Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

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So this is a few weeks late. Not too bad considering I came home after Dumbo Double Dare and started work five hours later, and then went to Vancouver for a wedding three days later. I need to get this recap posted because I just did another half marathon back in Lethbridge yesterday, and I don’t want to be behind on my recaps! This one won’t be long anyway….I think….

I went to bed early on Saturday night (around 9:00) because I had had trouble sleeping the night before since it was warm outside. My 2:30 alarm went off and I got ready in a zombie-like state. The best part was going to 7/11 dressed as Snow White to get coffee and some drunks heading home after a night out saying “What the fuck?!?

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Ali and Kevin parked and got me to the staging area by 4:00 am. There were a lot more people milling around this morning compared to the 10km. The DJ was there getting people pumped up. I was set to go! I headed to the corrals around 4:45 and placed myself in the outside of Corral A, near the front. I wasn’t necessarily trying to go for some epic time that morning (I was actually nervous how my knees were going to hold up since I had just done Edmonton Full Marathon the week prior) but I wanted to be out front to start, since the course is rather narrow.

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I knew when I started I wanted to push hard early on, so to avoid the warm Anaheim sun. I was not going to stop for any pictures during the race, as I would rely on Marathon Foto to capture any of me as I went by. (I have purchased the photo downloads of both races from them and will post a pictorial of my favorites in a separate post!)

The first mile was my fastest. I blew out of that gate. I ran a 7:17. And before I knew it, I was already in Disney’s California Adventure! The course for the half brought you into the parks much quicker than the 10km, and it also brought you through it somewhat in reverse. I got to run past World of Colour without having to run on the wooden boardwalk, run down Cars Land towards the Radiator Springs facade. As I cut between DCA and Disneyland I was able to see Ali and Kevin for a brief second. Running down Main Street was fantastic, as people who had purchased ChEAR Squad packages were allowed on there, unlike the 10km where no one was able to spectate. The thing I realized early on, that would keep me pumped throughout, that since I was near the front of the group, I was one of the first “costumed” runners people would see. A lot of the hard cores don’t normally dress up, especially the guys, and many women may just have a sparkly skirt on. It was fun to have kids and adults yell “Go Snow White!”

By the time I was out of Disneyland property, I had run miles 2-4, in 7:29, 7:31, and 7:51. I was concerned how running on the streets of Anaheim would go, as I was unsure how “entertaining” it would be. I had read tons of reviews of this race, and people almost always said how great the support and entertainment was on the city streets. Now, I was actually able to see what everyone meant!

This was not a bunch of empty roads full of commercial businesses. The roads had many clusters of spectators cheering loudly. Spectators had awesome signs and music blaring. There were various ethnic dance groups performing as we ran by. I remember a Mexican & Hawaiian troupe specifically. There was also a mile long stretch going through highway underpasses that could have been dreadful. This was remedied by our own personal classic car show. Car afficiandos would have LOVED this, and while I don’t normally care for looking at cars, the tailgate-style atmosphere and pride of the car owners was incredible. Miles 5-8 were 7:44, 7:32, 7:41 and 7:55.

There were close to 20-25 cheerleading/Pom Pon teams and high school bands entertaining throughout. Families of these kids were there watching the event also. Jumping ahead of myself, near the end when my knees really had taken a beating and I was sweaty from the humidity and heat beyond belief, the thing that kept me going was running by the band kids and cheerleaders, giving them high fives. I felt a connection to them, as I was in high school band and a Pom Pon girl for all my years of high school. And also, when you get to Angels Stadium, the entrance into it, the exit out of it, and while running the bases, was lined with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout until 9th grade and after I graduated high school, worked for one summer at Camp Alice Chester, the Girl Scout Camp I grew up going to. Without being too sappy, seeing the scouts, the marching bands and the cheerleaders gave me flashbacks of my life 10-15 years ago. I got emotional about it, because I’m a piece of crap like that. But it pushed me through.

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Those last miles were tough. My body hurt, my legs felt like trash. But I wanted to finish strong. The crowds that lined the finish area of Downtown Disney were electric. I even found some energy in my reserves to help push me in just under 1:40.00. My final miles were 8:02, 8:00, 8:00 and 7:44, bringing me in with an official time of 1:39:57. I had completed the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and also earned my coveted Coast-to-Coast medal. The combination of doing the Dopey Challenge in January and now Dumbo in August is unreal and unmatched, in my opinion.

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Will I do this race again? YES. I love Disney. I love visiting my best friend. I love running. This course is fantastic. The race swag is second-to-none. The time of the race is right before the school year starts, so traveling here is doable. While it costs a pretty penny to fly down to California from Alberta, it is still more affordable than going to Orlando. And Ali and I are in the talks of doing Dumbo together next year. This race will always be special to me, and I can’t wait to do it again and again.

Disneyland 10km Race Recap

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This post is about the Disneyland 10km event on August 30th, 2014. I will discuss the Disneyland Half in a later post.

The Disneyland 10 km would not just be any 10km for me-it was extra special as I would be running with my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991, and this would be her first EVER 10km event.

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If Ali was nervous, she sure didn’t show it on race morning. My alarm went off at 2:15 am, and we both slowly got ready. By 3:15 we were on the road to pick her mom up from the Redondo Beach Holiday Inn Express. By 3:50, we were pulling into the Mickey & Friends Parking structure. Yes Ali, this in fact was happening!

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We hung out in the pre-race area until 4:45. It was here that we danced a little to the DJ music, did some stretching, and used the porta potties one last time. We headed over to the corrals before things got too crazy in there, and by doing this early, we were able to place ourselves right near the front of Corral B. We stood to the left of the corral, and by doing so Ali’s boyfriend and mom could talk to us before the race began.

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The race was themed “Hawaiian” with all the commercialized island decor that you would expect. Stitch, from the movie Lilo & Stitch, was the unofficial mascot of this event, so they rolled with this theming throughout the 10km event. Overall, I thought the theming was cute, but got a little sick of all the Elvis references everywhere you ran (apparently Lilo is obsessed with Elvis in the movie?). Anyway….

Race began and I was nervous for Ali, mainly because I wanted her to have a great experience. I knew her experience would be great if we paced ourselves accordingly and took our time while near some great photo opportunities. This race was not about a race time for me, but about spending time with my best friend.

When we entered California Adventure near mile 2, the scenery was outstanding. We took many fantastic photos with little to no wait. After winding around California Adventure, we saw Ali’s mom and boyfriend near the main gate. We entered into Disneyland and down Main Street we went. Nothing will beat the experience I had running down Main Street USA in Disney World this past January, but this was still pretty damn awesome!

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When we got to the mile 4 marker near Space Mountain, Ali said something around the likes of “Well, we have now entered uncharted territory.” The farthest she had run during her training was 4 miles. We had 2.2 miles left to go. I knew she could do this, it was so close to being done!

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We decided to take an unscheduled photo stop in front of It’s a Small World to see Chip & Dale. This line took a solid 10-12 minutes, but I think the break was necessary in order to make that last final 2 mile push. We rounded through the backstage area, and into Downtown Disney. The crows lining the walkways in Downtown Disney were awesome! So many people there to support, and it really gave out some positive energy!

Ali and I finished in 1:27:51. It was her first ever 10km, so it is automatically a personal best! And when we finished, Ali agreed that it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. She had a blast doing it and can’t wait to do more! (she is already signed up for the Pixie Dust Challenge in May during Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend, and is also doing a local 10km in January in order to get a faster proof of time for corral submission for Disney!)
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I am so proud of Ali’s dedication to running. Even more proud of the fact that she’s not only been training since March with it, but busting ass in the process. I’m looking forward to the other races we will run together in the future.<

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Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend-The Expo

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This post will be about the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo only. I will discuss the 10km & Half Marathon in a later post.

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I arrived to California on Wednesday night, around 10:30 pm. My best friend lives about 15 minutes from LAX, in Redondo Beach. We would drive from her place to Anaheim each day of the expo and the races. The drive would roughly take 30-40 minutes, depending on if it was later in the day, or the ass-crack of dawn on race morning.

I couldn’t sleep the first night, so when I woke up at 5:54 am, I naturally decided to sign up for the “virtual queue” for the RunDisney New Balance shoes. The online sign up opened at 6 am, so before I knew it I had a return time of 12:50 pm, which was 50 minutes after the expo opened. RunDisney shoes would be mine!

Ali has a Disneyland Annual Pass + Parking, so parking for all race weekend related activities was a breeze! We arrived to the parking structure around 11:30 am on Thursday, and by the time we made it to the downstairs of the expo, they already had things up and running. Ali literally had no wait for her 10km package pickup. For me, it took around 15-20 minutes to get my Dumbo Double Dare goods, Coast to Coast wristband, pre-purchased pins and my Dooney & Burke bag. We were up to the expo floor by the official noon starting time!!

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We wandered to the back by the Offical RunDisney merchandise where a long queue line had already formed. I had read posts online in regards to last year, that the merchandise lines were a disaster. Disorderly, things sold out, etc. I am happy to say I think everything went VERY smooth. Disney employees were stationed amongst the line to assure there was no line-cutting, and that people knew where the line started. We weaved through the line for about 20 minutes before being let into the store area. It was not crowded, as they were paying close attention to the number of guests entering and exiting. Tons of sizes and choices, so we got in and out rather quickly.

The expo space itself it quite smaller than the Wide World of Sports setup in Disney World, however, I never felt claustrophobic or congested as we wandered the aisles. Ali and her boyfriend did some wandering together after the official merchandise, as I headed to my New Balance queue line. I met up with Rick Stiles, a fellow Dopey runner, who was in line for shoes himself. I had reserved a pair of the Cinderella shoes in a 7.5, so after about 8-10 minutes of waiting in line, an associate took me to a bench where she brought my shoes out to try on. It was so quick and easy. Actually everything had been so easy that morning: RunDisney is making it so damn easy for me to spend my money!

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I bought a few other things at the expo, including a SportsHook extension for my medal hanger, some cute shoe charms with the Dopey and Dumbo Challenge distances on them, and a second Dr. Cool ice pack. We were starving by then and wandered over to ESPN zone where we were seated immediately in the bar area. Food was great! We headed into the Disneyland hotel where Ali and I got a sweet picture with Goofy, pretended to drive the old Autopia ride vehicle, and got to chat with “Perfectly Goofy” Gail Savidge and the unstoppable Kimberly Markey (who spent a great part of this last year undergoing chemo for breast cancer!)

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Overall, our day at the expo was fantastic! I strongly suggest getting to any RunDisney expo a half hour before official opening. You can get through pickup and purchasing much quicker, with a lot less people. It made for a much more enjoyable experience!

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My Facebook Status-Real Recap Next Week

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All 11 RunDisney medals I have earned from November 2013-now. Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Dopey Challenge and now Dumbo Double Dare. This was what the last year and a half has been all about. Disney was and still is such an important place for my family. Running is such an important part of my life. Being able to mesh them both together in memory of my dad has been the best therapy ever. I love you dad.

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Going Back to the Original Purpose…

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When I wrote my first blog post on January 6th, 2013, I stated some information about who I was, what I was about, and what I was planning on doing over the course of the next year.

My first “real” blog entry

In those initial purpose and goal statements, running a Boston Qualifying race time was never an initial goal.  I ran more races than I ever had before, I raised money for a cause important to my heart.  I even started breaking my own personal best times and realized I could become a contender in my own right.  I went and achieved all my original goals.  The thought of Boston came after I completed the Walt Disney Full Marathon in January in 3:50:52.  It was a late-in-the-game goal.  I figured I might as well try.

 

As you know from my post yesterday, I didn’t achieve that goal.  But, as you also know from that post, I am not going to let it get me down and ruin me.  I think back to everything I have been able to complete and achieve this past year and it makes me smile.  It makes me happy.  And being happy is the most important thing to me right now.

 

Tonight, I head out California where I will be participating in something else that wasn’t in the original plan.  I am participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, and partaking in the “Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.”  Not as daunting as the “Dopey Challenge“, but still challenge enough, I will run 19.3 miles over the course of two days:  A 10km on Saturday (with my best friend Ali-her first 10km ever!), and a half marathon on Sunday.  Upon completion, I will not only receive the gorgeous Dumbo Double Dare medal, but I will also be the proud owner of the Disney Coast 2 Coast medal.  I will have completed two RunDisney events of a half marathon or longer on both coasts in one calendar year. 

 

I didn’t plan on this when I first started my blog.  But, plans change.  The Boston challenge was a stressful, demanding one.  I could have really let that get me down after not getting in at both Calgary Full Marathon in June and in Edmonton Marathon this past Sunday.  But I didn’t.  And now come the exciting change, that helps me bring this back to what it was all about.  It says so right at the top of my page:

 

Running, Disney World & Dad….How do they connect together? Follow my journey this year to find out.

 

It has now been well over a year since I first started that journey.  If you have been following me since then, I think you may better realize how they all connect.  I know I have a deeper understanding myself.  I am looking forward to doing this race weekend in Disneyland not only for myself, for my best friend, for my family members, but most importantly, for my dad.  If he could see me smiling running through Disneyland, that would be more important to him, even now as I near the age of 30, than me making Boston.

 

I love you Dad.  Je me souviens.

Edmonton Marathon Recap

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This past Sunday I participated in the Edmonton Marathon.  I had signed up for this event in hopes to qualify for Boston, as I failed to in June at Calgary.  I felt better trained and prepared; my head was in the game.  And the weather, other than the mugginess, was perfect-it did not feel like an August day!  Starting race temps were around 50 F, and only got up to just above 60 F.  However, this story did not have the exact fairy-tale ending I was hoping for….  

 

Here’s the story.

 

My husband and I headed up to Edmonton Saturday morning.  We had stayed in Red Deer the night before so this drive was relatively short, compared to the 5.5 hour straight drive from Edmonton back home to Lethbridge would be come Sunday.  After checking in to our hotel (Coast Plaza Edmonton) we walked the ½ mile to the Shaw Conference Center where packet pick up was.  This was a new location this year, and the facility was very nice.  I don’t know if it was crowded the first day of pickup, but by Saturday at 2:00 pm the place was dead.  Not tons to look at either.  I picked up my race bib, got my shirt, and back to the hotel to get things settled.

 

 

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I made a plan with my husband of spots for him to try to be at during the race.  I focused a lot on the second half of the course, as that would be when I would really need the help.  I had pasta for dinner, laid out my clothes and food items for the morning and went to bed around 9:00 (didn’t fall asleep until 10:00).

 

We walked back to the Shaw Conference Center that morning, as the start and finish lines were located here.  I felt mentally and physically set for the challenge ahead.  After kissing my husband, and my dog Snoopy, good-bye I filed in to the starting corral near the 3:30 pacer.  I knew I had to start of strong and find my pace quickly, so when the race began, off I went.  I got into a great groove and I was feeling positive about my pace.  My first five miles clocked in at 7:41, 8:04, 7:52, 8:10, and 8:03.  I was more than set!

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I had seen my cousin Erin and her friend about mile 3, and that was a great boost of energy.  I had been hoping to see my husband at mile 7 or 8, but he was nowhere to be found.  After we did the turn-around, he still wasn’t there.  I was still doing great at my pace, running miles 6-9 in 7:51, 7:55, 8:13, and 7:58, but I needed a familiar face.  The course is indeed flat, but you are curving through some neighborhoods quite a bit, and the streets aren’t lined up with spectators.  I started getting a leg cramp in my right leg (the leg that hasn’t been causing me issues!) and there was a pain in my IT band area.  I tried to avoid thinking about it.

 

I finally made it on a busier street, heading back towards the downtown Edmonton core, when I spotted Dan, Snoopy and Erin.  This was a huge boost that I needed at that point to bring me to the halfway!  I was still on track, though the pain was still there.  I told Dan I needed pretzels and more Nuun tablets the next time I saw him, and off I went.  Miles 10-13 were 8:05, 8:07, 8:15, and 8:16.  I was beginning to slip, but I was still on pace.

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Miles 14-17 was when my mind started going.  In my head, I wanted to keep going for that 8:00 minute mile pace.  I was telling myself to go get it, but I started to waiver in my pace consistency.  It was like what happened in Calgary at the start, but was happening now.  Miles 14-17 were 8:00, 8:27, 8:25, and 8:10.  I still was on pace to be under 3:35:00, but no longer under 3:30:00.  I could do it, and I felt pretty proud of my mile 17 time, because that was the mental mile I needed to get past.  The pretzels I had received from Dan during these miles helped, however, they couldn’t make me fly…

 

Mile 18-22 were a struggle, but it was at mile 21 that I just became unglued.  I knew I wouldn’t quit, but I realized that as each mile passed, Boston was slowly slipping away.  Miles 18-22 were ran in 8:31, 8:28, 8:21, 8:42, and 9:41.  Those miles began after I saw Dan, Snoopy and Erin for the 3rd time, and as I ran by I yelled “I need you to run with me.”  Neither of them had a chance to get out there and help me at that point, and I don’t think it would have done any good.  I knew with how the route was, I would be looping back over to where they were stationed, so I hoped one would join me for the home stretch.  Running through those neighborhood loops with my legs tightening up and being alone was extremely tough.  When I made it back that way, I had about 4 miles left to run.  I was hurting.  Bad.  Dan joined in with me as I was running, and he really thought I had a chance to still get Boston.  If my legs weren’t in the pain they were in, I could have potentially made up time.  But I was slowly coming to the realization that my body just wouldn’t let me do that.

 

Dan ran with me the rest of the raceIn his blue jeans.  And brown North Face canvas shoes.  I use the term ‘run’ loosely because we had to walk at points, I had to stop at points, and I gimped at points.  He kept telling me I couldn’t quit—I wasn’t going to quit.  I was going to finish.  As I realized Boston was gone, I did also come to the realization I could still get a personal best.  It would be close, but I could.

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I managed to get my last mile back under 10 minutes, which helped me get in to the finish at 3:44:59, beating my previous best by 1 minute and 23 seconds.  Those final four miles were run in 10:50, 10:21, 11:30 and 9:50.  I never full out lost it with tears that day, but as I came in to the finish my eyes swelled.  I was thinking about my training, about this race, about how much my legs hurt, about how close my time had been to the correct pace, about the last 2 years of running, about my dad…There was so much going through my head.   Sure, I didn’t make the time I had come out to get, but I had calmly talked to Dan as we jogged the last 4 miles that I would be OK with it.  I think he was actually surprised how calm I was, how I wasn’t throwing a fit.  Four years ago, when I was still all out of sorts about personal losses in my life, I would have lost itBut I am in a better place now.

 

This wasn’t a true failure or defeat, though.  I did not ‘lose.’  Hell-I got a personal best!  I’ll take that any day of the week!  As for Boston-Boston will always be there; I have the rest of my life to qualify for it.  I will qualify for Boston and run in Boston someday.  I will, I can promise you that.  It just didn’t work out in the cards this weekend that I would be running in 2015. 

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The full marathon is a different type of beast, and it’s very hard to tame.  They have a mind of their own.  I can barely move today, and my body feels like it is just shut down.  I want to curl up in fetal and sleep for 24 hours.  I am going to continue with my half marathons, 10 km races, Spartan Races, and other distances I can find.  Maybe I’ll do another full marathon in the near future, but it won’t be for a Boston attempt at this time.  There would have to be a special reason for me to sign up to do the 26.2 miles again anytime soon.  I will keep searching out new races in the area to support and try, and also keep heading back to my old favorites.  I am also hoping to get more people into the act of running, because it is something EVERYONE can do.  I love coaching cross country, I love getting kids excited about long-distance running, and I love getting friends and family members involved who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have.  Running makes me happy, even when I am in as much pain as I am after doing 26.2 miles.  The pain I feel in my body is worth it, because if I didn’t keep running, I would be in more pain than this.

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Calgary Spartan Sprint 2014 Recap-Not Just ANY Spartan Race for Me…

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The 2014 Calgary Spartan Sprint was my 7th Spartan Race event. I have previously ran this event last in 2013, along with the Montana Sprint (2013, 2014), the Red Deer Super, and the Sun Peaks Beast & Sprint. But more important than reaching number seven was the fact that my best friend Ali would be competing in her first EVER Spartan Race…and this Spartan Race would also be her first EVER timed running event!

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We headed up to Calgary the morning of the event. The weather reports were a little nerve wracking, with chances of thunderstorms all day. We arrived to the race site, Wild Rose MX Park, about two hours before our race time. Pre-race packet pickup was a breeze! The last time I did day-off packet pickup for a Spartan Race was Red Deer last September, and that was a nightmare. Perhaps having a later in the day heat was helpful, because we honestly filled out our waiver and walked right up to a volunteer to get our packets. Took one minute! Before we knew it, we were getting marked with our bib numbers and were ready to go!

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We walked the festival grounds, and I have to say I quite enjoyed the setup compared to the year before. All the food trucks, displays, merchandise, and bag check were above and away from the actual racing area. This alleviated congestion down below. Ali purchased an awesome long-sleeved burnout shirt as a souvenir, and then it was off to check out the course.

We could see quite a bit of the course before actually racing. The vantage points at this Spartan Race are awesome, and as a spectator you can actually view your family and friends quite easily in many spots. Without even venturing that far into the race venue/spectator areas, we could see the following obstacles: Unders, Under a Container, Over Under Thru, Monkey Bars, Container Crawl, 8′ Wall, Rolling Mud, Mud Pit/Barbed Wire, Traverse Wall, Slippery Wall, Rope Climb and Fire Leap.

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What couldn’t be seen from spectator viewing, and what would become Ali’s least-favorite part of the course, were the switchback hills! These were tough! Ali lives in Redondo Beach, California, which has an elevation of 62 feet above sea level. She was now running an obstacle course race in Calgary, Alberta, at an astonishing elevation of 3,428 feet above sea level, and you can tell why the hills may have been a ‘small’ issue!

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When our heat started at 1:00 pm, we barreled out with the stampede. For the first 1/3 mile or so (I’m guessing because I didn’t have my GPS) we were trucking it. Then between bottlenecks and crazy hills, we had to slow down. If we had to power walk up hills, we did that. But whenever there was an opening that we could gain ground on, we ran it.

I am most proud of myself being able to do the monkey bars at this race. This is an obstacle that is sometimes hit-or-miss for me. My hands were clean, the bars were dry, so I got my momentum going and across I went. Ali had major shoulder surgery sophomore year of University, so obstacles like this were a challenge. However, she tried every obstacle out there—she never just walked past it, giving up without trying and just succumbing to the 30 burpees penalty.

The 30 burpees penalty is something Spartan Race does. Now, even though the event is timed, unless you are in the Elite Heat there are not age group awards. Reason why, I would say, is because many people out there have little to no integrity and don’t follow the rules. Dude I saw cut under the plastic tape to skip a section after the Tractor Pull—you’re a loser. And the three people, two women and one man, who failed the Rope Climb and came next to Ali and I at the burpee area, did 3 each and said “That’s good enough”—why did you sign up? If you’re going to sign up for something like this, and you start cheating it, what does that say about your personal mantra? I know it’s not a major event like the Olympics or anything, but don’t do this shit half-ass. Yes—you do have to train. If you don’t and you plan on taking easy ways out, you should just drop out. You are not a true Spartan.

Away from that rant, the course itself was incredible. The volunteers were great. Ali’s best obstacle was the Tire Flip, and she even opted to take on one of the “guy tires” with no issue at all! Special shout-out to the lady at the Traverse Wall giving everyone help and insight on how to help each other across the wall, as it was caked with mud beyond description. Ali and I both got across it thanks to her help!

We finished the course side-by-side in 1:44:01. I cannot wait to see the official photos that get posted, as I know there was a photographer not only at the finish line Fire Leap, but also at the Sandbag Carry and Barbed Wire. We received our kick-ass Spartan Race Canada medals, a finisher shirt, and then I ran up to bag check to get my camera. We needed post-race photos, to go along with our “clean” pre-race ones!

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We enjoyed the lovely delicacy of Coors Light in the Beer Garden (I would never drink this by choice, but it was free, and tasted surprisingly refreshing after that course!). Ali later would tell me that this Spartan Race was the hardest thing she’s ever done…but that she wants to do more. And, she also said she feels extremely confident going into the Disneyland 10km on August 30th! I am so proud of Ali and all the work she has put into Crossfit the past year (hello Crossfit 310)!and the fact that this former swimmer has become a runner.

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UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!

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