Yesterday, September 6th, was the (drumroll please!!) Disneyland 1/2 Marathon. I've been building up to it--although, interestingly, not actually training for it--for the last four months, ever since I reached deep into my wallet and pulled out my Mastercard to pay the (gasp!) $120 registration fee.
It would be my first race (loosely referred to as "race" since there is no way in God's green Earth I was even within wishing distance of placing a top spot--or even a spot in the top 100) since last September, when I ran the Disney Half Marathon. That little excursion re-injured the disks in my back that I had originally thrown out of whack in May (2008) and sent me directly into physical therapy. After a few months of exercises that looked like a piece of cake when done by my PT but were actually muscle-straining agony when performed by me, my back was as good as it was gonna be. That being said, it was still achy enough to wake me up a night once in a while and touching my toes was a thing of my past.
So naturally, I was afraid to try to run again. I'd gotten the original injury over-training for the 2008 San Diego Marathon (I just had to get under 4 hours--ha ha on me, since instead of doing it I was laying prostrate on my couch eating Vicodin by the double handfuls and calling my husband to help me to the bathroom whenever I had to pee). I was pretty sure I'd hung up my Avias for good. But after a while, whenever I'd sit at my desk, I'd look at the various race medals hung up on the wall next to me, and think, "Wow, I'd really like to do at least one more..."
So before I had time to think better of it, I signed up for the 2009 Disney Half. I'd already done it two prior years (2007 & 2008) and had tons of fun (despite the soul-searing heat of the 2007 race--90 degrees at the 6:00 am start). And once it sank in that I'd actually committed to do it, I started to worry.
Oddly, though, I didn't train much. The farthest I ran prior to the Disney Half this year was 6 miles--6 miles!! And I was planning to run 13.1?? What was I thinking??? Many of my friends hinted that I was a little crazy. My husband went so far as to call me certifiable. And to be honest, there were a couple weeks where I agreed with them. I was in no shape to run a half. I'd just eat the $120 and not do it--after all, I had the perfect excuse (my baaaaccckkkk...).
But then, my 10-year-old daughter's Girl Scout Troop Leader told me with a big, happy smile that the whole Troop had signed up to attend the Disney Half to hand out waters and cheer on the runners--all because of me! Well, obviously there was no getting out of it now. In the weeks before the event, I ran 3 - 4 days a week, 3 or 4 miles a day. Short runs, but endurance builders. Up a long hill, then a mile and a half at a slight but continual incline. My back protested, but not overly so. I'd worked so much on my core during PT that my stomach muscles were stronger than they'd been since I was in my 20s (of course, they're hidden by a layer of fat that was non-existence when I was younger, but if you push real hard, you can feel the six pack hidden under there). The core muscles support your back and take off much of the pressure. So note: if you have a back injury, strengthen your core.
But I was nervous. When my dear friend Janelle and I went to the Expo the Friday before the race to pick up our numbers, shirts and goodie bags, the chrysalis in my stomach released not one but several large-winged butterflies, and they were not happy. But that's not to say that I didn't feel the familiar pre-race rush. I love race expos--if you're a runner, and you've been, you know what I'm talking about. The charged up atmosphere of all those about to test both their physical and mental endurance...well, it's contagious. Anyway, mixed in with the adrenalin were those alarmed butterflies. I just didn't know if I would be capable...I comforted myself with the thought that there were several medic stations along the course, along with the thought that if I did collapse, somebody would stop and help me...right? Right?
The morning of the race was cloudy and cool--maybe a few degrees over what I consider ideal race temp (I like it around 58-60 degrees--the bod heats up quick). There was a cloud cover. At 6:02am, corral B got the gun, and we were off.
I'd made sure to tell everyone that my goal was just to finish, that I wasn't in it for a time, but secretly I had to finish it at 2:30 or less. I'd even picked up a timer bracelet at the Expo the day before. Not only had I picked up the 2:30 bracelet, but I also picked up a 2:15 bracelet. (A timing bracelet is a little paper bracelet that goes on your wrist. It has every mile listed and where you should be, time-wise, when you hit that mile. For example, if you are trying for a time of 2:15, you need to be at the first mile by 8:50 or something like that). Anyway, my fastest Half Marathon had been the Huntington Beach Half 2008 at 2:05:18. My "least best" was the 2:18 I'd done at the aforementioned incredibly hot 2007 Disney Half. In that race, had it not been for my BF Jackie, I would have succumbed to heat prostration and general discouragement.
So anyway, in spite of my protestations that I didn't care what time I'd get, I really, really, really wanted to get somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20. I even strategically placed myself next to the 2:15 pace group.
And guess what? Right up until mile 6 (when I got stuck in a 3-mile long line at the port-o-potty) I kept on pace with the 2:15 group. I was astonished...
And my final finishing time? According to the official race time on my chip, it was 2:19:21. I'd done it. A little part of me grumbled that if I hadn't had to pee so gosh darn bad, I would have come in 3 minutes sooner, but really, if I had skipped the potty, I would've been runnin' in wet shorts, if you get my meaning.
And I had alot of things going for me, don't forget. The weather cooperated--I didn't get sun until mile 10, and then it was on my back, rather than in my face like the poor souls who had the misfortune to be stuck in corral G (start time: 6:26 am). I had my tunes--just downloaded "Kings of Leon" and the "Best of 311" to keep my feet moving when my mind wanted to stop. Plus, most importantly, I had those girl scouts--along with their 10 x 6 banner that said "We Love You Kim!" How can you not run well when you have a huge banner dedicated just to you, accompanied by 8 smiling (if tired) faces?
So the 2009 Disney Half Marathon is now a memory that I am so, so glad I have. And now I have something else to look forward to...in the world of running, that is. I've already signed up for my next Half--the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January 2010. This time, I promise, I will train!! (maybe I can get back up in the 2:00 - 2:15 range--hey, you never know!--wink wink)
And as long as those girl scouts are there to cheer me on, I have no doubt that I will!