Disneyland Half Marathon 2016

I completed my first HM! T’was the Disneyland Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend, slated for a 5:30am start on Sunday Sept 4th.

===== THE PREP =====

I ran this thing with just under 2 wks of training, as there was that little journey to Europe I took that cut out a significant amount of time for training (well, I also logged 0 days in July, so that didn’t help). I signed up for this on Feb 2, 2016, so I had plenty of time/notice to get ready. Oops. And registration cost a pretty penny; $205 + $13.83 processing fee (dafuq) for a total of $218.83 for the privilege of causing yourself pain over 13.1 miles. Anyway. (Found out you can get a slight discount (like 10%?) if you sign up at their expo. Wasn’t ready to commit to another HM quite yet.) And it was another $18 for parking in the Disney parking structure. Jfc.

All the running/training I did since Feb:
– Feb: 8 runs for 26.96 mi
– March: 11 runs for 35.38 mi
– Apr: 6 runs for 25.37 mi
– May: 2 runs for 7.10 mi
– June: 6 runs for 15.71 mi
– July: 0 runs 😦
– Aug: 6 runs for 31.65 mi
As you can see, actually not that much in the summer. =/

I hadn’t logged double digit running mileage since HS, and haven’t had a bibbed race since Spring 08 either (my one and only senior track meet bc of injuries. Sad times). My last long distance bibbed race was XC season of my senior year, or Fall 07. So it’s been awhile for me.

So my less than 2 wks training plan was a run/rest pattern leading up to a couple days before the run, with all that scheduled for rest. I did get in a 10 mile run in training, so that was comforting to know I can do double digit mileage. And felt the pain/aches the next day, but anyway.

I dislike the fact that you have to physically pick up your bib/shirt/etc at DL the Thurs-Sat before, as that’s just addt’l driving I gotta do. And then race day (race day jitters were had, again, something I haven’t felt since HS lulz. Sleep was a tad difficult to come by), it was waking at 3:45am, leaving the house a little after 4am, getting there at 4:40am (traffic getting into the parking structure, why), lines for restroom (yes, men’s), and then in the corral by 5:15am. I was in corral H, and I’ll show you a picture of how that was split by times/bibs. If I ever do this again, I know how badly I don’t want to be in the latter corrals. They put a 5 minute delay between corrals, so even though the race and first group were off at 5:30am, I didn’t get started til 6:10am. Imagine getting hyped up, stretching, warming up, and getting in the area, only to realize you’re not running for another 40 minutes. What a let down.

DLHM2016 corral

===== MY RUN =====

The thing about race days/events versus training is the adrenaline gets you pumping, the spirit of the event, all the people, and the hoopla of it all tends to make people burst out of the gate faster than they should/want. Realizing this from my HS days, I made a mental note to come out at my pace and just go from there (esp with 13.1 miles to thin the herd out). So what did I do? Use a lot of energy trying to get away from the slow wandering herd at the beginning. I’m so used to trying to create some separation (within reason) in a 3 mile race, but that was not the right strategy here. Should’ve waited it out. Oh well.

DLHM2016 splits

Splits as recorded by my Garmin Forerunner 235 (uploaded to Garmin Connect then sent separately to MapMyFitness and Nike+ (where this screenshot is from)).

I took pitstops for hydration breaks every 3 miles, and you can see I held pretty steady through 9 miles. In fact, those times beat my training times for the 10 miler I did. Ugh, what could have been if I hadn’t cramped up around mile 9. And from there, you can see the struggle to finish the last few miles. There were a lot of walking breaks, as my left calf threatened to cramp if I pushed off it, so I ran pretty much with my left toes pointed up for the last portion of the race. That takes away so much power, as your calves are supposed to help push you off and propel you forward. Sad times.

So yeah. Pushing/struggling through the pain meant that crossing the finish line was a pretty damn good feeling. I never got to the point where I thought about completely stopping, but those XC days where you’re conditioned to never stop (since its only 3 miles), stopping breaks dragged at me mentally. Ultimately, I’m glad I was able to complete my first HM, but it didn’t feel like a good race. If I can pull a 2:24:34 with 2 weeks of training and cramping up, then I know I can do so much better on the course. Unfinished business? But that’s another like $250+ when all’s said and done. Yikes.

(Nice thing is, having completed my first HM, I now have a logged race I can enter. Now the current time as of this writing is still listed as unofficial, so could change once they get around to it. I really hope I don’t get bumped to a 2:25:00+, bc <2:25, if they keep to this corral placement, would move me up 3 groups, or get me starting 15 minutes earlier. AND, that’s a group of 400, versus my starting group of close to 1800. That was so many bodies to fight through 😦

[Edit: 2:24:36 is the official time]

I brought my  (backup) phone (Nexus 5) and BT headphones to run with, buuut it looks like I didn’t charge it over night. So it started the run with me at less than 40%. I was gonna do Pandora for the whole race, but ended up taking in the sights/sounds of DCA and Disneyland for the first 3 miles (and to conserve battery lol), and just played one album through the rest of the 10 miles (Jack Garrat’s Phase). Not bad.

===== RUN ENVIRONMENT =====

But, a Disneyland half marathon is pretty cool as you get to run through DCA and Disneyland. They have costumed characters you can stand in line and take pictures with (why? that’s takes time!) while inside park area. Going out on the streets of Anaheim was meh, but you did have like mini-car shows (there was a block of all mustang owners cheering us on), and various dance groups (salsa/mariachi and Hawaiian) and bands/cheer squads lined along the course. I thought that running around home plate in Angels Stadium was pretty nice. Overall, a pretty flat run (started at 135 ft elevation, min elev of 128 ft, max elev of 172 ft, 59 ft of elev gain, and 65 ft of elev loss). The run is mostly pavement, with a little bit of dirt on the bike trail by the Santa Ana wash. And the herd thins out decently once you leave the park (after like mile 3ish).

Environment-wise though, I think I prefer our HS cross country/track meets over this. Granted, it’s a small course (either 3 miles, or around a track), so it’s much more centralized for people to cheer, but we had like 120+ ppl in our XC/track teams, and all of us knew each other, so you had that many people cheering you on during your event. A well placed cheer can go a long way towards getting you back in the game. And a personalized cheer is so much better than a generic “good job” etc. And, while this might be a result of getting placed in corral H, in HS, I always had someone to run/pace with for my races. Nothing here. Or maybe this whole paragraph is just the nostalgia speaking.

They’ve got a little pen to feed you through the finish line, with volunteers abound ready to give you a medal for finishing, give you some (Dasani) water bottles and Powerade, and a little box of goodies, and banana to boot. Various stations set up for photo taking with your medal. Curiously, no designed area for cool down, so I was pretty disappointed at that. I just jogged through the finish pen area trying to do a little bit there.

===== AFTERWARDS =====

My knees don’t feel as bad right now as they did on the 10 mile training run, and maybe that’s because they weren’t working/pounding so hard as my pace slowed due to calf cramp. I’m sure I’ll continue to feel it tomorrow, but, yeah.

Selfie with the medal (weighs 180 grams. Hefty). I’ll wait til pics get online and see how those turned out, but that’s more muniez (A single image for the low low price of $12.95, or a day pack for $39. This is their standard disney photo package, whether its rundisney, DCA/DL, or Disney cruises. 7 days for $69 sounds like the best deal, but that requires you to pay Disney for 7 days worth of experiences first). Lame.

🏃 🏅 First HM! #hm #halfmarathon #disneylandhalf #DLHM2016

A post shared by D e R e K (EHL) a u (@drkehl) on

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