Race Recap: 2017 Hippie Chick Half Marathon—Hillsboro, OR

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Mom and I ran the Hippie Chick Half Marathon on Saturday. This is the second time I’ve ran the race. At the 2015 race, I ran it with Katie and it was way too hot for me! This year was completely the opposite!

A little damp, but full of high spirits!

I was so happy the temperatures were forecasted to remain low on Saturday. It was raining before the race and at the last minute I pulled on a long-sleeve shirt and put my short sleeve on over top, a rarity for me. I was afraid I might regret it, because it was dry once we got to the start line, but that sure didn’t last!

Not too far into the race, it started pouring! For about an hour, we got completely soaked, and mom and I were strongly reminded of the very wet 2016 Portland Marathon.

The rain was pounding us so hard, the drops were almost painful. However, it really did look beautiful against the scenery of the fields green from the spring. Mom and I were dressed for the occasion, with daisies in our hair and cute little floral skirts Mom had made.

I felt much better than at Hop Hop, but we concentrated on enjoying ourselves, enjoying the course and having fun, rather than speed. This was more about the experience and being able to do it together!

The free photobooth really captured our playful spirits on Saturday. We took the photos pre-race and when we received them post-race, the last photo sent me into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.


The race was nice and flat and the country roads with the wide open fields were lovely this time around (since I was dying for shade in 2015). There were plenty of water stops and even gel stops. Mom and I had gotten up so early and ate breakfast so early, I increased what I normally have during a race to try and make up for it. The extra gels were certainly helpful.

They even had entertainment! Around mile 9ish, there were jugglers with batons on fire at turnaround point. Mom was so distracted by them, she nearly forgot to turnaround! But we did, and ran back down one of the few hills on the course.
Before too long, we were headed to the race finish! I run a really steady, but slow pace, so the last two miles I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to tell mom to slow down.

Once we got to the stadium, we waved to Jason who cheered us on. We ran around the edge of the stadium, spotting ourselves on the Jumbotron and then crossed the line, mother and daughter, holding hands and raising them high.

Hippie Chick Half Marathon complete!


Once finished, we collected our finisher necklaces and then made a beeline to the massage tent. We put our name on the waiting list for a free 10 minute massage and then met up with our cheerleader, Jason. He was able to point out all of the food options and even snag us a table! I won free chocolate donuts from Frang bakery. Mom and I enjoyed the pancake breakfast. Best of all, the mimosas and chocolate milk! Delicious. We listened to the live band and ate our post-race food happily.

Just about the time we had finished, we went down for our free massage. It may only be 10 minutes, but I know it made a huge difference! I recovered much faster and even felt energized right that moment.

In fact, when we started heading back to the parking lot, I couldn’t help it when i spotted the play structure nearby! Those weird blue rings spin like a merry-go-round. The weather kept the kids away, so us adults decided to play!

I’m not planning on doing any long races until the fall at least, giving me a break from high mileage. I really hate the running in warm weather and its really hard to run for hours at a time in the summer. I want to concentrate on improving my 10K times instead. This was a good race to start the break!

Time: 2:48:53
Ran with: Mom
Post-Race Highlight: Although the free massage was heavenly and relaxing, I’ll admit that the awkward merry-go-round was exhilarating! It was such ridiculous, giddy post-race fun.

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Race Recap: 2017 Hop Hop Half Marathon—Portland, OR

Saturday morning, the sun finally came out and the clouds finally lifted for a lovely spring day—perfect for running a half marathon!

I was excited for this half marathon, but I made a couple of mistakes that I’m sure led to my slowest non-RunDisney half marathon time this weekend at the Hop Hop Half Marathon. Don’t get me wrong— I had a ton of fun— however, after running a dozen half marathons and earning a PR in late February, I think it was time for a reminder to never take the distance for granted.

With that in mind, instead a regular race recap, I want to reflect on what I did wrong going into the race and during the race that contributed to how I felt during the race.

Physical Preparation

As I said in my pre-race post, I’ve been so busy I haven’t focused on running, but I haven’t neglected my training either. I did all my long runs and even managed a speed workout between my last race and this one.

Hydration is where my physical preparation broke down. I didn’t think about pre-race hydrating and woke up with a headache. I didn’t drink enough water that morning and started the race dehydrated. During the race, although there were water stations, I was always thirsty. I haven’t run in sunny weather in ages and I was sweating. I felt sluggish and dehydration is the likely reason.

Mental Preparation

I admit it, I went into this race thinking “no problem.” Yeah, I know I’m trained up, but I still have to run 13.1 miles. Since I was only running for fun, and not going for a fast time and had recently clocked a great PR time, I was feeling pretty cocky about running this race. Six miles in, I started thinking, “dang… this thing isn’t even half over….” Confidence is knowing the race is long but I will finish. Cockiness is thinking the race is no big deal and I’ll be done in no time.

Race Day

I can learn from these mistakes and even though I felt sub-par, I still had a blast at the Hop Hop Half. This was a great race and they made sure the whole experience felt festive.

We made quite the group of happy bunnies!

It finally felt like a spring day and I was so glad to be taking advantage of glorious weather by running outside in it. We’ve gotten so few sunny days this year, every one is a treasure. It was perfect for a race.

Jason was aiming for a 1:30 time (and possibly a PR), Kelly’s Dad was aiming for a sub-2 hour finish. Those of us running for fun— Kelly, Mom and I— started the race together. Right away, I was getting shoutouts for my bunny ears, which looked ridiculously tall in comparison to many others. Someone even noticed the tiny detail of my carrot earrings!

The race started out with a short loop up and down roads and back toward the finish area. We were able to cheer for Jason and Kelly’s Dad as they passed us. Jason was one of the first runners through! We then passed the finish area and headed out for the rest of the race. Around mile 3, Kelly decided to drop back to run 30/30 intervals. With her reduced level of training, the 50 second run/30 second walk interval at our running pace was too much to maintain for the whole race.

Soon we had turned onto a bike path following the Columbia River. The sun sparkled on the water and there was a breeze. Every runner was in good spirits, with some singing to their music as we all ran along.

Take a look at the beautiful view of the river!

Once we neared the turnaround we saw a man in a giant blow-up hatching chick costume. It was hilarious and we knew we’d have to stop at the station afterward. They had marshmallow peeps! I don’t usually like them, but around mile 8, they sure tasted good.

We also spotted Kelly, who wasn’t too far behind us. Mom and I continued our way back along the bike path, but this time, the sun allowed us to see our own shadows and I was really amused by the bunny ears I was running with.

Although it was beautiful, Mom and I couldn’t help noticing all the landmarks that we had seen on our way out and thinking about how much longer we had to run.

Just after we crossed the road to the final short stretch of the bike path, Kelly caught up with us. We had less than 2 miles to go! She had been racing to catch up with us for a while, working hard.

Once I saw the finish line, I started running. “Slow down,” Mom called, since my pace was rather fast for poor Kelly, who had just caught up. “You can’t stop me know,” I yelled back. The finish line was too close!

We finished one, two, three and I made a beeline for the mimosas and my commemorative champagne flute. We found out that Jason just barely missed his PR time (again), but Kelly’s Dad smashed his 2-hour goal coming in at 1:53:22.

Cheers to a great race day!

All in all, I think I could have prepared better, but it was a super fun race that I would definitely recommend. It was nice and flat, with beautiful views. Of course, it helps that it was beautiful weather too!

Time: 2:51:29
Ran With:Mom
Best Costume: One of the faster runners (Jason’s speed or faster) wore a giant cardboard carrot on his back. All the bunnies in the race were chasing him!

Race Recap: 2017 Mesa Phoenix Half Marathon (New Personal Record!)—Phoenix, AZ

I waited for this moment for a long time!

I flew home from Phoenix two weeks ago but I’m still relishing my victory at the Mesa-PHX Half Marathon on Feb 25.

After 3 years and 10 half marathons,  I finally beat my PR time of 2:38:03 (set in 2014 at Rock n’ Roll Vancouver Half Marathon).  As such, this will be one of my longest race recaps yet. I kept writing and changing it, unsure of how to put this race into words.

My shin splints/shin pain became a problem for me as I ramped up the intensity of my training after the Star Wars Half in preparation for the Phoenix Half. During the taper period, I shortened, skipped, or switched my runs to an elliptical workout.
The night before the race my fears manifested in nightmare dream land, where a stress fracture became a gruesome snapping of my leg in the middle of the race. Of course, that didn’t happen.

The more I trained for my PR, the more of a sense of dread I had about the possibility that I wouldn’t get it. Again. The last time I tried was at the Twilight Half which had the devastating course mistake.

At the expo, I focused on the excitement of races. Running in a new place, going to the expo, getting loot from our race bags.

Despite my worries, I had a lot of things on my side. I did spend quality training time doing speedwork. I was running a flat course. I had spent a long time building a new running playlist with fresh songs to inspire me.  The weather was perfect—mid 60s may feel cold to Arizonians, but not to me!

Dressed in lightweight running gear, it was a little cold even for me in the predawn before the start. Luckily, the race organizers prepared for their audience… they provided dozens of outdoor heaters. Runners clumped around them in small herds.

And finally, I would be running the half with Perrin. Although she is a faster runner (finishing with Jason at the Portland Marathon in October), she was looking to enjoy the Phoenix Half Marathon at an easier pace—mine.

I warned her that I wouldn’t be a sociable running partner this time because I was focused on my PR so she devoted herself and her GPS watch to my cause as a coach and cheerleader.

To earn a PR, I needed to maintain a pace faster than 12:03 per mile. Based on my pace times for previous races, both 10K and Half marathons, I aimed for an 11:50 pace, which I felt was within my grasp.

Pre-Race (Slowest pace ever…)

Although Perrin’s place was only about 20 minutes away from the start line, the alarms went off at the detestable time of 3:30am. It’s a good thing we left as early as we did—race traffic was terrible, causing a huge snarl of cars trying to get into the parking area. Lucky for us, Perrin’s fiancé was driving and we were able to ditch the car and walk to the finish area, where buses waited to take us to the start line (different busses for each race distance).

Once we got through that snarl, things went more smoothly. I loved the idea of running a race that started in one place and ended in another. Once I was on the bus with all the other runners, I knew I was already beginning my journey. Even the length of the bus ride reminded me what an accomplishment 13.1 miles is. And as soon as the bus parked at the start line, my pre-race nerves started to subside.

The start line area was well-provisioned, with plenty of porta-potties, heaters, water and more. Bag check was easy. I thought about my pre-race plan and before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start!

Although there were no corrals, the pacers gave us a good idea of where to line up. I aimed for middle of the pack.

Mile 1-2: Warm-Up (Pace avg: 11:30)

The first few miles are always terrible for me because it takes me so long to warm up and get comfortable. To combat this, I decided to start my interval timer on 30 sec run, 30 sec walk. I’ve used a 30/30 interval several times and I’m very comfortable with it. It’s also very easy to run with when just starting out because the running intervals are so short.

It also prevents race nerves and adrenaline from taking me over by forcing quick walk breaks.

Of course, this only helps a little bit. Once the fireworks went off, the music was pounding and I heard the announcers yell “go!” I was off like a shot! After all my training, all my work, the race was actually starting!

The lack of corrals meant that I had to dodge a few people slower than me, but the street was so wide I didn’t have any issues with congestion.

I listened to my music and my interval timer and as the sky lightened, I told myself that today was the day I would earn my PR.

Mile 3-4: Switching to Race Interval (Pace avg: 11:15)

Early on, I saw a blue banner that said Mile 14. “Easiest 14 miles ever,” I joked with Perrin. From there on, the blue banners that marked the miles for the full marathon would indicated that my mile marker, a red banner, was just beyond and Perrin would be giving me a pace check.

Just as planned, after about 2 miles, my race interval timer switched to a different interval, 60/30. These intervals are much more difficult for me and I prefer the more comfortable interval of 50/30 for longer distances.

But I didn’t want a comfortable pace. I wanted a PR.

Early in the race, we ran past beautiful citrus groves and I mused that in any other race, I might stop for a picture. There were so many you could smell the fruit. The sun was shining and I felt like I hadn’t seen it in months after the cold winter we’ve had in Oregon. It was a perfect day to be running.

I was also in danger of going out too fast, but luckily Perrin warned be that I was way ahead of my pace goal with the switch to 60/30 intervals.

Mile 5-6: Settling in (Pace avg: 11:32)

I delayed reining in my pace until after a really awesome song, but then I concentrated on finding a good tempo that I felt I could maintain.  I reminded myself that I hadn’t even reached the halfway point.

I felt good. My shins weren’t hurting. I also knew my best miles in a half marathon are usually between mile 5 and mile 9. At some point during these miles, I feel great. I’m on this journey and it’s great to be alive. I’ve already come far and I’m going farther and I can be so strong. Not everyone can run a half marathon. Even if it only lasts a few miles, its worth the willpower, time and training to feel this way.

As we reached mile 6, we approached a fuel stop and Perrin peeled off to use the restrooms. Unfortunately, she had to wait 5 minutes, and it wasn’t until just before the mile 8 marker that she caught up with me again.

Mile 7-8: Solo Running

During training, I had planned to run the entire race by myself. I know I am good at maintaining an even pace. For a few miles, I was running the race I had expected to run. Alone, concentrating on maintaining a proven rhythm no matter how hard it would get.

And after the halfway point, i started to get my first nigglings of doubt. I was feeling the miles more than I usually did. This was hard. I still felt like I could sustain my pace until the end of the race, but I now realized that it wouldn’t be easy… or fun.

Mile 9-11: This is a long race (12:01)

Luckily, my cheerleader caught back up to me, complaining that my pace was so good it made it harder for her to catch me. Perrin might have been irritated, but it really cheered me up. I was filled with a wicked joy that was compounded by her letting me know I was still beyond my PR pace.

But the pace was starting to take its toll. knowing that I still had a significant portion of the race, I slowed just slightly, afraid that if I kept going, I wouldn’t have anything left to finish. I had toyed with the idea of going under 2:30, but I refocused my attention on just making sure I could get the PR.

I also found out from Perrin that Jason hadn’t gotten the PR he’d hoped for, although he had been close. That made my resolve stronger and drove me through these miles.

After mile 11, I started to really struggle. My pace slowed even further when I chose to walk through a minute run interval for the first time. The heat was getting to me and at a water stop, I splashed some water over my head. Right after I walked through my run interval, my interval timer switched back to 30/30 intervals. Although I had planned for this switch, Perrin, looking at her watch and my pace, told me that if I switched back to 30/30s, getting my PR was going to be extremely difficult.

I was so happy to hear that 30/30 bell. So grateful to it. It took a great amount of willpower to take out my timer and switch it back to 60/30s. But I did it. I wanted my PR and the thought of not getting it after so much hard work was excruciating. It was more painful than the actual race.

I needed to pick up the pace for the last 2 miles.

Mile 12-13.1: She’s a madwoman! (11:07)

After having total confidence earlier in the race that I would get my PR, I suddenly felt like I could lose it at any moment. The thought was devastating. It wasn’t just my current suffering in this race that would be in vain, it would be all of those stupid training runs, the speed work, the treadmill, everything. And above all, facing the crushing disappointment, like I had so many times before, of missing my PR time again.

Near the end of the race, the fastest marathoners finally passed me, as I had expected. “I’ve been waiting for you to catch up to me,” I yelled at them, but that was the last time I had any thought outside of my PR.

Tearing up at the idea that I could lose my PR, a goal I had set that I could never seem to attain, I started to run faster again. I gave up caring about anything but moving forward.

How many times had I felt after a race that I had more left in tank than I expected? How many times had I finished only to realize I probably could have run harder? The only thing that was stopping me was my brain and it was trying to slow me down.

Perrin tells me I kept running faster. In the last mile, my brain divorced itself from my legs. The only thing that registered was locomotion: my legs moving forward. Anything that was sore, tired or painful was gone, only movement was left. It was a very strange experience.

My eyes were watering and the only thing I was thinking was “go faster.”

A short downhill brought us to mile 13. I skipped my walk interval to take advantage of running down the hill. I ran faster on my next interval. I could see the finishing chute ahead but it had never seemed so far away.

Even with the finish so close, I felt like the race might never end.

Just out of reach of the finish line, I came to a near stop. I have no explanation for it. I was still yelling at my legs to move, but they just didn’t respond. Then suddenly, I was able to shake it off and started sprinting as I had never sprinted before.

I was yelling as I tried to run even harder. I don’t know what I must have sounded like (a crazy raging person)? But each bit of speed took a phenomenal effort that felt like I was pulling out from deep within myself.
phxhalffinish

I could see the clock, but my eyes were swimming and brain couldn’t register what the numbers were telling me. I burst across the finish line and right behind me was Perrin. At that point, she was the only one I trusted to tell me my time, my pace, as she had done throughout the race. As a person tried to hand me a medal, I kept asking her “PR? PR?”

Total Average: 11:39/mi

Not only had I finally gotten my PR, but I PR’d by nearly 4 minutes with a time of 2:34:13. I could scarcely believe it and tears kept welling up. Unlike any of my previous best times, I had put everything I had out there for this one. It was such a hard, long race and I had invested so much into this idea I could scarcely believe I had gotten the time.
I am not usually emotional after a race, but this time I was overwhelmed. It felt so hard. I had put so much of myself out there. This wasn’t like any of my other PRs. I wanted it and worked for it, putting away all other goals or thoughts.

And I was overjoyed to see a PR bell at this race and being able to ring it for the first time.


The finish area was blurred by my haze of happiness and exhaustion, although I kept being handed food, a bag to put all my stuff in, water and more. I nibbled at my french toast and made a beeline for some ice cream, but mostly I wanted to meet up with my husband Jason who had finished over an hour earlier than me and had already met up with Perrin’s fiancé.

If only two more of us had run, we could have completed the star with our amazing Phoenix medals.

Bag check was a mess and as we waited for our bags, I was still shaking from the effort and the resulting emotions.

I’m still surprised that this race happened the way it did. I ran the last 5K of this race faster than I did the 5K two weeks previously. I’m still shaken by how I overcame the difficulty. And I have recommitted to my vow to never try for a PR at a runDisney race (Seriously, the way I ran this race would have ruined a Disney experience for me, not just during the race, but if I had any intention of visiting the park the following day.. I was so sore for the rest of the trip).

But it was all worth it. I reached my goal and earned my medal. I’m a slow runner. I will never win a race. I will never run the Boston Marathon (well, unless I’m a faster runner at 80 than I am now). But like runners of any speed, I can still dedicate the time, effort and sheer willpower to beat myself. And honestly, sometimes you are the hardest person to beat, making it a true victory.

It was a great way to start our short Arizona vacation. After showers and a delicious breakfast, Jason and I met up with his parents and enjoyed the rest of our day by attending the Chicago Cubs’ spring training opener!

We had to wear our medals of course, since the race happened right next to Sloan Park!

Time: 2:34:13
Ran With: Perrin
Perfect Song for the Race: The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy

Race Recap: 2017 Star Wars Half Marathon (The Light Side) -Disneyland, CA

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I finished the Rebel Challenge for the third year in a row!

I spent months looking forward to the Star Wars Half… planning costumes, discussing the race with friends, getting caught up in the Rogue One excitement and more! On top of it, it was Kelly’s first half marathon and first RunDisney race! It’s always fun to share the experience with others.

After Taylor and I ran the Star Wars 10K on Saturday and then spent the whole day at Disneyland, I knew the 13.1 miles would feel a little longer than normal. On the other hand, our costumes were so awesome, I knew they would carry me the entire distance!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Rocking our Rebel Pilot outfits, we were ready to jump to hyperspace!

Since we ran as Imperial Officers during the 10K, Taylor and I decided to defect to the Rebellion. Nothing like running as Rebel Pilots!

This was the first time I’ve stayed at a place close to the resort, and it was so nice to be able to walk to the start line on both Saturday and Sunday. Jason was in A corral, but Taylor, Kelly and I were back in G corral. We were too far away to see the stage, but unlike at the Disneyland Half, we could at least hear the audio. Jason tried to FaceTime with us and although the connection was spotty, he showed us his vantage point in A corral of Darth Vader coming on stage to make ominous pronouncements to the runners.

Finally, we were off! The start led us straight up a hill, but this actually gave the crowd a chance to thin out before entering backstage DCA.

Loved seeing Ezra &a Sabine on course! #StarWarsHalf #RunDisney #StarWarsRebels #rebelpilot

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Lines were much better at the character stops than in the 10K, and since I finally started watching Rebels, I was ecstatic to see Sabine and Ezra on course. I had just finished season one, but I love Star Wars Rebels, which is way more amazing than I ever imagined. Next year, maybe I’ll run as Hera.

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Running past the World of Color fountains is fantastic at dawn!

The wide paths of California Adventure are perfect for running and the lights were beautiful. World of Color is a particular favorite, and since we weren’t visiting California Adventure this trip, it made the run even more special.

The RunDisney races wind in and out of backstage areas, which is really fun. In one of the backstage tunnels, they had flashing lights and the sounds of an x-wing/tie fighter dogfight. Dressed as Rebel Pilots, we really took advantage of this part, zooming down the incline together.

fter bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

After bursting out of backstage Disneyland into Toon Town, Kelly and I played around on the Jolly Trolley.

I love backstage, but the best part was going from backstage into Toon Town. For some reason, more than other transitions, it feels like you burst out of mundane buildings of backstage into the magical world of Disneyland.

I'm so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I’m so glad the Christmas lights on Small World are still up

I loved the course through the parks. We got to run through Tomorrowland, of course, which is still decked out as a kind-of temporary Star Wars Land (when Star Wars Land actually opens, this course will be bonkers), and through the castle and down Main Street. In two different areas, they had Jedi, probably from the training academy, fighting Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, respectively.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

A daring lightsaber battle rages on as the runners pass.

Complete with audio, it added a really fun kinetic element of theatre to the race. Plus, unlike the static character stops, all the runners were able to enjoy the scenes as we ran by!

Once we left the park, the race became more difficult. I was sad to see that the change in corrals meant that Jason finished his race practically before we left the park. We weren’t going to repeat our meeting on the median from last year.

The sun came up and Taylor and I started feeling the miles from the previous day. However, the groups cheering, the bands and fans were all in full force, and they definitely kept our spirit up.

I also stayed focused on two things that I knew would be later in the race: Redvines from the Mouse Planet tent and the Rebel Pilot cosplayers. The 501st and Rebel cosplayer groups are always a highlight, but this year, I really wanted a picture because of our costumes!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

I spent most of the race waiting to take a picture with these guys!

Later in the race, Taylor started really feeling the miles and said it just felt harder, than his previous three half marathons. Maybe the novelty wore off, maybe he was undertrained, but I had a different answer. Two days of running is just hard. “That is why they call it the Rebel Challenge,” I said. “Because it’s a challenge.” You may be trained up for the half marathon distance, but the challenge is different. I’m not sure he appreciated hearing this from me at that movement, but I’ve done this before and finally felt vindicated, like someone understood that the difficulty increased as well as the fun. At some point, your feet just ask you “Whyyyyyyy…”

To be fair, my feet feel like that after mile 18 of a marathon too, but I definitely recover faster after the 19.3 two-day challenge. This is perfect for a RunDisney vacation. After each of my two marathons, I’ve been trashed for a week and spending a day at Disneyland would be hard to stomach (not saying I wouldn’t do it…).

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon. No matter how my race is going, I've hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

I love seeing mile 10 in a half marathon.
No matter how my race is going, I’ve hit double-digits and with only 5K to go, the finish suddenly feels close.

Taylor and Kelly must have turned on mindless runner mode, because at one point, I had to adjust my shoe. I felt like a painful blister was forming. I had my shoe partially off when I looked up and they were way in front of me. At my speed and level of tiredness, I knew catching up would be hard. I jammed my shoe back on as quickly as possible and sprinted through a couple of intervals until finally catching them.

That was really rough, but it just proves that even when I’m really tired, I always have more energy than expected.

Soon we were turning onto Disney Property for our final stretch. “S-Foils in attack formation,” I called to Kelly and Taylor. The best part of the end of the race is running past the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney with the course lined with cheering spectators. They really carry us to the finish line.

Rebel Runners do it again!

Rebel Runners do it again!

We took the rest of Sunday easy– enjoyed the hot tub, ate pizza, and went to the theatre to see Moana. Sunday, we celebrated by going to Disneyland!

Time: 3:09:18
Ran With: Taylor, Kelly
Best Costume: One impressive gal ran as a cosplay-perfect Jyn Erso– vest, boots, everything… even had the Death Star plans in her hand!
Rebel Redux: For the first time, RunDisney offered us Star Wars runners a chance to sign up early for next year (with a tiny discount). In 2018, Jason will run the half for a fourth time and I will return to the Rebel Challenge, joined once more by Taylor with the addition of Kelly, who couldn’t resist the lure of the extra 10K!

2016 Disneyland Half Marathon (My 10th Half-Marathon)

Crossing the finish line of the Disneyland Half marked my 10th Half Marathon!

Crossing the finish line of the Disneyland Half marked my 10th Half Marathon!

Over labor day weekend, I flew to Anaheim with the rest of my family for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend! I had a complete blast going to the parks, cheering at the 5K, heading to the expo and running an amazing half-marathon course.

This was my 3rd different runDisney event, my 5th runDisney half marathon and my 10th ever half marathon, making this a landmark event for me!

RunDisney Expo on our way to packet pick up.

RunDisney Expo on our way to packet pick up.

I’ve ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon twice (2014 & 2016) and the Star Wars Rebel Challenge twice (2015 & 2016). However, I was really looking forward to the Disneyland Half Marathon because of it’s more general Disney theme and position as the flagship running event for Disneyland.

At the expo, I wasn’t too excited by the merchandise available, but did pick up some race pins. I think I was hoping to find some great jacket or other thing but none of the designs really spoke to me. I did really enjoy the t-shirts, which were a great blue color with lime green accents.

The backdrop for the photos were also very cool.

The backdrop for the photos were also very cool.

It looks like runDisney has dropped the speaker series for their runDisney expos, but in the past year those were declining in quality. Instead, sponsor Cigna had a whole bunch of activities available, such as free caricatures. The lines were rather long, so I did skip that. The biggest thing we actually stood in line for was the KT taping. Since increasing my mileage in prep for the Portland Marathon in October, I’ve found KT Tape to be an amazing help.

I was excited to see that the runDisney booth was offering discounted and advanced registration opportunities at the expo for some of their running events, but none that I signed up for, although it was extremely tempting. I hope to see more of that at the expos going forward.

At some point during the expo, Taylor told me I was in charge of social media for the trip, which was the start of my prolific instagramming over the weekend. Instagram is a social media platform I’ve only recently started experimenting with.

Got my #disneylandhalf bib! Race tomorrow…

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With race bibs picked up, we were ready for race day!

In a throwback to my very first half marathon, I once again donned my mouse ears and ran as a mousketeer. This is such a simple and fun costume to run in. Once my mouse ears are pinned in, I can barely even feel them. I added a few changes to the outfit, including an updated shirt with better font for our names across the back, and small red bows on my ears and pigtails. Very classic!

Showing of our classic mousketeer outfits with the required parking garage shot!

Showing of our classic mousketeer outfits with the required parking garage shot!

For this race, runDisney added a whole bunch more corrals. With each corral smaller, I fell from B corral to E corral. Taylor, Mom and I all wanted to start together, so we started in H corral…. which although far back, was STILL not the last corrals, with more corrals behind us.

This really did change my corral experience, for worse. I couldn’t see a single video screen, like I had in the past, and could barely hear the announcers from the stage. I was in the corral for well over an hour. Jason, starting in A corral, passed the 5K mark a good 20 minutes before we even crossed the starting line.

Made it to the start line! #CorralH #DisneylandHalf

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The good part? All of us runDisney racers were in the same boat, and people in the corrals were all in good spirits with little complaining.

I also loved that the Dapper Dans (my favorite Disneyland musical group) sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning.Because of the respectful hush of the crowd for the anthem, it was one of the few things I heard quite clearly. It was beautiful.

Although I only heard and didn't see them perform the star-spangled banner, I did catch up with the Dapper Dans later. They were serenading runners and I snapped a photo with them right as they finished a set... I was totally fangirling.

Although I only heard and didn’t see them perform the star-spangled banner, I did catch up with the Dapper Dans later. They were serenading runners and I snapped a photo with them right as they finished a set… I was totally fangirling.

Throwing all running wisdom to the wind, I TOOK OFF as soon as our corral was released. I mean, I was practically sprinting out of the gate, Mom and Taylor protesting as they followed.

Honestly, this is not be a smart race strategy, but I wanted to get ahead of some of the corrals and get to the front. I knew we were essentially faster than most of the Corral H runners, just based on our pace for other races. In addition, I knew we wouldn’t really push ourself the rest of the race, so weren’t in any real danger of spending too much energy in the beginning.

Backstage, the very first photo stop had no line. What a fun time! I don't think we'd even reached mile one.

Backstage, the very first photo stop had no line. What a fun time! I don’t think we’d even reached mile one. #BeYourDisneyBest!

Incredibly soon, we were already backstage!

At this point, I have to commend runDisney on their decision to split up the field into additional corrals. The corral experience was terrible; the run experience was amazing. In pervious races (especially Star Wars 2015), bottlenecking really hampered the race once we ran onto the narrower course within the parks. Although it was crowded and a little slow, I didn’t really experience that extreme bottleneck this time.

The course turned into California Adventure first, and we took advantage of a restroom stop in Cars Land (another side effect of being in the corrals forever), just after we spotted McQueen and Mater. We ran over the bridge past the World of Color fountains and around Paradise Pier, where the Three Caballeros partied and waved to runners.

#DisneylandHalf

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Already, I was struck by how many characters were out. In addition to ones you could line up to take pictures with, many characters were positioned up high so runners disinclined to wait in line could enjoy them or snap a quick selfie.

Very soon, we were heading to Disneyland!

There is nothing like running through Disneyland and we were having a blast.

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A little running and a little mad tea party!

The course took us right through the castle, and even this notorious bottleneck point yielded fairly smooth sailing.

We did stop for some character photos. While we spotted Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and the Sheriff of Nottingham waving from the top deck of the omnibus, our attention was drawn to characters from Tarzan.

Notice the great tropical feeling backdrop (right near Adventureland Entrance) that they had for this character stop!

Notice the great tropical feeling backdrop (right near Adventureland Entrance) that they had for this character stop!

Jane! Such an awesome character and one you rarely see in the parks!

Everywhere, characters were out and greeting. In his own race, Jason had an amusing run-in with Lilo. As one of the fast runners, he was the first to snap a photo with her.

Unlike in the last two Star Wars races and when I ran Tink in May, lines were reasonable and characters were plentiful. It was a wonderful change. The characters aren’t the biggest draw for me, but I love seeing them and the color they add to the races.

Mom stops for a picture in front of the firehouse and Walt's Window.

Mom stops for a picture in front of the firehouse and Walt’s Window.

After leaving Disneyland, the course surprised me! We went back into California Adventure for the second time! It was brief, but because I hadn’t studied the course map, it was such a pleasant surprise that brought a smile to my face.

We left park property by way of backstage and we enjoyed running past the Disneyland Railyard, home to the steam trains and monorail. Since the railroad has been down for Star Wars land construction, we really enjoyed getting to know it better and talking to the engineers. They have such great stories. It is well worth the time to to chat with them. They are so passionate about their job and have the best stories about operating these historic steam engines.

On Thursday we talked to the cast members at New Orleans Square station, but on the day after the Marathon, we talked to Cast Member Mike at Main Street station. Such great conversations. Before the railroad opens again, talk to these guys! It's awesome.

On Thursday we talked to the cast members at New Orleans Square station, but on the day after the half-marathon, we talked to Cast Member Mike at Main Street station.

Running backstage is completely different from running in the actual park, but I love this sneak peek behind the magic of disneyland. In addition, cast members cheer on the runners with boundless enthusiasm.

#DisneylandHalf

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Of course, the entertainment and cheering didn’t stop once we left the parks! In fact, I think the Disneyland Half may have the most course entertainment.

Dancers, music groups, cheerleaders and more were out to support the runners and entertain for hours and hours on end.

Dancers, music groups, cheerleaders and more were out to support the runners and entertain for hours and hours on end.

The miles just flew by for me. I’m training for the Portland Marathon in October, so my last long run before the Disneyland Half was 20 miles, making me the most prepared I have EVER been for the half marathon race distance (even if it wasn’t that fast).  I was just so excited to see everything that I was over halfway done before I knew it.

All hail MiceChat, my favorite spectator booth since my very first runDisney race. I get so excited for free redvines!

All hail MiceChat, my favorite spectator booth since my very first runDisney race. I get so excited for free redvines!

I love how even once leaving the park, every RunDisney race has a special touch to the on-course entertainment. Tinker Bell has blocks of amazing Red Hat ladies that imbue the runners with energy because of their extreme enthusiasm. Star Wars brings out the 501st and other cosplay groups.

And the Disneyland Half had a mile (over a mile?) of car collectors. Classic cars, hotrods, even disneyfied cars. It was such fun to see them all out here! I’ve been to various car shows and there were more cars here than I’ve ever seen at one of those events.

Classic cars! #disneylandhalf

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Every time I thought we’d reached the last of them, we’d turn a corner and here would be more cars! It was like every car club in the area was there— and this is the Los Angeles area, birthplace of America’s car culture.

The capper to the car line up for me was seeing Herbie! I watched The Love Bug constantly every finals week when I was in college and it holds a special place in my heart.

The capper to the car line up for me was seeing Herbie! I watched The Love Bug constantly every finals week when I was in college and it holds a special place in my heart.

The other part of the course that makes the Disneyland Half Marathon special is running through Angel Stadium. Just after seeing the last car we approached Angel Stadium.
This experience was every bit as amazing as previous runners have said it is. As we approached the stadium, we ran through the team entrance and onto the field. This is a large stadium, and from the field, the scale is awe-inspiring.

Taylor and Mom enter the stadium, to the cheers of the crowd.

Taylor and Mom enter the stadium, to the cheers of the crowd.

As we ran around the outside of the field, Boys and Girl scouts cheered from the stands, even leaning over to give runners high fives. Cameras picked up the runners to display on the big screen as we ran by.

Kudos also to Angel Stadium staff, who were so nice and even ended up taking photos for runners.

Kudos also to Angel Stadium staff, who were so nice and even ended up taking photos for runners.

Just outside of Angel Stadium, we reached mile 10! Back to Disneyland, here we go!

I love all of RunDisney's mile markers.

I love all of RunDisney’s mile markers.

For a Labor Day race in Southern California, we were really lucky with the weather. I feared temperatures in the 90s or 100s, but for our trip, highs were in the mid-80s. Our race started early enough, it was warm, but bearable. However, by Mile 10, we started really feeling the sun and I was looking forward to the end of the race.

If possible, it seemed like even more people were out to cheer for us in these last three miles, some giving out snacks, others just giving out encouragement. The closer we got to the park, the happier I got. I was about to complete my 10th marathon and I felt great!

Right before the Disneyland Hotel, we knew our walking days were over. Time to run to the finish line!

We crossed together, and all the Disney characters were out at the finish line to cheer for us; Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy.

Jason captures a picture of us, moments after crossing the finish line.

Jason captures a picture of us, moments after crossing the finish line.

Jason was there as well, having finished his race much earlier.

The #mouseketeers trio reunited with our 4th, @jaskentner. #DisneylandHalf

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Fantastic weather, great course and amazing entertainment. This was definitely a great runDisney race and a perfect race for my 10th Half Marathon.

I did it!

I did it!

As a reward, Jason went into the confectionary in Downtown Disney and found me the most ridiculous large and delicious looking treat in the place.

Post-race yummies! #DisneylandHalf

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How’s that for a post-race celebration!

Time: 3:15:49
Ran With: Taylor and Mom
Best Part: I was really struck by how great this course and entertainment was in general. Lots of characters, the entertainment groups, the never-ending car collectors, Angel Stadium. It was a stand out race.

Race Recap: Twilight Half Marathon 2016 — Vancouver, WA

To celebrate my and Taylor’s birthdays, a group of us ran at the Twilight Half Marathon on July 9.
Twilight Half MarathonI was pretty nervous leading up to this race because I had never run a long evening race and I was hoping to get a PR. To top off my nerves, my last long training run had been incredibly painful.

On Saturday, I concentrated on fueling and taking it easy. To try to combat the pain, I asked Jason for some of his KT Tape so he could tape my shins.

That decision was a huge factor in my race performance.

Because Taylor, Katie and I were a little nervous about the course time limit (3 hours) and wanted to be able to enjoy the finish line festivities, we took advantage of the optional early start of 5:30 pm.

Jason started the half marathon at the regular 6 pm time and Kelly ran the 10K, which started at 6:15 pm.

The course was nice and flat and the weather was cool. As soon as Taylor, Katie and I took off, I knew I felt good. My shins weren’t hurting at all (bless you, KT tape) and I felt stronger than I had on any of my training runs in a long time.

Just starting out!

Katie told me I was starting out with an under 11-per mile pace, and thank goodness. I was going out way too fast! I slowed down and ran with the others and we kept a really regular pace, just under my goal PR pace.

Just a few miles in, everything fell apart. We were running on a path and following the large group of runners strung out in front of us, we went straight from the path to the road. Amongst ourselves, we questioned this, because it didn’t quite line up with what we thought the course was, but since everything else had been well-marked, we followed the group.

Around mile 4, we found confirmation in the form of a well-marked turn onto the road… a part of the course that we had missed. According to Katie’s running app, our unintentional short-cut took about .5 miles off of our run.

This was incredibly depressing, because it meant our hopes for getting PR were squashed. We might get a PR time, but without a properly measured distance, it wouldn’t be accurate. This was my only chance this year to get a half-marathon PR. All my other major races scheduled are runDisney or the Portland (full) Marathon.

But being depressed only 4 miles in is terrible. I tried to put it out of my mind, even tried to trick myself into believing that I could “fix” the mistake. As we got closer to the turn-around, I still felt fast and strong. I made up my mind that I would at least try for my PR pace. Even if I couldn’t get the time, I would still put in the effort.

After mile 5, I split off from Katie and Taylor. Although they are usually faster than me, I was having an exceptional running day.

Right after the halfway turnaround, Jason passed me going the other direction (having started at 6). His eyes were wide, filled with excitement as he told me that I was “flying” being well under goal pace. I was incredibly happy to spot him, but was once again sad about the shortcut. When he passed me again, I was able to breathlessly explain that we went off-course as he went by.

Then I refocused on keeping fast tempo and following my run timers (minute run/45 sec walk). I turned up my music and kept a smile on my face. Despite everything, I felt so good, I knew I was running a fast pace.

I was thinking of good music, moving forward, the finish line and a post-race party.

I was a little upset again when I came to the part of the course that I had missed earlier, but I shook it off. I was going to run this race regardless!

Near the end, my parents were ringing cowbells and cheering loudly. I sped by them with a grin, and the boost from their cheering took me in sight of the finish line.

The finish line straightaway was deceptively long. Although there was probably less than a half mile less, it was a long haul toward it. I was starting to really fade, but I was knew I was close. No point in slowing down now! I’d already committed to a fast pace despite the shorter distance miles ago!

Can't slow down!

Can’t slow down! (Photo by Gary Kentner)

Before crossing the line, I saw Kelly and Jason cheering for me. I sped up, sprinting across the finish line and barely snagging my owl medal from the volunteer. My in-laws were all there at the finish line, clapping and cheering my finish.

If I had done the full distance, I would have finished right around my PR time. Without the struggle of staying motivated and ignoring the .5 mile shortcut mistake, I know I could have gone a little faster and beaten the time.

So although I’m unhappy about the race, I can’t be unhappy about my performance. This is the reason why I pushed myself. I can’t regret anything I personally did.

Only a few minutes after, I was cheering Taylor and Katie to the finish line. Had we run the full distance, Taylor would also have a PR over his Tinker Bell Half Marathon time.

Better yet, Kelly did get a 10K PR, which is a huge deal as she gears up for the her first half marathon.

Taylor and I certainly earned our birthday cake this year.

Overall, I did have a blast, but my overall impression of the race itself was disappointment.

They ran out of beer, which was a serious bummer for some in the group (especially as they made such a big deal of it), the tank tops were flimsy, terribly-made and not even a nice tech fabric, and we went off course during a race I was really hoping to have a solid PR in. Considering how good I felt, I know I could have finally beat my PR from Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll 2014.

I am proud of myself for not letting setbacks affect my race frame of mind. And there were people, cupcakes and presents for a post-race birthday celebration!

Added another bib to my wall at work! It's starting to get a little full...

Added another bib to my wall at work! It’s starting to get a little full…

Distance: 12.6 miles
Time: 2:32:15
Ran With: Taylor and Katie until mile 5, then solo.
New Motto: All hail KT Tape.
Despite a disappointing race, I loved: Molasses cookies. They handed these out to us while we were standing in line for the real food. They were amazing!

Race Recap: 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon— Disneyland, CA

It was a whirlwind weekend trip and I had a blast at the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon on May 8!

Taylor and I sport our short sleeve Tinker Bell shorts at the expo

Taylor and I sport our short sleeve Tinker Bell shorts at the expo

It was a three day trip for me— the four of us (two runners and two spectators) arrived in Anaheim on Thursday evening. We elected to skip the expo Friday so we could spend the whole day at the parks.

Going to Disneyland before the race is awesome. However, it does wear on the legs and so on Saturday we vowed to take it easy.

We went to the expo on Saturday and had a blast. Although the official merchandise tent had sold out of some items, there was still a lot to look at. Taylor picked up a limited edition print, a nice memento from his very first half marathon. I finally picked up a running hat, which will be necessary as I train for the Portland Marathon this summer.

This may be my favorite picture from the weekend and it's not even from the race! it's cool that tehy had a Tinker Bell Half Marathon autopia car out. We even got commemorative licenses.

This may be my favorite picture from the weekend and it’s not even from the race! It’s cool that they had a Tinker Bell Half Marathon Autopia car out. We even got commemorative licenses.

We also picked up packets and numbers. I was very excited about the race shirt— my first short-sleeved runDisney race shirt and green is my favorite color!

After a home cooked meal of pineapple teriyaki chicken and rice, we got to bed super early. Even though all of our race things were laid out, our alarms were still going off at 3am.

At that early in the morning, it was still dark when we got to the race start, but the sky was getting lighter and lighter. We went through the super smooth bag check process, said goodbye to our cheer section, Kelly and Jason, and then walked to our corral.

In the Corrals for the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon!

In the Corrals for the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon!

Every other runDisney race I’ve done has been in January, and it’s dark for the first half of the race. Here, it was practically light by the time our corral, Corral D, took off and by the time we entered Disneyland, it was a gorgeous morning.

Our costumes were awesome, great to run in and we got lots of call outs from people who loved seeing them. We rocked this race as Judy and Nick!

We had such a blast running our costumes. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia are also just great running costumes for a race because they are such active characters. They were some of the most complicated running costumes I’ve ever worked on because of sheer number of pieces (not pictured is Taylor’s amazing tail).

I thought they may prove uncomfortable for such a long race, but they gave us no problems at all!  In fact, they held up really well for the entire 13 miles.

But of course, the coolest miles of the race was inside the parks where we stopped for quick photos in a number of spots.

Lost Boys found! Of course they're riding the carousel and whooping it up like any kid having fun.

Lost Boys found! Of course they’re riding the carousel and whooping it up like any kid having fun.

The route had changed from previous years, most likely due to the Star Wars Land construction and it was similar in many ways to the Star Wars route. Of course, neither of us really cared because running in Disneyland is such a great feeling. It’s the quickest way to give your feet wings.

Goofing off in front of the Rivers of America. In the background, you can bunches of runners in bright colors taking over New Orleans Square.

Goofing off in front of the Rivers of America. In the background, you can see bunches of runners in bright colors taking over New Orleans Square.

Because of the course layout, we spotted Kelly and Jason cheering for us in a bunch of different spots. They ran from location to location to cheer us on. It’s really such a boost seeing people you know turn out for your race day.

Obligatory selfie with our cheer squad. So excited to see them!

Obligatory selfie with our cheer squad. So excited to see them!

We wound in and out of the parks. Even strangely empty (except for thousands of runners), the parks seem to teem with energy.

The views of California Adventure were amazing at that time of day.

The views of California Adventure were amazing at that time of day.

By the time we left the parks we were halfway done with the race at mile 6. We got incredibly lucky with the weather for our run and it stayed cool most of the morning. In fact, temperatures were higher at home in Portland, than they were that weekend in Anaheim. Even so, by Mile 8 we could really feel it heating up, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared Southern California in the spring might be.

At some point past mile 8, dad caught us and cheered us on. It was such a great surprise seeing him at that point on the course! It was also quite sunny by then.

The Red Hat Ladies were absolutely astounding and hands down win the prize for best cheering group, spanning about four blocks around mile 8. They’d been cheering for hours and showed no signs of stopping. It was truly impressive. MiceChat was once again handing out my beloved Redvines around this spot. I found out my costume had a handy place to store them and I stashed them for somewhere down the road.

At this point in the race, you also start to see the fellow runners around you fading, especially if people are undertrained. People slow down, expressions change and heads start to hang with exhaustion. Keeping a happy attitude during the later stages of the race has become my new goal this past year and it really makes a difference in how I enjoy my races. I accept tiredness, but I refuse to let it change my attitude.

We may be feeling tired, but we're still happy to be here. At this point, we still look good and only have a 5K left in the race.

We may be feeling tired, but we’re still happy to be here. At this point, we still look good and only have a 5K left in the race.

Attitude conversations with myself go something like this: Feet hurt? Duh, I’m running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and I’ve ran 10 miles already and it’s been so freakin’ awesome and now I’m running back to Disneyland! This day is amazing and some people haven’t even woken up yet! A magical, sweaty day!

Of course, it may have worked too well. Around mile 12, I was positively manic, occasionally skipping and bursting out into song. I blame crazy runner brain. Other runners were probably harboring dark thoughts toward me and I have honestly no idea where it came from because I was pretty exhausted.

And as we approached the finish line, I found out why I was so tired! We totally beat all expectations of time and beat the 3 hour mark for my best RunDisney time ever. RunDisney is supposed to be a slow race because of the stops, but I wasn’t too far out of my non-runDisney Half Marathon times. Of course, now I wonder what I could have gotten for a time had we not stopped at all, but where is the fun in that?

After the race, we rejoined our cheer squad and then went straight to Disneyland (not kidding, I cleaned up in a wonderful restroom on Main Street). Then Taylor and I picked the craziest thing we could possibly do in the park on tired exhausted legs. We climbed to the top of Tarzan’s Treehouse just to say we did.

I'm sure this is an unusual location choice for a post-race, in-Disneyland-Park photo.

An unusual location choice for a post-race, in-Disneyland-Park photo, but it was fun, even if we usually skip Tarzan’s Treehouse on normal park visits.

Time: 2:53:11
Ran With: Taylor
Best Costume-related shout-out: “It’s called a hustle, sweetheart!”
Most Surprising Snack Box Item: Drinkable/slurpable applesauce— appalling idea to me pre-race, delicious nectar of goodness post-race.