Category Archives: Disney Trips

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

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In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.

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Star Wars 10km Recap

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When we planned our trip to Disney, I asked my husband if he wanted us to try and incorporate a race weekend into it. Since we both agreed that it would be fun to do a race weekend, (and more so since my mom would be there with us so she could watch Andy on race mornings) we went ahead and planned our trip around the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.

I am going out on a limb here and saying that this race weekend has some hardcore Star Wars fans. Sorry, but Dan and I aren’t. Well, Dan has seen all the movies and enjoys them. I will admit that I have only seen the third movie in the original instalment….yes, I suck. So with all that being said, our takeaways from the race weekend will be a little different than those of people who are hardcore Star Wars fans.

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We arrived to Disney on Thursday of race weekend. We headed over to the Expo at around 5pm that night. I am usually at Disney race expos right when they open at the morning, and the last time I went in the evening was Wine & Dine 2013. I need to give two huge thumbs up to what I view as positive changes at the Disney Expo. The official Run Disney merchandise is no longer in the main exhibition hall. They have it in a separate field house. The last few years the lines to get into the exhibition field house were CRAZY and it was all because of the official merchandise. Now, we weren’t at the Expo first thing so I am not sure how crazy the lines were in the morning. But Dan and I were able to casually walk in and look at merchandise without having to wait. I hope they keep it like this!

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Now onto race morning! RunDisney events are still very early and that poses a challenge in itself. My alarm went off at 2:30 am…gross. I had it this early so I could pump before we headed out. I woke Dan up at 3:20 am, and we were out the hotel door by 3:45 am. Getting on the provided transport to the start area was a breeze and we were dropped off shortly after 4.

This was the first RunDisney event I’ve done where we start at the Ticket & Transportation Center parking lot. A major pro in this start area is that you do not have an epic journey to the corrals like you do when it starts at EPCOT. There are also TONS of porta potties.  We made our way into the corral at what I thought was a decent enough time ahead of the start (30 minutes) but we were kind of stuck in the middle of the pack.  The corrals for the 10km are a bit frustrating because if you are a runner doing just the 10km, you don’t need a proof of time submitted.  You just submit an estimated pace per mile and your are assigned a corral that way.  So there are presumably some runners in the corral who should probably not be in corral A.  I made Dan hold my hand as I weaved our way up towards the from 1/3 of people.  I gave up trying to get closer to the front at that point.

Race started at 5:30 am.  Dan and I were both going to race it the best we could, and not necessarily stay together.  Had to do some careful zigzagging the first 400 metres or so to get around people who didn’t really properly self-seed themselves.  But then we were good.  Dan was ahead of me to start and I just tried to hold my own.  My goal going into this race was to run in the 45 minute range.  I set this goal back in January when I made running goals for the year.  I wasn’t really sure if this was too lofty of a goal being that I ran a 47:13 in mid March at Moonlight Run 10km. But I figured I would just push it and see what happened.

I will say this about the race; the first 5km was so boring.  Once we go away from the Ticket & Transportation Centre (which was by half a mile) we were just on a boring straight away of darkness.  There was really nothing to see and no entertainment around.  I then just had to focus on every female runner that was ahead of me and kept my mind thinking about catching each one.  This gave me something to think about while running, because otherwise there was absolutely nothing to see.

The humidity was bothering me a bit, but I made sure to grab water at the water stations and dump it over my head.  It wasn’t that ‘hot’ outside, but I was getting sweaty very easily so I knew I needed this water dumping to cool off and keep myself sane.  It wasn’t until mile 4 that we actually got to some scenery.  This is when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

At this point in a 10km I usually struggle a bit.  Normally I struggle because I may have pushed my first mile way too fast and I’m now suffering because of it.  While my first mile was fast at a 6:47, it wasn’t ridiculous and in the low 6:00 range.  I’ve done that many times before and then my legs are just beat by mile 4 and 5.  By the time I got to mile 4, my first four splits were 6:47, 7:03, 7:14, and 7:08.  I had actually picked up a bit in mile 4!

I had a lot of fun from mile 4 until the finish.  Since we were now inside the parks and hotel areas, there were lots of photographers.  As hot and sticky as I was, I still managed to smile and wave whenever I saw a photographer.  I was being competitive in the race but also trying to stay light hearted and have fun.  It was somewhere between mile 5 and 6 that I saw Dan.  I could tell the humidity was getting to him.  I caught up to him and hoped that it would keep pushing him and that we’d finish together.  Spoiler: we didn’t, as I did stay ahead of him during this race.  But during the half, we ran together and if we hadn’t I think he definitely would have finished before me (more on that in my next post).  I ran mile 5 and 6 in 7:14 and 7:25, respectively.

When I crossed the finish line, my official time was a 44:58!!!  HOLY SHIT! I not only achieved my goal but surpassed it!  The distance on my watch read 6.30 miles, which is common in a race like this due to crowds and weaving in extra distance.  I was so excited with my time and I hung past the finish line for a few seconds to wait for Dan to cross so I could tell him.

By the time we walked through the post race area and got on the bus back to the hotel, unofficial results were coming in on the RunDisney result page.  While I was hoping for an age group award, what I came to find out was that I was one of the top 10 female finishers.  I did not see that coming!  After all was said and done, I was the 10th female finisher in the race, out of 6005 women!  Keep in mind, a lot of people do RunDisney races for different reasons.  Many people are doing them as their first race, and because of the required race pace many people will walk.  But regardless, I was ecstatic!  I did get my age group award I was hoping for, placing 2nd out of 940 in the 30-34 female division.  RunDisney will mail the awards in the next coming weeks so I look forward to receiving it.  The icing on the cake for this race was that Dan and I were back to our hotel by before 7 am and Andy and my mom had not woken up yet!  Time to wake them up and start our Saturday!

Andy’s 1st Vacation

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Call us crazy, but the first vacation we took our son on was to Walt Disney World. And if you want to call us crazy, just keep it to yourself. You see, I know that Andy won’t remember anything from this trip. After all, Andy turned 6 months the day we left on the vacation. But Walt Disney World is a place I feel very comfortable in travelling to. This blog started as one about “Walt Disney, Running and my Dad.” Those three things all tied together for this “first vacation” as we we brought Andy, who was named after my late father, to Disney World…Dan and I ran in the Star Wars First Order 10km & Half Marathon Challenge…and on the day we left it was 14 years since my father passed away. So to go to Disney with baby Andy and run a 10km and half marathon one day after another while surrounded by the memories of the trips my family made together in the past makes sense!

Is traveling to Disney World with a 6 month old for everyone? Probably not. Like I said above, I have been to Disney a lot. I could take the time to count the individual trips but I believe I am now over 20. I am familiar with the resort enough that I figured it would help ease the stress of travelling with an infant.

And trust me…it did.

The first airplane ride was going to be a challenge no matter wheee we were going. I booked the tickets before Andy was born, and in my head I figured a red eye would be ok because “he would sleep.” Well. He maybe would have slept better if Dan and I hadn’t tried to stick to our “plan” so much. We assumed that having him in the Ergo chest carrier would be just fine while we flew. But really, he got too warm and was PISSED. He did better the second portion of the trip after our connection because we just swaddled him in his blanket and laid him across us. So rule #1-don’t stick to what you think will work best, because ultimately the baby will tell you what does!

One thing I was anxious about in the general travelling issues with this trip was travelling with breast milk. I was bringing about 2L of frozen milk in a soft sided carrier (Dan’s personal item for onboard) and then a few bottles of fresh milk. We had no issues going through security and customs. So easy!

Pumping while flying is a different story. I had originally wanted to keep my fresh supply the same as normal, but after the terrible red eye flight I was so tired and worn out. I had thought I would pump in the Priority Pass lounge in Toronto but I forgot to pack my ID card and couldn’t remember my log in information on the app. So I pumped in some sketchy corner of the airport. Instead of worrying about pumping at the airport in those conditions, I should have just breastfed. I’m not 100% confident in my breastfeeding abilities, which is why I stray away from it, and I don’t like not knowing how much he intakes during a session. But doing this on the flight did help calm him down and also made it easier than dealing with pump parts. If you are a breastfeeding mama who does give the baby a bottle with expressed milk, I strongly encourage bringing frozen milk on a trip because once we arrive to our resort I stored the milk in the fridge. The frozen milk was thawed slowly and used within two days. This gave me time to build back my fresh supply from pumping. It also allowed us to be relaxed on the trip and not have our plans dictated by a pumping schedule.

Going to the Disney parks with Andy was definitely different than any of my previous trips where I’d gone with family or friends. I knew that we’d have to definitely do it in pieces with an afternoon break. As the trip progressed we really did listen to Andy on when it was time to go home. For instance, our second Magic Kingdom day we had a Splash Mountain fastpass after lunch. Andy was getting tired, and if we did the fastpass we would probably be adding on another hour to our day before getting to hotel. While Andy did fall asleep in the stroller or chest carrier on this trip his naps in those positions weren’t of high quality. Getting him back to the hotel for a proper nap was key. It also allowed us to enjoy the evening more. What worked for us-we’d get back to the hotel for his nap. I would pump and dan would get him settled. Dan would take a nap too and I’d go to the pool. We could usually count on 2 hours of a nap for him in the pack and play, so he’d be ready to go for a short evening at EPCOT then!

Andy did a handful of rides: at Magic Kingdom he did People Mover, Dumbo, Small World (ate a bottle during 3/4 of it), Peter Pans Flight (asleep in chest carrier the whole time), Voyage of the Little Mermaid and saw Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre (unimpressed but good). At EPCOT he did Nemo (just wanted to stand up the whole time), saw fish at Living Seas (was wide eyed), Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Ride in Mexico (loved it and did great) and Frozen in Norway….whoops, sorry Andy for scarring you for life! He was getting tired during our fastpass time but I strapped him to my chest and we road anyway. What the picture doesn’t show is that he is wailing so loud as we go down that little hill. It was too loud and too much for him. He screamed as Elsa sang “LET IT GO!”

At Hollywood Studios the only thing he did was get pictures with Minnie & Mickey. And at Animal Kingdom he road Kilimanjaro Safaris and went on the Pangani Forest Trail. Andy is happiest in the morning so we made sure to do the safaris first thing. I was nervous since it’s a 20 minute ride, but I had him in the chest carrier looking out and when he started to fuss we distracted him by giving him solid food (those dissolvable crackers for babies). Worked so well! One of the moms in my Mommy Connections class suggested those so I’m glad we bought them before the trip.

If you go to Disney and want to do the rides, using Baby Swap/Rider Switch is a must. I knew it existed, but did not really understand how to best utilize it. A friend and her husband explained it to me a few days before leaving and it was well worth using! You could also plan fastpasses a bit better if you wanted to try to do more rides and do rider switch, but we just stuck with our original plans. The key component is that rider switch is good for up to three guests. If you have a fastpass, your whole party & Baby go to fastpass area to check in. (They need to see you actually have a baby!!!). The ones who want to ride first go through. Since Dan and I would ride together first we scanned our fastpasses. Grandma waited with Andy. We receive a ticket (like the old paper fastpasses) to use at any time during the day. We always had Grandma ride it right away after we were done, but you could leave the attraction and go back to it later if you’d like. The awesome thing is that 1.) either Dan or I could ride again with my mom when she went and the other person stayed with Andy 2) my mom did not need a fastpass booked for this ride. Just return to fastpass queue with rider switch and they let you through. This could be extremely beneficial in trying to get difficult fastpass rides like Flight of Passage. You can basically use rider switch/baby swap on any ride in Disney that your baby would not be able to ride with you. If you have more rider switch questions, feel free to message me and I can try to help or direct you to someone who can explain better.

Dining with Andy went pretty well. We had one reservation a day. Some meals he slept. Some meals he was awake. Some meals he lost him mind. Just have food for baby and a sense of humour if you are bringing to meals at Disney. And really, having a baby crying at a dining reservation in Disney is the best place for it to happen! There are toddlers having tantrums and grumpy adults all around…a cute 6 month old with tears isn’t too bad. One thing we did change part way into our trip was our final dinner time. We had a 7:45 pm reservation, but Andy had been falling asleep at night by 7:30-8:30 pm. Changed it to 5:15 pm. Smartest move ever.

I could talk more about this trip, and I will in two other posts. Those posts will be recaps on the 10km and half marathon. But to end this post, taking Andy to Disney at 6 months worked for our family. Having my mom down there with us in a connecting room was a HUGE part to why the trip was a success and generally went smoothly. If it was just Dan and I down there with him I am not sure we would have enjoyed it as much. I know not everyone has that luxury to have a grandparent travel with them on vacation to help (she watched him in the mornings we did the races and on Sunday night when we went out) and we won’t have her on other family vacations. But for our first trip it helped tons! It was awesome seeing my mom spend time with Andy and getting him to giggle and smile. The pictures we have from this trip will be something we cherish.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2017

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Well.  It’s almost been a month since the WDW Marathon Weekend…about time I do a little recap I think!  I could do a really, really long one and go on into great detail….but I am going to try and spare you all from that.  I’m going to try…TRY…and keep it condensed!

I arrived in WDW on Tuesday, January 3rd.  This allowed me to enjoy the days leading up to the events, which would be on the Saturday and Sunday.  My mom had arrived earlier that morning and I met her at the hotel.  My best friend Ali was arriving the following day, and she got there without a hitch….well, her Magical Express bus from the airport almost needed to be hitched by a trailer and towed away because it broke down a few miles away from the hotel.  But she got there safe and sound!

Even though these are from different days, here are some “enjoying WDW” pictures that aren’t race related!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

My mom and I went to the expo on Wednesday, January 4th.  I would go back to the expo the next day with Ali so she could get her race bib, but I knew I wanted to make sure I got some certain race merchandise items.  So arriving at expo open was key.  I did not like that the expo didn’t open until noon.  It was an upcharge by Disney if you wanted to get into the expo and hour or two (can’t remember which one) earlier than general opening.  Money grab if you ask me.  But since we arrived at Wide World of Sports at 11:30, we queued up and were let into the expo floor by around 11:45.  Straight the the merchandise, we had no problem getting the items I wanted.  I also bought Ali what she was requesting.  We did a little tour of the expo floor where I bought quite a few other items.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the other building where packet pickup was…that line was never a stand-still, but when I eventually made my way up there I had to go back and forth and back and forth until I got into the building.  Thankfully, my race shirts were in that same building to pickup…otherwise I would have to go BACK into the expo hall…and that line was ridiculous.  I don’t know if it was just that every person in an event that weekend (5km, 10km, half, full, goofy, dopey, kids races) showed up, but the crowd was crazy compared to what I remember in 2014.

 

 

 


Day before the half marathon, the weather didn’t look great.  RunDisney started issuing updates early afternoon, telling us runners to stay tuned for up to date info.  At around 7 pm on Friday night, they cancelled the half marathon.  This was due to a huge storm coming through in the evening, that called for thunder and lightning.  At first, it was a huge let down that the race wouldn’t be run.  But, RunDisney did the right thing.  I did, however, mention to my mom and Ali that “It better fucking STORM!” because otherwise you know people on social media were going to lose their minds even more…and for the record, and it storm.  All night, and then at 7:45 AM we heard a huge CRACK.  It would have been chaos if 20,000 + runners were out there on property running and this happened.

 

 

(For the record, RunDisney offered four different “reimbursement” options since they cancelled the event.  This information came out later Friday evening.  And, they didn’t have to do this.  That’s what it says in the fine print whenever you sign a race waiver.  It was great of them to do this.  I opted for the reimbursement of the cost of the half registration in form of Disney Gift Card…which I gave to my mom.  She paid for my registration to begin with.  Now, she has $185 to spend on her Disney Cruise this June!)

So, Saturday came.  Race was cancelled.  I had already heard of people talking about getting the miles in somehow that day, be it treadmill or waiting until weather cleared.  RunDisney was still giving everyone their half marathon medal, so it wouldn’t really feel right to take the medal (and then my Goofy Challenge medal the next day) and not really “earn it.”  My mom, Ali and I were taking the boat to the Studios for 9 am park open, and the weather was already starting to clear.  We saw runners on the Boardwalk, on the promenade in front of Yacht & Beach, on the walkway to the Studios….tons of runners were out there, wearing their race bibs…some in their costumes too….getting in the miles.  I immediately knew I had to get my 13.1 in.  I messaged Alyssa & Drew, who had mentioned they were planning on getting the 13.1 miles in that day.  They ended up meeting my at the Studios at 11:45 am and we did our “Unofficial WDW Half Marathon.” We got the 13.1 miles in, and honestly had a blast doing it!  At around mile 11, when we had looped back by the Studios, we even went in and were able to get a photo with Donald….which was appropriate since he is the ‘mascot’ for the half marathon.  It may not have been the way I imagined Saturday would be, but I am always going to remember that “race.”

 

 


So then the weather went from one extreme to the other by Sunday.  It was cold.  Wehn Ali and I left the room at 3 am to go to the busses, it was around 40 degrees fahrenheit.  I was grateful my body was conditioned and used to cold weather, as the poor Floridians were freezing……hahaha!  Neither Ali or I packed much for layers…I had packed a throwaway long sleeved shirt, but didn’t think about sweats or hats.  I fashioned us some gorgeous garbage bag ponchos (which for some reason I thought to pack) and then got creative with Disney towels.  I figured using Disney hotel towels and dumping them before a race on Disney property would be OK….I mean, they’d get them back if they wanted them?

 


After the long wait that is the start of a RunDisney race, Ali and I were off at around 6 am.  The official race start was 5:30 am, so with us starting in Corral I, that’s not to bad.  I did only remind Ali once or twice that I could have already been to the Magic Kingdom (I was able to start in B).  I don’t know if she cared for my sarcasm.

Race began and we kept moving with the pack the best we could.  I kept reminding her we needed to just try to stay with the pack and not get stuck with all the other people behind us, as it would make Magic Kingdom even more crowded.  I made it my mission to take a photo of each mile marker (which I did) but I won’t post those all because, well…it’s boring.  I kept texting my mom, who was at Magic Kingdom on Main Street.  When we got into Magic Kingdom, we stopped quickly to talk to her, get a photo, and on we went.  That was at mile 5.

 

 

The next stretch to the half marathon mark was a bit of a challenge.  Lots of people, narrow part of the course.  Kept having to remind Ali we were almost to Animal Kingdom, and then we’d have more to see.  We even stopped quickly for a photo with Meeko, from Pocahontas, before we entered Animal Kingdom.  It was fun seeing people jumping in line for Expedition Everest, as it had just opened.  We weren’t in the park all that long, or at least not long enough for Ali….because before we knew it we were in the back lot and heading towards the parking lot.  I knew she was dreading the next stretch of open road, as we’d be logging in the miles 16-21 before getting back into the parks.

 

 



I’m happy to say we are still best friends after that stretch, because man….our friendship ending was a possibility.  Ok, not really….but I think Ali wanted to beat the shit out of me during Wide World of Sports.  I forgot how much turning and winding you do during that part!  I tried to distract her by talking her ear off, and I do think it helped when we got to mile 20!  Mile 20 was right on the ball diamond, so I made Ali stop for a picture there.  I reminded her now we just had a 10km to go!  It also helped motivate her when we were heading down the road away from WWOS that we saw the “Balloon Ladies” (the sweepers) who runners must keep ahead.  We were definitely going to stay ahead of them, so it eased our minds going in the final stretch.

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20 miles!

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While the morning started off cold, the sun had came out and was hitting your body pretty good. I knew I would have an epic racerback tanline after this was all said and done.  As we made it up the hill with the Green Army Men yelling at us, down a final descent of non-descriptive WDW resort road way, we finally made it into the back entrance of the Studios.  There were people everywhere, as by now it was late morning and thegeneral public were all going about their days at the parks!  It was awesome to have people around us in the park, cheering us on, encouraging us.  We exited the Studios (after our fourth bathroom break of the day) and took the walkway to Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and then the back entrance of EPCOT.  I think Ali thought we would have a lot of backstage running to do before entering the park, but before we knew it, we were entering World Showcase at the United Kingdom pavilion!  And then over the first bridge we hit the mile 25 sign!  Only one mile was between us and the finish line…well, and a Grand Marnier Orange Slush in the France pavilion for Ali!



The last mile was a lot of fun.  Ali got her drink (I think the alcohol hit her immediately), which an older lady with a solid Boston accent bought for her, and we saw other runners enjoying beverages from World Showcase.  I got a picture with Jasmine, we took a selfie by Spaceship Earth, saw the gospel choir at mile 26.  Then it was the final stretch!


Ali had some fire saved up in her, as she started sprinting down to the finish line.  We finished!  Ali had finished her first ever full marathon!  I finished my 10th official* RunDisney race! (11 if you count the unofficial half from the day before!)  This is going to be a memorable race weekend for years and years to come, and I will cherish those memories!

 

 

2015-Year in Review

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What an amazing year in running for myself!  I started January 2015 off strong, as I had just came off a very productive 2014.  Injuries weren’t messing with me as of yet, my husband and I had just moved into our new house, work was going well, and I was motivated to train for my spring goal race of the BMO Vancouver Marathon.

January brought a quick trip to Temecula, California, during exam week, where I participated in the Spartan Super & Sprint with my BFF Ali.  February came and I decided it was a good idea to run The Hypothermic Half marathon in Calgary during a huge cold snap.  Good thing I did, as I ended up running what is now my personal best-1:35:41.  That race was crucial as a morale boost and proved to me that training and hard work does pay off.  Never did I think I could run in the 1:35s!  I also signed up for and participated in a virtual race; The Coaster Run.  Why did I choose this as my first virtual race?  Well, the actual race was held at Knotts Berry Farm in California and had a Peanuts theme!  I needed that Snoopy medal!

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In March, I had the local Moonlight Run 10km.  I pushed myself to my limits there, running my best Moonlight time ever of a 43:47, earning me 1st in my age group.  I was very pleased with my training progress!  A local 5 km in Coaldale came in mid-April and I crushed my previous 5km time, running a 20:42, earning me first place female.  The following week, on the anniversary of my dad’s death, I ran in the Rattler Run 10km in Medicine Hat.  This was the pinnacle race at the peak of my training cycle for Vancouver.  I busted out a 41:30, good enough for 1st female overall!  So, I had bested my 5km, 10km and half marathon times all before my goal race even came.  Had I burned myself out?

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I have written about it lots on this site, so I can just briefly mention the importance that the Vancouver Full Marathon was.  This was my third dedicated try at qualifying for the Boston Marathon, having failed in 2014 while running the Calgary and Edmonton Full Marathons.  This May, it all paid off.  The training, pushing, races, tears, and pain were worth it because I not only beat my qualifying standard of 3:35.00, but crushed it with a 3:24.56!  I would be going to Boston!

Dan & I headed to Montana for the Montana Spartan Beast, which completed what would be my first trifecta of the year.  I had plans on going for a double Trifecta later in September, so this was part of the process.  I also did the Calgary 50km Ultra during Marathon weekend at the end of May, which was my first ever 50km.  My 4:40.34 earn me 2nd in my category.  The first 5 months of 2015 were such a huge success, I felt unstoppable!

But then, my body was starting to feel it.  I took a bit of time off before doing the Alberta Summer Games in July, where I ran the 10km.  A sloppy 45:55 on a hot afternoon had me frustrated—I am way better than this.  It motivated me to push hard the rest of the summer as I trained to try and get a personal best at the Disneyland 10km in September.  Before that race, I had the Lethbridge Police Half Marathon at the end of August.  Here, I also had plans to shoot for my best time.  This was a huge slap in the face, as I went out too fast, started having stomach issues, and almost broke down.  I ended 3rd female overall, which is fantastic, but my body was breaking.  The 1:40.14 at the end of summer, in the midst of a forest fire smoke warning was respectable—but I was frustrated.

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September was all about Disney & Spartan Races.  And being stressed with work.  But, I had to make it happen somehow.  I went to Disneyland over Labour Day weekend where I did complete my goal of placing in my category at the Disneyland 10km.  I wasn’t anywhere close to my goal time, but I ran a respectful 43:28.  Then the following day, I ran the half marathon with my BFF and helped her crush her personal best!  All while dressed as Mary Poppins!  It was my second Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and it was a great one.  I had registered until the DDD, however, Ali hadn’t been able to and had to do the 10km and half as two separate race registrations.  Having a Dumbo medal from last year was enough for me-I passed my 2015 medal on to her.  She earned it by completing both races!

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Spartan Races….the highs and the very lows.  I did the Hurricane Heat, Super and Sprint three days in a row in Red Deer.   I felt great during all three and was pumped for my Ultra Beast in Sun Peaks two weeks after.  I have a post about that here, and let me tell you….it was humbling.  I had my first ever DNF for a race, and I think I was over my head.  I could have crawled my way to the finish perhaps, but I was exhausted and fearing injury.  This was the time that the “bump” on my foot had been really bothering me.  As I ran by myself during the second loop for about an hour I was imaging hurting myself and not being able to do Boston.  I pulled myself out of the race, and a lot of tears followed.  While I can’t go back and change it, or say register just for the Beast, I don’t regret my decision. 

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October brought the end of Cross Country season coaching and no races for myself.  Our team made us proud, and we sent five talented young women to Provincials in Grand Prairie, Alberta.  That is WAY north!  I took it easy, and took about 2-3 weeks off from running after the season ended mid October.  I started physio for my foot, and found out more about my x-rays.  Degenerative Arthritis and a bone spur in my right foot.  Surgery is in the works, for a time after Boston.  If something isn’t done to this soon, I run the risk of not being able to run down the road.  And I don’t want that!

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November had me give it my all in the local Claus Cause 5km, only to then laugh at myself and realize how out of shape I was starting to feel.  A 22:04 would have been something I dreamed of two years ago, but now I knew I needed to keep recovering, but then get back to work.  The month of December brought the Runners Soul 4th Annual Run Streak, which I just completed today.  31 straight days of running at least 1 mile!  And this past Sunday I began my 16 week training for the 120th Boston Marathon.  My plan for Boston is to go in prepared, do my best, finish, and have fun in the process.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime race, something I have been striving towards for so long.  So, it is perfect that my 2015 ended with me doing day 5 of my Boston Training plan, as one year ago I had yet to start my Vancouver Marathon training….and Boston was just a distance dream away.

Cheers to everyone as they bring in the New Year!  Best wishes, happy thoughts, and enjoy every moment.  Je me souviens.

-Andrea

 

 

 

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

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So, almost two months late, but this recap is right in time for Halloween!  Why does that matter?  Because I put more effort into my Disneyland Half Marathon costume than I ever have into any Halloween costume!  This would be my second year running in the event, and my second year doing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.  I did my recap on the Disneyland 10 km here.  The Disneyland Half is held on the Sunday after the 10km, part of Labour Day weekend.  The fact it is Labour Day weekend makes this event especially desirable to myself, because as a teacher, I have the Monday off.  It makes the travel to California possible without having to book many days off!

I would be running this race with my best friend Ali.  I have mentioned her lots in this blog, and she even has her own blog here.  She is a relatively ‘new’ runner, as she started running in April 2014.  She started running because I signed her up for the Disneyland 10km 2014.  She has now done many other events, and this would be her 3rd half marathon.  We were going to be aiming to get her a personal best time, specifically below a 2:30.00.  Her previous personal best was a 2:44 and that was at the San Francisco

We arrived bright and early like with all Disney races.  This time, we spent a lot of the extra time taking photos together.  As my one friend said, I ‘upped’ my Mary Poppins game!  I went as Mary Poppins for my 1st RunDisney event (Wine and Dine Half) but was dressed in her nanny outfit.  For this race, I went for the Jolly Holiday costume.  My mom made the arm bands, skirt and red waist corset.  I made the hat, neck piece, and the carousel horse.  That horse was interesting to pack!  Since Ali would be next to me the entire race, I wanted her to be part of the costume too, however, I knew she didn’t want anything restrictive on.  So she was one of the penguins from the Jolly Holiday scene!  I think we looked pretty cute!

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Ali had ran a fast enough 10km time at the Tinkerbell 10km to get into Corral C.  So, we were the third group off and running.  I kept Ali going at a pretty good pace through the parks.  The first part of the Disneyland Half course is solely through the parks, and its a lot of fun!  With it still being dark out, it is really cool to see CarsLand lit up and run through the castle!  After exiting the park, we were well under pace.  But I think Ali was starting to hate me!  We were cruising!

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We would power walk up any big hills (aka overpasses) and I kept encouraging Ali the best I could.  I knew I would be pushing her limits.  After leaving the parks, you are on the streets of Anaheim until the last mile.  While the streets don’t offer a lot of picturesque views, there are a lot of spectators and groups out there keeping everyone motivated.  I think Disney does an awesome job with this portion of the race, given the fact this could be a very, very boring stretch!  Tons of high school bands, cheerleaders, dancers, ethnic dance performances, antique cars, people in costume and more!  During this stretch, the sun was starting to come up and was shining right in our face.  The heat was starting to bother me, but I wasn’t going to complain, because I knew the pace was starting to bother Ali and she really wanted to slow down.  But I wanted to keep her going, as I knew she could do it!

We were still right ahead of the 2:30 pace group when we got to the Santa Ana trail before Angels stadium.  This was the only unfortunate portion of the course, as it narrowed quite a bit and part of the trial seemed to be under construction.  Being in the mid-pack of runners was a different thing for me, as I was used to starting in Corral A at Disney races, so now I see how it can get very bottle necked.  We took a lot of walk breaks in here, and I knew we’d be able to make up the time once we reached the stadium.  The energy in Angel Stadium is amazing!  Rows and rows of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts fill the seats, cheering us on.  The announcer is there saying as many names as he can, and video footage of the runners coming in appears on the big screen.  Ali and I were smiling through this portion and it felt awesome!

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After the stadium, I knew we had to slow down.  Ali was having a little trouble keeping the pace because she was starting to feel a bit dizzy, but I knew we had built a good cushion so she could still easily get a personal best.  We kept moving and I kept encouraging her that the park was coming quick and we would be done before she knew it.  As we approached the back entrance of California Adventure, we wound around back stage for the final stretch.  This is unlike in the 10km, where you go through Downtown Disney.  I like that the final stretches are varied for each race, but the 10km finish is a bit ‘more magical.’   As we went down the final stretch, this was one spot that I didn’t mind it was narrow.  The crowds of people on each side really encouraged all the runners and pushed everyone until the very last moment.

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While we weren’t able to break 2:30, we did manage to crush Ali’s personal best by over 10 minutes!  The final time was 2:33.41!  I was so proud of Ali!  She has done so much in the past year to improve her running performances and is so motivated to keep on crushing her goals!  I would not have wanted to run this race with anyone else, and I will always remember this Disneyland Half weekend!

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Dumbo Double Dare Photo Recap-Official MarathonFoto Pictures!

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Finally got around to ordering my Disney Dumbo Double Dare race photos from MarathonFoto. I knew I had to purchase the download package as the pictures of me and my best friend in the 10km were incredible, and the half marathon shots weren’t too shabby either.

Below are some of my favorite shots from the Disneyland 10km, held on August 30th, 2014!

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And now, here are my personal favorites from the Disneyland Half Marathon, held on Sunday, August 31st, 2014.

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What a great weekend! Loved that this event capped off my Coast to Coast adventure!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

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So this is a few weeks late. Not too bad considering I came home after Dumbo Double Dare and started work five hours later, and then went to Vancouver for a wedding three days later. I need to get this recap posted because I just did another half marathon back in Lethbridge yesterday, and I don’t want to be behind on my recaps! This one won’t be long anyway….I think….

I went to bed early on Saturday night (around 9:00) because I had had trouble sleeping the night before since it was warm outside. My 2:30 alarm went off and I got ready in a zombie-like state. The best part was going to 7/11 dressed as Snow White to get coffee and some drunks heading home after a night out saying “What the fuck?!?

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Ali and Kevin parked and got me to the staging area by 4:00 am. There were a lot more people milling around this morning compared to the 10km. The DJ was there getting people pumped up. I was set to go! I headed to the corrals around 4:45 and placed myself in the outside of Corral A, near the front. I wasn’t necessarily trying to go for some epic time that morning (I was actually nervous how my knees were going to hold up since I had just done Edmonton Full Marathon the week prior) but I wanted to be out front to start, since the course is rather narrow.

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I knew when I started I wanted to push hard early on, so to avoid the warm Anaheim sun. I was not going to stop for any pictures during the race, as I would rely on Marathon Foto to capture any of me as I went by. (I have purchased the photo downloads of both races from them and will post a pictorial of my favorites in a separate post!)

The first mile was my fastest. I blew out of that gate. I ran a 7:17. And before I knew it, I was already in Disney’s California Adventure! The course for the half brought you into the parks much quicker than the 10km, and it also brought you through it somewhat in reverse. I got to run past World of Colour without having to run on the wooden boardwalk, run down Cars Land towards the Radiator Springs facade. As I cut between DCA and Disneyland I was able to see Ali and Kevin for a brief second. Running down Main Street was fantastic, as people who had purchased ChEAR Squad packages were allowed on there, unlike the 10km where no one was able to spectate. The thing I realized early on, that would keep me pumped throughout, that since I was near the front of the group, I was one of the first “costumed” runners people would see. A lot of the hard cores don’t normally dress up, especially the guys, and many women may just have a sparkly skirt on. It was fun to have kids and adults yell “Go Snow White!”

By the time I was out of Disneyland property, I had run miles 2-4, in 7:29, 7:31, and 7:51. I was concerned how running on the streets of Anaheim would go, as I was unsure how “entertaining” it would be. I had read tons of reviews of this race, and people almost always said how great the support and entertainment was on the city streets. Now, I was actually able to see what everyone meant!

This was not a bunch of empty roads full of commercial businesses. The roads had many clusters of spectators cheering loudly. Spectators had awesome signs and music blaring. There were various ethnic dance groups performing as we ran by. I remember a Mexican & Hawaiian troupe specifically. There was also a mile long stretch going through highway underpasses that could have been dreadful. This was remedied by our own personal classic car show. Car afficiandos would have LOVED this, and while I don’t normally care for looking at cars, the tailgate-style atmosphere and pride of the car owners was incredible. Miles 5-8 were 7:44, 7:32, 7:41 and 7:55.

There were close to 20-25 cheerleading/Pom Pon teams and high school bands entertaining throughout. Families of these kids were there watching the event also. Jumping ahead of myself, near the end when my knees really had taken a beating and I was sweaty from the humidity and heat beyond belief, the thing that kept me going was running by the band kids and cheerleaders, giving them high fives. I felt a connection to them, as I was in high school band and a Pom Pon girl for all my years of high school. And also, when you get to Angels Stadium, the entrance into it, the exit out of it, and while running the bases, was lined with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout until 9th grade and after I graduated high school, worked for one summer at Camp Alice Chester, the Girl Scout Camp I grew up going to. Without being too sappy, seeing the scouts, the marching bands and the cheerleaders gave me flashbacks of my life 10-15 years ago. I got emotional about it, because I’m a piece of crap like that. But it pushed me through.

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Those last miles were tough. My body hurt, my legs felt like trash. But I wanted to finish strong. The crowds that lined the finish area of Downtown Disney were electric. I even found some energy in my reserves to help push me in just under 1:40.00. My final miles were 8:02, 8:00, 8:00 and 7:44, bringing me in with an official time of 1:39:57. I had completed the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and also earned my coveted Coast-to-Coast medal. The combination of doing the Dopey Challenge in January and now Dumbo in August is unreal and unmatched, in my opinion.

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Will I do this race again? YES. I love Disney. I love visiting my best friend. I love running. This course is fantastic. The race swag is second-to-none. The time of the race is right before the school year starts, so traveling here is doable. While it costs a pretty penny to fly down to California from Alberta, it is still more affordable than going to Orlando. And Ali and I are in the talks of doing Dumbo together next year. This race will always be special to me, and I can’t wait to do it again and again.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend-The Expo

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This post will be about the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo only. I will discuss the 10km & Half Marathon in a later post.

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I arrived to California on Wednesday night, around 10:30 pm. My best friend lives about 15 minutes from LAX, in Redondo Beach. We would drive from her place to Anaheim each day of the expo and the races. The drive would roughly take 30-40 minutes, depending on if it was later in the day, or the ass-crack of dawn on race morning.

I couldn’t sleep the first night, so when I woke up at 5:54 am, I naturally decided to sign up for the “virtual queue” for the RunDisney New Balance shoes. The online sign up opened at 6 am, so before I knew it I had a return time of 12:50 pm, which was 50 minutes after the expo opened. RunDisney shoes would be mine!

Ali has a Disneyland Annual Pass + Parking, so parking for all race weekend related activities was a breeze! We arrived to the parking structure around 11:30 am on Thursday, and by the time we made it to the downstairs of the expo, they already had things up and running. Ali literally had no wait for her 10km package pickup. For me, it took around 15-20 minutes to get my Dumbo Double Dare goods, Coast to Coast wristband, pre-purchased pins and my Dooney & Burke bag. We were up to the expo floor by the official noon starting time!!

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We wandered to the back by the Offical RunDisney merchandise where a long queue line had already formed. I had read posts online in regards to last year, that the merchandise lines were a disaster. Disorderly, things sold out, etc. I am happy to say I think everything went VERY smooth. Disney employees were stationed amongst the line to assure there was no line-cutting, and that people knew where the line started. We weaved through the line for about 20 minutes before being let into the store area. It was not crowded, as they were paying close attention to the number of guests entering and exiting. Tons of sizes and choices, so we got in and out rather quickly.

The expo space itself it quite smaller than the Wide World of Sports setup in Disney World, however, I never felt claustrophobic or congested as we wandered the aisles. Ali and her boyfriend did some wandering together after the official merchandise, as I headed to my New Balance queue line. I met up with Rick Stiles, a fellow Dopey runner, who was in line for shoes himself. I had reserved a pair of the Cinderella shoes in a 7.5, so after about 8-10 minutes of waiting in line, an associate took me to a bench where she brought my shoes out to try on. It was so quick and easy. Actually everything had been so easy that morning: RunDisney is making it so damn easy for me to spend my money!

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I bought a few other things at the expo, including a SportsHook extension for my medal hanger, some cute shoe charms with the Dopey and Dumbo Challenge distances on them, and a second Dr. Cool ice pack. We were starving by then and wandered over to ESPN zone where we were seated immediately in the bar area. Food was great! We headed into the Disneyland hotel where Ali and I got a sweet picture with Goofy, pretended to drive the old Autopia ride vehicle, and got to chat with “Perfectly Goofy” Gail Savidge and the unstoppable Kimberly Markey (who spent a great part of this last year undergoing chemo for breast cancer!)

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Overall, our day at the expo was fantastic! I strongly suggest getting to any RunDisney expo a half hour before official opening. You can get through pickup and purchasing much quicker, with a lot less people. It made for a much more enjoyable experience!

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My Facebook Status-Real Recap Next Week

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All 11 RunDisney medals I have earned from November 2013-now. Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Dopey Challenge and now Dumbo Double Dare. This was what the last year and a half has been all about. Disney was and still is such an important place for my family. Running is such an important part of my life. Being able to mesh them both together in memory of my dad has been the best therapy ever. I love you dad.

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