2017 Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Recap

After the chaos of Florida I was looking forward to California and some warmer weather. Turns out, the weather wasn’t much warmer but the sun was out.

We flew in Friday and me and my boyfriend got an Uber and headed to our hotel. We stayed somewhat close to the Disneyland entrance which made logistics super easy.

After checking in and changing we headed over to the Race Expo so I could get my bib. The expo at Disneyland is pretty small compared to runDisney events in Florida which makes things a lot easier. I got my bib, which was super pretty and headed over to get my shirt and visit the Sparkle Athletic booth to pick up the remainder of my costume. This year’s half marathon shirt was black and I am so thankful it is! I don’t mind grey or blue but this means I can wear it more often. We then headed into the parks, did all of the big rides we could including a cold voyage on Splash Mountain and called it a night around 11pm. Saturday we went into both theme parks and saw a few of my running friends in Downtown Disney. We were able to find pasta for dinner in California Adventure which was a lifesaver.

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My costume this year was Jyn Erso from Rogue one. I made a makeshift holster and found a lightweight fishing vest on Amazon. I figured I’ll reuse the vest for halloween or another Star Wars related event. I was bracing for it to be much colder than it was but I am glad I ran in shorts because the temperature got warmer as the race went on.

Race day morning was a bit complicated, my dad met me at the hotel and we walked over the start line. We somehow ended up super early but barely made it into our corral. runDisney changed the corrals this year so they were smaller which made starting a mess.

The course was different than previous years due to the construction we did not run as much in the theme parks. They did have a bunch of fun music and lights when we were running backstage. We saw a few characters, Boa Fett, a bunch of Jedi and of course Storm Troopers all throughout Disneyland.

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I was feeling pretty good all things considered but around mile 10 my stomach got the best of me. I did stop and that seemed to help but my cramping kept happening. I kept running as fast as I could. My time was pretty respectable all things considered and I did have fun even though my stomach did not cooperate. In the finisher chute, I ended up getting my Coast to Coast challenge medal even though I did not run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon the week before. I was able to find both my dad and boyfriend quickly and we took a few photos in the trash compactor and Hoth photo stops.

All in all it was a great trip and I am very glad I ran this race again. I will definitely run this race again, hopefully I can use my Disney World Half transfer for this race next year. Also, who doesn’t love a reason to dress up and run with all the other Star Wars fans?

Race Recap: Blooms to Brews 10K

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Blooms to Brews 10K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

This past weekend I ran Blooms to Brews 10k! Much to my surprised the race ended up being a lot of fun and I learned a lot about myself.

Expo
I drove down Saturday and arrived at expo before it opened. I ended up waiting in my car until noon when the door finally opened. The packet pick lines were a bit disorganized and it was a bit cramped due to the merchandise they had for sale. There were some sweet growlers!

Once I finally got my goodie bag with a super cute neon pink women’s cut tank, reusable bag, and printed program and map of the course I went to check out the expo. There wasn’t much. It was about five booths total. I headed back to the car and drove off to Portland to go explore for the rest of the day.

Race Day

Getting to the race was pretty was easy. Me and the boyfriend stayed in Vancouver, WA about 20 minutes away. We grabbed coffee on the way in and once we got to the race there was plenty of parking in the field next to the start line. I will say the weather was not as warmed as I hoped. I originally was going to race in shorts but ended up changing into tights the car right before the start. I will say their finish line was well organized except for the port-a-potties. My recommendation is to add two or three more to make the line move a bit faster.

All three races, Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10k started right on time. People did a pretty good job at organizing themselves in the correct order. The 10k course is a lollypop where you run about farms and tulip field. Unfortunately, there weren’t flowers out but that was ok, it was still beautiful out. When the race started, I took off at a pace to PR, about 8:45/mile. I was feeling great and realized I was in the top 10/15 women for the first few miles. But the smaller turns and u-turns made it hard to keep my pace.

Unfortunately, just after mile 3 my hip started to hurt and radiate pain through my gluteus to my IT band. Yep it was most likely the hip that started the chain reaction. I tried to stay calm and kept telling myself less than 3 miles left but no such luck after mile 4 I had to walk and again with a half a mile to go I had to walk. The hardest part was watching myself get passed and passed by people as the finish line got closer. When I saw the finish line I was so happy I was trying my best to sprint without hurting.

The finish cute was well organized and I got my medal, a mylar blanket and a bottle of water. The finish line party was great. Each runner gets a free beer and bbq sandwich. Right after I found my boyfriend I immediately got my free beer, the Blooms IPA I believe, it’s brewed just for the race from a brewery in Vancouver. The bbq sandwich was great since I was freezing and need something warm to eat. About 10 minute later my boyfriend checked my time and it turns out I placed second overall in my age group!! Yes, my mess of a race turned into a first time ever age group place! So we stuck around until the award ceremony then got in a car and headed home.

This race was super fun and I am glad I ran! I am also happy I could get an age group place even though I wasn’t having the best race ever.

 

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2017 – The race that did not happen

My original plan for the start of 2017 was to run a Coast to Coast to Coast (C2C2C) challenge. This meant running Walt Disney World Half Marathon, a week later running Start Wars Light Side Half Marathon, and a month later run Princess Half Marathon. Well that C2C2C turned into a Vacation to Coast to Coast challenge.

Expo
Getting to the expo and getting my bib wasn’t too bad. Lots of twist and turns and weird signs but overall not bad. My dad did have a few issues with his bib but it was a misunderstanding about a limited edition pin he purchased that sent us on a wild goose chase.

Once that was sorted out finding our shirts for the Half Marathon and Goofy Challenge was hard. The expo was super crowded and hot which did not help us navigate the chaos. We quickly got our shirts and got out of the hot Jostens Center and back to the hotel.

When we got checked in and settled my dad and I realized we did not have our standard bag check tags for race day and the buses were a bit different compared to previous years.

Weather
The weather in Orlando was a bit humid for January, but each year I’ve run during marathon weekend it’s been super humid. We were told via email and Twitter that runDisney was following the weather closely and they would let us know if the race was canceled. Friday we went into the parks and we went to the Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning and then went to EPCOT for our pre-race dinner. We chose the Garden Grill, I highly recommend this place.

After we finished my dad and I both checked our phones to see if the race was happening. Well it turns out it wasn’t but the only notification we received was a FACEBOOK POST. Yes it was a Facebook post, no supporting emails, no supporting Tweets, just a Facebook post. This is one of my frustrations, I did not find out the race was “officially” canceled until 11pm via email the night before the race.

I understand it was a game time decision because of the weather situation but there were other ways to notify participants and their families. runDisney could have sent a notification text and email via runner tracking along with the Facebook post but waiting two hours to send the email was frustrating. I do agree with their decision to cancel the race and I am happy runDisney did the right thing for the safety of their participants, staff and volunteers.

Disney’s customer service
runDisney did offer many options to refund the runner. You could go to the expo and get a full Marathon bib for Sunday, get a gift card for the full entry fee, get two one-day park tickets, or get a transfer entry. I chose the transfer entry but have yet to receive some sort of confirmation. I am very grateful runDisney offered participants options for the canceled race I do wish there was a bit more Disney magic when it came to communication post-race weekend. I know I am supposed to receive a finisher medal but honestly, I have no clue when that will arrive. (Update: Finally got my race medal at the end of March!) I did receive my Coast to Coast medal at Star Wars even though I did not run a race in Florida. I did bring it with me to Princess so I could take pictures with it after running my “third” half. I am also grateful that I did get to have a family vacation at Disney World. We spent more time together since I did not run the race. So, there was a silver lining in all of the disappointment.

Vacation
I did have a great vacation! We went to all of the theme parks, saw the new parts of the park and got to spend more time together than we hoped. I am returning for Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend with my boyfriend and his family and I hope it will be just as fun as this trip.

Have you ever traveled to a canceled race? Let me know your frustrations and your silver lining in the comments!

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K Seattle

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

After months of training, or not training that is, race day finally arrived and the results were pretty great all things considered.

Expo
I went to the expo on Saturday and packet pickup was a breeze. The expo, like last year, was a bit small. Lots of Hot Chocolate 15k merchandise, a bunch of local races and my favorite booth Tiger Tail! If you haven’t heard of them check them out. I browsed for a 45 minutes or so looking at all of the booths. On my way out I sampled the chocolate covered marshmallow (which were awesome!) and then headed back home.

 

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The goodie bag this year was great! The hoodie is so soft and true to size. I can’t wait to wear it everywhere. I also picked up some Nuun vitamins at the expo and a sweet Nuun Seattle water bottle.

Race Day

Starting with Cassidy. Photo from Hot Chocolate 15k

Getting to the race was pretty was easier than I thought. My boyfriend found a close parking spot and then we walked to the Seattle Center Armory. I found my lovely Oiselle teammates, Shannon, Cassidy, Jen, and Tiffany then stretched out. Right before the start time we walked over and squeezed our way into corral B. We had a difficult time getting into the corrals this year, there were very few entrances and we had to jump over a rope or two to get in. There were also way too many sets of pacers. It was very confusing and we thought we were in the wrong corral because of them.

Right at 7:55am the first corral started and then two-ish minutes later we started. The course is one skinny long loop that goes to Pike Place Market and then up onto Highway 99. The first half a mile is downhill which makes it hard to pace. We ran a 9:37 for the first mile and then a 10:10 for the second. The first four miles felt pretty good it was hard to maintain consistency because of the hills in course. But this was just the beginning.

Finishing strong in the finish chute

The last portion of the race is rough. Mile 5 takes you up to the Aurora Bridge then mile 6 goes up to 46th Street and the miles are pretty much rolling hills. Mile 6 is a monstrous hill. It’s over a half a mile long.  This is the hardest part of the course. I was so thankful that at the 46th Street Bus Stop a whole bunch of Oiselle Birds were there cowbelling. It was so amazing. One of them had Nuun which was a lifesaver too.

As we made our way down the hill to the last three miles of the course things were rough. I knew we didn’t have a lot of time to run the last 3.4 miles but I and my teammate could PR. We chugged a long and finally hit the last mile. This was go time. I knew there was a hill going up Mercer to Mercer and onto 5th Avenue. I ended up walking part of it but knew that I would PR if I ran the last stretch.

The best part was seeing Cassidy’s husband and then my boyfriend at the finish line knowing that it was all over and in fact I did PR by all of 30 seconds! Yes, that’s right 30 seconds. I will take as a good omen for my half in two weeks. What was great is I finally met fellow BibRave Pro Ambassador Jeannie. Check out her blog, she’s wonderful!

Overall, I did enjoy this race not sure I would run it again but it is great to finish a large mug of chocolate, free race photos, and a sweet medal.

Race Recap: My Better Half 10k 2017

Valentine’s Day race in Seattle? Count me in! I ran with my boyfriend as a tune up for NYC Half. Our goal was to break an hour and have fun while running together since this was our first race together.

Packet pickup was at the local Road Runner Sports and was super quick. The shirt was a red hoodie with race logo, so soft and comfy. I am very glad they gave us hoodies instead of shirts. The bibs were cute and said lovers since we registered together with a spot to write your ‘better half’ on them. They offered a nice discount if you were shopping too.

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Race day was so COLD! But seriously it was below freezing. They had a local coffee roaster in the finish festival that was offering samples so of course I had some before to warm up. Their warming tent which also served as their food station was so nice. I am very glad they had it!

Due to an earlier storm they had to alter the course a bit, which was actually easier for the 10k and 5k not so much for the Half Marathon. We ran the same loop twice and even though it was narrow at times I did not mind it. We ran a nice and even pace even with the few pinch spots. The one thing that did bug us was the 5k walkers. We lapped them at an inconvenient time.

The tunnel of love aid station was hilarious. It was a nice aid station that had both Nuun and water. I ran my goal which was sub 1-hour. After we finished we got a sweet light up medal and hot soup. Note for race directors- every cold race should come with a hot cup of soup.

There are a few things I wish they changed but they are unavoidable. Parking in the park was not an option due to a course change as was the narrowed course. Overall, I enjoyed this race and can’t wait to run it next year!