Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dumbo Double Dare Half Marathon Recap

I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to tackle recapping this race. As much as I want to report that everything was awesome and spread around runDisney love, this race just didn't go well at all for me.

I have been running around in my little pixie dust haze and rose colored glasses touting the Disneyland Half Marathon as my most favorite race ever. EVER. Yeah, well, somewhere around mile 6, I realized that I have rose colored glasses of steel because let me tell you, the 2013 Disneyland Half was a fairly miserable experience. And I had a vague memory that maybe I felt the same way last year at that very spot, but cleverly, my brain repressed that memory and tricked me into believing it was the best.race.ever.

Don't worry, in about a month, I'll be happily skipping along saying it's the best race and y'all can remind me that it's just the PTSD from this weekend kicking in.

Okay, to be fair, a lot of my misery can be attributed to the insane heat and humidity wave assaulting southern California last weekend. At that says a lot coming from this desert dweller that lives in a place where it's regularly 187 degrees... give or take. I'm not a meteorologist, people.

So instead of giving you a play by play of every section of the race and course (there's about a zillion other bloggers that will do that for you), I'm going to give you a brutally honest recap of the lessons I learned last weekend, sprinkled with pictures, mmmkay? Maybe if I share some of these lessons, those of you running your first back to back challenge at Princess Half weekend in the spring will learn from the mistakes that I made.

To infinity and beyond!
Or whatever it is Super Girl says.

Lesson 1:

Just because I survived Goofy Challenge doesn't mean Dumbo Double Dare will be a piece of cake.

I've been ridiculously excited for this race weekend since I signed up for it at the WDW Marathon weekend. I mean, I totally survived Goofy (barely), right? So this should be a walk in the park. WRONG. I did not train hard enough for this race weekend. I actually did get a lot more running in than in races past, but I definitely did not do enough back to back runs to prepare for 19.3 miles in one weekend. This is a scary thought considering the NYC Marathon is two months away,

That's a lot of people to corral.

Lesson 2:

Taking care of my body is not optional.

My first full (and only, so far) marathon was the WDW Marathon as part of Goofy. Since I had never run a full marathon and I was tackling my first the day after a half, I was completely neurotic about taking care of my legs and joints. After the half, I iced my ankles, knees and hips for over 45 minutes and I dragged my roller stick around everywhere for the rest of that day and rolled my muscles every single time I sat down. I only went to the parks for a short while and stretched my calves every chance I got. The result was that on the morning of the full, my legs felt so good, it didn't even feel like I had run the day before. I didn't begin to feel any stiffness until halfway through the marathon the next day.

I didn't ice my legs at all after the 10K during Dumbo and only half heartedly rolled my muscles once or twice. I ended up with sore quads and an ache in my right knee on the morning of the half. Going into the half with fatigued and sore muscles is a sure way to burn out all of your muscles half way through the half marathon.

Lots of cool spectator signs along the course.

Lesson 3:

I need to stop breaking my own rule of starting out too fast.

My current half marathon PR is from the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon. I ran pretty hard last year and I had an idea of exactly where I wanted to be at what times. I don't know why I need to prove to myself over and over that starting out too fast just doesn't work for me. I know that there are some runners that feel better at the start and so they push harder at the beginning, but this strategy just does not work for me. I've made this mistake more times that I'd like to admit. Every time I keep myself slow at the beginning, I get into an awesome groove by mile 6 and I can cruise along until things get rough at mile 12. Then I just have to suck it up until the end and I don't feel wrecked.

Thank God, I ran into Ronda at mile 7. I needed a pick me up.

Hamming it up.

Starting with significantly sore muscles (after a 10K?! What is up with that?) and then trying to push myself for a new PR combined with the excessive heat and humidity was just a recipe for disaster. I knew I needed to be through the parks and finished with mile 5 in the first hour if I was going to PR.

I pushed hard and used the excitement and crowd support of the parks to carry me way too fast, so that once I was looking at the giant over pass around mile 5, I knew I was done. I had made my goal and was just under the hour mark when I climbed to the top of that incline, but once there I suddenly felt so over heated and fatigued that I knew it was not possible to keep that pace for another 8 miles. I threw in the towel and sent out a text to Team Freedom (Abby, Tara and Ronda) with the hope that if I wasn't going to PR, I would at least enjoy the company of my little support group.

Luckily, I ran into Ronda and Shawn at mile 7 after multiple stops to look through the crowds hoping to spot one of them.

It was nice to have someone actually take a
pic with me in my traditional mile 10 shot.

Yay for Ronda!

Lesson 4:

Walking too much leads to horrible blisters on the balls of my feet.

During the WDW Marathon, I walked a lot after mile 20. Surprisingly, I wasn't that sore the next day (must have been all of the icing and rolling!), but the gigantic blister on the ball of my right foot was so huge that it was crippling. In training runs since then, I've learned that on bad running days when I end up walking a lot, I get blisters. It's better for me to jog at a snail's pace than to walk for miles on end. It's one thing when I don't have to be anywhere, but it puts a damper on your park experience when you have to limp along.

After I ran into Ronda and Shawn we walked pretty much the second half of the race and sure enough, I had a pretty good sized blister on the bottom of my right foot. It was nothing compared to what happened during Goofy when I could actually feel my foot squishing in my shoe for the last few miles, but it still hurt a fair amount the next day.

Yes. Yes, I did need a hug at this point.

Lesson 5:

Beating myself up afterward doesn't do any good.

I really wanted to PR the half. I knew in the back on my mind that PRing the day after a 10K was going to be difficult, but I still hoped I could pull it off. I ran harder off the start than I should have and I just know better than to do that. It has ruined races for me before. Plus, the weather really was terrible. I train in ridiculous heat at home and honestly,  I never run fast here when it's hot, so why would I think that I could suddenly PR when the weather was not cooperating?

The rays of the sun make me look magical!

Despite the heat and misery all around, I gotta say that I love my fellow race buddies. I know we would have enjoyed ourselves a lot more for the whole trip in better conditions, but they really made this trip awesome, anyway. Thanks, Team Freedom. I heart you all.

Shawn, Tara, Me, Abby and Ronda

Will I do Dumbo next year? Most likely. I just can't resist this race. ;)

Here are the links to my recaps of the Expo and the Disneyland 10K.

Dumbo Double Dare 10K Recap

More Dumbo Double Dare recapping coming up! If you missed my expo recap and all of my rambling about what a disaster it was, you can read about it here.

I know a lot of people get to the races pretty early, especially Disney races. Tara and I are not those kind of people. Tara and I have been friends for close to 20 years, so we have a system for how we get things done that requires a complicated system of negotiation the night before a race. I know she's going to push our time to the absolute limit and she knows I'm going make a counter offer of something more early than is necessary. Then we stick ourselves with pins and become blood sisters. Or something like that.

Needless to say, when Ronda and Abby texted me that they were leaving, we were still far from being ready. We arrived close to 6:00 for a 6:15 start. This is probably a good thing because the start of the 10K was another disaster.

See how empty the staging area is?
That's because a billion runners were already
trying to fight their way into their corrals.

It was nearly impossible to get back to the correct corral. We were in corral D and I wanted to find Abby who was also in Corral D, but she was near the back of the corral and we just could not get back there. Plus, at this point the race was just a few minutes to starting.

So we snuck into the back of corral C. Now before I get all sorts of flames for corral jumping 1.) we were at the very back along the gates, so technically you could say were also at the front of Corral D and 2.) we actually waited on the side while the D's came through and found Abby, so we started with our rightful corral.

Whew! We found her! (Photo courtesy of Abby)
Our plan for the 10K was to take it super easy and take a lot of pictures. I forgot my watch anyway, which shouldn't have been a problem since we weren't going for time but later Tara and I ended up sprinting along and it felt too fast. I would pay for that during the half the next day.

The beginning of the 10K route is similar to the beginning of the half. By mile 2, we were entering the back stage area of the DCA.

The back of Radiator Springs in DCA

This race was more about taking pictures than running a race. But exercise is still exercise and we were still doing 6.2 miles, so there's that.

Abby got some good pictures of us along the pier, which of course, I stole. Thanks, Abby!

Abby and me (photo courtesy of Abby)

Abby, Me, Tara and Pamela (photo courtesy of Abby)
We headed along the back of the pier and got a shot with Mr Potato Head in from of the Toy Story ride.

Photo courtesy of Abby

It was incredibly hot during this race. Having done the half the last three years, I was not prepared to be sweating that early in the morning. But we made the most of it while waiting in a really long line for a picture with the Monsters, Inc. float. One of the kiosks was setting up for park guests in Hollywoodland and we scored some ice... and it looks like Abby was asking for directions.

Or Abby is distracting the cast member while Tara pilfers...

I've always wanted to get a picture along this back drop during all of the Disneyland races I've done, but I've never had anyone with me to take one. So this year, I got three...

Nerd alert


Abby got a picture, too

The course headed backstage again and I love seeing some of the buildings and offices we would otherwise never get to see such as the Cast Scheduling building or the Imagineering office.

After that, we were backstage at the Magic Kingdom. I love being able to see the horses back stage. Last year, I didn't stop because I was trying for a PR, but this year I stopped during the 10K and the half.

We headed back inside the Magic Kingdom and ran into Ronda! She and Shawn were in Corral B, those speedy kids, so they were ahead of us and waited in more character stop lines. We banded together and finished out the race.

Yay, I love running into friends!
(photo courtesy of Abby)

We ran through the castle and had a cast member take our group photo in front of the castle. Here's Abby's "money shot".

Shawn, Ronda, Pamela, Tara, me and Abby
Photo courtesy of Abby

At this point, Tara and I decided to sprint to the finish line which was a HUGE mistake. I had forgotten my Garmin that morning, so I couldn't tell just how fast we were going, but we were running fast enough that I actually had sore quads for the half the next day after only 6.2 miles. I can't even remember the last time I was sore, so that did not bode well for the next race.

Abby and Pamela crossing the finish line

We crossed the finish line and took pictures. Apparently, I'm incapable of looking at the camera. And I had already taken off one of my sleeves. I'm lame.



Despite the fact that it was Florida like in temperature and humidity, we still had a lot of fun. The weather really does impact the outcome of a race, though. We were really sweaty and tired, more so than I think we would have been if the weather had been more similar to previous years.

We split up with plans to meet up later after we had showered and eaten. Tara and I decided to ride Grizzly River Rapids at DCA before heading back. I feel bad for the poor tourists that had to share a raft with us because, wow, we were stinky from all of that humidity. We rode that twice, then rode Soarin' while still dripping wet. We happened to be in the top row and this time I felt bad for those below us, because I'm pretty sure my shoes were dripping onto the rows beneath. Oopsy.

After that, we went back to the hotel to shower and nap. Later, we headed back to Magic Kingdom and checked out the Iron Man exhibit, where I got my Super Hero on.

I highly recommend checking this out. It's really cool. We weren't able to stay for too long because the rest of my little group was outside and ready to ride Space Mountain, so off we went!

Shawn, Tara, Me, Abby and Ronda waiting in line for Space Mountain

Team Freedom takes on Space Mountain

We've named ourselves Team Freedom for the Braveheart-like way we conquered the Battle of the Disneyland Half Expo. We even yelled the battle cry, "Freeeeeedddoooooommm!" Next year, I recommend bringing a sword and painting your face blue.

But wait, there's more! Stay tuned for the Disneyland Half recap. Coming as soon as I can get myself organized.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dumbo Double Dare Recap- Day 1 and Expo

There is so much to recap about this weekend! This is pretty...wordy.

I can hardly organize my thoughts. We left on the first flight out of Phoenix to Orange County on Friday morning, which was at 6:30AM. Luckily, my dad was willing to pick me up at 4:15. What a guy!

We had wanted to get to the expo right when it opened, but there was no reason to really leave that early except that the next flight out was significantly more expensive.

We arrived without a hitch and got a cheap $10 ride on some random shuttle to our hotel, The Anaheim Plaza Inn and Suites. It was cheap and within walking distance to the park, but it's not really the nicest hotel. Too bad we're too poor from doing these races to be able to afford to stay on property!

Hanging out at the concierge desk. Can we help you?

Ronda and Shawn were staying at the same hotel, so we decided to join them for breakfast at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney before the expo opened. Little did we know what kind of nightmare situation was waiting for us at the expo.

After breakfast, we headed over to the Disneyland Hotel Exposition Center and holy crap. There were people everywhere. We arrived right at 10:00 and people had been waiting for hours in the ridiculous heat (seriously, it was so hot the entire trip, I couldn't believe it). I wish I had taken pictures of the mobs and mobs of people trying to form some semblance of a line in front of the hotel. It was an utter disaster and inside was no better. You would have thought that they were handing out free money inside.

Utter mayhem. For realz.

But I joined in with the rest of lemmings, because well, I'm a lemming and I need mah merchandise! Items were being ripped off of the racks as soon as a cast member brought them out. I roamed around trying to find things I liked, but honestly, sometimes it seems like runDisney lets the interns do all of their designing. I'm so over the unisex sized shirts, runDisney! I didn't see a single female that these looked good on. Just sayin'.

The rumors better be true that we're getting women's sized
 shirts starting in 2014. These fit terribly!
I did like the design of the Dumbo tech shirt for purchase, but I hate wearing white, so that was a no go for me. Last year, I bought one of the cotton tees for the half and it was cute, but the shape was wrong and the print screen started wearing off after the first washing. I know, I know, whine, whine, whine. There's starving children in Africa!

Anyhoo, I did like this one, so I chose it. I was also on the hunt to pick up a shirt for Abby because she wasn't going to be arriving until later and we thought maybe everything would be gone by then.

Oh, and I also ran into Emily! I wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't think of it at the time. Sorry, Emily, but I'm glad we saw each other!

After hemming and hawing and punching children in the throat and stealing their merchandise, I was ready to brave what can only be described as a cluster f*ck of a line situation. First of all, it was nearly impossible to find the end of the line and the poor rD volunteers were having a hell of a time controlling the masses of people storming the registers like they had mad cow disease. Or rabies.

I finally found the end of the line and proceeded to camp out with everyone else. It wound all through the expo and in and out into the lobby, including down into the stage area when Jeff Galloway was speaking.

Yep, that's a line of people right in front of Jeff Galloway
while the audience is trying to listen.
But I did get close to him, which was cool.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I was in line for nearly two hours to purchase two shirts; one of me and one for Abby. I knew I would be disappointed later if I didn't get a shirt and I wasn't going to let Abby down, either, so I stuck it out. But, um, wow.

By the time I finally made my purchases, I still had to go get my bib and park tickets in the parking structure and then make my way back to the expo for the shirts. I really think the shirt pick up needs to be with the bib pick up, but what do I know?

When I made my way back into the expo, they had to shut down the merchandise booth for an hour just to get the crowds under control, get the line caught up and regroup in the booth. What a mess.

This is the fourth year that I've done the Disneyland Half Weekend and I have never seen such a messed up expo situation. To be fair, I don't think runDisney could have prepared for the mayhem in advance because it has never been like this before. I think I waited in line for 20-25 minutes to purchase merchandise last year and I thought that was bad.

I know a lot of people were upset about how it all went down, myself included, but I really don't know if I could throw all of the blame at runDisney. I think that the overwhelming social media attention the event had drawn is the cause of the problem. One thing I do think that they are responsible for is not producing enough merchandise in the first place. rD is notorious for selling out of merchandise at their races and for a lot of people, this was their first really big challenge, so of course, they were worried about not finding souvenirs. Get with the program rD!

By the time I had gotten my merch, picked up my bib and my tech shirts, I had already been at the expo for over 3 hours. I usually start getting claustrophobic long before then. At least things were less crazy in other areas. I also got to peek at the some of the new medals. It seems like maybe rD is going to change up their medals more often than every 5 years, because all of the WDW Marathon weekend medals were new and so was Wine and Dine. I don't think any of those were anniversary years.

2014 Marathon Medal

2014 Dopey Medal
I was hoping to see the Glass Slipper Challenge Medals, but they weren't displayed. I like the new medals a lot. I'm sad now that I'm not doing the inaugural Dopey Challenge...except, ya know, for the whole running a shit ton of miles part.

We did a little more shopping. I forgot my sports bras, so I had to purchase a new one, which is always risky. Nothing new on race day! But it worked out great because the one I chose was at the Champion booth and it was perfect. In fact, I usually get chafing along the band of sports bras and this one didn't rub at all. I need to run to Target and see if I can get another just like it.

Couldn't resist this photo opp on the way out the door...

Whew! After all of that craziness, we went back to the hotel for awhile and didn't head out to the parks until it was almost dark. Our prerace meal was in California Adventure at Flo's V8 Café. It was pretty good. I've never eaten there before.

The roast beef and mashed potatoes were delicious.

We had to model some fashion, too.

Everyone will be wearing these next season.

Whatever genius came up with the single rider line idea, should get a prize. Seriously. Totally genius. We decided to ride Radiator Springs as single riders. Last year, Cars Land was so packed that I only rode it once and it was day time.

If you get the chance to ride it at night, I highly recommend doing so. This might be my new favorite ride. Sorry, Indiana Jones.

It's hard to look bad ass when your car
has giant cartoon eyes.

Love that guy's face. hee hee

We stopped by the Mad T Party on our way out. I wish I could buy a sound track for the music they play. It's just current stuff, but remixed. I'm always looking for good running music.

If we weren't running the next day, we'd
probably have spent more time here.

Nope, not creepy at all!

And with that, we headed back to our hotel to get some sleep for the Disneyland 10K in the morning! Stay tuned!