Thursday, 2 October 2014

Dumbo Dare and Coast to Coast

Welcome to the 'revamped' blog of my adventures in endurance sports.

I should really start writing these closer to he actual event they recap. But, just like the new title says, better to be slow and get it done to not do it at all!

The weekend of August 30th marked the annual Walt Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.  This year I signed up for the Dumbo Dare Challenge.  This was the second (or 3rd and 4th) race in my Disney series for 2014.  Back in January, I ran the Goofy Challenge (  This was a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday in Disney World. The Dumbo Dare is a kind of 'mini' Goofy Challenge.  It consists of the 10K on Saturday followed by the half marathon on Sunday.   And since I participated in a race in both Disney World and Disneyland in the same calender year, I would also receive a special Coast to Coast medal.

I ran the Disneyland Half for an injured friend in 2013 and did not do very well at all.  I was in LA visiting friends and it was a last minute decision.   I was out late with friends almost every night and drove to the start line (about an hour drive) rather than staying in the park.  And with a 5:30am start, I was up pretty early for that drive.  These factors, multiplied by the fact that is was already 24 degrees (about 75 for those reading in the States) at 5:30am made for a very slow race.  I ran it in 2:52.  Not a good time given my previous half marathon times.

This year I was determined not to repeat the bad time (and bad time) I had the previous year.  I arrived in Disneyland Friday night just in time to pick up my race pack at the expo.  I then went immediately to the hotel.  No hour drive at 3 in the morning this year! I was staying close.  Once in my room, I laid out all my gear for the 10K and went to sleep.

The next morning was race day, or at least the first race day.  I geared up, got on the bus, and headed toward my corral.  The corrals differed from Goofy in that I had 2; One for the 10K and one for the Half.  My 10K corral was C.  This seemed strange to me.  The way it works is that faster runners are in closer corrals.  The elite runners start, then A, then B, and so on.  This was the closest corral I had ever been in.  

While waiting in my corral, I spotted a friend of mine from LA Team in Training.  She had also run Goofy and is doing her first Ironman next year.  We caught up on races we have each done and talked a bit about the state of TNT and the LLS (it's a rebuilding year).  She went off to her own corral, which I am sure was either B or A.  But, slow or not, I always finish.


Every year, the 10K race has a theme.  The theme may be a character or something from a Disney movie.  This year the theme was Ohana from Lilo & Stitch.  One of the central themes of this movie (which I immediately watched when I got home),  is that Ohana means family and no one gets left behind.  I reflected on this while waiting for the race to start.  It had so many meanings to me.

My own family, who has always loved and supported me in everything I do.  Sure, they all thought I was insane when I told them I was going to run a marathon back in 2012, but they all had faith that I could do it.

My Heart Family.  This is Abi and her family.  A family I have known since I was 4 years old.  We all grew up together, practically siblings.  To this day I still refer to family members as Aunt Ruth, Grandma and Grandpa, and Teresa and Denny refer to me as their son.  Unfortunate events in our lives led me to my new found passion for running.  Ohana. No one gets left behind.  I do this to honour and keep Abi's memory alive.  Her legacy (ultimately now locked with mine), will not be left behind.  She is with me on every run, on every training session, and at every finish line.

My Running Family.  This includes those I train with, those I inspire, those out there running whatever crazy race I am doing, the volunteers, the race marshals, and the cheering spectators.  I am humbled by the sheer amount and the vast diversity of runners.  I may be a bulldozer among F1 race cars, but I look around and see minivans, SUVs, hybrids, and a myriad of other makes and models all out enjoying what makes them happy.  We support, encourage, inspire, and lift each other in our own small way.  Be it a smile, a high five, a Go TEAM, a song, or just a simple 'You're doing great,' we are a family who recognizes the struggles and supports our own.

That was quite a bit to think about while waiting in the corral, but soon we were on our way!  The 10K course was primarily through Disneyland and California Adventure.  The weather was nice and cool and the sun was not quite up yet.  I met quite a few people from all over the globe, even a few from Vancouver.

I ran the 10K in my usual 10:1 interval.  I found that I was feeling very good.  My legs and energy level were holding up.  It was not until the end that I realized......

I ran the 10K at my normal 10K pace.

This would not be a problem if I was only running a 10K, but I had a half the next day.  Even when I ran Goofy, I knew to run the half slow to conserve energy. 

Too late now.  The race was over and I went to collect my medal.  On the way back to the hotel I met a man wearing a TNT jersey.  I chatted with him on the way back.  His name was Sean and he was on the Ohio Flex team.  As always with runners, we talked about what races we have done and where.  Turns out he had done the Vancouver BMO Marathon back in 2012.

The 10K was done.  I went back to the hotel, foam rolled the hell out of my legs, got cleaned up, then spent the afternoon in the park with some old friends.

Before I go into the recap of the full, I just wanted to (once again) say that I love runDisney events.  Despite how expensive they are, they are organized extremely well and the on course entertainment is always great! Most people show up in costume as their favourite Disney character.  Sometimes I question how they can comfortable run in some of them.  I saw a team of 5 running as The Incredibles, several varying Disney Princesses, tons of Star Wars, and even more Marvel superheroes.  The best costume I saw was worn by a couple running together.  The girl was dressed as Peter Pan and the guy was dressed exactly the same, except all in black.  He was Peter Pan's shadow.  Genius.

Sunday. Day 2. Race 2.  The Half.  I try not to predict how I will do in a race.  I reserve any sort of predictions until I am at the half way point.  Here I can better gauge how I feel and where I am.  No predictions where made about this race.  I knew going into it that running the 10K at my 10K pace was going to hit me at some point.  My goal was to find a pace that felt good, stick with it, and finish.  Pretty much my goal for any race.

I was in corral G this time.  This seemed more like the corral I am usually in.  This year, they were letting corrals go 2 at a time.  This was great for 2 reasons.  One, those of us in the back of corrals would not have to wait so long to start.  And two, we did not have to hear the song they played at the start of every corral as often.  Which was great because the song was...... You guessed it.........

Let it Go.

The race was off to a good start. I was feeling pretty good through the park. I took in all the sights and characters along the route.  Once out of the park, I noticed my energy level beginning to wane.  I took note of when this was happening during my run intervals.  My energy dropped with about 4 minutes left.  I took a moment to adjust my watch and switched to a 6:1 interval.  To lower my interval was a hit to my ego, but you have to listen to your body.

There were many race photographers on the course that day.  I believe that they hold a magical ability to know when the majority of runners will be taking their walk breaks. This is because they are always right there!!  At one particular moment this happened, I turned to a runner beside me and said,

"These photographers always catch me in a walk, but I'll be damned if all my race photos will be of me walking!  Let's run by him!"

She laughed and we began to run again.  Later on the course she thanked me for the laugh and told me it was just what she needed.

Later along the course I ran into the Eds.  When I first started training, I had 2 coaches, both of whom are named Ed.  Once again (as runners do), we caught up by listing what runs we have done.  It was great catching up with them, but at some point you have to let them run their race. 

At one point on the course, I found myself surrounded by the Puerto Rico Team in Training team.  One of them smiled at me and asked me if I was doing ok.  I told him I was fine, just slow.  He reminded me that I was at least out running the race and my speed was irrelevant.  They were running intervals as well, and our intervals lined up in such a way that we were playing leap frog all the way to Angels Stadium.

Just before Angels Stadium, there was an aid station.  I stopped to refill my water bottles and the Puerto Rico team pulled ahead.  Disney always packs Angels Stadium with Boy and Girl Scouts.  While you run one lap around the field, the whole place fills with cheers.  Just before entering the stadium, I noticed a runner who looked beat, walking up the ramp to the stadium entrance.  I ran up beside him and said

"You hear that?  That is for you!  You have to at least run through the stadium!"

He smiled and began to run.  I did not see him on the other side of the stadium, but part of me hopes that my encouragement in conjunction with the cheering masses, gave him the energy he needed to finish the remainder of the race feeling strong.

At every race, there are always spectators holding signs.  Most are encouraging, some are funny, and a majority are both.  One such sign I saw simple said "Do it for the D"  The D was drawn in the Disney style.  As I approached the woman holding sign I said,

"I am not sure how to take that sign."

The guy with her just smiled and said,

"Take it any way you want"

There was of course a very quick 'That's what she said' from a runner behind me.

As we approached the finish line, I was feeling spent. My legs were shot, the sun was up, and the weather was warming up.  I looked ahead and saw Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  Well, not Ariel, but someone dressed as Ariel.  As most of my friends know, I have a small thing for red heads.  I decided to follow Ariel to the finish line.  Not in any sort of creepy way, but as a way to keep me motivated to finish strong.

I ran into the finish chute smiling and waving at the mass of spectators there cheering.  I looked up at the clock. It said 3:30.  I knew it had taken 30 minutes to get to the start line after the gun.  This means my time was at about 3 hours.  I felt horrible.  I wanted to do better than my 2:52 time.  I knew better than to beat myself up, so I began to take mental stock.  I ran a 10K the day before.  I was running 6:1 instead of my normal 10:1.  It was a crowded course.  Disney runs are more about having a good time.

I began to feel better, reminding myself that this was still quite a feet to accomplish.  19.3 miles in 2 days.

I received my half marathon medal, walked down a chute to receive my Dumbo Dare Challenge medal, then another chute to receive my Coast to Coast medal.

As the masses moved away from the finish to their vehicles, buses, hotels, etc, there was a symphony of clanging medals, race recaps, and laughter.

I walked back to my hotel barefoot (my feet were killing me) smiling at yet another race under my belt.  I could not wait to get home and proudly display my 3 Dumbo Dare medals beside my 3 Goofy Challenge medals beside my Coast to Coast medal.

But first, I had a few more days in LA and the rollercoasters at Six Flags were calling my name!

10K time: 1:16:54
Half time: 3:01:29

Thank you for taking the time to share in my journey as an endurance athlete.

Up next:  Vancouver Eastside 10K!

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