The Avengers Half Marathon was Not So Super

So, back in Colton’s first few months of life, I had made some changes to my racing plans. During that time, I had set a goal to run the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon for a PR. The plan was in place. Take few pictures and focus on the running. Unfortunately, my training took a nose dive in the month leading up to the race. So, I got to the start line less than confident I’d pull off that PR.

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Since I wasn’t going to take pics during the race, I decided to capture as many of them as I could pre-race. One of the things that I thought was cool about the pre-race area was the addition of a food truck! Nice touch runDisney!

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In another first, there was a tent set up where they were selling official race merchandise. I’ve literally never seen this before!

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There was plenty of merchandise available as well! I guess the Avengers race merchandise didn’t sell quite so well at the Expo.

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There were some fun backdrops for pictures in the waiting area!

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I decided on this quick selfie…

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At the Expo, I picked up a Chocolate milk for after the race…

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It turns out that Nestle Quick had it all covered. Oh well. I was really stoked to see that runDisney had chocolate milk available for us after the race!

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Since I had some time, I took in the pre-show on the main stage. All the in-person super heroes were there. Spider-man was there…

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Hawkeye was there too….

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Black Widow…

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Thor…

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Last, but certainly not least…Captain America!

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All the Marvel Super Heroes wished us well.

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Then, it was time to head off to the starting corrals.

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As I got into my corral, I took this quick selfie with the construction of Star Wars Land in the background.

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So, before race weekend, I found out that my former PR professor and her sister in law were coming out to run this race as well. We all happened to be in the same corral. So, we had fun catching up on life. Jessica is now working for Disney out in Florida and sang in the EPCOT version of Candlelight. So, it was also fun to compare notes on being involved in the Disney Cast Choir East vs. West for Candlelight.

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Before I knew it, our corral was up to take off on our 13.1 mile journey. I started off by using the Nike Plus app on my phone to measure out the run/walk intervals. I also had the Garmin watch going and planned to switch back to the watch once there was enough light. I got off to a fantastic start in mile 1. Course crowding wasn’t too much of an issue as we started off. Yes, a few of my run intervals ran a little slow. But, it wasn’t too bad. I really enjoyed the course as it went through the theme parks. In the theme parks, I tried to keep myself going consistent with the run 20/walk 40 seconds. I finished mile 1 in 12:07. Since I normally struggle with going out too fast, I was okay with this first mile.

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Towards the start of mile 2, I crossed my first picture stop, as planned. Mile 2 also went pretty well at 24:46, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. But, I wasn’t too far off the pace. My main goal through the theme parks was to keep my first 5K in a reasonable time. Both of my previous Avengers Half Marathons were really slow. I think my 5K times were around 44 – 45 minutes. I was ahead of that and kept motoring on into mile 3.

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Mile 3 brought us out of DCA and into Disneyland. Since I was on a walk break on Main Street U.S.A., I decided a quick selfie was okay. It didn’t cost me any time because I was moving right along.

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At the end of Main Street U.S.A., was my second planned stop for a quick pic with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Doesn’t it look cool with the snow and Christmas decorations?

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In mile 3, I did take a couple walk breaks of a minute, 40 seconds. One of them was to take on my first Cliff Shot Blok. I also came to a stop to get a pic with It’s A Small World. By this point the sun was out and I was no longer using the Nike Plus App to track my run/walk intervals. This was the last pic stop until I got to the Big A. The end of mile 3 was approaching and I knew it was time to buckle down and focus on racing. I was ahead of my previous Avengers Half Marathon times at the end of mile 3 and at the 5K mark. The route wasn’t as crowded as when I ran the Disneyland 10K back in this backstage area of mile 4. So, my running wasn’t suffering due to crowding. However, I could feel my breathing getting a little out of control. I made the decision to take a few more of the 1 minute, 40 second walk breaks for recovery. I am proud to say that I kept the run/walk intervals going all the way through the tunnel that connects back stage Disneyland with backstage DCA. By the end of mile 4, I was at 51:42. This is where the race started slipping away from me.

In mile 5, we left the theme parks behind and hit the streets of Anaheim. I could tell I was loosing time in this mile. I needed more of the 1 minute, 20 second walk breaks than any other mile previously. I wanted this stretch to go much better. But, it wasn’t happening. I tried my best to limit my losses and started to adjust my goals to working towards my “B” goal of setting a runDisney half marathon PR for myself. That seemed to work and I found a groove to keep me going. By the end of mile 5, I was at 1:05:51.

It was work in mile 6 and 7 to keep me moving. My half marathon PR was now out the window and I hoped I could still find a way to get that “B” goal. Like mile 5, the goal was to limit my losses. If I took a 1 minute, 40 second walk break, I tried not to take more than two of those in a row. Once we got out of the Anaheim Convention Center area, I knew open roads were ahead of me all the way to the Big A. I knew the overpass was still ahead. But, I was fighting. If I could just continue to limit my losses, the second half of this race might be okay. Even though I didn’t know it it at the time, miles 5, 6, and 7 were pretty consistent.

In mile 8, we hit the overpass. The race started unraveling for me on that overpass. I walked up the overpass and tried to get back into the intervals once at the top. This is where the intervals became really tough to keep up. I decided to walk for 5 minutes as we made our way to the stadium. It felt good to see the stadium looming. After the 5 minute walk break, I ran 20 seconds. By this point, I was just breathing too hard. I knew the 8 mile marker was coming up. So, the plan was to just walk it out. During my walk into the stadium parking lot, I knew there would be  no sub 3 hour half marathon for me on this day. By the end of mile 8, my time was 1:49:04.

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This, right here, is where my race ended. When I crossed the 8 mile marker, I was determined to start running again. Initially, I thought of waiting until I got in the stadium. However, I couldn’t stand walking anymore. So, I started to run. Right before we ran under the Big A, I got that twinge in my lower calf that killed my 11 and 13 mile long runs. I know this twinge. It must have looked bad when it happened because the runner next to me asked if I was okay. I assured that runner I was. I knew my running for this race was over. I knew I could walk the rest of the way and still finish. However, all time goals were now gone. It was hard as I realized this. If only I had some pretzels with me, I might have found recovery at some point. However, I knew that this twinge was a due to low salt. Pretzels have helped me before and I didn’t have them now.

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Since time was no longer on my mind, I added some photos to my planned stops.

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I look like I’m still having fun. Right? Honestly, I always love running around the stadium. So, my spirits were okay inside the stadium.

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This was my planned photo stop in the stadium. I initially wanted to run all the way to home plate. That didn’t happen.

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I also decided to stop for a quick pic by the Angels dugout. Go Halos!

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Once out of the stadium parking lot, we came to the Cos Players. I must admit that I wasn’t as impressed with the turnout as in years past. It seemed like there were less Cos Players. Having said that, I do love their enthusiasm and appreciated their encouragement.

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Captain America and Ant Man were enough for me to get the planned photo with the Cos Players.

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There were a few more as we continued on Gene Autry Way. As we left the Cos Players behind, I knew the next few miles would be tough. There were a few marching bands along the way. However, I wasn’t feeling it. I spent some time thinking about where I went wrong in my training. I thought about how I knew I’d make it to the finish line. My main question was…how slow would it be?img_5918

Finishing this race was the best part for me. I missed on all of my goals and went from an “A” goal of setting a half marathon PR, to getting my slowest half marathon yet. Here’s how the splits worked out…

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This was my slowest half marathon by around 10 minutes. The last time I walked this much at a half marathon was the 2014 Surf City USA Half Marathon. The difference between this half and that one is that I was on PR pace through 8 miles in the Surf City USA Half Marathon when I was brought to a walk. This time, a PR was already out of question. So, the fact that I was brought to a walk so far from the finish guaranteed me of a new slowest half marathon.

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Now, I could sulk over how this race went wrong. Or, I could learn from my mistakes and try to do better. I choose the latter. By the time I got to the finish, I had already gotten over how horrible my finish time was going to be. After all, if I can have a half marathon go this badly and still finish in under 3 and a half hours, I should never worry about being swept from a runDisney half marathon ever again. That’s not to say that I couldn’t have a race where I get injured and end up with a DNF (Did Not Finish). However, the idea that I would not be able to finish in 3 and a half hours is something that should never cross my mind. I walked a little more than the last 4 miles and still had 9 minutes to spare is not entirely bad. Do I want to repeat this performance? Nope. Can I learn from it? Absolutely. If I had pretzels with me, I might have been able to avoid the lower calf twinge and made my way back to run/walk intervals. That should have put me somewhere between 3 hours and 3 hours 11 minutes.

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For now, I’m happy to have finished my 17th half marathon and my 3rd Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. The 2016 version of the race marked the 3rd different race course. I think that this course was the best one yet. Hopefully, runDisney will keep this course for future Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathons. I did like this course a lot. It was great to avoid the river trail. Running through the Angel Stadium parking lot wasn’t all that bad. The only bad for me was my performance. Everything else about this race was awesome!

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Posted in The Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon, Uncategorized
3 comments on “The Avengers Half Marathon was Not So Super
  1. Tom Kribs says:

    Hi Greg, sorry to hear about the difficulties during the Avenger’s race. Some runners carry salt tabs. You might consider experimenting with them during longer or hotter workouts. I’ll look for you during the SW light side half. I’ll say “hi” if I can find you.
    Best wishes,
    – Tom

  2. the weather was very hot and humid for this race which didn’t help at all! we slowed way down and felt fine but saw some runners that looked in serious bad shape at the finish line!
    I had issues with salt in the past and what helped me was the margarita flavored clif shot bloks that have extra sodium

  3. Heidi says:

    Sorry about the Avengers Half–I take “SportsLegs”, which helps with my cramps/muscle twinges usually. I recently found your blog and look forward to hear how your training and races are going. I’ll be at the SW Light Side in 30 days (eeep!), so good luck on your race then, too! 🙂

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