Archive for October, 2013

The Chaos that was Disneyland’s Dumbo Double Dare (Part 2)

Posted on October 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

If you are just tuning in to the story, you can check out the expo and 10K here.  Now where did I leave off…

Believe it not, I actually slept well the night before the half (which is an anomaly).  I got up, got dressed, and made my way back to the start area.  Ugh!  It’s still too hot and humid.  This time I got to meet up with 17,500 of my closest friends.  This was my first half as a Half Fanatic so I sported the HF shirt to commemorate the occasion.  While chatting with fellow runners, I got the feeling that something was “off”.  I didn’t feel balanced or whole…  I felt naked… I realized that I left my Garmin in the hotel room.  Seriously!?  What kind of runner am I?  There wasn’t enough time to go back and get it so I was stuck.  Deep breaths…  It’s not the end of the world.  I knew the distance I was going and I did have my interval timer (not having that WOULD have been the end of the world).  They herded us to the corrals and thankfully, it went much smoother than the day before.  While waiting for the race to start, I was able to visit with a fellow HF’er.  We could see the lights flashing before the ambulance reached us.  Someone had fallen while in the corrals.  There was no way to get the ambulance to them.  The bike medics and EMT’s had to get to him.  People were jammed into corrals like sardines and there was just nowhere to go to get out of the way.  Having to stand for so long in the heat and packed in so close, it’s not hard to imagine people collapsing.  This is one reason I always try to stay at the front of my corral, so at least I have air to breathe.  My corral is finally good to go and we are off.

I settle into my 20:40 ratio and just do my race.  It can be daunting when so many people pass you at the beginning, but I knew that I had to go slow if I was going to survive.  I met so many HF’s along the way.  I felt like a celebrity as I made my way along the course.  People were hollering “Hey!  Half Fanatic!”  We would then high five, chat for a few minutes, or snap a picture.  A few times the other HF was a spectator and had me stop so they could get a picture.

The first 4 miles was inside the parks.  I rarely stop of character pictures, but there were two that I really wanted to get.  One was with Lightning McQueen and the other was Star Wars.  I did manage to stop in Cars Land, but the line for Darth was crazy long.  I got a picture of Darth and his stormtroopers without any other runners with them, so I was happy.

I met Tammy on the course, and I have to say that she helped me tremendously.  She liked the ideas of the ratios and decided to tag along and pace with me.  Because she was a faster walker than I, she kept my pace up during the walking portion and she said that I helped her with the running.  Maybe there’s something about running with someone that brings out just enough competitiveness to keep the pace up.  Whatever it was, I appreciated it so much.

A large section of the course was on the streets of Anaheim.  It’s not the most exciting stretch of a race course.  I’m so thankful that the car clubs came out.  I don’t know how many cars were there, but they lined both sides of course for quite a while.  I loved looking at the different cars and high-fiving the proud owners.  I will admit, I was slightly jealous of the kiddos that were stretched out in the cars taking a nap, or sitting in the shade with a drink and a snack.

Unfortunately we had to slow down during what I like to call The Death March.  At mile 9, the course led us on the Santa Ana trail that ran along the Santa Ana River.  It was a narrow trail when you take into consideration how many people were trying to go simultaneously.  I had to make sure and stay away from the edge at the riverbank – there was nothing to stop you from falling off the cliff.  So here we are, slowed to a crawl, walking down the dirt trail with the sun relentlessly beating down, and to complete the picture – the river bed is bone dry, which made it seem that much hotter.  Our slow pace continued through mile 10, when we went through Angel Stadium.

Once again there were fabulous spectator signs everywhere!  I’m always amazed at how clever some folks are.  I’m not sure what point this one was posted (I guess I could do the math, but I’m not going to), but it’s one of my all time favorites!  At first I thought the “STOP” was part of the sign and I was so thrilled at the idea that I could stop.  But, it didn’t work out that way and I kept on going.

Mile 12 and we are headed back onto Disney property.  This is the magical mile where it is rumoured that you are now safe and will not be swept.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but you could hear the collective sigh of relief as we crossed the imaginary line.  I passed a woman that was sitting on the curb and her husband was pleading with her to get up and keep moving.  She was in tears trying to explain to her husband that she just wanted to rest a little longer.  He was telling her that if she didn’t get up, she wasn’t going to, that she’s come so far and is so close…  Tammy and I were steadily getting closer to the finish line.  We
came upon a lady that was severely leaning to the left.  Her back was hurting her so bad; she couldn’t even stand up straight.  She was determined to make it so we were determined to help.  The three of us crossed the finish together.  Like the 10K, it wasn’t a pretty race.  Out of the 17,500 starters only 15,871 runners finished. The heat and humidity made it tough for this girl who recently migrated from Canada.  My shoes were pretty much shot and I ended up with blisters on both feet and I could feel every step on the pavement. Guess it’s time for my 4th pair of Mizunos to retire.  I did get a PR – it was the slowest half I’ve ever done!  I definitely earned my medals this weekend!

I knew if I went back to the hotel and rested, I would get too stiff.  I had to keep moving even though my body didn’t want to.  I met up with Christine again and we hit the parks.  There were a couple of rides that I really wanted to do.  I did Star Tours first, that was awesome!  Then we were off to conquer the Matterhorn!

I had a fantastic time wandering around the parks visiting with my friend.  My feet started hollering at me after awhile and I was back at the hotel by 5pm.  I took it easy that evening and after three mornings in a row getting up around 3am, I was so excited to be able to set my alarm for 8am.  For some reason, my body didn’t get the 8 o’clock wake up memo.  I still woke up at 3.  As always, I’m glad I went.  I had a great time, even with the heat, humidity, and worn out shoes.  However, it was nice to get back to Texas and get some semblance of a routine for my family.

The miracle isn’t that I finished.

The miracle is that I had the courage to start.

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The chaos that was Disneyland’s Dumbo Double Dare (part 1)

Posted on October 16, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

The months leading up to the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare were chaotic, to say the least.  We were in the midst of packing up our house for a move – not an across town type of move, but one of those international moves where the list of paperwork needed was almost as long as the 2000 mile distance of our trip. We finally arrived at our new house three weeks before heading to California.  My training had gone from sporadic to nonexistent.  Before the move, it was packing, packing, packing, and fighting an illness.  After the move, it was fighting an illness, unpacking, and trying not to die every time I walked out my front door.  I had grown accustomed to the dry cool climate of Calgary, Alberta.  To be thrown into the Texas heat and humidity was a shock to the system.

The closer it got to Labor Day weekend, the more agitated I got.  All things considered, it wasn’t the best time to leave my family.  My boys were going to have to travel 3 hours to stay with my parents for the weekend while I was at Disneyland.  My husband was jet setting off to China the same weekend to speak at a conference.  Needless to say – our family was scattered which just added to the hectic atmosphere.  I didn’t want to go anymore.  I didn’t want to pack.  I didn’t want to get on another plane.  I wasn’t too concerned about finishing (this was shorter than the Goofy), but I knew my lack of training was going to haunt me.  All I wanted to do was stay at the house and unpack more boxes.

Friday morning came early.  I planned my flight so that I could get into the hotel and to the expo shortly after it opened.  After the huge disappointment at the WDW expo where I didn’t get to buy much because all the merchandise was up on eBay by the time I went shopping, I didn’t want to risk that again.  I got to the airport and on the plane.  Once we got in the air, I had my first feelings of excitement.  It helped that the last time I was on a plane I had to deal with two kids and two cats.  Being able to listen to my music and read a book that I wanted to was a pleasant change of pace.  I arrived at my hotel and unpacked.  This was my second destination race (the first was Goofy at WDW) and I had been a little nervous about doing this on my own.  I was in a hotel room by myself and hadn’t made any plans to hang with other people.  My plan was to hit the expo, go to my two scheduled meet ups, and then relax at the hotel.  I was going to go to the parks on Saturday and Sunday after the races.  However, as I walked over to the expo, my excitement increased with every step.  It was a beautiful day and I was going to race and enjoy my kid free weekend.

My excitement began to wane as I approached the expo.  It opened at 10am and I arrived around 10:30 to a line – a long line.  It was pretty crazy; no one seemed to know where he or she should be.  As I stood in line (which was growing exponentially behind me) it began to warm up.  It was getting quite warm and the humidity was high.  Even though I had been in Texas for a few weeks, I had not acclimated to the high temperatures and humidity.  I had my first twinges of doubt that I would finish the race.  The line twisted around and went to the packet pick up downstairs.  As I grabbed my packet, the volunteer handed me a “Little Mermaid” magnet and told me to keep it away from my bib so that my timing chip doesn’t get demagnetized.  I was one of the fortunate ones – some people didn’t get told this little tidbit of information and their chips didn’t work come race time.  Not quite sure why runDisney would throw a magnet in the swag bag when the effects could be so disastrous on race day.  I made sure to stick my magnet in a side pocket of my backpack and grabbed my park tickets.  Guess what came next?  You got it – another line (this will be a common theme at the expo).  This new line was to get into the actual expo and pick up race shirts.  At least I’m getting to stand inside right now (didn’t last long).  I honestly have to idea how long I was in line.  The people behind me said that it was two hours.  It seemed much longer.  I picked up my shirts and headed over to the runDisney area to grab some Dumbo merchandise before it was all gone.

I practically ran into the person in front of me.  I noticed there was a line (again).  The guy in front of me said that this line was to get INTO the runDisney area.  Seriously?  This is insane!  I get in and the entire area is in chaos.   Nothing was where it was supposed to be and the workers were trying their hardest to restock and reorganize.  I dove in and quickly made my way around the racks.  If a shirt was in my size, I grabbed it.  I didn’t look at it first.  This is not how I wanted to shop, but if you took time to look at the shirt, someone would snatch it before you could decide if you wanted it or not.  I’ve found that the running community is like a family – extremely supportive when you need it, a camaraderie that runs deep, and cut-throat when it comes to the last drumstick at Thanksgiving (or in this case – the runDisney merchandise).  I took my pile of goodies to a corner to go through what I had.  Once I decided on what to get, there was yet another line.  This one wound around the inside of the expo and then out into the hall, just to go back into the expo and zigzag to the cashiers.  I was in this line for around two hours, but it seemed like four.  By the time I got through, I just wanted to go back to my hotel.  I was hot, tired, and my feet were already sore.  My “quick trip” to the expo has now been over four hours.

I meandered around the expo after spending half my life in the runDisney section and saw my coach, Jeff Galloway.  We chatted for a bit about my move and the new climate I have to acclimate to and which running camp I should attend.  I noticed a guy waiting patiently for me to finish up so I told Jeff I’d let him get back to his public.  As I turned away the guy waiting in the wings held his hand up and said “#3529!”  It only took me a second to respond “4608!”  We slapped palms and got a good laugh at the looks people were giving us.  They must have thought we were speaking some crazy geek language!  Come to think of it, I guess we were.  I had completely forgotten that I was wearing my new Half Fanatics hat.

I finally was ready to get out of the expo – and never return!  I had a couple of meet-ups to attend before I could go back to the hotel so I headed to my first one.  Run Kat had a medal designed for those who did both the Goofy and the Dumbo.  She claimed that we must be “Mad as a Hatter”.  Proceeds went to her Team in Training group and let’s face it… sometimes I can be down right certifiable.  It was so great to finally meet her in person!  I then had to hoof it to the Endurance Sports Connection meet-up for the Bacon Challenge swag.  It wasn’t that it was a long walk (about a mile) but the sun was beating down and the temps (and humidity) were up.  I could just imagine how bad it’s going to be when I have to go 13.1 miles.  I get to meet fantastic people, hilarious chicken, and a radiant pig.

By five I’m back at the hotel, kicked back and watching a movie.  I spend the evening relaxing and getting my gear together for the 10k on Saturday.  Rarely does sleep come to me the night before a race, but it seemed so much worse that night.  I would sleep for an hour or so and then wake up in a panic that I slept through my alarm and missed the start.  This wasn’t that “groggy opening of the eyes and looking at the clock to make sure I wasn’t late” type of wake up.  It was more of the “OMG I’m gonna be late!! – jumping out of bed and throwing on clothes before realizing that only an hour had passed and it was in fact just 11:45pm” type of wake up.  Unfortunately, this happened several times throughout the night.  When I finally did get up with my alarm, I had a period of panic – I had no idea what time it was.  My phone showed 3:30am, but my Garmin showed 4:30am (it’s still on Calgary time).  As I perused through Facebook, some guy posted about taking his traditional 5am pre race walk.  A friend of mine in Texas posted that she didn’t know why she was up at 4:30.  I don’t know if you followed all the time zone shifts, I didn’t either, which is why panic set in.  I even started to think that maybe my phone didn’t automatically change time zones and whoever was in the room before me set the clock back just to be mean.  At this point I just got dressed and left.

First thing I noticed as I stepped out of my hotel room was that the humidity was still high.  UGH – this could get nasty.  I arrived with 7,999 of my new found closest friends to chill out while waiting on the 5K’ers to finish up. One thing about Disney races – you meet some pretty awesome people.  I noticed a girl walking with a cane and asked if it was from a recent injury.  She explained that she was born with a dislocated hip and it’s always plagued her.  The past few years, deterioration accelerated rapidly and she will have a full hip replacement in October 2013.  I was so proud of her for attempting this.  Regardless how far she makes it, she is a rock star in my book. When it was time to head to our corrals things kind of unraveled.  I think there was an A corral, and maybe a B, but everyone else was just jumbled together.  This didn’t give me the time buffer I was hoping for.  It was a very messy start and I was praying that the half would be more organized.  Because they had to wait for the 5K to finish before starting the 10K, we started late.  The downside to a later start became evident as the temperature started to rise.

I found Sandra!I took it slow and did a lot of walking.  I still had a half to do the next day and even though I relocated to Texas from Calgary, I had not yet acclimated to the heat and humidity.  There was also the fact that I had been getting really lightheaded while running over the past month.  While on the course I saw Sandra – a Facebook friend from Canada that was coming down to do Dumbo.  I was so happy to see her on the course.  I was able to snag a picture and then kept moving.  It wasn’t pretty, but I was one of the 7,839 people to finish.  I was getting really nervous about the half.  The 10K about did me in with the “unseasonably warm temperatures and high humidity”; I couldn’t imagine having to go twice the distance.  I was fortunate enough to see the last person cross the finish line.  It was the girl I had met beforehand that had the hip replacement in her future.  Tears welled up in my eyes as she made her way across.  She had set out to accomplish something – and she did.  Her friend was there waiting to give her a big hug and I wanted nothing more than to go give her one, too.  I didn’t know all of her struggles, but I knew part of her story and she is truly an inspiration to me.

After the race, I didn’t want to rest at the hotel or I would get super stiff and sore.  I met Christine at her hotel and we were off to the parks.  I had never been to Disneyland before, so there were a few rides I had to do.  California Screamin’ was a fantastic coaster, however my favorite section was Cars Land (my 4 year old would be so proud).  It was like stepping out of my life and into Radiator Springs.  Lightning McQueen and Mater were driving around and hanging out at the Cozy Cone.  We had both heard that Radiator Springs Racers was a must do and I must say it lived up to the hype.  It was by far my favorite ride (and it wasn’t even a coaster!).  After getting in a few more rides I had to call it a day.  My feet were starting to hurt and I needed to get off of them.

I love this thought!

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