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Race Recap: Tinkerbell Half Marathon! January 31, 2012

most ginormous bling ever!

I did not go into this half marathon race with high expectations. In fact, I was kind of dreading it because my running training has fallen short of my intentions. So I was just hoping it wouldn’t be a big, enormous painful fail, and that I would come home with one of those pretty Tinkerbell wing medals.

Originally I’d signed up for this race as a great mother-daughter bonding event. But the best laid plans, you know? Poor Junior, who had actually TRAINED for this race, came down with a gnarly flu/sore throat/feeling like hell on Friday night. She had gone down to SoCal early, and because I had my TNT Kick-Off on Saturday, and Juniorette had crew practice, it was up to poor Junior to go to the Expo to pick up our race packets and chips and all. What a sad thing, to be amidst all that wild enthusiasm and excitement, knowing she probably wouldn’t be able to do the race. Wahh! I really felt for her.

She picked up all the stuff and then we met up at the hotel where she was lying in bed looking miserable.

"hug me... but don't catch my germs"

After taking some medicine she did feel well enough to go over to Disney California for a bit. We headed straight for our most favorite ride, Soarin’ Over California, which is both relaxing and beautiful. At that point, Junior was feeling better than she’d had all day, and we entertained the idea that maybe she could walk the race slowly. But the night was a rough one, with fever and discomfort and no sleep. So when the alarm went off at 3:30am (!!!!!!!!!) it was just Juniorette and I who got up.

One of the VERY BEST DECISIONS I ever made was to book the hotel right at the start/finish line. So all we had to do was take the elevator downstairs, and the race staging area was RIGHT THERE. I knew that other people were having to WALK a mile or more to the start, and that just would not have been a happy thing.

When we first entered the area we were greeted by some Pirates. That was pretty awesome, and took the sting out of the fact that it was still pretty much the middle of the night.

Arrr! Pirates!

I have to say, this pretty much spoiled me for every other race. If we aren’t greeted by pirates at the crack of dawn, then I’m gonna be sad.

When it was time to go to our corrals to line up for the start, Juniorette and I had to split up because she was in C (younger faster folks!) and I was in E (the End).

I was verrrry happy to then meet up with (out of 11,000 people) two of my friends! What are the chances of that! I found Christine and Sabrina, both of whom with I’d done the Fight for Air Stair Climb last year. It was great to have people to hang with while we were waiting to make our way to the start line. It was Christine’s first half marathon, which was exciting, and it was Sabrina’s 16th! (her first this month- she’s doing a half every month!)

Sabrina, me and Christine waiting to start!

While we were waiting around, I did several minutes of calf stretches. When I had been at the TNT Kickoff on Saturday morning (which, by the way, was awesome) I met up with a foot doctor at their mini-expo. I described to him the excruciating foot pain that has been plaguing me worse than ever. I told him about this sole-stabbing PAIN that came on without fail pretty much every run, after about 1/3 mile, and which persisted until it started subsiding around mile 2. I’ve learned that I can “run through it” but man, it has not been pleasant. It always makes me think of the Little Mermaid who has these knife-stabbing sensations in her feet when she walks (I did a paper on Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid in grad school).  Anyway, he said it sounded like a case of tight gastrocnemius muscle and he showed me exactly the stretches to do. Which I did, crossing my fingers. I thought how nice it would be to not be running on knives through Ariel’s Grotto.

Finally it was time to move up to the start line. It was still pitch black, and then fireworks went off (of course) and… wooo! Juniorette texted me that Sean Astin (aka Samwise Gamgee from LOTR!) was in her corral. Squeeee! They called Corral C, then D, then it was our turn: Corral E – proceed to the starting line! Boom!

We ran around some random streets for a while and then after a mile or two (?) we were back in Disneyland. That was surreal and fun, running through the empty park, through the back lots and Secret Areas while the sun was just starting to come up.

Just as we came up around the It’s A Small World ride (fond childhood memories) I saw this big line and thought, what, port-o-potties already? No, it was Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and a few other princesses. And a heck of a long line. I knew that I did NOT want to stand there for 10-15 minutes that early on. Or maybe ever. But then, after mile 2, I saw these two guys standing there – with NO LINE! (or maybe just one person ahead of me) I couldn’t resist.

Tarzan and Hercules!!

I also could not resist the real, clean, flush bathrooms right near there. Even though there was a waiting line, it wasn’t any longer than the Port O Potties line, so I went for the flush kind. I was really happy I did that, especially early on, because it made for a much more comfortable race.

Just when I got to the 5k point (3.1 miles) I realized something. MY FEET HAD NOT BEEN STABBING ME. Thank you, Dr. Footdoctor, at the TNT expo! He had been so right. It felt so amazing to run on pain-free feet!!

Pretty soon we came upon Cinderella’s castle. How awesome was that.

I was one of few people not wearing a tutu or wings.

Feeling pretty good!

I actually felt just relaxed and great through the first eight miles. I was so happy about that. I knew that I had a mental block coming up around mile 9, because that was my longest run in the past many months. OK, my longest run since the Las Vegas Half in December 2010. So I knew I was once again heading into uncharted territory, and I remembered how absolutely MISERABLE and deathly feeling I’d been at mile 11 in Vegas. I was kinda nervous.

I started texting Mr McBody because I knew he’d give me a little pep talk. So every time I passed a mile marker I’d type in the number and word for how I felt.

I was totally psyched that at Mile 10 I was feeling GOOD.

(that's the time from when the race started, not my time!)

Up until this point I really did not have any discomfort other than what felt like a blister on my right pinky toe. I kept sort of shifting around in my shoe to avoid the tender spot. But it wasn’t like it was killing me.

The last couple miles weren’t EASY (I texted, “I’m feeling it”) but they weren’t horrible. I wasn’t suffering or praying for mercy or anything like it. I wasn’t feeling any systemic problems. I had been drinking a half-cup of water and half-cup of PowerAde at every water stop. I had a little pouch of salted pretzels which I took in steadily, and I had one packet of Gu at Mile 9. (good place for it) I felt perfectly balanced, which is pretty much nothing short of a miracle for me. No GI problems, no tingling, numbness, asthma, nausea or the like. All of which I’ve had in large amounts. I was so grateful but also proud of myself for having figured that part of it out. There was one woman running near me with her hands up, and her friend was massaging her fingers. I gave her some pretzels and said, “need salt” and she was so happy. (“Those Team in Training people are so helpful!”)

I was also really proud of the fact that I ran the entire race WITHOUT MUSIC. Which is also nothing short of miraculous, considering I’ve been pretty dependent on my tunes since day one. It was just that my phone battery was down to 3/4 even at the start line, and I was super nervous I wouldn’t have enough juice to text people at the end (or during if necessary). So I didn’t use my Runkeeper ( which really drains the juice) or ANY music. I listened to the cool high school marching bands and to the speaker music when it came around every mile or so. That was enough, and I think having music as a “special treat” now and then helped me really appreciate it. Having said that I think I need to invest in a Mophie or one of those extra battery things.

Finally we got to mile 12, back in the park again, and I was so happy about how good I was feeling. The last mile between 12 and 13 felt pretty long, but again, I wasn’t dying. Then we got to mile 13 and I was so happy. I saw Sabrina and that was great, to see her at beginning and end (and a bunch in the middle too). When we got to the finish, I did a little jump in the air (I hope Brightroom.com got that one!) and just felt so happy. Then a few feet later I saw Pauly, whom I’d run a bit with during HER Las Vegas half in December! (she is also a TNT mentor, down in LA) That was awesome.

I’ve gotta say, there were HUNDREDS of TNT runners, spectators and coaches through this whole race. It is so great to have people call your name and say “Go Team!” just because you’re wearing this purple shirt. Toward the end, maybe Mile 12, I think I may have been looking a little ragged, and this TNT coach ran with me for a while. He talked to me about drinking water in the last mile, and he was just so encouraging and coach-y, it was as if he’d been training me all season. That made a big impression, the huge community that TNT is everywhere.

I was super stoked to get this giant gorgeous medal!

Yippeee! Look at this beauty!

Then I found Juniorette, who’d been waiting for me OVER an HOUR (she rocked it!!!). We went up to the hotel and pretty much crashed. It felt so awesome to take my shoes off. Junior had slept through the whole thing. Poor baby!

The afternoon was pretty much a blur of napping and lying around, and then later on we went back to the parks to play before Junior’s plane ride home. Juniorette and I had an awesome dinner at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen then stayed out super late playing on the rides. She convinced me to go on the Tower of Terror, which WAS terrifying but actually really fun and well done. We also did the new 3D Star Tours (AWESOME!) and Indiana Jones and a few others. Finally dragged back to bed around 11 and crashed hard.

This was my second half marathon and I have to say it was one of my happiest races. I’ve had a lot of pain and suffering in many  of my events, and even though I was glad to have finished them, they were hard won victories. This one just felt good from beginning to end. (is there something to running a race in the “happiest place on Earth?”) It was slower than my first half marathon by seven minutes, but it felt 100% better. So I’d call it a personal best of sorts. (and I know that time difference was for the Tarzan and bathroom stops!)

I just feel so good about all the things that went RIGHT for this race:

  • The hotel location was PERFECTO. Nothing sucks more than having to walk 1-2 miles back to a hotel after you’ve just run 13.1.
  • Salt, water and sports drink ratio were just right. Yay for salty pretzels, water, PowerAde and Gu, all in just the right amounts at the right time. How awesome to not feel SICK.
  • No painful feet! The calf stretches were amazing, and I wore my ankle brace and orthotics (and compression socks) but didn’t overdo it with tape and extra stuff. I felt well supported but not strangled. It was great.

I feel really good about this race, considering that my training was less than stellar. It made me think, wow, what could I do WITH some good training? Maybe my next adventure will be a TNT half or full….

But for now, my next schedule race isn’t until June, the South Maui Triathlon. I want to feel as good about that as I did about this half marathon, so I’m excited to dive into training with my new team and my new coach. WAHOO!

 

Have I Been Hiding? January 23, 2012

It doesn’t really FEEL like I’ve been hiding – more like, “I’m really busy,” or “Time just got away from me,” etc. Stuff you’ve heard before. But you know that conventional wisdom says that If a fitness blogger seems to, er… disappear, then chances are high that something is not right. That they’ve fallen off the wagon, or gained weight, or lost their fitness, or all of the above.

I’ve had some pretty big gaps in blogging recently and although I have all these Excuses, it probably has come down to the fact that I was in a fair bit of struggle. Mostly with myself. And it’s only now that I am able to come back the blog because I feel like I’ve made it out the other side (I think). I wish that I had been able to be more open and to have shared some of that struggle here, but clearly – that just wasn’t happening.

During the time I’ve been gone, my 3rd healthaversary/blogaversary came and went. It’s a first for me not to note this with a commemorative, celebratory blog. But this anniversary had me feeling more sober than other years. Realizing, I guess, that this is a lifelong journey and that there’s no guarantee that it’s going to just Happen. In several ways I was feeling like I had let myself down and that I had been in a period of failing. It wasn’t a good feeling. But having the healthaversary celebration to celebrate my intention was a good thing, I think, and it helped get me back on my good path. Here are some of my friends doing our annual Walking of the Labyrinth on a cold and drizzly Sunday. Then we came back to the house for a nice brunch that made me feel all nourished, both physically and socially.

walking the labyrinth

On Monday, the next day, I had a little mini breakdown/meltdown. I reached out to a friend who really helped me. Until that point, I had not felt like I could share my struggles with anyone. In retrospect, that is just so sad and dumb and wrong. I know that I have SO many people who would so gladly “be there” for me, but my disappointment in myself was just too huge. As it turned out, I reached out to exactly the right person and it was a major turning point for me.

Somehow over the past couple of months I felt like I lost the me I wanted to be, and it was hard finding my way back. I had a bunch of setbacks including a break-in (busted back window) of my car with a purse robbery included. That wasn’t much fun. But first through walking the circles of the labyrinth, and then through opening up to one friend and then more (and now to all of you) it has made a huge difference. Things have lightened up considerably (including me, no pun intended).  Today I ran 9 miles in the rain, something I have been attempting over and over the past few weeks and just could not accomplish.

Next weekend is the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland, which I’ll be doing with Junior and Juniorette. I am in nowhere near the condition I had hoped to be in, but judging by today’s 9 miler I think I can survive it. I hope we’ll have some fun together and then I’ll be turning my direction toward the new triathlon season. I can’t even begin to describe how excited, nervous and thrilled this makes me.

So, with much relief, I feel like I am “back.”

Have you ever “gone away” from fitness for a while? What helped you come back?


 

Hellooooo 2012! January 3, 2012

I decided to bring 2012 in with an active bang. On New Year’s eve day, the hike team went for a hecka long hike up and down Mount Diablo. It’s only an hour away, but in 25 years I’ve never been there. The views are pretty amazingly beautiful. However, I was not feeling my best. I think we hiked about five hours and the last couple were a real weird struggle for me. Straight uphill. First I was getting shooting pains in my right ankle. I was wearing my old ankle brace as well as using an orthotic in that shoe. My ankle really did not feel happy going up steep inclines. I was a little freaked out when the pain started because we were a good two hours from the parking lot (uphill). But after a while it subsided, and then the other stuff started. Nausea, stomach cramps, light headedness. Oh man. It was really one of the worst hikes I ever did, physically.

pretty views

Nature Guy found the world's biggest pine cone!

One of the mentors gave me some pita chips to get some salt into me. I think after a few hours I can get really sensitive, hydration wise. Even if I’m drinking a lot of water (which I was) if I don’t have salt and electrolytes, I can get really messed up. I was trying to be conscientious about the water but clearly it was not enough. I felt crappy the rest of the hike and when I got home, I had to just hop in the shower and into the car and over to San Francisco for my NYE dinner date and to work at friends’ comedy show. (which was awesome)

When I got up (at 6am!) on New Years’ Day, I was still kind of running on empty. I was feeling kind of tentative about doing the 10K run I’d signed up for, but I was meeting my Hike Coach (who was racewalking), another friend, and a bunch of buddies from my Tri team. I didn’t want to miss that! I promised spouse and self that I would rest, turn around or quit if I felt yucky.

GO team! Yahoo!

I didn’t really have any huge goals regarding the race, other than finishing without feeling like death. It’s a good thing that I didn’t have a good look at the race course before starting, because it would have scared me a LOT. The middle of the course was just one giant hill. Steeper or as steep as Mount Diablo.

Wow that was one heck of a hill.

I ended up walking pretty much all the way up and most of the way down. I saw a lot of runners FLYING down the hill and it scared me to death -you could break your neck so fast like that! So I was pretty cautious.

The awesome thing is that they had a great aid station at the top of the hill, which was the 10k turnaround. Sports drink and all kinds of edibles – including my favorite, salty pretzels! I took a big cupful and a big handful of pretzels. And you know, the second half of the race felt fantastic. I felt like my body was in perfect balance with fluids, salts and nutrition. The magic combo, once again!

I sure didn’t beat any speed records (especially due to the hill) but I finished feeling strong.  Coach Carolyn cheered me into the finish – she had walked that 10k twenty minutes faster than I did, running! She is a real force of nature. I met up with my other buddies and we got our medals and our (YUM) Haagen Dasz ice cream bars (what a great post-race treat!). We then discovered that Katherine had come in first in her age group – how awesome is she!!

Yahoo! Medals!

Go Katherine! Won her age division!

we all scream for ice cream!

So it turned out to be an awesome way to start the New Year. But man, I was pooped. Last night I went to bed right after dinner. I wasn’t sure if I was exhausted from the dual workout, or partly sick, or…

Today I barely moved. I spent the day paying bills and filing stuff and generally keeping a low profile. I think I need to learn a little bit about pacing myself. :-)

 

 
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