2016 Clermont Clay 15k

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It turns out that I have neglected to write a race recap for the Clermont Clay 15k that I ran last November.  It was my first 15k, so instant PR!  I have been wanting to run on the famous Clermont Clay loop for a while now, so I looked up the races that took place there and thought that this one would be perfect.  I even managed to get my parents and my sister to run the 5k that took place at the same time.  The Clermont Clay loop is a ten mile trail made of clay that goes by different farms and through fields.  A lot of elite athletes train there including Desiree Linden.  It is a very beautiful area to run and I enjoyed every minute of it, but oh those hills; so many hills!

When we arrived in Clermont on November 20th we followed a long trail of cars down a very long dirt road to the race parking.  I thought we had left in plenty of time, but with all the race traffic we were cutting it close.  After a long wait which felt like an eternity, we finally parked and I walked as fast as I could to the porta-pottie line.  There were only about five porta-potties and the line was long, but it moved fairly quickly.  I saw my family as they were headed to the 5k start, which was at my finish line, then I quickly headed to my start-line with Chris.  The race organizers knew about the parking situation, so the race started a little late.  I ran over to the start as I heard the National Anthem being sung.  I just had time for Chris to take a before race photo because the race actually started; talk about cutting it close!

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It was a very cool morning which made for perfect running weather.  It was so beautiful to see the sun rise above the fields as we ran down the clay trail.  I never race with my music, which made this run feel very peaceful.  I started off with an 8:12 average pace for the first mile, but then settled in to about an 8:30 pace for the next six miles.  Lately I have been trying not to look at my watch as I race and run more by feel.  It has worked out pretty good so far and it makes the races more enjoyable instead of worrying about my watch the whole time.

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About half way through, the hills started to feel harder and harder as I ran up them. They seemed to get longer and steeper the farther I was into the course.  At the start of each hill I thought maybe, just maybe it would be the last one.  Most of the time I was wrong, but I kept pushing as hard as I could and then coasting down the hill once I got to the other side.

Finally I got to the top of a hill and at the bottom I saw the finish-line.  I ran as fast as I could with all the energy that I had left until I finally crossed and did my Jeter fist pump in the air.  My family was waiting for me along with a whole table full of snacks!

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When I looked at my pace on the results board I started to cry.  First, I couldn’t believe how great my pace, was at a 8:31 minute per mile, and second I was in third place in my age group.  I was in shock!  Well it turns out that two other results came in later pushing me down to fifth place, so unfortunately I did not receive an age group award, though someday I will receive another one!

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Overall it was a nice smaller race.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the scenery was gorgeous.  I had a lot of fun and am glad that I got to share it with my family.  I think maybe they are starting to enjoy running!  Next up is my recap of my rematch at the OUC Orlando Half Marathon from last year.

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2017 Star Wars Half Marathon: The Light Side

20170115_045512_HDRLast December I decided to run my first ever race at Disneyland.  You see my boyfriend, Chris, had gotten a contract job in Irvine, California so I made plans to go visit him in January.  It just so happens that The Light Side Half was still available, so I signed up.

I have to say that Disneyland races are a very different experience from Disney World0114171044d races.  There were some things that I liked, but also some that I was disappointed with.  The Expo was very confusing.  We parked in the only lot that we found and then walked around trying to find the entrance to the expo.  We didn’t see any signs pointing in the right direction, but eventually found a line of people and assumed we were in the right spot.  That line was for the main expo floor so we followed a crowd underground to packet pickup where we were directed to stand in another line in what looked like the first floor of a very old parking deck.  I arrived on the third day, so I didn’t expect to have to stand in line and I have no idea why they were only letting a few in at a time, because when we got in there I saw that there was quite a bit of room to allow for a lot more people.

20170114_103648_HDR(1)Once I got to the front of my packet line I was given a bib, but it was not mine.  The volunteer had mistakenly given me the wrong bib.  I told her and it was promptly fixed.  I had to ask about the “X” next to my name which signified that I would be receiving a Coast to Coast wristband.  After I was banded we headed back upstairs to the main expo floor.

The expo itself was very open and exceeded my expectations after experiencing packet pickup.  It was not crowded at all and I was able to receive my Half Marathon shirt right away.  The merchandise area was on the other side of the building.  When we got over there we were told to stand in a line in another room which led to another line in the expo room until we were finally in the merchandise area.  Since I couldn’t get a pass holder discount I only bought a magnet and then we left.

The next morning we woke up early, but I didn’t feel as tired because I was still on east coast time.  I decided to wear my Princess Leia costume from the 2016 Enchanted 10k in honor of Carrie Fisher, who passed away the month before.  After I was dressed and ready to go we took the short drive to Disneyland.  One thing that I knew about before hand, but still didn’t like was the charge for parking.  Parking is always free for races at Disney World and I don’t understand why they charge almost twenty dollars at Disneyland that early in the morning especially since there aren’t as many hotels and most people probably have to drive in.

After leaving the parking garage a security booth was set up and it was the only one we had to go through before the race.  The walk to the staging area wasn’t too far and I passed the entrance to the corrals on the way so I knew where to go later.  Like always we stood around people watching and taking everything in before my final restroom visit and then the walk to the corrals.

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At the corral entrance, Chris took some pictures and then we said our goodbyes then I 0115170451was on my way.  I really liked how they had the corrals set up for the earlier ones.  I had to walk through a couple bib checkpoints before I made it into “B,” which made it extremely hard for someone trying to move up a corral.

Once in the corral it was the same wait as always.  I was a bit nervous because I hadn’t raced in a while since the half the week before was canceled.  I just told myself what I always do, all I can do is my best.  The same Disney World announcers were there, but the entertainment just didn’t feel as big, which was fine until the race started and there were no fireworks.  I understand that Disneyland is in a more residential area, but it just felt weird starting a race with a giant pulsating “GO!” on the screen above.

I felt pretty good at the start of the race.  It was so cold out, which made me run faster as I tried to warm up.  In less than a mile I was already in California Adventures.  I had never been to that park before so I tried to take everything in as I ran through it.  The park was gorgeous and a real thrill to run through.  The only problem that I had was the ground was wet so I had to try my hardest to not slip and fall.

RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION9_20170115_396313432172_cropAfter we left California Adventures we ran around Disneyland park on the outside and entered through the back at about mile three.  It’s a Small World was beautiful all lit up.  I had only been to Disneyland once before and I was about ten years old at the time.  I knew that the run through the castle was coming up so I tried to position myself to get a great photo.  At one point a guy did run in front of my right before the castle and I later saw my displeasure in my race photos as you can see on the left.

I did get a great castle photo, but this was the part of RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION15_20170115_396313432183the race that didn’t come close to a Disney World race through Magic Kingdom.  My favorite race moment ever was running down Main Street towards the castle during the 2016 Princess Half Marathon.  First of all, spectators aren’t allowed in Disneyland during the races so there was no crowd cheering us on, just a few Cast members.  Second of all we were running away from the castle.  I had to keep looking behind me as I ran to see the castle.  The whole thing seemed very lackluster compared to running through the Magic Kingdom.  After we ran through the gates we were done with the parks; the rest of the race took place on the streets of Anaheim and through Garden Grove.

Even though there weren’t Disney Parks or Characters to look at, there was plenty to keep my attention.  There were spectators everywhere! Whole bands and cheerleaders came out to play and cheer.  It seemed like one big party! I just wished that the parts through the parks were that entertaining and lively.  And since we weren’t on Disney property anymore there were no more pictures until the finish-line.

After leaving Disneyland the course headed south and at about mile six started a huge loop through neighborhoods and then meeting back up with the same road heading north back towards the parks.  Almost the whole time I just kept thinking about the turn north and to the finish-line.  I knew I would know when that point was because we would be passing the later corrals in the opposite direction.  I also knew that it would give me a push at the end of the race as I looked at my fellow runners and we encouraged each other.  I also liked looking at everyone’s costumes!

RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION3_20170115_396313432188My splits were actually not bad and I kind of maintained a steady pace almost the entire race, though I didn’t know that at the time.  At mile ten I just wanted to be done and rest, though I kept pushing onward.  For a while I ran near this guy who kept counting down the miles as we approached each mile marker.  For some reason that helped me and pushed me forward.  I knew I was almost there and as I passed mile marker twelve I gave it my all.  That was probably my hardest mile.  As I rounded the corner right after mile marker thirteen I could see the finish-line.  I had made it!  Crossing the finish-line always brings me joy and makes me feel incredibly accomplished.  I ended up finishing in 1:54:30 with an average pace of 8:44, which is my second best half time.

The finishing chute for some reason felt twice as long as the Disney World ones. I grabbed my drinks and snack box and then found the challenge tent.  All they did was cut off my wristband and then let me proceed to collect my Coast to Coast medal.  It was so beautiful!  The main reason I wanted to do a Disneyland race was to get a medal with “Partners” on it.  I just lucked out that I completed the challenge in an anniversary year. I got my finisher photos taken then stopped by medical for some ice.  I had never stopped in medical before, but my foot started hurting as I crossed the finish-line.  I thought I must have landed on it wrong.  A medical volunteer gave me a bag of ice and I chatted with them as a sat for a bit and iced my food.

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Chris was waiting for me as I entered the family reunion area.  Another thing I was disappointed about was the lack of photo opportunities after the race.  There was one set up, but no photopass photographer, so we decided just to leave.  Chris also told me that he couldn’t find anywhere to spectate beside near the finish and every person he asked couldn’t give him an answer so he just waited back at the car until I was almost finished.

Overall I had a great time and really enjoyed the course.  I felt it was missing that extra magic from Disney World races, so I will probably stick to those from now on.  Coming soon:  my Dark Side recap.  It was a crazy one!

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2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

On the evening of January 6th I was finishing up getting my racing gear ready for the next morning.  My mom helped me attach my new bib magnets to my running shirt and I piled everything together so I wouldn’t forget anything in the early morning.  The forecast for the morning was supposed to be rain and I was a bit worried because I had never raced in the rain before.

I sat down to check Facebook to see if there were any updates about the race maybe being delayed and that’s when I saw it:  all races scheduled for Saturday, the 7th had been cancelled.  I was heartbroken and suddenly couldn’t stop crying.  All that training and preparation for nothing?  I had been really sick since Christmas and only took off three days in a row at the most because I had a race coming up.  Disney had never cancelled a race before, so I was mostly in shock.

As it turned out Track Shack and runDisney made the right call.  Those would have been dangerous conditions to set up the race in and horrible weather to run in.  They also came up with a lot of different options to receive a refund.  Runners could decide to run the marathon the next day, defer to another race within two years, receive the amount of the race in a Disney gift card, or receive two one day park hopper tickets.  I chose the deferment option and am hoping to get in the Dark Side half so I can truly run the Coast to Coast and earn my medal.

Saturday morning after the worst of the storm had passed a wonderful thing happened; runners came together and ran the half on their own all over Disney property.  We went to breakfast like planned at Old Key West and passed multiple groups of runners completing the half marathon distance in the rain.  At Downtown Disney there was even a water stop provided by Fit 2 Run employees out front of their store.  It really showed the perseverance of the running community.

Sunday morning I got up at 1:45 am and drove to Epcot to work my shift at the marathon.  It was the coldest day of the season and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.  I was working in the corrals and after a while I couldn’t feel my feet and my whole body was in pain.  At 6:15 I was finally able to move my corral forward and by 7:30 I was leaving Epcot in my car with the heater on and not without my half medal.  It took me a while to thaw out and then I headed to Animal Kingdom with my parents.  It wasn’t until we were about to leave the park that it finally started to warm up a bit.

On the following Tuesday I decided to run my half to earn my medal.  I ran around my neighborhood and through my favorite park twice to make up the 13.1 miles.  I stopped quite a bit for water stops, but maintained a competitive pace while running.  I ended up finishing in 1:55:48 and felt sore later in the day.  I was proud of myself for getting out there and completing the miles and  hope I am able to have a great race on Sunday for my first race at Disneyland!

Run in the New Year

Happy New Year!  2016 was definitely not the best year for me, but I am looking forward to 2017 and very hopeful for what it brings.  I’m hoping I find a permanent job that I love and get my lifelong dream of working on a Star Wars film, hopefully Episode VIII since that will be the last one that actress Carrie Fisher will have been a part of.

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2016 was a great year for my personal running goals!  I set a PR in the 5k, 10k, 15k (my only one ever, instant PR!), and half marathon.  I hope to continue that trend in the New Year, but my recent sickness has been getting in the way of my training the past week.  I’m hoping to get one more longish run in today before the Disney Wold Half.

790832_1002_0014January is going to be very tough and hopefully rewarding.  I have a race every weekend of the month.  The week after the Disney World Half I am flying to California to visit Chris, who is there on a job, and to run the Star Wars Half Marathon: The Light Side at Disneyland.  It will be my first run on the other coast.  I plan on reprising my Princess Leia running costume from last Princess and run in honor of the great Carrie Fisher.  I am also excited to earn my first and probably only coast to coast medal!  This is the 10th anniversary of the challenge so with that a spacial new designed medal is given out.  My main reason for wanting the medal is because it has “Partners” on it which means a great deal to me.

The Saturday after Light Side I am running my first race in Tampa with my parents.  We will be participating in the Run for the Fund 5k.  The race  course runs through the Busch Gardens theme park and benefits The Seaworld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. I love running 5ks because they support all kinds of different causes and this is a great one!  We are also told that we will be running by the animals in the park!  lady_track_shack2017

The last weekend of January is the Lady Track Shack 5k.  I ran it last year with my Mum and we will both be running it this year.  It is such a great race for another great cause, women’s health and fitness.  Only women are allowed to run which makes it very different then any other event I partake in.  The race is so much fun and last year the weather was perfect and the new course was amazing!  I’m expecting another great event this year.  It is the 40th anniversary, so there is a special medal.  I can’t wait!

The Star Wars Dark Side 10k will be my last race of the season and I’m hoping to set a PR in that as well.  I can’t wait because it will be my parents’ first 10k!  I know they are going to do great!  The course is different than last year so I am interested to see that when it comes out.  There were a lot of complaints last year because of the point to point course causing a lot of bus related issues.  I had no issues, but I can understand the reason for the change.

The rest of my running year will be spent training for the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon.  It will be my first.  I am really nervous about it, but I already found a plan and added it to my Garmin calendar.  I’m hoping for a time under four hours, but I know that just crossing the finish line is going to be rewarding.  I plan on documenting my marathon journey here.  It will be very tough, but so rewarding in the end.  Here’s to a great 2017!

Back in Boston

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Last month Chris and I got back from a much need vacation to Boston.  Boston is one of my favorite cities ever and a reason for that is because it is such an amazing place for running.  Having worked there five times in the past couple years, I know the city pretty well.  It gave me a chance to show Chris around the city that I love so much.  It also allowed me to continue my training runs without getting lost.

On our first night there I decided to run with the Nike Run Club.  If you have been following my blog then you know that I used to run with Nike when I worked in Boston.  They didn’t have the long runs like I used to do, but they did have what they call a home run at 6:34 pm.  The home run is either a 3 mile or 6 mile run.  Our hotel was about a mile from the Nike store so I decided to do the 3 mile run along with running to and from there to make up five training miles.

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When I got to the store, there was a tent outside.  Apparently there are a lot more people that do this run then the long runs because the sidewalk was packed!  I checked in at the tent and was directed to the side where they had water and Gatorade.  I grabbed a Gatorade and drank it right away.  Shortly after that we started.  We were directed to a park a block away where we were led in a warm up.  That took about 15 minutes and then we broke into groups for the 3 and 6 miles.

The course was an out and back along the Charles River Esplanade.  On the way back I missed the turn so one of the pacers caught up with me and we ran back to the store together, chatting the whole way.  I love these Nike runs because the running community there is so great and it gives me a chance to run with others rather than running by myself like I normally do.

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The next morning I got up and did a short run around the river before sightseeing.  The weather was 55 degrees and perfect!  My pace wasn’t the greatest, but I was busy taking in all the sights.  It felt like I never left.  I remembered all the turns, landmarks, and street names.  Boston was still as beautiful as ever.

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I skipped a day of running and then got up at 6:45 am the following day to complete my long run for the week. I had about a month until the OUC Orlando Half so my long run was an hour and fifteen minutes with a ten minute cool-down (my Garmin plans are done by time, unlike using mileage with Nike +).  That time allowed me to run almost nine miles at a 9:33 pace.  Like the other morning the weather was nice and cold!  Even with the cold weather I had to remove my arm warmers after only a couple of hours.  I was surprised that after a year the same water fountains were not working!  Come on Boston!  I did have a very enjoyable  run through the Common and around the river.  Running around the Charles river as the sun rises above the Boston skyline has to be one of my favorite things to do.

Later that day I had the chance to show Chris around the river.  It was extremely cold there on the edge of the water, but he enjoyed seeing the sights.  It was my last time to visit my favorite running spot before we had to leave the next morning.  I know I will be back someday and Boston will be waiting there for me when I return, hopefully as I am crossing the Boston marathon finish-line.  Who knew this Yankee fan would end up loving Boston so much.  Farewell, until next time, my beautiful city.

 

Global Energy 10k: RACE REPORT

I hadn’t planned on signing up for a race in September because of Florida’s heat, but I just couldn’t pass up the offer. Someone posted about the Global Energy races in one of my runDisney Facebook groups and there was a coupon code making the race free! I hadn’t heard of this race, nor had I planned on racing so soon this season, but since it was free I thought that I would give it a shot. The race, put together by Bimbo Bakeries, was for  either a 10k or 3k. It was run in 37 cities in 22 different countries all on the same day. The race has been run two years in a row, but this was the first time in Orlando. I chose to do the 10k.

Two days before the race I went downtown to pick up my packet at Orange Theory Fitness. The event merchandise I received was really nice and I was impressed! The race shirt was orange and blue, not my favorite color combination, but the material was a really soft tech material and the back of the shirt was a breathable mesh with all of the cities included in the race printed on it. I decided there that it would be the first time that I would wear the race shirt to the actual race. I also received a bag and a fitness towel. It was some of the best race swag that I have ever received!

The morning of the race I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t as well trained as I would have liked, the weather was warmer than any other race I had ever participated in, and I had injured myself.  Two days before the race I had gotten up early and ran outside (I had been running most of my runs on the treadmill because of the weather). My mind started wandering and my legs seemed heavy and I didn’t notice a raised crack in the side walk. I fell on my hands, elbow and right hip. The force of the fall was so extreme that I hit my head on the pavement. Thankfully my headband protected my head from getting scraped up, but it did hurt and I was taken aback. I got up in pain and noticed the blood dripping down my elbow and hands. I walked the mile and a half back home to wash up.

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So back to the morning of the race, I wan’t feeling my best. I woke up close to six, got ready, and then we headed to Festival Park were the race was held. There weren’t really parking signs so we got turned around heading to the parking lot. Once in line for parking it was pretty easy. We were able to park pretty close to the start line. As per my usual routine I waited around a bit and then headed to the porta potty line. Once out of there we made our way to the race starting area. Orange Theory lead a warm up that I participated in while Chris went to go get a spot near the start line. After the warm up we headed into the corral.

The corral for this race was just one big blocked off area at the starting line. There weren’t even pace markers so I just made my way near the front, but made sure there were people in front of me so I wasn’t first.

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Shortly after that it was time for the race to start. I was feeling extremely nervous at that time, but I knew that I just had to try my best. The countdown started, then the air horn, and we were off. I was a little too excited at the start. Once I started running a huge smile came across my face and I remembered why I was doing this. I looked down at my watch and I was at a 6:30 pace, which ended up hurting me in the long run. I tried to slow down a bit and settle into the run.

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The course went through downtown Orlando and on a lot of the same streets that the OUC Orlando Half Marathon goes through. Half of the race was on these downtown streets, a lot of which were brick roads. I made a conscious decision to make sure I didn’t trip on any rouge bricks.

At about mile two I starting questioning my choices in deciding to run. I had some thoughts about just stopping, but I am not a quitter so I tried my best to put those thoughts out of my head. The heat wasn’t too bad at the beginning as the sun was behind the buildings, but it heated up at the race went on.

A little after the half way point I past the road leading back to the finish line and ran on a sidewalk past an airport on the way to Lake Underhill. While heading towards the lake the winners of the race were passing us and heading back the other direction back to Festival Park and the finish line. I didn’t think I had that much more to run, but I was wrong. Once at the lake we went over a very long bridge and was told there was water at the other end. This was the first time that I have ever gotten water in a 10k before and I had the heat to thank for that. For some reason in my tired delusional state I thought that once we got our water we would turn around and head back the other direction. As it turns out we had to go around the entire lake which was about a 1.5 mile loop. I tried my best, but my legs just didn’t want to go any faster. I just focused on maintaining my pace and finishing.
Back on the sidewalk after the lake we passed runners that were just starting their journey around the lake. I felt for them because the sun was getting hotter by the minute. In no time at all, but in what felt like forever I was arriving at the six mile mark. Only .2 to go. I tried to speed up, but I don’t think I did. As I turned the corner that lead to the finish line I waved hi to Kim, one of my bosses from Track Shack. She was standing at the corner making sure the runners knew where to go.

As I raced towards the finish line I was told to stay to the left because the 3k finishers were on the right. I hurried over the finish line and did my fist pump as I was finally able to stop and catch my breadth. It was a nice feeling, but I started to feel a little sick not long after that. I vowed to improve my training so the next race would seem easier and I would feel stronger. I received my medal which was very nice and one of my biggest. It had the host city, Beijing, on the back. After that I went to get all of the refreshments which included some breakfast bars, water, a banana, and a huge orange. I opened the water and devoured it at once. There weren’t photographers at this race, so I had Chris take my finishing photo in front of the Orlando sign.

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There were some tents around and I was able to get some more snacks and a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. My bib had a coupon for a free sandwich from a food truck so we went to stand in that line as I ate my bagel. After I got my grilled cheese sandwich we walked around to see what the other booths were and then I wanted to leave. It was time for me to relax at home after a nice long shower.

I ended up finishing the race in 54:37 giving me an 8:49 minute per mile pace. It was my worst 10k time, but I was very proud of it considering the circumstances. I just have to train harder and go out stronger next time.

Star Wars Dark Side Registration

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARAFINISHLINE3_7661062415-cropToday was the early registration for the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend.  As a Walt Disney World passholder I was able to register for the 10k at noon.  I ran the half this year, but since I wasn’t too happy with the course I decided to just do the 10k next year.  It turns out that the 10k and half courses are changing for next year!  The exact courses won’t be released until closer to the race, but according to the runDisney website both races will start on Floridian Way and end in Epcot.  This is very exciting for me because I love ending the races in Epcot.  Ending in the Wide World of Sports complex didn’t feel as magical as it would have if the finish line was right after passing Spaceship Earth and running through a park.  Floridian Way is a new starting area which is right near the Transportation and Ticket Center.  I am hoping that we can just take the monorail to the starting line and avoid the buses all together.

I am happy to say that my parents will be joining me this time at their first 10k!  They usually do the 5ks with me, but the 5ks are getting less and less practical.  The price has gone from $65 when I started running them to $80!  $80 for a 5k?!  That’s a little insane.  I suspect that the price increase is related to the fact that they are giving out medals now instead of the rubber medallions as before.  The 5ks also give out cotton unisex t-shirts instead of tech training shirts like the higher distance races, but my main reason for not doing the 5ks anymore is that they are not timed.  The reason I justify paying the high Disney prices is for the best possible scenario for me to set a PR.  If it is not timed, then it is just not worth it.  I told my parents these points and they agreed.  My Dad said that he is really going to train for this 10k.  They were both nervous about double the distance then they are used to, but I know that they will do great!