The day before, we went to the expo at the Disneyland Hotel Conference Center. It was the same day as the 10k and 5k. It was exhilarating to be at the expo with all the buzz going on! I was so excited and nervous! This was my first Disney race and my expectations were really high! I was hoping I would shave off some time from the La Jolla Half—so many emotions!
While at the expo, I got to meet a hero of mine! Jeff Galloway was at the expo doing a meet and greet. I was surprised, but the line to meet him wasn’t long. I was able to get a picture with him and chat with him for a minute. He was so personable and I was so excited to meet him. I was a little starstruck after reading his books through the years!
We stayed about 12 miles away from Disneyland, which was not intentional. We didn’t realize that we had booked a hotel that was so far away. I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to get to the starting line on time. I was panicking, actually! I found our hotel room was nice and clean. It had a jacuzzi and I was thrilled to take advantage of that! I did a little carb loading the night before. I’ve been on limited carbs for quite a while with my diet, nonetheless, I decided that I was going to splurge. At the La Jolla Half, I bonked about mile 8. I’m sure it was because I wasn’t properly fueled.
I was restless the night before. Allie Kat and Mr. Bear went to Knott’s Berry Farm to ride some rides while I stayed behind to rest (Yeah, right! Like that was going to happen!) and get ready for the race. I laid out my gear, my clothes, and organized my things. I filled up my CamelBak, I put my bib on my shirt. I tried to think of everything I would need. Would I need my sunglasses? (It turned out that, NO, I would not and bringing them was a bad idea.) Would I need chapstick? Did I pack too much? (Probably. Always.) I finally got everything together and went to sleep around 11:00 p.m. That was much later than I expected. Did this surprise me? No, sir, it did not! I have such nerves before a race! It was difficult to sleep.
The alarm went off at 3:50 a.m. It was probably 10 minutes AFTER I woke up. I had been lying there in bed before the alarm went off, stressing out about all the things that could go wrong during the race. When the alarm went off, I sprang out of bed and into action. I quickly assembled everything. Mr. Bear pinned my wings on. I had everything and away we went!
Traffic began to get heavy as we approached the Disney grounds. I gave my love to my two favorite people, they wished me good luck, then I followed all the other costumed freaks toward the starting line. The energy level was so intense! There was loud music, everyone was smiling, and the energy was palpable. I followed the herd, which wound around downtown Disney and over to Paradise Pier. I made my way to my corral. I was in corral D. I made some friends. The ladies around me made small talk and wished each other well. At some point, I realized I had lost my Coach sunglasses that Mr. Bear and Allie Kat gave me on Mother’s Day two years before. My heart sank and I would think about those glasses for the next several hours.
After what seemed like forever, it was our turn to go! I couldn’t believe how crowded it was. I was elbow to elbow with other runners and we were barely moving faster than a slow stroll. There was nowhere to move! I tried for a little bit to jog, but it was no use. I accepted the situation and just keep walking. About a mile in, the crowd thinned out enough for me to run at my race pace and off I went! Mile 1 wasn’t very impressive—11:49 pace. Mile 2, we came out and around to the front of Disneyland. I was able to run a bit—10:38 pace and it was comfortable.
At mile 3, we entered the park. There were several areas throughout the park where the crowds bottle-necked, nonetheless, it was magical to be in the park after hours. There were several characters around to get pictures with and tons of people were taking selfies. I kept reminding myself that I had a time goal and not to get caught up in the moment. I stopped a few times to get a selfie or have my photo taken. Mostly, I counted on the numerous photographers that were snapping photos to capture the memories for me. We ran past the Matterhorn and through Fantasyland, out Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and towards Adventureland. We ran past Splash Mountain and turned back towards Pirates of the Caribbean, past the tree house and the Jungle Cruise. Before I knew it, we were back on Main Street and headed out the park. Mile 3 was 11:23, mile 4 with a few selfies was 12:18.
We meandered out of Disneyland and into California Adventure. I really don’t remember feeling tired, out of breath, or anything. I was so excited that I was smiling the whole time. I couldn’t believe I was actually running this race! I felt really good and really strong. I was a little worried!
I remember running past Soarin’ and past the Ferris wheel just grinning ear to ear. I stopped to get my picture in Carsland and then, off I went. I am not exactly sure what mile was what, but I was feeling most excellent. Mile 5, with a bathroom pitstop, was 11:43. Out the park we went and into the heart of Anaheim. Mile 6 was my best mile: 10:37.
The next couple of miles were boring compared to the ones inside Disney, yet I was still having the time of my life. As my RunKeeper app was calling out my total time and my splits, I was feeling really great! Mile 7 was 11:14. I stopped at mile 8 to have a Gu gel. I wasn’t feeling fatigued yet and wanted to keep it that way. I washed it down with some water and kept on! Mile 8 was 12:12. Mile 9 was exciting! We had a lot of cheering going on and I appreciated the crowds that had come out to cheer on the runners. There were a few water stations and some bathrooms. Mile 9: 10:43 pace! I thought I might need to go potty soon, but not right now. I wanted to keep on running—-HUGE MISTAKE! There were no bathrooms for the next couple of miles.
At this point, I am looking at my RunKeeper app and thinking, “WTF? Am I going to finish this race under 2:30?!” My goal was to finish in 2:45. Somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45 was ideal. Just to finish was goal enough, though! Here I was, ready to CRUSH IT! I was afraid to become too cocky, as I know all hell can break loose in those last few miles. I pressed on.
At mile 10, I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. It was an emergency. I started cursing myself for not going sooner. I pressed on: 10:47 pace. Now, I REALLY, REALLY have to go and I’m nearly in tears. Mile 11: 10:45 and all I can think of is, WHERE’S THE DAMN BATHROOM?!
Mile 12. OH LOOKY! A bathroom! Yay! Mile 12: 13:46 and I regret nothing! It was difficult to use the port-a-potty in a tutu and wings, but I managed. I did my dirty business and moved on. ALMOST DONE! I couldn’t believe it, but I was still set to finish way before I thought I would.
Mile 12 was glorious! Once I had used the potty, I was feeling wonderful! I picked up my pace for mile 13. I could start to see the finish line. At this point, all I wanted to do was finish! Mile 13: 11:01.
The couple hundred meters, I was beaming all over! I couldn’t believe I had finished! I was high-fiving everyone I saw. Hey, there’s Mickey Mouse! HIGH FIVE, BUDDY! I just finished a half marathon! I crossed the finish line and I had this sense of elation like no other! I was so proud of my accomplishment! It really was a magical time!
I finished about 17 minutes faster than I finished the La Jolla Half two weeks earlier! This was more than 20 minutes faster than I ran the Carlsbad Half in January! I was so pleased with my time! This wasn’t a PR for me, but it was my fastest time I’ve run in more than 10 years! I felt fantastic! I didn’t feel too bad after I finished either. I was a little sore and my heel (plantar fasciitis) was complaining. Other than that, I felt phenomenal! I haven’t felt so good running in years!