Full circle

I had an optometrist appointment this morning so I stayed home from work beforehand. On any other day I might have gone to work for a couple of hours prior to the appointment, but then I realized that today was no ordinary day. At 9 AM this morning the annual passholder registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend opened up! So about ten minutes early I pulled up all of the pertinent webpages (including Facebook so I could monitor the Run Disney and Annual Passholder feeds) on my laptop because I knew the pre-registration spots would sell out quickly. A friend of mine reminded me that this is the tenth anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon so all of the races were going to be very popular. And that was definitely true. Based on what I saw on Facebook while waiting for the race registration link to become available (which didn’t happen until about 9:05 AM, much to everyone chagrin), it seems that Disney WORLD annual passholders were able to start signing up quite a few minutes earlier than the DisneyLAND annual passholders so that put us West Coasters at a distinct disadvantage. Luckily I was obsessively refreshing the registration webpage so I got into the system when the link was finally available and I was able to register for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (10K + half marathon) without any further problems. Now I know what I’m doing Labor Day weekend! Let’s just hope I’ll be ready. But before I get too discouraged because of my injured knee (more on that in another post), I’m remembering this time last year when I was signing up for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon – my very first half marathon. I was so nervous! I’d never run more than about 6 miles and I had no idea if there was any way I could complete a half marathon. It was so intimidating! Little did I know that I was starting something very exciting. Fast forward a year and I’m now fairly confident that I can survive it 13.1 miles (although we’ll see how I do in the Huntington Beach half marathon on Sunday), assuming my body is healthy! Fingers crossed that I’m back to my old self soon.

Sunday Runday – Half marathon #1 complete

On the morning of August 31st I woke up at 2:45 AM to get ready for the Disneyland Half Marathon. My parents and I had to leave my place at 3:30 AM to drive to Anaheim so I gave myself just enough time to get dressed, make a smoothie, grab the necessary items, and walk out the door. I was afraid that getting into the Disneyland parking structure would be a mess if we arrived any later than 4 AM, but luckily it turned out to be a breeze. I had saved braiding my hair, slathering on sunscreen (which seemed counterintuitive before dawn, but I knew I would need it later), and even putting on my running shoes until we arrived at Disneyland that morning. I was incredibly nervous. I was pretty sure I’d cross the finish line under my own power, but remembering how horrible I’d felt during my 14-mile run a couple of weeks early didn’t make me feel any better. Based on the fact that I hadn’t provided a proof of time (I missed the deadline) I was going to be one of the last people to cross the start line. That was unfortunate, not just because I had to stand in my corral doing nothing for more than an hour (starting at about 5:15 AM), but because the sun was already up before I started running. It was already really humid that morning and the appearance of the sun was only going to cause the marginally comfortable weather to deteriorate. I crossed the start line around 6:30 AM. The first part of the half marathon runs through California Adventure and then Disneyland. That was cool. Going through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was pretty awesome, despite having to walk that portion due to the large crowd trying to squeeze through a relatively narrow passage. I didn’t stop and take any pictures with Disney characters during the race because I didn’t want to lose momentum (and because I’m no good at selfies), but I did see my parents on Main Street in Disneyland. It was very encouraging to have them there cheering me on. Taking on my first half marathon was nerve-racking enough – imagine if I’d had to do it alone! I was feeling great upon leaving the Disney parks at mile 4, and that feeling continued for a few more miles. I started to fade around mile 6, though. Up until then I’d only been getting water at the aid stations to avoid the nausea that I suspected was caused by the sugar and artificial sweeteners in the sports drinks and energy supplements I’d tried, but I realized that I needed something more. So I started grabbing Powerade at the aid stations instead. That helped, and I kept running along the streets of Anaheim. A little after mile 9 the course went through Angel Stadium, which is another cool venue to run through. But when I emerged on the other side, right at mile 10, the sun emerged from the clouds for good. That was bad news. It got really hot after that and I started feeling tired and slightly sick to my stomach. The combination of Powerade and heat was a killer in my case, I think. I walked a lot during those last three miles so I was extremely happy when I saw the mile 13 marker because I knew I was nearly done. I ran across the finish line faster than I should have because it made me feel ill, but I was so thrilled to have completed the race. My first half marathon, and definitely not my last. It won’t be long until I have another half marathon medal to hang next to the one I earned at the Disneyland Half Marathon!

Sunday Runday – In the home stretch

Last night I decided to go for a run. Since I was still feeling fairly sick I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, but I was unwilling to miss more than one training run with the half marathon right around the corner. (And I missed out on watching the “Doctor Who” series 8 premiere live, but I figured the run was worth it.) As I got started I told myself that I could stop and walk at any point if I didn’t feel right. The last thing I wanted to do was exacerbate my illness. I was a little worried when I got started because my throat felt tight, but otherwise I felt great! Better than I’d felt running in a long time. What a relief! It was one of those rare times when I felt like I could run forever. I finished 4 miles without stopping, which is unusual for me, and I didn’t really want to stop! If I feel anywhere near that good next Sunday (one week from now – eek!) then I’ll be in good shape.

Besides my last few training runs, I’ve got a few other Disneyland Half Marathon preparations in progress. This afternoon I started cleaning my apartment in anticipation of my parent’s arrival on Wednesday. My bathroom is now spotless. I’ll finish cleaning everything else over the next two evenings, along with washing a load of towels at the laundromat. Really exciting stuff, huh? But I didn’t spend my entire day doing chores. This morning I finally went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and then I came home and watched the “Doctor Who” premiere. The movie was a lot of fun (but not as good as the last few Marvel movies I’ve seen), and I really enjoyed Doctor Who. It was a great introduction to Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season. But now it’s time for me to start getting ready for bed. It’s going to be another crazy week at work, but at least my cold is improving. Only one more week until the half marathon!

Sunday Runday – Discouraged with two weeks to go

Two weeks from today I will run the Disneyland Half Marathon. (Or attempt to run, at least. I’ll get back to that in a minute.) I signed up for it back in January on a bit of a whim when I had just started running again after the first of the year. I was riding high on a wave of endorphins, I think. But despite the confidence my running regimen was giving me, I was still apprehensive because I was still such a beginner. Registering for a 13.1-mile race more than nine months in advance when I hadn’t run in any race at all seemed overly ambitious, to say the least. But at the time I was assured by some experienced runners that there was more than enough time for me to prepare for a half marathon in August, even in my fairly novice state. I’m starting to question that advice, honestly. After a burst of dedication during the first few weeks of the year, my running routine came to a screeching halt due to injuries (my overpronation was wreaking havoc on the tendons in my ankles) and surgery (necessary, but annoying). But my on St. Patrick’s Day I hopping on the treadmill at my hotel while I was on a business trip and started running again. My official half marathon training started back in April. I cruised along for a while without too many problems, and then I tried to run 8 miles. It was like running headlong into a brick wall for an hour and a half. It was truly awful and it made me question everything I was doing. But then subsequent 7-mile and 11-mile runs went great! I was on my way to a spectacularly successful half marathon! Or so I thought. Two weeks ago I ran a horrible 12.5 miles. It was hot and humid (it’s been a very unusual summer in LA, weather-wise), and I felt sick to my stomach the entire time. I had to stop and walk much more often that I planned which was discouraging. And my body was in shock the whole next day. I had no energy and I couldn’t eat without feeling nauseous. Fun, right? (Then I made the mistake of running the Orange County Fair 5K – check out the above photo – two days later, but that’s a whole other story.) Despite that horrible experience I was confident that my 14-mile run last night was going to be great. After faithfully following my training program for nearly four months I thought I was prepared. Apparently I was wrong. It was almost 3 hours of pure misery. I felt like I was going to puke pretty much the whole time, and more than once I was ready to drop out of the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was so awful that I wanted to throw my running shoes away and never get up off the couch ever again. But I didn’t give up until I finished 14 miles, and I’m proud of that. I could barely stand by the time I got home, I got a bit hypothermic after about 5 minutes of sitting, and I slept really badly, but I did it. Fortunately by the time I woke up this morning I no longer wanted to quit running, and now I’m determined to do whatever I can to make my half marathon go as smoothly as possible. I’ve already identified a few changes I need to make, but I’ll save those for another post. My next long run will be the half marathon itself in exactly two weeks! I’m excited and nervous at the same time!

You gotta start somewhere

My half marathon training plan officially started today! (Actually, my augmented plan that includes more the just my three required runs per week started yesterday when I went to my first spinning class in over a year. It was tough, not because I got tired – my cardiovascular fitness is much better than it was a year ago – but because spinning works different muscles than running. My legs felt like jelly when the class was over!) The Disneyland half marathon is on 8/31 so I’ve got a long road ahead of me to be ready to run 13.1 miles by then, but I think I can do it over the next four months. My first training run tonight went really well. I only did 3 miles, but I averaged 11 minutes per mile, which is a faster pace than on my longer runs. I’m hoping to build up my stamina so that I’ll be sufficiently prepared when I start increasing my mileage. Eventually I’ll have to run 14 miles one Saturday a couple of weeks before the race. That seems like an almost impossibly long distance when I think about it. I must admit that I’m really nervous. I’m afraid of failing. In fact, I subconsciously tried to sabotage my run tonight. I was worried that it wouldn’t go well and that would put me in a bad frame of mind for my training program right from the start. It’s hard to come back from that kind of discouragement. I don’t bounce back from disappointment as easily as I’d like to. But I know that I’ll definitely have good runs, bad runs, and ugly runs throughout this process, and I’m fully prepared for that. Luckily tonight’s run was great, but I’m going to need some mental fortitude when I inevitably have a bad day. There will be bumps in the road to the half marathon in August, but it’s a journey I’m really looking forward to!