Lethbridge Regional Police Services Half Marathon 2014

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September 13th, 2014, marked the 2nd annual Lethbridge Regional Police Services half marathon. I had ran in the inaugural race the year prior, loved the downhill course, and set a new personal best of 1:46:42. Signing up again was a no brainer!

The night before, I decided to partake in my standard pre-race beers. Now, I don’t write about this often, because I know it is not scientifically proven to be helpful, but for me, having beer the night before a race that is a half marathon or less works wonders. I went for some happy hour beers with my friend Jaclyn after work (2 brews) and then later that night after showering, eating plain pasta, and taking a nap, I went for some drinks with co-workers after the football game (4 brews). I went to bed by 1am, woke up at 6:45 am, and was ready to go.

It was just above freezing at the start of the race, so I ditched my layers the last possible second. The half, 10km, and 5km were all starting together at 8 am, and would be on the same route for about the first mile. Then the 5km and 10km would turn down Lynx Trail into the river bottom as the rest of us continued south in Scenic Drive. When the 5&10km runners split off, I had positioned myself pretty well, and I thought to be around the 6th female runner. I was going for broke, and had nothing to lose, so my first three miles were 7:25, 7:33 and 7:19.

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After mile three, we ascended out of the Sugar Bowl and onto the 20th Ave greenstrip. I had moved my way up to 4th female, and closed in on securing the 3rd position shortly after. I was still feeling really strong, and new I could keep pushing. I wanted to keep third and possibly moved up, since this meant prize money. Miles 4-6, which took me to about hallways around Henderson Lake, clocked in at 7:28, 7:19, and 7:27.

Because of the openness of huge route, the visibility of the runners ahead of you was very open. I had my eye on the woman in 2nd for quite some time, and could also clearly see the first place female with her friend biking next to her. There was a long straightway coming up down 7th Ave South and I knew I needed to make a move if I wanted a chance at 2nd position. This road also had a slight downhill to it, so I kept rolling as fast as I could. Miles 7-9, which went from Henderson down 7th Ave, all the way to the top of Scenic Drive, were 7:31, 7:33, and 7:28. I had locked down 2nd position in the process too!

The steep downhill of Lynx Trail was next. I have done this downhill before in other races (10 Mile Road Race, Bare Bones Run), but usually you have to run back up it. Not today, as you just had to barrel on down to the river bottom. This is about 3/4 mile of steep paved trail, so I lengthened my stride and started actually closing in on the first place runner. She was starting to look tired, and her legs weren’t going as fast as mine down the hill. Mile 10, which took me down the trail to the Water Treatment Plant, was my fastest at 7:13.

You know that openness I spoke of from earlier in the race? Well, since everyone was pretty spaced out by now, except for female #1 and another male runner between us, you couldn’t see much in the winding trails. And there were no spectators along this part of the route. So while the trails are familiar to me, the strain I had been putting on my body for the first 10 miles was catching up, and my mental game was cracking. I kept focusing on female number 1, but anytime I sped up, she did too. When she slowed, I couldn’t overcome the numbness in my quads to get up next to her. Miles 11-12 were really slow at 7:44 and 8:10. My time was 1:30.10, and I could still make a personal best, even with my legs starting to give out. I pretty much had added an extra minute to my previous pace from when we were on flat straight-aways. And while I was still in 2nd position, I was nervous my body would crash and burn.

At mile 12, though, something happened. To east of the trail, I heard a voice yell “ANDREA!!!” On the metal stairs going down from the coulee was Haley, one of my cross country runners from WCHS. She had been doing hill training with her dad that morning. I yelled back to her “COME RUN WITH ME!” and about 30 seconds later I had an eager 16 year old by my side. I told her I was in 2nd place with less than a mile to go, but was wearing down. I needed her to push me to the finish, and make sure no one passed me.

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Haley saved me at the end of that race, as I not only held my 2nd place female position, but I finished in 1:37:51—-a new personal best by 3 seconds! First place clocked in at 1:37:00-If I hadn’t slowed down so much after the downhill, it could have been mine! But, honestly, I was giving it as hard as I could leading up to those last 5km, and the mix of sharp turns, no straightaways, and no crowd to cheer you on, made it tough. Finding my own personal pacer the last mile was key for me finishing as strong as I did!

The woman who beat me actually turned out to be a friend of a friend! She knew who I was from talking with my friend and co-worker Amie, and Amie had told her I was pretty intense and to look out for me! Marissa, the woman who took first place, is not only a few inches taller than me, but a few years younger than me. So, since this was my last race in the 20-29 category I felt pretty proud as I enter my 30s! This race also gave me the confidence that it is possible for me to keep ticking time off my personal best. I have the goal set in my mind to be in the 1:36’s by next year. Considering last year I was running 1:46, and the year before that I was doing 1:56, I am very proud of my progress.

Awards came at 10:00 am, and I was the recipient of a $100 cheque from the police. It is funny to me because the day prior I had went to the courthouse to pay an $89 speeding ticket. Irony. Marissa and I chatted some more, then I went and had a free 20 minute massage from students at the Lethbridge College. The race day started and ended perfectly! I was so excited to share with everyone how I did, so I spread the word on social media. In doing so, I also found out from Amie later that day that Marissa and I share more in common than just running—she also loves herself some craft beer. Maybe she will partake in my pre-race tradition next time? Or at least go have some celebratory beers after? Your move Marissa!

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Dumbo Double Dare Photo Recap-Official MarathonFoto Pictures!

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Finally got around to ordering my Disney Dumbo Double Dare race photos from MarathonFoto. I knew I had to purchase the download package as the pictures of me and my best friend in the 10km were incredible, and the half marathon shots weren’t too shabby either.

Below are some of my favorite shots from the Disneyland 10km, held on August 30th, 2014!

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And now, here are my personal favorites from the Disneyland Half Marathon, held on Sunday, August 31st, 2014.

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What a great weekend! Loved that this event capped off my Coast to Coast adventure!

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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.