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!
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 😉
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 🙂
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 🙂
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 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.
Chris, 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:
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!
On the shuttle to the start line. SO early.
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)
At the starting line!
A sea of runners. Always majorly impressed by the turnout at runDisney events!
Getting some encouragement from Minnie and Daisy.
I LOVE all of the signs that the chEAR squad and spectators hold up along the course. This one had to be my favorite!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Me and Miss Bell
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!
This had to be around mile 3 or 4 and yes, it’s STILL dark out
Running through the castle!
Disney custodial is all about the runDisney. And we THANK YOU Disney custodial!
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.
One more mile!
Both feet off the ground!
At the finish line with Minnie. Don’t you think this should be an ad for runDisney?? I think so 🙂
I was so excited to get my thermal blanket. You just don’t feel like a distance runner until you get an astronaut blanket.
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.
Chris had shrimp grits, southern boy that he is.
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?
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.
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 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.. 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.
Next installment of Running to Tahiti, “my visit to Wonderland.”
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!
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™ 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!
And here’s the schedule for this week:
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!
We’re already in week 3 of training for the Disneyland Half Marathon and Family Fun Run 5k. I get more and more excited as the days go by! Here is the schedule for this week:
Mon – 3 miles
Tue – Rest
Wed – 4 miles
Thu – 3 miles
Fri – Rest
Sat – 6 miles
Sun – Rest
Family Fun Run 5K (This week is different from previous weeks so read closely)
Monday – Brisk five-minute warm-up walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Wednesday – Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Thursday – Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Tips for the week:
It’s ok to move the training days around. Ideally you should keep the same pattern of workout days to rest days, but if you miss Monday and need to run on Tuesday instead, go for it. Don’t just not run because you missed a day. Adjust your schedule to get in as much of the week’s suggested training runs as possible. Or if you’re never free to run on Saturdays, make your long runs on Sundays instead. You catch my drift. HOWEVER, if you get really behind I would caution against doing 4 days in a row of training. That could lead to injury and set you way back. Let the day or days you missed go and vow to be more on top of it next week.
I mentioned morning runs before and how beneficial (albeit annoying) they are. This week, let’s make at least one workout start at or before 7:00 am. We can do it!
Try sprints at the end of your run. It’s a great way to build up overall speed and endurance. About a quarter of a mile before you finish, start to pick up the pace. As Brad says, start to let go. Don’t hold yourself back. Let your muscles release and your feet fly. It seems counter-intuitive but the more you release the faster you’ll run. Think speed, relax into it, fly. By the time you finish you should be completely out of breath, totally uncomfortable, and you should feel the skin of your face jiggling in all kinds of funny ways. You very well may have some drool spraying out from your jiggling lips so keep your distance from your running partner 🙂
Are you training for a half marathon? What kind of training plan are you on? Any tips for fellow runners? Tahiti readers would love to hear feedback from some other runners out there, so feel free to leave some comments and share your training tips.
Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Somehow it isn’t. Somehow I carry on with these lofty ideas that I’ll cut my time by 15 minutes this year, judging by my progress, by sheer will alone. The truth is if I want to excel I have to fracking speed up! This translates into all areas of my life. I tell myself I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get my reel done, I’m going to get representation, I’m going to have a career. What I repeatedly overlook is that you have to actually do the work it takes to get those things. Willing them will not make them so. Maybe it’s enough for some people but I can tell that I’m just not that lucky. I have to do the work. I’m going to use the opportunity to run faster at this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon as an opportunity to kick my butt into high gear, and put my money where my mouth is, in ALL areas of my life. First, time to speed up.
I owe this minor revelation partly to myself, and partly to my friend Chris who I ran with this morning. We ran 4 miles and he is naturally quite a bit faster than me so it was a great challenge. Forced me to pick up the pace. When we were done I was telling him my plans to cut down my half marathon time by 15 minutes this year. He quickly replied “and how many weeks do you have?”
“9 weeks,” I told him.
“You better start speeding up.”
“I have time,” I reassured myself him. Then it dawned on me, he’s totally right. I BETTER start speeding up. I always tell myself that I have time but then I fall into my comfort zone and enjoy my leisurely 11 minute mile. True progress involves being in a constant state of slight discomfort. I’m far too comfortable. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it’s going to be September 1st and time will have run out. I can’t just wish for progress to happen, I have to run faster. Again, sounds obvious, but this was an aha moment.
He then proceeded to break it down for me in mathematical terms. Essentially I’m going to focus one short run a week on cutting my time by at least 5 – 10 minutes. If I can do that then slowly but surely as my runs get longer it should even out and I will cut significant time off my total half marathon. I have to do this.
The other factor that’s really going to start speeding things up is the loss of the weight. I had an aha moment regarding this yesterday as well. Brad was showing me his brand new scuba diving weights he’d just bought. They are two pounds each. He threw one my way and as I caught it, my whole arm fell to the floor with the weight of the catch. I was amazed at how heavy two measly little pounds felt. The lightbulb went off. Holy crap. If I ran with this thing in my pocket, I would definitely notice it. I would definitely slow down. The truth is, I AM running with those weights only they’re not in my pocket. They’re on my ass, and my arms, and my thighs. I realized in that moment that if I lost just two pounds off my frame it would make a significant difference. Imagine how 10 pounds would change my speeed! 15! This must happen. This is a key component to speeding up. I can’t run with excess scuba weights in my pockets.
The thing is… I have a need… a need for speed 🙂 I want to be fast like lightning. I want to feel the wind whip through my hair. I want the world around me to feel like a blur. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I want to finish fast. More than anything though, I want to get out of this horrible habit of wishing for things and not making them come true. It’s not enough to wish. It’s enough to wish AND act. Time to take action.
Plus, you never know when you’re going to be chased by enemy flying saucers through the jungle. When that happens, I want to run like this kid. Talk about running inspiration.
I’ve been thinking and thinking about how best to give training advice to those of you who will be training for the Family Fun Run 5K this September. In all honesty, it’s been difficult for me to figure out the best approach because it’s been awhile since I’ve trained for that distance. It’s hard to get in the right head space. I truly don’t mean to toot my own horn by saying that. I’ve said many times, and I’ll say it again, that I am a slow, amateur runner. But I stick with it, so I’m able to build up a lot of endurance. Trust me when I say that anything I can do, you can do too, and I in no way mean to poo-poo the fact that it’s daunting to take on your first 5k. I’ve been running my entire adult, and most of my young adult life, so 5k is my standard daily run. I’m at a place where that’s my starting distance. That wasn’t always the case of course and it was my stroll down memory lane today, back to the beginning of my love affair with running, that helped me get back in touch with what you are feeling. I do in fact remember what a mountain 3 miles can look like to someone who has never run before.
I’ve never wrote about my history with running and what made me start. Most of the time I feel like I’ve just always been a runner but that is, in fact, completely not true. I owe every ounce of my passion for running to my 6th grade teacher Mr. Turner. There were two 6th grade classes at my elementary school. You either got the eclectic, artsy, eccentric teacher with a passion for ancient Egypt; or you got Mr. Turner, the sarcastic, brash, tough jock who reminded me of Coach Hayden Fox. Guess who I got. The jock. And I’m so glad I did for many reasons. I don’t need to delve into the merits of my public school education right now so I’ll only talk about one specific thing for which I owe Mr. Turner a debt of gratitude. He got me in shape. Mr. Turner made the entire class run… every day. When he told us we’d be running a mile every day, we were a) mad and b) convinced our teacher was crazy. We had P.E. once or twice a week and we all played during recess, so why the heck did we need to run every day? I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Turner’s motivations were, but I know he was on to something. Making our class run every day not only blew off the excess energy we 12 year olds harbored and helped us focus when we got back to our desks, it laid the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle and the discipline and routine it takes to maintain it. It’s easy to play tag at recess when you WANT to, but that’s not going to last forever, and neither is a 12 year old’s metabolism. It’s not so easy to be healthy and fit when you don’t necessarily feel like it, but if you build in the habit at a young age you’ll be ten steps ahead of the fitness curve for the rest of your life. I think Mr. Turner knew this, and I think this was exactly why he made us run every single day. Or he was just living out his dreams of being a drill sergeant.
Throughout the rest of my life I haven’t always been perfect about maintaining a fitness schedule, but I’ve always known that it’s important and that I should strive to keep myself active. I’m proud to say that I’ve never been a couch potato, and I definitely would have veered in that direction if it were not for the running practice I started at age 12. If you’re reading this, it doesn’t matter if your 12 or 70, it is absolutely never too late to get yourself into an active lifestyle. Running a 5k (3.1 miles) is a fantastic goal to strive for.
So now that we’ve covered what laying a healthy foundation did for me, now let’s talk about my actual experience of running back then. The daily requirement was that we walk or run a mile. That’s it. Boy, back then, it seemed like a million miles. That field we ran around was HUGE and we had to run around it 4 times? Crazy talk. For weeks and weeks I did a lot of walking. Run walk run. The weeks passed by and the walking breaks subsided. Before I knew it, I was running a solid mile every day. It felt great. At that point Mr. Turner upped the stakes. He said that we still only had to run a mile every day with the rest of the class, but if we wanted we could start aiming for 2 miles.. and even 3! No way. 3 miles was like the same distance as a marathon, right? Absolutely no way.
Looking back, I feel like I have two different brains. The brain of now that feels like 3 miles is a warm-up, and the brain of my youth that remember 3 miles feeling like an impossibility. Both feelings are true, and one is a hearty reminder that the impossible is never truly impossible.
I continued to run with my classmates a mile a day. I didn’t jump into the 2 mile club. I may have added an extra lap here and there but on the whole I was happy with the 1 mile. Some days I’d push myself and get faster. Others I’d slow down and spend the time gabbing my girlfriends about the brand new training bras we’d just gotten. I enjoyed the time so much. Time to clear my head and not worry about homework, or taking notes, or whether Danny was looking at me on the playground, or whether someone would ask me to play foursquare with them. Not a care in the world. Just run. After a couple of months I decided that maybe I would try and reach that 2 mile goal. A lot of my friends were aiming for it, and a few kids in my class were even going to try for 3. Crazy! Mr. Turner set a specific date that we would try to run the extra distances. That way we could really focus on a timeline to achieve our goal. I kept adding laps , sometimes running and sometimes walking, and slowly but surely I felt like I could take on 2 miles.
The big day came. About 12 – 15 of us were going to try for 2 miles. 2 kids in class were going to shoot for 3. I still remember those kids. One was a tiny little lighting bolt with brown hair and spindly legs. Boy could he fly. Another was a tall blonde boy who was almost all leg. Clearly he had an advantage. He covered the same amount of ground with 1 step as I did with 3! We started all together. I remember a lot of kids stopping after the first mile. I remember myself wishing I was one of them. But I didn’t give in. I kept going, and after what felt like an eternity later, I crossed that finish line to the sound of my classmates cheering me on. That was the first time I experienced the “oh my god I’m going to puke” feeling from a workout. It felt good 🙂
Mr. Turner had three big cards up on the wall in our classroom. One said “1 mile.” The other said “2 miles” and the third said, yep you guessed it, “3 miles.” After our accomplishment he would put our names under the corresponding card. Everyone’s name was up on the board some where. Most kids stayed under the 1 mile card. A handful of us made it to 2. And still only those 2 quick as lightning boys made it under 3. That bugged me. What can I say, I’ve always been competitive. 2 boys, no girls. That just couldn’t stand.
The next date rolled around where we could try and reach the next running goal. Many of my fellow classmates were more confident this round shooting for 2 miles. I was proud of them. Me, I was going to, hopefully, do the impossible. I didn’t know how I would be able to ever run so far, but somehow, I was going to try and run 3 miles. The whistle blew and we all started running. I instinctively knew to pace myself. Boy did I ever. I trotted for the first mile more than ran. A very slow trot. The laps came and went. If 2 miles felt like an eternity, this felt like eternity times a thousand. I made it past 2 miles, and 4 looooong laps later, I stumbled across the finish line. Wow… Holy.. I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe I actually ran as far as that tiny brunette kid, and couldn’t believe that I’d accomplished the impossible, and couldn’t believe how sick I felt. Yet I knew I’d be ok. I was too excited to not be ok. In that moment I’d set a new bar for myself. I thought back to how difficult I thought it would be to run 1 mile, and here I’d just run 3. That was the beginning for me. The beginning of a lifelong love affair with running. And the beginning of a lifelong quest to achieve the impossible. Thank you Mr. Turner.
If you’re gearing up to begin training next week for the first time EVER, I’m so excited for you. You’re going to discover a new side of yourself. You’re going to change the way you live and the respect you have for your health. You’re going to achieve things you didn’t know you could do. You’re going to exceed your own expectations and after that, the sky’s the limit. Get ready for the journey that leads to The Happiest RACE on Earth!