. I get up and make a plan for the day.

11:00 – 12:00 slowly get up and get dressed

12:00 – 1:00 fuel up. Lots of carbs and water.

1:00 – 2:00 take a walk down Main Street and burn off some of the carbs so as to avoid a sideache during run.

2:00 – 4:00 RUN!

Steps 1 – 3 go off without a hitch. 2:00 approaches and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the impending workout. Like I said, I have notoriously mixed results on these long training runs and today I will be in trouble if I get sick. Brad is out of town so there will be no one to come rescue me if I collapse on the sidewalk in heat exhaustion. I make a couple of promises to myself and I’m certain it’s these promises that make for such a successful run.

1) Don’t worry about speed. Go as slow as you need to, especially in the beginning. Don’t. Worry.

2) Don’t be an idiot. If you start to feel sick or weird, just stop and walk home. Don’t. Be. An. Idiot.

These things may sound obvious but to my stubborn brain they are not. I have before run to the brink of hospitalization so I need to actively remind myself that it’s simply not worth it. What I fear most about running long distances is not that I will get sick or die, it’s that I won’t be able to finish. Kind of twisted, isn’t it? In giving myself permission to fail, and to not finish, I feel the anxiety about the mileage ahead quickly evaporate and I take off on my run, fearlessly.

I want to take you through every moment, but I know I can’t capture them. What I’ll say is this, every moment was full. I ran for two solid hours and I’ve never felt so present and grateful for time. I often spend my running time daydreaming. Not so much on these 10 miles. Or rather, it was a different kind of daydreaming. Rather than imagining far off lands and distant dreams, I was inspired by the land around me. I didn’t listen to any music or podcasts. Didn’t have my ear buds in at all. Just ran in the moment listening to the world around me, occassionally talking to myself, and taking in the beautiful California landscape.¬†

I started this blog because I originally wanted to write about running and travel. I love to travel. My favorite way to explore a new place is to run in it. It gets in your blood that way. When you run you inhale so much oxygen into your system and your brain releases so many happy endorphins that I believe you literally breathe in the world around you in a deeper way when you run through it as opposed to drive or even walk. I looked out at the sea I ran next to and it looked more beautiful to me than the day before. I looked up at the blue sky and felt the sun seep into my skin. (My spf covered skin. Wear sun screen!) I felt the sea breeze blow across my face and was incredibly grateful for its cool kiss. I let myself off the hook for running fast and I freed myself from the fear of getting sick, and in return I got the most exhilarating two hours to myself that I will draw upon whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious. I’ll remember back to that Saturday run that it was just me and my breath and the pavement and the sky.

I finished strong. Achy and THIRSTY, to be sure, but strong. 10.5 miles of presence. 10.5 miles of bliss.

Some survival tips for a long run. Before I left for breakfast I filled both of my belt bottles with water and stuck them in the freezer. That way I was ensured ice cold water for almost the entire 10 miles. I know there are trainers out there who will caution against drinking ice water when you’re¬†exerting¬†so much energy. It can be a shock to the system but it’s also a lifesaver if you start to overheat. For me, I’m all about ice water. I also made sure to wear my hat which kept the midday sun out of my eyes and off my scalp. And last but not least, sun screen. So crucial. The last thing you want is burned skin after a long hard run. First because it’s just plain bad for you. Cancer anyone!? Second because your body is going to be so heated after your workout and burned skin will make it that much harder for your body temp to come down. Not to mention how uncomfortable you’ll be. Don’t think twice. Just wear screen.

At the end of this post I’ll list the training schedule for both the Half Marathon runners and those on the Couch-to-5k‚ĄĘ program for this week. But first, I wanted to share some photos with you. This is why I love where I live. Look where I get to run!

the view from mile 3 out of 10

the mighty pacific

the most beautiful sunset i’ve ever seen

And here’s the schedule for this week:

Half Marathon

  • Monday – 4 miles
  • Wednesday – 5 miles
  • Thursday – 4 miles
  • Saturday – 11 miles

Family Fun Run 5k

  • Monday –¬†Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
    • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Wednesday –¬†Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
    • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Friday –¬†Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: ¬†jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22 minutes) with no walking.

Do you have a blissful running moment to share? Write them in the comments below and inspire us all!

Happy Running!