A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Favorites: Official Star Wars photos

For my last official (I promise this time!) post about the Star Wars Rebel Challenge race weekend, I thought I’d share my favorite of the official MarathonFoto pictures I downloaded last weekend.

10K: Coming down main street is always magical!

10K: Coming down main street is always magical!

10K: The lights on main street

10K: The lights on main street

10K: The line for this second photo opportunity with the castle was much shorter than the one from Main Street and just as lovely!

10K: The line for this second photo opportunity with the castle was much shorter than the one from Main Street and just as lovely!

10K:  This photo was totally worth the wait!

10K: This photo was totally worth the wait!

10K: I should have come up with more creative poses for my character photos. :)

10K: I should have come up with more creative poses for my character photos. 🙂

10K: Note for self for future race photos - cotton shirts mean awkward sweat stains are very visible!

10K: Note for self for future race photos – cotton shirts mean awkward sweat stains are very visible!

10K: Even more awkward sweat stains but don't I look happy. :)

10K: Even more awkward sweat stains but don’t I look happy. 🙂

Half Marathon: My favorite California Adventure photo!

Half Marathon: My favorite California Adventure photo!

Half Marathon: My husband is right, this isn't the most objectively flattering picture, but I love how truly happy I look in this random moment on the course.

Half Marathon: My husband is right, this isn’t the most objectively flattering picture, but I love how truly happy I look in this random moment on the course.

Half Marathon: Look how excited and strong I look coming across the finish line! Love that!

Half Marathon: Look how excited and strong I look coming across the finish line! Love that!

Rebel Challenge Finisher!

Rebel Challenge Finisher!

This was a great collection of photos to have to recapture the race experience. I will say that I didn’t have nearly as many photos from MarathonFoto for this race weekend as I did for Princess, but I’ll keep an eye on my account because sometimes they add photos later (and you can email Marathon to get access to those if you’d ordered the digital download package). I got a nice deal on the package as I’d gotten a $75 gift certificate at the Expo for $50, so I saved $25 on the package. Definitely look for any discounts you might get if you visit the runDisney Expo.

Do you buy the official race photos? What do you do with them (other than Facebook and a blog of course)? I made a photo book with my photos of Princess and may do the same with these as a sort of scrapbook to remember the whole weekend.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Friday Favorites

I cannot tell you how tremendously glad I am it is Friday. We’ve had a really up and down week, with some big professional successes (HUGE project done, new opportunities, etc) and some personal stresses, so I am really grateful for a weekend off. I should also be getting my official MarathonFoto pics sometime this weekend, which I’m looking forward to. 🙂 You guys might be getting tired of all Star Wars all the time over here, so I’ll wait at least a week or so to share those, I promise.

For my official last Star Wars related post for a while, I have to link Greg’s post honoring the awesome cos players who entertained along the half marathon. He took a ton of pictures, so definitely go check it out here.

As a girl with some definite geek leanings (clearly), I love Desiree’s post about all of the awesome fitness role models in female geek-dom. A) She is totally right about Firefly and Serenity – definitely Firefly first and B) Now I definitely need to add Agent Carter to my watch list. Hopefully I can find the episodes I’ve already missed somewhere online?

Random Disney Photo: Radiator Springs Racers is so charming and fun!

Random Disney Photo: Radiator Springs Racers is so charming and fun!

At the beginning of the year, lots of us (me included) make a goal to focus more on quality food. Unfortunately, sometimes that gets really expensive. Laura’s post with tips on saving money on the things you buy organic is really handy and has lots of concrete tips. I’m considering adding the meat option to our local CSA order in the spring as we try to use more organic and antibiotic free meat options.

Thanks to Laura at ProjectLovelyLaura for leading me to the Fellow Flowers Declare It Day. I like any project that helps me to write down concrete goals (so powerful!) and LOVE that this is a February date, past the New Year’s sometimes-false-start of goal making. Definitely go over and check it out. I’ll be adding my own goal – sub 2:30 half marathon here I come!

Random Disneyland photo! I came around the corner and he was standing there with NO LINE!

Random Disneyland photo! I came around the corner and he was standing there with NO LINE!

One last recommendation: If you have any interest in runDisney, the discussion in episode 70 of the Disney Dish with Jim Hill Podcast (iTunes link here) is a really interesting look back at how huge enterprise came to be.

After such an up and down week, my goals for the weekend are simple: Run once, read lots and maybe treat myself to a glass of wine. After all, I’ve seen a post floating around on Facebook lately that says a glass of red wine is as good as an hour of exercise. 🙂 Have a good weekend everyone!

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Working with a Travel Provider for a Disney Race

One option when you’re registering for a runDisney race is to work with a travel provider for your race registration and other arrangements. For the Star Wars race weekend, I decided to go this route and I thought some of you considering the same for future trips might like to know a little about how it worked.

I decided to go through a travel provider for a couple of reasons:

–          First and foremost, by working with the travel provider, I got registered before they actually officially opened registration. That meant I didn’t have to worry about being able to log in while I was at work or the race selling out before I could get through, all of which I was (justifiably) concerned about as this was an inaugural race.

–          Secondly, the package offered by the provider I chose (GET Travel) matched, for the most part, what I would be interested in doing anyway in terms of park tickets, hotel choice and number of hotel nights, so it really wasn’t costing me anything extra (other than the Wookie Welcome party, which I wouldn’t have done otherwise) to use them. The cost for the Wookie Welcome party ($99) was mostly offset by a discount they offered on park tickets, so I wasn’t paying much more than if I’d done everything myself and skipped the party.

If I hadn't used the travel provider, I wouldn't have gone to the Wookie Welcome party and wouldn't have gotten this photo, so that's something, right?

If I hadn’t used the travel provider, I wouldn’t have gone to the Wookie Welcome party and wouldn’t have gotten to hang out in an essentially main street, so that’s something, right?

I’m comfortable enough booking my own travel arrangements for things that I didn’t really need a travel agent to help with that, but for some people that may be another bonus in that they take care of arranging  your tickets and hotel stay.

Not having to worry about getting in during the registration rush was really the only plus of this process for me, but it was a big one and definitely worth it. I would absolutely work with a  travel provider for a race in the future.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for a control freak like me, though. A couple of things that caused me stress:

–          I couldn’t complete the process online and had to call, which took several tries before I got someone who could get me signed up.

–          After being initially responsive to questions on email when I was feeling out the idea, answers came much slower once I was officially registered. My biggest concern, as it was the first time I’d ever done this, was being sure I didn’t skip some other step I  needed to take on registration day to be sure I didn’t miss my shot. That kind of reassurance is something you’d like very quickly as registration approaches and it was slow coming (but did eventually come – I’m just a control freak).

–          I really didn’t get communication from runDisney until we got very close to the race, at which point the travel provider turns in their final roster for their registrations. It felt a little odd to be out of the Disney loop and I had a little fear that I wasn’t really registered  until I finally got something from runDisney.

On June 12, two days after registration opened (and sold out!) for the race, I got an email from the travel provider with a form asking me all of the Active.com questions like shirt size and proof of time. I was relieved to see that Coast to Coast was an option to select for the race, as I hope to use this race as part of my Coast to Coast medal with Wine and Dine this year.

I was also able to update my proof of time in the fall, which I assume went through correctly given my corral placement, to reflect my time on the Peak 2 Peak 10 mile race. Instead of emailing TrackShack like I’d done for Princess, I emailed the travel provider and they updated the information. You don’t have direct access to your registration during this process, so they handle everything. Again, this caused a little angst for a control freak like me, but it all worked out.

I paid the travel provider for the registration at the time I registered and then had to pay for the rest of the package (3 hotel nights at a Disney property, 3 day park hopper tickets, Wookie Welcome party) before the trip. I did get a final statement showing I’d paid everything and had my registration noted, which was reassuring, and shortly thereafter started getting runDisney emails. Be aware that for most of the travel providers, the race registration part of the package is non-transferable and non-refundable. Be sure you clarify that with your particular provider.

When I got to California, the only extra stop I had to make because I’d worked through a travel provider was stopping to pick up my park ticket at a booth in the Expo. This was down in the lower level with the packet pick up and Wookie Welcome party booths, so it was a quick and easy stop. Otherwise, it was just like any other packet pick up I’d done. I’d gone online before the race (about a week before), looked myself up and printed my waiver. My name was in all of the binders for the race and the Wookie Welcome party without any notation or extra step I had to take because I’d been registered by the travel provider instead of registering myself.

Random Disneyland pic of the day: I came out of Sleeping Beauty's castle and found the Queen just hanging out by the well! No line or anything. Loads of character interactions in Disneyland!

Random Disneyland pic of the day: I came out of Sleeping Beauty’s castle and found the Queen just hanging out by the well! No line or anything. Loads of character interactions in Disneyland!

I would definitely work with a travel provider again and may for Wine and Dine weekend. The biggest plus is avoiding the registration rush and so long as the provider has a package that meets my needs, that’s absolutely worth it as crazy as runDisney registration has gotten!

A couple of tips:

–          Be sure you know the terms of refunds and transfers, so you know what you’re getting into. I don’t know if you’d be able to do a deferral if you needed to, so ask your provider and factor that into your cost and possible travel insurance decisions.

–          Be sure you know exactly what the package they’re offering entails, as every provider is going to be a little different. If you’re going to pay for a lot of extra frills or there are going to travel restrictions/specifications different from what you’d normally book, it may not be worth it.

–          Be sure to check out the provider’s reviews. While we’d hope nobody would be linked to the runDisney official provider site if there were any questions about the level of service they’d provide, I still did some checking around before I booked through GET Travel. I had a good experience with them, with everything handled correctly. The only downside to this whole process was my own stress about the uncertainty since it was my first time doing this. Hopefully I’ll handle that better next time!

Have you ever used a travel provider to book a runDisney race? Thoughts or recommendations on travel providers for the Walt Disney World races? I’ll definitely be looking at those options for Wine and Dine when its registration comes up in March.

PS Given that my blog post today was going to touch on my control freak and over-thinking tendencies, I thought it was funny that this was my quote in my Happiness Project email today:

“Humor is the antidote to over thinking. It’s a way of saying that life is paradoxical. Humor contains contradictions; it does not resolve them but revels in them. It says that the right way to exist among the contradictions, paradoxes, and absurdities of life is to cope with them through laughter.” – Bob Mankoff, How About Never: Is Never Good For You

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Wookie Welcome Party

As part of the package when I booked this trip through a travel provider (more on that coming Thursday), I got tickets to the Wookie Welcome Party. As I was there without my family, it seemed like the perfect time to try all of the RunDisney weekend offerings including this pricey ($99!) little party.

Aside from the cost, the biggest downside to this event, for me, was the time. It was from 9:30-11:30 pm. Considering that I had flown in earlier that day (Thursday) from the Central Time Zone and had been up since before 4 am CST, I was beyond wiped out by the time that party rolled around. I had room service for dinner at around 7 pm and then took a little nap before the party. I was fully prepared to sleep through the alarm. Nonetheless, I woke up and headed out around 9:30. My entry ticket was a wrist band I’d picked up at the Expo earlier in the day. When I got to the entry of the park, they were just letting the long line of people in through the gates. It was really interesting to see the park after dark with so few people inside.

It was especially nice to see this all lit while I could take my time and soak it in.

It was especially nice to see this all lit while I could take my time and soak it in.

I was glad I’d seen Main Street during the day so I could appreciate it even more at night. After 5 minutes of walking around the park so empty, I was more than glad I’d gotten myself out of bed when the alarm went off.

Even more empty than on race day! Very cool!

Even more empty than on race day! Very cool!

The party was over in Tomorrowland, with cast members stationed at the hub to keep the crowd moving along. By the time I got to Tomorrowland, it was only 15 minutes or so into the party and the character lines were crazy long! There was one station for R2D2 and C3PO.

I'd have liked this photo. :)

I’d have liked this photo. 🙂

I got in line, but before long a cast member came along telling us that by the time we got to the photo op, the characters would have switched to Luke and Leia. I had zero interest in Luke and Leia, so I moved on. There was also a Chewie station with a huge line (common theme – Chewie was popular all weekend) and a station with Mickey and Minnie dressed as Luke and Leia, which was super cute.

They kept Chewie out all evening - I wonder how hot that suit gets?

They kept Chewie out all evening – I wonder how hot that suit gets?

Mickey and Minnie were much more photoworthy than the human Luke and Leia.

Mickey and Minnie were much more photoworthy than the human Luke and Leia.

I popped over to a snack table to get some food for the wait and settled in to wait for Mickey and Minnie. Before long, they swapped out Mickey and Minnie for Goofy and Donald, which was even better! We were stationed next to the stage with the band and super-cute Chip and Dale dressed as Ewoks. The music wasn’t bad and watching the Disney characters was even better, so the time in line went quickly.

Darth Vader also made a grand entrance on the stairs.

Darth Vader also made a grand entrance on the stage after Chip & Dale.

The wookie cookie was cuter than it was tasty, but the rum ball was really good as was the chocolate cupcake with the solid chocolate Darth Vader.

The wookie cookie was cuter than it was tasty, but the rum ball was really good as was the chocolate cupcake with the solid chocolate Darth Vader.

There wasn’t a huge selection of treats, but there were at least plenty of them. I ate entirely too many of those rum balls, which I don’t normally like. There was also lemonade, iced tea and a bar. There were 4-5 snack stations, so the lines were never long (that’s what the photo lines were for!) and you were never far away from food, which was good and bad. 🙂

The time passed quickly chatting with others in line (that’s when I met Elsa Fett, featured in Friday’s Favorite Costumes last week) and before I knew it, I was up dancing with Goofy and Donald. It was a fun little moment, but I was done with waiting in line by then. To be fair, it was after 10:30 and they were near closing the lines (still really long!) so that everyone would get out by 11:30 when the party ended.

Great dance partners

Great dance partners

I decided to go check out the rides that were open, which was a great idea because there was ZERO waiting in line for them. I got to ride a mostly empty Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear (which broke down at night just like it always does during the day), Star Tours and AstroOrbiter. Riding things in the empty park was a lot of fun.

Isn't it beautiful at night?

Isn’t it beautiful at night?

Buzz Lightyear selfie for Oliver

Buzz Lightyear selfie for Oliver

Not a bad score right? This one works a lot better than Walt Disney World!

Not a bad score right? This one works a lot better than Walt Disney World!

Disneyland's Space Mountain is definitely better than WDW, especially at night and empty!

Disneyland’s Space Mountain is definitely better than WDW, especially at night and empty!

By the time I finished all of this riding, it was time for one more round of cupcakes and rum balls (I definitely overdid it with those) before heading out of the park.

Even if it is small, it's still gorgeous.

Even if it is small, it’s still gorgeous.

One thing to be aware of – you definitely want to get to the party at the start time, or close to it, if you want pics with characters. They close the lines early so they can get everyone out on time. One mom and her son I heard complaining didn’t arrive until after 10:30 and all of the character lines were already closed by then, which was unfortunate. I’m glad I went early. Another thing that worked out well for me was wearing my compression socks. My legs were already tired from the Expo and park that day, so the extra support when I headed back to this late night party was a life saver in terms of keeping my legs fresh through the weekend.

While this was fun, it really wasn’t worth $99 for me. You only have two hours to eat tiny desserts, ride a handful of rides and/or wait in line for character photos and for me, at least, that isn’t worth $50 an hour. I’m glad I tried it once, but I don’t foresee doing it again.

Has anyone else done one of these pre-race parties? Worth it for you or not?

 

 

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RunDisney Star Wars Expo

My flight to California landed early in the morning and my hotel room wasn’t quite ready, so I dropped off my bags at the hotel and headed over to the Expo in the Disneyland hotel. It would have been about a 5 minute walk, but I got lost and wandered a bit. As a bonus, I did see where they were setting up several weddings on the property. 🙂

When I entered the hotel, I was immediately met by someone who wanted to know if I was looking for the merchandise line. I said “sure,” figuring my best chance at any of the official race merchandise would be now, when the Expo was just opened. I was sent up stairs (I seriously walked a couple of thousand steps just lapping this hotel to the various merchandise lines!) and at the entrance to a ballroom, given a yellow arm band:

Entrance key for the merchandise line

Entrance key for the merchandise line

The ballroom was full of people in line waiting for race merchandise. This was the first holding area, before we sent a SECOND holding area, before actually entering the line for the race merchandise area. It was crazy! On the plus side, in this particular ballroom, they were playing the Star Wars movies on a screen in front to keep us distracted.

Love that lady's X-wing headband. :)

Love that lady’s X-wing headband. 🙂

They were very serious about each of us staying in our own little lane on the carpet:

The yellow people had to stay between the red lines.

The yellow people had to stay between the red lines.

After 30-40 minutes, my row was sent over to the next holding area:

Looking down on the second holding area for the official merchandise line.

Looking down on the second holding area for the official merchandise line.

We spent another 30 minutes here (without the movies to distract us – boo!) before finally heading up to the race merchandise area. While it was a lot of waiting in line to start off the morning, I will say that once we got into the official merchandise area, things weren’t crowded at all. I felt like I had plenty of time and space to look at everything, which was great. They were restocking as we were in there, but I heard at least one shirt that they were already out of in small less than 1.5 hours into the Expo!

Restocking throughout the day, which was great, and lots of helpful people for questions.

Restocking throughout the day, which was great, and lots of helpful people for questions.

I got the super cute “Let the Wookie Win” shirt, which is love sleeved with a hood, and a great jacket (men’s cut I think) that is thick enough to get lots of use with chilly Nebraska runs.

I like the reflective stripe on the jacket too.

I like the reflective stripe on the jacket too.

I also got Oliver a runner Mickey, which he’s loving and alleviated some mom guilt for coming to Disneyland without him. 🙂

O is excited about the medal.

O is excited about the medal.

Checkout was quick and easy – there are always lots of people at Disney willing to take your money in my experience. 🙂 After that, I headed back outside to the separate entrance for packet pick up. I’m glad I decided to hit the official merchandise before packet pick up because there was absolutely NO line for packet pick up by the time I got down there.

Lots of empty booths waiting to help people.

Lots of empty booths waiting to help people.

It took no time at all to go get my bib and bag. Definitely print out your waiver ahead of time – it helps speed things along! I then had to stop at a photo stop to get my photo challenge for the Rebel Challenge (doing this instead of arm bands now).

A cheerful mug shot stop :)

A cheerful mug shot stop 🙂

The stations for picking up park tickets from the travel provider and arm bands for the Wookie Welcome party were also down here. After gathering all of these, it was time to head back out to the main Expo space to get my race shirts (slightly irritating that Disney separates these, especially if you wanted a quick in and out).

They had cute themed carpet leading down into the packet pick up space:

A great way to start a journey, right?

A great way to start a journey, right?

And at the exit as well:

I liked this one in particular because one of my race shirts said "May the course be with you"

I liked this one in particular because one of my race shirts said “May the course be with you”

Re-entering the Expo space, there was a red carpet with banners for each of the events and of course I had to get my Rebel Challenge selfie:

Love the Yoda side of the medal.

Love the Yoda side of the medal.

The Expo was so pleasantly uncrowded! I felt like there was plenty of space to walk between the booths. Shirt pick up was quick and easy, and exchanges are in the same space if you need them.

I like all 3 shirts (long sleeved, v neck tech fabric) but the Yoda is definitely my favorite.

I like all 3 shirts (long sleeved, v neck tech fabric) but the Yoda is definitely my favorite.

I picked up the Raw Threads I’d ordered online for the race:

I love that you can order it online and pick it up at the expo - less packing and less in shipping.

I love that you can order it online and pick it up at the expo – less packing and less in shipping.

Then it was time to wander and look at things. I tried out the Clif Bar tasting station, which was much needed since I hadn’t had lunch yet!

Like a little Clif salad bar. :) They also had it set up so you could taste the gel flavors that would be on the course at mile 8, which I thought was a great idea.

Like a little Clif salad bar. 🙂 They also had it set up so you could taste the gel flavors that would be on the course at mile 8, which I thought was a great idea.

They also had CPR mannequins set up to teach people the chest compressions only approach to CPR, which was great (and thankfully unneeded, at least for me) idea pre-race. If you completed the mini-session, which was just a couple of minutes, you got a CPR sticker on your bib. Before I headed out for lunch, I made a last stop at the RunDisney Instagram booth for a quick photo:

I love the RunDisney Instagram booth. :) I have to say, I like this picture of me! Not as awkward as my normal posing.

I love the RunDisney Instagram booth. 🙂 I have to say, I like this picture of me! Not as awkward as my normal posing.

They had lots of vendors with running supplies, cute running shirts (lots with specific Star Wars theming), RunDisney medals for other races and all the usual fun things. Thanks to lack of crowds, I was able to get through the Expo itself quickly and get out for some much needed lunch before hitting the parks.

Earl of Sandwich Holiday sandwich - just as good as I'd heard!

Earl of Sandwich Holiday sandwich – just as good as I’d heard!

I even ran across this guy on the way out, to really get me in the mood:

Why hello Goofy!

Why hello Goofy!

It was a great way to kick off the race weekend and I really appreciated how easy it was to walk over there instead of trying to wrangle buses to get to ESPN Wide World of Sports like I did at Princess. The only real downside was having to carry all of my loot with me because I didn’t have a room ready yet at Paradise Pier. That probably wouldn’t have been an issue if I hadn’t gotten so much stuff, right? 🙂

I confess I was a little nervous about the Expo, given all I heard about the chaos of prior Disneyland expos, but this went really smoothly. Disney definitely pays attention and makes adjustments based on prior experiences and they’ve clearly learned how to keep this kind of expo experience reasonably well controlled. I really wish they’d offer more pre-order of race specific merchandise with registration, so you didn’t have to worry about all of the lines and things selling out, but hopefully they’ll introduce more of that. I didn’t stay this time for any of the speaker series (wanted to put that park ticket to use!) but really enjoyed the ones I attended at Princess weekend so I’d definitely recommend checking those out if you get a chance.

Do you plan for shopping at the Expo when you’re setting up a race budget? It’s easy to spend a ton in a short amount of time with all of the cool goodies they have!

 

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Friday Favorites: Star Wars Costumes

For this Friday Favorites, I wanted to highlight some of the fantastic costumes at the Star Wars race weekend. As a non-crafty person myself, I am in awe of the creativity of these costumes and the fact that people can run in them! For better pictures of some of the costumes, check out this Buzzfeed post.

R2D2 for the 10K - she ran 6 miles in this!

R2D2 for the 10K – she ran 6 miles in this!

Hans Solo and the tauntaun (5K)

Hans Solo and the tauntaun (5K)

The Star Tours vehicle, plus others at the 5K

The Star Tours vehicle, plus others at the 5K

Lando was too cool to run, but he looked good doing it. :)

Lando was too cool to run, but he looked good doing it. 🙂

This was the back of Elsa Fett(a la Boba Fett)'s costume, complete with Hans (the other Hans) frozen in snow rather than carbonite. :)

This was the back of Elsa Fett(a la Boba Fett)’s costume, complete with Hans (the other Hans) frozen in snow rather than carbonite. 🙂

Jabba the Hut at the 5K

Jabba the Hut at the 5K

A gold bodysuited C3PO (who ran with a Hans, R2D2 and Leia but his costume was the most elaborate) in the half marathon

A gold bodysuited C3PO (who ran with a Hans, R2D2 and Leia but his costume was the most elaborate) in the half marathon

I wish I’d gotten a picture of the George Lucas I saw. It took me a while to place what the grey bearded guy in the plaid shirt had to do with Star Wars. 🙂

On a more serious note, my best thoughts and mental hugs go out to Peggy Sue’s family. Anybody who has run a Disney race has likely seen Peggy Sue cheering us on with her awesome sign (Hello Complete Stranger, I’m Proud of You Too). I had heard about Peggy Sue before I ran the Princess Half Marathon and remember how near tears I was when I saw her, both because that meant I was almost finished with this huge thing of running my first half marathon, and because it was just such an awesome act of humanity for her to be out there sending out such palpable joy and good will to all of the runners. There is a lovely message from her family here on the Peggy Sue Facebook page. I hope we can all learn from example and cheer each other along in life, no matter what kind of race we’re running. Thank you, Peggy Sue.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m planning on hitting the streets for my first real run since the half marathon (5-6 miles on the plan), so here’s hoping for good weather!

 

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Running back to back races: How did it go? (Plus a cookbook winner!)

One of the things I was most worried about was the idea of running races two days in a row. My training plan was set up to practice putting all of those miles on my feet, but I was a little worried about how it would play out in the real world. I know some of you are doing the Glass Slipper Challenge next month, which will also include a 10K and a half marathon, so I thought I’d run through some of the things that I did well and some I did not so well for the Rebel Challenge.

Oliver sent his dinosaur (also named Oliver) to help me get to sleep at night.

Oliver sent his dinosaur (also named Oliver) to help me get to sleep at night.

Good: Early to bed! Friday and Saturday nights I was in bed by 8 pm and asleep not long after. Getting off my feet early and getting some sleep (as much as you can with race excitement anyway) was hugely helpful. Saturday, between the 10K and half marathon, I actually got in bed at 7 pm. This issue is one of the reasons I decided to tackle the back to back challenge on a solo trip, where no one else needed to plan around my early bedtimes or wake ups. If you’ve got travel partners who don’t need your crazy schedule, work with them to come up with a way you can get in bed early! This will be especially true with the Florida races, which start even earlier. I think getting to bed early saved me from the thing I did “wrong”:

Bad: Too much park walking! I should have known this would be an issue. I had three days of park tickets and a park I’d never been to, so of course I was going to explore them all! I ended up with 20K steps every day I was in California, which is way too much park walking for someone doing too races. I think the early-to-bed is the only thing that saved me from being utterly miserable, but I will say that my poor feet definitely had that week-at-Disney feeling by 4 pm on Saturday. 😦

How could I resist an opportunity to get pictures like this?

How could I resist an opportunity to get pictures like this?

Good: Great hydration! I drank water with Nuun throughout the day all 4 days in California, which is key for me because I’m a super salty sweater (I was crusty after the half!). It’s so much better to go into the races with your cells all tanked up rather than trying to play catch up, especially since it’s so easy to get caught up in the hoopla of a Disney race and forget things like drinking and fueling on the run. Speaking of which . . .

Bad: Not fueling on the run like I’d planned. Everything I’d read about back to back races like this warned that you’d need to be more aggressive about fueling on the run to be sure you didn’t exhaust your glycogen stores by tapping them two days in a row. I got so distracted and was having so much fun that I definitely do this like I’d practicing, using nothing in the 10K and two gels in the half marathon (less than I use for a half marathon that isn’t back to back!). This didn’t seem to throw me off too much, thankfully, but I think that’s because I was really good about POST race fueling.

Good: Focusing post race fuel on carbohydrates and protein to recover! I’m not always great about refueling immediately after a run because I’m usually not hungry at that point (a few hours later, starving to death, but not in that immediate window of optimal recovery). This time, being cognizant of the fact that I hadn’t used my gels like I’d planned, I was sure to immediately eat that hard-earned banana, drink the Powerade and eat the LaraBar in the little RunDisney food box we got after the race. I think that, along with good food choices throughout the rest of the day, saved me from this particular mistake.

My hard earned, Star Wars themed, snack box. :)

My hard earned, Star Wars themed, snack box. 🙂

Bad: Trying something new between races. As much as you feel like you’ve earned it, save your treat for AFTER the back to back races, not between them, especially if it is something you don’t normally eat. I’m not sure why I thought it would be okay for a lactose intolerant girl who hasn’t had ice cream in a couple of years to try it in the middle of a back-to-back race challenge.

Good: Support your legs between races. I actually wore my compression socks after my park days Thursday and Friday, as well as between the races, which was a huge help given all of the park walking I did. I also had my travel yoga mat and Stick and made sure to stretch and roll things out each night, as well as some time in the bath after Saturday’s race (a warm bath in the evening to loosen things up, not an ice bath immediately after even though I know some are brave enough for that!).

These were hard working legs over the weekend!

These were hard working legs over the weekend!

With all of this, plus flying back Sunday night after the race, my legs actually felt pretty good on Monday. The first couple of steps were stiff, but no more so than after any other long run. If you train for it and keep recovery in mind throughout the race weekend, back to back races like this can be a fun challenge. It was totally worth the extra bling and I’d definitely do it again. 🙂

Also today, we have a winner of our Southern Living Super Fast Southern cookbook. The random number generator chose comment number 7, so Farrah, email me at littlemoreeachday@gmail.com with your mailing address and I’ll have the publisher get the book out to you.

What are your tips for back to back race challenges?

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Star Wars Half Marathon

Sunday felt very much like deja vu, as I woke at 4:30 am to head down for the start of the half marathon. I felt a little stiff, but otherwise surprisingly good considering the 10K and all the park time I put in on Saturday. Compression socks are a great thing! The wait for the elevator was way too long for my tastes, so I made the brave decision to head down the stairs from the 5th floor. Brave because a) I’m clumsy on a good day, so tired legs and early mornings on all of those stairs risked disaster and b) my poor muscles may have protested all of that. Thankfully, I got safely and relatively painlessly down the stairs. The kick-off to the race was pretty much identical to the 10K, but still fun. I’ll confess that those first two miles, which were streets around the park and backstage areas, were fairly miserable. My shins hurt, which is really odd for me. I never get shin splints. I was wearing my newer shoes, but they’d been run in plenty and weren’t the ones I’d worn for the 10K and park time Saturday. I started to worry that I was going to hurt myself. My sister had swelling in her shins enough to cause anterior compartment syndrome and nerve damage after a charity walk and suddenly I was worried that the same thing was happening to me (overreacting a bit to shin splints? Maybe). I reminded myself that a) lots of people do these challenges – it doesn’t require superhuman athleticism and b) I’d specifically trained for this back to back running, so I was going to be fine. I don’t know if it was my self-talk or my muscles warming up or the magic of entering the parks, but my legs and brain got themselves sorted out around mile 2 and things were seriously fun from that point on!

Running Main Street never gets old

Running Main Street never gets old

I stopped for an official photo in front of the castle before continuing on through Frontierland like we had the day before. The lines for Chewie and Darth Vader were again crazy long, so I was very glad I’d done Darth Vader the day before. With my legs finally warmed up and shins not hurting, I didn’t want to wait in the long Chewie line as much as I’d have liked that picture.

Love my ice-skater-finishing-pose, right?

Love my ice-skater-finishing-pose, right?

There were random Storm Troopers patrolling things like the carousel, which was a funny touch, and a photo stop with Luke and Leia, which I skipped because they really aren’t my favorites (the incestuousness of it not really my thing – if they’d thrown Hans in, I’d be totally on board!).

We were discouraged from stopping for photos here, which I found a little odd.

We were discouraged from stopping for photos here, which I found a little odd.

Before I knew it, we were back out of Disneyland and into California Adventure. There were a couple of Storm Troopers set up for photos there, as well as photographers in front of the carousel with no line at all:

I've always loved seeing this picture from other people's Disneyland races. If only World of Color had been operational!

I’ve always loved seeing this picture from other people’s Disneyland races. If only World of Color had been operational!

This part of the race really flew by and before I knew it we were out on the streets of Anaheim, seeing the race front runners heading back toward the finish line already! I’m glad I didn’t wait in line for Chewie because I had the chance to get a photo with this dancing Chewie not long after I hit the Anaheim streets:

This guy was awesome!

This guy was awesome!

It was a gorgeous day to run, with cool weather, flat streets and mountains off in the distance. I thought I would be disappointed with the course once we hit Anaheim, but it was surprisingly great!

Gorgeous California day!

Gorgeous California day!

All along the route, there were cheerleaders and bands playing. I honestly didn’t need the music on my Shuffle and actually rarely noticed because there were always distractions around (in the best way). The crowds really thinned out on the streets as well, with plenty of room to run after the relative congestion of the first few miles.

Loved this dancing guy at the fuel station!

Loved this dancing guy at the fuel station!

Along with the official fuel stop at around mile 8, there were lots of water stops with great volunteers (my favorite was the group making wookie noises) and lots of spectators passing out water and candy as well. There was even a group passing out orange wedges, which made the following quarter mile smell great thanks to the oranges littering the side of the road.

Between miles 8 and 9, we had an endless string of costumed entertainment thanks to the fantastic 501st legion. They were fantastic! High fives from a long line of Storm Troopers is a great morale boost!

Loved these guys!

Loved these guys!

If I hadn't gotten Darth on Saturday at the 10K, I totally would have gotten this guy.

If I hadn’t gotten Darth on Saturday at the 10K, I totally would have gotten this guy.

I confess I'd forgotten all about the Jawas (bad geek!)

I confess I’d forgotten all about the Jawas (bad geek!)

There were also a few crazy Star Wars themed cars out:

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We ran through the quaint little main street of Garden Grove and headed back out through more bands and cheering spectators:

The amount of crowd support makes this a really FANTASTIC course.

The amount of crowd support makes this a really FANTASTIC course.

Before I knew it, we were heading back down the street towards the hotels and the finish line. At the very end, we wound through a parking lot, which would normally be a really boring way to almost end a race except for the all of the bands and cheerleaders. I was able to finish strong, which was a great mental victory for me, and sneak in a high five with Darth Goofy at the finish line (was a little disappointed that this was the only place we saw the Star Wars themed Disney friends).

Final time: 2:50 with 13 minute mile pace overall, but according to hubby watching my splits, I was definitely getting faster as I went along.

Final time: 2:50 with 13 minute mile pace overall, but according to hubby watching my splits, I was definitely getting faster as I went along.

RunDisney learned their lesson from the bad social media chatter about the lack of foil blankets at marathon weekend, because they had loads for us as soon as we finished. I really appreciated that as the breeze was a little chilly! I got my half marathon medal and my blanket before heading over to the Rebel Challenge booth. At the Expo, they’d taken our photos for the Rebel Challenge but skipped the wrist bands that had been used with other challenges. Instead, after finishing the half, we went to stand of the timing mat and a volunteer with a computer confirmed that I matched the picture associated with that bib and that the bib had finished both races. There wasn’t any confirmation like this after the 10K, so I wonder how they keep one person from running the 10K with the bib and another from running the half? Regardless, I took my two medals and happily headed off for drinks and snacks.

In case you're wondering, the back to back races are totally worth it for the extra bling.

In case you’re wondering, the back to back races are totally worth it for the extra bling.

The snack boxes had a cute little Star Wars logo that I hadn’t noticed the day before and a much appreciated tiny bag of Skittles. 🙂

Cash in hand for a more substantial post race snack and COFFEE.

Cash in hand for a more substantial post race snack and COFFEE.

There was a big post race area with a band, but I headed out with a friend to get some more substantial food. A friend from school was also at the race and we actually ended up running together from miles 3 on, which was interesting. It was my first time running with someone else. Thankfully we both agreed that we were taking the race easy, with walk breaks when we felt like it, and permission to run off and leave the other when we got near the finish line if so inclined. 🙂 The distraction of someone else definitely made the miles go quickly, beyond the usual chatting with other random runners as you went along (although I enjoyed some of that too).

All in all, it was a great race experience. Perfect weather, fantastic easy course to run with lots of entertainment. I was worried I’d be disappointed in the half course because so much was off property (and would therefore not have any Disney-official stuff after the first few miles), but I wasn’t AT ALL. The community of Anaheim does a great job supporting the runners. I also really liked doing the 10K first and getting to take so many pictures during that race so I didn’t feel bad about skipping long lines with the half. A half marathon is long enough without adding a hour of pictures. 🙂 I worried that the parks part of the half marathon would be less fun since I’d just run most of it the day before, but the magic of running through a Disney park really doesn’t get old.

I would definitely recommend the Disneyland races and StarWars in particular. While there weren’t nearly as many character opportunities as there were at Princess, the community entertainment along the course more than made up for it. Plus, the medals are gorgeous:

The challenge medal is a spinner with Yoda and Darth Vader.

The challenge medal is a spinner with Yoda and Darth Vader.

I’ve completed 3 half marathons in the last 365 days. How crazy is that? When did I become that person? I’ll have more posts over the next two weeks about the back-to-back racing experience itself, the Expo, the Wookie Welcome party and working with a travel provider to book a race. You’ll probably get tired of hearing about all of it. 🙂 Plus, Friday’s Favorites this week will be devoted to the truly spectacular costumes the other runners wore for all of the races. The creativity (and ability of people to run in those things!) was astounding and definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

Thanks to all of you for following along and cheering me on through the weekend!

PS Also now at 22.4 miles of my 100 miles of races goal for 2015!

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Race Recap: Star Wars 10K

I promise that I’ll get to the Expo, the Wookie Welcome party and lots of other race related things but really, the races were the best part, right? Thus, we’ll start with the 10K, which was on Saturday. Apologies in advance for blurry iPhone photos – not the best for photos in the dark!

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that my favorite thing about the Disneyland races is how close everything is! The corrals to start were literally right outside my hotel:

The view from room in Paradise Pier, with runners walking into the corrals.

The view from room in Paradise Pier, with runners walking into the corrals.

For a 5:30 race start, I was supposed to be in my corral by 5:15. Given how close I was to the corrals, I actually slept in until 4:30 (blissful compared to races at WDW!) and walked about 5 minutes from my hotel to the starting corral.There was a really cute little pre-show with race announcers Rudy and Carissa, complete with clips of Star Wars movies, Rudy being abducted by Darth Vader, and a visit from C-3PO.

Movie clips on a big screen (complete with the trailer for the new movie)

Movie clips on a big screen (complete with the trailer for the new movie)

R2D2 and C-3PO caused a bit of a pile up as people tried to get selfies and photos while we passed by at the start.

R2D2 and C-3PO caused a bit of a pile up as people tried to get selfies and photos while we passed by at the start.

They couldn’t do fireworks to start us off like they do for each corral in WDW, but they had a very StarWars appropriate light show and visuals similar to the start of the movies, which I liked. I was worried I would be disappointed without the fireworks, but I really liked these effects. I’ll see if I can load a brief clip to You Tube and share the link over on Facebook when I get better WiFi access!

Nothing like giant glowing letters telling you it is time to start to run :)

Nothing like giant glowing letters telling you it is time to start to run 🙂

For the first two miles, we were on streets and back stage, so there really wasn’t much course entertainment. There was an underpass where they had speakers set up with a dark message from Darth Vader and the Vader music/sound effects, which was cool. After a week without running because things were so busy, I was really just enjoying the crowd and the sensation of running, plus all of the costumes (side note: Friday Favorites this week will be devoted to some of the awesome costumes I saw!).

I'd forgotten all about the Jawas until I saw them on the mile 1 marker.

I’d forgotten all about the Jawas until I saw them on the mile 1 marker.

Soon enough we were in the park (Disneyland first) and I have to say, running through the park in the dark with all of the other racers and the lights on just for you is one of my favorite things about runDisney races.

Main Street in California is shorter, but just as magical to run through (and check out how not-crowded it was!)

Main Street in California is shorter, but just as magical to run through (and check out how not-crowded it was!)

There were a bunch of lovely Jedi from the training academy out for photos on Main Street, so I stopped for a photo. With my goal of running my slowest 10K ever to save my legs for the half on Sunday, I’d planned to stop for photos in the 10K so long as the lines weren’t too crazy so that I didn’t get caught up and rush.

The female Jedi complimented my purple shirt, which she said matched her light saber.

The female Jedi complimented my purple shirt, which she said matched her light saber.

There were photographers set up in front the castle, but as the line was 10+ people, I decided to skip it. We turned into Frontierland and my feet liked the brief break of running on the wooden bridge. Not long after that, I heard the Mos Eisley cantina music, which was playing with the Chewbacca photo stop. The Chewie line was nuts, with the line wrapped back on itself a couple of times, so I skipped it and headed out past Big Thunder Mountain.

Gorgeous in the dark!

Gorgeous in the dark!

We then circled through Fantasyland and I loved seeing all of the rides lit up! Dumbo was running and the lights were on all of the other rides. It was so magical to run through all of that.

Dumbo selfie!

Dumbo selfie!

This is one of the rides I remember from my very first trip to WDW as a kid.

This is one of the rides I remember from my very first trip to WDW as a kid.

We came around the other side of the castle and I had a much shorter line to wait in for this photo:

Sleeping Beauty's castle may be smaller, but it's still lovely in the dark.

Sleeping Beauty’s castle may be smaller, but it’s still lovely in the dark.

We then swung back out through Tomorrowland and came across Darth Vader. I sincerely hope this picture came out well in the MarathonFoto version because the set up was very cool, complete with flashing lights and Storm Troopers pacing in the background (wondering what all of those humans were doing running by and how they were supposed to find the rebel spy in the midst of all of this).

It felt a little odd to smile with Darth Vader.

It felt a little odd to smile with Darth Vader.

Not long after I got in that line, it also grew to spread across the whole plaza and start to wrap in on itself. Glad I took the chance when I did as I only to wait about 10 minutes!

It's a small world was gorgeous with all of the lights on.

It’s a small world was gorgeous with all of the lights on.

Then we headed through to California Adventure, where it was starting to get light.

Hollywoodland in California Adventure looks A LOT like Hollywood Studios, in case you're curious.

Hollywoodland in California Adventure looks A LOT like Hollywood Studios, in case you’re curious.

I was disappointed that we didn’t go through CarsLand initially because it so amazingly well themed, but there were still plenty of gorgeous views in California Adventure.

Coming out of the BugsLife land and looking at the "mountain"

Coming out of the BugsLife land and looking at the “mountain”

As I came around the corner to the Paradise Pier area, I came upon Boba Fett and decided he was absolutely worth a ten minute wait in line (but knew he’d be my last – I didn’t want to be over 16 minute:mile pace in case they decided to enforce times to determine if you really completed the challenge).

IMG_9456

I wonder if Boba Fett is the reason we never saw a Hans Solo character stop on the course? Hmmmm . . .

I also paused for a Paradise Pier selfie before we headed over to that section of the park, with its blissful wooden path that my feet greatly appreciated!

That ferris wheel has swinging cars that are seriously disorienting!

That ferris wheel has swinging cars that are seriously disorienting!

Coming across the bridge to Paradise Pier, I was behind a woman who had this awesome sign pinned to her back:

I of course grabbed a Wookie!

I of course grabbed a Wookie!

Happily, we ended up going through a backstage area and then swinging back into the CarsLand. CarsLand is so gorgeous with such great Disney attention to detail. It was absolutely my favorite part of California Adventure!

Those rocks are fake, but gorgeous and so realistic!

Those rocks are fake, but gorgeous and so realistic!

We then went backstage for a bit before headed back to the hotels and the finish line. I confess that I did start to get a little worried about the 16 minute mile pace (I wasn’t tracking with my Garmin) so I picked it up a bit. There really weren’t any other entertainment distractions at that point anyway which helped. 🙂 I ended up crossing the finish line at 1:35:53, about a 15:30 pace so it’s good I booked it at the end!

Finished!

Finished!

We were given our medals and passed along to drinks, photos and the snack box. There wasn’t any particular check in to do for the Rebel Challenge since they’re tracking by photos and bibs at this point, so my new bling and I headed around to the stands to cheer for a few more of the finishing runners.

I love a shiny new medal.

I love a shiny new medal.

I'm always amazed at just how many medals they have!

I’m always amazed at just how many medals they have!

I LOVED my first runDisney 10K. I got all of the fun of running in the parks, lots of characters, plus only had to run 6 miles – wins all around! I’m definitely going to check out the Florida 10K’s next time I get the chance.

Up tomorrow: Half Marathon report!

I had to get a medal shot with Buzz later in the day since he was my first character stop back at Princess when I first started this runDisney craziness. :)

I had to get a medal shot with Buzz later in the day since he was my first character stop back at Princess when I first started this runDisney craziness. 🙂

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Disneyland!

If you’re following along on Facebook and Instagram, you know that this week I’m in California for the RunDisney Star Wars Rebel Challenge, so you already know what my workout week has been like.

Monday Strength training circuit at home with body weight exercises

Tuesday Lots of crazy last minute running around with work & home stuff, so no workout.

Wednesday Pretty much the same as Tuesday. I had evening events Tuesday and Wednesday, which pretty much ruled out workouts since I also had to get a little family time in before I left town and get packing finished up.

Thursday Flight to California, with a walk in Phoenix airport for 15 minutes between flights, and then lots of walking at the Expo, Disneyland and the Wookie Welcome party. I ended the day with 20,000 steps (-ish, the FitBit got confused because I was up so late).

I love the RunDisney Instagram booth. :) I have to say, I like this picture of me! Not as awkward as my normal posing.

I love the RunDisney Instagram booth. 🙂 I have to say, I like this picture of me! Not as awkward as my normal posing.

Friday I planned to take it easy, and it didn’t feel like I pushed too much, but somehow I ended up with 18K steps wandering between Disneyland and California Adventure. However, as I also ended up with pics with these guys, it was worth it.

Oliver would be pea green with envy (and wow was he nice!)

Oliver would be pea green with envy (and wow was he nice!)

I was having the hardest time not smiling, but it would have felt so wrong!

I was having the hardest time not smiling, but it would have felt so wrong!

Saturday The Storm Trooper 10K (full report coming Monday!), plus hanging out in the parks for the rest of the day with a friend from grad school. I headed back to the room for dinner, a soak in the tub and bed early so I could get ready for the half today. Fingers crossed that I didn’t overdo it! My feet themselves have that tired, week at Disneyworld feeling already so here’s hoping they hold up for another 13.1 miles.

Isn't it pretty? I nearly lost it on Tower of Terror Saturday!

Isn’t it pretty? I nearly lost it on Tower of Terror Saturday!

Sunday Today’s event? That would be the half marathon I’m probably out running as this posts (not exactly sure what time zone it will post in). By lunch I’ll have three shiny new medals to show for my weekend’s work.

Even though I slacked on Monday – Wednesday in the step department, I’ll definitely end the week at over 70,000 steps. The trick will be to keep that up next week. I’ve also done good at getting lots of water and making food choices I feel good about from a quality perspective (other than ill advised decision to have ice cream Saturday – FYI, Lactaid won’t be enough to overcome that if you’re as lactose intolerant as I am). I definitely haven’t had that “off the rails” feeling I got with my last half marathon so far.

My NSV for the week? I feel like there have been a few, from getting into my jeans directly out of the dryer on Thursday morning with no shimmying required, to passing up the Dole Whip stand the first time I passed it because I wasn’t hungry (that’s huge – I LOVE Dole Whip), to sitting in this swinging apparatus at California Adventure and realizing I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in this a couple of years ago:

There's no way I would have gotten in this before!

There’s no way I would have gotten in this before!

Don’t worry – I did still get Dole Whip later when I was actually hungry for a snack.

Dole Whip, oh how I love thee!

Dole Whip, oh how I love thee!

My good deeds have been largely of the photo taking variety, as well as lots of letting kids go first in line and that kind of thing. 🙂 Something about Disney running events just makes us all nicer to each other.

I also did the good deed of a letting a guy (a grown up, but he definitely took child-like joy in it) sit behind the steering wheel on Indiana Jones even though I'd been the one directed there by the cast member. It's the little things that count, right?

I also did the good deed of a letting a guy (a grown up, but he definitely took child-like joy in it) sit behind the steering wheel on Indiana Jones even though I’d been the one directed there by the cast member. It’s the little things that count, right?

 

I’m so grateful that I have a husband who not only “lets” me come off and do crazy things like this – he encourages me to do it, he’s proud of me for doing it and he takes care of our son as a solo parent for the weekend while I do it. That solo parenting involves lots of pizza and lots of DuckTales on DVD, but I know they are having lots of fun.

Send me good vibes today! I’ll keep you guys posted and try to load more photos on Facebook and Instagram during / after the Half Marathon (Resort WiFi is spotty!).

I hope you’re having a great weekend!

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