This week over on YouTube and IGTV, I’m chatting with runner and fellow geek Alex Quevedo (@alexquevedo6) about how he fell in love with running and how he combines his love for logging miles with his passion for Star Wars, Marvel, gaming and more. I hope you enjoy!
I know I’ve been a bad blogger lately but the next few posts will totally make up for that, because I’m back from the 2017 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Disneyland and I’m ready to tell you all about it!
This was my first runDisney weekend, and while I was a newbie, I still had high expectations. The race fees for these things are borderline obscene at $330 for the Rebel Challenge (10K and Half Marathon), and I expected to get my money’s worth. I’ll ruin the surprise for you: I did. The runDisney folks nailed every aspect of the weekend and then some. Crowd management, security, entertainment, course support; everything was impeccable. And with more than 12,000 participants in the half marathon, that’s quite a feat.
We flew out Thursday, thinking our 4pm arrival time would give us plenty of room to get to the expo before it closed at 8pm. Unfortunately the weather had other plans and with all the rain-related and rush hour LA traffic, we didn’t end up getting to our HOTEL until 8pm, famished and exhausted. So we scrapped our perfectly planned day 1 and instead stuffed our faces with burgers from the Carl’s Jr. around the corner and passed out by 9:30.
On Friday we woke early and headed into Downtown Disney to get breakfast and kill time before the expo opened at 12, and I might have gone into Disneyland overload.
See, I’ve never been to Disneyland before, and while I’m not usually one to go ga-ga over the whole Mouse and pony show (see what I did there?), it’s hard not to get swept up into the Happiest-Place-on-Earth mania when you’re in the middle of it.
We wandered through shops and grabbed some sandwiches, then headed over to the expo at about 11:30 where I was treated to my first glimpse into the runDisney machine: the LINES.
When we walked down the ramp, we were directed to go “left for bib pickup, right for merchandise”. Thanks to my diligent research (reading 1,482 blog recaps from other runners), I knew that merch would be my best bet as they frequently sell out of hot-ticket items, and I didn’t want to miss out on scoring a fun jacket or whatever else struck my fancy. So we were herded into the right side of the basement with what soon felt like about three thousand other people. I was ready to be disappointed by a 2+ hour wait after hearing about other people’s experiences, but was surprised when they opened exactly at 12 and we were moved back up the ramp and into the hotel for a short line around the merch tent itself.
We only had to wait about another 20 or so minutes as people filtered in and out, and soon we were in the hallowed hall of gear where I snagged a Rebel Challenge jacket, hat, headband, magnet and tank. The jacket was my favorite thing, as I had seen previous year’s versions and got super jealous when I saw folks wearing them around.
While I scoffed at the prices on some things ($36 for a thin cotton t-shirt?), the semi-outrageous prices made it easier for me to pick and choose the things I really wanted instead of going overboard. After leaving the merch tent and being herded to another quick line to pay, we were released into the wild again. And while I thought I’d have to go back on that crazy basement line for my bib, I walked RIGHT up to the counter for my bib and was told to go pick up my shirts in the expo!
The expo was a little crowded, and I was relieved to find that my Women’s Large shirts fit just perfectly. Knowing I had a long two days ahead of me, we opted to skip wandering through the whole expo and grabbed a quick bowl of soup then headed back to the hotel. But not before I serenaded Mike and everyone who watched my IG stories that day with my rendition of the Star Wars theme song that played as we left the park:
I also managed to snap a pic of a bus that matched my BB-8 mickey ears too perfectly:
Clearly I needed a nap. So after relaxing a bit at the hotel, we walked across the street to Roscoe’s House of Chicken n Waffles for an early dinner.
It was there, halfway through my Carol C. Special of a breast and a waffle, that I decided to move to Anaheim and become a professional Disney runner. Not really, but you know what I mean. I was pretty blissed out on a day filled with Star Wars and running fun and was ready to do anything it took to make it last.
Fun story to end Day 1: When we got back to our hotel, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up some snacks and water, and I discovered an impossible treasure trove of Star Wars toys that I promptly took off the shelves, blew the dust off, and went insane over.
I’m not talking original trilogy holy grail type stuff, but Episode 1, late 90’s things that I’m pretty sure Liam Neeson wishes would disappear:
After Mike pried me away from the gift shop, no toys in hand, I laid out my gear for the 10K the next morning, set my alarm for the impossibly early hour of 2:45AM (what the HELL), and we were asleep by about 9.
Stay tuned for my recap of the 10K, where I cried in happiness twice, had my personal space invaded by Kylo Ren and nearly got swept off a race course for the first time in my running career!
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!
This is huge. REALLY huge. For a number of reasons:
- 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!
- An escape to California in the middle of a NJ winter? Yes please.
- 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!
- 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.
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:
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!!