So excited that Peilin will be joining myself and all the women participating in the Rockland Road Runners Women’s Distance Festival this weekend at Rockland Lake! This was one of my first races when I started running and have tried to do it every summer since. I’m looking forward to another great event tomorrow morning!
Sunday I ran in the NYRR More Women’s Half Marathon with my friend FitNic. I’ve run this race in the past, however it was FitNic’s first half. About 6 weeks ago she decided she wanted to give it a try, and asked if I would run with her. Of course I said yes.
The race is two counter-clockwise loops around Central Park which can be great, or incredibly challenging depending on how much you like hills. I’ve done this loop so many times now that I feel like I know what to expect, when we started the race, we were right behind the 2:45 pacer but felt we could stretch out a little stronger and kept her in our rearview mirror for most of the race. Somewhere along the way (I think when we stopped to pee around the half way point) we lost her. FitNic finished in 2:43:14, I finished a few minutes behind at 2:49:49. I had to slow down around mile 9 because my new Saucony Guide 8s which I took out for a few miles the weeks before decided to pick race day to start ripping up my feet. I will be on my way to return them later today. Incidentally, FitNic conquered this with only 6 weeks of training!! She has a great base of muscle and endurance from working her Beachbody programs (I told you that 21 Day Fix DVD was awesome!), so I know we will see great race times as she continues to run.
FitNic was nervous about her first half, but I told her not to worry and she did great! Here is the best advice I can give new runners
Just finish – don’t worry about time, pace, or any of that other stuff. That will work it’s self out. It’s you first race so no matter how you do, it will be a PR (personal record) and the line in the sand to get better
Have fun – running should be enjoyable. If you aren’t having fun, why do it? Enjoy yourself first and foremost
You are only competing against yourself. – don’t worry what the people around you are doing. They are running their own races. Just worry about your own!
Congrats FitNic on a triumphant first half! I’m so proud of you! You are a half marathoner now, and no one can take it away from you!
Special shout out to SK2 who came out to cheer for us at 92nd Street entrance to the park!! Thank you so much!!
Sunday is the UnIted NYC Half Marathon and I’m running it.
Well, I’m going to try to run it.
You see, I have not run since the Star Wars Rebel Challenge almost eight weeks ago. Between the cold weather and my never-ending cold (which incidentally turns out to be a virus that just needs to run its course) I have not gotten any true training in. I did get a few treadmill miles in once or twice when I actually made it to the gym. Most of my fitness has been via my 21 Day Fix DVD, Neila Rey Workouts, and a few attempts at Kayla Itsines workouts that SK2 shared with me. I have not even been to my favorite Bikram yoga studio. I’ve run races on little to no training before but I feel this year, because I hardly did any cross training either things are going to be tough.
So what’s a girl to do?
Well what can I do but show up, and do my best. I know I’m not going to crush any records or win any prizes so my strategy is simple. Show up, have fun, run as much as I can, walk when I need a break, and keep heading towards the finish. I just have to finish.
The toughest parts of this race are in the first half. It’s a counterclockwise loop around Central Park which to the surprise of many out-of-town runners, is very hilly! You leave the park just after the 6 mile marker and head down 7th Ave in to the heart of Times Square. This is one of the few times a year Times Square is closed off to traffic. Once you reach 42nd street, you head west to the West Side Highway which you follow for the back 5.1 miles of your run, rounding the tip of Manhattan island and ending on Water and Wall Streets.
It’s a competitive race to get in to. Most entrants are through lottery or runners who have completed the borough series. (You have to run 4 of the 6 borough races – the Fred Lebow Half, NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Queens 10K, Bronx 10 Miler, and Staten Island Half) Last year, I was lucky enough to find my friend Suz Wex, my original running inspiration, as I left the park. We ran through time square together which was really great. This year, my friend and featured guest blogger Brad, will be running it as well. Of course he is an earlier wave and waaaay faster than me and my stumpy legs so he will be probably be finished before I even leave the park. I’m sure I will make friends at the start line or even on course. I make friends where ever I go. My sister’s call it “ITSD – I talk to strangers disease”. One of the women I made friends with at the start last year, I chat with on Instagram regularly. She’s actually relocated to the west coast and won’t be running this year. Regardless of who I meet or how fast I run, I am going to get to the finish line… slow and steady wins the race, or at least finishes it!
Plus, I get one of these (well this is the one from 2014, but you know what I mean!)
What better way to express my inner animal than to take part in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Run For the Wild 5K at the Bronx Zoo!
I’ve done this race in 2012 and 2013 (I skipped 2014 to run the Nike Women’s Half in DC last year) and it is a great little race. Participants run through the zoo, passing many animals exhibits along the way, to finish in front of the fountains at the main gate.
The wonderful thing about this race is that it raises money for endangered animals. Each year they pick a different animal to sponsor. I have sponsored Lions, Elephants, and this year I will be sponsoring Gorillas!
Despite their imposing size, gorillas are actually considered gentle. They live in tight-knit groups of up to 30, greet each other with an embrace, and munch mainly on vegetation, (similar to the way I hug my friends before sitting down to lunch of salad!)
If you are interested in making a donation to my fundraiser, or participating in the run, you can check out my fundraising page for details. The WCS Run for the Wild takes place on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 at the Bronx Zoo. Walkers and runners are welcome!
All registered children and adults who meet the $30 fundraising requirement, will get:
Entrance to either the 5K or Family Fun Run
Complimentary Bronx Zoo general admission and parking for the entire day
A commemorative WCS Run for the Wild t-shirt
Your Run for the Wild donation is tax deductible. Please check with your employer about matching your gift to WCS’s Run for the Wild. Matching gift forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to : WCS Run for the Wild 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY 10460 Attn: Run for the Wild.
Another early morning start for SK2 and I as we got up and dressed for the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon. Up again at 3am, and feeling a little tired from the 10K and day of walking around the parks. I was personally feeling a little apprehensive about the race. My training for the run was practically nonexistent over the last 6 weeks and although I was going in to the run for fun, not time, I was still feeling a little nervous. If anything, I knew I would look great if I got swept! My Darth Souzapalooza costume rocked!
I felt a surge of confidence when I saw Lord Vader watching over the crowds
Since we had to walk past the 13 mile marker on our way to the corrals, we took the opportunity to get a photo. All the mile markers on the half course were the same unlike the 10K course, which had different backdrops, as you saw my 10K recap yesterday.
As we were walking to the corrals we ran in to our friend Nicole looking better than Carrie Fisher circa 1982, rocking the Slave Leia costume! She looked absolutely amazing all race weekend, when we had the pleasure of running in to her and her wonderful mom, Katy. We saw her walking around Downtown Disney on Expo day as Leia (white dress and hair buns), she ran as a Wampa for the 5K and as Padme in her fireside gown for the 10K! I have no idea how she was able to breathe, let alone run, in that form-fitting gown! Incidentally, those rock hard abs came from a gluten-free diet, unlimited burpees and Neila Rey workouts! She has given me so much motivation to get back to those Neila Rey workouts!
Of course it wasn’t time to worry about my abs. I was in Corral C to start the race with SK2 and it was now time to focus on the task at hand. What was that?
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And we were on our way to running 13.1 miles in Disneyland, California Adventure, and the streets of Anaheim California! For the half marathon course, you don’t hit the public parts of the park until mile 2 where we again ran up main street, towards the castle and made a right in to Frontierland. Instead of Chewie in front of the Mark Twain Riverboat, Luke and Leia were on course to take pictures with the rebel alliance running the race. We didn’t stop for a photo with them. We made out way towards Fantasyland where Stormtroopers were guarding the carousel this time. Although this was not a photo stop, and the RunDisney people did not want us stopping for them, I did shoot a photo.
I have to say, if there is any advice I can give the people of RunDisney, it is this…IF YOU DON’T WANT US TO TAKE A PHOTO, DON’T PUT IT ON THE COURSE! There were a few places where Disney staff was telling us that we could not take photos and were yelling at runners to put their phones away. If there are things you don’t want us to photograph, you should not have it out. Just my two cents, but I digress and will get back to the race now.
As we weaved our way through Disneyland, we spotted Chewie and Darth Vader again. They once again, they both had insane photo lines. As much as I wanted to have my picture taken with Vader, I just couldn’t rationalize waiting on a line, so we did a run by shooting, and headed out of Disneyland toward California Adventure via the tunnel radiating the sounds of Darth Vader’s robotic breath. As we entered California Adventure, we were greeted by a gaggle of Jedi trying to lead us to the light side.
Of course I had to stop and take a photo with the Red Car Trolley for my sister Ka-Ka who is a true trolley enthusiast!
As we made our way through Hollywoodland, where I spotted a line for another unique character, a Gamorrean Guard! Not someone you see everyday, even in Disney!
More importantly, while SK2 and I decided if we should jump on line or not, I spotted a bigger celebrity! Greg from Why I Run Disney! I was so excited to run in to him. It is always a great pleasure to meet fellow bloggers in real life and since I have been following him for a while, especially regarding all the Star Wars Race Info he had been sharing, I was super excited! I ran up to him like a crazy person and told him who I was and we did a quick line selfie!
After our brief blogger encounter, SK2 and I headed towards Paradise Pier again and spotted Mace Windu and some of his apprentices before we headed back stage.
We headed backstage and SK2 and I realized that the sun was starting to rise and break through the clouds that had showed up when the race started. The sight was spectacular!
However, that sunrise couldn’t compare to the sight that we were all blessed to see when we entered Radiator Springs. Sometimes, being a slower runner has its perks!
This was our last piece of Disney magic, because in a few minutes we would leave California Adventure and hit the streets of Anaheim. This is where Disneyland races have a disadvantage. Disneyworld owns most of its surrounding property, so they can set up lots of entertainment on the roads, Unfortunately, this is not the case with Disneyland. However, there were a great deal of bands and cheer squads from surrounding high schools and colleges out on this part of the course playing songs and cheering for all us runners huffing and puffing our way down Harbor Blvd. We did stop for “Free Hugs” from the random Wookie to help us push on to the half way point
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As we passed Mile 7, SK2 and I ran past Chris Powell and his Extreme Weight Loss contestant who was feeling good after 7 miles of running! Unfortunately, I can not show you her picture, so I will show you a photo of SK2 and Chris again (which I used in my expo recap, which you should also read!)
As we pushed on, I could feel that SK2 and I were both starting to slow down. We really needed something to give us a little boost. It was about then when we came across some Cosplayers who reminded us to use the force!
We pushed on to mile 8 where kind strangers were giving out red vines and there was a tauntaun rider guiding us in the right direction
I really love that people like these come out to help runners get through the races. It really means a lot to us, and behalf of all runners I’d like to say thanks for showing up!
The best part of the race, for me at least, was at Mile 9. SK2 and I were running and saw a large crowd forming towards the right of the race course. What was going on? Water stop? Some one hurt? What couldn’t I see? What was forming this crowd? And then I saw it and made a mad dash in that direction…. PHOTO-OPS!
The 501st Legion, a group of fans dedicated to screen accurate replicas of Star Wars villains were on course and were taking photos with all the runners! Per Wikipedia “Legion members make appearances at casual, promotional, and charitable events, often at the request of Lucasfilm’s Fan Events department. Although not officially affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Lucasfilm LLC., the 501st Legion is Lucasfilm’s preferred Imperial costuming organization.” These guys were no joke, and I was gushing geek with a cheesy grin for all of them!
This amazing display by dedicated fans to this amazing film franchise really made the race for me and I can’t thank them enough for getting up early and standing on course to make this experience our of this world!
Some how, maybe from the high of the 501st Legion photos, SK2 and I made it back up Harbor Blvd, down Katella Ave (which we walked every morning while staying at the Hilton Anaheim – Thanks LH for hooking us up with a great hotel!) and past that 13 mile marker we took pictures with oh so long ago to cross the finish line in 3:05! A slow half for both of us, but again when you factor in all the photo stops (and one potty stop…I had to pee!), we did great!
Saturday Morning, SK2 and I got up at 3am to get ready for the Star Wars 10K race. One of the perks of a west coast race is that the time change actually works to the advantage of east coasters! Disney races usually start at 5:30 so you need to be up early so you have time you get dressed, get to the bag check, use the facilities, and make your way to the corrals.
I love 10K courses in Disneyland because the majority of the race takes place in the parks where there is a lot of entertainment provided by Disney Cast Members. Star Wars 10K was no exception! The first mile and a half was street running, with a slight incline, as we passed over the highway, where the first mile maker was sighted
I loved that on the 10K course, each mile marker had a different backdrop. We entered the parks via a long tunnel which was “Star Wars-ized” with the sounds of Darth Vader’s iconic breathing, and crossed the courtyard between Disneyland and California Adventure where spectators were cheering us on as we entered Disneyland.
We entered the park from the right side and headed up Main Street USA and towards Sleeping Beauty’s castle for Mile Marker 2
We passed Mile Marker 2 and made our way in to Frontierland, where standing in front of the Mark Twain Riverboat was none other than the mascot of the half marathon Chewbacca!! The line to have your photo taken with Chewie looked longer than Space Mountain on a Saturday afternoon so SK2 and I did a run by photo!
We made our way through Frontierland, past Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (which we had dinner at later that night. Excellent! SK2 and I were both pleasantly surprised; make a reservation!) and in to Fantasyland.
We made our way past the teacups, the Matterhorn (which was closed for refurbishment while we were there), running past the right side of the castle and in to Tomorrowland. As we entered Tomorrowland, and headed toward the far end near Innovations, we noticed another long line forming. For what? The man / machine himself, Darth Vader! With a few Stormtroopers standing guard, Lord Vader stopped for photos with all the rebel scum running through the park.
After escaping Darth Vader’s grasp, we headed around the other side of the Matterhorn, past the Small World ride, and across the railroad tracks to the “Behind the Scenes” section of the park. We also hit Mile Marker 3!
This is the area for Cast Member’s only. This may sound lame, but it is actually a great area of the race because a lot of the staff gets up early and comes out to cheer on all the runners. This area also had a lot of Star Wars graphics projected on to the sides of buildings.
After the Behind the Scenes area, we exited across the courtyard once again to make out way in to California Adventure. Mile Marker 4 was at the entrance of California Adventure.
We went up Buena Vista Street, past the trolley, and through Hollywoodland which had a wonderful marquee lit up for the runners. With Disney, it really is the little touches that make things so special:
Passing the Hollywood Tower Hotel (aka the Tower of Terror) and making our way through a Bugs Life, we made our way towards Paradise Pier where we saw another large line forming. From the back of the line we couldn’t even see who it was for to figure if it was worth waiting on. As SK2 and I got closer, I saw who it was and understood the wait. It was none other than the most famous bounty hunter of them all, Boba Fett.
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We did another run by photo shooting of Mr. Fett but opted to take on before we headed across to Paradise Pier.
After passing all the rides, shops, and midway games we headed behind the scenes again to run behind the pier, weaving our way back in to the park to run through the “town” of Radiator Spring aka Carsland, USA! This is also where the Mile 5 Marker was located.
We made our way out of Carsland and back to the behind the scenes area once again. The last mile was all backstage and run parallel to Katella Ave but the Disney fencing kept us from fratenizing with the public. We made our way out of the park, across Disneyland Way, and in to the parking lot area for Downtown Disney. As we exited the parking lot towards the Disneyland Hotel, we spotted the Mile Marker for mile 6.
Making a mad dash to the finish, the last 0.2 miles went by in a blur, but we did spot these guys at the finish!
We finished slower than our average 10K times, but considering how many photo stops we did and we still had the half to tackle, neither SK2 or I were disapointed in our performance of 1:23:45. Of course, they still gave us these bad boys.
I have run a lot of RunDisney events over the past few years – the inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler in 2012, Princess 1/2 Marathon and the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare (back to back 10K and 1/2) in 2013, the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2014, and this past weekend, the Inaugural Star Wars Rebel Challenge (back to back 10K and 1/2). Although each race is unique in its own right, the Star Wars races have opened up a new galaxy of opportunities for RunDisney, Star Wars fans, and runners alike. The weekend began on Thursday with the opening of the Health & Wellness expo and included a 5K race on Friday, a 10K and kids races on Saturday, and concluded with the half marathon on Sunday morning.
Run Disney Expos have been known to be intense; long lines for merchandise and running out of products and sizes. Rather than running over to the expo as soon as we got off the plane, SK2 and I decided to relax and have lunch and a cocktail at Trader Sam’s in order to let some of the early morning crowds die down a bit. This was a great plan, because when we hopped over after lunch, there was no line and no wait for expo goodies. There were however a few things already sold out, like the men’s grey rebel challenge zip up, but most everything else was still available, in all sizes as well. In addition to buying a few additional shirts for ourselves, we took a few photos at the RunDisney Instagram booth and around the expo
The best part of the expos are always the speakers. RunDisney always has an array of speakers that cover a gambit of information a runner may need for this, or any other race for that matter. Covering everything from costumes, general info for runners and spectators, training techniques, recovery tips, nutrition, and over all lifestyle experiences from seasoned runners. SK2 and I got to see two sets of speakers that we were both eager to hear speak, Chris and Heidi Powell of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss as well as actor and running enthusiast, Sean Astin.
Chris and Heidi talked about some of their inspirational participants as well as some ideas on how to live a happy, healthy, life. The Powell’s stressed the importance of honoring your integrity which in turn raises your feeling of self worth. The way to do this is to keep the promises you make to yourself. By keeping SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Sensitive) promises to yourself on a daily basis, you can make steps towards your goals. It also helps to have an “accountabilibuddy” to help keep you to you accountable to your promises without judgements. They also spoke about FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. The easiest way to destroy fear is to take action toward it. As soon as you act, the fear dissipates and you conquer it. Chris and one of the participants from Extreem Weight Loss ran the race. We caught up to them around mile 7 and she was doing amazing. We spoke to her a bit as we ran. She didn’t stop for pictures along route because she was focused on a time goal but she was having a fabulous time and appreciated the support from all the runners. I told her to make sure she crossed the finish line with her hands up high to celebrate her victory. Here is a picture of SK2 and Chris Powell on course (and yes I ran backwards to take this!).
Of course, once again, the star of the Expo for me was Sean Astin. Sean came on and spoke of his love of running and showed pictures from some of his recent races. He, like many at the race, had just come back from Orlando finishing up the Dopey Challenge and was going for the Rebel Challenge and Coast to Coast Medal. Pretty amazing! Sean also talked about his Run3rd program which I first heard about in 2013 when I saw him speak at the Dumbo Double Dare Expo. In short, Run3rd is a simple idea Sean came up with in 2009, “I run for myself first and my family second, but the third reason I run is to support those who run for someone they love or for a cause they believe in”. He gets tweets from all over the world people asking them to run for them and their loved ones. SK2 and I got to meet Sean after his talk. I told him how inspired I have been with his Run3rd program and mentioned how earlier that morning I had received news that a relative had passed and I was very upset for her daughter. Sean kindly asked me her name and I said, “Her name is Kelly” and he said “Tell Kelly, that tomorrow, I will be running third for her” He’s a pretty awesome guy!
So much excitement and I haven’t even gotten to the running parts! More to come, so check back this weekend!