on sunday morning, my alarm went off a 3:00am. i groggily woke up and it took a few seconds before i remembered that in a few hours, i would be taking on 13.1 miles! i grabbed my clif bar and water and had my mini-breakfast in the dark (didn't want to wake my parents before i had to). i made a last minute decision to ditch the cotton shirt i got off etsy for moisture-wicking clothes; i decided comfort was more important than a disney theme. i also decided last minute that i wouldn't need to run with my water bottle since there would be at least 8 water stops on the course and i didn't want to bring my phone because i didn't want to worry about it. after i was all set to go, my dad got up to walk me to the corrals (we let mom sleep in). i grabbed a banana to eat in the corral, tapped my timothy for luck, and headed to the start!
when i found out i was in h corral, i was afraid that i'd be crossing the start line an hour after the race began and i'd be caught behind a lot of interval runners. therefore, to give myself the best chance at staying out of the sun and avoiding crowding early on, i got to the starting area over an hour before the race start. luckily, when i got to the corral, there weren't too many people there and i was able to get pretty close to the front and to the left, just as i had planned. i sat down so as to not tire my legs out more than i already had from the day before and made sure to eat my banana and one of my honey stinger gels before the race start at 5:30am. surprisingly, they moved corrals a-f through two corrals at a time, which meant i'd be starting earlier than i expected to. i briefly realized this meant my parents might not be at main street on time, and i had no phone to tell them, so i hoped the alert they got from racer tracking that i crossed the start line would be enough. finally, corral h was next to go. i was right next to the starting stage, so when rudy asked if it was anybody's first half marathon and i raised my hand, he looked at me and said "you get an automatic pr today, isn't that awesome?" yes rudy, yes it was haha. after a little more pep from our race host, it was time to go!
so sleepy, but ready to run!
i love that jenny always has all her different goals set before each race, so that morning i had decided to make my own goals.
a) finish under 2:30
b) finish with average overall pace under 12:00 min/mile
c) finish under 2:45
the first mile was out and around the disneyland neighborhood, and i realized during this mile that my legs were indeed tired from walking around the parks for two days prior to the race. but, they weren't in pain, so i wasn't concerned. i kept a conservative pace, knowing that goal a was a super long shot for this particular race, and decided that goal b was my real goal. as we headed in toward california adventure, we passed the mile 12 marker; what a mean trick! it would be awhile before i saw that again, but it was okay, because i was about to spend a few miles in my favorite place! i was so focused on whether or not my parents would be on main street in time, that i didn't pay much attention to my time in california adventure. but i did make sure to get some water from the water stop; i planned to take water from each stop and get powerade from every other stop after mile 6, along with taking a honey stinger gel every 45 minutes.
is it weird this is my new favorite picture?
as we headed across the esplanade toward disneyland, i was shocked by how many people were already out! the support from everyone was amazing, and i was so stoked to just be there. as we headed down main street, i tried to keep an eye out for my parents. i spotted them toward the very end, but they couldn't see me. i tried to wave their attention, but i didn't catch it until i was pretty much passing them. the three of us laughed as my dad got out a "go brittney!" and i heard my mom complain about not getting my picture. oh well! then it was time to go through the rest of disneyland. i could already tell there were more characters out today than at the 10k, but i reminded myself that i didn't want to stop, since the lines were already pretty long. i especially didn't want to stop since i was definitely noticing crowding on the course moreso than the day before. there were some points in disneyland where there just wasn't much area to move. the crowding was annoying but, before i knew it, we were heading out of the back of toontown and in to the streets of anaheim for the remaining 7 miles, where crowding definitely wasn't an issue.
right away what you notice coming out of the resort is a hill is headed your way in the form of an overpass. now, training in chicago, i don't encounter hills often (recall my first 10k) so i don't really know the best way to run on them. however, i knew about this hill coming in to the race, so i figured just power through it and i'd be fine. which was true! it wasn't nearly as bad as i thought it would be. once i was over the hill, i knew it was another 3 or so miles before another "landmark" but even still, i didn't want to listen to music just yet because i didn't want to miss any of the on-course entertainment (turns out, i wouldn't end up using my headphones at all!). so i just ran along, taking the whole experience in. i was feeling really strong, i was well under a 12:00 min/mile pace, and i was enjoying everything. the only thing that ever rattled me was thinking "but i still have ___ more miles..." but i tried to keep those thoughts to a minimum. it was easy to stay distracted, as disney had dancers, marching bands, and classic cars along the course to keep us entertained. there were a few more baby hills in these miles, really miniscule, but i still noticed them since i'm used to flatflatflat.
i look like a giant...
and then, the next "landmark"! we headed in to the honda center's parking lot and i was so excited! my boyfriend and i are huge hockey fans, and it was fun to see where the ducks play. a bunch of people were stopping to take a picture with the entrance sign, and i briefly regretted not bringing my phone so i could do the same. oh well. it was also here that i remembered that previous race recaps always noted running in to the sun, and i realized i hadn't had that problem! somehow, the race gods shined their light on me by not shining light on me. this was much appreciated, as i knew after this point we'd be heading away from the sun. oddly, there was a slight uphill in the parking lot as we headed to the santa ana trail. and then, it was a ton of little ups and little downs! i was not expecting this. and honestly, the going up wasn't the problem, the going down was! i kept slamming my feet in to the concrete in an attempt to keep pace, and by this point in the race, each new downhill was feeling bad. but! then i saw the big A for angel stadium and the fuel chute, and i knew one of the coolest parts of the race was just ahead.
running through angel stadium was awesome. i bet most people who participated in the race will tell you that. all of the spectators were SO LOUD. and if you looked at just the right time, you got to see yourself on the jumbo-tron. the dirt path also felt really nice to run on after so much concrete, and despite it being more crowded than even disneyland was, it was still so much fun. it was also around angel stadium that we hit the 15k mark, and as i looked at my garmin, i saw that i was still below 12:00 min/mile and knowing i had just about another 5k left, i was feeling awesome in that stadium. i spotted the camera guy and gave him a thumbs up before heading out of the stadium.
so happy and excited and unknowing of what was to come...
welp. that last little uphill from the stadium is what finally did it. hitting the concrete hard and leveling back out somehow tweaked the ankle i'd been having a few troubles with in the last few weeks and it hurt. bad. i started to slow down as i hoped it was a quick irk in my tendon, but it didn't seem to be the case. as i crossed the 10 mile marker, i realized it wasn't going away, and i let the bad thoughts get to me. realizing i had another 3 miles to go while my ankle felt so horribly, i wanted to quit. i let myself walk as i tried to deal with so much disappointment, and tried to reason that even if i had to walk the remaining miles, i was going to finish. i started doing intervals at this point. nothing set, mind you, more like "okay b, run to that sign up there, and then you can walk for a minute." doing this for the next two miles was brutal, especially as i saw my pace increasing.
is it obvious i'm in pain?
half way through mile 12, i was hit was both exciting and disappointing realizations. the first was: i was running farther than i ever had before now! i only trained up to 11 miles, so from here on out was new territory. the disappointing realization was that goal b was not going to happen now that i was walking some. but then, right there on the spot as i looked at my garmin, i set a last minute goal with a little over a mile to go: i wanted to finish under 2:40. more than anything, i wanted that second number on my finish time to be a three. as we finally came to mile marker 12 again, i knew i'd have to push myself as much a possible to make it happen. i tried to keep motivated all the way. i focused on the cheerleaders calling my name. i focused on the fact that my parents were waiting for me at the finish. i focused on the fact that i was minutes away from getting that D medal that i'd been lusting over for years (funny fact: i kinda sorta forgot i was doing the dumbo double dare during this whole race). the best thing? as we got to the final turn, some lady called out "you're .2 miles away from the finish line; you've got less than a lap on a track left!"
with that, i knew that walking was out of the question and that, despite the throbbing of my ankle, it was time to run as hard as i could. up ahead, i saw the beauty that was the 13th mile marker. i was crazy excited to know that i was almost done. as i passed the mile marker, i glanced at my garmin and saw i had about a minute to get from that mile marker to the finish to meet my new goal. i dug down deep, saw my parents and gave them a big wave, and pushed myself past the finish line.
i like to call this one "hallelujah! i'm done!"
immediately, i was overwhelmed in the finishers shoot. somehow finishing the race made all my body pain that much more intense. my thighs tightened, my hips were locked, my back was sore, and that damn ankle was on fire. i hobbled my way through, straining smiles for finisher photos, and grabbing on to all the food and water i could. being in pain made me so grumpy, and i just wanted to find my parents and get back to the hotel. as we reunited, they asked how everything was, and i told them i was upset about my ankle. they were so proud of me, but i was just tired and temporarily over it.
and then, as i limped back to the hotel, i overheard a lady say "wow! 13.1 miles is a lot! like, that's a really long way to go!" and then i realized yeah, it is, and i just did it! holy crap, who cares if i had to walk and my time wasn't what i wanted: i just finished 13.1 miles! the day after doing 6.2! i immediately stopped my parents and said "wait! i want pictures!" my dad had brought my 10k medal with him, so we took a bunch of photos in front of the resort and then continued on our way, me clearly in better spirits. i told them all about the course and some of the costumes. and then, i remembered something important "oh hey dad! what was my time?" 2:39:42 i accomplished my last minute goal!
as soon as we got back to the hotel, i showered, got my compression socks on, and iced my pesky ankle. i was really proud of the way i fueled and hydrated during the race; i was still completely hydrated afterward and had no tummy issues! once i ate a bit to continue my good fueling habit, i fell asleep, and woke up a few hours later stiff as a board. luckily, i had my stick, and a few minutes later, i was back on my feet and dancing around. my ankle was still sore and my feet weren't feeling too hot in general, but i still wanted to spend time in disneyland. we got a late lunch and then spent the rest of the day going on rides we hadn't gotten to on friday. i also briefly saw courtney! we talked for a bit and it wasn't until afterward that she pointed out we totally forgot to get a picture. whoops! it was still nice to see a blogger friend, though! we ended our day at the park with dinner at the blue bayou, where our awesome server brought out three scoops of sorbet at the end of our meal for our three celebrations: my birthday, my masters degree, and my half marathon! it was such a nice ending to such an incredible trip.