These are a few of my Favorite Things

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strategizing the Pittsburgh Marathon

The countdown to the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon has reached the single digits!  The big day is even appearing in the 10-day weather forecast, so you know it's getting serious here!  (The weather forecast, however, is NOT making me excited yet at highs in the 70's and rain.  Hopefully this changes as we get closer...)

Taken on a training run.  Hopefully the 'Burgh will look like this come race day!

The training and the physical preparation are pretty much in the bag at this point.  There's not a whole lot a runner can do in the week leading up to a marathon to become physically more prepared, other than sleeping and hydrating.  Mentally, however, I'm using taper time to strategize about my race.

Race Map and Elevation Profile from the Pittsburgh Marathon website.

This will be my fourth marathon, and my third consecutive Pittsburgh Marathon, so I am familiar with both the distance and the course.  I know from experience that I can divide the race into roughly three parts:

One of the 5 bridges runners will cross - this photo taken at the 2014 EQT 10 miler.

Miles 1-13  - Keep Calm and Don't Go Out Too Fast!

I expect to feel relatively strong and happy, but I know that I'll need to pace myself from going out too fast on fresh legs and a mostly flat part of the course.  I've felt great in the first 13 miles of most of my training runs, including last month's Run the Bluegrass half marathon.  For those familiar with the Pittsburgh course, you may recognize that there is a significant elevation gain at mile 12.  I have run the uphill of the Birmingham Bridge and Forbes Avenue many times in training, and actually feel pretty good about it!  I've learned that this is another place where I need to be smart and not go too fast, taking walk breaks up the hill if needed, since there are many more hills to come.

The Pittsburgh Soul Steppers around mile 18 in Homewood.  A pleasant and happy distraction!

Miles 13-20 - Distract Myself

If anyone out there is running the Pittsburgh Marathon for the first time, there's something you need to know about the hills.  Everyone talks about the big hill in mile 12.  What nobody talks about is that  miles 13-23 are full of rolling hills in the form of slight grades, often on long stretches of road.  This killed me the first time that I ran Pittsburgh.  I expected a flat, easy plateau at the top of mile 12's hill, but the slight elevation gains of this section of the course have felt brutal to me on tiring legs.  I plan to turn on kind of an autopilot mode, to trust my training and use the scenic urban neighborhoods and  friendly crowds on course to distract me from any tiredness in my legs.

The city as seen from high up on one of the East End's hills.

Miles 20-Finish - Dig Deep, It's (Almost) All Downhill from Here!

For me, the undisputed most challenging part of the Pittsburgh Marathon course is climbing the hill of North Highland Avenue at mile 20.  Mile 20 is often the "Wall" a runner has to overcome in a marathon.  In Pittsburgh, that wall is made even more impassable seeming by the slow, steady climb of the course.  Fortunately, once you get to the top of the hill at Bryant street, runners get rewarded with a corresponding downhill in mile 21.  Then, more ups and downs before the course gets it's huge downhill at mile 23.  As much as it seems like a giant downhill should be easy, its still tough on my tired body to complete these last few miles.  Once I get to the top of the hill in Highland Park, I'm going to try and push my pace, and make the last 10K my fastest 10K!

Crossing the finish line at my first Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013!

I'm hoping that this strategy will bring me home a new marathon PR.  My 2015 goal race is ultimately the Marine Corps Marathon in October, in which I hope to break 5 hours.  Pittsburgh is going to be something of a "practice marathon" and, while I don't know that I'll be able to break 5 hours yet, I'm hoping to beat my best previous time.  Let the countdown continue, and I'll see everyone in 1 week at the Expo, 5K, Pet Walk, and Pittsburgh Marathon!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon - Race Recap

Well, it's been over a week since the race, but I'm finally sitting down to recap my amazing experience at the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington, Kentucky.  Just in case you don't make it to the end of the post, I want to make it clear right off the bat - I recommend the heck out of this race.  The race itself was on the most stunning, rural course, the expo was well-organized and held and the beautiful Keeneland racetrack, and the race weekend was filled with unique experiences highlighting Lexington's rich bourbon, farming, and thoroughbred traditions.  I loved this race weekend!

Post-race, all smiles!

The City of Lexington

My weekend started on Thursday, when I completed the 6-hour drive from Pittsburgh to Lexington and checked into my Airbnb accommodations.  For those unfamiliar, Airbnb gives private homeowners the ability to rent out rooms and properties directly to travelers.  I found and was immediately drawn to a woman renting out her Amish-built art studio which resided in her backyard garden, complete with chickens, dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs milling about!  I chose this location for it's uniqueness, and I immediately felt drawn into the specialness of the Lexington community.

The view outside of my door!  Hey, chickie chickie!

After dinner and drinks on Thursday night (in a University of Kentucky bar during a Wildcats-WVU March Madness game!) I turned in for the night knowing I'd have a full day ahead of me.

The Expo and the Day Before

Friday morning, I woke up and went straight to the expo.  This race weekend was somewhat unique in that the race was Saturday morning, so the expo took place on Thursday night and all day Friday.  Run the Bluegrass has an overarching theme of thoroughbred horse racing, and the Expo was held at the Keeneland racetrack, a stunning property full of stately buildings and rolling, green fields.  The Expo was not to big, not too small, and seemed well organized.  I got my bib, my shirt, and bought a good amount of swag including special race-branded Bourbon!

First thing Friday morning at the Run the Bluegrass Expo.

The official race shirt, a lightweight cotton hoodie, and my purchase of race-branded Bourbon!

Another cool thing about this race is that organizers offered unique experiences during the days before the race, including Bourbon tastings, farm tours, trips to meet award-winning horses, and meals from noted local chefs and restaurants.  I did not end up participating in any of the official tours.  I ended up doing my own visits to a couple of the distilleries.  I'm guessing that their organized distillery tours are pretty similar to the tours I found.  I made my own visits to 2 Lexington distilleries -  Woodford Reserve (lots of cool old distilling methods and historical buildings) and Town Branch (up-and-coming distillery/brewery with a variety of beers and spirits).  If I come back to run, however, I will definitely partake in the opportunity to meet one of the horses, or go to one of the special meals.

Tasting Kentucky Bourbon at Woodford Reserve Distillery.

The Race!

Here's the first thing you should know about the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon: it's hilly.  It's CONSTANTLY hilly.  I come from Pittsburgh, where we boast the steepest hill in the United States (Canton Ave in Beechview, 2 miles from my apt).  The thing about Run the Bluegrass is that no one hill is super long or super steep, at least not by my Pittsburgh standards, but you are going up and down hills from the start to the end.  Literally.  There is no respite.  If you come from a flat training environment, I honestly don't know how you would like this course in terms of its challenge.  For those coming from flat areas, the race does publish a treadmill training guide with grade equivalencies.  I personally prefer training outdoors, but I think the treadmill guide is such a cool training feature.  It also gives outdoor trainers an idea of what they're getting into!

In addition to the challenge of the hills, race morning greeted runners with a "feels like" temperature of 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  Super cold for waiting in the corrals, but honestly pretty perfect for the race.  It was sunny, clear, and not windy at all.  I could handle 17 degrees, especially once I started moving.  Pre-race, runners were definitely bundled up in the corrals!

So cold and sunny waiting for the race to start!

The race started at 9 am, which was great because it gave the sun plenty of time to rise despite the chilly temperatures.  I started in corral 4 of 7, and experienced only a short wait as the corrals started 2 minutes after one another.  With a medium-sized race field of approximately 4,000 runners, the course wouldn't ever be too crowded.

I embraced the beautiful scenery and the hills, running and walking conservatively up, and using my momentum to race quickly down.  The course was stunning to view, running through countless horse farms, with thoroughbreds exercising or grazing in the fields along the road.  The horses and the farms were both breathtaking, and I even saw some cows, chickens, and dogs along the course as well.

 Honestly, it was a very even race for me.  Opposite to the Urban and Disney races I normally run, there weren't a lot of landmarks or marked changes in the course.  Just steady hills and reliably stunning scenery.  I kept an even pace as well, averaging 11:54 in the first half and 11:28 in the second.  (Which adds up to be my second-fastest official half marathon time!) The course felt smooth, calm, and peaceful throughout.  I didn't have a particular time goal, and, I honestly never thought too much about my running.  I just enjoyed the scenery and the sunshine, and let myself run! 

The pictures do nothing justice.  Not the challenge of the hills, and not the beauty of the course.  There were hardly any spectators, which seemed a bit odd coming from the city/Disney race background, but it made for a zen-like, lovely experience.  In the end, I kept faster-than-marathon pace, which is great because I used the race as a training run for the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I had an amazing time.

Another special feature of the race was that a guest of honor was Scott Menzies, widower of Meg Menzies, a runner tragically killed by a drunk driver last year while out for a morning run near her Virginia home.  Scott was a speaker at some race weekend events, and mile 9 of the race was dedicated to Meg's legacy.

Mile 9 was dubbed "Meg's Mile."  As it turns out, Mile 9 also boasted the steepest uphill grades on course.  Dedicating the mile to Meg and her family helped me remember to be strong, and enjoy the run I was in, regardless of it's challenge.

After Meg's Mile, I rose up and coasted down through three more, and made my way to the finish!

To me, the thing that makes this race so worthwhile is the absolute celebration of Kentucky culture - the rolling bluegrass hills, the thoroughbreds, the bourbon, and the hospitality!  I would recommend it to any runner without reservation - they even have a 7-mile run the same morning, and kids races the night before.  Oh, and the races allow runners to bring along leashed dogs, push strollers, and they had their first wheelchair athletes this year.  It's truly a welcoming and joyful race experience.

And, in case the race didn't seem happy enough, runners get free Kentucky Ale beer, and free Papa John's pizza at the end.  Yep.  10/10 would run again.

*All un-watermarked photos are my own.  All watermarked photos are purchased from Run the Bluegrass as part of their $10 for unlimited downloads package!  Yet another reason to love Run the Bluegrass!*

Friday, March 27, 2015

Five Reasons I'm Running the Bluegrass this Weekend

For Friday this week, I wanted to share 5 reasons that brought me to Lexington, Kentucky this weekend!

I planned for this weekend to be a preparatory half-marathon leading up to my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon.   I penciled everything in to the training calendar, secured the time off work, and planned initially to run the Just a Short Run in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

But then I kept hearing about a different half the same weekend, the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon and 7-Miler in Lexington, Kentucky.  So why did I decide to make the 6-hour trek down to the Bluegrass State?

1. Rave Reviews on Social Media

Of course, when I got the notion of Run the Bluegrass in my scheming mind, I took to Twitter to see what people were really saying about the race.  All of my #runChat respondents immediately let me know what a great race it was, and how strongly they recommended it.

2. The Race Director's Presence on Social Media

When I first asked the question about whether I should run the race, I tagged the @RunTheBluegrass handle.  Within 30 minutes, the race director, Eric, replied directly to me, reaching out an offer to answer any questions I had.  Awesome!  Some races are barely staggering into the digital age, and this one has not only a staff member, but the race director himself awaiting and answering runners' Twitter queries.

About a month later, the race directors apparently had an issue receiving the order of their Nike tech shirts, as a workers strike on the West coast has been holding up many imports from Asia.  Eric was quickly on social media, and on the Run the Bluegrass Facebook page, he kept runners in the loop as to whether the tech shirts were coming, and what they needed to know/expect.  Total transparency is a win in my book!

3.  Unique Course and Events

I will be the first to admit that I don't know a ton about Lexington, but when I think about the city and its state, 3 things come to my mind:  Horses, Bourbon, and Basketball.  The Run the Bluegrass course and race weekend totally embrace the first 2 of those items.  The course runs through many thoroughbred farms, and the expo (which I'm leaving to attend shortly) is held at a local racetrack.  The race weekend events include many tours, which seems to be such a unique facet of this race.  Not a lot of races organize tours in the days leading up to the event, but Run the Bluegrass runners can opt to tour stables, taste bourbon, meet horses, tour distilleries, and so much more.

4. Unique Swag

Since we are in Bourbon country, one unique piece of race swag is that the Woodford Reserve distillery makes a Special Edition Single Barrel Bourbon just for the race.  How cool is that!  I've also been told there will be bourbon balls and Kentucky Ale microbrews at the expo and post-race.  That's my kind of carbo loading!

On the topic of the delayed tech shirts from before, Run the Bluegrass has channeled that spirit of uniqueness into solving the shirt problem, and will be giving runners lightweight, great-looking, American-made hoodies instead of the usual tech shirts.  I can't wait to try mine on!

The race also features a Director's Challenge where runners can state their time goal prior to the race and, if they achieve it, they get to keep a barrel stave from Woodford Reserve as their trophy.

5. 50 States

One day, I'd like to become a "50 Stater" aka run a Marathon and/or Half in each of our 50 states.  For someone who aspires to this goal, I have sadly few states already checked off the list.  Kentucky is a state I've never raced in.  In fact, I'm not sure that I've really ever visited the state, save for passing through on the way to Tennessee or points south.  I tend to favor a lot of urban races (and Disney races, however you classify those).  This will be not only a new state, but a new type of adventure.

Now, I'm off to the expo and know that I am going to have a great experience, but, as a parting photo, let me share a little bit of that unique, Lexington spirit.  I am currently staying with Airbnb, and am sharing my yard with these guys!

This city gal is ready to embrace everything that Bluegrass country is about to offer!

* All photos in this blog post copied from  Except chickens.  The chicken photo is totally mine.  Also all opinions expressed are my own as I have not received any compensation - I'm just super excited about this race weekend! *

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Things Friday - Checking In!

I have been NOT good about keeping up with progress on the blog lately.  Don't know whether the snow and ice have gotten me in a bit of a funk, empty space between races has left me less than inspired, or something else.  I've got some things planned to get me into blogging with some sort of regularity, but, until then, I wanted to check in with a Five Things Friday!  Specifically, I wanted to check in regarding some of my recent and continuing goals.

1.  With only 50 days until the Pittsburgh Marathon, I'm hesitant about whether that will be the race that sees me break the 5 hour barrier, but I'm proud to say that I've kept the proper pace (11:27 per mile) I'd need for sub-5 in some of my long training runs.  Even if I don't break 5, I feel pretty hopeful that Pittsburgh will see me PR!

2. For the last month, I've practiced yoga at least once a week at South Hills Power Yoga, and enjoyed spinning weekly at Club Cycle.  If there is one good thing about this brutal Winter driving me indoors, it is that I'm enjoying more consistency in my cross-training!

3. I don't know how much I've been cooking actual recipes, but I'm proud to say I've almost entirely cut out fast food and food court food on the way to/from work and on lunch breaks!  An occasional visit to Noodles and Company is now my only trip to the food court, and at least that is real food!  More often, I make a salad, leftovers, or something so much healthier and tastier than the alternative.

Photo from

4. I finally decided (with only 2 weeks until the race!) that my Spring half marathon will be Run the Bluegrass in Lexington, KY.  I've heard nothing but great things about this race, which looks like an absolutely gorgeous course.  Plus, I've been so impressed by the race director's communication with runners on Twitter and Facebook.  Looking forward to this new-to-me race!

5. After having to defer last year, I am now officially registered for the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon!  My 2014 deferment allowed me guaranteed entry this year, but lottery registration opened today for others who are interested.  Act fast though, because the lottery is only open until March 23.  Excited to participate in my first ever Fall Marathon in one of my favorite cities on Earth!  (Also, DC is where I earned my current Half PR!)

Photo from Marine Corps Marathon Facebook page

How have everyone else's goals been progressing?  Hope you all are enjoying the Spring thaw and looking forward to upcoming adventures!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Resolutions

The new year typically seems like a good time to set goals, whether it be to pen some sort of Bucket List or to commit to New Year's Resolutions.  Sometimes, I have a tough time going along with the flow when it comes to things like this.  In most aspects of my life, I tend to feel rushed or inauthentic if I'm trying to accomplish a prescribed action by a prescribed time.  New Years resolutions prove this point, as I never want to rush into a commitment on January 1st if I'm not really behind it.

However, I'm now one full month into 2015.  I've had some great successes and adventures thus far, yet I've found the same 3 goals hanging in the back of my mind, dictating many of my thoughts and actions.  As it turns out, there are 3 things that I want to resolve to do this year.  On day one of month two, I'm calling them my February Resolutions.

From Bill Waterson's classic Calvin and Hobbes.

1. Make new Friends

I've always been a lone wolf runner.  I like to run on my own time, at my own pace, in my own world.  Part of this is surely due to my lack of planning.  You can't schedule a run with a friend if you can't schedule your runs consistently in the first place!  Part of this is also due to the fact that my job in retail tech support has me dealing with people constantly, and the runs can be a respite from the incessant interactions.  In 2014, I made a significant number of running friends online, via Instagram, Twitter, and the respective communities of Girls Gone Sporty, Nerd Herd Running, and runDisney.  Really I knew this all along, but camaraderie feels good!  It's both encouraging and fun to have friends in the race with you!  In 2015, I'd like to grow my support system of runners, both online and in person.

To follow through with this goal, I've already re-upped my membership to local group Venture Outdoors, and intend to participate in some of their hikes and outdoor adventures.  I also intend to start running from time to time with the Steel City Road Runners or other local groups.  Additionally, I plan to give back by volunteering with Girls on the Run and plan to attend my first info session this week!

Haley and friends 2014.  They sure are dears, but sadly unable to provide the companionship of human runners.

2. Cook more Food

I'm making this one tangible and measurable.  Going forward in 2015, I'm going to cook at least one new food or meal each week, and share the results on my blog and Instagram.  I have the bad habit that too many Americans share; I love to eat out.  I fall too often for the greasy food-court food convenient to my work, or the friendly but fatty bar food close to my apartment.  The insane thing is that I actually enjoy both the action of cooking and the reward of eating the home-cooked meal, but I don't do it nearly enougham .  To make sure that I am nourishing myself with better choices, I am committing to cooking more, and blogging weekly to hold myself accountable!  Also, I'm going to revisit Michael Pollan as reading material on my commute.  I can't imagine I won't be inspired.

If I make anything decent, it's pretty much always eggs.  I love eggs, but excited to master some non-egg dishes in 2015.

3. Go sub-5 in my Marathons

For many marathon finishers, the 5 hour mark is an inevitable.  For reference, Oprah Winfrey finished just under 4.5 hours in her first marathon, and 4-4.5 hours tends to be the average range for most finishers these days.  For me, 5 hours seems unbreakable.  I've finished all 3 of the marathons I've started, but I've done so in approximately 6 hours each.  Walt Disney World was longer, though I reserve the right to a "slow" race time when the race includes interactions with heroes, villains, and the beer vendor at Epcot's Morocco pavilion.

I run for fun.  I love being Goofy, silly, and nonchalant in my races.  There is still that part of me, however, that wants to push, challenge myself, and achieve the sub-5 hour time that I know is in me.  Heck, there may be even faster times in me.  But sub-5 is the first step.  I've not yet run a marathon this speedily, but I've run quite a few 5K, 10K, and half-marathon distances at paces destined for a sub-5 marathon finish!  In fact, putting a recent 10K time into a prediction calculator has me able to finish a marathon in less than 4 hours 40 minutes!

I've already started training, and have 2 marathons on my calendar for 2015.  I'd love to accomplish this goal at the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.  It may happen, but realistically I also know that Pittsburgh is a challenging, hilly course, and going sub-5 would mean taking almost an hour off of my fastest prior Pittsburgh time.  My realistic goal for Pittsburgh is to achieve a PR.  In October, I'm running Marine Corps.  Fast, flat, and in one of my favorite cities on Earth, I am confident that I can reach my time goal in Arlington and DC.  I just need to man-up and follow through with the training between now and then.

Finishing my first marathon at the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013.

I am looking forward to achieving all 3 of my February Resolutions in 2015!  I also look forward to learning more about how others are attacking their New Year's Resolutions, personal goals, and other challenges during this year.  After all, this is the year that Marty McFly discovers himself riding a Hoverboard, so you know it's gonna be a good one.

Great Scott!  (Photo from

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rebel, Rebel - Star Wars Rebel Challenge Part 2 - Half Marathon

A week ago, in a Disney park far, far away...

I participated in the final leg of the Rebel Challenge by running the Star Wars Half Marathon!  After waking up early to run the 10K on Saturday morning, I was pleased to learn that the 3-hour time change between my home state of Pennsylvania and the race locale of California was still working in my favor.  Waking up so early so many days in a row is one of my biggest anxieties should I ever choose to run the 4-day Dopey Challenge in Disney World, however, the time difference made my Star Wars wake-up calls unexpectedly easy.

I dressed in my finest Rebel Alliance colors, including my orange Sparkle Athletic skirt, and I headed towards the starting line.  My hotel was about 1 mile away from the start and, while I'd walked every other day to the races and parks, this morning I took the complimentary shuttle, knowing that I'd still need that energy to complete the race.

I had made the decision at the 10K the previous day that I was going to run slow and steady, stopping as often as I wanted on the galactic scavenger hunt for Wookiees and Ewoks and Jedis (oh my!).  I knew that we would cover both the Disneyland theme parks within the first 4 miles of the race, and that's where the Disney official characters would be stationed.  I didn't know what surprises waited in the 9 miles post-park, but I still committed to speeding through the parks to meet as many friends as possible!

The course came into Disneyland around mile 2, just like the 10K course.  And just like at the 10K, a line had formed in New Orleans Square, this time not for Chewie, but for the most badass brother-sister duo in the Galaxy, Luke and Leia.

The line for them was surprisingly much quicker than Chewbacca's line on Saturday, and I waited happily.  Continuing on the course through Frontierland, I spotted my favorite Wookiee greeting his guests, but opted not to stand in line, as I had met Chewie at both the 5K and the 10K already.  Running towards Tomorrowland, I suspected we would find another character outside the Star Tours ride.  I was thrilled to find that it was someone I'd missed the previous day, the big daddy himself, Darth Vader.

Vader and his Stormtrooper body guards boasted the longest line I encountered during the half. As always at Disney, the time was spent chatting and making friends with others in line.  This morning, the runners were also treated to a spectacular sunrise over Tomorrowland, one so beautiful that I almost felt we were in the Blue Bayou or some other imagineered land inside a professionally-lighted dome.  The beautiful skies over Tomorrowland were all real, and they were spectacular.

I quested on towards Disney's California Adventure.  I continued in the spirit of my 10K, sprinting from one character to the next, enjoying discovering each one hidden throughout the parks.  In DCA, I found the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett, who I had previously met during the 10K.  I also found more stormtroopers, picturesquely planted in front of Grizzly Peak's waterfalls.

And in Paradise Pier, a couple of new-school characters, Ezra and Sabine from Star Wars Rebels.

At this point the course, now nearing mile 5, exited the parks and took its turns onto the streets of Anaheim.  I was curious to see how this would play out.  Having previously run Disney races in Disney World, I knew that the California race wouldn't be contained within Disney property like the Florida races, and was unsure quite what to expect.

Disney invited dozens of marching bands and cheerleaders to encourage the runners along the way.  There may not have been Disneyland rides or officially licensed characters to greet, but the post-park stretch of the race enjoyed fast, flat roads, ample entertainment, and gorgeous views of Southern California!

And, for the Star Wars nerds with attention to detail, the race course even had an unintentional nod to Episode IV, as it crossed Newhope street.

Around mile 8, the half marathon coursed through the Garden Grove business district, past its school, library, and community center.  One of the coolest surprises on the course was that this area was chock-full of cosplayers in their finest Jedi robes, Mandalorian armor, and other Star Wars gear!  No, they weren't the "Disney versions" of the characters in the parks, but it made it almost cooler that these were simply Star Wars enthusiasts here to cheer on their fellow fans!

After the cosplayers, we were in the home stretch!  5 more easy miles, exiting the Garden Grove neighborhood, and circling back up towards the park on the lovely, palm tree-lined Harbor Boulevard.  At this point, there wasn't much more sightseeing to do, but I continued my decision to take it easy.  In fact, with a little bit of pain in my knee, I observed the run-walk strategy for the last several miles.  I knew I was far from a decent time, I didn't want to hurt myself, and I really just wanted to enjoy the beautiful Disney morning.

Over an hour after my half marathon PR time had passed, I happily crossed the finish line, high-fived Stormtrooper Donald Duck, and collected my bling!  The half marathon medal is a replica of the medals that Han and Luke receive at the end of Episode IV, and the Rebel Challenge medal is shaped as the rebel-alliance logo, with a reversible Yoda/Darth Vader medallion in the center!  Needless to say, I was both proud of my accomplishment and excited to add to my Disney medal collection.

This was easily one of the most fun and unique race experiences of my running career, even among runDisney races.  I totally stand by my decision to take it easy and have fun, I met a ton of awesome fellow Disney and Star Wars enthusiasts, had an excuse to visit the Disneyland parks, and I got to take in so much of the beautiful Southern California sun!

And, to all my readers, May the Force, and the Course, be with You!