Friday, January 24, 2014

Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2014

What a fun experience!  Our trip to Disneyland for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon was full of laughter and fun from start to finish!  

I was a little apprehensive about the run.  I had been sick the weekend before and had only managed to do 3.5 miles of my 8 mile long run.  Then the rest of the week I still didn't feel good and I was trying to make sub plans and get my own homework done ahead of time so I wouldn't have to worry about it during the trip.  That meant that in the eight days leading up to the Half I had only run once.  Yikes.  Doesn't make me feel very confident heading into a 13.1 mile run.  

I decided that it was just going to be a for fun race and I wouldn't worry about my time and would just have fun and enjoy the experience.  That was a good plan.  

We left our house at 4:00 a.m. on Friday to catch a flight out of Portland.  Our plan was to arrive as early in the morning as we could so that we could go to the Expo to pick up our gear and then have most of the day to play at Disneyland and Disney California.  We spent quite a bit of time at the Expo.  Wow, that was a little overwhelming.  Lot's of booths with all kinds of running related products.  Clothes, shoes, rollers, bling, lights, you name it, it was probably there.  It was fun to walk through and see all the funny shirts and cool gadgets.  

Then we hit the parks.  Disney is always fun.  We know a lot of people that give us a hard time because we love to go on Disney vacations.  Yes, it's spendy.  Yes, they are commercialized since there is Disney merchandise everywhere, especially for whatever movie was just released.  But you know what?  They do things right.  Their customer service is amazing!  The amount of things you can do while you are there that is included in the ticket price can keep you busy all day and into the night.  They make the experience fun and enjoyable, even when it is crowded and even when things don't go exactly the way you expected. 

We got on the monorail at the Disney hotel and got off at Tomorrowland.  We decided that the first ride should be Space Mountain which was then followed up by the Star Tours ride.  

In line for Space Mountain and Star Tours.
Both were fun and gave Josh a good taste of the types of things we could do at Disney.  Later we went over to Disney California and rode the Tower of Terror.  That was so much fun!!!  The anticipation on that ride just kills me because I never know when the drops are going to happen.  It's different every time you ride.  This is a picture of the first time we went.  We are in the back row on the left.  Josh is dead center.  I get the impression from the picture that he was having fun!

We did a few more things at Disney California and decided to end our first day by riding the Grizzly Rapids Ride.  We figured if we got wet it was fine because we were going back to the hotel anyway.  We got wet.  The ladies got drenched and the guys got partially wet.  We laughed so hard during the entire ride.  When we got done and were unbuckling a Cast Member (Disney employee) came over and asked if we wanted to go again since there was no line.  We all looked at each other and then said Yes!  I thought we had laughed a lot the first time around.  My sides hurt from how hard we laughed the second time.  By the time we got done everyone was soaked.  What a fun way to end the day.  

Saturday morning we got up early because we had reservations for a character breakfast called Minnie and Me.  It's a huge buffet breakfast and a bunch of different characters come into the restaurant and they visit each table.  It was so much fun to watch Josh and Wendie get excited about seeing different characters.  

Minnie & Me Breakfast
Tower of Terror was once again the favorite ride of the day.  This time the boys were being silly for the picture.  Imagine that, Joe and Josh being silly!  lol  The picture is a little grainy because it's a phone shot of the display after the ride.  
We stayed at the park until about 3:30 and then headed back to the hotel for some hot tub time and
dinner so we could relax and go to bed early for the race the next day.  We soaked in the hot tub for quite awhile and then finished off the evening with pizza.  We were all in bed before 8:00 p.m. so that we could get up early for the race.

Early?  How early?  Three o'clock in the morning early!  Ugh!  We left the hotel around four a.m. and headed towards the start line.  The start of the race was by the Paradise Pier hotel and was at least a mile from our hotel.  We didn't want to be rushed we left early.  The temperature was about 45 degrees.  I had decided to wear a running skirt and tank top because I figured I would warm up quickly and that would make me the most comfortable during the race.  

Joe had decided to run with me.  At first I was resistant to this idea.  He is so much faster with me and I have really been struggling with my pace and my stomach not feeling well during my runs so I was not confident with how I was going to do.  I didn't want to slow him down or frustrate him if I didn't do well.  He has told me before (not to be mean or anything) that it is hard to run slower because it actually is painful for him and I didn't want to make him be in pain for 13.1 miles.   However, my good friend Betsy pointed out that I am very blessed to have a wonderful man in my life who WANTED to be with me for 13.1 miles.  Well, I can't argue with that logic!  So I quit trying to talk him out of it and decided to enjoy the extra together time.

I was supposed to start in Corral D but got we got in the wrong one by mistake and ended up in Corral E.  This meant we were way back and in with mostly walkers.  Not a big deal usually but that did present some challenges during the run.  The official race time was 5:00 a.m. but they had a staggered start with each corral waiting a bit before they took off.  We didn't start until about 5:30 a.m.  It was quite the party at the start line, lot's of music, Disney characters and fun.  We ran the first half of the half marathon going through the two parks.  The first park was Disney California.  Everything was all lit up and looked amazing.  Cast Members were everywhere cheering us on.  The first characters that we saw were the Incredibles.  We didn't stop and get pictures with any of the characters because the lines were ridiculous!  Worse than during the day with a line of kids waiting. lol  Joe had stopped for a potty break and was going to catch up with me.  I stopped at the Pier to take a selfie with everything lit up behind me.  Joe caught up not too long after that.  We finished in Disney California and then headed over to Disneyland.  We ran down Main Street and Joe took my picture.  I love the castle in the distance and all the tutus running past.  Definitely catches the atmosphere of the race.  We passed several more characters.  I was tempted to stop for Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers but that line was even longer than any we had seen so far!  The longest line we saw all morning was for Jack Sparrow.  He did look very authentic and a great deal like Johnny Depp.  :-)

We stopped to take a selfie at It's a Small World and a very nice woman offered to take our picture.  We had to laugh because then she said we could take her picture to return the favor.  This picture is my favorite of the entire weekend.  I'm at Disneyland AND I'm with my husband!
In Disney California and Disneyland we ran through the parks but we also ran in some of the back areas where things are stored or the employees work behind the scenes.  Cast Members were lined up all over in these areas to cheer us on.  It was pretty fun to high five maintenance guys that are all wearing the Mickey Mouse hands.  They even had Cast Members standing beside a cone and equipment that had hitches to make sure that someone didn't trip.  Did you know they have restaurants in the back areas that are only for employees?  How cool is that?

We couldn't go very fast during the first half of the race.  It was so crowded and there were a lot of people walking.  The path got very narrow in places around the parks and there was no way to get around people so you would have to walk until an opening appeared.  When we left the parks the rest of the course took us out and about in Anaheim and then back around to the Paradise Pier hotel near where we started.  I started having stomach issues around the half way point.  It just got worse as we went so I had to walk several times because I was afraid I was going to throw up.  I had forgotten to bring along some Tums so that was a bummer.  On the plus side, I had peanut butter and jelly on a bagel when we woke up and a banana on the walk to the start.  Then during the race I used a new sugar free fuel that really seemed to work for me.  I felt like I am dialing in the nutrition part of my long runs.  Now I just need the Metformin to quit making my stomach upset when I run!! Thank you very much.  Good thing I had decided before the race that it wasn't going to be fast because it definitely wasn't!  

I thought when we got out of the parks the crowd would thin out some and it would be easier to find my groove but that didn't happen.  It was packed the entire way.  Joe and I were able to keep to the middle of the road and avoid a lot of people but there was SO MANY PEOPLE!
We walked a bit during the last mile and when we got back to where the families were lined up along the route we started running again.  Finishing walking is against the rules in our house (unless you are injured).  

As we got close to the finish line there were so many people cheering us on.  It was amazing.  When we got around the corner and could see the finish line there was music and Disney characters waiting to cheer us over the finish.  Joe and I held hands and finished together.  THAT was the best moment of the race.  We did it together.  I love my husband so much and am so humbled by his support and belief in me.  What an amazing gift to me that he spent three and a half hours running and walking with me even though he probably could have finished in two. 

I use the Nike+ app on my phone and have great success with it over the years.  However lately it has had some issues.  A couple of weeks ago it showed my 11 mile run on my phone but it didn't add the run to any of my totals.  I called and they fixed it but the map and my pace were gone.  One of the things I like about Nike is I can see what my pace was for each mile and check out if I got slower or faster.  I was looking forward to seeing what my pace was during the race during the times where I was able to find a good groove.  That wasn't going to happen.  When I stopped to take a picture of the Incredibles and then started running again I realized that my phone said I had run 98 miles.  I had run about three.  Uh oh!  lol  Nothing to do about it.  I decided not to fuss with it and just kept going.  Since I was with Joe I wasn't listening to music and also wasn't hearing my pace every 1/2 mile so it really didn't matter.  The funny part was when I we got done.  My phone died just before the end of the race.  I took too many pictures.  Next time I will carry my small Cool Pix camera and use that.  When we got back to the hotel and I charged my phone I went into the app to see what it said.  Holy Crap!  I'm secretly a Super Hero!  Able to run 809 miles in a single day and with an average pace of 14 seconds per mile.  lol  I had to put a Felt Awesome smiley on it because that is just ridiculous!  

I called Nike when we were waiting at the airport for our flight.  They were able to put the run in for the proper miles and pace but the map was lost and I couldn't see how I actually did during the race.  That was a bummer.  Oh well.  In the long run it really didn't matter.  :-)  

When we finished the race we went and got our picture taken and grabbed some food.  When we got out of the athletes area Joe asked me where I wanted to go.  I said the parking lot.  The big empty, not full of people, parking lot.  I needed some space before we walked back to the hotel.  I do fine with crowds for the most part but I can begin to feel claustrophobic if I am in them too long or I feel trapped.  This was too long.  It was time to have some space.  Then we began the long, slow walk back to the room.

A shower and a nap after a long run is the most amazing thing ever.  Makes you feel human again.  We took about an hour nap and then headed back to the parks.  It actually felt good to be moving again.  All four of us wore our race shirts and Wendie and I wore the medal as well.  It was really fun to see all the other runners wearing their shirts and medals too.  The Cast Members would tell us congratulations and we would talk to people in line about the race.  It was a lot of fun.   

I had made reservations at the Wine Country Trattoria which was a restaurant in Disney California.  With dinner we got vouchers to have a reserved spot to see the World of Color show later that evening. The food was amazing!  The only hard part for me was that the meal included a tray of samples of several deserts.  Joe ate mine.  Having no sugar at Disney was difficult and I wanted to cheat a lot.  But I didn't so I am thinking that is a pretty major victory.  

We had about an hour and half before the show started so we decided to go on the Tower of Terror.  For our Tower of Terror picture on day three we decided to pretend to be sleeping.  It turned out so funny!  If you look closely you can see that I'm trying not to laugh and/or scream.  I know the drop is coming and the anticipation is just killing me.
The half marathon wore us out!  
The World of Color show was incredible!  I had heard it was a really great show and that it shouldn't be missed but I had no idea it was going to be that impressive.  The water, the color, the lights, the music, the animation was all amazing.  I'm so glad we went!  Having the vouchers was awesome because we walked up about 5 minutes before the show started and walked right up to a spot.  Lots of people had been saving their spots for a couple of hours.  Not how I would like to spend two hours at Disney!

We headed back to the hotel after the show.  We ran a half marathon, took an hour nap and then spent an entire afternoon and evening playing at the parks.  According to my Fitbit we put in a little over 26 miles for the day!  

Monday we got up and packed so we could check out.  It was our last day of our Disney adventure.  We were able to store our luggage at the hotel and they arranged for a taxi to take us to the airport.  We spent a little time in both parks and did some shopping and had lunch in Downtown Disney.  Of course we had to have one more ride on the Tower of Terror.  :-)  

We headed back to the hotel and then made our way to the airport.  Our flight left around 7:00 p.m. and we didn't arrive in Portland until a little after 9:00 p.m.  By the time we got to the car and drove home it was about 11:30 p.m.  I felt bad for Josh and Wendie because they still had about a 20 minute drive from our house to get home.  But not too bad because I was the only one in the group that had to wake up early and go to work.  Luckily my students had mercy on me and the day wasn't too hard to get through even though I was tired.  I wore my shirt and medal and the kids loved my stories about the race and things we did at Disneyland.  I fell asleep in the recliner when I got home for about two hours.  
Would I do another Disney run?  Absolutely!  The experience was fun from start to finish.  I am glad I had decided before the race that I was just going to go slow and enjoy the experience.  I tend to get all amped up if I am not doing as well as I think I should be doing.  By deciding ahead of time that it didn't matter I didn't get all frustrated.  A frustrated Lisa is a not having fun Lisa and that would have been a bummer.  

Why I feel like a WINNER!
  • I ate no sugar!  And a big thank you to Joe, Wendie and Josh because other than the desert tray one night they really didn't eat sugar either.  I know that was for me so that I didn't have to watch them.  Things like that make me realize what great people I have in my life.  
  • I got through the first 6 miles of the run before I started having an upset stomach. I have had stomach issues when running ever since I started the Metformin.  This is the longest I have run before it started up.  Hopefully this means my body is adjusting and it will continue to improve.  
  • I didn't feel like I ran out of energy so I think I'm figuring out what works for me for nutrition during long runs.
  • My husband ran with me and that was AWESOME!!
  • I got to spend time with fun people in a fun place having a great time!
  • I kept my blood sugars pretty solid all weekend.  I had a couple of times where it got low but didn't get high which I was worried about.  
Considering all the changes I have had the last couple of month I think I can call this a successful race in many ways.  Working hard at looking at the positive instead of getting frustrated because things are going the way I want.

Next race is the Buck Mountain Trail Run.  A little over 6 miles with elevation in the Silver Falls Park area.  Guess I'm a glutten for punishment. lol  I keep saying I hate hills and trail runs and I keep signing up for them!  

Sorry for the long post and all the pictures.  There was a lot to share!  :-)

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