She can fly!

When I signed up for the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend months and months ago, I had big plans.  The Tinkerbell Half was my first Disney race with Meri and Vic so it holds a special place in my heart.  I had been promising my daughter a Disney race for awhile so back when I was feeling super motivated, I signed myself up for all three of the Tink races and signed up my girl for the 5k.  I had high hopes of training and PR’s and what not, but you know how it goes.  Sometimes you accidentally get pregnant.

Luckily, I was able to get a refund for the half and 10k, which, by the way, I thought was super understanding of the peeps at RunDisney.  We decided to go ahead and run the 5k together.  I thought a Disney race would be perfect for Sophie.  Disney races are super family friendly.  There’s always runners of all athletic abilities and all ages.  Sophie’s a very active 11 year old, she plays soccer and runs a lot at practice so I had no doubt she could do this race.  I was more worried about being able to keep up with her!

18422839_10155029744341140_290018802447832562_o

She was so excited to have a bib with her name on it. 

We stayed the night close to the park before the race so we could make the 5 am start time and so we could pick up our bibs and hit the expo the night before.  We didn’t plan costumes, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything pregnant friendly that wouldn’t be suffocating. Also, the more pregnant I get the less motivation I have to do stuff.  So when we got to the expo, Sophie found a Tink tee from Raw Threads that she just loved.  Obviously, a girl can’t run her first Disney race without some kind of sparkle, so Sophie got a sparkle skirt and some fairy wings to go with her shirt.  Because that’s how we roll!

The race started right on Main Street, which I haven’t ever experienced in a Disney race before.  There aren’t Corral placements for the 5k, it’s first come, first Corral, and we ended up in Corral C.  Sophie couldn’t contain her excitement.  She whooped and hollered when the MC’s roused the crowd.  She danced and cheered for her favorite songs.  And she was mesmerized when Tinkerbell flew around Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

18485376_10155030636101140_6232345280707728158_n

Not bad for a last minute costume!

As our Corral moved toward the start line, Sophie was ready to run.  We planned to meet at the finish if we got separated.  I told her about pictures with characters and so she decided she would stop and get pictures and maybe I’d be able to catch up to her.  However, when we finally started, she took off!  I didn’t even get one picture of her running.  There weren’t many characters out for the 5k, so that plan blew.  The whole race I expected to see her walking or at a bathroom or something, but nope, that girl left me in her pixie dust and never looked back.

 

18342658_10155030636021140_7807764000295105178_n

Our only picture together!

 

I walked my way to the finish and looked for Sophie.  She was no where to be found.  I began to slightly freak out, trying to ignore every worse case scenario that popped into my head.  I decided to check the post-race area before I panicked, and that’s exactly where I found her.  Shoe-less and fresh out of snacks, she flagged me down with a wild wave.  She finished in 38 minutes. It took me at least an hour, so she just hung out for twenty some minutes.  I had no idea she was so responsible and independent!  We headed back to the hotel with our medals proudly displayed.  She wore that medal later that day when we visited the park until she left it in the seat pocket on Big Thunder Railroad.  Luckily, a cast member found it for her and she promptly stowed it in my bag for the rest of the day.

18403878_10155030996091140_301854729834513626_o

Best medal ever! 

 

To be honest, I would have skipped the race if it weren’t for Sophie, but I’m so glad we did this.  She made it magical and I love that I get to share this part of my life with her now.  So many changes are happening in her life this year.  She’s getting a new sibling, she’s going to middle school, we’re moving (again!!!), but I hope these races are something we can share for as long as we’re able.  She even wants to do a Ragnar!  Like she said, this can be the start of a family tradition.  She already has costume plans for next year.  That’s my girl!

18517963_10155034954221140_4826936971663766958_o

 

 

Star Wars Half Marathon picture pages

A week back from Anaheim, I am again itching for SoCal’s summerlike weather, delicious food treats and fabulous friends.

I ran the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland last week and – to my surprise – ran like I was being chased by imperial fighters. Swift feet and a fast course took me to a new PR at 1:55. The weather was perfect and I was thrilled. Here’s my race recap on my work blog.

The weekend was about so much more than running, as I went to Anaheim to spend a few days with friends. We laughed, we ate (everything) and had an incredible time.

So here’s a virtual photo album of my trip:

SW3The course was strong with this one. My medal at the finish line of the half marathon. I wore it at the park Sunday night and someone actually offered to buy it from me. I declined, but curiosity has me wondering how much the fan would’ve offered.

SW13

We went to the Wookiee Welcome Party in Tomorrowland Thursday night. The event featured amazing desserts (like these-I ate them all and then some), drinks and a meet-and-greet with many Star Wars characters.

SW23

CHARACTERS!

SW10

We also rode a few popular rides – sans any lines. Plus this was my first time on Disneyland’s Space Mountain. I went on a few rides for the first time on this trip – the Paradise Pier coaster, DCA Tower of Terror and Mickey’s Fun Wheel all included. I still haven’t recovered from that last one.

SW11

Heather and I spent much of Friday in and around the parks thanks to extra magic hours.

SW14

4 1/4 friends! We met up with Laurie, Anya and their handsome little guy Finley!

SW22

Of course we got Minnie ears. Pluto dug them.

SW12

I spent a few hours working at the PRO Compression booth at the expo. Loved chatting with so many runners!

SW15

Saturday brought the Star Wars 10K and I watched the winner cross the finish line! Way to go Jacob!

SW16

Imperial motivators

SW17

Spent some time with these lovelies – Dani and Linzie

SW24

I stopped for a few pics mid-run and this one with Boba Fett was one of my faves! I’ve got my awesome Sparkle Athletic skirt and tank on, with an Oiselle base layer and PRO socks.

SW18

A stunning sunrise stopped me mid-stride on the streets of Anaheim.

SW19

After our run, we went out to celebrate at Club 33.

SW20

This pic of Cam says it all! We had a blast together all weekend long!

SW25

The gang’s all here – from left Cam, Heather, me, Jillian and Mike. Happy racing everyone!

Cam and Heather both ran the half – and Cam PRed! Click here for her recap.

Did you attend the Star Wars half weekend? What was your favorite part of the course? What did you like best about the weekend? What would you change? Tell me in the comments!

Race Recap: Disneyland 10k/Dumbo Double Dare

Y’all, I love a good 10k. (I also love to say y’all, even though I’m from New Jersey.)

10k-1

When I began my running journey in 2011, I started with a 5k mud run. From there I did an 8k road race before jumping in distance to the runDisney Princess half in February 2012. The elusive 10k distance didn’t happen for me until fall 2012 and with one race, I fell completely in love with the race distance.

Hearts in my eyes, swooning, in love.

Problem was (and is), there weren’t a whole heck of a lot of 10ks around these parts. I ran a 10k in October 2013 but haven’t gotten the opportunity to do one since.

Fortunately, runDisney started adding 10ks to their race weekends and sweetening the deal by creating challenges that incorporated these races. The 10k distance AND Disney? Be still, my beating heart! 

As soon as I got the idea in my head about doing the Dumbo Double Dare challenge in California, there was no stopping me.

10kstartmercam

I knew that Cam would agree to it because Cam really loves my ideas and is always down for anything that I suggest. You know, until it comes to the race and then she’s all “Meridith, what did you get us into?”

That’s when I usually do the “Isn’t this FUN?”comment during a really, really fun part of the race (like while we were jamming to Elvis in Cars Land) so she remembers the fun and not the fact there we were so sweaty, the sheen had our arms slipping against one another the entire race.

I let Jess slide when it came to doing the challenge, being that this was her first half ever. Next time I know she’ll be all in!

10kstartline

You know what’s rad about the Disneyland races? Waking up at 4am and then walking to the start from the hotel – we stayed at Best Western Stovalls Inn. It’s so easy breezy and when you’re a bundle of excited energy who doesn’t really sleep well before races, easy breezy is always appreciated.

A hush fell over the crowd as Elvis crooned the Star Spangled Banner. This race’s theme was Stitch, with an emphasis on Elvis, Hawaii and all things Polynesian. Cam decided to pay homage to Pearl Harbor with our costumes and we were feeling very patriotic.

We lined up right behind the D corral and waited for our turn to go. The energy was great within the corral and everyone was looking forward to making our way through the course.

I decided to ditch the watch this weekend. Disney races are never about the time for me. Plus, the more time I can spend with friends, the better!

10kgo

We got the GO ahead (see what I did there) and crossed the start line to the sounds of Elvis. Our game plan was to do an easy run throughout the course and stop for any must have pictures.

10kmap

credit: runDisney

The first two miles were through the streets of Anaheim and around the Convention Center. They were pretty quiet, which I can understand because it was early in the morning. No bands, no cheering squads, but plenty of smiling faces of race supporters and awesome volunteers.

There were a lot of younger kids running this race, which is something I always love to see. Going into mile two, one was running on the median and must have stepped wrong because he fell. Yikes!

A few of us stopped to see if he was okay but thankfully he jumped right up and kept running. It was a good reminder to be aware and stay on the marked course. I know the want to go faster is there for some but we need to race smart!

DCA-10k

The air was hazy and humid as we made our way into California Adventure but spirits were high! Running through the parks is always the highlight of these races although in Disneyland the time in the parks is less – mainly because there are less parks.

Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen were out in Cars Land but we decided to skip the lines in favor of a brief pit stop. Hello, real restrooms! Always hold out for the real deal if you can. Totally worth it.

10krestrooms

Everything part of me was sweating at this point. So gross and so awesome, all at the same time. Let’s just say that I was very grateful I decided to wear bike shorts under that skirt. (I also had my Spibelt under there to hold our fuel – Laffy Taffy – so I bet that everyone else was grateful I was wearing bike shorts, too, when I was hiking up my skirt.)

Races with Cam always rock because she’s a really cool chick. I mean, Disney races are always fun but when you’ve got Cam by your side you can expect dancing, singing, seeking out and mugging for race photographers, and jokes that make you giggle the entire time.

We didn’t seeing many character photo opportunities during this race, which was a bummer, so we decided to stop in California Adventure to snag a shot. Selfies weren’t really cutting it because you could see our faces but not much of the background! Thankfully cast members are always there to lend a hand.

10kDCA

Cam and I both commented that the air in the parks was actually cooler than the air on the streets of Anaheim. Is it possible to air condition outside air… outside? Disney magic, hard at work!

10ktunnel

This tunnel was actually pleasant because there was a cold spot right smack dab in the middle. I sort of wanted to stay there! Alas, we continued on because there was more fun to be had.

Feeling parched in Toontown, we made our way to water fountains… only to find the water to be hot! Not so yummy. Then I nearly tripped off the curb because walking is hard. Very grateful I had Cam to grab on to and didn’t turn an ankle!

We knew the Castle wasn’t far. Holla!

10kcastle

I think this is the first time I actually got to RUN through a castle during a race. This race was crowded but probably the least crowded of all the Disney races I’ve done.

10kcastlepic

Of course, no race is complete without a random shot that you didn’t mean to take.

10kground

Magical Disney ground!

After a few more turns around the backlot, we were headed to Downtown Disney and ready to wrap up this party. Around this point I texted Jess because she requested I let her know when we were around mile 5. The plan was for her to meet us at the end however she was still zzzzzzing away, right up until the text. Whoopsies!

Also, texting while running is really difficult so I decided to just call her. And then I was THAT GIRL on the phone. Please, feel free to judge me. I was judging myself.

The crowd support was high in Downtown Disney, including a sign that said YOU ARE WINNING. There were people calling “Hey Sailors” to us too, which made us grin ear to ear! It was perfect.

And so was the finish line!

10kfinish

Water bottles were handed out directly after the finish, which was appreciated and necessary in the hot, hot heat. From there, we made our way to the volunteers handing out the medals and collected our super cute Stitch medals.

medal10k

The Dumbo Double Dare bracelets were handed out directly after that. Pictures and Medical were located nearby (we skipped both) and headed straight for the snack boxes and freezing cold bananas. Those bananas! I mean, who would know I could get so excited for a piece of fruit. BUT I DID.

Side note: Came home, put bananas in the freezer and forgot I did it until my husband brought them to me with a perplexed look. Then they were too cold to bite.

There was awesome entertainment and while we snacked, we took a few minutes to soak it all in.

10kmercam

Later we visited the park to celebrate with Dumbo.

10kstitchmedal

I’ll bid you adieu the same way I began…

Y’all, I love a good 10k!

 

Jumbo Double Dare (no, that’s not a typo)

DLline

When my Pooks was little, he refused to call Dumbo anything but Jumbo, because calling someone Dumbo is just plain mean.

So, while the rest of the people running on August 30th and 31st will be completing runDisney’s Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, I’ll be completing the Jumbo Double Dare Challenge. I’m sure runDisney will modify my shirts and medals for me, right? (Just don’t play Baby Mine or there will be tears.)

Of course, it’s always better with a friend or two and I’m super stoked that I’ll be running with my California girls, Jess and Cam. Oh, if you could only see the group text that was happening on Tuesday during registration. Wait! You can…

There was a lot of flailing going on previous to this portion of the message but I'll spare you that part.

There was a lot of flailing going on previous to this portion of the texts but I’ll spare you that part. You’re welcome.

I’m sure that I drove both of them crazy with my emails and texts leading up to registration, too. After all, I knew from previous years that Disneyland races tend to fill up quickly. And sure enough, this year was no exception! You can see above that only a half hour after registration opened, the Dumbo Double Dare was already at 85% capacity and quickly filled soon after. There is no time to hesitate with these races!

How amazing are these medals?!

How amazing are these medals?!

Cameroo and I have run Disneyland together before at the 2013 Tinker Bell half so it was naturally the next step to try a challenge. This will be our first runDisney challenge and the most logical step for us, with the 10k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday, equaling 19.3 glorious miles.

It will be Jess’ first half marathon ever! Like any good bossy friend, I’ve already been giving her tips. I know that she delights in getting emails of running thoughts at random times.

Wondering what I’ve told her thus far? Here are a few tried and true nuggets of wisdom. What can I say, I’m a giver!

1. Run a 10k race (or longer if so desired) prior to June 1. This way she will be able to provide the timed event for her pace and will be placed in the proper corral.

From the registration email: “If you did not provide proof of time at the point of registration or acquire it after you have registered, then email this information to disneysports@trackshack.com before June 1, 2014 to have your start corral placement changed.”

2. Follow Jeff Galloway’s plan provided by the world class Olympian athlete on the runDisney website. Currently, the plans from 2013 are still on the site but it’s really easy to take them and apply them to 2014. How easy? Well, I took the half plan and am following it for the April 6th half that I’m training for! (And so is Cam because we are running together and I sent her the dates/plan. See? Bossy.)

Click for the link to the beginner plan. Running less than 6 months? This one is for you!

Furthermore, there is a training plan specifically for the Dumbo Double Dare which you can check out here.

That’s basically all I’ve sent so far so I guess you all get off easy. Jess and Cam? Not so much.

209 days to go! Let’s talk runDisney! Who will we see at the Jumbo Double Dare (or, the Dumbo Double Dare)? Brooke and Vic will be at the Glass Slipper Challenge in February – who will be at that?

Special thanks to Anya for the pictures from her 2013 Dumbo Double Dare recap!

Adventures in Anaheim: Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend

I flew across the country, then I flew 13.1 miles through Anaheim!

A whirlwind weekend of food, fun and running brought me to the Happiest Place on Earth for the second time in a year. I planned to visit with friends, cheer my dear Heather as she tackled runDisney’s inaugural Tinker Bell 10K and run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

My time in LA zipped by in a flash. Rather than share my traditional race recap just now, here’s a few of my favorite photos from the weekend. And be sure to tune in Friday, when Heather shares her adventures running the Tink 10K for Team Lemon!

heathervicHeather and I wandered through the expo!

20140120-131602.jpgThen we drank our lunch at the Disneyland Hotel

20140120-131733.jpgI worked at the Sparkle Athletic booth on Friday with Kelly (Tink!)

20140120-125454.jpg We watched the sun set at the pier at Huntington Beach Friday night. Then we inhaled a delicious dinner.

20140120-125412.jpgHere I pose with Tara at the start of the Tinker Bell 10K. Congrats to Tara for finishing third in her age group, while still stopping for a photo!

20140120-131708.jpgPal Mindy prepares three of her students to run their first-ever 10K. They ROCKED it! Great job girls!

julieJulie (aka Donald) tackles some runner’s yoga!

20140120-125522.jpgCheering Tinker Bell

20140120-134516.jpgFreezing Minnie Mouse

20140120-125303.jpgTinker Bells cheer for 10K runners.

20140120-131537.jpgHeather and Tony race to the finish. I chased her down to get this pic.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and time to race 13.1 miles. I ran with Kelly and we laughed our way through the course, stopping to pose with all of the characters and finishing in under two hours. I’ll share more about my own race experience later this week.

Editor’s note: Click here for Vic’s race review!

Have you run the Tinker Bell half marathon or 10K? Have you run a race at Disneyland? Did you see me cheering for you? Tell us about your Anaheim race experiences in the comments!

Guest Post: Heather dishes on the Inaugural Disneyland 10K

I spent most of my childhood living within a 30 minute drive of Disneyland, I have been to the park more times than I can count. In 2011, when I was ready to take my running to the next level, it made perfect sense to make the Disneyland Half Marathon my first.

I absolutely love the challenge of the half marathon but I’ll be honest, the last two miles can really be a struggle for me; the 10k is where it’s at.

When runDisney announced the addition of a 10k to Disneyland Half Marathon weekend I knew I had to run it. Early registration was offered in January at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Expo. That’s when Tony and I registered.

DLlineFinish Line for 5k and 10k

We got to Disneyland about 2:30 on Friday afternoon and headed straight to the expo to pick up our bibs and shirts. Throughout the afternoon the Twitterverse was abuzz over crowding and long lines at the expo, but when we arrived we walked right up to the bib pick up booth, got in another line for our pre-purchased park tickets then headed upstairs to the expo floor where we received our shirts. We walked the whole expo and from start to finish were out in less than an hour.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early and made it to the holding area for 10k participants right about 5:15am. While we were waiting for the 5k to kick off, I had the chance to catch up with some of my friends who were also running.

anyaheather

Anya and Heather (aka, Figment and Aurora)

It was a very hot and humid 80 degrees as we lined up towards the back of corral D. The race started a bit behind its 6:15 scheduled time. Corral D and E seemed to meld together and we got the go ahead to starting line at 6:29.

heather7At the start

The course was extremely crowded as we ran down South Disneyland Drive, past Katella and circled around the Convention Center. After we passed the first marker and made our way back towards the parks on Harbor it opened up for a bit.

heather1DCA!

Mile 2 brought us into Disney’s California Adventure park and, although it was a bit crowded, I was able to maintain my normal pace. As we came around to the boardwalk area, all bets on me running for time were off. It was such a pretty day (despite the heat) so I decided many pictures were in order.

heather4Fancy to see you here!

tonyheatherTony and Heather

Even stopping to snap photo after photo, the miles seemed to fly by. Before I knew it. we were heading into Disneyland and approaching mile 4.

Running along the backlot of Disneyland provided plenty of photo opportunities of parade floats. Once we entered Fantasyland, we found Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter waiting by the mile 5 marker.

heather6It’s a mad TEA PARTY!

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Red Queen were also nearby.

heather5Heather strikes a pose with the Red Queen

Through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle we went, out of the park into Downtown Disney, which was filled with cheering spectators and fellow runners. We ran down the home stretch on to the finish line beside the Disneyland Hotel.

I was so happy I decided to register for this race. I think it offers runners who don’t feel quite ready to tackle a half marathon a great mid-way distance event. And like I said I absolutely love the 10k!

It was a bit crowded and slow moving in points of the course, but everyone seemed to be having such a great time and we are all there because we love Disney.

As for me, I will be registering for the 10k distances as long as runDisney offers them. And yes, I was bummed I just didn’t sign up for the Dumbo Double Dare. But those 10Ks – they will be my low key, get silly and take pictures along the course run as opposed to shooting for my personal record half marathons.

heather2Tony and Heather at the finish

Heather is a mom, runner, crossfitter and contract administrator. She blogs at Heather in the Middle and can be found on Twitter at @hsb0372.

runDisney’s 2014 Tinker Bell weekend, now with 10k!

tink102

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the 10k distance. Therefore, when I first started catching wind about the additions of 10ks to the already awesome runDisney weekends, I got excited.

Cam, Vic and I ran the Tinker Bell half this past January in California’s Disneyland and it’s a race that holds a special place in my heart. I met some really cool people at the 2013 meetup and I hope to make my way back to the West coast to run Tink again at some point. (Jess, next time, you’re doing it too!)

We fairies need to stick together!

We fairies need to stick together!

So today’s announcement from runDisney about the 10k to the Tinker Bell race weekend lineup was happily received!

tink10k3I know that some people might think it’s crazy to fly across the country for different races but this is honestly what keeps me going, it gives me purpose and reason (especially when a training run isn’t going the way I’d hoped).

If you want to check out more about the Tink Half 10k, definitely hop on over to runDisney’s blog post regarding it. I’ve already said that I can’t swing getting myself to the Glass Slipper challenge in 2014, which I’m super bummed about. Maybe I can get out my pixie dust and fly across the country for the Tink Half/10k? Hmmmmm.

tink10k1

Let’s chat about runDisney races! Which have you done? Which do you want to do? I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in the Princess half (2012), Castaway Cay 5k (2012), and Tink half (2013). Coming up? Wine and Dine!