I’ll come back to what I did Saturday after the 10K, I promise. But, I thought I’d wrap up the races first. Warning… this is long.
This recap begins with my #flatme from the night before the race. I ALWAYS lay out my clothes, shoes, accessories, gels, etc… the night before (and usually I photograph them too). I can’t be trusted to remember all of that at dark:thirty in the morning when it’s time to get ready. I’m NOT a morning person.
As I mentioned in my 10K recap, I had a plan to stick with the 2:30 pacers for the half marathon and get a new PR. I managed an 11:43/mile pace during the 10K, so the 11:26/mile pace during the half was going to be a huge stretch. I was excited about the 60:30 intervals the official Galloway pacers were planning to use though and it felt like it could be achievable. I figured even if I couldn’t hang with them for more than half, I’d still have a solid enough start to hopefully still PR.
Anyways, with my plan in mind, I made sure to ACTUALLY charge my phone this time. We got up at 4 AM again and were out the door just a touch before 4:40 AM to meet with Kellsie’s Krew at 5 AM before heading to the corrals. We cut through the parking lot this time and the ESPN security was a breeze again on the morning of the half. Again, we didn’t check bags so I can’t speak to multiple checkpoints if you did. It also sound like their may have been multiple checkpoints for those that came from the Harbor side and walked through DTD (I know at least from photos that the lines were INSANE).
The “line” to the corrals on the other hand…
Y’ALL, I’ve only seen a cluster like that at Disney a couple other times. They are usually the crowd control EXPERTS at not only creating reasonable lines, but MOVING those lines in a timely manner. This was just a horde. A huge giant mass that kept growing wider instead of longer to squeeze through that tiny little bib check area again. We started to panic waiting to get our picture and we ended up snapping a quick one before everyone arrived so we could jump into the “line.” We ended up getting through and to the corrals on time, but that can’t be said for everyone.
I was really glad that that I easily and quickly found the 2:30 pacers when I got to the corral. Our pacer Kelley even had time to snag a selfie of our little group and we all got to chat a big before we had to head out. The race ended up starting at 5:37 AM instead of 5:30 AM by my watch. Our corral took off shortly after that.
Such an amazing morning with my new @rundisney #running friends! Congrats to all of you who ran your best race today at #tinkerbellhalfmarathon weekend. #galloway #pacer #pacegroup #runwalkrun #teamrundisney #teamsparkle #werunsocial #instafitness #health #fitness #halfmarathon #instarun #gallowaylongbeach #runningmom #momswithcameras #momcoach #hautemom #momlife
The first mile was a BREEZE and can I just say that even though the “hill” is not really bad, I was SO glad to not have to go over the Ball Rd. freeway overpass in the 10K OR the half this time. Flat route even flatter! We hit the parks just before Mile 1 and I was feeling good with the 60:30 intervals and the pace.
I liked going through both parks and then backlot area before going through both parks again.
Let’s talk more strategy for a moment… my hydration pre-race was just right to be wrong (aka, I knew I’d have to use the facilities during the race). So, I opted to time my break near the middle of the Parks. I figured this not only gave me the best bathroom options (and guaranteed locations unlike the unknown status of porte-potties), but it also would give me the best opportunity to catch up to the pacers (hoping mid-Park bathrooms might not be as crowded as first Park bathrooms and potential course crowding through the Parks could drop the pace a bit to be made up later with more time in the Parks after my stop).
We hit Mile 2 just after California Adventure in the backlot area and I stopped for my break on our pass back through California Adventure. The bathroom had no line and I was in and out quick. BUT… I had lost time to make up for and I had to book it. I wasn’t using my own intervals with the pacers, so I did my best to push hard, but still took a couple short walk breaks to not push myself so hard that I’d burn myself out trying to catch them.
We passed the 5K mat in the backlot area of Disneyland while passing back through that Park and, if memory serves, I caught the pace group as we were headed out of Disneyland for good… definitely before we hit the tunnel (because I remember being SO glad that our intervals happened to time a walk on the uphill just perfectly.
That time while I was catching up all the way to just past Mile 5 was a total blur, maybe because I was just so focused on catching the pacers, maybe because I was so relieved I DID catch the pacers, and maybe because we were still in the Parks. Either way, we were hitting the 10K mat and were solidly in Anaheim at this point.
A quick note about characters – there were characters out for “selfie spots” like the Lost Boys on the carousel in California Adventure and Peter Pan and Wendy up by the Main Entrance Plaza at Disneyland, but there were also characters out posing for pictures (Hook & Smee, Mickey & Pluto… and maybe Donald?, some fairies, Tink, and some others that I may be forgetting now). The number of characters and variety was on par with every other DL race I’ve run.
5K Split: 37:05; 10K Split: 1:11:10
I love the first stretch of Anaheim on this course. It’s residential, so while it’s quiet, it’s also pretty. It’s also quite shaded which was welcome. Our pace group started a quick “Woo!” at each mile marker once we hit the 10K and before I knew it we’d crossed the halfway point and reach the Mile 7 marker.
The lack of spectator support was really starting to be felt at this point and the loop was so sad without the Red Hat Society ladies. But, the MousePlanet group (free strangers with candy!!) were SO WELCOME and basically the best ever just before we reached Mile 8. MousePlanet really does always comes through, race after race after race, and there were even people cheering from the Hogwarts Running Club!
The only place on the course that I noticed a distinct drop in actual course support was at the fuel station (water and powerade seemed well staffed). In every race in the past, there had been tons and tons of volunteers handing out gels and shouting out the flavors they had. This time, they were just piled high on tables with no one in sight. I grabbed a couple gels, but ultimately didn’t end up taking them. My stomach was feeling a little funky and while I knew that the energy from the gel would be needed and wanted, I didn’t want to risk actually upsetting my stomach.
It was right around here too that I started to feel the pace. I was desperate for the walk breaks each time they came and I was starting to fall behind our front pacer. Our other pacer was more in the middle/back of the group and called out that if we were aiming for 2:30 that we wanted to be closer to the our front pacer. I tried to pick up my pace in those runs and recover as best as I could on those walks. We hit Mile 9 and not long after, the 15K mat.
Official 15K Split: 1:46:40
When we hit Mile 10, I was giving myself a serious pep talk. “You can do this! Only 5K to go! You can totally run 5K!” We hadn’t had any cheerleaders or bands or any of the big community support that I so desperately needed (and was so used to getting) at that point in the race. Don’t get me wrong, we had MousePlanet and Hogwarts Running Club as mentioned before, as well as some awesome individuals (including a lady handing out full water bottles), but it’s just not the same as those big groups.
The miles were feeling hard and I was talking myself through every 60 seconds of running. We did have one marching band, I think Garden Grove High School, between Mile 10 and Mile 11 (again, I think, I can’t fully remember the specifics by this time).
When we hit Mile 12, I told myself over and over ONE MORE MILE. That was it. JUST ONE. MORE. MILE. But as we got into that mile, my pace group was getting farther and farther away. A quick extra walk break I thought, then I’ll catch up. I tried to catch up. They were still in my sights and I could see their hand signals that they were walking or running and I tried to keep running through their walk breaks to catch them, but as the world’s longest mile continue, I eventually lost them around a curve. I just couldn’t catch up.
I was relieved when I hit the Mile 13 marker and I ran with everything I had left to the finish.
Official Time: 2:31:50 (new PR)
It took me some time post-race to move to pride in my finish. The initial crossing of the finish line was a mix of disappointment, regret, pride, excitement, relief… I PRed by nearly seven minutes (previous PR was Princess with a time of 2:38:49). It wasn’t a small jump. It’s a HUGE improvement in just over a year. I should have been elated, but I was just thinking about that last mile. That mile that was just too hard. Was it the lack of fuel? Was it the lack of energy from the spectators? I’d had some kind of fuel in every previous race. Was it just that I’d gone so much faster for so much longer than I had before? Was I just not mentally tough enough?
Now that some time has passed, I can see the achievement for what it is. An achievement! SEVEN MINUTES!! More than 30 seconds faster PER MILE than my previous best. I may never know why that last mile did me in or if I could have pushed through. Ultimately, I can’t change it no matter the reason and I should be proud of what I accomplished. I *AM* proud of what I accomplished, especially knowing that I gave it all I had at the time.
I truly could NOT have done this without the 2:30 Galloway Pacers and the 2:30 pace group that formed. I needed that group support, those reminders of when to run, the “rabbit” for how fast to run, the camaraderie of knowing we were all working toward the same goal. This was my second time running with a pacer, the last being Princess, and both times it has gotten me to a PR. The group sometimes can get a little big, but the pacers always call out when to start running and count down to when to start walking. These pacers reminded the runners to look around and move to the right before they started walking as a courtesy to other runners. Intervals don’t work for everyone, but I love them and I loved this interval set. If you’re planning to run with a pacer, it’s great to know their plan for the race if you can get in touch with them at the Expo or chat before the start.
After I finished the race, I headed to the med tent for ice and meet my friend (she started and finished before me), grabbed my snack box, and we snagged our finish line photos before leaving the runner shoot and into the Family Reunion area. We grabbed our finish picture at the AP tent and then met up with my friend’s family. After some chatting about our races, they headed to the parks and we went to sit by the stage to eat our snacks. Mmmmm, cheese-flavored cheese really is so perfectly salty after 13.1 miles.
I had awesome texts from friends that had been tracking me during my race. One of those friends happened to be there cheering on another friend of hers who was running her first half marathon. I got a chance to see her while we were in the reunion area and it was SO SO good to see her and chat for a bit (she and I ran our very first half marathon together in 2011… well, we started it together anyway). I left her to celebrate her friend’s first finish and I headed back to the stage. We went to meet my friend’s friend who came to cheer her on and then go back to the hotel.
While waiting in the mob around security to get back into DTD to cross over, I ran into another friends’ parents who had also ran. It was so nice to see them!! I knew they were running, but hadn’t seen them since we ran into each other on a training run back in March.
Exiting into DTD hadn’t been a disaster in past races, but trying to get across the entrance plaza post-race, or get through DTD when the race finished there, had been disasters. So, this wasn’t worse – just in a different spot. That said, Disney and runDisney definitely needs to work on the security issue. Maybe a no bag line (which they did finally end up opening a runner line)? It also seems, based on where we were, that everyone had ALREADY gone through security once (if not more than once). Did there need to be another security check there? I’m all for safety, but huge crowds of people standing OUTSIDE of security that can’t move isn’t necessarily safe.
After we made our way back to the hotel, it was time for the hot tub and some jet massage therapy before cleaning up, checking out, and heading to the Parks. Unfortunately, our “quick drive” to Toy Story ended up being QUITE long. As I learned after the fact, the Mickey & Friends parking structure was pretty much at a standstill for two hours (or more for some people) and once Anaheim Police came to direct traffic tons of cars were being redirected to Toy Story so that’s probably why it was so hard for us to get in.
TL;DR? 😉 All in all, it was a great weekend for racing. The weather was pretty close to perfect, the expo was well organized, the characters were fun in both parks at least for the 10K and half, PhotoPass was great, I had strong times, and I got a new PR. Plus, our new-to-us hotel was in a great location for a great price. But, the security and on course support (both spectator and in some cases actual aid stations), as well as the logistics for getting us to the corrals, needs some desperate improvement. I really hope that West Coast runDisney can get us back to the race experience that we all know and love and improve on these aspects.
If you made it all this way, I’m impressed!
Did you run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon this year? How was your race experience? How did it compare to past years?