September 4, 2012

Well, my first half marathon is done. I had some pretty low level goals set going in:

  1. Finish. (i.e. don’t fall off pace so much that I’m swept.)
  2. Don’t be last. (Don’t laugh, I’m a pretty slow runner and I was intentionally being conservative with this being my first race over 5 miles.)

I achieved my goals!

All in all I had a great experience, the Disney races are a great place to do a first long run. The atmosphere is more carnival than competitive, especially in the new runner corrals. It was shockingly hot for Anaheim highs in the 90s all weekend and my corral didn’t pass the starting line until about quarter past 6, the sun was already shining.

Mistakes I made:

  1. I didn’t reign in my husband and he set us off a full two minutes under our usual pace, by mile nine I had a blister and we were running in full sun… our pace slowed to two minutes slower than our typical pace.*
  2. I wore flip flops on the drive down, and on our first walk through downtown Disney to pick up our race packets. Ow.
  3. I couldn’t sleep the two nights before the race. I woke up, literally, every two hours.


Stuff I did right:

  1. I ate the right stuff the days leading up to the race, including a late night, light snack the night before the race and a BelVita breakfast biscuit packet at 3:00 a.m. before the run.
  2. I paid attention to hydration a full week before the run and it helped. My nervous bladder was under control, but I was hydrated.
  3. I didn’t fall prey to feeling like a nerd about wearing my hydration belt. There’s a lot of talk about real runners not needing belts for a race. I know that I’m a slow runner, I know that I get pre-race cotton mouth, and I know that sometimes I need water before a water station.** (Not to mention, I was wary of needing fuel during the run and being confronted with fuel my stomach wasn’t accustomed to.) I also know that I’ll need my inhaler 10-15 minutes before a race starts, that I don’t have pockets, and that (depending on the duration of the run, air quality, allergens, and if the person next to me felt the need to bathe in perfume before their run) I might need to use it again before the finish line.

There were the usual aggravations – walkers who don’t stay to the right, runners who don’t stay to the left, discarded gu wrappers and water cups in the middle of the course. There were some aggravations specific to this race, too.

  1. Don’t go into a Disney race going for any kind of time goal. There are some serious bottle necks, and the course is fairly crowded from start to finish – these are not races built for personal records. Even if you manage to run the whole 13.1 miles you’ll wind up plodding along at some point – moving through the castle in particular.
  2. Be prepared to dodge a lot of people stopping for photos. I’m not talking about the people stopping for photos with characters, those photo ops take place to the side out of the runners’ paths, I’m talking about people who think the official event photographers are there to pose for. These are people who have probably never run in a bigger race, and who stop for every one of 3 photographers in a 5 foot span to strike a pose – not realizing that they are preventing everyone behind them from getting in any of the pictures. (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here.)***
  3. Be ready to wade through 14,000 other runners and anywhere between 1 and 7 of their family members as you try to exit the race area. If you’re anything like me after running you’re hot, sweaty, and just want to find food and a shower. Take a deep breath, keep your head low, and try not to imagine kicking people in the shins as you are elbowed, shoved, and have your toes flattened by strollers.

Now, to get all schmaltzy on you for a minute or two…

On Saturday, on Space Mountain of all places, I got a little choked up thinking about the fact that I was at Disneyland, with my wonderful husband (who didn’t even want to run, it was all my idea), that I was 34 years old and healthy and well enough to be running a half marathon the next day.

On Monday, over breakfast, I tried explaining to Spencer how proud I was of myself for having completed the race. It didn’t matter that we were over my time goal – the fact was that I had set a goal and achieved it. My life has been made up of milestones like this – whether it was completing my college degree, getting my first job, losing weight – there hasn’t been a lot of hand holding.

With running it was kind of a curious thing, you would think that a girl who had gone through 13+ years of mandatory physical education (my university is one of very few that require you to take a P.E. credit for graduation) someone would have looked at me and said, “You can run a mile” but no one ever did. I was the one who finally looked in the mirror and said, “You can run a mile. You can run 13 miles. You can run 26.2 miles.” I can, I have, and I will (come December). Spencer and I are already planning to do the coast to coast challenge with Disney in 2014 (2013 isn’t manageable with the Honolulu marathon, vacation time, and money), and I’m already registered for 4 more races in addition to the marathon.

The only thing that would have made Sunday any better would have been sharing it with more friends, maybe next time.

The most flattering picture ever taken of me. We'll all pretend my thighs are that thin, just for a moment.



*For the record: I tried to tell him and he kept saying, “I feel fine though!” I kept saying, “Yes, and this is mile 3…4… 5… think about mile 10.” We didn’t finish that much over our projected worst time, but I think if we’d kept pace from the start we could have done better.
**For the record: I not only drank all of the fluid on my belt, I took 2-3 cups of water at each water station. I peed twice in the 3 hours before the start of the race and once during. I was very slightly dehydrated by the end of the run.
***One woman in particular shouted at a very fast runner who let out a gasp as she stopped in front of him without warning as he was about to pass her. As a person who had been running along behind her and skidded to a stop (also muttering “Christ” under my breath as I tried to keep my balance and not face plant in her back) I can testify that he wasn’t being rude, he was shocked that she had stopped in the middle of a pack of running people without any warning and it was more of an alarm system that he was about to a. run her over, purely a result of physics and b. was trying to alert her to move to the side.

p.s. While we were away we hired a friend with a petsitting business to mind the monsters. In spite of Alex P. Kitten attempting to gaslight her the first night she was in the house, Laura did a great job with all of our kids. I cannot recommend her enough!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: