Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals Revealed

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Over the weekend, runners at the Wine and Dine Half Marathon festivities were treated to the first look at the Star Wars Weekend medals. Today, runDisney officially released the images of the medals for all the races for the weekend. And they are awesome!

2015 runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals

2015 runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals

It has been well established on this blog that I am a nerd. I am not ashamed of this. When both the Avengers and Star Wars Half Marathons were announced, I was beyond excited, even though I knew that I would be unable to run in either event. And then the Avengers race medals were released, and I was honestly underwhelmed by them. I guess I built them up too much in my mind. This is not the case with the Star Wars medals. RunDisney knocked it out of the park with these medals, and now I really wish I was able to be in California in January for these events. Good luck to all of you that will be running in these events and have fun!

Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

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Sunday was the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon.  The race marked my completion of the Dumbo Double Dare as well as the Coast to Coast Challenge.  It was my fourth state to ever run a half marathon in as well as my sixth half this year and eleventh overall. It will be several months before I even have an opportunity to cross off another state, so at least I made this one count!

Disneyland Half Marathon Post Race Pic

Disneyland Half Marathon Post Race Pic

I arrived to Anaheim on Friday afternoon and was a little worried about tackling the expo.  I had heard horror stories from last year’s expo and no one wants to be stressed too much from an expo.  I am happy to report that this year’s expo was very easy to navigate and the crowds were no worse than any other large event that I have attended in the past.  If you entered from the main parking lot for the Disneyland Hotel, there were plenty of signs to show you where to go and I did not have to wait long for my race materials.  I browsed some of the vendors, but actually did not purchase anything.  Susan, who did not make the trip with me, did purchase some items for me online because she felt that I needed something to celebrate my finishes beyond the medals.  I ate lunch at the Tangaroa Terrace and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of options that the quick service place had.  I enjoyed a teriyaki chicken sandwich and some sweet potato fires.   After the expo, I went to my hotel to rest and wait to head over the Angels Stadium for the game, but I will post separately about that event.

I previously posted about the Disneyland 10K from Saturday, and after a morning of resting, I headed over to Downtown Disney to walk around and eat.  I decided to go to a movie at the AMC theater there, and realized that I must not be the only person there for the race weekend that decided not to buy park tickets.  Finding a place to eat was next to impossible, and while I waited, I was very happy that I had snacked at Wetzels Pretzels earlier in the day.  I finally was able to have dinner at Earl of Sandwich, which was another excellent quick service option.  The chipotle chicken avocado sandwich and mac ‘n cheese were excellent pre-race carbs and I was very happy that I was able to abstain from sampling some of the excellent looking sweets. After dinner, I returned to my hotel to relax and watch some football, and hopefully cool off.

Race morning was another 3:30 am wake-up call.  My hotel was about a mile from the start line and this walk to start provided ample opportunity to get loose for the race.  Surprisingly, once I arrived at the starting area, there still were no lines for the port-a-potties! No lines are always a welcomed sight!  I was in corral F, which meant that I was expecting to start a little after 6:00 am.  Thankfully, they were releasing corrals two at a time and I was on the course just after 5:45 am.  The half marathon course was certainly more congested than the 10K course, but again, not as bad as I was mentally preparing for.  It was another hot and humid (by California standards) morning. I was sweating early, but I was not as uncomfortable as I would have been if the event was held here in Memphis.

Disneyland Half Marathon posing with Walt and Mickey

Disneyland Half Marathon posing with Walt and Mickey

The course had some highlights, but by mile 4, you are outside of the park, and when you return around mile 12, you are running on the outskirts of the parks and not near any attractions.  They did do a great job of providing photo opportunities in the park miles.  I took my photo with the Walt and Mickey statue in front of the castle as well as with Paradise Pier behind me.  The one character stop that I really wanted to get a picture at was with Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers.  The line was insanely long and I skipped it.  I immediately regretted this decision.  Outside of the park, there were several marching bands and dance groups for entertainment.  There were also over 350 classic cars around mile 7 that provided a nice change of scenery from the road course. Mile 9 had us running through Angels Stadium, which was awesome.  Sadly, my hands and phone were not cooperating due to sweat, so I was unable to get any pictures on the field.  The finish was hectic and was probably the narrowest portion of the course.  The awarding of the finisher’s medals was very organized and there were no issues getting each of my three medals.

Course: A: The park portion was great, and the inclusion of Angels Stadium helped salvage the rest of the course.  You also run by the Honda Center, but you do not go in it, so it is more just a building than an awesome landmark.  It was very flat, and in better weather conditions, I imagine that the course is very fast as well.  In fact, before the race started, the announcers were talking about how this course was the fastest of the runDisney half marathon courses and I believe it.

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Swag: A: The Disneyland Half medal has changed very little over the past few years, and I am perfectly fine with that.  The script D and castle look great as a medal.  I enjoyed the retro look of the shirt and ribbon as well.  The post race refreshments were exactly the same as the 10K the previous day.  I guess they had a large food box packing party the week preceding the events.

Disneyland Half Marathon Swag

Disneyland Half Marathon Swag

Overall: A: I enjoyed this race, and did not find that the crowds were too overwhelming.  The only issue that I had was with my timing chip.  For some reason, it stopped working after the 5K split of the half.  I have emailed track shack and they are in the process of updating my race time, so sometime next week, I should have an official finishing time.  This is the second timing chip issue that I have had during a half marathon and I need to figure out why, I suppose.

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Swag: A: The shirt is better than the medal, but both are very good.  The medal has a lot of detail and is thinner than other medals that I have. That is the trade-off for the colors and details, I guess.

Dumbo Double Dare Swag

Dumbo Double Dare Swag

Coast to Coast Swag: A+: Medal only, but it is an awesome medal.  It is very heavy and has great detail. I know that it does not really change from year to year, but it is one of my favorite medals, and definitely the best of the weekend to me.  It is the medal that I chose to wear around the most after the event.  I wore all my medals briefly after the event, but the clanging around scratched up my half marathon medal somewhat, so I stuck to one medal.

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

After the race, I had to get cleaned up and head to the airport.  Since this was a solo trip, I decided to fly back the day of the race rather than laying around in a hotel for another night.  I did, however, hit a Southern California landmark that could not be missed on any trip out west, In-N-Out Burger!  After 19.3 miles, I think that I earned that greasy goodness, and I enjoyed every last bite, as well as my Neapolitan milkshake! It was a great way to cap off my weekend.

You just finished 19.3 miles, now what are you going to do? I'm going to In-N-Out Burger!

You just finished 19.3 miles, now what are you going to do? I’m going to In-N-Out Burger!

I had a great experience at this race weekend, and would do it again.  Maybe next time I will be able to run in the Avengers or Star Wars Half race weekend, with a celebratory In-N-Out trip, of course.

Disneyland 10K Recap

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Saturday was the Disneyland 10K as part of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend.  I ran the event as a part of the Dumbo Double Dare. Surprisingly, this was just my second ever 10K, and being that it was proceeding a half marathon, I was not even going to attempt to a PR.  And since the weather was warmer and much more humid than expected, it was great that I was not looking to PR.  I did, however, run the race a little faster than expected.  I wanted to take it somewhat easy, but I felt great throughout, and just coasted along.  I could have shaved a couple of minutes off of the final number, but I am glad that I did not with the half looming the following morning.

Course: A: My first thought about the race upon looking at the course map was that it was going to be the most enjoyable race of the weekend.  It was a flat course that despite the large number of runners, seemed to have room to accommodate the majority of us.  And while the course was primarily through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland, the amount of photo opportunities were lacking.  Most Disney races have several places for photos, but there were not that many throughout the course.  There were two in Cars Land, which may or may not have just been a part of the park normally, and towards the end there was a Lilo and Stitch character meet.  Some people saw Chip and Dale, but most did not see both on the course.  

Disneyland 10K Swag

Disneyland 10K Swag

Swag: A-: Disney is know for their medals and other race swag.  Of course, you pay a premium for these, but some races charge a large amount and you get inferior medals.  This is not the case with runDisney.  The medal for the 10K was great, especially if you are a huge Lilo and Stitch fan.  I have never seen the movie, so I was indifferent about the character, but the medal does look great.  The race shirt also came out very well, and seemed to be the best received shirt of all of the weekend’s events.  I love the runDisney shirts because they are roomy tech shirts and as a large runner, roomy shirts are always appreciated.  

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

The downside of runDisney events is the post race spread.  There is no beer (understandable) and the prepackaged boxes of food are kinda meh.  There is a science behind them apparently and with the amount of runners, there has to be a way to ration out the refreshments.  A prepackaged box of crackers and one banana is underwhelming. 

Overall: A: I really enjoyed this race. A 10K is not a distance that is overwhelming and with the limited amount of space at the California Disney parks, it utilizes the space very well.  Since the 10K was not the main event of the weekend, the crowds were much easier to navigate before, during, and after the race.  With the 5:30 am start, and the shorter distance, the majority of runners could be finished with the race, showered, and at the parks by the time they opened in the morning.

I really enjoyed the race, and I would do it again, but next time I participate in a Disney race in California, I hope it is the Avengers or Star Wars events, simply because I am a nerd and the weather will be even better. 

Wordless Wednesday: Disneyland Half Weekend Preview

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I leave for Anaheim in 9 days, and at the end of my 3 days there, I expect to experience as much goodness as the area can provide.  All of the following should be in my future:

Double Double goodness

Double Double goodness

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

2014 Disneyland Half Weekend Medals

2014 Disneyland Half Weekend Medals

One of these is hopefully in my future!

Disney Coast to Coast Medal

Avengers Half Weekend Medals Revealed

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Several months ago when the Avengers Super Heroes Half Weekend was announced, I was excited and sad at the same time.  I was excited because, as a nerd, this is a great theme.  I was sad because I had already registered for the Disneyland Half Weekend races, and there was absolutely no way that I could afford two trips out west for the races.  There were rumors of an Avengers themed race at Disneyland, but most thought that it would be in January (the spot has since been filled by a Star Wars themed race weekend), and I decided to get my Coast to Coast medal this year, and signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare.  If I would have know that the Avengers were coming in November, that is the race I would have targeted.  Oh well.

And ever since the announcement, I have wondered what the medal would look like.  As of this morning, the wait is over since the medals have been revealed!

Medals for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Medals for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Disney is known for their medals, and it seems that each year they seem to top themselves.  Prior to the announcement, the event was teased with #SmashTheHalf, which led me (and others) to believe that the medal would be based on the Hulk this year, with possibly each Avenger getting a medal in subsequent years. Wrong.  Honestly, I am a little underwhelmed by the medals.  My biggest fear was that the medals would be so awesome that I would take a scorch the earth approach to my finances to find a way there in November.  Now, that fear is unfounded. I can simply regret the race announcement not coming sooner, and focus on more important things.

Update: As soon as I posted this, I saw a closer look at the front and the back of the half medal.  So, here you go.

Front of Avengers Half Medal

Front of Avengers Half Medal

Back of Avengers Half Medal

Back of Avengers Half Medal

Big runDisney News! The Avengers Race Weekend Coming to Disneyland!

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This morning runDisney made a huge announcement of a new race at Disneyland.  Speculation had been rampant for months that Disney would be adding an Avengers or Star Wars themed race to the rapidly growing schedule of runDisney events.  The Avengers rumor had always been attached to Disneyland since there is a character agreement issue with Disney World and another theme park that has the contractual rights to using Marvel characters.

Big runDisney news. Smash the Half

Big runDisney news. Smash the Half

At 10:35 AM CST, runDisney announced that the rumors about an Avengers race were true, but the rumored date was incorrect.  Most people speculated that the new race would be during the old Tinker Bell Race Weekend slot in January, starting in 2015.  This morning, however, Disney announced that The Avengers Half Marathon and Super Heroes 5K will be held November 15 and 16, 2014!  This is huge news, that I want to be more excited about.  The idea of the race itself is amazing, and I really want to do it, but there is no way possible that I can participate in the race this year.  If I could transfer my Dumbo Double Dare registration to this event and pocket the difference I certainly would!  Susan even told me to wait on the Disneyland Half, but due to the quickness that the event sells out and that I assumed that the event would be in 2015, I registered for Dumbo.  Whoops!  You know what happens when you assume, I suppose!  I will still enjoy myself at the Disneyland Half and live vicariously through other runners during the November weekend.

Anyway, you can get more info here.  Registration opens on March 25, and it will probably sell out quickly.

Officially Registered for Dumbo!

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One of these is hopefully in my future!

One of these is in my future!

I was able to register early for the Dumbo Double Dare somehow this morning, so I am on track to earn my Coast to Coast medal this Labor Day Weekend!  I will also be earning a medal from the 10K, Half Marathon, and Dumbo Double Dare that same weekend!  That is a lot of bling and even more cash!  My 2014 race budget is officially exhausted, so any other races that I participate in will be local events.  But, I will mark off another state in which I ran and accomplish the Coast to Coast so those items can be marked off of my running bucket list.

WDW Marathon Medal Display

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Susan and I made this for my WDW Marathon race medal since it was my first marathon and we wanted it to stand out.  This is very similar to the display I have for my very first half marathon expect Susan and I made this on our own.  She did the painting and I cut it and added all of the mounts.  We may put Disney World down the right side, but we are very pleased with how it came out.

WDW Marathon: Everything But the Race

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I feel that I covered the WDW Marathon and my experience rather thoroughly, so this post is going to be about everything else that I did while I was at my runcation.  Susan and I traveled to Disney World on the Thursday prior to the marathon and left on Monday.  During that time, we squeezed in four days in the parks and several excellent meals.  And since we went down to Disney for the marathon, our approach to visiting the parks was altered slightly from what we have previously done.  Instead of going 100 miles an hour from the second the parks opened until the second the parks closed, we scaled back our time in the parks, but still logged several daily miles.  I also brought my GoPro camera along on some of the rides.

The Resort:  Usually, Susan and I stay at Coronado Springs when we visit Disney, but we could not book a room there for marathon weekend.  Instead, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which is the largest resort at Walt Disney World, and falls into the moderate resort category.  Caribbean Beach was very disappointing and honestly was overpriced for what you get.  The interior of the room felt and looked cheap.  There were pools, and beaches, and dining at the resort, as it is at all of the moderate resorts, but the rooms were lacking.  There are no rooms with king sized beds in the entire resort!  Our room had a cheap, white ceiling fan, a Finding Nemo wallpaper runner around the top of the room, and uncomfortable, bland bedding.  For the same price, Coronado Springs has ornate doors and decorations, much better bedding, and closer proximity to the amenities that make the resort a moderate resort.  We will never stay at Caribbean Beach again.

Nemo wallpaper from our room

Nemo wallpaper from our room

Thursday: Between flying into town, checking into the resort, the expo, and an intense rain storm, most of our day was consumed outside of the parks.  We did manage to go to Epcot late in the afternoon to ride some rides and dinner.  Test Track is by far the best ride at Epcot (sorry Soarin’ fans), even if it is just a Chevrolet commercial. and enjoyed dinner at the Coral Reef, which is an underwater themed restaurant with a large aquarium.  You pay more for the atmosphere than the food, but every time that I have gone there, I have found something worthwhile to eat.  On this evening I tried the grilled Mahi Mahi with laughing bird shrimp, hearts of palm, jasmine rice, cilantro, and a coconut-lime sauce.  Susan had the crab cakes and both were good.  After dinner we grabbed a cronut for a snack, which is the greatest thing ever!  It is a croissant prepared like a doughnut (not runner friendly), covered in cinnamon and sugar.  This was the first time we had one and it was not disappointing.  After our dessert, we watched the fireworks show Illuminations, which is a phenomenal show and it is the personal favorite of both Susan and myself.

The Cronut!

The Cronut!

Friday:  We did some park hopping, trying our best to maximize the value for our tickets.  Our day started at Hollywood Studios, where we rode the Tower of Terror multiple times and took in several shows since we were trying to limit the miles we walked.  We also were able to work in a ride on Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N Roller Coaster thinks to Fast Pass+ on our Magic Bands.  Dinner was at the Brown Derby where we enjoyed their “world-famous” Cobb Salad and grapefruit cake.  After dinner we headed over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the new Fantasyland, including Beast’s Castle and the new Little Mermaid ride since that is Susan and my sister-in-law’s favorite Disney movie.  We also watched Wishes, which is their nightly fireworks show.

I used my GoPro on several rides throughout the day, but honestly, they were not that impressive.  Tower of Terror and Space Mountain were too dark to be worthwhile, whereas the Little Mermaid ride is a little slow to post.  I honestly shot that one specifically for my sister-in-law.  I did not use my GoPro on the Rock ‘N Roller Coaster because I was afraid it would fall off (same as Test Track) and it was dark in there as well, so the video would not have been great.

Saturday: We started our day at Animal Kingdom, which is the best park to start at since everyone wants to go to the bigger parks first, so you can do everything you want in a relativity quick manner.  We rode Expedition Everest three times, Dinosaur, and the Kilimanjaro Safari within the first hour an a half of going to the park.  I got an awesome video from the front seat of Expedition Everest since there was not that many people to contend with for seating.  My video for Dinosaur was not great, so I will not be posting it.  So enjoy my video of Expedition Everest!

After leaving the park, we returned to our hotel to relax with Susan’s cousins at the pool.  I did make a return trip to the expo for some fuel and a last second walk around.  Dinner that evening was at Il Mulino and it was easily one of the best Italian restaurants in which I have ever eaten.  I took it easy, but all of our friends and family really enjoyed the food and wine.  The rice balls and gnocchi were both phenomenal and the Caesar salad was hands down the best I ever had.  The portions were huge and I am really glad that Susan and I decided to split the gnocchi.  And honestly, the place was the most reasonably priced meal of the entire weekend, especially when you consider the quality and amount of food you get.  I can not wait to return there when I can fully enjoy the menu and atmosphere.

Sunday:  After the race, we went to Germany in Epcot to refuel and enjoy some liquid refreshment.  My grandmother is from Germany and my mom spent many years over there, so I love German food.  Not to mention the gigantic beers that they serve there.  After lunch, I had to have another cronut, this time a la mode, and then we went back to our hotel to shower and crash for a couple of hours.  That was the best sleep of the entire week!

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

After our nap, we returned to Epcot for dinner at Le Cellier, which is the steakhouse in Canada.  My first impression of the restaurant was that every employee was incredibly attractive.  It was quite noticeable and unexpected.  Apparently there is something in the water up north.  Now onto the food.  Susan and I split the cheddar cheese soup and Caesar salad for appetizers.  You are also given a trio of breads, all of which were good.  Dipping the pretzel bread into the cheese soups was great. Then we both ordered the filet with wild mushroom risotto and the steaks were on par with any steakhouse that I have had the privilege to previously visit.  It was the most expensive meal of the trip, but it was worth it.

This is Disney Parks photo of the filet at Le Cellier. Ours looked really close to this actually.

This is Disney Parks photo of the filet at Le Cellier. Ours looked really close to this actually.

We enjoyed our trip to Disney, and even though we did not do as much as a typical trip there, we did hit all of our favorite rides and enjoyed some great meals.  I really did a poor job of taking photos of my food while in Disney, so I do apologize for that.

WDW Marathon Teaser

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As most you already know, my first marathon was this past Sunday.  I have been working towards this goal for months and realized my goal when I crossed the finish line on Sunday morning.  I am currently writing my race recap for the blog, as well as editing video from my GoPro (yes, I bought a GoPro, more on this later), uploading photos and the such.  I imagine that there will eventually be multiple posts about this event.  Until I do my entire recap (tomorrow or Wednesday, I suspect), here is my official race medal!

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

This is officially my favorite race medal!