Running in Costume (Part 2)

After going into detail about the snazzy costumes I ran the Star Wars Light Side Challenge in, I got a lot of positive feedback from folks who had considered Disney races or running in costumes. So now that the Dark Side Challenge is complete, let’s take a look at the costumes I ran in this time (and how I had to modify my plans to account for the heat)!

Originally I wanted to run as Phasma for the half and possibly do Greedo or Han Solo for the 10K. I even went as far as spending an entire evening looking at hip holsters on Amazon (an activity I don’t recommend unless you want your Amazon suggestions to be VERY WEIRD for the next few weeks).

But because this was a Dark Side themed weekend, I decided on Phasma and Vader pretty early on. And here’s how I made them happen!

Captain Phasma

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My search for a Phasma outfit started off rocky: I couldn’t find the right shiny silver top and skirt in matching tones AND performance fabric in my budget. But, as fate would have it, at the same time, my friend Tiffanie (aka Star_Wars_Runnah), announced that she’d be running the NYC Marathon in support of the March of Dimes and would thank donors by making them skirts or full outfits depending on their level of support. The chance to support a good friend, a great cause, AND check my costume off the list while getting something one of a kind?? Thank you, universe!

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To top it all off I added some personal finishing touches, including a DIY cape I made the weekend before and the outfit was complete!

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This one was easy and functional, especially in the Florida heat:

And as a bonus: I can wear almost all of this costume again, even when I’m not running! Except for the silver gloves. Those things were so soaked through with sweat you could see through them and went right in the trash after the race, lol.

Darth Vader

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For Vader, my costume was even more simple, and thank goodness: that heat was BRUTAL, and even though I was only in one layer, the sweat had pooled at the bottom of this dress and needed to be wrung out from miles 8-13 (bleh)!

The end product was something super-easy to run in that still got the Star Wars love out there. Plus – as an added bonus – it looked super cute, if I do say so myself!

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Have you ever run a race in costume? What’s the craziest costume you’ve ever seen at a race? Share in the comments!

 

Race Recap: Newport 10K and a New PR!

A while back, the folks at the Riker Danzig Newport 10K in Jersey City asked me to sign on as an Official Blog Partner of the race and invited me to run for free. Initially I was stoked because this was billed as the “fastest and flattest 10K course in the tri-state area” and who doesn’t love a fast, flat course? But I also knew that I might still be recovering from the 19.3 mile challenge of Disney just a few weeks prior, and I didn’t want let my mouth go writing checks that my ass couldn’t cash.

Spoiler Alert: I woke up race day feeling ready to run and left it all on the course for a big PR!

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Race morning arrived humid and cool with loads of clouds and fog. Already I was optimistic about my performance: with cloud cover and low temps, running would be SO much easier than it had been in Florida a few weeks prior.

The race organizers really knocked it out of the park with an easy-to-find start area, ample (FREE) parking, tons of clean port-a-potties, and loads of volunteers. It really was one of the most well-organized races I’ve ever run.

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After we parked and made the short walk to the start & finish areas (conveniently located near each other), I picked up my bib and tech shirt and we futzed around for a bit while the rest of the crew arrived.

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I managed to connect with Meesh from The Slow Sheep (hey girl!) and it was so fun to meet a blog/IG friend IRL! We chatted about how glad we were that it wasn’t all elites running the race, compared our race goals and wished each other luck as we headed into the start area. PS – she PR’d that day as well! Congrats, mama!!

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pics or it didn’t happen, right? 😉

The “corrals” were just signs on the sidewalks that indicated pace per mile, and since I was feeling optimistic I seeded myself between the 10:00 and 11:00/mile markers. The race kicked off promptly at 8:30am and immediately I could tell the conditions were right for a PR. I just felt good. So I pushed for Mile 1 (10:27).

The only negative of this course is that much of those first few miles were on badly paved roads filled with cracks and potholes, so I spent the whole time looking down to make sure I didn’t twist my ankles. But once we got through Mile 2 (10:20), we entered the more residential areas and the roads smoothed out.

From here the course had lots of twists and turns – because I couldn’t run perfect tangents, the final course was almost 6.4 miles by my watch. But it was nice to see all the folks cheering us on from their porches and sidewalks. Plus the aid stations were well staffed and plentiful – I never found myself wondering when the next water break would be.

After I finished Mile 3 (10:27), the wind picked up and we turned a corner into a wall of wind. I pushed through, kept an eye on my watch and made sure not to slow down, and thankfully we turned the corner about a quarter mile later and the wind died down. That became the theme of the last half of the race: running INTO wind then away from it as we wound our way through the city. I was pleased to see that I stayed consistent through Mile 4 (10:32), and when we passed an “Executive Dog Spa and VIP Dog Lounge” I lol’d: is the DOG the Executive, or the owner?

With a few miles left I grabbed some water and took a gel then picked up the pace to finish Mile 5 (10:25), and then we headed out and around the piers that overlooked the NYC Skyline. It was a nice view, even though the wind smacked us in the face every time we turned a corner.

The sun came out with a half mile to go and by the time we hit mile 6, I was shocked to see how consistent my splits were – and that I finished Mile 6 in 9:52!! With a quarter mile to go, my iPod died and my legs were finally feeling the fatigue of running sub-10:30’s for almost 6 miles, but I knew I was going to PR by a lot so I pushed the pace for the final stretch and passed quite a few people.

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Finally I turned the corner and spotted the finish line so I dropped the hammer and sprinted past Mike, finishing with a nearly 6-minute PR at chip time 1:05:54 (10:36/mile).

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I left it all out on the course and damn, did I feel great. It was one of those confidence-boosting races where everything just clicks into place. The only other time I’ve had such an incredible experience was when I set a 15-minute PR at the NJ Half Marathon last year.

Now I’m wondering just how much faster I could run a 5K if I gave it a go. After all, my current 5K PR was set in roughly 90 degrees and full sun back in September, so who knows what I could do on a cool, overcast day?

Overall I give the Newport 10K an A+ – if you’re looking for a course to PR on, this is your chance!

 

Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Recap: 10K

After a relaxing pre-race day in Florida, my alarm went off at 2:35 and I poured myself into my snazzy homemade Captain Phasma outfit for the Star Wars Dark Side 10K! PS – a HUGE thank you to Tiffanie (aka Star_Wars_Runnah) who made my skirt and tank BY HAND to thank me for donating to her NYC Marathon March of Dimes fundraising efforts! She’s one of the only other runners out there who loves Star Wars as much as I do, and I pretty much fell in big-puffy-hearts-on-your-Trapper-Keeper-LUV with her after meeting her in Disneyland during the Light Side Challenge. Go give her a follow on IG.

If there was one good thing about getting to Florida a few days early, it was being able to acclimate myself to the heat and humidity. Seriously, it was brutal. Like, in the 90’s with 86%+ humidity every day we were there. But arriving a few days early gave me a chance to get used to it and hydrate extra, which paid off in the end.

So I hopped on the easy-peasy lemon-squeezy bus to the start area right outside my hotel and before I knew it, we were at the Magic Kingdom parking lot start staging area!

I SPY A MATT THE RADAR TECHNICIAN!

The coolest thing I discovered about the WDW races (when compared to the Disneyland races in Anaheim) is that they set up character photo ops at the start and finish areas to guarantee that you get a pic with whoever your little heart desires without having to worry about missing them on the course (or being swept from the course if you waste too much time waiting)! They had Phasma, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Jabba, Boba Fett, and BB8! So what’s a girl who arrived way early to the start to do? Go make some friends in low places:

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I almost stole Salacious Crumb but the running from the cops would have added extra miles to my legs before 19.3, which seemed kind of pointless.

After heading into Corral C and waiting for what felt like a LOT longer than I waited during the Light Side Challenge (probably because I was alone this time), we were finally at the starting line!

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Once the gun went off just after 5:30AM, we took off in the dark through the Magic Kingdom parking lot and out the gate that folks drive through, which was fun:

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The one downside to the WDW races (compared to Disneyland) is the time spent off Disney property. The run down the highway to get to the first park was a loooooong one. Especially when it’s dark and about 90% humidity and you’ve got a cape that doesn’t breathe (but absorbs your sweat quite nicely) flapping round your ass the whole time.

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They DO kill it on the pro photos though, especially in the parks!

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This is a funny shot I had to share: apparently, social media is now a part of my very DNA, as evidenced by this pro shot after I stopped to snap some on-course pics:

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Pathetic. Hysterical, but pathetic.

And while I kept an eye out for the character stops at each mile, no one really jumped out at me as a must have. Darth Maul and R2-D2 were there I think, but I was just kind of hot and wanted the whole thing to be over with, really. The last 3 or so miles as the sun came up were quite lovely, though!

And for all the miles of non-character filled highway we had to run, I will say that Disney made up for it BY PUTTING HUX ON THE MILE 5 MARKER.  YOU GUYS, HUX. GENERAL BITCHFACE HIMSELF. I died.

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He’s one of my favorite characters in the new trilogy. He continually looks like he’s watching someone NOT use a coaster on his new Ikea coffee table, and it’s killing him. I love his sassy ginger resting bitch face and cannot wait to see him return in Episode VIII.

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They also had some non-Disney sanctioned folks (aka the 501st legion!) IN the parks, which was cool!

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Another fun part about the Dark Side race (and dressing up as a Dark Side character): is getting to play a BAD GUY! I had SO much fun sassing the Stormtroopers – and they got into it too, saluting me and giving Phasma the respect she deserves (yaaasss QUEEEEN).

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Right before we finished, the last character stop that I made was for Chewy, because how can you NOT stop for Chewy?

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Here’s another fun pro pic. Of course I had to do airplane arms because I’m a child and can’t think of anything better to do in front of a race photographer:

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Here you can also see how poorly my $4 silver gloves handled the Florida heat and humidity. They served their purpose.

Finally I entered Epcot, the final half mile in view of Spaceship Earth, and crossed the finish line with smiles and thanking the lord this running sauna was over with.

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The medal was so cool: a badass Stormtrooper with a red ribbon that matched my pedicure of all things!

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While I was glad the race was over, I was even more excited: now I got to wait for more character photo ops that I didn’t get before the race or on the course!!

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Although I cannot, for the life of me, seem to NOT be awkward around Kylo Ren. I turn into teenage me, acting all weird around the hot guy and forgetting how to form sentences or look at the camera for a photo.

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We did get to do the Force choke thing. heheh. Which was fun.

Finally, I jumped in line for a photo with my namesake and LOVED it. I wanted to hug her like Mickey Mouse, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have liked that.

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Fun Fact: Alex, who I met at the Disneyland races, also went for the Kessel Run Challenge and ran these races too. He snapped a pic with Phasma and posted this to Twitter:

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Thank you for making me giggle-snort, Alex!!

Once I had my fill of character photos I headed back to the hotel on the bus and showered for a day of fun with mama and friends at Disney Springs.

I also made it to the WeRunSocial meetup as well, where I got to hang out with folks I’ve only ever seen online – so fun to make “real world” friends!

Overall we kept it low-key (to spare my legs before 13.1 the next day) and had a great time before heading back early for another 8PM bedtime and 2:30 wakeup for the next day’s half marathon!

Warm Weather Running Tips

Between spring arriving with a bang here in NJ and running in the overwhelming heat and humidity of Florida last week at the Dark Side Challenge (recaps coming soon!), I’ve had to adjust my running strategies pretty drastically in the past week or so.

And now that I’m prepping for the Newport 10K on May 6th, I realize that I’m probably not the only one who’s had to adapt quickly. So today I’m sharing some of my tips for warm weather running as we take on these first few weeks of pre-summer heat!

giphy.gif…also this is the perfect opportunity to finally use this gif of a shirtless Adam Driver in tiny shorts. so. win-win. you’re welcome.

Tip #1: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

And I mean during AND before! Seriously. Upping your water intake and starting your run already properly hydrated makes a HUGE difference. Leading up to your long run or race – or even your regular outdoor runs! – be sure to take in extra water and stay away from caffeine and alcohol as those have more of a diuretic effect. Then while you run, make sure to keep those levels topped off. I’m no doctor but the rule of thumb is to check your urine: if it’s clear, you’re overhydrated. If it looks like iced tea, get ye to the water fountain STAT. Straw-colored is the goal here.

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But while you’re doing this hydrating thing, also be aware of hyponatremia, which is a deadly condition that occurs when you drink TOO MUCH water and your blood sodium levels drop to dangerous lows and cause  So yeah. It goes both ways, this hydration game!

For actual REAL expert advice on hydration, check out this article on Active.com. They’ve even got a handy guide for you there!

Tip #2: SUNSCREEN

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My god, sunscreen. Please, people. Don’t forget the sunscreen. I know we wear those uneven shorts and racerback tan lines as badges of honor, but burnt skin is damaged skin. Besides, a sunburn makes it more painful to run than it already is. When it’s 85+ degrees out there, why make running any more painful than necessary?

Tip #3: Slow Down!

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I know: it seems very counter productive. I’m racing, you’re thinking. The faster I go, the faster it’ll be over and I can cool off! Yeah, no. When the temperatures soar, you need to adjust your pace accordingly and run by perceived exertion, not by the pace you think you *should* be hitting on your watch.

Tip #4: Minimal, Loose Fitting Clothing

This is a lesson I learned late in the game: the less you wear when you run in the heat, the more comfortable you’re going to be. I used to run in capris all the time because I was afraid I’d scare passersby with my jiggly thighs. Until I ran a 10 miler in like 80 degrees in capris and nearly finished the run pantsless. Now, I rock the shorts, jiggle be damned.

Recently, on a solo run in my stifling hot office gym, I discovered the joys of being a part of the Sports Bra Squad and let me tell you: while I was petrified of someone coming in and seeing me wobbling all over the place, I also felt COOL.

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When it comes to running in the heat, run in what YOU’RE comfortable in. Try running in a sports bra. I was shocked to see how much more comfortable I was, and nailed my run even harder because I felt so badass. Now I’m looking forward to giving it my all this summer!

Tip #5: Maybe Don’t Run?

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What kind of running blogger am I, suggesting you NOT run?! Well I’m going to keep it real: if it’s TOO hot? You shouldn’t be running. I’ve seen some sites say skip the outdoor runs at 89, 90, or 92 degrees and up. But ultimately, you need to listen to your body. If you set out and immediately feel like your lungs are on fire and your skin is going to melt off your bones, maybe today just isn’t your day. It might feel badass, but you could do some real damage (heat stroke, anyone?). So when it gets TOO hot, consider moving your run to a treadmill. It won’t ruin all of the training you’re doing, I promise.

Do you have any hot weather running tips that you swear by? Share in the comments – and I’ll see you at the Newport 10K next week!

Star Wars Rebel Challenge Recap – Day 2

After Day 1 of the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, it was time to finally get to the RUNNING part of the show! On Saturday morning our alarm went off at 2:45 and we were dressed and out the door by 3:30.

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By staying at a hotel so close to Disneyland, we had access to the free shuttle that came right to our hotel door every 20 minutes and dropped us off at the entrance to the park. So convenient! Also, the start was at the far end of Downtown Disney, where all the bakeries and coffee shops had opened early especially for the races. Which meant we got to take our time and sip some tea (and I got my pre-race fuel on!) at a nice warm Starbucks at 4am.

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The pre-race staging area was… I’m just going to say it… awesome. It was relatively empty by the time we got there at 4:15, and with the start more than an hour away we had time to wait in short lines for fun photo ops like the Wampa Cave on Hoth, and the Trash Compactor scene!

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Listen to them, R2 – they’re dying down there!

In addition to some warmup dancing, the race announcers did their little patter and I was all in.

They played trailers for the movies and had cast members as Jedi do a little lightsaber show that I know is meant for children but I still cheered for and shed a tear or two because I am a huge baby. Come on, they’re JEDI!

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Soon it was 5am and we had to herd ourselves into the corrals. I said goodbye to Mike and easily found my way (after a little bit of people traffic) to Corral D. Huge balloons with our letters on them were stationed all along the road and cast members directed us by reading our assignments on our bibs and pointing us in the right direction. Easy-peasy.

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Easy-peasy, times a MILLION

I made a new friend in the corral (what’s up, Ali!?) and we chatted to pass the time before the prompt 5:30am start time. By 5:45 we toed the start, and finally the horn went off!

We started on a slight uphill, and immediately I noticed: it was COLD! I had expected California to be warm, dammit, but it was in the 40’s at the start. But we charged through the first half mile in the dark, along a service road and into California Adventure where we were treated to cute Star Wars mentions (logos projected on the sides of buildings, the theme music playing throughout the whole park, etc).

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At one point right before Mile 1, they played the audio of the scene where Rey and Finn steal the Millenium Falcon, and I had a good laugh when me and another Rey on the course both decided to yell out, “The garbage will do!” together.

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At Mile 1 I stopped for a quick photo op with my namesake and was pleased to discover runDisney perk #4,281: photographers that use YOUR camera! At every stop the Disney folks were true pros, taking TONS of photos for free and handing your camera back so you can take off running. I was so excited to learn this – but also sad to see the next photo stop was R2-D2 and C3PO, and the line was LONG.

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It was ok, I reasoned with myself, I only planned on stopping for the one character I knew would be there: BB8. Knowing it’s the Light Side, I expected R2 and 3PO but I’m not SUPER crazy about them. I also figured Chewy and probably Vader would be on the course, but knew I could get pics with them in the park, so didn’t want to waste time there either. BB was the only must-do I knew of. Until a certain Master of the Knights of Ren showed up and threw a monkeywrench into my plans. But more on that later.

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From Mile 1 we continued on past Paradise Pier and backstage – because it was the first time I’d seen any of this, I could feel myself welling up at some of the really amazing sights:

From there we continued backstage to the 5k point where I found the line for BB-8 and made my first stop. A 25-minute long stop!

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I even made friends with line mates like this woman who wanted a picture for her granddaughter because “Rey is her favorite!”

We chatted with each other as the line crept up, and after about 15 minutes I realized catching up to my old pace after this stop was going to be brutal. My legs had gone cold. My knees started to lock up. It was OK, though, I told myself. This was my only stop. Right before I got up to take my photo, a woman behind us announced that her friend ahead of her just spotted Kylo Ren on the course at mile 3.7.

::cue record scratch and breaking glass::

Say WHAT? I had no idea he’d be out there! I HAD to get a photo. Would I be able to make it? I looked out at the course, where folks were still moving at a moderate pace, but a lot of walkers were in there too. I could do it, I reasoned. I HAD to. I asked the cast member as we prepared for my BB8 pic: Kylo is the next stop, isn’t he? He nodded. How fast am I going to have to run to catch him? This cast member, bless his heart, merely took my phone from me, closed his eyes and said solemnly, “Really fast.

Well that settles that. Take my pic and let me RUN!

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And run I did! No, really: I glanced at my watch as I sprinted the next .6 miles and saw an 8:12 pace at one point. I wasn’t messing around. And sure enough, right at 3.7, there he was: Kylo Ren. Along with a line that looked to be about 34 miles long.

But I didn’t care. I jumped into the line and it turns out the line wasn’t THAT long – after standing for about 5 minutes, we’d moved almost halfway through the line. I even had time to snap a photo of another runner dressed as Kylo Ren, complete with his flowing raven locks (a hysterical wig):

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Another 5 minutes later, a cast member announced that the sweepers were only 10 minutes behind us. 10 MINUTES?! Panicked, I counted 5 people ahead of me. I could do it. I had to chance it. If I jumped out and sprinted and missed my photo op, I’d hate myself. So I stuck it out. And I am SO glad I did. Because Mr. Ren seriously enjoyed sassing me. And judging by how I reacted in the photos, I enjoyed it too! Observe:

Stage 1: You aren’t so tough.

Stage 2: Oh my god you’re actually kind of tough and getting all up in my personal space with your face and your finger, please stop, or maybe don’t, also is that Dolce & Gabanna cologne?

Stage 3: this is where I actually started asking the cast members what to do, because Kylo was still monologuing about how he could teach me the ways of the Force and blah blah blah and I had to get running because the sweepers were on their way.

The funniest part of this whole interaction was that the cast members just rolled with it. No one was like “OK, great! You’re done!” They just let me flounder helplessly as they snapped pictures of me looking right at them, begging them for help. That’s commitment!

Finally, I was able to grab my camera and I  TOOK OFF. Knowing the sweepers weren’t too far behind, I wasn’t about to stick to my leisurely 12:xx pace for the last 2 miles. I knew it would shred my legs before the half, but I had no choice now. But that didn’t stop me from having fun:

Yes, I did airplane arms through Tomorrowland.

I couldn’t help it, I was riding the high of nailing both character stops and the unexpected excitement of getting to hang with Kylo Ren! But by now we were now in Disneyland proper, and it was CROWDED. I fought my way through crowds and weaved where I could, wanting to make up some lost time but still managing to snap pics of some Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma as she stood on a bridge and watched us all go by.

With less than a half mile to go, I slowed down; my legs were TIRED from all the sprinting, and I knew the half the next day wouldn’t feel so easy if I pushed straight through. So I walked and jogged to keep my pace, and had a huge laugh when I ran into a crew of Matt the Radar Technicians:

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Bonus: I think I now have my costume for the Dark Side 10K in April!

As I neared the finish I got a burst of energy: all the folks lining the finish area and cheering for us were SO excited, calling out our character names and even finding our names on our bibs to cheer us on that way. It was truly incredible to cross the finish line and finally get my BB-8 spinner medal!

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After getting my medal, the finisher’s chute led us through a tent where I picked up a bottle of water, snack box and banana, and then I found Mike easily near the stage. I breathlessly told him all about the race, we all wandered through Downtown Disney back to the buses, surrounded by the ::clink clink clink:: of everyone’s medals as they walked, and we made it back to the hotel for a quick shower before the We Run Social meetup at Trader Sam’s later that afternoon (and a churro).

It was SO incredible to finally meet all the folks I’d only ever chatted with online – the running community is the best. Once the excitement settled down, we headed to Tortilla Jo’s for a victory lap of guacamole and wine, and some yummy fuel before the half marathon the next day!

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Stay tuned for my half marathon recap!

Runners World Half & Festival Day 3

When we last left off on Day 2, I’d had a ridiculously fun-filled day with the Runner’s World crew and my fellow ambassadors, and was prepping to run the Five & Dime.

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At about 7AM (thanks, 8AM start time!) Ryan, Amy and I met up with some other folks in the lobby and headed to the start about a mile away. It was brisk out there; 33 to be exact. I had opted to check a bag with clothes to change into, but my dumb ass didn’t actually pack a jacket, so I chattered my way there in one long sleeved layer, easily checked my bag, and we hung out in the corrals for a bit.

I was so excited – I even ran into my Fifth Avenue Mile buddy, Arun!

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He rocked the Grand Slam like a boss (congrats again, you magnificent bastard!)

As the gun went off we shuffled our way through the chute and up the first little hill to start the 5K. Given my foot issues in the past week, I planned on treating the 5K as an easy warm up, and even kept my phone out so I could snap pictures of the scenery I’d heard so much about.

Admittedly, photos of the scenery don’t do it justice – especially the pictures from the run over the bridge. The only negative thing about the race I will admit to is the construction happening on the bridge: the huge crowd of middle-to-back-of-the-packers could only fit so well in the half lane we had to share with the returning faster runners and around the first half mile we came to a full stop. I’ve never had that happen in a race before. But whatever, I wasn’t going for time here!

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super serious runner, extremely angry about having to stop for 3 seconds during a race

The course was quick, kind of hilly, and there was a surprisingly good amount of folks out there cheering us on so early in the freezing cold! By the time I got to 2.5 I snapped a few more pics, made a beeline for the finish, and crossed in 36 & change.

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With a bit of time between races, I ran back to my bag and dropped off my medal and some finish chute goodies (hello Veggie Straws and Godiva Chocolate bars!), circled back to the start area for the 10K, met up with Ryan again, and then we were off!

I put my phone away for this run so I don’t have any scenery shots, but the professional race photos were FREE (!!) so I have lots of those to show off.

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thumbs up for free race pics!

I felt good through the 5K mark and realized that I was pushing a pretty fast pace with absolutely no pain. I walked through some of the more challenging hills at mile 4, got a high five from a dude dressed as Jesus outside a church (and I’m pretty sure that was a real nun sprinkling holy water on us too, so there’s that), and took a gel at around the 5 mile mark. As we went back up over the bridge we ran in the 5K for the same final 1.5-ish miles, I realized it was mostly downhill from that point on, and I could potentially PR.

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So I sucked it up and started passing people left and right in the final mile, run-dancing a bit when 24K Magic came on, and before I knew it I was crossing the finish line at 1:11:19, setting a 2+ minute PR!

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When I looked down at my watch as they handed me my second medal of the day, I felt a happy tear or two well up – coming off of such a disastrous race in Brooklyn the weekend before, this was just the performance I needed.

 

Needless to say, I floated on cloud 9 for the rest of the day. On the way back to the hotel, I grabbed a slice of cheesesteak pizza and a salad for my victory lap, and managed to get in a solid nap before our Pasta Dinner with the Runners World Editors and other runners.

Bart even played host and got us our cake!!

It was a great dinner – there was even a marriage proposal at the table next to us! What a time to be alive. David Willey, Bart Yasso, and Brogan Graham all said a few words – and sang Happy Birthday to Runner’s World!

Apologies in advance for the shaky camera and profanity.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel, but not before taking some awesome pics at the little red carpet setup they had outside the dinner:

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The best part about taking photos with so many people is the abundance of angles and cameras – one person even had the iPhone that takes video pics (how Harry Potter/living photograph!!) so we get gems like this:

With the paparazzi appeased and our bellies full, we got back to the hotel just in time for the hotel bar band to start up. While some more responsible folks opted to turn in for an early bedtime because they were racing the next day, I hung out with the stragglers, listened to the band, talked shop, and had a glass of wine to celebrate my PR and unwind. I was a bit sad to think that my weekend was basically over, save for the cheering on at the half marathon I planned on doing the next day! But the next day was just as great as the rest of the weekend – stay tuned for the final day recap, coming soon!

Shoe Review: Altra Paradigm 2.0

As an Ambassador for the Runner’s World Half & Festival, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Altra Running, the main sponsor for the whole weekend. Golden Harper, the founder of the company, was involved with our ambassadorship from the very beginning, even hosting a Facebook Live chat to help us learn about what Altras would work best for us.

I’m always scared to try new shoes with my history of injuries. But right before the RW Weekend, even my old faithful Brooks had turned on me, so I was open to try anything. Between a nagging plantar fasciitis flare up and shooting pains & numbness just 3-4 miles into my last long run before Rock n Roll Brooklyn (then again, heartbreakingly, on race day), my feet were not happy and I was ready for a change.

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Given my preferences for the cushy Brooks Transcend, Ravennas, and Asics Kayanos, Golden recommended I try the Paradigm 2.0 and hooked me up with a pair, and I won’t make you wait any longer for the big reveal: I freakin LOVE them.

I started out in a 9, my usual size, but quickly realized they were too small and swapped out for the 9.5, which fit great. They do say that you should go at least a half size up in Altras, and Golden even says I should go up to a 10 (!!) but I haven’t tried them yet because I refuse to get out of the 9.5’s.

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Seriously, I’ve worn them almost every single day this week.

I wasn’t planning on wearing them to race because they say you shouldn’t race in shoes you haven’t run in before, so I wore them for the first time Friday for our November Project workout and the rest of our crazy day. It was like a miracle: no pain whatsoever. Just one day earlier I took my last pre-race run in Asics Kayanos and felt the numbness and shooting pains around mile 2, but 24 hours later I spent nearly 8 hours and 6 miles of working out, jogging, and walking in the Altras with zero pain.

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The key is in a few different features unique to Altra: the footshape toe box and the zero drop construction. Basically, the shoes are shaped like your foot (giving your toes room to breathe and move naturally), and the toes and heel are equidistant from the ground, unlike other brands where your heel is higher and the front of your foot takes more unnecessary stress. There’s a lot more science and actual FACTS to back this all up here.

After going back and forth on what to run the Five & Dime in, I decided at the last minute on race morning to wear the Altras – and I was not disappointed. I set out in the 5K simply to enjoy the scenery, take it slow and baby my foot. But when I finished and realized how good I felt, I decided to push a little harder in the 10K and unexpectedly PR’d, even with the hills on the course!

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When I crossed the finish line and realized what I’d done – AND realized my feet still felt brand new with no pains whatsoever – I was so happy I could have cried. Finally I found a shoe that didn’t put any pressure on the sensitive parts of my feet, my knees felt fantastic,  and if I’m being honest, I think they’re really freakin cute, too!

Fun Fact: after I crossed the finish line, I ran into the expo and found Golden, gushing to him about how happy I was in these shoes. He was so thrilled, and recommended that I get the 10’s instead to be even happier. I said OK and agreed to bring the 9.5’s back the next day and he’d have a pair of 10’s sent out to me later in the week. But when I wore my spare Asics to the expo the next day and my foot started going numb just an hour into the day, I swapped back into my Altras in the middle of spectating the half marathon (literally, took my shoes off on the side of the finish line) and told Golden I was sorry but he’d have to knock me out to get these Altras off my feet. I’ll buy a new pair when these quit but in the meantime, I don’t want to go one day without them!

I’m so excited to run now, knowing that I won’t have to worry about that creeping pain or numbness. I ran energized and happy the whole 9+ miles that day, and every run since has been smooth and pain free. I even ran 7 hilly miles this morning in them, completely blowing my expected pace out of the water and falling in love with running all over again.

Fun Fact #2: I’m already eyeing an old pair of the 1.5’s to match my Rebel Challenge costume (how can I not when they come in the perfect shade of BB-8 Orange???)

Once I started talking about them on social, I’m hearing from lots of other folks who love their Altras, so let’s hear it – have you tried them? What did you think? Would you ever give them a shot if you haven’t already? 

I’m Going to Disneyland!

No, forreal you guys – after going over the budget and looking closely at my calendar for the next year, it’s official: I’m running the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Anaheim in January 2017!

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This is huge. REALLY huge. For a number of reasons:

  1. It’s my first trip to Disneyland – I’m not a huge Disney lover, but come on – I get to say “I’m going to Disneyland!” and mean it!
  2. An escape to California in the middle of a NJ winter? Yes please.
  3. This will be my first “challenge” race – The Rebel Challenge is a combination of the 10K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles over 2 days? Bring it on!
  4. It’s a STAR WARS themed RACE. Two of my favorite things in the world? I don’t think I need to say anything else about that.

 

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I won’t lie – a challenge like this kind of scares me. It’ll be my first challenge and longest total weekend running distance ever. But here’s my logic:

  • Fiscally, it’s better this way. I’m not travelling across country for one friggin race.
  • YOLO, after all (are the kids still saying that?).
  • I will by NO means be doing these races for time – the photo ops alone along the way will destroy my average pace. I’m doing these for the experience and the memories. And the chance to run a race as Rey. Come on. REY.
  • The 10K on Saturday is a perfect intro to the whole Run Disney machine. By running two races, I’ll get to explore the process and see how everything works during the first, ensuring there’ll be no surprises the next morning for race #2.
  • Finally – even though it’s scary, when the hell else am I going to get to do something this cool?? It’s truly a once in a lifetime thing, a bucket list adventure that I’m so blessed to be able to experience, and in the words of the great Yoda:

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So there you have it – I’m going to Disneyland!! NOW for the important part: have you done a Run Disney race? Especially out in California? I need ALLLLLLL the advice you’ve got. Seriously, PLEASE tell me everything – tips on where to stay, what to pack, what to expect, where to go, what to do, I want to hear it all!

And to all of you folks who registered as well, I can’t wait to meet you all out there – and May the Course Be With You!!

 

 

 

UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race Recap

Alternate Title: You Can’t Get the Post-Race Blues If You Don’t Stop Racing!

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At least that’s what I’m telling myself!

After running a 15 minute PR at the New Jersey Half Marathon earlier this month, I didn’t have much time to let the post-race blues settle in: I ran the NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10K just two weeks later. I had registered months earlier to keep the momentum going after the big race and while it was kind of a drag to “have to” keep training, it turned out to be the perfect setup for a new 10K PR!

On race morning we woke up nice and early, then headed into the city on the usual 5:37AM train. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day: mid 70’s, sunny, and clear. My previous 10K PR (1:16:22, 12:17/mile) was set at the Trenton 10K in November, and I’d just blown that pace out of the water at the NJ Half (11:51/mile) two weeks earlier. My daily runs post-half were in the 10’s and 11’s, so it was entirely possible to PR. I decided to bear with the heat, push as hard as I could (within reason) and leave it all on those Central Park Hills.

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Before the race we hung out at the party sponsored by the United Arab Emirates and the Healthy Kidney Foundation – an odd combo, but where else are you going to get to hang out with sheikhs and Sidney the Kidney? I met up with my sis-in-law Mere who was running that day too, and we couldn’t resist having some fun with Sidney and his photo booth props:

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After some good luck hugs, we squeezed into the corrals just as the national anthems wrapped up. And right before we started moving towards the start, fellow Mermaid Club gal Lizzie texted me – she was right outside the corral! Luckily we managed to connect, I got another good luck hug, she took off for the second half of her training run (hooray for her not being injured anymore!), and we crossed the starting line with cheers and fist pumping.

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I kept a good 11:30 pace through the first two miles, sipping from the bottle of Cocogo I carried with me when I needed and powering over the rolling hills. The only downside to it finally being a gorgeous day: it was HOT. I’m talking stifling. When you’ve only run in cooler temps, rain, and snow for 6 months, 72 degrees is like running through soup. But I motored along and clocked in the 5K at just under 36 minutes. Not my best, but considering I was only halfway done, I still had plenty in the tank, so woohoo.

Fun fact: The day before, the internet was abuzz with news of the cast of the next Star Wars film landing in Ireland for some intense filming that weekend. So instead of getting lost in my usual “what is life” thoughts, I entertained myself as I ran by imagining what they were doing at that exact moment. Hey, it’s my brain, I can daydream about what I want!

The loop we ran took us in the opposite direction I’d enjoyed during the past few Central Park races I’ve run, so that kept it interesting at least. But at around mile 4, I started to flag – the heat was really intense when we moved into a full-sun area. It was funny watching the crowd of runners slowly shift from one side of the path to the other to stay in the shade. I was grateful I’d decided to bring my bottle with me at the last minute – once I finished the Cocogo, I stopped at every water station and filled the bottle back up with 2 cups of water and left with a cup to sip on as I re-charged with some walking.

I wasn’t too concerned with my pace at that point – my watch had me at about 11:51/mile by mile 5, and I figured I could push through the final 1.2 even a tiny bit slower without missing the PR. For the second time in two weeks I was running relaxed, knowing I had a good PR in the bag. After working for 3 years to get faster, it’s a strange feeling, let me tell you!

At about 5.3, we came up a hill and I spotted a familiar sight pinned to the back of a fellow runner: The Skirt Sports Ambassador logo!

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I took out an earbud, came up alongside her, and said, “Skirt Sports Ambassador?” She smiled, “Yes!!” I was so excited – “Me too!!” I shouted. As it turns out, my “new” friend Jillian was a fellow Skirt Sports ambassador who lived in the area and decided to laminate our logo to help folks identify her on the course! I love that idea by the way, nice one Jillian 🙂 We kept each other company for the next half mile or so, chatting about how we got connected with Skirt Sports and where our running journeys had taken us recently. When she heard I was so close to a PR, she told me to go ahead at around mile 5.8, so I wished her luck and tore off for the finish.

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I glanced down at my watch – this would definitely be a PR, I was so stoked! Two PRs in two weeks, I never thought it was possible. As I spotted the finish line, gave Mike a wave as he snapped my picture, and crossed the line officially at 1:13:30, 11:50/mile.

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All smiles, I accepted my medal, found Mike, found Jillian in the finisher’s chute and snapped some pictures with her, and after saying goodbye to Jillian we all made our way back to the pre-race party area for the finisher’s festival (and to get my snazzy green tech shirt).

When we got there, I re-connected with Lizzie who had finished her training run and joined us for our new post-race tradition of coffee and pastries at the Columbus Circle Starbucks!

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Medium Roast & Raspberry Swirl Loaf: to die for

After we all said our goodbyes, we couldn’t pass up a gorgeous day in the city. So I changed out of my sweaty gear and we headed back downtown to check out the new ThinkGeek store on 33rd & Broadway, had some celebratory pub grub at the Cock & Bull, then made our way back to the train station 10 miles later where I sat down and refused to get up until the train arrived. 16 total miles for the day is no joke, ya’ll!

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Thanks for the edit, Carlos the Runner!

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It was a LONG day, but ultimately I ended it knowing that I’d run another PR just a few weeks after nailing my best half ever. Even with the heat and hills! I’m excited as ever to see what else I’m capable of next, and can’t wait to have you along with me for the ride!

Is it Spring Yet?

I know, it’s only February 19th. But can we at least fast forward to like… April 1st? I’ve got SO many exciting races coming up and I want to RUN ALL THE RACES NOW!

Okay, that might be the coffee talking (and the fact that I just keep killing it in training, with sub 12-minute miles becoming the new norm). OR it could be the fact that my favorite running club of all time, the New York Road Runners, just opened up a slew of new spring race registrations and I kind of went on a bender yesterday.

No, for real. I registered for 4 races in one day:
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And if you think that’s nuts, my original list had 7 races! I only cut back because I had to be realistic. I have the April Fools 11K on 4/2, then I’ve got my goal race (the NJ Half) on May 1, so I swore off racing in the weeks before and immediately after that. The races I committed to are all far enough out from those dates that I’m confident I’ll be able to compete at top form. Also, there were a few races where signing up would have meant 3 or more racing weekends in a row, with multiple trips to Atlantic City and NYC. As much as I want to #runalltheraces, I’ve got a bank account and a family and adult responsibilities (dammit). So for now, this will have to suffice.

In short: My spring racing calendar went from “meh” to “whoa baby!” pretty quickly. And because I’m not 100% sure of my fall racing calendar, who knows what else I might add?

All I know is I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for March 8th, when the NYC Marathon Lottery drawing happens. I want into that race so bad I can taste it!

How about you – have you locked down your racing calendar yet? If you could RUN ALL THE RACES what would your ideal list be? Any bucket list races in the works?