Disclaimer: I received the Sweat Tracker program to review as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! While the opportunity came my way thanks to the awesome group, all views and opinions are mine.
This past weekend, my Sweat Tracker goal race – the Disneyland Half Marathon – played out. This was my first RunDisney race back in 2014, and with the 10th Anniversary (plus the Diamond Celebration of Disneyland) I had to go back.
If you haven’t kept up with my previous posts, I had injury trouble not so long after last years race – a couple of stress reactions had showed up in my legs and I had to take some time off. Fast forward to February and when it was time to sign up for the Disneyland Half, I was running about 1km, still experiencing pain and frustration.
Three months out from the race I was lucky enough to be selected to review the Sweat Tracker program – this is a customised online training program which for me, focused on injury recovery. You can check out my thoughts along the journey here and here.
I was progressively increasing my distance up until it was time to leave for my epic North American adventure – two weeks prior to the Disneyland Half weekend. I had just completed my longest run of the year (15kms) and was feeling AMAZING! The tip was to maintain the awesome momentum that I had and make sure I was still running, no matter where I was.
The first week I was over in Toronto, Canada and managed to run past some AMAZING locations that I have never seen before – I tell you, running along that lake is incredible early in the morning. Later on in the week I was heading over to Boulder, Colorado where I knew I’d have some trouble given I’m actually at sea level at home. The 5K that I had to do was relatively easy, but unfortunately the next day I was in no state to complete the required 16K as my last long run before the half.
Skip forward a couple of days (and a sneaky 5K treadmill run in Anaheim) and it was time to put the training to the test. I was running in ALL Disneyland Half Weekend events, with the thought to take the 5K & 10K super easy.
The 5K this year was pretty much the same route as the previous year’s 5K, entry into the park via Disneyland Drive, up through Cars Land looping around to Grizzly River Run and then out and across to Disneyland. Last year I made the mistake of not stopping for Chip & Dale in the 10K, and I was determined NOT to make the same mistake twice – so when I saw the character stop ahead, straight to the back of the line I went! One thing that was super awesome about this year’s race was that upcoming character locations were signposted, it helped avoid people being caught by surprise and cutting across the path.
The theme of this race was the 10th Anniversary with a hint of villains, there was a nice touch of Maleficent on top of the Pirates of the Caribbean overpass – warning all runners that there was evil lurking ahead (i.e tomorrow) and to watch out. The effects here were absolutely awesome, it was still dark when I went through and to see one of the scary Disney villains all lit up talking evil trash to runners was definitely something you only get at Disneyland!
5K complete – 37:15 (running time)
Costume: Disneyland Plaid Cast Member
Legs feeling: OK!
And the start of the Dumbo Double Dare! With the villains theme, I wasn’t too serious about this race, I knew there would be quite a large amount of awesome character spots, and really the team didn’t disappoint. One thing to note is that many of the characters were swapping out, when I joined the King John line it was actually Hades but I could see King John ready to swap in.
I must say as well that I was in corral C. Say WHAT? Yes, one of my awesome race times from last year enabled me to be placed in a really awesome corral, which made it really easy for pictures. I feel that there were also way more character spots for the 10K that there were in 2014.
Course wise, it was the same as last year – the run out to the back of the convention centre and back really does stretch the crowd out – there was also a new water stop as you come into W Convention Way.
Back into Disneyland and the first stop was Lotso. How could I not stop for this loveable but super angry bear?
It was by chance that the theme of this race was villains, I honestly picked my costume based on the fact that you ran by the Tower of Terror ride, and I was determined to get my picture in front of it. I was set to get my picture by the sign when one awesome cast member pulled me away and said that I had to stand where the Bellhops normally stand. And so the incredibly epic race picture was born.
From this point you do run down the tunnel between the two parks, and this is where I passed some incredible runners who were wearing blades. These guys were just amazing and awe inspiring. It was great to see them finish at the end.
This year we did run through the castle for the 10K, it was a pleasant surprise, I didn’t find that there was the crowd issue that there was last year around this part of the course (for the half), I wonder if the removal of selfie sticks helped the situation?
Last year I ran into issues around the backstage area with my foot, this year I ran without issue. In fact, once I had finished I was amazed at how much better I felt, thanks to the awesome work of Coach Val and the Sweat Tracker team! Bring on the half!
10K complete – 1:15:30 (running time) /1:31:07 clock time
Costume: Tower of Terror Bellhop
Legs feeling: Did we just run a 10K?? BRING ON THE HALF!!!!
DISNEYLAND HALF MARATHON
Woke up Half morning feeling super flat and just not into it. A little disappointing since I had been doing everything right: ate the right food, training was on point and I went to bed early the night before. Nevertheless, I made my way to the corrals ready to see what I could do.
It was super crowded, and it was warm. I was hoping that the cloud cover would be sticking around for a little longer than the day before – at least the cloud would soften the sun’s bite.
This years course was changed up a little, rather than run down to Katella Ave and back up Harbour before entering the parks, we ran down Disneyland Drive and entered where the 5K came into the park, without running down Cars Land. I did notice that there was a lack of Army Green Men this year – they were super awesome when entering California Adventure for the first time in the half last year. From the boardwalk of Paradise Pier, some friends (and part of the costume group) managed to find me and I did run keep up for a km or so, then let them go on their way. I was hot and bothered and hadn’t even left the park yet!
I wasn’t feeling the pictures, so didn’t stop for any (most of the characters were repeats from the previous days races) and also hid from the on course photographers. I should have been called the Grumpy Runner for the day! There was a lot more backstage running this year, and when I was coming up around the back of Toontown, I heard Corral G starting the race. Seriously, I couldn’t believe that I was almost out of the park, and the last corral was starting! I was able to breathe a sigh of relief later down the track knowing this. Trust me, I needed it!
All in all, the race was going good for the first quarter, I was keeping a nice pace – not too quick and not too slow, but something that I could maintain over the 15km and then look at speeding up just a little. Legs were feeling a little fatigued, no pain at all – just slight calf tightening.
It wasn’t until the 8km mark that I started to get the numbness back in my foot (this is a GOOD thing – 8km WOOHOO!) and I quickly pulled off to the side to wait for it to come back. All in all, I was running the race that I wanted.
Along comes the 12km mark and it hits me. Headache, feeling nauseous, dry mouth, ugh. What is going on? Quickly enough I start to feel uber cold and get goosebumps. This is not a good thing. I resign myself to walking, there’s no way that I was able to run and finish safely, if at all. I knew I had a huge amount of time up my sleeve, and it really became an epic mental battle to get to that finishing line. I was ready to drop out. I didn’t want to be there. It was hot and I felt cold. I was taking multiple cups of water at each water station and it did nothing. I was going to stop at the medical tent and just bow out. My head wasn’t in it.
Somehow I managed to get myself to the other side of Angel’s Stadium, 5km to go! I tried to run again, nope. Not happening. I made it to the 20km mark and decided that I could try to lightly jog it in. Somehow this worked. With 1.1km remaining and plenty of people cheering the runners on (and being overtaken by the 3 hour Clif pace crew) I got my butt into gear and crossed that finish line and burst into tears. I felt embarrassed and awful, it was my worst race and I was so well prepared thanks to Sweat Tracker. Somewhere along the line I felt that I did something wrong.
Half complete – 3:05:10 clock time
Legs feeling: They felt fine, I on the other hand, felt awful.
Now looking back at it, there was nothing that I could have done in that half, and I’m lucky that I was able to identify the issues when they arose and deal with them safely. I finished the race in a respectable time AND was still independently standing when I got to that finish line.
Looking back I think I could have kept myself better hydrated in the two days prior to the half. From this experience, I have some awesome refuelling tips from my friends which I will need to try in future training. It also appeared that I was battling an infection that I picked up on my travels at the same time as I was running.
From a training perspective, Sweat Tracker helped me tick all the right boxes, I was feeling AMAZING going into the event, super keen to improve on my best half time. While things didn’t fall into place for this half, Sweat Tracker really has built me up to the runner I am right now (from an injured runner with NO IDEA!), and I’m keen to get another half under my belt to record my improvement thanks to the program.
For more information about Sweat Tracker, definitely check out their website here and join the Sweat Tracker sponsored BibChat this week (8P CT Tuesday/11am AEST Wednesday)