|The Coast to Coast Medal|
When I started running 4 years ago, I never dreamed I would ever run a half marathon, let alone run TWO in one year. To have run two Disney half marathons, one on each coast, seems surreal (yes, I know the word “surreal” is one of the most overused words in the English language, like “journey”, but here it fits). I never, ever thought I would be holding a Coast to Coast medal in my hands, but I am, as I became one of Disney’s elite “Coast to Coast” runners when I crossed the finish line at the Disneyland Half Marathon.
|DH and Baby Girl at Expo|
The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend kicked off at noon on Friday August 31 with the opening of the Health and Fitness Expo at the Disneyland Hotel. Our plan was to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law once we arrived at our hotel in Anaheim and hop on over to the expo for packet pick up. While I usually enjoy perusing the expo, our time in Anaheim was limited (we planned a 10 day trip around CA and Anaheim was only our first stop). To be honest, since I’ve never been to Disneyland, I didn’t want to waste a single moment of Disney Park time. So, a quick stop at the expo was the plan for Friday night but unfortunately by the time we collected our luggage at LAX, got our rental car, and drove from LA to Anaheim, we did not have time. Instead, we went to the expo on Saturday afternoon. My parents were gracious enough to take four of our kids back to the hotel for a mid-afternoon rest and swim so DH and I (with Baby Girl in tow)could pick up our race packets.
|my C2C wrist band|
Although this race was to be DH’s and my brother-in-law’s first half marathon (yay for them!), My sister and I had our eye on an even bigger prize-the Coast to Coast medal. The Coast to Coast medal is a medal given out to those (crazy) runners who have completed either a half or full marathon at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World within the same calender year. You still receive your finisher’s medal for each race, but at the finish line of the second race you move on to a special area where you receive this third medal. It was this medal for which we longed, giving up sleep, salty foods, and adult beverages all summer long. This was our reward.
At the expo, runners received their bib numbers, tshirts, special edition pins (if ordered in advance), and their Coast to Coast wristband, when indicated. The remainder of the expo was dedicated to a multitude of fitness and running related vendors as well as free mini-seminars. It would have been a great way to spend the day if you were a local resident or if you had planned for a longer stay in Anaheim, but since were not a resident nor had extra time to spare, we only did a quick walk through.
|The four of us before heading out to the start line|
|My sis and I before the start of the race|
The race began promptly at 5:45 am on Sunday, starting from the Disneyland resort area. We began our walk to the start line from our hotel at 4:30am. Since we were staying at the Park Vue Inn, we were just a short walk away from the corral area. Unfortunately, the walk to the start line was slow moving and quite congested. It wasn’t as bad as the walk to the corral at the Princess Half, but it we were still moving at a snail’s pace. Once we finally made our way to the corral area, the four of us parted ways, since we all had different estimated finish times, the four of us were in four different corrals. The final minutes leading up to the start of any race can be nerve wrecking, but for me it was almost overwhelming. This was because the week before the race, I was trying to get in one last run before we left for CA and injured my knee at mile 11. My knee hurt so badly I could not continue and had to call DH to come get me. I was terrified that the pain would resurface, or worse, I would not be able to finish the race–the race I had traveled 2300 miles to run. I feared I would not get that coveted medal after all.
Just before 6am, my corral took off. The course took us through California Adventure and Disneyland first, stretching the first 4 miles. This part of the run was incredible. Not only was there a ton to see like Cars Land and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, but I felt great running. Even though I had trained for this race using the Jeff Galloway method of run/walk intervals, I chose to run continuously as long as I felt comfortable because I wanted to get as far as I could “just in case”, as during my last run, it was during the walk interval that my knee became so painful, I could not move. It was just before mile 5 when things took a turn for the worse. At the hydration station between mile 4 and 5, I slowed to a walk to get a drink and that’s when the pain hit. The sharp burning pain in the center of my knee took me by such surprise that I almost fell over. Each walking step was more painful than the last. I hobbled a couple of feet and decided to try to run on it again. Once I got going, the pain seemed to subside. I continued to run for the next two miles, but at mile 7 I had to slow to a walk to eat my GU pack (I am just not coordinated enough to run and eat). The pain immediately resurfaced and brought me to tears. I absolutely could not walk. I tried to run again, and after braving through several moments of pain, it seemed to settle into a dull ache but was not unbearable. I continued to run and began to panic as I could feel myself becoming more and more fatigued, as my body was used to the run/walk method not continuous running. It is one thing to become fatigued while running and have the need to walk but I did not have that option. The pain in that knee when walking was so intense it was nauseating. I worried that each step would be my last because, quite honestly, the pain did not make sense. How could it hurt while walking but not running? I figured at some point the pain would cross over and I would feel it while running and I would be done. The worst moment, by far, was running into Angel’s Stadium. The downhill slope of the course as we entered the stadium caused so much pain that I sobbed……but I didn’t quit.
|DH and I post race|
DH asked me after the race at what moment did I realize I was going to finish. My reply was that until I turned the corner and that finish line was 200 feet away I was certain that I would NOT finish. But I finished, we all did. And as I stepped over to get my Coast to Coast medal, I wanted to hug the guy who said “Congratulations Margaret” as he hung the medal around my sweaty and smelly neck. I had finished!
My sister came in a little while after I did and we took our celebratory photos. She even had my dad bring her Princess Half medal to the finish line so that she could wear all three medals! It was truly a great moment for two girls who did not grow up as runners to have run not just one half marathon but two (and Disney races, to boot!). It was incredible to share in this experience with my sis. What’s next? My crystal running ball says marathon…..but Becca needs a bit more convincing.
|My sis and I with our medals. You can follow her on twitter @BeerRunBabe|