Showing posts with label running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running. Show all posts

October 31, 2017

10 Favorite Things from the Runner's World Half Festival 2017

So I've been stalling writing any blog posts about the Runner's World Half Festival because I had such an amazing time and there is so much to say. It was an absolute honor and pleasure to be invited as part of the RW Half Run Crew. I left with sore legs, sweet bling, and new running friends! Since I love lists, I figured I'd start out my post-race weekend recap the way I blogged about what I was most excited about pre-RW Half Festival! Spoiler alert: some of the things I was excited about beforehand DID turn out to be amazing.

10 Favorite Things from the Runner's World Half Festival 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Things from the RW Half Festival Weekend (not in order!) 

1.  The people: The RW Half Run Crew and all the Runner's World employees I met were so nice (Oh and RUNNING WITH RYAN HALL WAS PRETTY FREAKING COOL TOO). We had a such a great group of people in the RW Half Run Crew. 


RW Half Run Crew with Ryan Hall

2. Meeting Ryan Hall: See above re:running with Ryan Hall. It was great to hear him talk about his kids and biggest tip about marathoning is to relax! He said he races best when he is relaxed. 

RW Half 2017 Ryan Hall photo

3. Meeting Bart Yasso and hearing him talk: So apparently everyone likes Bart Yasso because he is actually an awesome and super nice guy! He gave a little talk after our lunch with him that brought me to tears as he read letters from young kids who were inspired by him and "wanted to be Bart Yasso, without all that running crap". Runner's World isn't going to be the same without him when he retires! 

He also said something was really inspired me-"you never know who you're connecting with or influencing, so keep doing it". This relates to me on a professional, personal, and social media level!

Lauren_2017_RW Half-Bart Yasso

4. The dog "race": It was just as amazing as I imagined and the best run of the weekend. I spectated and then got to pet SO MANY DOGS after the race. A few people were serious and ran the 1 mile race with their dogs. Some weren't born for racing. 

RW Half 2017 dog race1

Some decided that 1 loop or 0.5 miles was enough and needed a break. 

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5. The half marathon on Sunday: Doing the grand slam (4 races in 3 days) I was kinda dreading how I'd feel on Sunday for the half marathon and last race of the weekend. I started out slowly and was going to use it as a marathon training pace run but ended up running around 8 minute miles. I was so happy and full of gratitude running. I had so much fun stopping for a couple photos, stopping for some beer from spectators, and taking in all the beautiful scenery.  Running along the tree-lined streets of Bethlehem with perfect weather was absolutely beautiful. 

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Photo on the run

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Post-half marathon happiness

 6. Free race photos:
Because all races should have them. Seriously though I got a few nice photos during and after the races like this one below after the 10K on Saturday. 



RW Half Marathon 2017_10K-racephoto

7. Exploring the city of Bethlehem (on foot!): As I mentioned before, Bethlehem is a beautiful city. I had only visited once before so seeing a lot of the city on foot via the races. 


I mean look at this sunrise on Friday morning:  
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Having all of the races start and finish at the SteelStacks was really cool too. They are really stunning and massive. It's a cool part of history of the town. 

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Running over this bridge over the Lehigh River multiple times over the weekend was a highlight as well. 
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 8. Learning about Altra Running company and shoes from founder Golden Harper: Golden Harper, the founder of Altra Running gave a whole talk about how the company was founded and how the idea of zero drop shoes came about (you can read a little bit of the story here).  He then gave a very informative seminar about efficient running form (information also available on their website-check it out!). I love trying out the Altra Running HIIT XT shoes we were given before participating in a tough HIIT workout as well as a trying pair of the Escalantes that I ended up running the half marathon in them!   


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 9. Pizza at the end of the trail run: A beautiful site to see after the 3.6 mile trail run on Friday afternoon-that was super fun! 


I repeat, finishing a trail run and seeing all of these boxes of pizza: 
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This is the look of true happiness on my face right here. I couldn't even wait to take a photo before taking a few bites. Shout-out to Lehigh Pizza! 
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Oh, and this view after the race was nice too. 
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10.The Bling & Swag: The Grand Slam was my first running challenge of doing multiple races as part of the same event. It was definitely exhausting but was a really fun experience. All of the medals were cool and SteelStacks-themed. It was EVEN COOLER that the Grand Slam runners received a larger half-marathon medal that 

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As part of the RW Half Run Crew, Runner's World hooked us up with an awesome bag of goodies from the vendors including The Stick, Janji, Balega, MoJo Socks, and Altra Running

I also like the long-sleeve Altra race shirt we got as well as the blue backpack I received for registering for the Grand Slam. 
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 RWHalf2017_medals-2

So the Runner's World Half Festival gets two big thumbs up from me. Running the Grand Slam was a blast, and I loved the other challenge options for doing multiple races. Everything was well-organized and the race courses were fun. 

Thanks to Runner's World you have the chance to win a sweet RW Tote full of running goodies too. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents only. Giveaway open until 11/7/2017 12 AM. 
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September 28, 2017

So I'm Boston Bound-Hello Boston Marathon 2018!


So my goal of getting accepted to run the Boston Marathon is becoming a reality. I received an email in my inbox last Sunday night that looked like this: 

boston-marathon-bound-2018-acceptance

I saw the subject line in my inbox and was like HOLY SH#&! 

Now I had put in my application on Friday when it opened up for qualifiers who had a  time over 5 minutes under the qualifying time. I was expecting to hear back on Monday, because silly me assumed people weren't working fast enough to verify results and get a bunch of emails out on Sunday night. So just randomly checking my email Sunday night as dinner was cooking literally really caught me by surprise and I yelled and then got a bit teary. So it was more like omgomgomgomgomogomg


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And then randomly crying on and off. 

I celebrated with some prosecco and supermarket chocolate cake! Okay so really I was planning on having the cake before I got the email, but it was clearly meant to be.

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Running a qualifying time with a big cushion this past year at the Chicago Marathon was really special. Like really FREAKING special. It's been weird since then when I'm talking to people about having another qualifying time with a cushion most likely to get me accepted into the race based on previous years, but not having that official acceptance. I've been saying "well I ran X time, but do not know if I'm officially able to run the race yet." That leads to me explaining that there are only 30,000 spots available for the race with 80% going to qualifiers and the remaining 20% of spots going to charity runners. Therefore in recent years more people apply with qualifying times then there are spots available. This year the cutoff below the qualifying time ended up being 3:23 (more info here). 

I feel like I could drag on about how hard I worked for this.That I had a really freaking strong training cycle last year despite slogging through full-time graduate school, coaching, and working over 25 hours a week, etc.Then that I also had a really great race day where I stuck to my race day plan and things turned out better than expected. 

This dream I've had since running my first full marathon, and yes it was only a dream at first, of qualifying for Boston is REALLY HAPPENING. I know a bunch of friends and virtual running friends who will be there running, and even my parents are planning to watch me run (who have never seen me run a marathon before!). This is one of those big long-term goals that I've finally achieved. Obviously because they are big and long-term, it's not the type of  goal you are crushing every day or even every year. The hard work, the journey makes it even sweeter. 

I want to make you feel super inspired or could babble on about how important this goal is to me, but don't know what I can say that doesn't sound cliche or silly. So here's a little token of my journey I shared on social media. 

💙5 yrs ago (the weekend I received my acceptance email, actually) I ran my first half marathon at Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia
💙 4 yrs ago I ran my first full marathon- the Baltimore Marathon
💙2 yrs ago I qualified by 12 seconds but wasn't accepted to run Boston due to number of runners who applied vs. spots available 
💙1 yr ago I ran my best marathon yet at Chicago 7:36 under my qualifying time
💙2018 I'll be running the Boston Marathon 


hello-boston-marathon-2018

So remember to run happy, dream big, and keep hustlin'. Dreams come to those who hustle. 
See ya in April, Boston.  

July 17, 2017

Be Open with AfterShokz TrekzTitanium Wireless Headphones {Review}

Disclosure: Through my partnership as a SweatPink/FitApproach ambassador, I received a complimentary set of AfterShokz TrekzTitanium wireless headphones from AfterShokz in exchange for my review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I love me some tech-free, music-free runs. However especially as I've had some rough runs lately as I try to rebuild my base mileage or when I've needed to give myself a big pep talk to attempt 3-4 mile runs in this heat and humidity, I've been relying more on my Spotify playlists. I'm also highly annoyed by my headphones staying in my ears and dealing with headphone cords getting stuck to me. I'm a super sweaty person so even the "sweatproof" earbuds" I find myself adjusting and pushing back into my ear throughout a run. I seriously don't know what took me so long to try some wireless headphones. 

I'm super grateful I jumped at the chance to try out the AfterShokz TrekzTitanium bluetooth headphones.  

aftershokz-trektitanium-wireless-bluetooth-headphones-runner

On the website you can choose from 4 color combos with black, and pick what measurements you want. It offers a mini size in addition to the regular, based on the length of the space between your ears. It took me 5 minutes to set-up after charging my headphones with a USB cord, mostly involving connecting the Bluetooth on my phone to the AfterShokz. 

I took them on an inaugural sweaty & humid Baltimore summer run and was pleasantly surprised. 
AfterShokz advertises the TrekzTitanium headphones as IP55 sweat resistant. They also use PremiumPitch+™ technology which gives a great sound with nice bass levels. I haven't let them run out of charge yet, but these are advertised as lasting for 6 hours of continuous music and/or calls on a single charge. Any weird blips in your music are related to your Bluetooth connection, not the headphones. 


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SUPER SWEATY but headphones just chilling in place. 
I also REALLY love that these headphones use bone conduction technology which delivers music through your cheekbones so that your ears are open to hear all the sounds and noises around you-super important for runner safety! 

On my first run it was amazing! No cords to manage! Even better was in the gym when I was lifting, I didn't have to worry about getting tangled or pulling the cord out of my phone which happens ALL the time to me. 

The only thing that takes getting used to with these headphones, at least for me, is where I have the titanium wraparound headband part to sit on my head. The bone conduction headphone pieces sit just in front of your eyes on you cheekbones and then wraparound part either sits around the back of your head or for me, sits lower on my neck. A couple times during runs I re-adjust, but I think it's just a comfort thing because they don't actually seem to be slipping down or anything.  It also takes a little adjusting when I wear them with sunglasses which overlap the headband part. Anyways, it's way better than ear discomfort or having headphones clogged with sweat and earwax (kinda gross, but it happens to me!). 

Another downside for some runners is the price tag which sits at $129.  Yes it's expensive but these are nice headphones, and it comes with a 2 year warranty which is nice. I'm also SUPER excited because Charm City Run in Locust Point just got these in stock so you can go check them out and try them on in person if you live in the area. 

You can enter to win a pair of your own from FitApproach here! Also if you purchase from the SweatPink link here you will receive a free stainless steel water bottle with your purchase with code SWEAT. 

Overall I am completely sold on wireless headphones in general and more specifically these AfterShokz TrekzTitanium headphones. They have great sound quality, allow for my ears to be free to hear ambient noises around me, and stay in place on sweaty runs. 

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Have you ever tried out wireless headphones? What is your favorite song to listen to when working out lately?

July 14, 2017

Injury Update #3: Don't Call it a Comeback

In case you missed it, I was diagnosed with a 4th metatarsal stress fracture at the very end of October and survived almost 4 weeks in a boot doing zero exercise of any type. I posted my last injury update in JANUARY about PT and all that fun stuff. 

So I have taken a couple months off of blogging because I finished my last semester of classes for grad school (::woop::woop) and had a month off school completely and working for 2 weeks before starting my clinical rotations. Plus there wasn't much to say. 

I got some longer runs in to run the Love Run Half Marathon in Philadelphia after March which I completely in okay time, but feeling crappy. It was too much too soon. I took a week off afterward because of intermittent soreness in my foot the following week (the foot felt fine during the race and the days after).

This spring was my hardest semester of classes and with being busy it was really hard for me to get into a solid running/workout routine again. I feel like I'd skip/miss workouts and then do a bunch of running, etc. and never get a stable base of 15-20 miles. I'd feel some weird soreness in my healed foot (same feeling of the initial injury almost) every couple of weeks that freaked me out and made me take it easy/off running for a few days (or a week in a couple of cases). I even went back to my ortho in April to talk to him and made him do an X-ray just to try to ease my anxiety.  Yes, he thinks I'm crazy. 

So if you are coming back from an injury, it may not be as straightforward as you think. There will probably be some ups and downs along way. 

Now it's July and almost time to start Philadelphia Marathon training which I'm keeping low-key because I've got my eyes on the dream of being healthy for Boston 2018. I still feel not as fast or fit as I was pre-injury, but I've built my mileage up to all 20-24 miles per week in June. I need to do better at my PT exercises, stretching, foam-rolling still (story of my life? most runners' lives?). 

However I feel like I've been really consistent the past month (not working or being in grad school classes/fieldwork, haha) which has been a great reset.  I feel like I'm at a good place where I'm just okay. All my running buddies who I have talked to in the past 6 weeks are like "so you're healed, now?" or "so you're back to normal now?". I'm not feeling that way, but I'm good. I even ran a 6:06 mile on a whim for the Strava #mymile mile PR challenge so I know the speed and fitness is in me-it just needs to be trained and tuned up. I've been doing some fun runs, having good workouts with friends, and re-fueling like a boss (that never stopped!). I'm running and loving life right now.  

Now off to do some resistance band hip and glute exercises...


#5ummit NECS_MA trail race action shot 


May 30, 2017

5 Tips for Surviving #ShackTrackandField {plus class at Rev Cycle Studio beforehand}

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary ride at REV Cycle Studio for hosting a giveaway and sharing about the event. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Last week I was lucky enough to get the chance to take part in the last event in REV Cycle Studio's #REVOutdoors series which happened to be a partnership with Shack Track and Field, Shake Shack's monthly run club. The event involved a 30 minute spin class at REV followed by a short run to Shake Shack where the first beverage was on the house. Now I regularly participate in the Shack Track and Field runs (the second Tuesday of every month starting from Charm City Run) and REV is my favorite place to spin in Baltimore, so this event sounded PERFECT. 

I've run to Shake Shack before but adding in a spin class before a run adds a whole new twist to the mix. Classes were held at both the McHenry Row and Brewer's Hill locations. 

rev-cycle-studio-1

I had an awesome, sweaty, and fun spin class with Sean at McHenry Row where we spun fast and climbed hills for 30 minutes, leaving just enough in the tank for just over 2 miles of running in the beginning of a rainy storm as group. Then that was followed by enjoying a free huge red velvet milkshake at Shake Shack. And buying myself a chicken sandwich for dinner there because #starving. 


shack-track-and-field-shakeshack-food1

Here are some tips for when you decide to run to Shake Shack or spin AND run to Shake Shack because #shacktrackandfield: 
5-tips-for-surviving-shack-track-and-field1

1. If you are making it a duathlon (spinning and running), leave just a little bit left in the tank during the spin class. If you are completely exhausted, it will feel like a very very long 2-3 miles to Shake Shack. 
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2. Keep it a moderate pace. There is plenty of Shake Shack beverages for everyone, however if you want to beat a long line of sweaty runners and get your delicious FREE beverage faster, keep it moving on the run. 
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3. Have an idea of what you want ahead of time. I like visualizing my delicious milkshake or cold beer as motivation during the run. It also is helpful knowing what I want before I hop in line before I'm thinking about how sweaty and tired I am post-run. 
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4. Don't feel guilty or think about how that milkshake is probably 1000 calories or maybe you'll save a hundred calories by not getting whipped cream on top. Treat yo'self. You deserve it, and it's delicious. You literally ran (and possibly spun) here for this. 
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5. Find a friend to carpool with or call an Uber/Lyft/cab. I've made the mistake of trying to run the mile back to my house after having a milkshake and fries. I do not recommend it. 
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I definitely encourage you to check out Shack Track and Field the second Tuesday of every month (Baltimore group leaves from Charm City Run at 7 PM). 

Also if you are interested in another awesome REV Cycle Studio spinning + food event check out an event happening tomorrow with Atwater's! First you can get your sweat on for 45 minutes of REVBlast with Rachel at 5:30 PM or REV45 with Eddie at 6:30. Then head down to Atwater's to refuel with a 3 course prix fixe dinner including your choice of beer or wine, salad, entree, and dessert for only $35. Such a sweet deal! Details and register here

You can also save 30% off class packs at REV Cycle Studio's new Brewer's Hill studio with discount code "gearupBH" at checkout -just in time for summer!

Have you ever participated in Shack Track in Field? What is your favorite drink to have after a run? 

May 11, 2017

What to Pack in Your Marathon Gear Check Bag

Disclosure: I received complimentary product from ShowerPill. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


When you cross the finish line of a half or full marathon, the first thing you are thinking is YAY, glad that's over. If you are me next you are thinking where can I get a beer, water, banana, and sit down, PLEASE. If it's a big event or one where you plan on hanging out around for the post-race festivities that so many races have now, it might be a good idea to pack a gear check bag. I find this especially true if you're running a big race where it's going to take you a while to get back to your hotel/lodgings/house or you'll be hanging out in your post-race clothes for a while. 

After the Chicago Marathon the past 3 years the weather has been nice, and I've been feeling good so I hang out with friends, have a couple beers, and listen to the music in Grant Park. 
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Post-Chicago Marathon 2016 with a beer in one hand and my gear check bag beside me
Now, I'm the type of person that is usually cutting it close to getting to a race start or at least isn't giving myself much time beforehand. Even with marathons which are big deal to me, I still feel like maybe I should give myself some more time to get around. This is particularly true if you're running a huge race or one with security checkpoints. 

I usually hope that I have a friend or my boyfriend to carry some stuff for me until I finish. If not then sometimes I'll quickly navigate the pre-race area and drop off a gear check bag, if available. For some of the bigger half marathons and marathons I've run bag check is usually offered, and the process is pretty organized. Races give you a clear plastic bag at packet/bib pick-up (security reasons nowadays!). Then you can drop it off before the race with your bib number attached, and pick it up after finishing the race. It's not recommended to store valuables in there, because it's not like locked-in-a-safe secure. 

what-to-pack-marathon-gear-check-bag-runner

Here are 5 items that I always pack in my gear check bag

1.Clothes
The type of clothes is dependent on you and the season, but I think having something not damp with sweat or smelly is a post-race must have. Even if it's summer I like to have at least a dry shirt to change into. If the weather is cold, I love having a comfy sweatshirt, dry shirt, and possibly extra pair of tights to change into. After hanging out in my sweaty clothes I usually feel extra chilly once my body starts to cool down and some fatigue sets in. 

2. Socks
This kind of goes along with clothes, but having a nice pair of clean, dry socks to change into after logging some race miles is great. It gives my feet some relief. Often I pack a pair of compression socks to wear to get a head start on recovery and to aid with circulation. 

3. Wet wipes
Having a travel-size pack of wet wipes is great to just wipe off my face and arms of sweat or dirt after a long run, particularly if I'm hanging out post-race for a bit. 

Since I discovered them a year or so ago, I've been loving ShowerPill wipes which are a thick washcloth-sized body wipe which kill 99.9 of germs and also contain hydrating vitamin E, witch hazel, and aloe vera. They come in single packets and are perfect for travel or gear check bags. 

You can save 20% off any ShowerPill order through 6/15/2017 with code LAUREN

4. Sandals
Oh yes, I've been known to rock some socks with sandals post-race. Actually my beloved Adidas sandals from my high school soccer days are falling apart and need to be replaced (not shocking). Again like the socks, it's nice to get my feet some relief and a chance to air out. Besides for comfort, I also like having sandals or even a spare set of shoes if the race has been muddy or wet. 

5. Favorite snack & drink
I always usually eat something offered post-race after I have my go-to recovery snack of a banana. If it's a long distance race or I'm not sure what post-race fuel will be available, I like to pack a small snack or drink that's a favorite of mine. That way I'm positive I have something that my body can easily handle and that I'll be able to quickly refuel with. 

For me this means a tube of Nuun Hydration that can easily be mixed with water and a Honey Stinger waffle. The gluten-free salted caramel  waffles are my favorite! 

6. Hair ties 
These are always just a good thing to have (for us longer haired gals and guys anyways). Possibly for pre-race if I (or another runner!) realize I've forgotten them or had one snap when fixing my hair (it's happened). Sometimes it's nice to pack some extra hair ties or a headband if I take out my sweaty pigtails post-race and want to look a little less like I just ran 13 or 26 miles 

Do you often gear check a bag? What's your must-have item to pack for post-race?

April 14, 2017

Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Race Recap


My recap of this last April's inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World 2016 is here, just a week before this year's race. 

 As I mentioned in my post on my favorite Disney eats, my sister works at the parks so it was an excuse to visit her. My friend was also running this race as his first half marathon and had a place for me to crash which makes it more enticing because the price tag on this race was $185 which is A LOT for a half marathon, or a race in general. 

There is a 5K and 10K, and half marathon during the race weekend as well as the Dark Side Challenge (10K Saturday, half marathon Sunday).  

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Pre-Race

I stayed at the All-Star Disney Resort with my sister the night I got to Florida so getting to the expo was easy-I just caught a bus over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  First there was a huge room where you go and get just your bib. I love when your name is printed on your bibg for races like this one. All of the cast members/employees I encountered were very nice and helpful. 


Next you head over to another giant stadium room where the actual race expo is. They had lots of fun vendors, but it wasn't too crowded when I got there early on Saturday morning. They had some cute things, but I don't really buy anything at most race expos anymore. I did end up getting Sparkly Soul headbands (Star Wars themed)- one for me and one for my sister.


I loved this graphic of the course map hanging up.  Everything in the expo was pretty well-organized. 


I did think it was really cool that there were stormtroopers patrolling the race expo. 


Here's a photo of the race shirt. RunDisney uses Champion products which aren't my favorite racing shirt style, but I do like the design of this shirt with Darth Vader on it. 

People are known to go crazy for the RunDisney race merchandise for sale at the expo. I tried to make my way there quickly and apparently some things had sold out, but there was still a ton available for purchase. I bought another cool Darth Vader shirt and a pint glass, but honestly wasn't too impressed with anything.

Race Day

The half marathon STARTS at 5 AM so that meant like a 2:30, 3 AM wakeup for me. That is damn early for a race morning for me. My friend and I ended up taking an Uber to Epcot and managed to use the bathrooms at the entrance to the park (score!). There were some photo op backgrounds up which was fun.  I was in the first corral which made me feel super speedy because for such a huge race with over 18,000 runners I was close to the front. The race had a fun start with a video and then fireworks!  


I didn't have any racing goals for this race and knew that because I wanted to stop to get photos with characters that my time would be slower. My only goal was to fully experience a runDisney race and have lots of fun! The race temperature at the start was in the 60s with 75% humidity, something I was not yet used to running too in April in Baltimore (that humidity kicks in there in the summer though!). 

The race course starts in Epcot, goes through the Boardwalk and Beach resorts area, through Hollywood Studios, to and through Animal Kingdom and then finishes at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. One of the first character stops was R2D2 so I jumped right in line behind only a couple people and got a photo with R2D2-it was awesome! 

My race outfit was BB-8 inspired with a Sparkle Skirt, hand-painted visor and shirt. 


The first couple of miles took us around the World Showcase with all the different countries at Epcot which was one of my favorite parts. They had the parks lit up and many employees standing out and cheering. It was really fun to be running through one of my favorite parks with no one but runners there. 

Miles 2-4 have you going through the Boardwalk and Beach resort area which had a few more brave family members and friends cheering who were staying at those resorts and then we made our way to Hollywood Studios. I stayed at one of these resorts last time I was in Disney World with my family so it was fun running by these. I was having a great time so far!

Race photo on the boardwalk
I had been previously warned that due to the distance between parks, there were long highway stretches of races at Walt Disney World. The first 4 miles of this race were so fun and exciting that it was like a blur until I got to the long highway stretch to get to Animal Kingdom at Mile 9. Settling into miles 4-8 was a little mentally tough, but there were some characters as well as big video screens playing clips from various Star Wars films. 

Getting a photo with Chewbacca was super fun as well and one of my favorite photos. 


Running the ginormous parking lot at Animal Kingdom to get to the park entrance was killer. It felt like I was never getting any closer! Once we got into the park it was really fun to run through it, especially with all of the music, employees cheering, and wildlife due to the nature of the park. 
Miles 9-12 lead us through Animal Kingdom and back along the highway again towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports, with the last 1.1 miles going through the complex. 

By the end of the race the sun was up, and the weather was warming up quickly. Overall the course was fairly flat with a couple inclines on the highway stretches. 

I appreciated all of the photo ops with employees willing to take photos with my phone (although many of those from the beginning came out really dark i.e. my Chewbacca photo above) as well as the PhotoPass professional photos. I've heard that the lines can get long which can be annoying unless you just expect that it's part of the experience. The start and stop of running can be a little weird feeling during a half marathon too. 

This was one of my favorite photos from the race,trying to look as boss as possible in the emperor's chair. 


There weren't as many characters out as I expected, although there were some fun photo ops that put you in scenes from the movie. During the highway stretches there was some music and video screens including a DJ playing remixes of Star War music, but I was expecting more entertainment. 

This movie scene photo op I wasn't thinking straight and posed wrong and should be going away from the monster, haha. The photo then gets flipped over so that I'm like Luke hanging in the cave in Empire Strikes Back, which I did not understand at the time it was being taken. There was another fun scene photo op in the trash compactor from A New Hope


By the end after the long highway stretches, I was ready to be at the finish and enjoyed myself that last mile. 


I finished the race in 1:49:12, 11th in division and 497 overall out of over 18,000 finishers,  which is pretty solid considering I stopped to take a bunch of photos and was running this for the whole runDisney experience. That also gives you a sense of how many people run this race. 

Once I finished I was handed a medal and picked up a Powerade, water, cold towel, and box of snacks. 


Now I will say that the medal is pretty freaking awesome. It's heavy and Darth Vader middle part spins. 


I finished fairly fast so the finish area in one of the big parking lots wasn't too crowded yet. There was a big screen so you could watch as people finished. Here they had more photo ops including the big man himself, Darth Vader.  They had all of these next to each other, and the queues quickly became pretty long. 


Dressed up as BB-8, this was the first photo line I jumped into. I love this photo, although I wish I could have like hugged BB-8 or something. 




As I said, the morning heated up fast. I ended up waiting for my friend to finish his first half marathon and then journeyed back to the hotel for some snacks and a nap. I headed out to the parks later that day. It was fun to see other's wearing their medals around the parks. 


Overall Race/RunDisney thoughts

Positives 

-Great photo opportunities: You can get lots of awesome photos during and after the race. I also thought getting photos with the characters was very fun! 
-Awesome medal: If you care about your race bling, a runDisney race is definitely the place to grab some awesome, unique race medals. 
-Unique experience: I think it was a unique experience with fireworks at the start, character stops, and a fun theme throughout (especially if you are a big Star Wars fan like I am). Running through the parks before they are open is also really fun. 

Negatives

-Price: I still think for the pricetag that Disney could offer runners 10% off park tickets. The price for tickets only keeps climbing, and I think it would be nice to offer SOME sort of discount on park tickets. 
-Highway stretches: There are long stretches of highway during the races, based on how far apart the parks are and the race course. Here you aren't getting really getting any fan support or as much excitement as I expected during this race off the park premises. 
-Early start: I was pretty tired after the race so it wasn't the day where I was going to have a long day at the parks. I can't imagine doing that wake-up multiple days in a row for the challenges. 

Something that could be positive or negative is the race size. The Disney World races have a capacity upwards of 20,000 runners. It was fun to be part of such a large race,and get to start the race with the energy of a crowd of people. It also makes the expo, race start and finish, and parks/resorts more crowded at that time. My friend who started in the back because he didn't have a time to put in when he registered said it was really frustrating trying to get past many people and the start was really crowded. 



You can find information about the race and this year's events on their race website here

Have you ever run a runDisney race? Do you like big or small races? 



 
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