Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Disney's Tinkerbell Pixie Dust Challenge- May 9 & 10, 2015

I've really been dragging my feet on blogging, and part of the reason is that I like to post in some type of chronological order, and I wasn't ready to talk about the Disney Land Pixie Dust Challenge that took place over mothers day weekend at Disney Land in Anaheim California.

Prior to registering for this race, I had actually sworn off Run Disney. I am certain that saying this will get me drawn and quartered, but I am really not a fan. My first half marathon was a Run Disney. I've done a number of their events before, and I really have been left with a bad taste in my mouth. Now before anyone tars and feathers me, let me explain... I am a solo runner. I like races because I can be with other people and get the crowd experience, but Disney races are over crowded. The course in Orlando really cannot support the 30,000 + runners that it hosts, there are bottle necks, and the crowds are intense. I am really NOT a crowd person. The Miami Marathon sees the same number of participants every year, and the course doesn't even feel a quarter as crowded. Then factor in the money. A Disney race is expensive. And with the fees, it feels like a lot of the participants feel a sense of entitlement. Yes, you are entitled to get a good race experience and entitled to have a great time, but you are NOT entitled to some of the shenanigans that I have seen at Run Disney events.  So all that being said, I am not a huge fan.

But a dear friend of mine is. She came out for Wine and Dine last year (yes, the race that we essentially swam because it was raining that hard), and then she came to visit me not long after that to defend her doctoral dissertation. She told my darling husband that she was running the Pixie Dust Challenge in the spring, and my husband thought that (although I had sworn off Disney except for a repeat of Wine and Dine this coming November) I should join her on the trip. Except the registration had come and gone already, so I might have been out of luck.

The following week, I got an email from my friend saying that she had found a charity group that I could partner with in order to get a race bib. I should probably also say that I am not a big fan of charity groups because usually they take a huge cut of the money raised for frivelous stupidity like airfare, travel and lodging, and astronomical salaries... but I looked into the group she recommended to me.

The name of the group is Team Muscle Makers, and as it turns out, they are absolutely fantastic. Their fundraising requirements per person are reasonable, and they are able to keep them reasonable by not including airfare, travel, and lodging. But best of all... the organizers of the charity do not take salaries. YES! you read that right. They donate 100% of the monies raised to the Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego where there is a state of the art muscle disease clinic that provides care absolutely free to their patients... which included the son of one of the founders of the charity group. I have to say, I was nervous signing away my soul to raise almost $1,000 for this group of strangers, but they made the entire process seamless. And I walked away with dozens of new friends. In fact, although I swore off Run Disney races, and I don't need to run California again for my goal of all 50 states, I am actually considering partnering with this group again in 2017 for another charity race.

The weekend itself left me with mixed feelings. I was dealing with a lot of stuff in my personal life in relation to my job. I didn't have a lot of time to take away from Florida because it was the middle of the semester, so it was a super quick trip. As soon as my plane landed, I actually had more work stuff dumped on me via email, and I spent the weekend juggling work stress and frustration, all while spending time with my best friend in one of the happiest places on earth. Because of this crazy stress, we didn't spend a lot of time at the parks between races, and most of the weekend was a blur. What I do remember was that packet pickup was much messier than it would be at a Florida Run Disney event, so that left me feeling a little nervous.

yes, that's me. 
But the morning of the 10K, all those jitters went flying out the window. The pre-race party and the corral system were absolutely spectacular, I didn't feel overwhelmed by crowds, I had the space to breathe, and I was relaxed... unlike the other Florida events where the crowds get me antsy.

My friend had a bad experience a few months prior while she was attempting the Goofy half marathon & full marathon challenge. She got swept during mile 19 or something during the full marathon on day 2... so she was nervous about attempting another 2 day challenge... but I've done these before and knew how to tackle back-to-backs. The number one rule is to start SLOW.

The first mile or so of the 10K is outside of the park, then you run through the park for a few miles, and finish with another mile or so outside of the park. It seriously went by in a blur. I think I can chalk that up to my frustration over my job situation. We finished in a respectable time, and I was happy... although, there really wasn't much post race nutrition available as there had been a fiasco with a recalled item in the snackbox. Oh well.

Gun: 2:01:01
Chip: 1:31:03
Pace: 14:39

On Day 2 (half-marathon day), my friend woke up with some serious stiffness from her fibromyalgia. And then combine that with her fears of being swept, and she was a jittery mess. I vaguely remember it being chilly at the start, but I don't much remember.We took a pre-race photo with other TMM runners, then chatted with them in the starting corrals. The plan was to start slow, and I told my friend to stick with me and I could keep her ahead of the balloon ladies and free of being swept. We started slow. REALLY REALLY SLOW.

We were already in the last corral, but toward the front of the pack in the corral, but we started just over 17 minutes per mile. The first couple of miles were once again on city streets, followed by 6 or 7 in the parks, then another few miles on city streets at the tail end. My friend immediately started to panic when she looked at her Garmin to see more than 17 minutes per mile... but I just told her to relax and trust my process. She was sore, so she didn't have much choice. By mile 1.5, we limbered up a little. I picked up the pace to bring us to just slightly over 16 minutes per mile. Then by the time we entered the parks, we were closing in on just under 16 minutes per mile average.

Once in the parks, I tuned out my own aches. I think that actually translated into tuning out a lot of the parks too. To be honest, the parts of the course that I remember the best were actually outside of the parks on the city streets. My friend was still in a lot of pain, so I pulled a few steps in front of her to help encourage her to keep pace in order to talk to me. It worked. by mile 7, although she was still in a lot of pain, out pace was closing in on 15:30 overall.

Around mile 8, we came across a fellow #Run3rd runner who was having a bad go of it. I encouraged her to pace with us, which she did. We exited the parks and were back on the streets of Anaheim and I realized I had a lot of gas left in the tank. Out of nowhere, I started pushing the pace even more. The 3 of us were single file along the median of the city streets, and we were suddenly flying past other runners who were struggling. I know we were a sight... I was barking out commands to them about being strong and ignoring the pain, one might have thought I was a drill sergeant in a previous life... and I looked at my Garmin and realized that our overall pace was dropping to 15:20, and realized that with close to 4 miles left, I could PR.

And then with the encouragement of my friends, I did something that I never thought that I would do.

I abandoned them.

I was going to chase that PR. And I was going to get it.

Everything was blur. I had 4 miles to get that PR that I had been chasing for almost 2 whole running seasons. I vaguely remember passing people that I knew and saying hi, but other than that, everything else was so far in the periphery I can't even begin to explain what was going through my mind.

I was shocked out of my blurred thinking about a half a mile before the finishline. I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had already registered 13.1 miles, and I had indeed broken my PR... at least according to my Garmin. And it was like the wind was just sucked right out of me as I realized that the finishline was still so far away. I was devastated. I wanted to do nothing more than cry and throw myself down on the ground and cry some more. I had gotten my PR, but it wouldn't count because the course was registering much longer than my watch.

this is actually a pic from day 1, see? shoes still here.
I crossed the finishline with tears in my eyes, frustrated but determined. Next time, I would get that PR. If I did it once, I could do it again.

And then I lost my shoes.

But that's a story for another time.

Half Marathon
Gun: 3:51:07
Chip: 3:18:46

Half Marathon #38
State #14