My First Comic Con: NYCC 2018

Ever since we started dating about 13 years ago, my husband Mike and I have wanted to go to a Comic Con. But every year, we inevitably either missed the ticket deadlines or had other events on con weekends and we didn’t get to go – until 2018, when I made going to NYCC a top priority, and snagged us Friday and Saturday passes for our very first Comic Con ever!


I honestly had no idea of what to expect going into this weekend, except that it was going to be insane in the best way possible. I did some research and learned some tips and tricks about using cash and having your phone charger and bringing snacks, all of which came in handy. I also did research on the panels and signings and photo ops available, but nothing really jumped out as a “MUST DO”. I downloaded the NYCC App (highly recommended) and marked a handful of things as “would be nice” attractions, but wasn’t going to die if we missed anything. I’d heard about the long lines and didn’t want to waste our whole first day standing around, so we didn’t buy any experience tickets ahead of time. And to be honest I’m kind of glad I went in without a plan, because we had so much more fun just kind of wandering and discovering things as we did.

So we started the weekend on Friday with a train ride into the city – and I wore my specially-purchased Nien Nunb tee because honestly if anyone is going to get this shirt, it’s the crowd at Comic Con. Joke was on me though, because Mike and I were basically the ONLY people not in costume and no one cared about my shirt. BUT its bright yellow color did help Mike when he lost me in a crowd a few times, so, win.


After spotting my Rebel Legion friend Matteo in his Star Wars/Kingdom Hearts mashup cosplay on the steps in Penn Station getting off the train (hey, Matteo!), we followed the crowds to the Javits Center on a gorgeous, just warm enough NYC day. The line to get in wasn’t too crazy, and security was very efficient – we didn’t have to wait at all, even though the line looked insane from where we stood.


I won’t lie – walking into the Javits Center always gets me a little moon-eyed. I’ve gone there for race packet pickups before, most notably the NYC Marathon last year, but this time it just… took my breath away:


I still get goosebumps looking at this picture. 

Once we were in, it was kind of non-stop insanity, in a good way. We kept pointing out amazing cosplays to each other like we were watching the coolest parade ever pass us by on either side. There was no way we could take everything in at once, even before we walked onto the Show Floor.



Eventually though, we made our way into the main Show Floor and promptly went into geek overload.

Our plan was to just pick a direction and start walking until one of us found something to stop and look at, or change directions when we hit a wall – kind of like a Roomba. This approach worked out for us and we managed to do a fair amount of shopping – and even randomly ran into a few friends! – within the first hour or so.


Bonus points for spotting the Hallmark PopMinded booth and snagging my very own Queen Amidala Itty Bitty within the first 5 minutes of walking in!

One funny story from our first hours at the con: As a kid, I was a HUGE fan of Greg Hildebrandt‘s artwork. A family friend who was into card collecting gifted me a full set of these beautifully illustrated trading cards of his art, featuring mermaids and fairies and dragons and all the things a 7 year old only child with an overactive imagination lives for. It’s only a coincidence that he and his brother also happen to be the artists who created the first iconic Star Wars poster!

Well, fast forward to 2018 when this 35 year old comes around a corner at Comic Con and walks face first into Mr. Hildebrandt himself, at his booth, where he was working on a painting in real time for all to watch.

But I didn’t take a photo with him. Because folks, when I tell you he was knuckles deep in a plate of cheese fries, licking his fingers like a kid at a carnival, I am not exaggerating. My husband was like, “Maybe it’s better you don’t ask to shake his hand right now.” The woman at his booth even scolded him to wash his hands with Purell before touching his painting again, so I wasn’t about to interrupt that.

And that’s the story of how I “met” my childhood art idol Greg Hildebrandt at Comic Con.

After a few hours of wandering, we thought we’d go get some food, but got sidetracked by the Good Omens experience set up in one corner of the lobby, where you ride an “elevator” to heaven or hell and have your photo taken in a classic car (well, the Hell side had a car, not sure what Heaven had) and get a pin and journal to help hype up Neil Gaiman’s new series coming out in 2019. Being a huge American Gods fan, this was quite fun.


This was also fun because, while it was about a half hour line, it also gave us a chance to kind of decompress and talk about what we’d seen so far, while being relatively alone (aside from the friend I made ahead of me in line who excitedly told me his life story in the 20 minutes we had together). Its location on the upper level also made for PRIME people watching:

Afterwards, we opted to go outside to what I’ll call the “driveway” section of Javits Center, under the main lobby where you walk in kind of underground. Here, they had parked a handful of food trucks serving all kinds of delicious goodies like Ecto cooler, fresh empanadas, and the pulled pork mac and cheese our Good Omens Line Friend (TM) had tipped us off to.

The only problem with this was the hour long wait we had to endure for it. By the time we got our food it was 2pm and I was ravenous. But we found a quiet corner outside and enjoyed the fresh air while chowing down the most delicious mac and cheese I think I’ve had outside a family thanksgiving dinner table.

Since we were already outside – and it was an absolutely beautiful day – we opted to take a stroll outside and check out the cosplay and experiences they offered there.


Picture perfect NYC day

There was a Rick and Morty merchandise tent, an American Gods popup restaurant, and a food truck giving out free donuts in exchange for your vote in the People’s Choice Awards. Naturally, we took part in this (you’re welcome, Deadpool 2):


After scarfing down our donuts and contemplating what our next adventure would be, a woman walked up to me with a full bottle of Venom-branded iced tea and a Brisk cup and asked, “Would you like some iced tea?” Not one to pass up free things, I said sure, but was left wondering if she was part of a branding thing or just wanted to offload this giant bottle of iced tea I was now left with.


Note my puzzled but grateful expression.

Next, we wandered back into the Javits Center on the left side of the building, where we hadn’t ventured yet. When we came face to face with the Harry Potter Pensieve Experience, I looked at Mike hopefully and back onto another half hour long line we went.

Basically this was an experience selling the new Harry Potter audiobooks on Audible by letting you pick a pensieve memory bottle belonging to one of six characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Dumbledore, and Voldemort. You then go into this chamber where they have a handful of stations with screens playing psychedelic memory swirly images and headphones. You drop your bottle into the reader and put the headphones on, and then listen to a snippet of the audiobooks that pertains to your character. In my case, I picked Snape (my poor, misunderstood hopeless romantic sad sack), and got to relive the parts of the book where he remembers being bullied, barks at Harry for being just like his father, and yes… where he reveals to Dumbledore that he’s still in love with Lily Potter, “Always.”


actual footage of me, both in the Pensieve Experience, and now, reliving the experience while writing this blog

After that gut punch to the feels, we went for a dive back into the Show Floor to explore some more. There were really endless rows and rows and corners and pockets of places to explore, and we missed probably 80% of it. But we were pretty psyched to stumble upon an actual school bus parked in the middle of the floor, promoting the Heathers reboot on the Paramount channel.


Because “What’s your damage, HEATHER?” is basically my life motto, this was a must do.


After a quick 10 minute wait, we were herded onto the bus by a Heather in yellow plaid with a, “Get on the bus and join the other bus trash.” Three other Heathers already on the bus were teasing the people ahead of us and taking photos FOR them, so I figured I’d get in on the action and pretend to be a Heather too.

They accepted me as one of their own and proved it by taking a selfie with me, and then sending me a thank you gift in the mail for sharing my photos on social media. Integrated Marketing for the win!

With our attitudes properly adjusted, we decided to walk around some more and discovered the Live Stage by the SyFy Channel, which was basically a small stage surrounded by chairs that anyone can sit down in and watch as celebrities and other presenters are brought on and interviewed in 15-minute segments.


You can imagine my surprise when I checked the NYCC app and discovered that the cast of American Gods was due next – and WE GOT TO SEE ALL OF THEM!

I damn near fell out of the chair when every single damn person from American Gods got on that stage, INCLUDING NEIL GAIMAN HIMSELF and Crispin effing Glover, too! I mean – you could have punched me in the face and I’d have thanked you at that point. It really was a dream come true.

With that, we knew the day couldn’t get much better – and it was a good thing because the Show Floor was closing! So we slowly made our way back out of the Javits Center and discovered that the driveway where the food trucks had parked basically turned into Photo Shoot Alley, filled with incredible cosplayers all wandering and lined up informally for photo ops, which we took advantage of in spades:

I honestly wish we could have stayed all night, but I was fading fast, it was after 7PM and we still had a train to catch to get home. So we dejectedly walked back to the train station, not wanting to end the day, but so stoked that we still had Day 2 to look forward to!

Race Recap: Philadelphia Children’s Hospital Parkway Run

Back in September, I ran the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital (CHOP) Parkway Run as a representative of CURE Magazine (my 9-5) and had one of the best races in more than a year.


The day started early – and I mean EARLY – because the race was in Philly, which is a solid hour and change from my place. I’ve also never driven in Philly and frankly, was terrified of the idea of trying to find a parking lot in a major city I was unfamiliar with at 7am. I was very lucky though, because my coworker Kristie (who was going to run the race with me but had to drop out due to injury) is a Philly girl and offered to drive from her house, which was on my way.

Full disclosure: Kristie was super nice and even offered to have me sleep over the night before the race to save me that extra hour, but Adam Driver was hosting SNL that Saturday. And if you know me at all, you know your homegirl here needed to be in her own living room with exactly one (1) pre-race glass of wine to take in the spectacle. And I did. The fact that I stayed up past 1am the night before a 4am wakeup call is an issue we’ll address later.


So yeah, after driving an hour in the dark and arriving at Kristie’s, she drove us into the city and found us the perfect parking lot, and we found the start of the race relatively easily using my tried and true Comic Con logic: just follow the people in neon and spandex.


It was shaping up to be an absolutely perfect weather day, and I said a silent thank you prayer to the running gods. After running the NYC Marathon in a cold drizzle for 6+ hours, I will take every crisp, clear morning as the blessing it is.


This was my first run in Philly, and I must say – it was quite lovely. Granted, I saw approximately 2.5 miles of the entire city on the run, but what I did see what delightful. It’s making me consider other Philly races, tbh.

With a good hour or so before the start, Kristie and I entertained ourselves with dancing to the – admittedly EXCELLENT – DJ (seriously, it was like a wedding DJ with all the awesome dance-along songs) and filming some BTS social footage for the magazine.

Clearly the lack of sleep had not yet taken its toll on me at this point, because I was a dancing fool.

We also took advantage of the sparse crowds and got some awesome pictures with the Rocky statue right outside the Art Museum.


Once we were done messing around, I handed off my backpack to Kristie at the last minute and jumped into the corrals right at Eakins Oval, and after a quick National Anthem, we were off.

The course had us go down the Ben Franklin Parkway (hence the “Parkway Run“) to Logan Circle and back, past the museum and down the Parkway for another mile and back.

I went into this race with some high hopes – after a mildly disappointing finish at the Seaside Semper Five a few weeks back, I wanted to run the race I knew I could. I also knew that as part of a team (and with a reputation as a runner in my office), leaving it all on the pavement was pretty much my only option. So I raced smart and started slow down to the circle and back, with a nice breeze and a solid crowd of runners the entire time. Once we passed the museum at a little more than a mile, I was grateful for the slight downhill we had for the next mile along the parkway – because the sun was starting to come out and it was hot on my back.


The view was beautiful – there was a cool waterfall to our right and the rest of the parkway to our left. I didn’t walk once the entire time, and ran smart with a steady pace. The only water station at the turnaround at just past mile 2 was a blessing, and I held onto my cup for a few meters because I knew there weren’t any more stops from there.

After the turnaround, just as I expected, the sun was now directly in our faces and the heat was starting to build – but not like full-on summer running. This just made me want to run slightly faster, so I switched to my Power Running playlist and took on the final mile with determination.

The teeny tiny incline the whole way made my calves burn, and I knew from running down it at the start that there was a SOLID hill just before the finish line, so I wasn’t shocked when we came to it. I did slow my pace just to make it to the top, and then motored through the final 100m to the finish at a respectable 36:25 (12:03 pace).


Of course my Garmin said I did much better, but I still managed a 1:30 improvement over the Semper Five two weeks prior, and for not racing in more than a year, I’ll take it.

The best part is that the runners and their friends raised more than ONE MILLION DOLLARS for pediatric cancer research, which is AMAZING. I learned later that there were more than 10,000 participants at this run, too – making it probably the biggest 5K I’ve ever done!

The only downside was having to drive home for more than an hour and change by myself on my pitiful 3 hours of sleep while keeping myself awake with blasting music and open windows. But I regret nothing.

All in all this was a great race that I’m looking forward to next year!

Race Recap: 2018 Seaside Semper Five

I’ve done the Seaside Semper Five 5K basically every year since it started – yes, including the year a bomb went off on the course. So I never miss it. Even this back in September of this year, when I had basically done zero running up til that point, save for a handful of miles every week and a solid 20 mile week the week before the race.


As usual, this race calls for an early wakeup, so when race day rolled around on September 15th, Mike and I headed down to Seaside in the dark and got there just as the crowds were starting to form – and got to admire the local art:


I enjoy this race for a number of reasons, many of them having to do with logistics. There is plenty of parking available (if you get there early enough) and a super clean bathroom in the bar/restaurant it starts in front of (again, if you get there early enough – the lines soon get out of hand just like any race). So since we were there from the get-go, I was able to sneak in to the bathrooms and get my bib before it got too cray-cray.

(Though I got a little cray-cray over the excitement of my first real “I’m going to race this thing” race in nearly 10 months!)

I met up with a bunch of folks before the start, including my friend from the Rebel Legion (and badass Marine) Sean and his beautiful girlfriend, some IG friends, my cousin Heather, and my friends Jess and Ed (Ed was running) and Liz and John (who were both running). You could say this was more of a social event than a race for me, and I liked it.

By the time the opening ceremonies started, I was hungry, so I took a gel. I have to admit – treating this as a real race had my nerves a little jangly, so I had to kind of rely on muscle memory to remember how to prep. I’ve run a few little fun runs since the NYC Marathon last year, but not for time. So wanting to do this right had me a little rattled.

But all those nerves were for nothing, because it was a beautiful morning by the water, and the race turned out to be great.


I mean look at this picture Liz took from the roof of the bar we started at! *chef’s kiss*

At the sound of the gun we took off going north on the boardwalk on the newly modified course that was started last year. Previously this run was just a straight 1.5 mile shot south on the road then back 1.5 on the boards, but last year they switched it up to take us like half a mile north then out into the city. It’s a fine switch – still fast and flat – and honestly a little more fun because the winding streets give us a little more to look at and give people in those houses we pass a chance to cheer us on.


The whole 1.5 out to the turnaround point was great – I had been working on not walking in the weeks prior to the race, and raced for the first time in my Altra Escalantes, which, if you haven’t tried, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. They are so choice. Full review to come.

Anywho, I was feeling good through the turnaround, and loved the fact that I got to cheer on the folks behind me when I turned around. All the Marines in this race also make for some serious motivation – there are folks that run this race with prosthetic legs, crutches, the whole nine yards. It’s seriously awe inspiring and makes you realize what some people have given up for our ability to do stuff like run races and write blogs about them. Thank you, veterans and active duty military, for all you do for us!

The sun was starting to get hot once we turned back around and got through mile 2 before getting back on the boards, so I finally took my first walk break for the 2nd water stop. And that’s where I kind of fell apart.


Well, I didn’t FALL APART like full-on meltdown mode, but I basically said “Oh hey I can walk, I forgot about that option!” and kind of jogged it in through most of the final mile. I wanted to find the right power song, then I had to stop to sip some more water, then I wanted to take a picture, and before I knew it I’d blown the lead I’d given myself by not staying strong – and proving to myself that this running thing is nearly 100% mental.


Either way, when the finish was in sight I kicked it back up into high gear and crossed with a relatively solid time of 37:53, for a 12:22/mile pace…. Aaaaaand a face for the record books, because I was laughing at my friends for waiting past the finish line and getting the most unflattering finish line photo ever:



After the race we got to enjoy the boardwalk and the beach for a bit, before heading over to Jess & Ed’s family’s place down the road to clean up then grab some bangin’ post-race food.


and a cupcake, because otherwise what’s the point?

Overall this year’s Seaside Semper Five was another success, and I can’t wait for next year’s race!