Sunday, January 25, 2015


Seal Beach
The other purpose to returning to Disneyland and Orange County was visiting where I grew up. Our condo was on the edge of Cypress and just over 5 miles from Disneyland and I went quite often to the park. I've not been back to the area since we left Pasadena to move to Seattle in 1997.
Oil Pump in a parking lot in Long Beach/Signal Hill

My mom was traveling with us and she had not been in the area since even before we left. She's almost 82 and needs some help getting around so it worked out. We were done with our races early and then still had time to go do other stuff.

Mmm.. pasty kitchen!
The weather, of course, was perfect. We went to Seal Beach which was our preferred beach amongst all my teenage friends, drove by my old house, my old high school and even ventured into Long Beach to drive by my gramma's (My mom's mom) old house. It was odd being back for sure but it seemed just the same and completely familiar. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Star Wars Half Marathon

What's the best thing to do after a solid 10k? Run a half marathon?

Uh sure. the wake up and getting out the door went smoother the second day. We knew exactly where to go and this time I was into my corral with about 5-10 minutes to spare. I did jog just a big and did some dynamic leg warm ups (ie swing the leg back and forth) in a vain effort to loosen up.

I was closer to the start and had fun seeing the new Star Wars movie preview which they broadcast before the start of the race. I can't wait! With fireworks (sorry neighbors!), we were off.

I really wasn't sure what to expect for the half. I wanted to be under 2 hours and hoped to be under marathon pace (8:45ish) but wasn't sure how I'd feel and if the foot would hold up. I wanted to go out cautiously to warm up and stay relaxed. It was warmer the second day than the first too so I knew I'd need to take fluids. I'd opted not to carry water and now think that I should have.

1st 5k 28:06/9:02 pace (first mile 8:47)
We turned into the park sooner for this race. I was just settling into running when a small speedy woman in a RTB shirt darted by me. Aha! I know her! And called out her name. This is B who is a very fast older runner who lives in Utah. She was out to have fun as well so didn't mind slowing down with me to chat for about a mile. Small world!

The race provides quite a few photo opportunities with star wars characters along the course. I knew I wanted to stop for a few of these this race so bid farewell to B. Boba Fett was out on course and I had to stop for that photo!

2nd 5k 27:10/8:45 pace
This second 5k went pretty fast as we were moving about the park. The California Adventure portion of the Disneyland Resort is new since I was last at Disneyland a long time ago. It was gorgeous to run though. In various places, there was lighting and sound/music effects reminiscent of Star Wars and in places, there were star wars related projections on the walls of buildings. Yes, well done.

At about 4.5, we left the park and headed out for a long looping out and back. I'd been dreading this as I thought it would be pretty dull. I did know someone who was cheering out in this section. I looked and looked for him as he was supposed to be dressed up as Princess Leia.  Ha! Somehow i missed him both when going out and coming back.

I was not expecting there to be high school bands and cheer groups out on the course.  That was fun. The bands were playing various renditions of the main Star Wars theme, of course! And it was much appreciated. Also there were a couple places where there were many people dressed up in impressive Star Wars costumes. Really, i was totally enjoying it all. I also got a lot of cheering for my "Rebel Scum" shirt that i was wearing. 

3rd 5k 27:04/8:43 pace
I had looked at the course and also the street names are all vaguely familiar to me.  So I knew pretty well where I was. By mile 9, i was mentally doing the Green Lake Units check (only 4 more miles!) and was ready to be done. I'd developed a bunch of blisters on one foot. Finally i could feel one of the larger ones tear (ouch) and knew i needed to be careful to keep my foot plant and stride the same so as not to mess up anything. My ankle started to bug me and I kept close attention to any road hazards.

Last section 3.8 miles/ 8:25 pace

I was still speeding up though and passing people. That helped. We finally made the turn onto the main street back to Disneyland (Harbor) and all I could think of is that I only had 2 miles left. It's only a couple blocks but these are loooong blocks.  I stopped taking in water and just focused on running. At about mile 12, i had some guy come up and pass me and thank him for pacing him for the last 9 miles. Really?

I got into a sprint the last half mile to the finish. The woman I was trying to stay ahead of gave up and backed off. Ha! And then I was done and happy to see the clock well under 2 hours.

1:54:22! 8:43 pace which is solidly marathon pace for me. I got both the half marathon and rebel challenge medals and headed to baggage claim figuring K would be out there for at least another 15 minutes. The guy i'd been looking for had seen K running and was heading to the finish. K and this guy's partner had finished the race at pretty much the same time. I met up with B and her group and had fun chatting with everyone and eventually went out to breakfast with some in teh group.

Absolutely I'd do this event again. it was a lot more fun and challenging than I expected.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Star Wars Disneyland 10k

Star Wars 10k Shirt & Medal
I did want to race these races on consecutive days. What would that look like though? I wasn't too sure. And I wasn't too sure how the foot/ankle would behave. While the ankle tendonitis has been better, the heel pain has been worse after longer runs. I've made an appointment to see a podiatrist upon my return.

And what would racing these events look like when both races started at 5:30 am? Oy, that is early. Knowing this would be an issue, I did have us shift our bedtimes a bit earlier starting the Monday before the races. We'd also had a very early flight out of Seattle so it just made sense. And we mostly succeeded. When the alarm clock went off at 3:30 am, I was awake.

We were staying about a 15 minute drive away from the park. That would've been perfect for parking, doing bag check and hitting the bathrooms IF we'd figured out how to get into the parking lot. That first morning, we didn't figure it out and after much walking (by empty portopotties!), we made it to our respective corrals with just a couple minutes to spare before the prompt 5:30 race start.

 I had been seeded into the first corral (out of 5) but was quite far back. I figured that would be a good way to make sure i kept it easier the first mile as I warmed up. The main goal with the 10k was to NOT shred my quads doing any faster miles. I wanted to run harder but in control. I thought 50-51 minutes seemed likely.

Fortunately this race was perfect for keeping the attention away from running. It was a crowded start and having now been back to Orange County for the first time in 20 years, i can tell you it is flat! I had no idea about that when i lived there (and didn't run when i did) but the only hills seem to be feeder roads or bridges over roads. We hit one in the first mile, as yes, people walked.  Ha!

 After running on roads around the park, we entered Disneyland at about 1.5 miles. I'd been busy enjoying all the star wars costumes (and was also dressed in one myself). It was really fun running in the park. There were many turns and there was always something to see around the next corner. Cast members (Disney employees) were out directing traffic or just getting ready for their day and cheering. I like seeing the off stage areas.

I had been concerned about it being dark as did start the race well before sunrise. Fortunately most areas of the park had enough ambient light. I did have a slow down in mile 3 and I do think it was during this mile that there were a couple sections that were quite dark.  However, i was so busy looking around that I missed a mile! I kept mile 1 easy-ish (8:11) and evidently sped up the second mile (7:53) but hadn't even realized we'd hit mile 2. I only noticed when mile 3 beeped (8:21)!

Half done! I was finally feeling warmed up and just continued trotting along at what felt like a good tempo effort. I was getting warm at this point but didn't want to stop for water. There were supposed to be stations with star wars characters and I did stop for one. Evidently i had missed some of the other ones but that is fine as I expected to take more time for the half the next day to enjoy the photo opportunities.

Soon we were headed out of the park back to the finish and I was pretty happy to see that I had been spot on my guestimate for finishing time. 50:37 and that is with one photo stop.

I spent an enoyable time chatting with a teenage finisher who was visiting from Colorado with his family. His aunts and uncles were all running the rebel challenge (as was he) and we had fun comparing notes while waiting. yes, this sure beats running in the cold and wet in our respective towns! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Inaugural Star Wars 10k and Half Marathon Rebel Challenge at Disneyland

We were one of the few of our running group who got into this race. I've known quite a few friends who have done these Disneyland and Disneyworld events but they haven't really appealed to me. I grew up a few miles from Disneyland and sure did enjoy it when i lived right there but didn't have a lot of desire to go back. But then Disney bought the Star Wars franchise in 2013 and announced this race.

OK! I'm in. 

And it was much more fun than I thought it would be. If there is one thing Disney knows how to do, it is to put on a big event with really nice details.

What I really enjoyed:
Disney does entertainment and you can tell. It's an experience meant to take you out of your day to day world. Running around in the park, i loved all the light and music details tied to Star Wars. Cast members (those who work at Disney) were all out cheering at 6 in the morning as we ran through their workspace as they got ready to open the park. 
Disney can handle crowds. These are big events (nine thousand 10k finishers, ten thousand half marathon finishers) but as long as you were prepared for this and gave yourself extra time, it was no problem with parking, portapotties, expo etc. 
Excellent bling. The medals and race shirts we received for these races are all really well done. Nicely designed shirts that fit well. The medals (we got 3) are all really amazing. 
Enjoyable race courses. It was really fun running all through the parks. I was worried about teh dark and tripping but it was no problem. There was lots to see and I enjoyed seeing the backstage of Disney too. With so many turns, it's not a PR sort of a run course but the running is only part of the purpose here. 
Fun crowd. Everyone really got into the star wars/disney theme. The costumes were amazing! 

What I didn't enjoy:
Each race starts at 5:30 am. Ugh. K and I had shifted our bed time earlier for the week leading up to these races and were used to an earlier wake up but that is still early. 
It's dark at 5:30 am in January. It would've been nice to see more in daylight but the races have to be done before Disney starts to open. 
These are pricey races but you are getting a lot in return.  

Would I do this again?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Knee Anniversary

And how did I celebrate? Arrgh! I tripped and fell on a run this past week. And the damage could be worse but is certainly not as bad as last year's knee breaking fall. I did take an ibuprohen as soon as I got home and I do think that helped keep swelling down overall. I iced as soon as I got to work too.  

I'd hoped to run well at the 2 mile series. And I did run well but was not as fast as I was hoping. It has been a long time since i've done speedy stuff though and that showed. As always it was fun showing up for this fun, low-key yet competitive race. The weather cooperated and there were two bald eagles on the course!
For extra fun this weekend was the opening night of Tosca at the Seattle Opera. It was fantastic and probably one of the best show's I've seen. When everything comes together for an opera, it is magical.  Hunh, that sounds just like a good race! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bringing in the New Year!

I'm still working on running goals for 2015. It was fun to ring in the new year with some excellent running with friends on a beautiful sunny but cold day.

The Star Wars Rebel Challenge is in just over two weeks and I'm resuming a more typical running schedule as the ankle continues to get better. It was time for a good hard workout. However I really couldn't find a race I wanted to do so I joined fellow athletes for a nice jaunt around the lake and then breakfast.

I wanted a good tempo run though so I ran a couple mile warm up and just set off at a hard pace on the inside path of Green Lake. I really wasn't sure what pace i'd end up at and my main goal was to try and maintain even splits or speed up.  After feeling pretty awful on the warm up miles (28 degrees is cold!) I was really surprised when i hit the first mile at 7:25.  I was feeling pretty good and maintained that pace through teh second mile in 7:22. Outstanding! I was running by myself dodging through the increasing pedestrian traffic.

I passed a guy and suddenly realized he'd caught back up to me. I was so annoyed. Guys can sometimes get bent out of shape when they get "chicked" (when they get passed by a female runner) and that's what this guy seemed like. He asked if I was on my 3rd loop and i shortly replied, "last mile, tempo run" and sped up. That's pretty good talking for tempo pace! Fortunately he dropped back off and worked on maintaining. 7:26 for last .8 mile. Woohoo!

Some crazy members of the running group went and jumped in the lake. Having done the polar dip in a previous year and having vowed never to do it again, I was perfectly content to watch and cheer.  After a short champagne toast, K and I joined some of the group for breakfast. Yes, that's the best way to start the year with fun, friends, family and some good running. I can't wait for what fun the year will hold.

Oh and that guy? It was one of the guys from the running group, I just hadn't recognized him. Oops! Haha!