Chapter 2: It’s the day of the race y’all!
So where did I leave off? Ah yes, springing out of bed at 4:00 a.m. My excitement and nerves at this point are oozing out of my fingers and toes. Brad is somehow surprisingly calm. Or actually, not surprisingly, Brad is pretty much always calm. He’s serenely making a pot of coffee while I’m chugging water and panicking about the fact that I don’t have anything to eat for breakfast. Did I mention that? One of the things I freaked out about the previous night, besides the Vaseline, lack of flair and adequate hair ties, was that I had forgotten to pick up a Clif Bar or instant oatmeal for breakfast. Major faux pas! What is wrong with me? The only option I have is to scarf down the leftovers from last night. Neapolitan pizza at 4:00 in the morning? Yuck. But I need fuel. At this point I feel like the Delorean in Back to the Future Part II. You know, the one that runs on garbage? It’s my own fault, but no one is perfect.
We make our way down to the lobby and find the most amazing surprise. Not only are my mom and Dennis actually awake at this hour, but they have made a “GO BRAD AND BECKY” sign complete with twinkling stars! Magical! Check it out.
Brad is, of course, drinking coffee
Such a great sign
Brad and I walk to the starting line and contemplate how many people are signed up for this race. What did we hear? 1,500? 2,000? Oh no. Silly Brad. Silly Becky. 14,000!!! That’s 14 with three zeroes behind it! This is what 14,000 people look like.
This is only one corral, out of 7!
14,000 people standing around at 5:00 am
At 6:00 sharp, Mickey counts us down. Ready… SET…. GO! Except, we don’t go. They stagger the start times for each corral. We’re in corral D so we end up starting around 6:20. Definitely helped build up even more anticipation. So we’re off! I’m so high right now, I don’t have an ounce of pain in my legs (like I usually do at the beginning of a run) and I just keep reminding myself of pace, pace, pace. Don’t burn out. At this point it’s impossible to outpace myself anyway. You try circumnavigating 14,000 people. I hear some lady behind me mumble under breath that she is getting dizzy from looking at my wings. Well then move over lady! Because this fairy is flying.
Finally we make our way into the Disney California Adventure Park. I’m most excited about this part! It would take so long to describe how awesome it was, which is why Brad got plenty of footage of the 4 miles through both parks. Video coming soon! I promise. We just need time to edit the sucker. In a nutshell, there are princesses, villains, chimney sweeps, aliens, genies, bears, and cows (real cows!) There are colorful fountains, there is upbeat music, there are friendly cast members to cheer us on, and perhaps most importantly, there are bathrooms! I don’t know about all you other runners out there, but anything over 3 miles is pretty much a laxative for me. That’s all I’ll say about that.
We exit the parks right around mile 5. Sad face. Now it seems the fun part is over. To my surprise, Mom and Dennis are there at the mile marker to cheer us on! Sweet! That helps put some pep in my step.
What a pleasant surprise!
There they are!
We plow on. The rest of the route is riddled with all sorts of exciting things. Anaheim supplies us with mariachi bands, dance troupes, cheerleaders. I’m pretty sure every high school in the greater Anaheim area turned out their school orchestra or choir to cheer us on. I completely underestimated how much all of that enthusiasm would help get me through, but it made me smile over and over and kept my feet moving. The next moment of note had to be when we ran through Angel Stadium. They put on a good little event in there. They had the Angels announcer dude randomly calling out people’s names over the loud speaker with little factoids such as “Gollum Smeagol has run all 5 Disneyland 1/2 Marathons!” Good for you precious. They also had a camera set up in the stadium so everyone got to see their likeness up on the huge jumbotron as we ran by.
After our jaunt through Angel Stadium, there’s really nothing to look forward to except crossing that finish line; and boy am I looking forward to it. Right around mile 11, I hit a wall. I feel the lactic acid start to ooze throughout my entire body. I feel that nasty leftover pizza wearing off and yep, I’m running on empty. I’m terrified of eating Gu considering last time it left me riding the porcelain bus for a couple of hours. Now is the time to hone in. I need to focus. This is it, this is the challenge, this is the whole reason I did it. I didn’t sign up for this race just for fun and laughs. I signed up for this moment; for the moment that feels impossible to overcome, the moment that I feel like I can’t go any further, the moment that I am terrified I’m going to fail. I have to reach down to the deepest part of myself and overcome it all. As all of these fears surface, I realize the most important thing I can do is not worry about them. I’m worried I’m going to puke. So what. I’m worried I’m going to pass out. I’m not going to. I’m worried I’m not going to finish. I am. The only thing that is going to come from focusing on these negative thoughts, are negative results. I consciously press the mute button in my mind and take it one step and one breath at a time. As long as I’m still conscious, I’m going to keep running.
Brad keeps asking me if I’m alright. Up until mile 11 I’ve been super happy and relatively chatty. Now I’m silent, I’m focusing on my breath and I need every ounce of energy I’ve got to make it to the finish line. I explain all this to Brad through nods and hand gestures and he gets me. So lucky we understand each other even without words.
Y’know what gets me through to the finish? The kindness of strangers. So many bystanders, cast members, runners who’ve already finished, they all line the side of the course cheering us on with everything they’ve got. Giving us high-fives. Calling us by name (which is totally weird until we realize our names are printed on our bibs. Duh). I feel all of this positive energy pulling me through that last mile. I suddenly feel the same emotion I felt when the first donations started pouring in for The Unusual Suspects. My goodness, people are actually nice.
I come around the final bend, right around the Disneyland Hotel, and the Finish Line comes into view. It is a thing of beauty. I’ve spent the last 3 miles focused on one thing, that Finish Line. I fantasized that I’d be able to sprint through it but all I can do is keep a steady pace through to the end. This next part is so sweet.
Why do we run races? Everyone has their personal reason but you can be sure it’s to feel some sort of accomplishment. The Finish Line is the complete embodiment of that accomplishment and crossing it is the moment we all look forward to the most. Brad, selfless soul that he is, runs ahead of me about 50 feet, through the finish line, so that he can videotape me crossing it. He didn’t even take that moment for himself. He just moved through it as fast as he could so he could get a good shot of my moment. I know I’ve got myself a good guy. *sigh*
As we cross the finish line, I am overwhelmed with happiness. So much emotion and all of it good. No matter that every muscle in my body seizes up, my feet cramp, my body drenches in sweat. I feel complete elation. Suddenly I hear “Becky! Becky!” I look through the crowd and spot our cheering section. Mom, Dennis, Mike, Karyl, my cousin Shannon and even little Ian! All there with smiles on their faces, but not quite as big as the smile on mine 🙂
We spot our chEARing section
Brad and I make our way through the throngs of sweaty happy people to get our medals, pause for some photo ops, and most importantly figure out where we’re going to get breakfast! We just burned about 2,000 calories. If there are numbers on clouds, I’m on the 9th one. Success.
I’ll end this chapter for now. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry which features two ladies sitting next to us at the hotel pool, both of whom we witness get progressively sloshed throughout the day, a Caddyshack moment not involving a Milky Way bar plus a celebratory day at Disneyland!
5:00 am, still dark
Gotta stretch, this is very serious
it's all about the medal
wouldn't be a party without these two
easy for you to laugh, Mice! you didn't just run 13.1 miles