Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2015

I should start by saying that this was my eighth half marathon since I started running long distances in 2011. I should also comment that I went to Disney World once, when I was five, and my favorite ride was It’s a Small World. I’ve lived 1.5 hours from Disneyland for almost three years now and have never been. I’m not anti-Disney, but I’m also not a fanatic. The average pace for my previous seven half marathons has been right at two hours, but I ran the La Jolla Half two weeks ago in 2:07. The past six months have been extremely busy for me so training has not been a priority. So knowing all of that, how did I find myself standing on the streets of Anaheim at 5:30am Sunday morning? It’s simple… my friends asked me to do it 😉

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Ready for my eighth half marathon!

I say that jokingly because back in August… July? September? Sometime in 2014. My friend from high school, Claire, mentioned that she was running the Disney Princess Half at Disney World in February. Not only that, but she was considering doing a “Coast-to-Coast Challenge” and her husband would feel better if she had someone to run or at least travel with her to Disneyland in May, 2015. I’m always down for having running/race buddies, so naturally I said yes! We convinced two other high school friends living in California to join us as well and the cast was complete. Fast forward through moving away from San Diego, through traveling to Argentina, through moving into North Carolina, and finally through moving BACK to San Diego and finally race weekend was upon us. Here’s the basics of our weekend… there was a lot going on, so try to keep up!

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Picking up my bib at the expo

Claire – She arrived from Philly on Wednesday night, ran the Neverland 5k Friday, then completed the Pixie Dust Challenge by completing both the Tink 10K on Saturday and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon on Sunday. She’s a mother of two adorable boys and only started running distance races six months ago. Tink was her third of four half marathons in a month. Crazy, right?! As previously mentioned, Claire was the one that got us all involved and her love for everything runDisney was very apparent as she cleaned out the merchandise tent;) But her enthusiasm was contagious all weekend!

Karen – I arrived from North County, San Diego on Thursday night, got up early and supported the others in their running of the Tink 10k on Saturday and then raced the Tinkerbell Half on Sunday. In spite of not being in conditioned shape, I really wanted to RACE and see what happened. I tend to get complacent during events and I knew stopping and starting (even for Disney character pictures) would kill my legs, which were still recovering from my last race. My “I’ll be happy” goal was to beat 2:07 and my “I’ll be ecstatic” goal  was to break two hours. I also agree to wings and tutus… but only if the other girls picked them out for me.

Kelly – She arrived on Friday night from San Diego, sported her fairy wings and tutu like a champ while completing the Pixie Dust Challenge as well. She also ran La Jolla two weeks ago and is in great shape from aerial yoga and TRX training. Sadly, this was our last race together for a while because at the end of the month she’s moving back to the East Coast where we all grew up. Kelly served as our massage therapist for the weekend and (thankfully) offered to compress, stretch, and de-knot our tired muscles.

Jenny – She arrived later Friday night from Santa Monica from a Flash Mob with her Dancing Classrooms students. She has been battling tendonitis and leg pain for almost two months, but completed all 19.3 miles of the Pixie Dust Challenge with a smile. With the possible exception of Claire, Jenny was the most excited about everything Disney and rocked her custom-made Mickey and Minnie TOMS in between races. She took running guru Jeff Galloway’s advice to alternate running and walking to get her through only her second half marathon ever!

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Jenny (in Minnie ears), Claire (in orange), and Kelly (in blue) finishing the Tink 10K!

Now that you know all about the girls, let’s talk about the actual race and how it went for me. I tried a new strategy this race, just to see what happened. I typically start conservatively and then pick up the pace the last few miles as I gain confidence in my ability to finish. I know I should be past that now, especially after finishing the SF Marathon last July, but it’s still hard for me to really think of myself as a runner. I also tend to “trust my training” but I didn’t really train so much for this race. Before La Jolla I only got up to 6.68 miles and then two weeks ago I had that race as a “training run” for Tinkerbell. So I wanted to go out with 9:00 miles to begin and try to hold those through the park, which we excited around mile six. Then I figured even if I slowed to my usual pace around 9:30/mile, I would still beat 2:07. La Jolla runs up and over Torrey Pines, which is a considerable hill, and I knew Anaheim would be a much flatter setting which should help my legs survive.

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I was happy to be a proud spectator on Saturday… congrats girls!

From the time Tinkerbell said “Go!”, I felt only okay. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the different neighborhoods of Disneyland, even if I didn’t stop for character photos. Once I break stride in a race, it’s all over. But I spent most of this first hour checking out the scenery, the rides, and the cast members along the course. I was so distracted by my surroundings that I surprised myself by coming through the 10k marker in 55:13, which was 8:54/mile pace! However, I knew that this was when the real race would begin for me. My muscles weren’t used to long distances, I didn’t have cool stuff to look at on the streets of Anaheim, and the people on the sidelines were going to thin out. I ate the first half of my Shot Blocks and reminded myself that I was almost halfway through and that if I needed to slow down, I could.

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Kelly, Jenny, Claire and I before the half marathon 🙂

Miles seven to nine felt SLOW to me. The sun came out, we went through the “quiet please” neighborhood, and my legs were starting to hurt. But each time I passed a mile marker and heard my MapMyRun update my pace, I was still maintaining fairly well! At the 15k (9.3 mile) point, my time was 1:23 which was 8:59 pace. This was when my mind switched gears. I did the math and felt confident for the first time during the race that I would actually beat my 2:07 goal. But now was the question of whether or not I could pull out a sub-2:00 performance. I was definitely not convinced. But I am also fiercely competitive with myself and knew I had to try. So I ate the second half of Shot Blocks around mile ten and kept on plugging. My right hip flexor and the top bones in my right foot were starting to hurt but I tried to focus on not altering my stride for fear of causing pain elsewhere. Luckily, I was trailing two very nice ladies who were in the same running group but didn’t really know each other, so I could eavesdrop on them while distracting myself. I also told myself that if they could hold this pace while talking normally, I could do it while staying silent.

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Daisy and Minnie cheering on the Tink 10k finishers!

Mile twelve saw the second time through an underpass, which served as the only real hill on the course. I love hills and really took advantage of the chance to alter my stride for a short time. My mile split that mile was 8:20… oops? Mile thirteen I was pretty spent. I did appreciate the bands, color guards, dance teams, and cheerleaders that lined the second half of this course and never as much as that last mile. I knew from the mile marker clocks that I had eleven minutes to run the last 1.1 miles and I knew I would do it… but I also knew that I would not be running a PR. This hadn’t even really crossed my mind until that point, as it’s a 1:57:09, and I was totally fine with that. I tried to really enjoy the last straight-away of the race and even remembered to cross over and hi-five Mickey Mouse just before the finish line. My official time was 1:58:55, my fourth fastest half marathon time to date, and I was super pleased. After the race I did get ice from the medical tent and made several trips to the port-o-john’s while waiting for my fellow fairies. Seems like my stomach needs the long training runs more than my legs do, lol.

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Map of the course, according to MapMyRun

I was able to track the other girls the rest of the way in and watched them finish, which was just as fun as crossing the line myself! Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend with these lovely ladies and I was happy with my performance, especially given my training. The race was very well supported from what I saw, with tons of course marshals, spectators, aid stations, and entertainment. While I’m not sure I would sign up for the whole Disney experience on my own, it was nice to have a race where I could start in the first corral and not even have elite runners in front of me. The medal we got with the spinning Tinkerbell was pretty great too! Of course it goes without saying that my favorite part was spending 3+ days hanging out with old friends while being active and achieving our goals. I’m so proud of them and the rest of the women (and few men) that raced this past weekend. Now it’s time for a few weeks of active rest for me before my summer race season kicks off!

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Claire, Kelly, myself and Jenny at the finish… WE DID IT!!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness
    May 19, 2015 @ 07:16:23

    I love all the different colored sparkle skirts! Much like your friend, my sister and I also flew in from philly and did the pixie dust challenge and the 5K. This was our first Disneyland race and we enjoyed it! Glad you could be there with all your friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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