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!

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!

2016 Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side: RACE REPORT

I awoke to the sound of my alarm going off at two in the morning.  That could only mean one thing: time for another runDisney race!  My plan worked.  Since I got up super early the day before, I was able to fall asleep that night and I woke up kind of rested.  It was the morning of the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side!  I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth and then started to put on all the pieces for my costume.  I was going as a Sith Lord with a light up skirt.  The lights were Chris’ idea and they turned out great!  My Mum had to sew my skirt without me this time because I was working in Canada until right before the races.  We had to come up with the measurements via a Hangouts video chat.  It paid off because the skirt fit perfectly!  I had found a black tank on clearance at TJ Max and the headband was made by ChickyBands on Etsy.  I thought the red imperial symbol matched perfectly with my skirt!  I wore a running belt so I could stuff my battery pack inside.  It worked out great and was very comfortable.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACORRALCANDID7_7661064538As soon as I had all my things together we left for Epcot.  This was a different race course than had ever been run before.  It started in Epcot, but ended at the Wide World of Sports Complex.  That wasn’t the most convenient, but more on that later.  When I arrived to Epcot it was just like any other runDisney race; tons of people waiting around for the announcer to say we were allowed to go to the starting line.  I had a Photopass photographer take our picture and then we waited around until it was time for me to go.

When it was time, I told Chris bye and followed the mass of people heading to the start line.  It was slow progress until we got to the split of the beginning corrals and back corrals.  I headed towards the beginning corrals and made my way to the porta-potties.  When I was done I walked nervously to corral B.  I didn’t see any pacers there, so it looked like I was on my own.

I couldn’t really see the stage because my eye sight was so bad and I never run in my glasses.  I was too nervous to pay attention anyway, but the announcers did their usual spiel and Disney did some Star Wars advertising.  I remember thinking that I just have to try my best and not worry about a PR.  The fireworks sounded to start the push-rim contestants and bring me out of my thoughts.  A couple of minutes later corral A started and we began to move to the start line.  The 1 minute warning was said over the loud speaker, then 30 seconds….3……2…..1….and we were off!

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSEACTION9_7663070574-cropI started running at a conservative pace because I knew I would need my strength later on since my training didn’t go as well as I would have liked.  The first park we entered was Epcot at about mile one.  Running through the World Showcase is one of my favorite parts of Disney races and it was as breathtaking as ever.

Next was Hollywood Studios which was a nice change from previous courses.  We entered the park at about mile three and ran right down Hollywood Boulevard toward the Chinese Theater and past a bunch of Storm Troopers.  At this point in the race I was still feeling great at about an 8:30 pace per mile.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSEACTION19_7661321818On the way to Animal Kingdom I started feeling the fatigue.  Osceola Parkway was long and it felt like I was going uphill the whole time.  There wasn’t much around which was making it tough to go on, but the excitement of running through Animal Kingdom kept me looking forward.  I have to say that the Animal Kingdom parking lot is HUGE!  It felt like forever running around it before we entered the park.  Animal Kingdom was pretty difficult for me and because of that, most of it was a blur.  I do remember running past Primeval Whirl as we entered and then as we exited we ran to the park entrance where there is an incline that I always dread after a long day at the park.

After Animal Kingdom and a high five with one of the 501st legion members, it was back to Osceola Parkway and on to The Wide World of Sports Complex.  This was really difficult because my legs started hurting in Animal Kingdom and my pace showed it.  I slowed down to about a nine minute mile.  As bad as my legs were hurting, I knew that I had to keep going.  I gave it my all and ran as best as I could back down Osceola Parkway, which ironically still felt like I was going uphill.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARAFINISHLINE3_7661062415-cropWe entered The Wide World of Sports through a dirt path on the side of the complex.  I didn’t even know about that path and was very surprised that I was all of a sudden running on dirt and rocks.  It was tricky, but I did not trip!  We then ran around some fields and turned going towards the front and the finish line.  When we made it to a shorter dirt path I heard a girl behind me yell, “Is this over yet?!  I want to lay down!”  I felt that sentiment as well.  At that point I could hear the finish line announcer and a crowd of cheers.  I finally turned a corner and saw the finish line itself.  I was so exhausted and couldn’t wait to cross.  I finished with the time of 1:56:06.  Even though that was my worst half marathon time I was extremely proud of what I accomplished.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSECHARACTER2_7661444511After I received my medal, towel, and snack box I met up with my family and we headed to the Star Wars character backdrop area for pictures.  There were about ten different ones, each with a different Star Wars character.  I took pictures with Darth Maul, some storm troopers, Jabba the Hutt, and a tentacle monster.  When I was done with those lines we went straight to the buses that would take us back to Epcot.  I wanted to beat the rush of people so we didn’t have to wait too long for a bus.  As it turns out there wasn’t a line at all!  We got right on a bus which was a relief because I was really sore and needed to sit down.  As soon as it filled up we were taken back to our cars at Epcot.  Apparently to get to the finish line my family had to stand in a long line and wait about half an hour for a bus to take them there.  The buses were also quite a walk from where I left them to go to the start line.  They were less than happy about the experience because in addition to the long walk and wait, the bus was falling apart and the driver got lost on the way to the finish line.

The walk back to the car felt extremely long from the area where the bus dropped us off and I didn’t think I was going to make it to the car.  I did make it and we drove home where I was finally able to rest after a very tiring weekend.

I enjoyed the race, but I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the course.  It seemed a lot more difficult than Princess in regard to the elevation.  I also missed the mid race excitement that running down Main Street and through Cinderella’s Castle brought to the other races. I did like running through three parks this time, but ending in The Wide World of Sports Complex felt less climactic than I was used to.  With the constant raising of prices for Disney races, I’m not sure that I will be inclined to sign up for this half anytime soon in the future.  I am glad that I got to participate in the inaugural race, but legacy just doesn’t seem worth it for a race where I wasn’t fond of the course.

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Disney World Marathon Weekend Registration

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After Star Wars Half Marathon:The Dark Side last weekend I contemplated which runDisney half I should run during 2017.  I had thought that it would be Star Wars because I wanted to try to get legacy, but after running it I am having second thoughts.  I will elaborate more on why that is during my Dark Side race recap.

It just so happened that the Tuesday after the Half was early registration for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  I plan on running the marathon as my first marathon in 2018 for its 25th anniversary, but the half seemed very tempting.   I have never run a race during marathon weekend and I thought it might be good to run the half the year before I take on the full.  Also it is the half’s 20th anniversary and those always make for great medals!

After considering all of that I signed up for the half.  The process was very quick and easy and I was finally able to use my new proof of time from this year’s Princess Enchanted 10k.  I know I won’t be in as high of a corral as at Princess during this race, but I think my proof of time will give me a decent, competitive corral that I can try to set a PR in. I can’t wait and I know it will be a lot of fun!

Renard Compression Socks Review

20160226_133515-1.jpgCompression Socks and sleeves have helped me a great deal in my running. I usually wear them to keep warm during early morning runDisney events, but they can help with recovery as well. I recently picked up these black compression socks made by Renard Compression.   When I first put them on I could instantly feel the pressure on my calf muscles.  My legs instantly felt relaxed. I believe that compression helps my legs during races so they don’t feel sore when I am finished. I also like to wear them after a long run while I am relaxing. I’ve noticed that by doing this while increasing my milage each week, my legs don’t get sore anymore. I also believe that these new socks are contributing to that.

These socks are some of the most cushioned socks that I have ever had. I could instantly feel the comfort when I put my foot in. Comfort is something that I look for in a sock because I don’t usually like anything on my feet.

Renard has done a great job with the quality of this product. I feel that the socks will last a long time through the wear and tear of my long runs and the washing machine.

Overall I am very happy with this product and I can’t wait to run in the socks some more in the future. If you would like to read more about them you can find them on Amazon here.  I received this product at a discount for giving my honest,.unbiased review.

2016 Enchanted 10k: RACE REPORT

20160220_052834I woke up the morning of the 10k feeling rested and ready to race!  The good thing about getting up early and running the 5k the day before is that I was tired enough to fall asleep that night despite all of my excitement.  The 10k started thirty minutes earlier, so that meant I had to get up earlier.  Every night before bed I made sure that I had everything that I would need laid out and ready to go, including my costume.  About thirty minutes after I woke up we were heading out the door.

This race I was dressed as Princess Leia.  I had found the perfect Leia dress at JcPenney that looked like it was made for running.  The material felt great and it even had netting on the back in case I got too hot.  The only problem was that it had a hood attached for the hair and a tight collar around the neck.  My mom was able to remove the hood and collar and re-sew a neckline to create a perfect running costume!

I was really feeling the nerves by the time we got there.  I planned this race as my goal race.  I figured that it would be the easiest to go my fastest which would get me a great proof of time for future races.  I really wanted to finish in less than fifty minutes, but I would be happy with just beating last year’s time of 51:25.

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IMG_4502_cropIt was a cool morning so when it was time to enter the corrals I removed my jacket, but left the white matching arm warmers on.  Once again I headed to the front of corral A.  Time seemed to speed by and before I knew it we were once again walking towards the start line.  The announcers talked for a bit and then at about 5:30 the fireworks went off and I sprinted over the starting line and out onto the course.

This course was the exact same as last year, right down to the entertainment.  That didn’t bother me, but I thought they could of at least had Ariel and Prince Eric on top of the first overpass instead of Anna and Elsa since the theme was The Little Mermaid this year.  After the overpass we made our way through the Epcot parking booths where a speaker warned the approaching runners of the speed bumps.  I don’t remember that happening last year, but it sure was nice.

One of the hardest parts of the course came at about a mile after we turned the corner and headed back towards the park.  There was an overpass we had to run up, but it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered from the year before.  My hill training really paid off on those inclines!  The first mile took me 7:36 according to my Garmin.  I was very happy with that because that was about the time of my first mile the year before.  The problem I had that year was that I really slowed down after mile one, especially in the second half.  This year I wanted to try and maintain my pace the best that I could.

433654_221009921_XLargeMile two was 8:02 with the incline which wasn’t bad at all.  I allowed my self to slow down a bit for mile three.  I planned on really picking the pace back up for the second half.  Mile three took me 8:10 and then we finally entered the World Showcase.  I tried not to look at my Garmin too often and went by feel.  If I felt that I could speed up then I did.  When I wanted to look at my watch to see how far to the next mile it was almost impossible because of how dark it was even in the passing lamp lights.  I could have hit the back-light button, but I was afraid that I would accidentally mess up my track.

I did end up picking up my pace during mile four at an 8:04 average, which could be because of my excitement of running through the different countries and onto the Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk didn’t seem as difficult this year either.  Last year I was afraid I would trip on one of the boards, but this year it didn’t seem to make a difference.  It was one of my favorite parts because I was almost finished and the guests from the Boardwalk Hotel were out there cheering us on.  Mile five around the Boardwalk took me 8:12.

433654_220987142_XLargeLike most races, the last mile was the toughest.  Mile six brought us through a backstage area and back into the park.  I used everything that I had in me to maintain my pace and beat my previous record.  I knew by my time that I probably wouldn’t make my goal of under fifty minutes, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to give up and I would try my best.  I was able to maintain my pace and finish mile six in 8:12 as well.

The most welcoming sight was when I passed Spaceship Earth.  That was always the symbol for the end of the race to me.  I sped past it and then passed the six mile sign.  Only 2/10ths left!  I ran as fast as I could and looked up at the clock when the finish line was in view.  All I had to see was that the clock was past the fifty minute mark and the disappointment settled in.  I know that I must have had a disappointed look on my face, but I ran hard anyway.  I smiled and did my fist pump over the finish line!  Then it hit me, I beat last year’s time!  A new PR is cause for celebration!

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433654_221107016_XLarge_cropAfter I got my medal and snacks, my family informed me that my tracking said my time was 50:17.  They told me how great I did.  I only missed it by 17 seconds!  If only I had made those seconds up, but I was still proud of myself.  There wasn’t too long a line at the characters so I headed over there to get pictures taken with my medal on.  I was in line for Rapunzel, but by the time I got up there Aurora took her place.  I took my photos and then we headed to the parking lot.

On the way to the parking lot we past a medal engraving tent.  I stopped to check it out and was informed that it was $20 and it would take less than two minutes to get it done.  Chris paid for my medal to be engraved and I was really pleased with the outcome, that was until the results were posted by Track Shack.  According to my results I finished in 50:15.  I was happy to have finished two seconds faster than I thought, but now my medal had the wrong time on it.  I asked the next day at information and the guy didn’t know why there was a difference and didn’t think two seconds mattered; he must not be a runner.  I emailed Track Shack later and was informed that they use a different timing system for the runner tracking then the official results and that is why there is a difference.  The right time is the official results, which means that my medal engraving is in fact wrong.  I will have to try to get it fixed somewhere, or just live with the wrong time.  I would advise that you not get your medals engraved at the finish line.  It’s not their fault, but since the official results don’t come out until later in the day, there is a chance that the time they engrave will not be correct.  They also don’t engrave the place on there.  I will not make that mistake again.

After we left Epcot, it was time for a well-earned breakfast at the Contemporary resort.  I had never been in the resort before so I was extremely excited.  The food at The Wave was really good (sweet potato pancakes!) and the grounds were beautiful.  We were able to take a great family photo just outside by the water.  After we went to pick up our free gift at Fit 2 Run at Downtown Disney, it was rest and relaxation the rest of the day for me so I would be ready to tackle my first Disney half marathon the next day!

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