The Disneyland Half Marathon
I returned to Disneyland at 4:00 this morning for the second race in the Double Dumbo Dare. After posing for the Pacebook Running Club group photo (in which Docket Rocket may or may not have appeared. Who can say?) I headed for the corral.
I’d spent the better part of the summer training for this race with the intention of running it in less than two hours. After running a 2:21:20 half marathon in January, I though a sub 2 would be a piece of cake, right? It took me a couple of weeks into the training cycle to learn that I was not quite ready for a sub 2 half marathon. So I scaled my goal back to 2:15. My plan for this race was simple: suck up to the 2:15 Cliff Pacer and then ignore the pain.
In 2012, I was placed in Corral E where the runners resembled spectators and had a pre-race atmosphere that resembled the bleachers of an athletic event. This year I was placed in C. No group chants, no singing, no costumes, no joking here. Nobody was doing the wave. Just a bunch of people in tech fabric standing around with their races faces on. I’ve ditched the Aladdin costume I wore at the Disneyland 10k yesterday in favor of an orange singlet and running shorts. I also got a haircut. This corral resembled the waiting room of a dentists office, and these people looked like there was pain in their near future. That’s when it hit me. This whole thing may hurt a bit.
The First Four Miles
The race started at 5:30 am, 15 minutes earlier than last year. My corral crossed the starting line at 5:45 am. The first four miles are on Disney property. The first mile was out of the hotel area, down Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard and into California Adventure. As we ran in front of the entrance to the Grand Californian Hotel, I was greeted to the aroma of cooking bacon. Mmmmmm Bacon! Shortly after entering California Adventure, I hit the first water stop and the Cliff Pacer starts walking. Walking the water stops? I think I’m gunna like this. We snaked through California Adventure, crossed the entrance plaza and into Disneyland.
Mile 1- 10:43 Mile 2- 10:30 Mile 3 - 9:54 Mile 4 – 10:44
The Next Four Miles
Miles four through eight are out on the streets of Anaheim. Right after leaving Disney property, I encountered the one and only hill: The Ball Road/Interstate 5 overpass. The course snakes through an industrial section of Anaheim, including the plant my brother works at and the building that housed my law school. The course then passes under the Orange freeway (SR 57) and around the Honda Center, the home of the Anaheim Ducks NHL Hockey Club.
At this point I pull along side the Cliff Pacer and we start chatting. I learned that my pacer is named Bruce and appears to be in his mid 30’s. Bruce lives in New York City. Cliff flew him out to Anaheim for this race. Bruce has been running since he was 7 years old because it was his primary means of transportation in the rural Taiwanese village he grew up in. Bruce says that running a 2:15 half marathon is a challenge for him, but he later said that he ran a 3:05 marathon; I suspect the challenge in a 2:15 half isn’t physical.
While we were running, I told Bruce my story. I’d taken up running at 43 and found that the chemicals released from running swept the depression out of my head. I used running as a catalyst to put my life back together and lost 140 lb. Bruce was impressed. He and I were able to swap information. Bruce was telling me running information like to head towards the shade, and drink the warm blue PowerAide no matter how nasty it tastes. As a native Southern Californian, I was supplying color commentary on the course (like don’t expect to see any water in the Santa Ana River).
My favorite sign
Unlike last year, the sun was not really a problem. With an earlier corral seeding, an earlier race start time, and a low cloud deck, the sun didn’t really appear until we turned west and headed back to Disneyland.
Mile 5- 10:29 Mile 6- 10:37 Mile 7 – 10:17 Mile 8 – 10:04
The Next Five and a Tenth Miles
From the Honda Center, I ran onto the Santa Ana River Trail. It’s not much of a trail and the Santa Ana River isn’t much of a river. The trail is more like a 12’ wide dirt access road along the drainage ditch than a trail. We ran down the trail to Anaheim Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim professional baseball team.
The course then goes into the stadium and takes a loop around the warning track. Disney put thousands of people, mostly boy and girl scouts in the stands cheering their brains out.
As we entered the stadium, I slowed a bit to suck in the adulation of the crowd. I wish this were the end of the race because in many respects it was. I’d lost track of Bruce, the Cliff Pacer, and mentally I began to unravel. The problem with the stadium is that it is somewhat climatic. That’s bad place for a climax because there’s another 5 kilometers left to run.
Mile 9- 9:52 Mile 10- 10:50 Mile 11 – 11:00 Mile 12 –11:52 Mile 13 – 11:13 the last tenth – 0:50 (8:59 mm pace)
Final time per runDisney: 2:18:26 a new Personal Record.
Rick waving his arms around like he's just finished a half marathon or something.
Rick with Double Dumbo Medal, Disneyland Half Medal, and Coast-to-Coast Medal
Lessons from this training cycle
I’ve learned that both training and weight loss are algorithmic. It is easy to lose weight and run faster when you have lots of weight to lose. But just like the Richter scale, the next pond is harder to lose than the last, and gaining the next tenth of a mile an hour in speed is harder than the last. Big payouts in personal record or weight loss are a thing of my past. Patience and persistence in training is what is needed to improve.
Weight Loss, Depression, and Musings on the Coast to Coast Challenge
RunDisney gives a second finisher’s medal to folks who finish a Disney half marathon or longer race in both Florida and California. Some of you may recall that the last time I had a Coast-to-Coast medal around my neck at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November of 2012. At that race, I had a difficult time reconciling my newly re-acquired financial prosperity and my newly acquired avocation. I am self-employed attorney. From 2008 to 2011, my waistline exploded, my mood descended into the depths of dysthymic depression, and I had a very difficult time making a living. I took up running, and my mood and fortunes improved.
My sole purpose in running the Wine & Dine Last year was to collect the Coast-to-Coast medal, a hunk of metal shaped like Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney attached to a nylon ribbon. I’d spent several thousand dollars and countless training hours in the quest. Before taking up running, I did not have the ability or desire to acquire the medal or the several thousand dollars to spend on the quest. I was depressed, encountering anxiety attacks, living from hand to mouth, and spending far too much time thinking about ending my own life than a healthy person should. While I was depressed I knew if my income improved, my depression would abate, but I had never considered the inverse: If I treated the depression, would my income improve?
Today, because I ran both the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Florida and the Disneyland Half Marathon in California, a runDisney volunteer placed a Coast-to-Coast medal placed around my neck. This is my second Coast-to-Coast medal. Since last year’s Wine and Dine Half, I’ve had a fair amount of time to think about my life. I think I’ve come to a deeper understanding about myself.
On September 1, 2011, I started Week One Day One of Couch to 5k. After that run, I acquired the clarity of mind to see myself as I really was, and without the view through the cloudy lenses of depression. But that single epiphany was not enough to carry me for the next two years. What brought me to where I am today is the encouragement I received from my friends, both virtual and corporeal. These kind words were sent to me either via RWOL/RA, Facebook or in person. They bolstered my deflated, battered, and bruised self-image. In the same way a small pinch of yeast causes the entire loaf of bread to raise, the encouragement I received from running, weight loss and the desire to chase goals and dreams bigger than myself permeated the balance of my life. Your steady stream of encouragement from running gave me the strength to address, my mental illness, my weight, the relationships in my life, and the complicated things I do to make a living.For this I am eternally grateful.
The Next Race
Marathon training starts tomorrow (with a rest day). I’m running the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, 2014, my first full marathon. I’m also going to return to my alma mater and run the Chapman University 5K in October.
PR: 5k 25:01 (10/15) 10k: 57:44 (7/14) HM: 1:57 (5/15) FM: 4:55 (1/15)
Congratulations on your PR! Best wishes on your training for FM.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” - T.S. Eliot
Congratulations on a great race and all your accomplishments.
Great job Rick.
And thanks for making it clear that I will never want to run that race. If you have to start at 5:30 to avoid the heat, maybe you just shouldn't be racing there this time of year.
Course you might say something similar to me about the race in Maine next March that I'm considering. (Predicted weather: Blizzard)
Docket was nowhere in the LA vicinity yesterday, but she will be at Disney hoping to get a picture with you.
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
It's always fucking hot in Miami!
Congratulations! Thanks for writing the race reports, you've come such a long way. I'm glad that running has had such a beneficial effect on your depression.
Hoping for a smooth marathon training cycle for you
Sounds like you had a great race! You have definitely come a long way, and came into this race both well prepared and ready to have fun!
I still think you've got a sub-2 half in you, and fairly soon. With a taper instead of a race the day before, and a non-Disney venue, I don't think you're too far off now! Plus they've been asking about you in the sub-2 thread. We care!
Rick, your progress is nothing short of amazing! I'm happy for you having found an outlet in running that has without a doubt improved your life. beyond measure. Congrats!
Running for TJ because he can't.
Awesome, awesome report. Loved every word of it.
Excellent RR. I know anxiety well. I can attest, if only by deduction alone that there is something to this running thing and mental health!
I love the coral verbage! And that dentist's office analogy is classic. Dentists rarely give good news and a half marathon NEVER doesn't dish out pain!
Congrats! I still don't know how you ran out there with the disgusting weather we're having right now but kudos to yogo for doing it. You will certainly PR at your next attempt at a half given ANY other time of the year but RIGHT NOW here in So Cal. Again, this current batch of weather is DIIIIIIIIISSSSGUSTING!!!
Great job running the Disney Half! It sounds like a fun race for sure. I enjoyed reading your RR, and hope to read another one soon. Keep up the great work and good luck with your FM training.
I gotta say that I appreciate the realistic approach you took to the race. It's easy to say, hey, I'm going to run sub 2. It's a lot more difficult to assess where you're at and figure out what's reasonable, regardless of your pace. You gave yourself a chance to have a great race by having the right expectations, and for the most part, it seems like you did have a great race. I'm sorry the end was tough for you, but as with most things, those little bumps are all just something to build on.
Glad you're doing and feeling better mentally as well, and thanks for letting us share in the journey with you. Keep up the good work.
Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn
Barking Mad To Run
You sure have come a long way! Congrats on your Dumbo Double Dare and the HM PR! Loved that stop sign, lol.
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt
Excellent job, Rick! Thank you for sharing this great RR with us!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010
congrats on the pr! thanks even more for sharing...that is just some great stuff...ran disney half many moons ago and it is sort of an odd combination of locales, and the entering the big A is cool but too far from the end as you said...no matter, you kept it together and are figuring this running thing out...good job
marathon pr - 3:16