Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Race Recap

I can’t believe it has been a week since my race and I haven’t sat down to write any sort of ‘recap’ yet – but I guess that is what happens when life gets in the way.

The race went well. My 'coach' was thinking I should shoot for a finish time of about 1:57, which seemed incredibly ambitious to me. I was thinking that finishing a half marathon was an amazing feat in and of it itself, but that my original goal of 2 hours and 30 minutes was still what I figured I would try to shoot for. A couple weeks before the race, I found out a friend from college was going to be flying in for it, so we chatted about strategies and she said that shooting for 2:15 would be totally doable. I know, I am probably a lot faster and more capable than I give myself credit, but at the same time, I didn’t want to set myself up to ‘fail’ (fail in my own eyes, if I didn’t meet my goal time) and disappoint myself or others.

Ryan and I headed up to Anaheim Saturday afternoon. Our hotel had a check-in time of 12-noon, so we hit the road around 11:15am or so to get up there around the time we would be able to get into the room. Once we checked into the room (more on the hotel room later), we dropped our stuff off and headed to the Expo to pick up my bib and meet up with my friend and her husband. The Expo was cool, seeing all of the gear and the vendors, but I am ‘frugal’ and wasn’t planning on buying anything, so it was more of just a quick walk through for us. After the Expo we went to Downtown Disney to walk around a bit and grab some lunch. After checking out the scene (my friend and her husband LOVE Disney, but have only been to Disney World, so this was a super cool experience for them to see Disneyland firsthand), Ryan and I decided to go back to the hotel to watch Michigan lose to Alabama (not the best way to spend the evening, but hey, it could have been worse). My pre-race dinner was Domino’s pizza J .

They had told us that although the race started at 5:30am, they would recommend that we are in our corrals by about 4:45am. Ryan and I left our hotel around 4:30am (yes, that means I was ‘awake’ by about 3:30am – even though I would say I don’t think I slept more than about an hour that night – which I will blame my fibro and probably a little pre-race jitters and anxiety thrown in there). We walked over to the hotel that my friend and her husband were staying at and met up with them there (figuring it would be easier than trying to find them somewhere closer to the starting line).

There were over 17,000 runners that were signed up to run this race, so you can imagine that organization needs to be of the utmost importance. They put the top finishers (base on finishing times that they have provided) further up front, that way they don’t have to weave in and out of slower folks and can just take off). Since I did not have proof of finishing time (since this was my first half marathon and hadn’t run anything further than a 5k before this race) I was put in one of the back corrals. (They put your corral on your bib, that way they can monitor where people are supposed to be). We were in corral E and started probably 20 or 25 minutes after the ELITE group started (by the way, the top male finisher finished in 1 hour and 5 minutes and the top female in 1 hour and 24 minutes).

The sun was just coming up when we were crossing the Start Line.  The first 3 or 4 miles were all within Disney. We ran through California Adventure, through the back lots, through Downtown Disney, through Disneyland, etc. It was super fun to see the park from a different angle than we are used to seeing it – but hey, it was still busy J. Ryan was able to get some pictures of us in Downtown Disney and my friend’s husband was allowed into the park (due to his chEAR squad advantages) and took some pictures of us running down Main Street and exiting Cinderella’s Castle. I do have to say, running through Disney was fun, but it was very congested. We had to do a lot of weaving, jumping up on sidewalks, cutting back and forth around other runners, etc. I think by the time we finished the race we had put on an extra tenth of a mile just from weaving in and out of all of the people.

After we left Disney’s property, we headed out to the streets of Anaheim. It seemed like we were running east FOREVER – mainly because we were running directly into the sun that was rising in the sky. It was crazy how bright it was. I had on my sunglasses and I still felt like we were looking down the whole time. Disney had set up entertainment along the way – cheerleading squads, dance teams, mariachi bands, a whole mile of old, vintage cars and their owners, etc. It was super awesome to think that these people came out to just support us and cheer us on – AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW US! I made sure to say ‘thank you’ to just about everyone I could – whether it was a security officer or police man directing traffic, a vintage car driver that came out with their old car, the volunteers passing out water, etc. I was just so blown away by everyone’s generosity and friendly demeanor.

My ‘coach’ had originally suggested that I run through the water stations – not that I shouldn't take the water, but that I should literally run and drink at the same time. When I mentioned this so my friend, she said that she hadn’t quite mastered the running and drinking so thought we should walk through them. She said that she had walked through them in her last 4 half marathons and was able to make up the time she lost when walking (not to mention if gives your legs a little rest, even if it is only for 30 seconds or so). My coach said that a lot of runners actually start drinking too late, so suggested that we get some water around miles 2, 4, 8 and 10. We actually got water at all of the stops (I think there were 7 or 8 of them throughout the race) and I don’t think it was too bad. I think in the future I may only get water at 4 or 5 of them, but I do think I will continue walking through the water stations (I wouldn’t want to choke in the middle of the race due to trying to save a second or two on my time).

Anyway, back to the race, after the streets of Anaheim, we ran by the Honda Center (which is where the Anaheim Ducks play hockey) and then to the Angels Stadium. The Angels stadium was super fun. There were a few steep areas to get through the tunnels and stuff, but they were super quick. When we entered the stadium, we ran around the warning track down the first base line and then down the third base line. It was so fun because the stands were filled (okay, not totally filled, but a decent amount of people) with a bunch of boy scouts and girl scouts that were cheering us on. Again, it just made me smile because they were honestly just out there to lift our spirits and encourage us – how sweet. Not to mention, I love baseball so it was cool to actually be on the field (and we actually went to see the Tigers play the Angels this past weekend).

After the stadium we went back onto the streets and were heading back to Disney. We saw some of the freeway signs for Disney Way and knew we had to be close. And thankfully these last couple miles we were running with the sun, so it wasn't blinding us any longer. When we made it back to Disney property we knew we were close - especially because when we hit mile 2 earlier in the race on the other side of the street it said mile 12 - it sort of felt like deja vu J. We kicked it in on the last half mile or so. I finished with a time of 2:12 and my friend was just a few seconds behind me and came in at 2:13 (which was actually a 3 minute personal best for her, and of course it was a personal best for me, seeing as this was the first time I had run a half marathon J).

Afterwards we got our medals, some insta-cooling towels (which slightly weirded me out because they smelt like Windex and after rubbing my face with it for a while I was struck with the thought of 'I wonder what kind of nasty chemicals are covering this thing to make it instantly cold?!'), bananas, waters, power aids, snack boxes, etc. We even took finishing pictures, which everyone commented that it looks like we were walking the red carpet because there was this backdrop behind us and the sub glaring in our face making us look like the paparazzi were attacking us. 

Quite a few people asked me how the race went, and I think I still have the same answer - it was easier than I thought it would be (but obviously not ""easy""). I know that may sound like a strange answer, but I think it makes sense. I trained HARD for this race. Technically this race was 9 months in the making. I started "training" in January - adding 2 miles of walking a day on my lunch break, then hitting the gym starting in February and really kicking it into speed the last 5 or 6 months. My workouts were not easy. Some days I was riding my bike 28 miles. Some days I would do elliptical for an hour and then still run outside for another hour. When my IT band started flaring up, I was running 4 miles on my short days and 6 miles on my long days (this was before I was cross training, but just was strictly running outside). Then when I started adding in cross training and trying to take some of the strain off my IT band (thanks to some words of wisdom from my 'coach') I would run for an hour at the most, which would be around 6 or 6.5 miles. So technically, before this race, I had NO IDEA how my body would do running 13.1 miles at one time. I mean, honestly, my IT band could have frozen up and I could have had to stop at mile 8, I may could have passed out at mile 9 from all of the physical exertion, my legs could have fallen off at mile 11 (okay, maybe my legs falling off might not have been an honest thought in my head, but you get the point). And I have to say, my body did great. All of the cross training really paid off (even though I would continually tell my 'coach' that if I wasn't running I wasn't training and I didn't know why I had to bike for 2.5 hours on Saturday mornings). I think my body was used to going for the long of a time at that hard of a level, it was just doing it in a slightly different way, so it was able to tackle the run easier than I thought it would.

So... what's next?! Well, Ryan and I have two upcoming 5ks on the calendar (the Awesome 80s Run and the Color Run) in the next month and a half, after that, I'm not too sure. I still am working out (more on that later), I still enjoy running, and want to continue, but I don't know if the half marathon distance will be "my" distance. I am talking Ryan into possibly doing one with me - and if he agrees then of course I will do another. My sister-in-law has asked me to do a full marathon with her too. Running is fun, and I am glad I found it, and I am excited to see what could be next J.

[PS If you want to see more pictures from the race (or any of my other races) check out the album here.]

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great job Carlee! I love how positive you are about everything :) It makes me more feel refreshed about running again!