Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

Last year, when I ran the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon, I surprised myself.  I was coming back from a pair of tibial stress fractures that I suffered around February of 2010, and I was being very cautious with my running.  What I did, thinking that it was less stressful on my legs, was do all of my training indoors, on a treadmill.  I had just finished reading the book "Run Less Run Faster" and had decided to jump into one of the training programs half way through.  In the end, I blew my previous half marathon PR out of the water and finished in 1:34:04.

This year, my plan was a little different.  I have Ironman Arizona coming up this November, so I wasn't really training specifically for this race.  Not only did I not do a proper taper, but I did a little experiment and participated in my first mountain bike race one week prior to the 2011 Disneyland half marathon.  I am not sure what it is, but apparently there's something magical about this race (pardon the lame Disney joke...).

Saturday I pretty much spent the day relaxing and hanging out in the hotel room.  We woke up a little early and took my daughter to a character breakfast at the Paradise Pier hotel, which is always a good time if your kids aren't scared of the characters.  Being the moron that I am, I wanted to make sure to get my money's worth, so I ate a few too many Mickey waffles than I should have.  After the breakfast we went back to our room to deeply ponder why we had eaten so much food, and waited for our room at the Grand Californian hotel to be ready.  Once we headed over to the Grand Californian, The Wife was enjoying the glorious lobby and my daughter was enjoying the Disney music being played by the very talented pianist, so The Parents and I headed back over to the expo to take another look around (we had already hit the expo on Friday night for a short amount of time).

Dinner came early (at about 5:00 p.m.) with the customary pre-race pasta and bread.  The race was slated to begin at 6:00 a.m., so The Parents and I (The Parents were racing as well) were hoping to be in bed by around 7:30 p.m. or so.  

A quick side note:  my daughter caught a pretty nasty cold on Friday, so the rest of us were almost positive we would be sick by the time the race rolled around.  I actually slept in the living room of our hotel room to try and avoid getting sick!

I awoke at 3:15 a.m. to my alarm clock and my madré had already brewed up a fresh pot of coffee.  I poured myself a cup, and started in with my morning nutrition.  I have learned that an almost perfect pre-race meal for me (for half marathons or marathons) is one cup of coffee, one bagel, one Marathon Bar, and then slowly sipping some water until race time.  Once everyone had enjoyed their breakfast and was as ready to go as we'd ever be, it was time for the pre-race picture and then the walk to the start line.

The Parents and me just before we headed to the starting line

I arrived in my corral at about 5:25 a.m., which was probably the earliest I've ever been in my starting corral.  Last year when I ran this race, I learned how awesome it was to start near the front because I wasn't running with a huge crowd, I was with a small group of people.  So I was attempting to do the same this year.  While I was waiting for the race to start, a fellow Team Marathon member came up and said hello.  We talked for a few minutes and she headed back to race with her husband (she ended up winning her age group!).  At 5:45 a.m. I ate 3 Cliff Shot Blocks and took a sip of water and got ready to go.

When the race started, I took off a little faster than I anticipated.  In fact, my goal was to be somewhere around 7:10/mile, and my fist mile was under 7:00.  My second mile was in 6:32!  It was crazy, but I was feeling pretty good.  At about mile 4, I passed a guy who ended up catching back up to me and we began to chat.  He said he was just coming off of running the Hood to Coast race so he was a bit tired and wasn't expecting much, just somewhere around 1:30...are you kidding me?  That's not expecting much?!  We ended up running with each other until mile 8 or so when I drifted back about 20 feet.  I worked at keeping up with him for the rest of the race and finally had to let him go during the last mile of the race.  He ended up finishing 40 seconds ahead of me.

There was also another Team Marathon teammate that was always about a football field's length ahead of me.  I was trying to slowly catch up, but I couldn't do it.  I found her at the end of the race and congratulated her...she got third in her age group and ninth female overall!

Go Team Marathon!

The Wife (who is very multi-tasking talented by the way) was not only watching our daughter by herself during this race, but she was working the camera and the video camera!  Crazy!

Running to the finish line!

The Parents were also successful in their race day achievements as well!

Nice job Parents!

Doing this race as well was The Captain and his wife!  It was a big party!

The Captain in his new Team Wheaties Fuel apparel

Myself, the Captains wife, and The Captain

Everyone had a successful day!  Even my daughter accomplished something.  While The Wife and my daughter were waiting for us to finish, my daughter took a stab at whistling...

Ok, so maybe she didn't really whistle.

When I finished the race, I knew that I had set a new PR.  When I crossed the finish line, the clock time was 1:29:56, which is 4:08 faster than my previous PR.  On top of that, my chip time would be less than that (:19 less to be exact)!  I began thinking that maybe, just maybe, I had done well enough to place in my age group since the awards go 5 people deep for this race.  I made a few phone calls and ended up finding out that I was very close.  In fact, I was 7th in my age group.  But wait!  Check out what the RunDisney website says about awards:

"Please note that a runner will not receive two awards for the same race result."
So, if anyone in my age group that placed ahead of me finished in the top 3 overall (unlike age group awards which go 5 people deep, the overall awards only go 3 people deep), then I could move up a slot.  A quick search by my mother-in-law found that not only did the top finisher in my age group finish number one overall, but the second place finisher in my age group was also second place overall!  That meant that #1 and #2 no longer counted in my age group, shifting everyone, including myself, up two slots.  And that now meant that I finished in 5th place in my age group...which is an age group award!  Holy crap!

I had never really looked at the "awards" section on the race website, because I never really considered that it would apply to me.  So I hung around the awards ceremony to see if they handed out the awards, not knowing that it clearly states on the website that all age group awards will be mailed out in 4-6 weeks.

I'm very surprised that I was able to average 6:50/mile for this race as I really hadn't done much running outside lately (it's been so freakin' hot in Arizona!) and I didn't really prep specifically for this race.  Hopefully this is a good sign that my training is taking me somewhere in the right direction of finishing Ironman Arizona in twelve hours!

After the race, holding up our "Coast to Coast" medals

*Updated on 11/9/11* Apparently it takes a long, long time for the results to become official, and a little over 3 months later they are now official.  Unfortunately, I was bumped down one position to 6th in my AG, meaning I will not be receiving any award.  Oh well!

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