Star Wars Weekend 2015 - Intro and Expo

Hello all!

Wow what a runDisney filled week and a half it's been! I've had so much fun completing all 71 runDisney miles (Dopey Challenge + Star Wars 5k + Rebel Challenge) and this week my body has been soaking up the full nights of sleep. So now it's time to share it all with you, I've queued up some Disneyland background loops on YouTube so let's go!

Intro

This trip felt much different than my WDW trip:

  1. It was shorter (4 versus 7 days)
  2. Went with friends and Wookie (the boyfriend) instead of family
  3. I was already tired from all the fun in WDW
  4. Running (logistically) feels 100x's easier than at WDW

Going into the trip legs were pretty sore still from my solid effort at the WDW Marathon so I knew I was going to have to take it on a day by day basis. I also knew that the 5k and 10k would be at a very comfortable pace since I was helping my friend (5k and 10k) and Wookie (10k) run their first official races. I was confident they both were fit enough to finish, but knew we wouldn't be running at a fast clip.

I had returned from WDW Tuesday and we had a early Thursday flight to LAX, so I had a day and a half of relaxing, unpacking, and repacking. I had even done my laundry Monday night before leaving WDW to make the turn around a little easier. In hindsight... BEST DECISION EVER!

With bags packed, we drove to the Denver airport to catch our flight! We flew into LAX, grabbed our bag, and then hopped onto the SuperShuttle I arranged. SuperShuttle worked out great for us!

We were staying at the Holiday Inn and Suites on Walnut (this hotel is fast becoming my favorite race weekend hotel). It's nothing fancy but the room is nice and the room rates are just right. It is also pretty close to the Disneyland Hotel where most of the race weekend events are happening.

Our friends arrived and then we decided to head to Downtown Disney for a late lunch before heading to the expo. A hungry Katherine doesn't deal with crowds very well. Once we devoured our delicious Earl of Sandwich sandwiches (holiday sandwich of course!) it was time to feel the force!

Expo

We arrived around 3pm on Thursday and it was very easy to get around. I printed my waivers, got my bibs and got my Rebel picture taken in about 15 minutes. We then headed upstairs to the expo and got our shirts and goodie bage (aka a GIANT bag check bag with a tiny little Clif bar in it).

The expo had all the usual favorites and was easy to navigate. We went over to the Official Merchandise area and we had our pick of pretty much everything. I was being pretty money conscious this trip so didn't end up getting much but honestly, not that much caught my eye. I grabbed a hat and 2 pins and called it a day. I really liked the race shirt designs so didn't feel the need for the other shirts.

We browsed some of the other shops and I finally bought a "Stick" which had been on my list for awhile. The soreness I was feeling from the Dopey Challenge wasn't shaking off easily so I thought this might help. In the back of my mind I was hoping to put in a solid effort for the half marathon but my thighs were really, really sore so I wasn't sure if it would be safe.

We looked at a few more things and I picked up my tank from RawThreads and we were on our way in about an hour and a half. They also had some fun picture areas set up so took a minute and got some pics.

We then went to Downtown Disney to browse around before calling it a night. Our 4 am wake up call for the 5k was going to come very, very early!

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Intro and Expo

Well another WDW Marathon Weekend has come and gone and what a weekend it was! I fell in love with this race weekend all over again and after the marathon I was on cloud nine. I have really found my personal favorite mixture of Disney fun and “real racing” that has me crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

Let me set up the weekend for you before we jump into it.

I was in WDW January 6-13 and stayed at Art of Animation with my Dad. This is a great resort and I really find it to be a great value. It’s the quintessential Disney resort in that, if you told someone you were going to WDW and staying at a Disney resort, this is what they would picture in their head. I LOVED it! We stayed in the Lion King section and I just loved all the little touches.

I was attempting my 2nd Dopey Challenge, the previous year I had run in the inaugural challenge and came away happy, but exhausted and sick and had sworn I would never do it again. It was just too much. Then an Australian friend from my College Program days who I had run races with saw my pictures and said she wanted to come and run the challenge. The idea of having people to run with made me happy, so there I was signing up again to do 48.6 miles and I’m so glad I did.

This time around I came away much happier with my performance and I’m actually excited to do it again next year should it all work out.

Going into the weekend I my nerves were starting to get the best of me. My final long run/Dopey dress rehearsal had gone great, however, on January 1st I had driven through the night to Boulder, CO to start a new life there and so felt very removed from my final training runs and generally tired from moving. As I was unpacking my boxes, I was already dreading having to repack for race weekend.

However, as always happens, I got there and was totally ready to tackle the weekend. My plan was to walk the 5k with my dad, jog/run the 10k and half with my Australian friends and then depending on how I felt on marathon day, maybe race it, but knowing that Dopey can be draining, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.

So with that let’s get to the expo!

Expo

runDisney has got this weekend down pat. It’s grown a lot since my first marathon back in 2011 and there have been some road bumps but this year ran like butter, in my opinion. I know there are disasters for some people at every race weekend, but for me, it went so well. They are still trying to figure out the best way to prove that a person fully ran a challenge but I applaud their efforts to try new things.

Buses were running frequently, the expo floor felt more open and less crowded and bib pick up was fast and efficient.

I had flow in late Tuesday night, so my dad and I decided to take an easy morning and go to the expo Wednesday afternoon. We were in no real rush and there was no merchandise that we were “do or die” about. We arrived sometime between 12:30 and 1 and went and got our bibs quickly. I printed my waiver and picked up my bib and maybe took 15-20 min total, that place is big and there is a lot of walking. I then had to go downstairs to get my t-shirts which was new this year. Usually they put all t-shirt pick-up in the main expo but Goofy and Dopey challenge participants (maybe other too?) picked up their goodie bags and any pin pre-orders in the same building as the bib pick-up. Again, super quick and easy.

We went over to the main expo, got my dad his 2 shirts and then quickly grabbed an “I Did It” Dopey shirt and a runDisney wine glass (which I love). Neither of us were really looking for anything else that day so we did a quick lap and then left. In totally we were at the expo for maybe an hour.

I did end up going back the next day to grab a couple things to complete some running outfits/extra layers but it was not too crowded and everyone was extremely efficient.

Great job runDisney!

Let's get to the races:

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – Expo

So as I set up in my intro that I was actually on the other side of the expo this year which was actually pretty fun! I knew runDisney brought together a unique mix of runners but it was awesome seeing the “I’m not sure if I’ll finish he 5k” runners all the way up to the Ironmen. Disney really brings people together in a unique way.

I got to the expo bright and early to set up then left and came back and we welcomed the first people into the expo at 11:30am(Tip: If you are a person looking to buy merchandise, the expo apparently opens a half hour earlier than the posted time)

I spent most of Thursday manning the booth but got a break around 3:30 thanks to my most badass boss. I went and chilled at the ESPN Zone (first time here ever, pleasantly surprised) with Wookie and grabbed some grub and on the way snapped a quick pic with this goof ball.

The expo didn't seem as manic this year as compared to last year. I wasn't there for the merchandise frenzy that happened last year, but I heard about it, and that didn't seem to happen. Was there a line to get merchandise early on? Yes, but I don’t think it was the flooded rush like last year.

Towards the end of the expo I went and picked up my own registration. I printed my waiver and got my stuff in a matter of minutes. It took all of 20 min. I also LOVE the shirts this year. Last year’s shirts were… augh, just bad. They didn't fit well and the fabric was heavy and itchy. I wanted to love those shirts, but just couldn't and they will end up in a fun art project soon, but this year’s shirts are awesome! I really love the material they've been using for the runDisney shirts this year!

One vendor that I made note of this year was Dr Cool, really awesome icing/first-aid wrap product, going to have to go find them online.

After the expo Wookie and I headed to Disney California Adventure (DCA) for a couple hours and I totally won on Toy Story Midway Mania. We watched a snippet of World of Color before making our way across to Disneyland to get in a couple rides and then call it a night (late night ride on Jungle Cruise, anyone?) 

Next Up: 

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - 10k

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2014 – Intro

Hello fellow runners!

Today kicks off my recap of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. Woo hoo!

I’m really excited to share with you all the fun of this weekend because, well, it’s freakin’ awesome! Last year I ran the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare and ran my first race at Disneyland and fell in LOVE with running at Disneyland. It’s a little more relaxed, less bus/transportation anxiety, and I love the balance of Disney park race and road race that they have going on. You can have fun and then just let it go and race on the streets. You can check out my pre-race blog 

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - What to Get Excited For

So let’s get to it. Here are the facts for those of you thinking about running during this weekend:

  • The weekend consists of the 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Dumbo Double Dare (10k+Half), and lots of kids races
  • Expo is held the Thurs-Saturday of the weekend
  • It’s historically always been labor day weekend
  • It’s the (un)official start to the runDisney race season (August-May)
  • It historically has started and finished at the Disneyland Hotel parking lot – keep this in mind while planning where to stay and the expo has been at the Disneyland hotel
  • It’s freakin’ awesome!*

*This may or may not be based in historical fact

So how did I decide to tackle the weekend? This would be my Dumbo Double Dare Double Take. I really enjoy the 10k+Half combo, it’s a nice challenge but easier to prepare for and still enjoy the weekend than a Goofy or a Dopey.

On the advice on wdwmagic.com, I stayed at the Holiday Inn and Suites just north of Disneyland. This was an awesome location and it was super easy to get to and from the race and the parks. I highly recommend this hotel. Clean, safe, and aside from a slight water pressure in the shower gripe, it was great.

I was also there to help promote/rep/sell Bia at the Fit2Run booth so being close to the expo was something I was interested in since I would be spending a good amount of time there. If you learned about Bia and talked to a tallish redhead, that was ME!

I was also there with my Wookie (this girl’s got a boyfriend! No he is not a real wookie, he just pretends to be one… sometimes) and so I was balancing expo/Bia stuff, running, and spending some quality time with my Wookie. To say I had a few things to juggle would be an understatement. My life has also been a comical (but not really that funny) series of life changes in the weeks leading up to that weekend, to the point where my goal for September is to not have anything that you would coin as “life changing” happen. June, July and August all saw some life changes, some good like Wookie and some not so cheerful. Finding a new equilibrium will do me some good this month.

So now that I’ve rambled on, let’s get on to the fun stuff like the races and playing at the parks! 

Next Up: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - Expo

My Tips for Running at WDW



So You Want to Run at WDW?




So by no stretch of the imagination am I an expert at these races but after participating in this weekend 4 times and other runDisney weekends here are my tips, including some for those that drive to the race start!



  1. Go in the Last Hour or so of the Expo on Any Day - Most people say “Go early to the expo” and while that is great advice, this applies more to the die-hard “I need merchandise” group. If you just don’t want crowds and are okay with not getting the pick of the limited merchandise, go late. I’ve gone in the last hour of both the WDW Marathon Weekend and the Princess Weekend expos and literally, you walk right up and get your stuff. It’s super easy. This year I went at 7 on Wednesday to get merch and there was literally no one in the Official runDisney Store in the packet pick-up pavilion. It was empty. 
  2. Go to the Expo with a Game Plan – Look at the vendors and decide before hand what you want to get and see at the expo. Do you want to try out compression socks? Figure out where those vendors are. Want to get a Sparkle Skirt? Yep, find them on the map first. It helps immensely and as someone who gets overwhelmed easily at expos, it helps to keep me focused. I usually do a lap around just to see if anything catches my eye, but it helps if you have and agenda before going into the expo. 
  3. Bring Layers – Florida weather in January can be unpredictable, so bring it all. I always over pack for this weekend, but I’d rather do that then get to race day feeling less than confident in my clothing choices. Also, cooler temperatures can mean moist air and when that gets on your skin you might feel a bit cooler. For me extra humidity also means that my sweat just rests on my skin because there are few breezes to evaporate it. Keep this in mind when planning race attire. 
  4. Follow runDisney’s Driving Instructions – Even if you know how to get around property like the back of your hand, follow the driving directions in the Official race Program. Roads get closed and it’s just not worth the hassle and stress of getting stuck. 
  5. Get To the Race Early on Race Morning – Again the same as above, give yourself an extra 20 min, so you don’t have to stress out if you hit traffic. If you are catching a bus, also give yourself some extra time. Plus, there are plenty of people and entertainment to keep you company while you wait! 
  6. Parking at Epcot? Stay Left – If it’s a race at Epcot, stay to the left as you drive into the parking lot. If they have 2 lanes turning into the parking lots, the left lane will park closer to the start/finish area. 
  7. Take a Picture of Where you Parked – In the morning, walk to the end of your row, pull out your phone or camera, and snap a picture. Presto! You will not be wandering around like a nomad after the race! This is also just good advice for when you are visiting any parking lot that is huge. Post-race you do not what to wander around because you’ve lost your car. You get their super early, run a ton, and then afterwards you may have runners brain, so this helps to ensure you remember where you parked. 
  8. Bring A Camera – Even if you don’t plan to stop, you never know if you are going to find that “don’t miss” character photo op. This happened to me at the Princess Half Marathon, they had a group of princes ready to take a pic and I had no camera.
  9. Find Your Fun – The most common piece of advice is “Don’t try to run for a PR at Disney, just have fun!” however, fun is a subjective word that can mean a lot of things to different people. For me, racing is the fun part of a race. Pushing myself to see where my limits are. I get to the end of races where I stopped for characters and did a bit more meandering and I don’t feel like I necessarily got my money’s worth. If you want to take pictures and chat with friends, do it! If you want to race but stop for a few choice photo ops, do it! If you want to PR, do it! I’ve done all 3 of these options and have had fun at all of my runDisney races. Find your fun in the race and don’t feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you don’t stop for every character or other photo op. 
  10. Have a Plan B – If you are traveling to the race, like many of us do for runDisney races, have a plan B. Many people say to only pack a carry on, but at least wear or have your sneakers with you on the plane. If there is something you can’t race without, keep it on your person for your entire travel. If you are meeting others in your group at WDW, send them your race packet pick-up authorization forms, just in case. This past year at the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend, I had to pick up my stuff on Wednesday for Dopey, but since I only have limited time off from work, I wasn’t arriving until Wednesday morning. Then enter the polar vortex craziness meant I got delayed until 5:30, which for me is too close for comfort to ensure I could pick up my race stuff. Luckily my parent’s had all the forms they needed to pick up my race stuff so it all worked out. Think about the largest points of failure and try to come up with a plan B.





Hope these tips help! Happy running!