‘Oh god, I don’t feel great – please don’t let my leg cramp.’…’I feel dizzy, why am I dizzy’……’crap, am I actually going to finish this thing.’…..this was the dialogue going through my head during my first few steps of the Disneyland Half last week. I’ve had some rubbish runs in my time but I’ve never, ever crossed a start line worried that I wasn’t going to finish a race before! It’s not a feeling I want again in a hurry/ But ‘why Helen’ you might be asking, ‘when we read yesterday’s post on the 10km you were so excited and happy…..what happened?’ Let me explain in today’s Disneyland Half Race Report….
Cue wobbly screen special effect, ‘doo de doo do, doo de doo do’ music and a caption reading ’20 hours earlier’.
After I finished the 10km my plan was simple. Go back to the hotel and sleep, then grab lunch, head to a couple of meet ups I had arranged, then go back to my hotel, eat dinner and get a nice early night ready for my early start in the morning. What actually happened, went like this….
Go back to hotel, develop complete inability to nap. Walk 0.8 miles to Denny’s for lunch – massively over order and encounter speediest service ever so planned one hour lunch takes about 25 minutes. Can’t bear to waste food so walk 0.8 miles back to hotel with leftovers. Walk back to Disneyland (1 mile) for first meet up – spend 30 minutes standing talking to people. Realise everyone is leaving and you still have 90 minutes till your next meet up. Walk back to hotel, try to nap – fail again. Walk back to meet up, see people. Head home – total distance walked about 6 miles, total naps taken, zero! Eat leftovers, set wake up call for 3am – fall asleep at 7pm. Excellent…..that’s nearly 8 hours of sleep. Wake up on the hour every hour, realise your legs ache and that maybe walking 6 miles on top of running a 10km race wasn’t the most sensible of ideas. Panic.
The result of all this was that when my alarm went off at 3am, I felt awful. I was absolutely shattered, my legs felt like lead and not even a super sized cup of tea helped. As I sat in my corral I was watching people walk past and for some reason, the constant movement was making me feel dizzy. Then, they shuffled us forward to make room for other people, this meant an hour of standing before the race. By the time the gun went off I was getting seriously worried about the shape I was in. The first half a mile I could feel my legs were tired and tight – it was touch and go as to whether my hamstrings were going to cramp. I took it super easy, Mile two saw me take a loo break – sometime I never normally do while running. Miraculously it seemed to reset my body. At this point we were just about to enter the theme parks again and so the next couple of miles were spent having fun – conscious that I wasn’t in prime form, I took a few photos, I reached 5k at 40 minutes and was starting to feel okay. And then the chafing started!
I haven’t talked about the heat on the course so far – if you’ve read a Disneyland Half race report from other runners you’ve probably heard that it was hot and humid. Coming from the UK this should have bothered me, but a) I love heat and b) I think the years of running in Sydney conditioned my body a bit to what it’s like to run in extreme temperatures, I didn’t feel as affected by the heat during these events as I did the British 10km. However, my sports bra had other plans – by about 4 miles in, there were some serious rubbing issues. I moved it forwards, I moved it backwards, nothing was helping. Thankfully, medical stop 2 appeared. ‘Biofreeze’ – they were shouting. ‘Vaseline’ I shouted back. A large blob was squeezed into my hands – I now had a dilemma. The Vaseline had to go on my boobs – I’m in the middle of a race. Well, here’s hoping no-one had a camera as I’m pretty sure I flashed half a dozen people while I did what I had to do – but by this point I was past caring. Ahhh relief…….time to start enjoying myself again.
And thanks to the people of Anaheim that became easier. Despite it being called the Disneyland Half only about 2 miles maximum are in the theme parks, the rest of the event takes place on the streets of Anaheim, the first year I ran it this made for a pretty dull course, but that was a long time ago – now along the route there were marching bands, mariachi bands complete with whirly flamenco type dancers, cheerleaders, some seriously amusing handmade signs – and an amazing display of old cars that went on for a mile. Who knew that the sound of a Mustang and a Corvette having an engine gunning competition could make you speed up? By now any worries I’d had about finishing had vanished. Despite feeling rubbish I had maintained about an 11 and a bit minute mile, I knew if I hit the wall I could walk the rest and finish in time, the shiny Dumbo medal was mine. I was also no longer in fear of being ‘bleeding boobs girl’ at the finish line (so not a good look) and as a result, I was happy again
The smile came back on my face, everything stopped hurting and I even had a little sprint around mile 11. I did however have one thing I needed to do before I hit the finish line. Play with some pom poms…..I’d been running past all these cheerleaders and really wanted to play. So, at mile 12.5 I approached a group. Putting on my best British accent I said ‘I’m from the UK, we don’t have cheerleaders, please can I pose with your pom poms’……thankfully they said yes or I’d have had to run really fast out of there. Ambition satisfied, I set off for the last half a mile – Icona Pop was fired up on the shuffle. I was singing out load. Pluto was at the finish line for a high five – and I was done, in a time of two hours and forty something minutes! That’s right, I don’t even know my finish time, I didn’t care, I’d done it. what did it matter how long it had taken? I had done the first ever Dumbo Double Dare. In 18 weeks I’d gone from being nervous of my first Parkrun (as I hadn’t run 5km in one go for ages) to completing 19.3 miles in two days – and I had shiny clinky medals to show for it, Those and a raging craving for an egg mayonnaise sandwich. The last thing left to do was walk 0.8 more miles back to the 7-11 to get one – then finally, I got to nap.