On Sunday, May 8th, I woke up bright and early at the literal buttcrack before dawn (read: 3:45am) to get dressed, tie up my shoes, and head over to the starting line of my second half marathon—The 2016 Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
For some reason, I was in Corral E, which was fine. I was there early enough to make my way towards the front. I was by myself, despite being with a group of ladies that were also participating. I was a bit nervous. Once again, I had not trained as well as I had wanted leading up to this half marathon. I was up a lot later than usual and it was very early. My goal, despite the lack of training, was to finish this half in under 3 hours. I had finished a 15K back in March in 2 hours and 2 minutes and my last half marathon (in February 2015 at the Divas Half in Temecula), I finished in almost 3 hours and 30 minutes. It was a lot to ask my body to shave off 30 minutes on my time, but I recalled walking quite a bit of the Divas half and that course was terribly difficult (hilly and dirt trail). But, being down over 50lbs since then and knowing I was in a lot better shape, on the whole, I felt that I could do it.
The first part of the course went up Disney Way and around and then through the Park. My energy level was high and I felt really good. I posed for all of the right photo ops and I hit the 5K marker in just over 40 minutes (a PR for a 5K) with an average pace of 13:05 and my estimated completion was targeted for 2:51:21.
The next 3.1 miles were a little bit more challenging, but I pushed myself to keep on running. Before I knew it, the 10K marker came up and I got another update. 1:22:05 and at a pace of 13:13. I had slowed down a little bit, but was on schedule to finish the half in 2:53:10. But, then it happened…
I started to get very fatigued. I had started off too strong. I had never run a 10K non-stop before. Why now!? I felt pain in my left foot, where my toes bend. Thankfully, my right knee which usually gives me trouble was holding up pretty well, but what’s up left foot?! The course was kind of boring and whatever. Long straightaways through Anaheim. I got a little boost as we went through some newly built lofts and there were red hat ladies cheering us on and kids on the corner. I saw from a distance a sign that said, “Take Candy from Strangers” and saw that they were passing out red vines to racers. I snagged one. And when I got to the next corner block, I snagged another one. YUM! It tasted so good and it gave me a boost of energy.
The 15K mark was coming up. I knew that I had finished my last 15K in March in 2:02, so this would be helpful. I passed the 15K mark and looked down at my phone. I had started a timer when I crossed the starting line. It said 2:07. I was 5 minutes behind my 15K time now. Ugh. But, I pushed through. Just keep swim.. err, running. Just keep running.
And as I passed the Mile 10 sign and was nearing the Mile 11 sign, I looked back down at my phone to see where I was. My time said 2:20. For whatever reason, in my mind, this meant that I had 3.1 miles left – – an entire 5K. (In reality, I didn’t. I had 2.1 miles left!) But, that’s what I had thought and I had 40 minutes to spare and I had only just ran my best 5K in 40 minutes. There was just no way. So, I allowed myself to do intervals where I walked and then jogged a bit and then walked some more. I put the new Justin Timberlake jam, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” on repeat and I pushed through. I told myself, “Even if you don’t finish in under 3 hours, at least try. Don’t give up now.” We were headed around the backside of Paradise Pier Hotel and I kept thinking, “Where the heck is this finish line?” (As you can see, I had not studied the course either!)
As we neared the Downtown Disney area, there were people holding up signs and cheering. Someone yelled out, “Only 800 meters! You’re almost there guys!” and I thought, “What?! I thought I had another mile…” Whatever, I pushed through and I saw the finish line and that’s when this end-of-race adrenaline kicked in and I found some pep to my step and I was blowing by people cutting in and out of people in my way. And that was it. I raised my hands in excitement and did this awkward, clumsy hop across the finish line.
I was so proud of myself. So excited. It went so much better than I had expected. But, what was my time? I couldn’t tell right away, but first, I needed to catch my breath and then OUCH, my left foot was reminding me that it was in pain.
I hobbled through the path, looking around for someone I knew, and then I saw Josette who flagged me down. She was in the Medical Tent area. I needed medical attention.
So, I walked over to where she was and asked for ice for both knees and my hamstrings.
I looked down at my phone and my finish time: 3:04:14
It was a little bit like dejavu to my 15K race time, where I had hoped to finish in under 2 hours and I finished in 2:02. But, I was kind and gave myself grace. These were all HUGE improvements to my previous times and, it was also a learning lesson about better awareness, both before and during the race.
Needless to say, I just signed myself up for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. So much for my one half every year limit.