Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I hated running, so we ran a 5K...and a miracle happened!!!

Wow, how did the year get away? Have I really not posted anything since New Year's Eve? I should work on that...

Needless to say, this post is long overdue. It's about an event that occurred nearly 2 months ago (Oops). So please bear with me in this long post...

Run, Forrest, Run...

I have always hated, I mean HATED, running. I've always said I'd rather swim a mile than run it. I've tried going running with M on occasion, but I never felt any kind of "runner's high" until we finally stopped. Eh.

Well, last year we went to Disneyland the day after Labor Day, and all the signs were still up for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend that had just passed. Coincidentally(?) I had recently learned about these apparently very popular races THROUGH the Happiest Place on Earth (HPOE). I was intrigued. So I mentioned it to M while we were there, and we decided to run in the next one. (WHAT?!)

Yeah, I know. I hate running, so WHY would I even consider a Half Marathon, of ALL things?!! Well, it's simple:  I. LOVE. DISNEYLAND. Much more than I hate running, it turns out. And the mere THOUGHT of running through my most favorite place on earth WITHOUT being scolded by cast members, and WITHOUT the usual obstacles (ya know, strollers, little people, wheelchairs...those kinds of obstacles) actually got my blood pumping! OH YEAH!

So when we got home, I immediately started doing my research. I had heard these things sell out fast (like, the same day registration opens), so I needed to know when registration began. I made a note on my calendar, and on registration day...well, I kinda forgot.

Well..AHHHLLLMOST. As soon as I remembered, I logged in to register and the Half Marathon and 10K were already sold out, and the 5K was NEARLY sold out! Holy Mouse Ears, Batman! So I registered us for the 5K and immediately made our hotel reservations.

Thank you God! He knew what he was doing (as always)! Running a 5K was perfect for a non-runner like me to start with. Besides, this was probably the only race that went strictly through the two Parks. The others actually go out on the city streets...in PUBLIC! (EEEEWW!)

Fast forward to Race Week...

Release forms printed and signed, dogs taken to their respective sleepover destinations (yes, "dogs" plural...another story for another day), packed (way over-packed, I might add...at least I was. M never overpacks lol), and we were on our way (albeit later than we'd hoped...I'm sure it was my fault, I can't remember for certain).

First stop, Disneyland Hotel:  As soon as we got to Anaheim, we went straight to the Disneyland Hotel to get our race packets, and then we stopped in at the Expo to browse for a bit. The SPIbelt people had a booth at the Expo (YAY!) so we got one for me (Matthew already has one).

Second stop, Hilton Anaheim (our home for the next two nights): We checked into our room at the Hilton and got ready for bed. Of course, this kid (me) had trouble falling and staying asleep because "I WAS ABOUT TO RUN AROUND DISNEYLAND TOMORROW!!!"

Race Day

Shot gun start at 5:30 AM...ugh! We were put in the "Family" Corral though, which bought us some time (note to self: next year, indicate a faster pace time lol)  We were within walking distance, so we got a nice warm up getting there...and then we waited for at least a half-hour for our turn to start.


Once we were finally underway, we spent much of the race weaving and pivoting around slower people (Okay, so there were still a few obstacles to get around, but it kept us on our toes!).  In fact, I was so excited, I had to slow down for M a few times. Not because he's a slow runner...he's simply a runner (and not a morning person).  He was pacing himself because he didn't have the same rush of adrenaline flowing through his "non-morning person body" that I had. I was literally a giddy, crazy maniac running around on pure adrenaline for the first 2 miles. Shortly after the 2-mile mark, though, I started to run out. That last mile was a little rough. I don't know if it was because we ran mostly behind the scenes and then out of the Park, or if I just simply ran out of gas. It wasn't until I saw the Finish Line, that I got some energy back and was ready to sprint to the Finish.

Along the route, we stopped and took selfies at various spots, and M mastered the art of selfie-taking after the first or second pic.

And now, I give you a Photo Journal of our Disneyland 5K Experience...

First, here is our route:
The area on the left is the Disneyland Hotel; the bottom half of this map is Disney's California Adventure (DCA), and the top half of the map is Disneyland (HPOE).

First selfie: We started out heading to and running around the back end of DCA, and when we entered the Park, we were immediately introduced to Radiator Springs Racers in CarsLand.

(Notice the sky is still dark...but we don't care! Ha Ha)
We ran around Radiator Springs and then UP the CarsLand road (which was AWESOME!!!) toward the entrance of CarsLand. What an awesome place to start! We LOVE LOVE LOVE CarsLand!  From the entrance, we headed along the Pacific Wharf and Mile Marker 1.

Can you see us "glowing?" :)
At Paradise Pier, we turned toward Grizzly Peak and ran around the Grizzly River Run. Then we ran through Condor Flats, down Buena Vista Street and out the gates to the main entrance area of both Parks. And THEN the SUPER FUN began! As if we weren't having enough fun already! Haha

Here's a pic M took of me running through the entrance gates into Disneyland! 
Do I look excited or what?!!

There is nothing quite like the experience of RUNNING DOWN Main Street, USA! This was truly amazing for a Disneyland nut like myself, as you can see by my body language:
(Honestly, something truly magical happens to me when I enter those gates. I always stop to read the plaque before entering, and my entire being is filled with immense, childlike joy. And it's more than merely an internal thing; it's quite physical too (I mean, just look at that face!). Just ask M and he'll nod with agreement and say, "It's crazy but it's true." I can't explain it, but it has always been that way for me. This place has always been full of happy memories and a source of utter joy for me. There are few things (if anything else) that completely fill me with excitement like this place. I truly forget about the outside world here and focus entirely on all the FUN and happiness Disneyland has to offer. Thanks, Walt. Mission accomplished.)

Here we are as we approach Sleeping Beauty's Castle up ahead:
(See what I mean?! I'm literally beaming here in the HPOE compared to DCA.)

When we got closer, we stopped and took another one :)
From the Castle, we ran past TomorrowLand, through the middle of FantasyLand (past Matterhorn, Dumbo and the Carousel), into FrontierLand and around Thunder Mountain (the ride that was closed every time we went to Disneyland last year but is FINALLY open again! ...And yes, of course we rode it later in the day!).

Here is our Thunder Mountain selfie:
Around The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness we went, then around the Rivers of America, past New Orleans Square into Critter Country.

Near the Haunted Mansion, we reached Mile Marker 2...

More than halfway done and still smiling!
Our last few steps through the inside of the Park led us by Splash Mountain...
And around to the Splash Mountain exit, where we went through a large "Cast Members Only" gate behind the scenes (I'd always wanted to go through one of those gates!).

M got a couple pics of me struggling through this last mile, as you can see below:

The pic below is really cool. This building is where the magic is created...and the guy in there is a Disneyland Imagineer.  Is that a model of Splash Mountain behind him? This guy was up EARLY! It was probably 6 or 6:30 AM when we ran by him...

Finally...our selfie at Mile Marker 3 says it all...
Mile Marker 3 was somewhere along Downtown Disney, through which we ran the last leg of the race.

And then...we could see the Finish Line up ahead! AHH!! I was soooo ready for "the final sprint to the Finish!!!"
M insisted in jogging to it instead, and I wanted us to cross the Finish Line together, so I (a bit reluctantly) jogged with him. (Marriage is about making compromises sometimes, right? :) )

After crossing the finish line, we received our medals, some water and a snack box.

Then we walked back to the Finish Line to watch Mickey and Goofy dance as the "stragglers" came in ;) hee hee (Seriously, we must have passed at least 100 people in those 3.1 miles, and we started toward the middle-back of the corral...)

Happy Finishers
(Side note: A funny thing happened as we crossed the Finish Line...I was wearing my P90X3 tank top that I got at Summit, and someone from the chEARing squad reached out to me and yelled "P90X3!!!" She was wearing an X3 hat! :) It was kinda cool!)

After we ate our snacks, we stopped at Starbucks in Downtown Disney for some coffee, then headed back to the hotel for a quick nap and a shower. We finally made our way back to the Park for a Space Mountain Fast Pass before meeting with Dad & Mea for lunch in Downtown Disney (at the same Starbucks!).

After a nice lunch visit, we went to the Park to enjoy some fun in the HPOE...
(Special note: I was literally soaked from head to toe after this epic ride (I actually wrung out out the bottom of my shirt!)...and we hypothesized afterward that it must have been because of the two small people in the back of the log...most of the weight was in the front. I've never gotten this soaked before, and thankfully it was a 90-degree day so it was great!)

It's A Miracle!!!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about this part...almost! ;)

So, you might be thinking right now that the miracle is that I no longer hate running. Well, that was actually true for about a week or so. In fact, the couple of times I suggested to M that we go running, he would look at me incredulously and say, "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?!"  (all while he hurriedly put on his running shoes in case I changed my mind!)  However, I wouldn't call that a miracle because it was very short-lived.

The truth is there were actually TWO miracles that came out of this Magical Weekend! 

The first is that we agreed to run the Avengers Half-Marathon next year (November 2015) simply because it falls on our second wedding anniversary. (Are you starting to understand our logic? Good, cuz we still don't quite get it either lol) We're already signed up for the Star Wars 10K in January, so between running in that race and having 10 months to prepare for the half, we thought it would be an awesome way to celebrate our anniversary.

So that is most definitely a miracle - that I would lose my mind long enough to agree to such insanity.  And I confirmed the dates of that weekend and I'm still committing to it.

The second miracle, however, will undoubtedly put a bit of a damper on our hopes for setting a personal best in January's Star Wars 10K.  Why? Because, it turns out another miracle was occurring inside of me that weekend.  A little miracle that is due to arrive in the Spring...

We fondly refer to him/her as Baby Jedi...
Baby Jedi at 12 Weeks
Where there is great Love, there are always Miracles
(Willa Cather)