Tag Archives: disneyland

RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts 2017

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I’m not someone who partakes in “Virtual Races” much.  For those of you who don’t know what a virtual race is, it’s any event where you register to race the set distance but on your own course.  Some actual road races offer virtual options, which usually need to be completed and logged during a certain window of time.  And some companies put on virtual races just as events where people can log their times and earn a medal to commemorate the run.

The times I have done so was when I did a Digital Running Virtual Run to tack on to my RunDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014 (Hat Trick medal, Grand Slam medal), an “Interstate Challenge” (run a race in Canada and USA…easy!) which then led me to doing a “Time of the Season” challenge with them (run at least a km race in every month of 2014….HUGE four piece medal once done!)  I also did the Knotts Berry Farm Coaster Run 10km as a Virtual Race in 2015 solely for the Snoopy medal.  I mean, duh….

I would rather just be out running an actual race than doing a Virtual Race.  And a lot of the Virtual Races that I see people doing are through promoters in the USA, which then means its a US dollar registration fee, and since our exchange rate in Canada isn’t really that great at the moment it just gets pricey.  It has to be something special for me to consider a virtual event.

In Spring 2016, RunDisney announced their first “Virtual Running Shorts” which would take place in the summer.  There would be 3 different 5km virtual runs you could do, one for each month, with a different medal for each month plus a challenge medal if you did all three.  I was intrigued by this last year since I knew I couldn’t run that much distance in the summer, as my foot surgery was early June, but opted to not push myself post surgery with events (even if just a 5km virtual run).

This year, RunDisney offered the Virtual Shorts again and I jumped on board pretty quickly.  The price tag sort of made me contemplate if it was worth doing-each virtual race was either $40 a piece or you could pay $142 for all three plus the challenge medal and other goodies.  This was then when our Canadian dollar was really at its worse, so after the tax and fees and exchange rate, I did end up paying quite a bit for what is basically just appears to be 4 medals.  Would it be worth it?

I was impressed with that I received my package from RunDisney very early in June—even before some other people in the USA!  They mail you all four medals right away, each individually packed, plus the other goodies which was a collapsible dog bowl, dog tag, and cool towel.  The additional goodies were only for if you registered for the whole challenge, and are dog items since the mascot for the series was Pluto.  They are definitely not something on their own worth registering for, and if you don’t have a pet there really isn’t a use….but I have to say we used that dog bowl a lot this summer with all our travels to and from Calgary for Snoopy’s acupuncture!

 

I opted to keep all the medals in the box and would only remove each one as I completed a race.  What’s the point of hanging them all up right away?…I needed to earn them!


Since I wanted to be able to hang my medals early each month, I tend to chose early dates to complete my virtual run.  I also tried to choose days that were important to me, just to make them a bit more special.  I ran my June 5km on June 7th, which would have been the day of my dad’s 65th birthday.  I was 19 weeks pregnant at this point, and full of emotions, as Snoopy was not yet back to walking.  I finished this 5km in a time of 34:55.

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I opted to use the Canada Day Red Dress Run 5km event as my July digital run.  That event ended up being closer to 6km in length, but I made sure to stop my watch once I reached the 5km point so I had a time for my virtual run.  I had most fun doing this run as part of the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts series mainly because I took the “Dress in Red & White for Canada Day” theme as the opportunity to wear my Minnie Mouse tutu!  It was also fun for it being during an event, as I pushed myself a bit more and ran a 31:45.  I was 22.5 weeks pregnant.

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I couldn’t wait any longer for my last medals, so once August 1st rolled around I went out and did my final event.  The whole month of July had been incredibly hot, but I had stuck with my 4 days a week training plan of running.  Honestly, having these little 5km virtual events each month helped keep me going through the heat and this pregnancy!  I was just shy of 27 weeks along in my pregnancy when I completed the final 5km, in a time of 35:41.

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All four medals are hanging proudly on my medal hanger, and I even made sure to hang them right by all my other RunDisney bling!  Participating in this virtual event was perfect for me, given that my last half marathon was end of May and that I wouldn’t be doing any other long races this summer during my pregnancy.  It helped keep me accountable this summer, when otherwise I may have just gotten frustrated that I wasn’t registered for any summer time 10km or half marathons.  If someone needs a little extra push, this race series may be a good option for you.  While I most likely won’t do it again next year (I’m doing Start Wars-The Dark Side and Disneyland Half Weekend, so I get the real deal!) I am happy that I registered for it this summer!

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Claus Cause 10km Recap

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I have participated in the Lethbridge Claus Cause since 2013.  I have done the 10km twice (2013, 2014) and the 5km once (2015).  I opted to register for the 10km this year 1.) because I am training for a full marathon and need distances! And 2.) I needed a challenge.

I don’t normally get anxious or nervous for 10 km events, but this one was causing some grief.  I knew before even setting foot at the starting line, my time would not be what it was back in 2013 and 2014.  Those times were 45:37 & 45:52 (2013 and 2014, respectively).  My most recent 10km times (up to this race) had been 44:10 (Moonlight Run 2016), 43:28 (Disneyland 10km 2015) and 41:30 (my personal best, Rattler Run 2015).  Those events, especially the 2015 ones, were surrounded by training focused on speed work.  It was also before my foot got the best of me.  So I was fully prepared to not run anything close to those.  But I still wanted to run something that was respectful for me.  I decided the night before the race that I would be happy with anywhere from a low 46 minutes to an upper 47 minutes.

The weather was perfect for running on race morning!  Minimal icy spots on the paved course, and a nice brisk winter air.  I was one of the only fools wearing shorts, but I did have layered long sleeve shirts and my tall compression socks, so really there was not much skin being hit with the elements.  I made sure to arrive early enough to allow for a proper warmup.  My husband came to cheer me on (I sort of forced him because of my nerves).  Race began at 9 am, with the 10km and 5km runners heading out together.

For the first loop, all the runners were together.  This allowed us to be near other runners, but you have to be careful….those 5km runners are potentially going at a faster pace than you would for a 10km (I mean, they should be) so I didn’t want to get wrapped up with trying to stay ahead of people near me….they may be doing the 5km!  I was able to check race bibs, as the different colours signified which event you were in.  I was able to determine by mile 1.5 I was the 3rd female in the 10km.  It was around mile 2 and 3 that my mind started playing games with me, and I didn’t know if I could hold pace.  Was I going to fall apart?

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Photo Credit to Shay, who was volunteering on the course!

The 5km runners head to the finish line as the 10km runners do another loop (plus some).  I started to get my groove back, but then also got myself comfortable.  I was a bit behind runner 1 and 2, but I didn’t see runner 4 nearby.  I held my pace and then in the final straightaway pushed in the best I could.  I successfully held my position of 3rd place female the whole race, and also ended up placing 1st in the 30-39 female category.  My splits were: 6:58, 7:50, 7:40, 7:53, 7:53, 7:45 with an average pace of 7:39.  Official chip time of 47:30.

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Post race-got my sweatpants on and a water, so I’m good!

Takeaway on my splits….I ran my first mile like I was going to run a sub 43 minute 10km.  I want to get to that point again, really I do!  But that obviously hurt me in the miles after.  What would have been ideal is if I could have hit consistent 7:30 splits, but I can’t go back and change that.  I am happy, however, that I was able to reach my goal of being faster than 48 minutes.  I also was able to have a faster pace per mile at this event than I did back a month prior at the Bare Bones 9km.  A farther distance and a faster pace; I’ll take that!  My foot felt strong during the race, and I didn’t have too much pain afterward.  My cardio (and confidence) is what needs to come back.  And it will in time.  I was definitely feeling the ‘race pains’ then next day, but I couldn’t lay around….I had a 15 mile training run for the Goofy Challenge to do, and honestly….it went better than expected!  Countdown to Goofy is beginning NOW!

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After awards with Bob and his daughter Abby

My Best Friend 

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I’m flying to Los Angeles for the second time this year. And for the third time in a rolling calendar year. I used to go to LA to visit Ali while she was out on summer program at USC, and then while she was there doing her masters and after. That would be maybe once a year…sometimes summer, sometimes college breaks. I’d go and visit, and we would attempt to go to Price Is Right (which we got into while Bob Barker was still host, but not never called to “Come on Down!”!), drive to Tijuana, Mexico (before it was basically a ‘do not enter zone’ as it is now), or go to Conan O’Brian tapings. But now, I apparently go for racing. And not just for myself.   
  
It’s only been the last year that Ali has started doing road running races. She did her first ever 5km in Independence, Iowa, in August 2014. Don’t know Indee? Yeah, unless you’re an Isham, you don’t know Indee. There’s an Insane Asylum museum there you can go on a tour at…We have pictures in straight jackets. There’s also a lot of corn and Dollar General stores we used to ride a two-person bike to when visiting her grandparents in the summer. Anyway, Ali did her first ever Spartan Race later that same month of August when she came to visit me in Lethbridge, Alberta….the other LA. We drove the two hours to Calgary one Saturday morning to compete in the Spartan Sprint. She has admitted it being one of the hardest fucking things ever. She could have stopped trying after taking 1 hour and 44 minutes to finish a 5 km obstacle race.  

  
But she hasn’t.  
This girl has always hated running. I’m serious. While she was a competitive swimmer growing up, she would loathe dry land practices. I do remember once having her go on a run with me when we were both in Franklin and she did a 2 mile loop on the bike trail and hated her life. The fact she went back at it after having such a hatred for it so many years later is admirable.
Ali has found a love and healthy addiction to Crossfit. Crossfit works for her. It motivates her. She is focused. She has caught on to healthy habits and lost a shit ton of weight the healthy way. She has achieved so much since being part of it. And she keeps pushing herself. She has now, since that 5km, run numerous other 5 km and also 10 km races. She is hooked on Spartan Races (she even bought a damn spear to practice throwing) and the Rock N Roll series of races. She has become a “bling addict.” Last year at this time I was flying down to run her first ever 10km race with her in Disneyland. We ran it together in a 1:27. This past May she ran the TinkerBell 10km in 1:04.  

  
So this weekend I head to LA not for Tijuana or late night shows. I’m going to run the Disneyland Half with my best friend. I’m going to push her towards her goal time, and we are going to have a great time doing it. She may hate me partway through (I can already picture the look of death at mile 10) but I’m there for her. I’m always there for my best friend.

  
Lanikai 

…And that was Summer 2015

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Tomorrow is the first day back to work for us teachers in the Lethbridge School District.  So, farewell summer—it’s been nice knowing you. The first couple days will be a lot of the general small talk of “How was your summer?  Do anything fun?!?” And I personally have had people already ask me, or more so say to me, “You must have run a lot Andrea?”

I did run.  I did my one race of the Summer Alberta Summer Games, but I trained a ton.  Followed a training plan from my coach Dean Johnson pretty well, which was meant to keep me on track and work toward the goal of a 40:30 10km personal best while running the Disneyland 10km, which is coming up this Labour Day weekend.  I also have the Lethbridge Police Half this weekend, which I hope to run my best time at!  We have been having Air Quality Warnings in Southern Alberta the past few days, due to wildfires in Washington state.  Hope it clears up!  I also have in two weeks the time Red Deer Spartan Super and Sprint….and also the Hurriciane Heat!  I have never done the special Hurricane Heat before in all the Spartan Races I’ve done before, so this will be a first!  If you don’t know what one is, you’ll have to wait for my recap!  And rounding out September is my Spartan 2015 grand finale—Sun Peaks Ultra Beast.  26.2 miles of Spartan hell. 

So I am excited for the school year to start because I have some great races ahead!  And not just that; I do love my job.  It is my sixth year in the district and I’ve been at the same school the whole time.  It’s great looking at your class list and seeing familiar names year to year, and it’s also great having courses you’ve taught before.  I have gotten the opportunity to be involved in our schools IB (International Baccalaureate) program over the past year, so that’s always a great challenge.  And today, while we didn’t have to report to “the office” officially, I went in to do a couple hours of housekeeping items.  And I even decided to get to work the best way I know how-I ran.  So long Summer 2015, and hello new school year!
 

Hanging out at my desk after running to work!

 

Southern Alberta Summer Games 10 km Recap

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As a teacher, I have summers off. But every summer even since I was a kid, my summers consisted of family vacations, going to camp, working at camp, and then going on my only vacations with my friends and my husband. I usually take off quite a bit during the summer, so my training plans fall through, and I never stay consistent with my running. I mean, two years ago I went to Disney World for 16 days….in August….how was I going to keep a stable running routine while there?

Summer 2015
…turns out I am not flying anywhere, or doing much of anything. No week long trips home, no gigantic trips to Disney, no nasal surgeries, no binging in Newfoundland….nothing. So I needed to keep a training plan and have some goals to keep me motivated. My training plan from Dean (who did my Vancouver Marathon plan!) has me training for a pipe-dream time at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend of 40:30. I need a challenge, might as well shoot high?! I had ran a 41:30 in the Rattler Run 10km back in April (right at the peak of my marathon training) so this seemed within reach.
In the midst of my training calendar I had the Southern Alberta Summer Games 10km race, which was held on Wednesday, July 8th. I had heard about the event from a friend, Danny, and he has done different running and cycling events in prior years. The one thing we have in common, other than running, is that we are adults. Why does this matter! Well, in my head I just always picture these provincial summer games to be for middle-college aged kids…not me. But, sure enough, they have age categories every 10 years up to 60+. The event would be held in Claresholm (45 minute drive) and since I am a teacher and have no work on a Wednesday morning in July at 9:45 am, I figured signing up was a good way to spice up my training routine!
Now, I said I wasn’t going anywhere or “doing anything” this summer. Sort of a lie. My Wisconsin mom is currently here and six days into her three week visit. I had also thought this would be fun for her to come watch, as she hasn’t been to many of my events before. I wrote about my first half marathon she ever came to here, where I did the Trailbreaker Half in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during Spring Break 2013. This would be a good day outing for us. I didn’t really know what to expect with this race, not the same way as I do with others. She asked me the night before “how many people are in it? How many are in your age group?” I was totally left in the dark. When you do a summer games event, in particular when you do a solo summer games event, it appears you don’t know who is showing up until you show up yourself.
We headed out to Claresholm at 7:30 am. My event wasn’t slated to start until 9:45, but registration would begin at 8:00 am. My first comment to the organizers is that they should have had the 10km be the first event. It was supposed to be a mass start of the 2.5/5/10km all at 9 am, but a week or so ago I noticed on the site it was changed to the 2.5 km beginning at 9 am and then the 5/10 km beginning at 9:45. A 9:45 am start for a 10km in early July? Eeeeee…..that makes me nervous.

Arrived and was happy to see Randy and crew from Racepro as the official timers!
Yay! I went and checked in, received my race number and timing chip, and then I had plenty of time to relax and warm up. Saw my Lethbridge School District cohort Todd on site as a volunteer. He informed me that the route for the 10km would start as paved road but for about 2km you would be a fresh gravel.  Also met up with my friend Danny, the one who told me about the race.  He would be doing the 5km.



I had peaked at the entry list numbers just to take a look at how many were in my 30-39 female category. There was a number 4 listed there. Ok. I got this. We lined up at 9:45 for the mass 5km and 10km start. The weather felt comfortable standing at this point, with a slight breeze, but I could tell the heat was hiding. We started and I felt strong my first mile, settling in to a 6:45 mile one. Right on where I wanted to be. Then, we had turned onto the never ending rural road. This was still paved but it was one of those cases like when you are on the Vegas strip and you say “it’s right there….it’s just a short walk!” And it isn’t. I slowed my second mile split to a 7:03. Still in a good place.
The 5km runners had already hit their turnaround so now it was me and a high school kid in the middle of this country road. He was slightly ahead of me and I drafted right behind him. At the turnaround for the 10km, Todd was handing out water, which I took, but slightly slowed down. He yelled at me to catch that kid. So, I drank the water (oh man it tasted so good) and kept my eye on this kid. As we ran back on the same route that took us out to the turnaround, I counted all the people behind us. There were only 11 other runners. So 13 total. Small turnout indeed. The shade on this course was non-existent, and the gravel made my feet feel like they were sinking. It was pretty fresh gravel, so there were not any substantial tire tracks sunk in. I kept weaving back and forth trying to find a track to run on, but really just got stuck kicks up more gravel. My mile 3 & 4 times were 7:15 and 7:39. I was going downhill, figuratively.

At approximately mile 4 I did gain enough ground on the teenager and passed him. As much as the heat and terrain were getting to me, I think it was getting to him worse. I steadily increased my distance from him the last two miles of the race, despite having no “rabbit” in front of me to go after. And also, despite my last two mile splits being slower than some of my full marathon splits in Vancouver. I ran mile 5 & 6 in 7:49 & 7:45. I finished in a time of 45:55.

They did the award presentation about 25 minutes later, after the final 10km runner finished. There turned out to be only 2 people in my age category in the end. I also saw a bunch of race bibs not picked up. I wonder how many people were supposed to be in the event? I picked up my gold medal and got a picture with Danny, who also earned gold in his male 30-39 category of the 10km running a time of 19:32. His goal was for under 20 so that’s awesome!



Would I do the Southern Alberta Summer Games again?
Depends. Location makes a difference. I wouldn’t drive all the way out to Medicine Hat for it, but 45 minutes or less sure. They really don’t advertise the event well at all or promote it. It would be very easy for the organizers to make a single page brochure to place in race bags at local Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and area races.  Really, as far as the City of Lethbridge team goes, they just need to not just focus on the elementary schools, but other area athletic organizations who have athletes 18 years or older.  So, not just running….but biking, basketball, etc.  The City of Lethbridge is the biggest in Southern Alberta so there is no excuse as to why we shouldn’t have the most competitors, points, and medals in these games! I’m at the point now that when I run races, I need to be pushed, so the low entry numbers was huge negative.  I’m not confident enough that I can just cruise at a my fastest race pace every time if there is not someone  for me to chase after.  I also wish the start time was earlier for the 10km. July has been ridiculously hot and we are fortunate it wasn’t any worse this morning. I know they have to make sure things don’t overlap with any of the track events happening, but I wish there was a way to make this an earlier start.

So yes, I finished the race first.
But with a less than stellar time. Between the heat, no shade, gravel, small field of runners, and how early it is in my training….I should just be happy with how I did. And I pretty much am. It puts it all into perspective on how trusting your training makes a difference, and that training works. I trained for 16 weeks for Vancouver Marathon and set a new personal best in a 5km, 10km, half and then full when I qualified for Boston at that very race. I kept trucking through the month of May and capped it off with my first ever 50km. Took two weeks off and am now back in the grind, in a way starting from one of the very bottom steps. This just means I have more work to do in order to be where I want to be.

This is Supposed to be Easy……

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I have hit a roadblock.

After the Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, I still kept up with my training for that month, as I had the Spartan Montana Beast and the Calgary 50km Ultra. I mustered through those (pretty decently too) and forced myself to take a solid 15 days off. No running at all. My body needed some recovery time. Near the end of that rest period, I contacted Dean Johnson and asked him to make me a summer training plan, with my end goal being to get a sub 41 minute 10km at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend. Training for a 10km…easy enough, right?


Well, last week Tuesday I started the plan. My first run went well, although I may have pushed myself a bit too much. On Wednesday, I was really sore and my hip flexors were in pain, but I did an awesome hill workout. Thursday, though, it started to fall apart. I opted to take off on Thursday (could take off or do 40-60 minutes easy) as I thought I would feel better come Friday. I went out to attempt my Friday run of 60-70 minutes at easy pace. Mistake 1 was doing this at noon. Holy hell it felt like hell. The heat is not my friend. Mistake 2 was trying for the lower end of the pace goal (8:15 minute miles). I should have aimed for 8:45 from the get go. I held it together the first 4 miles, but by mile 5 I had an 8:58. Then I self destructed and ran a 9:43 for mile 6. I ended up running 6.68 miles in 60 minutes and felt like garbage. This weekend, I skipped my 90-105 minute long run and took off both days. I am not even a week into this plan and I am already sliding.

The plan was supposed to help motivate me to achieve my goal of a personal best 10km time. But right now, I’m in such a weird place and having a hard time getting back in to running. Maybe it was the 16 weeks of intense marathon training this winter and spring that just has me burned out. I mean, it probably is. I guess I just thought getting back in to a rhythm would be easy, as I had such a successful first 5 months of 2015. I got my best 5km, 10km, half and full marathon times in that time frame, and I also ran my first ever 50km. I have been on Cloud 9 and flying high! But now, it’s month 6, and I am a proverbial pile of shit.
If this summer is going to be successful “running-wise” I need to get out of this funk and back in the game. I need to start establishing a routine again. Having the framework of one, with my training plan, clearly isn’t enough. I need to be getting up before work to do my runs, as if I wait until after it is too hot out. And if I run when it’s the afternoon sun blazing down, I get crabby. And frustrated. And even after this last week of school, I need to be setting an alarm each morning so I am up and have a normal breakfast and out the door doing my run by at least 9 am. If I can get into this consistency, the rest should fall in to place.

“…there are no shortcuts or paths of least-resistance on the road to reaching something worthwhile.”-Dean Karnazes “Run!”

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 10km Race Recap

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This post is about the Disneyland 10km event on August 30th, 2014. I will discuss the Disneyland Half in a later post.

The Disneyland 10 km would not just be any 10km for me-it was extra special as I would be running with my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991, and this would be her first EVER 10km event.

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If Ali was nervous, she sure didn’t show it on race morning. My alarm went off at 2:15 am, and we both slowly got ready. By 3:15 we were on the road to pick her mom up from the Redondo Beach Holiday Inn Express. By 3:50, we were pulling into the Mickey & Friends Parking structure. Yes Ali, this in fact was happening!

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We hung out in the pre-race area until 4:45. It was here that we danced a little to the DJ music, did some stretching, and used the porta potties one last time. We headed over to the corrals before things got too crazy in there, and by doing this early, we were able to place ourselves right near the front of Corral B. We stood to the left of the corral, and by doing so Ali’s boyfriend and mom could talk to us before the race began.

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The race was themed “Hawaiian” with all the commercialized island decor that you would expect. Stitch, from the movie Lilo & Stitch, was the unofficial mascot of this event, so they rolled with this theming throughout the 10km event. Overall, I thought the theming was cute, but got a little sick of all the Elvis references everywhere you ran (apparently Lilo is obsessed with Elvis in the movie?). Anyway….

Race began and I was nervous for Ali, mainly because I wanted her to have a great experience. I knew her experience would be great if we paced ourselves accordingly and took our time while near some great photo opportunities. This race was not about a race time for me, but about spending time with my best friend.

When we entered California Adventure near mile 2, the scenery was outstanding. We took many fantastic photos with little to no wait. After winding around California Adventure, we saw Ali’s mom and boyfriend near the main gate. We entered into Disneyland and down Main Street we went. Nothing will beat the experience I had running down Main Street USA in Disney World this past January, but this was still pretty damn awesome!

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When we got to the mile 4 marker near Space Mountain, Ali said something around the likes of “Well, we have now entered uncharted territory.” The farthest she had run during her training was 4 miles. We had 2.2 miles left to go. I knew she could do this, it was so close to being done!

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We decided to take an unscheduled photo stop in front of It’s a Small World to see Chip & Dale. This line took a solid 10-12 minutes, but I think the break was necessary in order to make that last final 2 mile push. We rounded through the backstage area, and into Downtown Disney. The crows lining the walkways in Downtown Disney were awesome! So many people there to support, and it really gave out some positive energy!

Ali and I finished in 1:27:51. It was her first ever 10km, so it is automatically a personal best! And when we finished, Ali agreed that it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. She had a blast doing it and can’t wait to do more! (she is already signed up for the Pixie Dust Challenge in May during Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend, and is also doing a local 10km in January in order to get a faster proof of time for corral submission for Disney!)
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I am so proud of Ali’s dedication to running. Even more proud of the fact that she’s not only been training since March with it, but busting ass in the process. I’m looking forward to the other races we will run together in the future.<

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The Next Big Three Weekends!

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Sorry that I have been absent the last bit. I have not had a race since my Stampede Road Race in July, and after that event I went and enjoyed some vacations, like every teacher should! I went to Walt Disney World with my mom, and I just returned from an epic trip with my husband, to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We had never gone out that Far East in North America before, and holy cow—-it was beautiful. Great people, great food, great music, and as you can see below-great wildlife! Photo credits below go to Richard S. who managed to capture the Humpback Whale breech while we were on our DeeJay Charters boat tour! I didn’t have my camera ready!

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Currently, I am on a “stay-cation” but have the company of my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991! She now lives in California, and this is her first visit here. A lot of people have asked her “Why the hell did you come to Lethbridge?!” Well, she came to see me…I just happen to live in a random place. But we have been going on some adventures since her arrival on Sunday. Some brewery detours in Montana, hiking in the coulees, a little tubing down the Oldman River yesterday, and tomorrow we will be heading to Crowsnest Pass and the British Columbia border.

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But the big adventure this week is the Calgary Spartan Sprint. It is a 5 km obstacle course race held in Calgary for now the third year! Ali has never done a Spartan Race, and she is also a beginner runner. I can quote Ali in saying she “hates running.” However, she has been doing Crossfit for over a year. (shoutout to Crossfit 310!). Ali has an awesome coach, Kris, at her Crossfit gym that has built running into her workouts in preparation for this Spartan Race, and also for the longer distance she will be doing at the end of the month.

On Sunday, August 24th, I have my big Edmonton Full Marathon. I will be running side-by-side with my husband’s cousin Erin as we attempt the elusive Boston Qualifying time. My knee has been acting up some in the past week, and I’m trying to keep an eye on it and not push myself too much before the race. This course is fast, flat, and easy to navigate. The elevation in Edmonton is a lot lower than Lethbridge, so that gives me extra confidence.

I mentioned Ali has a longer race distance later this month. I mentioned in earlier posts that I convinced (well, forced) her to sign up for the Disneyland 10km. We signed her up, and immediately she knew she wasn’t going into it half-ass. She started her running in around March, then followed a program beginning in April. She has worked her way up to 4 miles, which is fantastic because last year at this time she could only do 200 metres and want to collapse (her words!)

We will be doing the 10 km together, and enjoying every second of it! The nice thing about the route is the first 2 miles are on roads outside of huge park, and the last 4 miles are all around the Disneyland Resort. I will be participating in the Disneyland Half the next day, thus completing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and earning my Coast to Coast medal, since I will have completed a RunDisney half marathon distance or longer on both the west & east coast in one calendar year!

I will be writing race recaps following all three of these weekends, and you can bet there will be lots of pictures included! Thanks for continuing to read and follow my blog—-I had originally intended it to just last until after my Dopey Challenge in January 2014, however, I found I really do enjoy writing and sharing my experiences with running. If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to write in the comments below or send me an email!

Stampede Road Race Recap-Yee Haw!

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On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, I participated in the Stampede Road Race up in Calgary, Alberta. Those of you not from Western Canada have no clue what “Calgary Stampede” is. Well, if you want to know, here’s a link from Wikipedia explaining the insanity that is Stampede: “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”

So obviously, this event is held during Stampede week. There was a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, and even kids races. About two months ago, I did not have a July race planned. Usually I never race in July! But, since I had signed up for the Digital Running “Time of the Season Challenge”, I needed some sort of event in July. You can find information about that virtual event here:
Digital Running Virtual Challenges

I opted to register for the half marathon, as my attitude is that if I have to drive two hours to get to a race, I want to at least be doing an event that will take me over an hour. Yeah, weird theory perhaps, but why get up at 3:15 am, drive two hours, then do a 10km? I also was looking forward to this half marathon, because it would probably be my best shot at a personal best this summer. My Millarville Half Marathon a few weeks ago was so-so, and I wouldn’t be doing another half until Disneyland (which I have not as of yet fully decided how I am going to pace it). I also was still a little volatile towards Calgary after my performance at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st. It wasn’t Calgary’s fault! But, I didn’t achieve my goal time, so I was in a way seeking some sort of redemption.

I made it up to Glenmore Athletic Park by 6:15 am on Sunday. The half marathon race was slated to start at 7:30 am, but walkers who thought they would take longer than 2:45:00 could start at 7:00. I wanted to be there early because I needed to pick up my race packet, and I was assured via Twitter I could that morning. But when I got there, the whole area was a ghost town. Sure, there were signs saying the roads were closed for the Stampede Road Race, but there was no sign of life. I followed the map to where the start line would be, and it was an empty gravel road. I was getting anxious, so I moved my car closer, slathered on bug spray, and went to use a Porta John’s. By this time it was close to 6:30, still no start line set up, and as I waited to use the bathroom, the ten of us standing around realized only one porta potty was unlocked. The other six or seven were all zip-tied shut by the door handle. They were obviously delivered the night before and kept shut so people in the neighborhood or surrounding area didn’t go in them at night. It was just a very bizarre first 25 minutes.

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Finally a volunteer showed up to her station near the Porta John’s. I felt really bad for her because at this point about two to three dozen people were milling around confused at where to go, some asking about packet pickup, some asking about the walking start, and some just wanting to go to the bathroom. I found out the packet pickup was actually over on the track at the athletic park, where the finish line would be. I hiked over there, got my packet, used real bathrooms, slathered on bug spray, and dropped my bag. I had about 30 minutes until race start now, so after the initial confusion and frustration, I had time to calm my nerves.

The start area was now set up, courtesy of Racepro Timing . I have talked about these guys before—they are great, and locally based from here in Lethbridge. Before I got set up in the starting area, I asked Randy of Racepro what the heck happened this morning. He said they were there early, around 5:30 am, but whoever was suppose to let them into the locked storage with all the timing equipment didn’t show up until obviously way later. At least Randy and his team are old pros at getting the system set up quickly, because now as five minutes before race time fast approached, it looked more like the start of your typical half marathon.

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I had looked at the map of the route and just assumed it would be a flat bike path around this reservoir. In talking to a few people before the gun, they told me it had LOTS of rolling hills, and some pretty big climbs. Someone also told me it would be a tough course to get a personal best. I took that as a challenge.

When the race started, I quickly found my pace and positioned myself accordingly. For the first mile and a half, we ran on neighborhood streets, which allowed runners to get spaced out. I appreciated this, versus hitting the narrower trails right away. By the time we did the little turn around at the end of a neighborhood, I had roughly counted myself to be the 20th female runner. Little did I know that I would never have a female competitor pass me the rest of the race, let alone that many men. I also wouldn’t be passing too many people myself, at least not until the last 5km, so I seemingly would end up getting used to the people surrounding me for the duration of the event.

We hit the trails hard and I kept on trucking. Besides my always fast first mile, miles 2-4 were pretty spot on. I was aiming for around 7:30 a mile, as this would be necessary if I wanted to beat my personal best of 1:38:40, which i interestingly enough ran in Calgary in March duringRun for L’Arche. We had hit the first “hill” at around mile 3, and it wasn’t that bad. I have mentioned before that hills have become my friends (in shorter races like this) because as long as I know I will be going downward eventually, I can truck my way up. And since I don’t listen to music when I run, this is the only time I actually “sing” to myself during a race. No, I don’t sing out loud, but I get a song (sometimes a weird one) in my head and go through it at the cadence my feet are going, keeping my head forward. I will admit, and you may want to admit me to a psych ward after reading this, but I went through the song “The Perfect Nanny” from Mary Poppins. Why? Because you can basically talk through the words, and I know all of them. Whatever, it got me up the hill just fine, and it got my up the latter two also!

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Miles 5-8 went pretty well too. At 10km, I was at approximately 45:55, which was on pace for a personal best, as long as I didn’t screw up. There was a point after mile 6.5 where I couldn’t see many people in front of me due to the turns on the path, so I think it slowed me up mentally a tad. You can see that in the time at mile 7, but thankfully, I picked it up on mile 8.

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Mile 9-10 are notoriously the toughest for me during a half marathon. This is the make or break it area. I was still feeling super solid, my stomach wasn’t acting up, and my legs felt strong. Right before mile 9, I hit the major hill. You can see that in the map below, where it curves red. I knew this split would be slower, but I didn’t know by how much. The fact that I kept mile 9 at around 8:00 minutes per mile makes me super proud. It was after the top of that hill that I started talking to a guy I caught up with, Chad. I asked him if that was the last major hill and he assured me YES! I told him what I was going for time wise, and he acknowledged that I was right on target. Since no one else was right next to us, I decided to try and pace with him.

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Chad helped me TONS during the final 3 miles. He did lie to me though-sort of. That wasn’t really the last hill! There was one more pedestrian bridge we needed to cross to get over a freeway! It was a switchback sort of climb, and wasn’t too bad, but it came right after mile 11. Once I made it up and over that, and my average pace was still on at 7:30, I knew I could get my best time. As we got closer to the finish, we had now joined up with the 10km runners, so the energy in the race crowd had picked up a bit. More spectators were around the final mile or so, and this helped motivate me. The race ended with entering the athletic park and running about 300 metres on the track. As I reached my last straightaway, I knew my personal best was all but written in pen, and I pushed hard to keep it under that magic number of 1:38. I finished with an official time of 1:37:54!

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I had a huge cheesy smile on my face after finishing. My right leg was also trembling, not because I felt woozy, but because I was so damn excited. I broke my personal best, got the redemption I wanted from the city of Calgary, and did it all while it was close to 75 degrees and increasingly getting warmer. This gave me a huge boost of confidence for my training and running the rest of this summer, as I usually don’t do well in warm weather. Another funny thing about this new personal best is that I beat my last time by 46 seconds, but it was also 68 degrees warmer! No, that is not a typo—it was honestly 7 degrees Fahrenheit in March when I ran my 1:38:40.

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The medal for this race was fun, as it reminds me of a sheriff badge, and it is on a bolo tie. Definitely a fun medal for this theme of a race. I also did really enjoy the shirts we got in our race package, which were lavender for women and orange for men. They are a fitted Mizuno shirt with v-neck, and I will definitely be wearing it to train in, which is great. The race package itself was full of goodies, like coffee from Kicking Horse, and Honey Stinger products.

This great swag made up for my other race complaint (In addition to the confusing morning), and that is in regards to the “Stampede Breakfast” we all received a ticket for. When I finished my half, I received a bottle of water, and eventually made my way up to where the food was. I did this about 15 minutes after I finished, as I needed to walk around a bit, pick up my bag, etc. Now, I had finished fast, so you’d think the line for food would be small. But I did not take into account the people who did the 5km and 10km. They were all finished and all in line. You could tell these were the events they ran by looking at the color of their race bibs. The line went from the entrance to the food pickup all across the bleachers in front of the track. And it was moving SLOW. Since it was a pancake breakfast, it wasn’t just a standard grab a banana and chocolate milk and go. It was frustrating that I couldn’t just grab a piece of fruit or a juice, but would have to wait in this giant line behind everyone and anyone who did the 5km and 10km. I don’t even like pancakes, but I did want that sausage I saw on plates. Oh well, I thought about it for one minute and decided to bail and hit the road, picking up breakfast in the way. I gave my ticket to someone already in line and made the short trek back to my car.

So that was the Stampede Road Race. Would I recommend this race to someone? Sure, if you live in Calgary or were going to be there the night before. I do not recommend doing what my crazy self did and drive two hours there, race, and drive two hours back. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from Millarville, but I didn’t. If I was to do this race again, I would look into staying with a friend the night before, and then possibly only doing the 10km. The route was fantastic and the swag was great, but the morning confusion and the post-race food frustration for half marathoners was, well, frustrating. This race will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was my 20th half marathon, and as I set another milestone with breaking 1:38!

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