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!

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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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