Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Racing, Reflecting, and Celebrating

We had a great Mother's Day weekend.  We spent Saturday at Disneyland, and on Sunday morning, I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on behalf of Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Emma had been to Disneyland twice before, but was too young to know what was going on.  This visit was completely different, and we had the best time watching her light up with excitement!  Thanks to her grandparents, she has Mickey, Minnie, and Disney princess dolls at home, so she recognized them all on sight.  She seemed a little afraid of the rides and gave a vehement "No!" when we asked if she wanted to ride any of them. So we spent the majority of the day meeting the characters and watching shows and the parade. All three of us had a great time!

My wake up call on Sunday morning was at 4:30 since the race began at 5:30 and I had to get ready and then walk about a mile from our hotel to the starting point.  There were plenty of other racers walking the same direction, so I chatted with them along the way.  I was slotted for the very last runner's corral because I signed up with Alex's Lemonade Stand after the race had sold out.  I knew that last corral would be full of walkers, and I wasn't looking forward to running through an obstacle course of people trying to get past them.  So I snuck into an earlier corral (I did have to sneak, since there were race personnel weeding out people who were trying to do the same thing!) and it was absolutely worth it!  Only the fastest racers got to start at 5:30, while the rest of us were packed like cattle waiting for our turn.  I passed the time chatting with my neighbors and admiring everyone's Disney-themed costumes (about 10,000 people dressed up like Tinker Bell, but there were a few other costumes, too), and my group finally got to cross the starting line at 6:05.  The corral I chose was full of slow runners, so it was the perfect pace for me.

The first 5.5 miles of the course ran through the California Adventure and Disneyland theme parks, which was so much fun!  We passed all the iconic rides and scenes while they played music and had characters out to cheer you on.  There were some bottlenecks and tight corners to turn, so at some points everyone had to slow to a walk.  Plus, you could stop and wait in line to have your photo taken with the Disney characters throughout the park, so it definitely wasn't structured to be a fast-paced race. Once we left the parks, the fun was over. (ha!) The rest of the course ran through the streets of Anaheim, and although they had high school bands and cheerleaders at the major street corners, they couldn't compare to the entertainment inside the parks.  But we did get the opportunity to pick up our pace since the roads were straight and flat.  The longest distance I ran while training was 10 miles, and my knees typically begin to hurt around mile 8, so I fully expected to walk the last few miles.  But God answers prayers, and He kept all my joints feeling good the entire 13.1 miles! I was so thankful!

I want to thank everyone who donated and helped me raise funds for Alex's Lemonade Stand!  Together, we raised almost $1,500 to benefit childhood cancer research!  I am amazed by everyone's generosity, and it meant so much to have your support.  I was running in memory of my brother, Paul, who passed away last October, and I know it would've meant the world to him, too.  I have missed him so much, and thought of him every time I was struggling through a long training run and during the race.  He was the best example of having a graceful attitude during hard times.

Here are some pictures from our weekend.

Emma has no fear of the characters. She ran straight into their arms every time!

She was overcome by shyness when she met the princesses, though. Snow White was the first princess she met up close, and we couldn't get her to lift her head for a picture.

Don't let the solemn face fool you - she was having the time of her life!

Belle held her like this for the longest time and got Emma to tell her all about the other princesses she had met that day. It was the sweetest thing in the world!

After we left, Emma kept talking about how beautiful Belle was.

She was enthralled by the Disneyland Parade, where she saw all her favorite characters.

The photographer told us to make crazy faces. Emma is apparently too cool for that. :)

Dan took a shot of me right after I finished the race.

Emma was not thrilled about getting close to her sweaty, smelly mom! Heh!

Running through California Adventure

Running through Disneyland

We took advantage of a Mother's Day photo shoot at our neighborhood pier, and the photographer captured Emma's sweet smile.  We don't see it often in pictures, so this was an awesome Mother's Day gift!