Race Recap: Disneyland Half Marathon 2016

Last weekend was unbelievable. I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon, got a birthday PR and visited two magical theme parks with Geof. It was his first time to Disneyland and it was a bit of culture shock for him, but fun nonetheless. 

A few months ago, I received a complimentary race entry to the Disneyland Half Marathon from New Balance, as part of their MyNB program. The program gives you points when you purchase gear and link your runs with Strava. You can then redeem your points for various rewards. I run primarily in New Balance shoes and use Strava religiously to track my running progress, so it was easy for my points to add up. Choosing to run this race was a no brainer. Registration normally costs $200, but with a free entry, all I needed to do was book a flight and a few months later, Geof and I were headed to Anaheim, California to visit Disneyland. The race took place over my birthday weekend and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than doing what I love—running and traveling. It was a win all around!

RunDisney puts on a huge race weekend, complete with a 5K on Friday, a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I was allowed entry into one event only so I chose the half marathon. I love this distance and thought it was cool that the race fell on the day of my actual birthday. There was also a challenge called the Dumbo Double Dare, where you could run both the 10K and half and receive a special medal. I would have loved to attempt this but was perfectly happy with just running the half. 

We flew into Long Beach Airport on Friday and checked into our hotel in Anaheim. Because I had taken dramamine on the plane to help with motion sickness, I was super drowsy and went straight into a three hour nap right when we got there (whoops, haha). After I woke up, we walked over to the Disneyland Hotel for packet pickup and the race expo. We explored Downtown Disney that night, ate pasta and wandered back to the hotel to get some sleep.

The next day, Saturday, was spent at Disney California Adventure. I love this park more than the original Disneyland, mostly because of Cars World. We went on a bunch of rides but apparently, I have the worst motion sickness because I started to feel sick on Mickey's Fun Wheel and after riding the California Screamin' roller coaster, I was so nauseous that I had to sit down on a bench for almost an hour. Not exactly the way I wanted to spend the day. I wasn't feeling any better after a while, so we went back to the hotel where I took another nap. Once dinnertime rolled around, we made our way over to California Pizza Kitchen, which was a short walk from the hotel. I was a little worried about eating dinner after 8:30 p.m. the night before the race, but tried to choose something light. I had the asparagus + spinach spaghettini and ate half of it.

On Sunday, race morning, I woke up at 2:45 a.m. to eat last night's leftovers. You know the rule about not trying anything new on race day? Well, I didn't listen to that and ate a completely different breakfast than I usually do on race morning. I ate the leftover spaghettini and a pouch of GoGo squeeZ apple sauce, which I had received at the race expo. I decided I would just take a chance on this meal. It seemed light overall and was easy on the stomach. After drinking a cup of nuun and getting ready, we walked over to the race start on Disneyland Drive. Geof was coming along as support but wasn't running, so I really appreciated him waking up so early and walking with me to the start. I took one last potty break and we parted ways so I could find my way to the corrals.

The race had a start time of 5:30 a.m. I lined up in corral B, which was the second wave. Each corral was assigned based on a previous race time you had to submit, which I loved because it puts you around other runners with similar paces. I didn't have any goal expectations going in. I wanted to have fun and enjoy the run and not take it too seriously. My legs weren't well-rested having walked around the park the day before, so I decided to run by feel. As I was waiting for the gun to go off, I realized I had to pee again, but had to hold it since there were no port-a-potties in sight. Once the race started and I began running, I forgot about it as we ran through Disney California Adventure, passing through Cars World, Paradise Pier and A Bug's Land. We then headed toward Disneyland, running by Tomorrowland, the Matterhorn and through Sleeping Beauty's Castle. It's pretty magical running through the parks when it's dark out with the lights of the attractions to guide you. I loved it. The excitement of the people cheering us on was what carried me and I was running a quicker pace than I usually start out with. 5K—25:33

Photo: runDisney

Photo: runDisney

I was surprised at how good I felt. Even though I went out faster than usual, I thought that I might as well try and hold this pace and see if it would last. After we exited the park, it was the least interesting part of the course. I took a quick potty break at a water station at 4.5 miles but it didn't slow me down too much. At this point, the sky was turning from dark to the light of the morning and the weather remained overcast and in the 70s for the rest of the race. This part of the course had a lot of long straights and I just tried to keep a steady pace. 10K—53:01

We continued running on the streets of Anaheim, where there were a bunch of people cheering on the sides of the road with their old retro cars. We took a turn by the Honda Center and then along the Santa Ana Trail that overlooked the river. 15K—1:19:48

Photo: runDisney

Photo: runDisney

I could see Angel Stadium coming up ahead and began to get excited. I had been looking forward to this part of the race the entire time and as I ran into the stadium, I got chills. It was so loud and energetic inside and running by home plate is something I'll never forget. It was by far my favorite part of the race. I gave everyone in the stands high fives as I ran by and though the time in the stadium was short, it gave me the momentum I needed to keep pushing. I didn't realize how much my speed had picked up as I ran through there but the adrenaline must have got me. We headed out and began making our way back to Disneyland.

I always look weird in race photos. Let's not talk about that. Photo: runDisney

I always look weird in race photos. Let's not talk about that. Photo: runDisney

At the mile 11 marker, I thought I was at mile 12, which was kind of a downer but I was determined to hold my pace. At mile 12, I quickened my steps as we ran back around the outer edge of California Adventure, the parking lot and to the finishing chute on Downtown Drive. There was so much excitement from the crowd. I heard the announcer say my name as I pulled up to the finish line and I high fived Pluto and Mickey right before I crossed the mat. I just had to. Final chip time—1:52:19

The moment I crossed the line, I was so proud. I knew I had just ran my fastest half marathon ever. It took me almost a year and a half to best my old time, but in this moment, I thought about my coach and all the work I've been doing with her. It's really making the biggest difference. I collected my medal, water and snack box and waited in the meetup area for Geof. I wasn't too interested in what was in my snack box and Geof was hungry, so we headed to a nearby sandwich shop where I had grapes and orange juice and Geof had a breakfast sandwich.

Snack box food.

Snack box food.

We walked back to the hotel so I could shower and headed back out to enjoy the rest of our day at the theme parks. I tried a Dole Whip for the first time and we got in as many rides as we could. This day was much more busy than the previous day, so it was a lot of waiting in lines. By the end of the night, my watch showed that I had been on my feet for over 25 miles (13 of those were from the race though) and I was so ready to get some rest. I couldn't stop thinking about how memorable my birthday had been. It was the perfect day! Thank you runDisney for such an incredible experience.

Photo: runDisney

Photo: runDisney

Next up on the race schedule is the St. George Marathon. I'm nervous but hopeful. Only three more weeks...

 

Race Recap: SeaWheeze Half Marathon 2016

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It's been over a week since SeaWheeze, so it's time for the recap! This year was the third consecutive year that I've run the SeaWheeze Half Marathon. I look forward to this weekend all year and it's my favorite race for so many reasons. A: It was my very first half marathon back in 2014 so it's always going to be special to me. I just love the feeling of race weekend, especially with this one. B: The course is beautiful and runs through so many scenic parts of Vancouver. Experiencing the city with your own feet is amazing. C: Bang for your buck—registration is $128 CAD and includes so many perks (like shorts sent in the mail to train in, free yoga classes, a post-race breakfast, a sunset festival concert and so much swag throughout). D: It's much more than a race and is a whole race experience. It's put on by lululemon so you know that the weekend is going to be fun, energetic and full of amazing cheer stations and surprises! 

There's so much I want to include so I'll start from the beginning. Warning: this post will be long. 

On the day before we started our trip, I began getting a cold. It started as just a minor sore throat, but I was worried about it getting worse and the possibility of being sick on race day. I started drinking ginger kombucha and lemon ginger drinks to try and ease it. I'm not sure it helped.

Wednesday, August 10—Travel
Geof and I woke up early and started our drive. Yes, drive. We've turned this race into a big road trip for the past three years and love it. It's interesting to travel by car and see the different cities and environments we pass through. Taking shifts driving is okay when you get to take naps on your off-shifts. This day, we drove all the way from Salt Lake City to Bellingham, WA (920 miles total). 

Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Thursday, August 11—Vancouver
We headed out, had breakfast at a cute cafe in Bellingham and drove another two hours (and 55 miles) to Vancouver, with a short stop at the border crossing. After getting into Vancouver, we dropped off our gear at the hotel and began our trek around the city. The highlight of this day was touring the lululemon SSC. Because I work for the company, I was able to visit headquarters with other educators/key leaders from around the United States and Canada. Geof also got to go and it was fun for him to see the company from behind-the-scenes. I got a tour of the many departments (a lot of them were out helping with SeaWheeze though; we were told that SSC employees were taking part in a 100% challenge for the race—every person had to be involved in some way, whether it was running, volunteering, working the showcase store, setting up—so inspiring), a sneak peek of fall/winter product and a walkthrough of Whitespace (read more about what that is here).

lululemon SSC

lululemon SSC

We then had dinner at Noodlebox, took a walk to Robson Street and visited the lululemon flagship store. On our way back to the hotel, Geof grabbed a falafel pita wrap from a food truck and we headed to sleep for the showcase store the following morning.

Friday, August 12—Showcase Store & Package Pickup
The morning began with an early alarm. We walked to the Vancouver Convention Centre and arrived there a little bit past 5 a.m. for the showcase store, which would open to runners at 7 a.m. The store contains special edition SeaWheeze product that's exclusive to the race. The line was crazy long (we've lined up around the same time the past two years and each time, it's gotten progressively more insane and we've gotten progressively further down the line). My congestion was really kicking in and I drank hot tea while I waited. We talked to the people around us which sped up the hours a little. Eventually, we made it inside the store after 9 a.m. and it was madness inside. A lot of the merchandise was picked over but I was still able to find a few items I liked. I then headed to pick up my race package. This included a mesh duffel bag (to be used for gear check), water bottle, sunglasses, nuun tablets, wristband and shoe timing chips. At this point, my congestion was getting really bad and I was getting nauseous and dizzy. Getting through this line was quick and easy, but I just wanted to get away from the crowds. Because of how I was feeling, we didn't partake in the events on the plaza and missed the vendors and activities. If I had to do it again, I'm not sure I would sacrifice sleep for the showcase store, but then again, I feel like I would get FOMO if I didn't experience the store? I don't know. I do think the lack of sleep did make my cold worse though.

Some of the vendors on the plaza included Saje (shown above), Clearly, nuun, Vega, RISE and KIND. There was also a product cafe, meet your pace beaver, flash tattoos, hair braiding and yoga classes. Photo: lululemon

Some of the vendors on the plaza included Saje (shown above), Clearly, nuun, Vega, RISE and KIND. There was also a product cafe, meet your pace beaver, flash tattoos, hair braiding and yoga classes. Photo: lululemon

We walked to Tim Hortons for a quick bite (Geof and I shared half of a chicken panini) and another stop at Cartems Donuterie. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I got two donuts but was only able to eat one—vanilla bean. Back at the hotel, I took a nap and a hot shower, hoping that it would help my congestion. We headed back out in the early evening to a drugstore to get me some cold medicine and visited the Gastown district, where we had some delicious baos at Bao Down and visited some of the shops. We walked back to the Coal Harbour area and had our carb dinner at Cactus Club Cafe (butternut squash soup + spaghettini and meatballs). I had the spaghettini as my pre-race dinner the year before and remember it being so amazing and how much I loved it. With me being congested and headachey, I wasn't able to finish my meal because I felt so sick. The more I ate, the more I thought I might throw up. We were planning on doing the evening yoga class on the plaza, but with the nausea I was having, we decided it would be smarter to go back to the hotel and allow my body to rest.

It's a tradition to lay out my race day gear the night before each race. I didn't end up wearing my hat though.

It's a tradition to lay out my race day gear the night before each race. I didn't end up wearing my hat though.

Saturday, August 13—Race Day & Sunset Festival
I was getting a little sicker by the minute, so it was hard to get up in the morning, but the excitement of race day can do wonders. I felt stuffy and congested still, but the dizziness seemed to have gone away. It was replaced with a cough though. My long run meal as of late had been avocado toast, so that's what I had for breakfast (plus a glass of nuun) and we started our walk to the convention center. We arrived just in time for the warm up on Jack Poole Plaza and it was off to our corrals to await the start. I lined up between the 1:55 and 2:00 pace beavers. Having run eight half marathons before, I didn't have the usual nervous pre-race feeling, but felt anxious and unsure of how I would do because of my cold. I tried to remain optimistic. The Canadian anthem was sung and then we were off!

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

Surprisingly, I felt better than I imagined. The weather was around 70°F with humidity in the 85% range, so it felt hot and humid and I was sweating more than usual, but it was really great for my throat since it felt less dry and I was able to breathe a little easier. It probably helped being at sea level too.

Geof and I begin most races together but he jets off in the first mile and I run the race on my own. I actually like this because I get to run on my own accord, based on how I'm feeling and at my own ability. It's really great alone time. The first part of the race takes us through downtown, along the viaduct (passing one of my favorite cheer stations—the Ride Cycle Club spin class) over to the Chinatown area and along the city portion of the seawall. It was super congested with people and I had to do a lot of weaving and passing around other runners. 5K—26:42.

The next few miles took us over the Burrard Bridge and along Cornwall Avenue to the Kitsilano neighborhood, where there was a turnaround and we run back over the bridge on the other side. I missed the puppy cheer station at the turnaround and was bummed about it! I was looking forward to this cheer station all day but was concentrating too hard (or just too excited about the turnaround point) and missed them completely. Sad. 10K—55:11.

The course is funny because it seems pretty flat but there are small, rolling, gradual hills that you don't really realize until you look at the elevation profile later. The Burrard Bridge was like that. After the bridge, we headed down toward the seawall at Stanley Park. The race was flying by. It was almost nine miles before I looked at my watch for the first time to see how far I'd gone. I think after running this course two times before, I had a general sense of the distance, but once you're on the seawall stretch, it seems to go on for a while. I was holding a consistent pace and was just surprised at how good I was feeling. I had to cough here and there but still felt strong. 15K—1:22:40.

Photo: lululemon

Photo: lululemon

The seawall part of the race is my favorite. It's so pretty and I love looking out at the water. Something about the smell of the ocean makes me happy. It was shaded in some parts which was a good break from the sun. At mile 11, I felt like I still had energy to kick it up a notch and started to pick up the pace. It felt amazing to be able to pass runners as I got closer to the finish. I've never felt as strong during a half marathon as I did in this one, even with being sick. The end of the race changed this year and instead of running back into the city, we stayed on the seawall. The ivivva cheer station here was so fun! I gave all of the girls high fives as I ran by. I kept running until one final turn and saw the finish arch and ran it in. Final chip time—1:57:03.

Look at this medal! The edges even had a secret message that read Mission Complete when decoded.

Look at this medal! The edges even had a secret message that read Mission Complete when decoded.

Because of all of the weaving, I ran further than 13.1 miles. My watch said 13.35 when I crossed the mat but I was seriously so happy. I had a new course PR and I don't know any half where I've run this consistently with so much life left in my legs. I owe it all to the work I've been doing with coach Emily and really feel like she's making me a stronger runner. I wondered if I could have done even better if I wasn't sick but there was no time to think about that. I was just so excited to complete a half marathon feeling as good as I did and wanted to find Geof! I walked further down the finishing chute where I was handed my medal (I love that it's a surprise until you finish!), a bottle of Smartwater, a cold wet washcloth, Saje essential oils, KIND bar, nuun tablets, lululemon finisher hat and Vega recovery mix. The post-race breakfast was provided by Bearfoot Bistro and consisted of a red pepper spinach frittata sandwich, sour cherry tart and grapes. I grabbed my food and went to find Geof. He finished with a time of 1:43:44; he's on fire lately! I ate my grapes, saved my sandwich and gave Geof my tart (I don't love sweets after running). We went inside the convention center to get massages (the best) and then I finished off my breakfast sandwich and sipped on a Vega smoothie.

Post-race goodies. Smartwater not pictured.

Post-race goodies. Smartwater not pictured.

The rest of the day was a blur. We had a snack with some friends from San Francisco, ate a bunch of food downtown, visited some shops on Robson Street and shuttled to Stanley Park for the Sunset Festival. We skipped the yoga class again because I was afraid that going upside down in downward dog might make me feel worse, so we ate poutine and veggie burgers, checked out the artisan market and sat on the grass for the concert. Youngblood, Dear Rouge and Chromeo performed. I wasn't too familiar with Youngblood or Dear Rouge, but they were both great. Geof and I have both liked Chromeo for a long time so it was fun to see them live. We left mid-set because I was getting tired and needed sleep to shake my cold. Geof wanted to see the digital orca sculpture at night so we shuttled back over to the convention center. Little did I know, he had a huge surprise up his sleeve! We were just admiring the orca with its sparkly lights and I was taking photos and looking out at the harbour. After a while, I was getting even more tired and asked Geof if we could go back so I could sleep. He wanted to stay out there for five more minutes. I started to talk about running and pooping (I know, so polite of me) and then Geof started talking to me, saying the nicest things and then asked me to marry him! Ahh! I couldn't have been happier and it made this day the most perfect, best day. We walked back to the hotel, me clutching the little box with the ring inside, smiling.

Chromeo performing at the Sunset Festival. Photo: lululemon

Chromeo performing at the Sunset Festival. Photo: lululemon

Sunday, August 14—North Vancouver
The following day included lunch and ice cream at Stanley Park and exploring North Vancouver. We hiked the Grouse Grind, a 1.8 mile hike with 2,800 feet of elevation (I did it in 54 minutes and beat my time from last year, despite many cough attacks) and had dinner at Amici, one of our favorite Italian restaurants. 

That concludes the Vancouver portion of the trip! Geof and I both discussed how we can't wait to come back for next year's race (rumor has it that it's going to be nature themed) and plan on registering again. We then drove to Boise the next day and explored the city for another day before making the drive back home. It was a whirlwind of a week, but I'm glad to be home. It feels good to sleep in my own bed, with little Izzy dog snuggled up by my feet (boy, did I miss her!).

Trip Statistics:
Ginger Beers Drank—3 / Donuts Devoured—2 / Flannels Purchased—3 / Poutine Consumed—2

Have you run SeaWheeze? I'd love to hear about your race experience.

 

Hiring A Coach

In the two months since my last post, I've thought a lot about where I want to go with running. Don't worry, I still love it, but I felt like I was at a bit of a plateau and wasn't improving as much as I'd like. I was unsure if the marathon distance was for me, based on my experience at the Ogden Marathon. The more I thought about it though, the more I didn't want that experience to deter me. I needed to come back and overcome that distance in a time I knew I was capable of. 

Some of you know that I have another job at lululemon athletica, which I absolutely love because of the connections I get to make with people on an almost daily basis. That's how I met my run coach, Emily Sanone of Mile At A Time Running.

Emily Sanone

Emily Sanone

A few months ago, she came into the store and I began talking to her about how I was planning to run my first marathon (Ogden). We chatted and I learned she was a coach. She gave me her business card and I've kept it ever since. Fast forward to last month when she came back into the store. I remembered her and we talked about how my first marathon went. I was still feeling a little discouraged about my performance and told her I was planning to run another marathon in October (St. George). Turns out she's running the same one and it's one of her favorite courses. She could describe every hill and turn and it was amazing to hear her enthusiasm for it. At this point, I'd been waffling around for months with the idea of hiring a coach. That's part of the reason I still had her card tucked safely in my wallet. However, hiring a coach was a commitment I wasn't sure I could make. In my mind, coaches were for elite runners, not average runners like me who only want to improve and don't really have any plans of running Boston or winning any races. Did I really need a coach? She set my mind at ease and I realized I do have big goals and room to grow. I thought about why I run—to challenge myself and push past my own comfort zone and boundaries. When I told her I wanted to shave down more than thirty minutes off my marathon time, she told me she would love to help me with that. Sometimes you need a super passionate, inspiring person to give you the extra push.

Emily Sanone

Emily Sanone

I did some research, looked at her credentials and history and she seemed perfect. So guess what, I have a running coach now. It's been over three weeks in and I can already tell it was a good decision. She has me doing workouts I would rarely do before—more track workouts and tempo runs—and they've helped build my endurance and speed a lot. Even though I feel like I might throw up during a track workout, I can tell it's building my strength. My easy runs feel easier. My tempo pace doesn't seem so hard to hold. She encourages me and monitors my runs to see how I'm doing. She listens and adjusts my plan based on how I'm feeling during training. So far, I've been loving it. The best part is that it's really holding me accountable. I'm really optimistic about this leading to a great experience at St. George and I can't wait to see where the next few months of working with her will take me.

I'm running two half marathons before St. George and I'm feeling really positive about those races. I still think the half marathon is my favorite race distance but who knows how I'll feel after this whole marathon training cycle. I've never been more excited to run and see where I can go from here. I've always wanted to run trail marathons and eventually ultramarathons and for the first time, I don't feel like that's too far out of reach. And that's a wonderful thing.