Thursday, March 6, 2014

Race Recap: TinkerBell Half Marathon 2014


TinkerBell Half Marathon, Year 3
Date: Sunday, January 19, 2014 @ 5:30am
Location: Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

This was a special trip to TinkerBell this year because it's the first sisters trip that my little sister, Paula, and I went on together since childhood. Considering I'm almost 50 years old and she's heading into her mid-40s that's a big deal. You see, we're 6 years apart and by the time she became any fun I was leaving home. Of course I was the mean older sister who terrorized her as a young child...just ask her, she'll say she still has emotional trauma from that! lol!

She's also part of the reason I decided to start running in the first place back in 2011. She had been running half marathons for a while, and me being the brash big sister figured that if she could do it then I could do it. Maybe not as fast but I could certainly do a one and done half marathon. Little did I know that 2 years later I would have over 30 half marathons, 4 full marathons and several obstacle course races under my belt.

Travel and Expo Day: Thursday, January 16, 2014

I took off at 0'dark thirty to begin my nearly 4 hour drive to Albuquerque to catch my flight to Los Angeles. Why do I travel so far to catch a flight? Because if I'm flying to the West coast it costs me about $200 more each way to travel out of Texas rather than to fly out of Albuquerque. Yes, I am cheap! I also love that there are direct flights that I can catch there. 

I met Paula (P) at LAX, her plane having landed about 30 minutes before mine and we took Super Shuttle to the hotel. After checking in and meeting up with some of our room mates (we shared a suite with 6 other chicks), we headed over to the expo to check everything out and pick up our packets. As usual the runDisney expo was large and had my favorite booth, SparkleSkirts (the only running skirts I wear almost exclusivly) where I normally would have volunteered at least one day during the expo but I decided not to leave P alone while I worked a shift so I pulled out of the volunteer pool. I was really happy to see that entry into the official merchandise store was well controlled versus the madness that was at Princess Half Marathon last year. 
Paula and I at the expo.
Bumped into Run Kat at the expo and we screamed like
little girls when we saw each other! lol!
Silly Sisters
As many times as P has brought her family down to Disneyland Resort, she doesn't spend a lot of time in Downtown Disney...primarily because she has young kids and that can get expensive. So after we finished at the expo we wandered around DTD before grabbing some dinner at Brennan's Kitchen Express. We ended up exploring DTD for an hour or so after dinner before heading back to the room to chill, meet up with the roomies and get things ready for the upcoming days. 

Parks Day: Friday, January 17, 2014

I woke up early (while P slept in) to join some of the room mates who weren't running in the 5K to cheer on the runners. Afterwards P and I headed across the parking lot to Denny's for breakfast. The plan was to be at Disneyland before they opened so we could hit up some of the major rides before it got real busy. We headed back to the room after eating just to wait a few more minutes and check in with the room mates and then headed over to the resort where we all went our separate ways...the rest of the group to breakfast or the expo and P and I to Disneyland. Our first stop was Space Mountain, a childhood favorite, and then we made our way around the park to hit all the major rides with usually less than a 15 minute wait at most rides. Yes, we're too cheap to buy the photos that Disney takes so I just shot pics of the! Cheapness is an Asian thing!
First roller coaster ride together since I was about 15 (Space Mountain).
On the Matterhorn Bobsleds
She whooped my butt on Buzz Lightyear
After about 5 hours in the park we decided to head out to lunch and walked to the Garden Walk to have lunch at PF Chang's. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel so that I could start getting things ready for the Facebook group meetup the next day and for a rest before heading to California first real time exploring the whole park. The furthest I had gotten in 2013 was to Tower of Terror and we (hubs and I) didn't even go in 2012. The 2012 TinkerBell was the first time I had actually stepped foot in California Adventures...ever.

We headed back to the resort after a couple of hours bumping into, actually running right by my friend, Lyn. We roamed around California Adventures with me again terrorizing P by making her go on Tower of Terror once (she actually liked it I think) and I finally got to ride some other rides in the park.

That's us on Tower of Terror, down in the bottom left corner.
My first time on California Screamin'.
After a few hours we were done at DAC and headed back to DTD to meetup with some of my Facebook friends so that I could show them taping technique for KT Tape then headed over to La Brea Bakery Cafe to have some dinner. We ran into my friend Eric, who I met at Princess HM in 2013 and ended up having sitting down to dinner with him.

After dinner it was back to the room to continue work on getting things put together for the meet up the next day.

Cheer Day/Park Day/Meetup Day: Saturday, January 18, 2014

This was another 0'dark thirty wake up call...again not to run but to cheer for those doing the 10K. I had made a sign (the one below) and borrowed my room mate, Melanie's, sign to use to cheer on the runners/walkers as they went by our hotel.  I saw several friends as they went by and a few stopped to take pics with me. By the time the race was about halfway through I was well on the way to losing my voice from yelling so much.
Jessica (Snow White), Tammy and I during the 10K.
MJ, the admin ouf the TinkerBell HM Facebook group
I belong to and I while I was cheering at the 10K.
I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness taking a nasty spill just after she passed me. She must have just tripped and landed on the street face first leaving her with a nasty abrasion and bleeding on her temple. I'm sure she ended up with some pretty serious bruising and possibly a black eye as well. I dropped my sign and ran back into our room to grab a ziplock (I always have some for ice packs) and some ice and brought it to her. To her credit, she eventually got back up to continue the race after several minutes.

After the race P and I grabbed some breakfast and headed back to DCA for a few more rides before calling it a day around 1pm so that I could finish getting things ready for the meet up at 4pm. Now, our Facebook group has been doing these meetups since the first year of the race. We began with a group of about 70 and this year the group had grown to about 130 or more. I had name tags, items to be raffled and had to figure out how I was going to talk to such a large group in an open area with only half my voice. Thankfully, almost everything went smoothly...with the exception of checking in and getting nametags, but I'll work on that for next year...and we had a very successful meetup.
My friend Eric and I at the Tink HM Meetup
TinkerBell HM Facebook Group Meetup photo. Over about 130 of us.
After the meet up a group of about 40 of us headed to Naples Ristorante for a pre-race dinner, the second year we've done this. I have to admit, I didn't sit down as much as I did for dinner last year since we had 2 tables this time and things weren't going as smooth with the wait staff as it had the year before but it was nice seeing everyone bonding over their meals.
Dinner table #1
Dinner table #2
 The evening ended at about 7pm and we all headed out in our own directions to get back into the parks or get ready for the race the next morning. P and I headed back to the hotel to chill and relax after the events of the day and tried to get to sleep early...which for me hardly ever happens before a race.

Race day gear
Race Day: Sunday, January 19, 2014

Since this was race day we all woke up at around 3am to start getting ready for the race. We headed out to the start at just before 4am and luckily it was a nice, albeit dark, morning with perfect temperature to run and very little wind. We all split up once we hit the starting area and dropped our gear off at gear check. P was in corral B (told you she was faster than me) and I was in corral C. P had initially thought that she was going to walk the race since she had not trained, but decided while we were walking about that she'd try to run it. So we parted ways as we got to our respective corrals and waited for the start.

This was the first time at Tink that I didn't have anyone to start with in the corral. It wasn't for lack of trying but I couldn't get any cell reception due to the heavy cell traffic. Usually I use Facebook or text messaging to locate people to start with at Tink. It was not a big deal though since I'm used to attending races by myself anyway and I knew that I would run into people on the course.

TinkerBell HM 2014 Corrals A-G starting

As the race started I managed a slow jog as we passed thru the most crowded areas of the course. I had already planned to walk whenever I needed to but to definitely walk the "hills" (read over/under passes). I pretty much kept a slow 15 min/mile pace throughout the first 8 miles dropping to about a 16 min/mile pace after that. I felt much better than I did when running at Space Coast HM just about a month earlier even though my training was next to nil due to some foot issues that cropped up in December (seriously, when will I ever get away from my injury issues?). I finished the race feeling pretty good, if not a bit irked that I seemed to be getting slower every year but at least I didn't have the medical issues that landed me in the ER for six hours in 2013. Read about that little experience here (Part 1, Part 2).

P had already finished and had been in the hotel having had breakfast with Melanie's daughter so I stopped at Brennan's Kitchen Express to pick up some begniets and a burrito for breakfast. The rest of the day we just chilled in the room, ordering a Chinese lunch for delivery and otherwise being sloths. When we did move around we got everything packed...P just travels with one back pack while I on the other hand had 2 suitcases and a carry on since I had brought stuff for the meet up from home. It was simply leftovers for dinner and then sleep because we'd be catching an early shuttle back to the airport in the morning.

Travel Day: Monday, January 20, 2014

Again we were up at the crack of dawn to catch our flights out. Wasn't this supposed to be a semi-vacation? Shouldn't I have been able to sleep in at least one day? lol. I had changed our reservations so that we were supposed to be on the same shuttle but for some they had placed us on two separate shuttles. After getting hassled by P's driver we just decided to meet up at the airport.

Somehow I missed the self check-in at Southwest...just walked right past them...and ended up waiting in line to be helped by an agent. Then I put my bags on the scale to be weighed and found that one was too heavy so I was sitting there rearranging everything haphazardly before getting it below the max weight of 50 pounds (started at 53# and dropped it to 48#). There was no way I was going to pay for an overweight bag! We grabbed some breakfast and after we ate we said our goodbyes and headed to our respective gates.

The flight home wasn't bad...gotta love non-stops! And even the drive home from Albuquerque (after a quick stop for lunch at Japanese Kitchen and to pick up some Nothing Bundt Cakes mini-cakes) wasn't bad. All in all, another great TinkerBell HM Weekend.

What I like about this race:
Sentimental value...this was my first half marathon ever. The course keeps changing slightly each year, this year we were running in the parks for about 6 miles while in previous years it was 5 miles or less. I met the majority of my running friends at this race in 2012.

What I do not like about this race:
Nothing really, love it!

Would I do this race again?
Considering that it's my third year doing it, I would have to say yes. Without hesitation.

Official Time: 3:31:23

Race Recap: Space Coast Half Marathon

Race: Space Coast Half Marathon, Big Bang Challenge Year 1
Location: Cocoa, Florida
Date: Sunday, December 1, 2013

Initially I was supposed to run the full marathon for this race, but due to my stress fracture I decided right after attempting Route 66 that it would be best to back down to the half marathon based on my experience in Oklahoma. I contacted the race director about a week before the race and she was able to change my entry. This race was also the first in the Big Bang Series which provides for up to two additional medals if you run the race for 3 years within the next 5 or all 5 of the consecutive years.

Travel Day: Friday, November 29, 2013

For almost all my flights to Florida I fly out of Lubbock or Amarillo. The trip to Orlando was pretty non-descript. Because Cocoa is about 40 minutes from Orlando I ended up taking a shuttle to my hotel arriving at approximately 7pm ET. The shuttles to Cocoa are pretty expensive and it would've been slightly cheaper for me to rent a car from the airport for the weekend. Lesson learned. I met an online acquaintance who was staying at the same hotel and we walked down the road for some Japanese food for dinner before returning to our rooms for the night. 

I hadn't realized how far the Kennedy Space Center, where the expo was being held, was from the hotels. I really could've used a car, but was able to connect online with one of my fellow 50 States Half Marathon Club members for a ride to the expo for myself and my online acquaintance for the next day.

Expo Day: Saturday, November 30, 2013

I woke up a little early and went for a walk on the beach. Although it was overcast it was still a beautiful view...
The view from the beach in front of my hotel.
When we were getting ready to go we met our ride, Dawn, at the front of the hotel and headed out to the Space Center for the expo. The drive to the expo took about 35-40 minutes and it really would've been nice if the organizers had let runners know that it was that far from the hotels or provided shuttle service. 

The expo itself was small and packet pickup was somewhat disorganized. The area designated for pick up was small and cramped and didn't have enough flow to easily move around the tables. The vendors were all right, but the store carrying race specific items was sorely lacking in shirts/hoodies in many sizes.

Race swag
I spent the rest of the afternoon checking in for the Three Little Pigs Challenge put on by Endurance Sports Connection at the host hotel and meeting some new and old friends there. Afterwards I hung out on the beach/pier by the hotel before heading to the race sponsored pasta dinner back at the host hotel (about a 2 mile walk from where I was staying). The 50 States Half Marathon Club also used the pasta dinner as an annual meetup so we did a group photo while there... 

Fifty States Half Marathon Club photo.
My room mate checked in to the hotel after I arrived back from the pasta dinner, she was running a double that weekend, and we turned in for the night for an early wake up on Sunday.

Race Day: Sunday, December 1, 2013

Woke up to a nice, warm early morning. Nothing like the freezing temperature that were happening at home (I could get used to this). Got ready and headed to the lobby with Marissa (my room mate) to catch the shuttle to the starting area...if only they had arranged this service for the expo as well.

Flat Beth (aka race day gear)
Once we arrived at the location we walked around finding gear check, photo ops with Half Fanatics and Sparkle Princesses and I managed to locate my friend Mel, Amy, and a few of her friends. We headed over to the starting area heading to the back end of the corrals to wait for the start of the race.

Half Fanatic/PbRC/#Run3rd group photo.
Marissa and I
Amy, her friend and I
Mel and I
Once the race started I figured that I'd take it easy and just start walking but, as with every race, the adrenaline started and I changed my mind and decided to at least jog the first couple of miles. Less than a mile in I realized that running this race was not going to happen. Both my ankles started to ache and I found myself walking early on. Now, it's not uncommon for me to need the first 2-4 miles to get warmed up and walk off the pain (I'm assuming it was a peroneal tendonitis issue) and then I can at least jog a bit but this time the jogging was far and few opportunities throughout the race due to lingering pain.

I did manage to get a few miles of comfortable walking in between about mile 8 and 11 but the rest of the time there was some sort of pain either from the peroneal tendonitis or from the area of the healed stress fracture. To break up the monotony of the walk albeit on a beautiful tree lined residential course, I had decided that I would get 30 burpees done during the race as part of the Spartan Race 30 Burpees A Day Challenge as the idea of doing 30 burpees in a row after the race was not very appealing. Every 2 miles through mile 12 I did 5 burpees just off to the side of the course. It was funny to hear either something like, "You go girl!" or "She's doing burpees on top of the race?" Either way I finished both the race and my burpees and was so glad that I had downgraded from the full to the half. I knew at the finish that there would've been no way I would have finished a full 26.2 miles. Thirteen point one miles I could push through, but no way for a 26.2.

After the race I walked around a bit, had some free pancakes and ran into Leah and Debbie from SparkleSkirts (the manufacturer of the running skirts I wear almost exclusively), picked up my gear then headed back to the hotel where I met Marissa. I arrived at the hotel and bumped into this lady who had carried my friend, "Flat" Kat, during the race and just had to snap a photo with her.We got cleaned up and headed out to Kennedy Space Center to play the tourist game for a few hours and to keep our muscles moving to help delay any soreness.

Can't believe I found "Flat" Kat at the hotel!
At Kennedy Space Center
I have to admit that going to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was a bit of an emotional experience for me. I have this deep seeded patriotic streak in me...I mean seriously, I tear up every time I hear Star Spangled Banner being played, and being at this institution had me teary eyed several times. Probably the most moving part was walking through the main display area and reading about the Challenger and Columbia missions and then making my way through the Atlantis exhibition. Seeing the launch pads and some local critters (gators) on site was pretty cool too.

I suck at selfies.

Remember the Robot from Lost in Space?
We spent about 4 hours at KSC before heading out for some Five Guys Burgers & Fries then back to the hotel so that Marissa could start packing to leave in the morning. I did take a walk on the beach and found out that there was supposed to be a rocket launch the next day so I was determined to see that happen although they had canceled the launch on this particular delay due to mechanical issues, I believe.

Leisure Day: Monday, December 2, 2013

Marissa took off in the morning and I went for a 10K stroll on the beach getting my 30 burpees done as I went. I basically just spent the day lounging on the beach or in the room doing much of nothing. Had lunch on the pier and found out that the launch had been canceled yet another day (it ended up happening the next day after I had left Florida). I took a shorter beach walk in the afternoon watching some surfers and families playing on the beach before heading back to the room to pack up for my trip home in the morning.

The sun decided to come out to play on my last day in Florida.
I made a new friend!
Just one random others on the beach.
Man o' War? Glad I saw him before I would have stepped on him!
It's a Florida Christmas...

My hotel from the pier.
Blue Heron chillaxin' on the beach.
Travel Day: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The day had come where it was time to leave the beach. Now, you've got to understand I live where there's a lot of's called the desert...the beach sand and view is just so much better! I caught my shuttle at 0 dark thirty in the morning (arrived in the dark and left in the dark) and headed back to Orlando International Airport. No major issues traveling home but I was still glad to be back in little podunk New least temporarily.

What did I like about this race?
Nice course, primarily flat. Right next to the water almost the whole time, runs through nice neighborhoods. Pancakes and eggs at the finish.

What did I not like about this race?
Cramped packet pick up, small expo. Expo was way too far out. If I had known I would've rented a car. Lack of shuttle service to the expo. On a better note, the 2015 expo will be at the host hotel where I'm staying for my next go around at this race.

Would I do this race again?
As alluded to above, I plan to do this race for 5 years in a row to earn the extra medals. One of those times I'll do the full marathon but not next year...I'm already signed up for the half marathon.

Official Time:  3:31:35