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First Half Marathon.

Monday, September 05, 2011

This success story got off to a rocky start, with lots of setbacks. It took some serious straight-talking and thinking to overcome them and get onto the right track.

The training began in June 2011, for a group of people who wanted to run the Disney half, in September. We began with a 4 mile run then gradually built up to 12 miles. Each participant was responsible for their own runs during the week, building the mileage up from 13 at the beginning to 26 miles at then end.

During the taper week, I caught a cold. Haven't had a cold in months. That was worrying but thankfully it didn't progress into a bad cold until after the race.

The expo started on Friday. I was told that it was best to visit Friday rather than Saturday because it would get really crowded. What a treat it was to spend the day with a dear friend, who was my 5K coach. She and I had a wonderful time hanging out, shopping and having lunch. Although I was starting to get nervous, it calmed me down a lot to have such a wonderful day.

Saturday afternoon, my husband and I checked into a motel close to Disneyland. We do live close enough to drive but wanted to make it a special weekend since I'm celebrating my 50th birthday in a few days. We enjoyed dinner at a fancy restaurant and I must admit to having a cocktail with the meal. I probably shouldn't have, the night before the race but it seemed like the right thing to do, at the time.

I got a fitful night's sleep, waiting for the 3:00 alarm. When the time finally arrived, I did all the things I had to do, such as eating a familiar breakfast, dressing in the clothes I'd laid out the night before, double checking everything, then headed out to the start line.

Our group met at 5am for photos then off to the corrals. I was in 'E' and there were two more behind me. Each was huge, for a total of over 20K people. I'm told that 62% were women. Many were in costume. I wore a hot pink tutu.

The wait seemed like forever until just before 6am. The National Anthem was played and fireworks were set off as the singer sang about rocket's red glare and bombs bursting. I got real teary at that point. And then the first corral was off, and the second and so on. It took about 25 minutes to get back to my corral.

As I was taught, I kept to my slower pace for the first few miles. We ran along the highway, to the main park entrance. A view of the back lot opened up until we were actually in DISNEYLAND. It was magical. There were characters waiting for picture op's. I didn't stop, since the sag wagon was pursuing all those who didn't make a 16 minute mile.

All was going well, until I turned my ankle in a railroad line at about mile 3. Was this to be the end for my race? I limped along for a little while and thankfully all those ankle exercises kicked in and it sorted itself out.

Out into the industrial area, and I began to wish I'd hooked up my music. I had my phone and ear buds with me, but opted to follow the recommendations not to use them. There were bands and cheerleaders here and there but not as many as I'd thought there would be.

Angels Stadium was a blast. I've never seen the inside of it before. There were people in the stands, cheering for us. A gauntlet of boy and girl scouts welcomed us in the parking lot, with lots of high fives.

And then it was the home straight. I was tired. My feet were swollen and sore. My 5/1 intervals had to be pushed back to 2/1 intervals for a while. Finally, the finish line was in sight. I still had it in me to sprint the last tenth of a mile.

A volunteer placed a medal around my neck and another handed me a package with a moist towel. That felt wonderful. Gatorade was passed out, and bananas.

Thanks to the wonders of text messaging, I was able to get hooked up with my group and send a photo to my husband who was waiting in the hotel.

It was an awesome experience. I'm definitely going to do it again. In fact, it will be on January 29th 2012.
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