Run Disney’s Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Race Recap

Long, long (LONG) ago, we ran the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland.

My goal with my race recaps is to provide information to other runners (sometimes too much information), so I wanted to at least make sure I got something up before registration for this race opened for the next year…which happens in a few weeks. So here we go! Disneyland!

(Sidenote: I tried uploading my Garmin activities for the first time since August, but it looks like their platform has completely changed, and no matter what I do, it crashes in the middle of syncing every time.  So for the moment, my statistics are being held hostage in my watch. I’m not happy about it).

First, if you are considering doing this race (or any Run Disney race, or even really any race), search facebook for related groups. I belong to a Star Wars Half Marathon group with great admins (e.g., no spammy stuff) and no matter what question came up, someone knew the answer.  That group is HERE, but they will look at your public profile to determine that you are a real person who is likely interested in running, Disney, or Star Wars to reduce spam, so be prepared to defend your membership.

Second, this race sells out faster than light speed.  Last year, the Rebel Challenge sold out in about 20 minutes.  If you want to do this race, know when registration opens (June 16th this year) and be prepared because chances are it won’t be open for long. Annual Pass holders and Disney Vacation Club members do get to register early, but those limited slots fill very fast too. I think they’ve also started some sort of registration “queue” system this year which frustrates the hell out of people, so it will be interesting to see how many strongly worded complaints result from people not getting into the races of their choice.

UPDATE – July 7th: Registration went pretty smoothly for everyone in my family.  Make sure you have an account set-up, and that you are logged in before registration begins…this will pre-populate most of the information for you.  Also, as of today (July 7th), there are still spots open for the half marathon race.

UPDATE – August 18th: Everything is sold out.

Anyway, last summer, Run Disney made the momentous announcement that they were adding a Star Wars race to their line-up.  With Star Wars, Disneyland, and the chance to escape to Southern California in January, it wasn’t hard to convince my entire family (all adults, no children) that we NEEDED to do this race. As mentioned in previous blog posts, Aaron and I went in with 3 long runs under our belts, hoping our marathon base from August would be enough to propel us through 13 galactic miles, but we were also prepared to enjoy running this race for fun in costumes without a time goal.


I don’t know about this…

We flew into LA on Thursday morning and spent the day exploring Brentwood and The Getty Museum before making the torturous drive down to Anaheim.  LA, I love you, but your traffic is enough to drive someone to madness.  There is a much closer airport to Disneyland called Orange County Airport (SNA) with a pretty efficient shuttle system that takes you to the resort area, but the prices for us to fly to LAX were cheaper.  It is nice to have those two options. Depending on your hotel, you may be able to get transportation from LAX to Anaheim, but a taxi fare will run up pretty high since it can take about 2 hours during peak traffic times (as we found out).

The Star Wars Half Marathon consists of 3 events that take place on different days: a 5-K on Friday, a 10-K on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday in addition to the Rebel Challenge which just means that you run both the 10K and the Half (you get a special medal for completing both races) and kids races broken down by mobility sophistication.  Additionally, if you run a half marathon at Disneyland and a Half (or full) at Disney World in the same calendar year, you get a special Coast to Coast medal.

The most ideal hotels (cheap, nice, and within walking distance) sell out quickly, and most people suggest reserving before registration even opens to ensure that you get the one you want.  I was advised to stay at the Best Western Plus Stovalls by Jac, but when we were looking at hotels, a few weeks after registration, it was fully booked. This is probably the closest non-Disney hotel to the start line, and it gets pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor, and we are considering it for next year. We stayed at The Hotel Indigo (the boutique version of Holiday Inn). It was close enough for us to walk, but there are definitely closer options.  Overall it was a great/reasonably priced hotel.

The expo opens on Thursday and runs until Saturday, and apparently it is quite the stampede to get to the official merchandise area when it opens. Each race has limited race-specific merchandise and some items, like pint glasses and hats go within minutes.  Other items like race-specific Dooney and Bourke purses and special Disney themed New Balance running shoes can be ordered in advance.  If you want specialized merchandise, plan to get to the expo when it opens.


Packet Pick-Up


LOVED this neat little detail. Also, we had to wait a few minutes for our turn to get this picture.


The Expo is held at the Disneyland Hotel, and there were plenty of signs directing the way. Packet Pick-Up is in what I think to be an underground parking garage. We went on Thursday night, and there were almost no crowds.  I had to make changes to both of our birthdays because I’d entered them incorrectly at registration (because it is a stressful process), and it was very easy.  If you are a runner, you can also purchase discounted Disneyland tickets through GET travel (a third party travel agency), and those were also available at packet pick-up which was very convenient.

The actual commercial part of the expo and t-shirt pick-up was held upstairs in the hotel. Truthfully, I found it to be less than impressive.  Unless you like sparkle skirts or fancy medal holders (I kinda don’t), there wasn’t a whole lot available. They did have a race merchandise section, but nothing caught our fancy.  Disney’s apparel sponsor is Champion which I think is disappointing considering the price point of these races.


We did have a hobbit sighting (also known as Rudy and the roider brother from 50 First Dates). Sean Astin is a RunDisney ambassador so he does a lot of the Expo talks and runs the races.



We spent the next two days at the parks and exploring beaches and meeting up with my college friends.  Saturday morning we spectated the 10-K which my sister ran.  We set up camp right at Disneyland Drive in front of the Paradise Pier Hotel which was a prime viewing location.  I think it’s maybe mile 5.5 of the race, so most of the runners are spread out enough to spot anyone with ease.  I was completely impressed with how organized Disney kept the spectators (they have a system in place to get people to cross the street that you see below without disrupting the course which I COULD NOT get over).  And the costumes were just flat out incredible.  The amount of time people put into this stuff is really pretty impressive.

IMG_2890 IMG_2887 IMG_2888

I made all of our dining reservations about 3 months in advance when they opened. If you plan on eating at sit-down restaurants at the parks (“table service”), making reservations in advance is essential. For our pre-race dinner we ate at Storyteller’s Cafe at the Grand Californian Hotel.  It was ok, but not the best pre-race meal that I’ve had.  I was kind of hoping they’d have some sort of runner’s special on the menu, but they did not.  The restaurant itself was very beautifully themed and decorated.

IMG_2923 IMG_2925

Disney races start at ungodly hours of the morning to ensure that everyone is out of the parks by the time they open.  Our race started at 5:30, so our wake-up time was earlier than I care to remember. We both had homemade costumes (I had Leia buns and a Leia belt made out of poster board that  I attached to my fuel belt and Aaron made these ridiculously amazing Yoda ears) that required extra effort. Thank goodness for traveling backwards through time zones.

We left the hotel at about 4:40, and joined thousands of other runners on the walk to the start line including my sister, her husband, and my dad.  The start line is right at the Paradise Pier Hotel across from Disney California Adventure.  I made the big mistake of bringing a bag to check-in, but bag check-in is about half a mile away at the finish line (TIP: there weren’t any signs pointing toward bag check.  Be sure to study the course layout if you are planning on dropping off a bag so you don’t look like a dummy like I did).  By the time we walked over there and used the restroom, we were cutting it very close to start time and I was getting visions of having to start at the very back. They say they close the corrals 15 minutes prior to race start, but I’m pretty sure we got there after that. Not the type of stress I’d recommend on race morning.

We were in Corral A (I think anything under a 2 hour half was in Corral A), but because we were so late, we were almost at the back of our corral.  They did some sort of cool little routine with Darth Vadar, but I couldn’t see it (and neither could the like 10,000 people behind us). What we did see were the awesome fireworks to signal the start of the race.  One of the many magical touches we would experience! And we were off! We did have to do quite a bit of weaving, and it was a bit congested for the first mile or so, but overall, running in Corral A was a great experience.

Pre-race start. Relieved that we made it!

Pre-race start. Relieved that we made it!

Something is happening up there, but I don't know what!

Something is happening up there, but I don’t know what!

The first four miles of the race are in the parks.  A lot of it is running through backlots and “behind the scenes” type places, but they have so many little touches like giant light reflections on buildings and great cheer sections of employees to make up for the fact that you are running in places not meant to be seen.  In the actual parks, many of the rides were lit up and running, making everything very whimsical.  We even saw some Storm Troopers riding the carousel!

I attempted several times to run while taking pictures, but that method didn’t actually work.


California Adventure…see the ferris wheel?!


We found my dad!


Castle sighting!

They had several Star Wars character photo stops in the park, and Aaron and I had decided ahead of time to stop for some pictures.  The first couple already had really long lines (TIP: if you are in corral A, try to get to the front for faster picture lines), but we finally stopped for Chewy (about 5-7 minutes), and Storm Troopers (about 2 minutes).  I estimate Luke/Leia and Darth Vader to have had 10-15 minute lines at that point.  They have a pretty efficient picture taking system to keep things running fast, but the lines build up, and I imagine the further back you start, the worse it is. They also have professional photographers at each of these stops if you want to order fancier versions.

IMG_2943 IMG_2944

Probably my favorite part of the whole race was turning the corner into Cars Land (my first time ever seeing it actually) with the sunrise in the background. The Cars Land mesa backdrop is so impressive, and I really wished I had stopped to take a picture. I know it isn’t possible at Disneyland with limited space, but I wish more of the race could be in the parks because that is what really makes the price worth it.  Seeing Cars Land at sunrise and running through an empty Tomorrowland without getting yelled at? Who else gets to do that?

At about 4 miles, you exit the parks and head into the streets of Anaheim.  While the course was flat and accommodating, running through Anaheim wasn’t exactly exciting.  Luckily, there were spectators almost the entire way (we found my mom and sister), and they had what seemed like every high school band and cheerleading group in the area performing which was awesome (they were all playing the same Star Wars medley which was appropriate). At one point, we came across a Chewy holding a sign for free hugs.  Aaron took advantage! I wish I had a picture of him.

From my mom's camera. You can kind of make out both of us!

From my mom’s camera. You can kind of make out both of us!

At about mile 8 or 9, an entire block full of “movie accurate” costumed people were cheering on runners (they bowed to me and said “Doing great, Princess!).  I don’t know if Disney had invited them or if they just showed up on their own, but it really helped give the otherwise nondescript Anaheim portion of the race some spunk.  And I swear the Obi Wan was actually Alec Guinness from the 70’s.

While Aaron was definitely a crowd favorite in his pretty awesome Yoda ears, we saw some other neat and intricate costumes including a Tinker-Darth, Tinker Stormtroopers, Lego Slave Leia, Man Slave Leia (lots of men Leias in general), and a ton of people wearing R2D2 mouse ears.

As far as the actual running went, at about mile 11, I could really feel myself slowing down.  Aaron was being a great cheerleader, but I hadn’t really trained for this race, and I could feel my legs tiring out.  At about mile 12, you reenter the parks, running behind California Adventure and into the parking lot behind Paradise Pier.  The last half mile kind of has you going in a giant circle with changes in direction which I remember thinking was really annoying.   But we made it! We crossed hand in hand, finishing in just over 2 hours.

The last couple of miles through palm tree lined streets!

The last couple of miles through palm tree lined streets!

I totally didn’t notice until now, but there is a person on the ground in that photo above?  Hope they were ok! (I took this photo after we finished and were walking back to the hotel).

From the Run Disney facebook page.

The medals were awesome as expected (Disney is known for it).  Coast-to-Coast runners and Rebel Challenge runners can pick up their extra medals after the race.  Apparently they are requiring photo verification now to discourage cheaters.


They had finish line photos available and “runner food boxes” which were not that great, but it was nice of them to provide.  They had a band playing which helped keep the energy up, and you could hear the announcers as they yelled off finishers.  Sean Astin finished just slightly after us, and of course they made a big deal when he crossed.

My mom had tickets for the Cheer Squad, so she had finish line seating in the Grand Stand.  She also got to see N’Syncer Joey Fatone finish!  If I had passed him, I probably would have yelled out “BYE BYE BYE, JOEY!” because I’m sure he’s never heard that before.


Joey Fatone and bodyguard?

After the race, we walked back to the hotel to get ready for another day at the parks.  All of the volunteers get free park entry (as they should), so to say that the park was crowded was an understatement. I haven’t seen it that crowded since pre-Fast Pass days.  And I finally put on my big girl pants and rode Tower of Terror for the first time ever. My fears were far worse than it actually was. It was a great ride with a fun back story!

My view from Tower of Terror.

My view from Tower of Terror.

We celebrated our victory with dinner at The Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure.


OVERALL IMPRESSION: Yes, it is expensive, but it is damn near flawless (except for maybe registration).  From the volunteers to the entertainment to the little Disney/Star Wars touches along the course, in no way do I feel like the cost was unjustified, and truthfully, I didn’t hear of any complaints like I normally do for big expensive races.  They do adhere to a pretty strict time limit, and my mom said she saw several people get swept early on if they weren’t keeping the minimum pace, but even at that, I didn’t hear people complain because this time limit is very well publicized.  The course is flat, and I really think if you are at the front of your corral, it can easily be a PR course if you aren’t stopping for character photos.

Race support was more than adequate.  They had a fuel station (I forget which gel company sponsored it), and water/sports drink was well stocked with enthusiastic volunteers. In the park, you are able to use the park bathrooms which I know is a huge perk for some.  Crowd support was great during almost the entire race.  I think there was more “rock n roll” here than in the actual Rock n Roll races.

You don’t get tickets to Disneyland with the race, BUT you can purchase discounted tickets through GET Travel (all of their info is on the Run Disney website).

UPDATE – July 7th: It looks like discounted tickets might not be available for this race.  Information isn’t posted on either Run Disney or GET travel.

UPDATE – August 18th: GET travel has posted discounted ticket prices! Yay! Sadly, they aren’t as discounted as they were last year, but a discount is a discount ($15 off a 3 day park hopper pass). You can find them and other info HERE.

I do want to note a couple of things.  First, from what I understand, each Disneyland Half Marathon has a different course. For example, a couple of them run through Angel Stadium. I’ve heard multiple people say that this is the best course at Disneyland as far as scenery and flatness, but just because this course is great doesn’t mean that the rest of them are. Also, I think a huge part of the coolness/geekiness of this race revolves around the cult following of Star Wars.  While I haven’t run any other Disneyland races, I almost feel like this race in particular had a lot of community support because it was Star Wars related.  I’m not sure that a race like Tinkerbell would draw the same funky spectators (or runners) that this race does.

If I do this race again, I think I would stop and take more pictures along the way (and not just try to take them while running).  There were so many fun little details and I really enjoyed every second. We ARE planning on doing this race again next year!

UPDATE – July 7th: We are all IN for various Star Wars races in January!

Amy Race Details:

Finish time: 2:00:21 (including maybe 7-10 non-running minutes for character photos)

Fuel: Luna Bar pre-race, GU (with caffeine) at the halfway point

Gear: Brooks Adrenaline shoes, CEP calf sleeves, Lululemon Pacesetter skirt, Under Armour racerback (RIDES UP SO MUCH…I don’t recommend), homemade Leia belt attached to a Nathan’s pack (carrying my phone for pictures).

Favorite Moment: Running through Cars Land

Least Favorite Moment: Waiting in line for photos, the twisting course at the very end, almost getting to the start corral too late (my own fault).

Biggest Piece of Advice For Anyone Considering This Race: If you do want to PR, go for it, but remember to look around and enjoy all of the run stuff!


Post-race beers at Cars Land.

Updates! Woo Hoo!

Hello? Hello? Anybody out there?

It has certainly been awhile! Last time I checked in on this little blog, I was one week off the Santa Rosa Marathon, which was almost FIVE months ago.

Sorry to say, since then running has been relatively…non-existent.

I was doing great for about a month after the race, and I was even considering an attempt to capitalize on a summer’s worth of hard training with a half-marathon PR at the Duke City Marathon. And then my body said NO. Santa Rosa caused some hip issues, and while I could run without incident for a few weeks, by October the things that connect to the other things all decided to do one big pull, causing what I believe were/are shin splints.  In any case, I had minor throbbing pain on my shin bone almost constantly. With nothing major on the racing calender, I decided to just lay off of running for the first time since I started running and do some actual recovery.

Not running did drive me a little crazy for a bit, but truthfully, once it got cold and dark, I lost the desire to put in some miles.  Couple that with new, demanding responsibilities at work that left me exhausted at the end of the day (whatever hour “end of the day” came), and you have someone that really gave up running cold turkey.  SIDENOTE: even though I’ve never thought I had “runner legs” with muscle definition, I’m amazed at how much muscle I lost (that I didn’t even know I had) over the last few months just from not running.

 2015/01/img_2738.jpgOne of our few runs since October, in the snow!

So, in summary, I’m not in running shape and I have no running muscles.

And I have a half-marathon on Sunday.

When I signed up for the inaugural Run Disney Star Wars Half Marathon, I knew I wasn’t going to put much effort into training for it.  There is no point in trying to speed through a race where Darth Goofy is available for photo ops and where light sabers are a common accessory.  But I was at least planning on maintaining the base and getting 12 mile long runs in, and not running so slow that my Athlinks average got completely wonked.

I was able to build up to 9 miles on Sunday, so I guess I’m not completely unprepared, but I really don’t know how this is going to turn out.  I’ve never run any race aside from my very first 5-k without adequately training for it, and I’m kind of worried about how my legs will feel after the fact. I know I’ll be able to finish, and I can probably still come in under 2 hours, but will I be able to walk the next day? Apparently I’m willing to take that risk because no matter what, I’ll be running on  Sunday in my Leia costume.

And after a cold winter so far (and super slushy weather today), I’m REALLY looking forward to spending a few days in 75 degree SoCal heaven.

If you are interested, I am actually far more active on Instagram than I am here lately, so if you want to see the Star Wars Madness and/or wondering just how badly I bonk, then I will likely update there first before I get a race recap up here.

Other news:

1) If you didn’t already know, I decided not the register for the Boston Marathon, but, as expected, it would not have mattered anyway because my time was not fast enough to get me in. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I started training for the 2013 Boston Marathon.  Time is just flying.

2) I do promise to do a post in the near future about Race Raves, the cool new website for race reviews developed by blog friends, but I think most of the people who read here were also part of the beta testing group.

3) We’ve been playing around with “plant based” diet (the less intimidating way of saying vegan). Not exclusively, but during the week, we are mostly going vegan. I don’t want to advocate for this too much right now nor do I want to argue about the benefits, but I will say that this diet choice has really forced us to eat the recommended amount of vegetables for the first time ever while really helping us to think more critically about food choices, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  We’ve also really reduced the amount of times per week that we eat out because the world isn’t exactly on the vegan bandwagon.

Hope everyone is doing wonderfully! I’ve noticed that so many blog friends are either not blogging at all or really reducing the frequency of their posts which does make me sad, but I’m so happy that we’re staying connected through other ways!




Santa Rosa Marathon Race Recap

“Someone is breaking into the room,” was my first semi-conscious thought as a loud rumble woke me from my pre-race sleep.  I sat up and surveyed the room, trying to transition my brain into awake mode long enough to figure out what was happening. Then it dawned on me. Earthquake.

I went to college in the Bay Area, so I’ve felt my fair share of small shakers.  And even on Friday, while enjoying drinks on Mission Street in San Francisco with an old college friend, we laughed about the chances of “the big one” ripping through the earth during our short stay.  My friend assured us that they had just had a small one recently, so we’d likely escape without incident.

But here we were, at 3:20 am, more than an hour before our alarms would go off, completely awake at this point, as the earth continued to shake. This was definitely a significant one, and it seemed to last much longer than anything I’d ever felt before.  While we found out the magnitude (6.0, the largest since the last Big One of 1989) and location (very close to us) thanks to some super speedy Facebook detectives, we didn’t realize how much damage it had caused to the area until hours later.

What we did know is that we weren’t going back to sleep.  We laid in bed for an hour, but the whole experience had released so much adrenaline and the possibilities of after shocks were so high, that there was no way we’d be able to relax enough again to doze off.

So, when my alarm went off at 4:30, we climbed out of bed, exhausted before the day even began.


The Santa Rosa Marathon is held in Sonoma County, about an hour’s drive from San Francisco. With less than 1,700 marathon spots available, it is a pretty small race run mostly on country roads.  Yet, somehow the race organizers have been able to market it as one of the top places to qualify for Boston, having been ranked nationally for the high percentage of qualifiers each year.  Combine that with its late August date (two weeks before Boston registration opens) and the fact that it is one of the few races that doesn’t sell out immediately (this year it didn’t sell out at all), and you get a popular “last chance” race. And the promises of a ridiculous amount of  schwag all for the insanely cheap price of $135 make this a hard race to overlook (EDITED to clarify that I’m not being facetious here…this is the cheapest marathon I’ve run, and it came with far more “stuff”).

For all of these reasons, we chose this race back in January or February as our goal race of the year and spent the last 4 months training to beat our Chicago times from two years ago.

We flew into San Francisco on Friday and after a rather stressful day spent mostly in traffic (but also hanging out with some of my old college friends) we drove up to Santa Rosa.  Instead of staying at a hotel, we had rented a vacation studio cottage through which ended up being a fantastic choice, mostly because of the private hot tub.

Because this is a Wine Country race, much of it revolved around…wait for it…WINE.

The expo was held at a winery called DeLoach.  Without the bells and whistles of a Kara Goucher speaking engagement or a large Brooks Running carnival themed display, this expo was small, organized with plenty of super perky and helpful volunteers, and relaxing.  Our artsy bibs were passed out in the middle of grape vines and race shirts were handed out in a winery guest house.



Oh, and each half or full runner received a bottle of wine from the hosting winery titled, “Runner’s Red” that could be picked up in the barrel room.  Runners were also treated to a complimentary wine tasting.IMG_8345



After the expo, we made the mistake(?) of driving the rural country part of the course.  For the most part, we had been led to believe that this course was flat.  The website does describe each hill with detail, but I guess something like that is hard to visualize until you actually see it.  When we saw significant rolling hills through a big chunk of miles 8-20, we got nervous. We had not been training for this type of incline variation. BUT, I guess better to find that out then (with plenty of hours to have panic attacks) then to discover this during the race without the time or energy to mentally prepare.


From my Garmin. I think maybe our definition of flat is a bit different outside of the Bay Area?

We stopped by a couple of other wineries in the area (I highly recommend Hook and Ladder), and then went to Trader Joe’s to buy some food for dinner. Because we had a vacation cottage, we decided to use the kitchen to cook some gluten free pasta which we had been eating before our long runs.  After dinner we met up with San Francisco Road Warrior Angela who is a fantastic and speedy running blogger.  She was also signed up to run the marathon the next day.


We were in bed by 10 which was later than I wanted, but I’ve raced on less sleep before, so I wasn’t too worried.


Earthquake (see above).


Pre-race fuel included about half a glass of Nuun and a Larabar (I really don’t like Larabars, but they are small and jam-packed with calories so there is less to force down pre-run) before leaving the cottage at 5:00 am.  TIP: park at the mall, but use the second parking garage.  Mall parking is close to the start and about $3, so the race encourages runners to use it.  There are actually 2 parking garages.  One has a long, slow moving line to get in.  The other does not. The second one (literally next to the first) is completely visible, so we just kept going  with no wait in the long line.

Santa Rosa starts at 6:00 am, so when we got there at about 5:15, it was still completely dark outside.  They had lights, but we actually had to search for the bag check because we couldn’t see anything.  There was an hour gap between the marathon start time and the half start time, so it wasn’t overcrowded.  Both the porta lines and bag check went fast, and I was able to get two rounds through the portas without any issue (which is far more than you needed to know I’m sure).  Also, menfolk, please learn to aim at the urinal thing in the dark.  YUCK.

As a small race, Santa Rosa doesn’t have corrals, so people just line up wherever. We got there about 6 minutes before start time and I positioned myself right behind the 3:30 pacers.  Thanks to Jen and her recent fiascos I was wondering what song would play at the start, but the speakers remained silent.  I could have used some pep in my step to get me going, but I had to rely on my own internal singing (I feel the earth. move. under my feet).


The horn sounded, and we were off!  The first 2.5 miles went through downtown Santa Rosa.  It was still dark, but there were plenty of lights, so the course was very visible.  My only issue was that some of the pavers used on the streets felt like running on cobblestones.  Nothing detrimental, but it wasn’t easy to run on. Lanes are also marked with reflector bumps that I kept stumbling over.

My goal to stay with the 3:30 pacers.  But when I ran mile 2 in 7:53, about 30 seconds faster than I wanted to be running at that point, I realized that I would be using too much energy to keep up (truthfully, I think they went out too fast considering 3:30 equals an 8 minute mile average pace).  So, I had to let go and trust my own instincts.  My decision was solidified when one of the pacers fell flat on his face.  I’m kind of surprised that he got up and kept running because he fell pretty hard.

At mile 2.5 we entered the closed “Greenway” trail which continued until about mile 8.5.  The trail is closed to traffic and slightly below the city.  While the marathon isn’t an “out and back” course, most of this section is reused on the last 6 miles of the marathon.  It was narrow, so it was a little congested, but not too bad.  It was mostly just boring.  It does run next to a creek with large trees, but it all looks the same after awhile.  We also ran over the signature bridges of the marathon which were nice, but not really noteworthy.  Because it was a bit more isolated, there was no crowd support, but at that point in the race, I didn’t need it (well, I always need it, but I didn’t NEED, need it).


Stolen from the SRM website. We didn’t get this view from on top of the bridge.

At about mile 8.5, we crossed the first set of course timing mats, and re-emerged into society.  Some spectators started to pop up including a few men riding their bikes to every mile marker with cowbells.  I’m not sure if the people they were supporting were running near me (or maybe they were just following me….), but I saw these people several times. Other course highlights included Thing 1 and Thing 1 (grown men), a teenage banana, a teenage penguin (both boys), a dancing jazzerciser (female), and lots of younger teenage girls dressed in tutus.  There were also a fair number of folksy ukuleleists, banjoists and guitar players who have probably been strumming since the 60’s.  But, even though the people who came out were awesome, the crowd support was sparse.  I didn’t realize just how much I count on the energy of others to push me during these races.  It is a mental battle that I now recognize and will work on for the future since probably 95% of all races don’t involve 26 miles of cheering people.

One thing I was a bit worried about was the aid station situation.  I think every race I’ve done before, and definitely every marathon, has had aid stations every mile.  Santa Rosa has them every two miles, AND I completely missed the first one.  I took a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade at every station, and while I normally only take a few sips before throwing the cup away while never stopping, I was trying to take in twice as much here, which was impossible to do while running.  Aid station miles were about 10-15 seconds slower because of this.

A highlight of the race is getting to run through the barrel room of the expo-hosting winery somewhere around mile 10.5.  It really was a neat experience, and the group around me started howling, creating loud echoes which made it more fun.


Thanks for capturing this moment, race photographer people.

From the winery on, the course got interesting.  It seemed like from the winery to mile 15, the rolling hills did not end.  The small but steep inclines caused several of the runners I had been with the entire time to start falling back, and I could tell that I was slowing down.  The road was also pretty slanted, leaving the middle next to the yellow lane lines/reflector bumps as the only flat place to run.  Also, because this is Wine Country, wine growers will often shoot blanks or fireworks into the air to scare off birds.  I had read about this somewhere so I wasn’t caught off guard, but I can imagine that unexpectedly hearing several explosions during a marathon can be unsettling. TIP: Be prepared to hear gunshots near the vineyards.

Despite my wine-ing about the course, I have to admit that it was truly magnificent.  The weather was PERFECT with overcast skies that didn’t burn off until well after I crossed the finish line, and we ran next to gorgeous vineyards and storybook farms.

Miles 15-17 were along a main road (highway?) and were flat. I was passing runners left and right, and I felt like I was keeping a good pace, but I looked down and realized that I had slowed down, but I’m not sure why? At some point I started getting the weird weak feeling you get before you pass out (sorry to say I know what this feels like), but extra Gatorade at the next aid station took care of that.

Miles 17-20 entered into the second set of large rolling hills.  By this point, I was starting to experience the first signs of fatigue, and these hills took much more energy than they had the first go-round.  It always is a relief to hit that 20 mile marker though.


From Google maps. If you look close, you can see the hills. The vines were more lush on Sunday, so it was beautiful.

Shortly after mile 20, we reentered the Greenway to backtrack where we had run earlier.  This trail is also used for the half marathon course  which mentally wasn’t helpful.  The marathoners had thinned out, so I was surrounded mostly by walking half marathoners and for some reason my brain had to work extra hard to keep running when most people around me were walking.   I stopped paying attention to my pace and focused all of my efforts on spotting runners ahead of me with the intention of catching up to them.  I repeated and repeated my mantras.  I reminded myself of how hard I had pushed during training and how I shouldn’t let all of that work go to waste.


Congested Greenway path…all of these peeps are half marathoners I think

But in the end, it wasn’t enough to keep the paces down.  Truthfully, this is the best I’ve ever felt during a marathon.  Nothing hurt, my stomach was completely settled. My muscles weren’t really tired, and I was focused enough to not completely lose it mentally, plus the weather was perfect.

I simply didn’t want it enough.

It didn’t help that there were about 4 more little steep hills during mile 25, and of course this is where the photographers were.  In my head I was saying “this hill is your bitch” and “you have 1 mile to go, so don’t be a wuss (except that’s not quite the word I used) now.”  (Mile 25 Amy is so elegant).  I was still pushing to finish with a Boston Qualifying time, and I was pretty sure I could do it, but I wasn’t really leaving myself any wiggle room.  I was annoyed that we hadn’t exited the Greenway yet.

At last, we exited the Greenway at mile 26, and the course did 1-2 more turns in Downtown Santa Rosa before I spotted the finish line.  I managed to pass a few more people and sprinted toward the place of happiness and rest. The clock was reading 3:34:47 as I approached it, and even though I knew I had started about 30 seconds after gun time, I pushed to make sure I crossed with my BQ officially.


Those people behind me? I passed them.

Net time, 3:34:21.  26 seconds slower than my Chicago PR time, and 39 seconds faster than my Boston Qualifying Time.  While I am happy with my time and with my general performance, I worked really hard to PR at this race, and it didn’t happen.


A nice volunteer handed me a medal which is easily the biggest race medal in existence with two spinners. I spotted Aaron right away.  For the last month he’s been trying to fix some sort of hip issue that popped up out of nowhere and basically caused him to sit out or not push very hard for much of the last bit of training.  He was disappointed in his time, but was more concerned about his leg that had been destroyed from the race.

At the finish line, they handed out space blankets, but they weren’t race specific and it wasn’t cold, so I passed.  They also passed out cups (smaller than the course cups) of water which was not awesome.  I wanted to drink water endlessly, but the volunteers were working hard just to keep the table stocked, so I wasn’t really able to get more than 1 refill.  They also had watermelon which I normally hate, but it tasted fantastic that morning.


Once you exited the finishers chute, we faced a long line for what I think turned out to be a hoodie.  Santa Rosa typically hands out fancy jackets instead of race shirts at the expo, but something happened somewhere and they weren’t available, so we got race shirts instead.  After the race, they were handing out the hoodie or whatever.  The line was ridiculous, so we skipped out.  When we went back a couple of hours later (to the beer festival… more on that in a bit), they were out of all but extra large, so we didn’t get one. They also had pancakes for finishers, but I didn’t see that area until we came back a little while later.

This year, the marathon also co-hosted a small inaugural beer festival post-race.  Runners got half price tickets to the full festival, or free beer tickets for a couple of tastes.  We obviously went with the full festival option (also comes with a growler).  Since we finished the race well before 10 am and the festival didn’t start until 11, we went back to our cottage to feast on a fast food cheeseburger (SO INCREDIBLY AMAZING), shower up, and catch up on all the earthquake updates.  Turns out we were pretty lucky to have power and unaffected roads for the race.


The beer festival was fun!  We got to try lots of local beer, the pours were generous, and it was a relaxing way to wind down and numb some of the soreness.

IMG_1948 IMG_1954

At that was the end of Marathon #3, Boston Qualifier #2.

For the first time ever, I didn’t get sick post marathon.  I was sore, but not nearly to the extent that I have been before (I even ran for a bit on Wednesday with no issues which has never happened earlier than 2 weeks post-race).  I feel like this is progress, but I also feel like it means I didn’t push myself hard enough.

I do want to emphasize that our overall experience with the Santa Rosa Marathon was positive.  The race organizers really care about their runners, and aside from some small negatives (the lack of sufficient amounts of water at the start and finish lines for example), everything was well organized, especially considering the last minute panic that must have occurred after the earthquake. That being said, because this is a destination race for us, I don’t know if I would go out of my way to run it again.

We did some wine tasting on Monday, and got to visit with Jen and Cathryn and her ridiculously cute kid with a ridiculously cute English accent before flying home on Tuesday. All three of the bloggers I met this week were so fantastic.  I love that the internet can connect us to people to the point that when we meet for the first time, it feels like we’ve been friends all along.

So, what’s next? Boston registration opens in a couple of weeks.  Last year, my qualifying time would have been a minute too slow to actually get into the race, so I’m not holding my breath.  The trip is also really expensive, especially considering it would be a trip all about me and accommodating  my needs.  I’ve run Boston.  I would absolutely love to do it again, but if that money could fund a significant chunk of a vacation to a new place (the world is so big!) where both of us can do stuff that doesn’t involve 6-7 solo hours waiting, then I think it should.  I still have some time to ponder it though.

Amy Race Details:

Finish time: 3:34:21 (8:10 average pace)

Fuel: Larabar pre-race, GU (with caffiene) at 50 minute intervals (50, 1:40, 2:30)

Hydration: Half glass of Nuun pre-race, water and Gatorade at every aid station (located every 2 miles…ish)

Gear: Brooks Adrenaline shoes, CEP calf sleeves, Lululemon Pacesetter skirt, Lululemon cool racerback, Bic Band, LOTS of Body Glide and sunscreen (you can get sun damage even when it is overcast!).

Favorite Moment: Running through the DeLoach wine barrel room

Least Favorite Moment: The small/steep climbs during the last mile

Biggest Piece of Advice For Anyone Considering This Race: Incorporate steep rolling hills into the end of your long training runs.

Marathon #3, FOUR DAYS and Counting.


It certainly has been awhile, hasn’t it!

In my very long blogging absence, I have actually completed training for the Santa Rosa Marathon, and we are now more than 2 weeks into our 3 week taper….which means… The Marathon is FOUR DAYS away. I can’t believe it! We’re even within reliable forecast range (and what a beautiful forecast it is).


If you’re wondering, training ended well!  Not maybe as well as I would have hoped way back in May, but I am undoubtedly faster and stronger than I was before heading into Chicago two years ago.

Highlights from the last few weeks of training include:

1) My fastest ever 800’s track workout.  

I make absolutely no attempt to conceal the fact that 800 meter repeats are my least favorite running workout.  But, since they work, I do them anyway to build speed and mental toughness (I literally have to pep talk myself through each and every step).

Despite the rainstorm in the middle of this last workout (which happened about 3 weeks ago), I pushed on through, and consistently hit most of the repeats at or below goal pace, and had my fastest ever splits. Knowing that those were the last 800’s I may ever have to do in my life absolutely helped. (But really…who are we kidding).

2) A relatively reassuring final 20 miler that not only didn’t hurt, but also yielded my fastest training pace for that distance ever.


We also survived the subsequent wedding weekend for my sister including a humid 10 miles the morning of her wedding day.

3) Aside from a few little aches and pains, I finished training uninjured and mostly intact.

There are still plenty of hours left for something to go wrong though.

This morning, I actually was on a local morning talk show dressed as a donut to promote an event we have coming up (don’t ask), and we had to jump over hurdles.  Talk about insane ankle-twisting/leg breaking paranoia.

IMG_1927Aaron and I are two very paranoid donuts. I really LOVE my husband for spending his morning being silly for my job on television.


If I had blogged more regularly over the last few weeks, I would have also discussed some of the changes we made during this training cycle.  I still a very inexperienced marathoner, and I believe in cautious experimentation until a perfect formula is worked out. I still have so much to learn about my body and how to whip it into optimal marathon shape, and until I’m convinced that my lovely Boston Qualifier wasn’t a fluke, I’m open to change.

What we tweaked this go-round:

1) 3 week taper.

I’ve done a 2 week taper for the last 2 marathons.  For Chicago, we were sick on the day of our last long run, so we pushed it back a week.  My plan for Boston only called for 2 weeks.  Both times I felt like I didn’t adequately heal between our last long run and race day and I went into both races with some pain. My legs are feeling really great right now with a three week taper.

BUT, this time around I am worried that I’ve lost some endurance. We reduced long run mileage gradually (12 miles two weekends ago, 8 miles this past weekend), but were those runs enough to get me through 26 miles on Sunday?

Luckily, I’ve been too busy to really dwell on whether or not a 3 week taper was the right decision.

IMG_1871Taper is AWESOME!

2) More (and different) race fuel.  

Up until this training cycle, I’ve been taking a ClifShot every 7 miles (roughly once an hour), maxing out at 3 during race day.  I’ve increased this to every 50 minutes during training, so I am planning on taking 4 during Santa Rosa.

We also switched it up from ClifShot to Gu because we were both noticing that the ClifShots seem to give us stomach issues whereas the Gu have not.  The Gu is also less thick and I think it tastes better. I think that these will both be beneficial changes.

3) More “flat” training.

We did most of our Chicago long runs going up a steep incline, then down the steep incline.  This was great for building overall strength, but running on a flat course uses only one muscle group over and over without relief, and I don’t think our training prepared us for it.

So, this year, we did all of our long runs on a flat course.  Because the incline was consistent, I also trained at a more consistent pace which is how I race.  I’m hoping on Sunday that this course specific training will pay off a little bit.


When I first set out my goals for this training cycle, I was very ambitious.  I figured if I worked hard, I could pull off something along the line of 3:25 and 3:27.  Training did go wonderfully, I know I pushed myself harder than I think that I did for Chicago, and while I didn’t quite build myself up to run what I wanted to back in May, I think I can realistically run both a PR and a BQ on Sunday.  Regardless, I am really excited to visit an area that I called home during college, hang out with some old friends, and meet some internet strangers!

And wine.  I’m excited about wine.

Meanwhile, I have been loving every second of the taper.  Whereas I used to have full on panic attacks coupled with the intense desire to RUN MORE! RUN FASTER! during taper in previous training cycles, I have really (really, really) enjoyed not spending all of my spare time running. Summer went by so fast, and I feel like we didn’t get to really enjoy it.  We also kept almost completely to the training plan, only missing a few workouts with no crossing training (unless you count puppy walks), so we put in a lot more miles this go-around.

I’m kind of burned out.

But, I’m sure if I hit my goal on Sunday, I’ll be happily signing up for the next goal race, because that cycle pretty much is the story of my little runner life.

IMG_1726Giuseppe is judging me

I do have a couple of other blog posts that I hope to get up this week with overall race strategy and goals, but um, if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen (since my track record isn’t great), you can track me on Sunday HERE.  I am searchable by last name, and bib number (#841).  Even if you don’t, please say that you will because thinking that people are watching my progress really motivates me to keep going.

Thanks for all of your support during this training!

SERIOUS/TMI QUESTION!: I developed an actual black toenail on my big toe about 5 weeks ago which is absolutely disgusting.  It has started to ache the last few days, and I am pretty worried that it will fall off before the race, or during.  Is there anything I can do to ensure that it hangs out on my actual toe (as opposed to OFF it) until Monday? My first thought is to wrap it in a band-aid, but upon further consideration, I have no idea how that would help at all.


Analyzing the Running 1-Piece

Confession: I am a somewhat reformed Lululemon addict.  I discovered Lululemon at the same time I discovered running, so, I built up my running wardrobe with Lulu pieces, and would go on a shopping spree about once a month.

While they are still my go-to for racerbacks and running skirts, I probably only shop there twice a year, usually for race outfits, these days.  But I still follow the Lululemon Addict blog which basically consists of 2-3 daily posts about Lululemon clothes and topics.

So, I was not at all surprised to see what has been labeled as the “Runsie” when it appeared on the viral Runner’s World video.  If you haven’t watched it, you should.  You are guaranteed to giggle at least once (just please, don’t blame this man for ruining manhood and the world…this is so obviously a JOKE, but some people don’t get it).  I can’t get the video to work in the post, but you can view it HERE.

This video generated a lot of discussion about the Runsie with most people wondering how something so awkward could even hit the market.

20140717-113041-41441379.jpgSneak peak of the fun contained within the video

 Confession #2: While I don’t own the Runsie featured in the video nor do I have any interest in buying one, 2 years ago I purchased the Run For Your Money Jumper from Lululemon which is also a 1-piece running outfit.  I was skeptical at first (do we really need more jumpers in this world?), but then I saw a lady wearing one on the running trail, and she looked amazing in it. SO I gave it a go. The piece has even made a few appearances on the blog:


Apparently I like this outfit combo…

It isn’t an exact equivalent to the current Runsie, but the concept is similar.

Confession #3: I have to say, for the most part, I really enjoy this piece. So, I thought (with a suggestion from Cathryn the Brit that probably wasn’t meant to be taken seriously) that I would share some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of the Running 1-piece for those that might be curious.

Favorite features and benefits:

1) With built in bike shorts that DON’T ride up (my favorite thing about Lululemon running skirts), this is great to wear for long runs. No thigh chaffing! It looks like the Runsie has a liner instead of bike shorts though.

2) The “top” doesn’t ride up.  This is a personal pet peeve of mine.  I hate constantly having to pull a shirt down.  Ride-up doesn’t happen with this jumper which makes me a less grumpy runner. BONUS: the top fits a bit looser (it looks like this is also the case with the Runsie) which helps hide the remnants of any carb-loading bloat.

3) There are less steps in getting ready for your run in the morning. Having to pick a shirt that kind of matches with a bottom can sometimes take more concentration than I have at 5:00 am on a Saturday.  This piece eliminates that very frustrating step in the get ready process.

4) One less piece of laundry to fold. ALLELUIA!

5) If you are using the jumper as an outfit for a destination race, you are less likely to forget part of your ensemble at home. On the other hand, if this is the piece that you forget…you’re kind of screwed.

6) In my humble opinion, just unique enough to stand out, but not too weird to cause people to stop and scratch their heads. I really don’t think most people even notice, truthfully.  A few weeks ago I got a bunch of comments on my green socks and not a single mention about the jumper.  HOWEVER, I think the Runsie is a potential head scratcher since it doesn’t have the mid-section “separator ” in a different color and is therefore very obviously a 1-piece.

Less favorite features:

1) Lack of convenient “bathroom” access.  This seems to be the biggest concern among consumers, and it is a legitimate one.  Because it doesn’t come with a built-in bra, you are basically required to wear something on top, so you can at least know that if you do run into the porta-potty and forget to lock the door (guilty), that the unsuspecting person who opens it won’t get more of a show than they were anticipating. BUT, it does add seconds to your undressing and re-dressing time.

And if you really have to go, this may mean the difference between a successful pit stop and complete crisis.

2) Sometimes, it might be possible for someone to get their leg caught in the wrong opening which typically results in a dramatic fall to the floor. I mean, some of those holes look a lot like the others. It happens. Luckily, this rarely results in broken bones.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the 1-Piece?

You won’t hurt my feelings if you tell me that my running outfit is weird.

Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 9 and 10

Today’s post brought to you by Rainbows.

I wrote a draft for my weekly marathon training recap last Monday, and tried all week to make it sound less forlorn. I didn’t succeed.

I’ve been trying really hard this training cycle NOT to act as dramatic as a World Cup soccer player about every little thing that doesn’t go as planned, but last week I hit the point where I have just about had it with this stupid running thing and I wonder on a daily (hourly?) basis WHY THE HELL I’M DOING THIS. It happens every training cycle, but for some reason I thought Amy Sunshine would overcome the black cloud of training despair with happiness and rainbows this time around (we’re in monsoon season, so we have lots of rainbows..but also lots of clouds and dark skies).


But, with 2.5 weeks left until taper, I am exhausted all the time, hungry all the time, my body aches in all places all the time, and, especially early last week, I felt like a complete and total training failure because I wasn’t hitting paces and I wasn’t feeling strong, and the dumb calf issue that I’ve had since Chicago resurfaced, and I really just want to sleep in past 5:00 am during the weekend.

Someone please call the Waaaa-mbulance for me. Or, maybe the W(h)ine-bulance because wine sounds good. Play me that sad sad song on that little violin.

This guy will never be irrelevant.

But then, last Thursday, I was in the middle of a tempo run, 2 miles into the speedy part.  I was definitely pushing the leg turnover, but I was relaxed, breathing evenly, NOT feeling like death, and overall doing well which was a happy change from other recent runs.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down at my Garmin to see a 6:55 pace on the screen.  Surely this was some sort of mistake.   This training cycle, I’ve only been able to hit a sub 7 minute pace during track workouts, and thus far I’ve only been able to get one 800 repeat at that pace, so I wouldn’t say that sub-7 and I have gotten to become friends.  To see that pace in the middle of a run was a huge surprise. I didn’t hold it for the entire mile, but considering that I’ve had a hard time dipping under 7:40 this entire cycle, and especially after a discouraging week of training, seeing those numbers felt magical.

Unicorns and rainbows and happiness magical.

And then, on the last mile of Saturday’s longish (down week) run, I saw it again.  Only for a couple of seconds, but I saw it. 6:59

Somewhere in the sea of self-pity, I forgot a lesson that I’ve learned before.  TRUST YOUR TRAINING. Your body does not change overnight.  Training cycles are designed to get you to your peak right when you need it the most.  If you put in the work and bust your ass, your body will respond, even though you feel like progress isn’t being made.  It’s like those fad diet  “Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days” programs. Your body does not lose actual weight that fast.  Just like your body does not gain actual speed that fast.  But when you do it the right way, suddenly everything clicks into place.

Thank you, Glenda!

Please don’t judge me and my hippie moment.

2.5 WEEKS UNTIL TAPER! I am so exicted (until I get there, and then I’ll be likely complaining about Taper Madness…you just can’t win with me).


Monday: 4 Mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 4 miles at half marathon pace: I ran this with an average pace of 7:52 which includes an 8:22 warm-up mile.  Fastest mile was 7:34

Wednesday: We made the mistake of rearranging our week to avoid 4th of July Costco madness (an obvious priority since a crowded Costco can be a real mood dampener).  We did not do our run, but intended to make up for it on Thursday.

Thursday: Monsoon thunderstorms made us decide that we didn’t need a second recovery run this week, so we didn’t do it again.  FAIL.

Friday: Tempo Run: 4th of July! We DID finally run in the morning.  7:40 average for the tempo part, but I didn’t feel well for most of it.

Saturday: 20 Miler #1: It went great until it didn’t.  At mile 11.33, I felt a sharp pain to run down my shin.  When I first touched the bone, I thought it was broken, so I did the rational thing: kept running. For the next 5 miles I had to stop every 5 minutes or so to massage the surrounding muscles and then finally I was able to only have to stop every mile.  It obviously wasn’t broken, and I’m not sure what the issue was. I hate it when problems seem to surface out of nowhere.  9:24 average pace which is more than 30 seconds slower per mile than I want it to be.


20140716-131312-47592692.jpgMy message to Aaron to let him know I’d be later than expected. 

Sunday: In one of my more rational decisions, decided to sit this scheduled 10 miler out because of the shin issue.  I felt terrible about it, especially because of the missed 5 miler earlier in the week (a total of 15 miles that didn’t happen), but I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just being a weanie. I consoled myself by hanging out at the Santa Fe Wine Festival all afternoon.


Monday: 5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 7×800.  It was ridiculously windy and there were high powered sprinklers that would cause me to hyperventilate whenever I ran through them (hyperventaliation isn’t useful when attempting to sprint). I was in such a bad mood and I couldn’t hit my paces.  Most were in the 3:32 range, but then there were some in the 3:47 range.

Wednesday: I attempted my first ever lunch time workout at the gym.  I managed 3 treadmill miles before my calf started bothering me (I was pretty much out of time anyway).  And I was kind of smelly the rest of the day.

Thursday: Tempo Run: The magical one.  7:43 tempo average.

Friday: REST!

Saturday: 12 miles. As a down week, our long run this weekend was a gloriously short 12 miles. Average pace: 9:29, but on a much hillier course than we’ve been using for long runs.  It is what it is.

Sunday: 6 miles at marathon pace: I managed to get 3 miles below marathon pace after it took 3 miles for me to warm-up.  I brought up to Aaron that I was concerned about the fact that it is taking me 3 slow miles to get warmed up, and he reminded me that during training, I have a lot of left over stiff and soreness to work off during each workout.  This problem will work itself out during the taper. Average pace: 8:48 (which is how fast I want to run my final 20 miler in 2.5 weeks).

This is the first week that I’ve really started to feel faster.  I’ve been hitting several miles at or faster than marathon pace, and even rest/recovery miles have gotten faster.  We’ll see soon if I’m fast enough to hit my sub 3:30 goals. This weekend, we have 20 miler #2.  Hoping for a less dramatic run this time around!


Marathon Training Recap: Week 8

The Green Socks.

Last year, The Bataan Memorial Death March fell on St. Patrick’s Day.  I didn’t want to go full-out leprechaun since this is a race to honor our Veterans, so I ordered green compression socks to go with my black and white outfit.  In general, my calves have issues, so I like to wear compression socks on any run over 10 miles, and sometimes the green socks come into rotation (my others are hot pink and white).

I never really thought they were that out of the ordinary.  I enjoy bright clothing.  And, since I always assume that I am a target for kidnapping (fun times in the head of Amy), I figure wearing something bright might help witnesses remember that they saw me at a certain point in order to establish timelines and locations of my last known whereabouts.  Really, they aren’t anything out of the ordinary for me.

But then, during my 19 miler on Saturday, I easily got comments from 20 different people.  It was an out and back run, so many of these people commented twice (and those who didn’t comment the first time, went for it the second time!).  “Hey! I recognize those green socks!” “Way to go, Green Socks! Still going!”  “Love your socks!”  Men, women, runners, cyclists, walkers, kids in bike carriers.  Everyone.


Having the constant encouragement was actually very motivating, even though it had nothing to do with my running performance. It made the hot long run much more enjoyable, and as a result, I ran faster than I have been for long runs, and I smiled much more.  And I am certain that if I would have gone missing, several people would have called in to let the authorities know that they saw me along the trail!

The whole thing made such an impression that I actually demanded that Aaron take my picture post-run so I could share it on the blog! Green socks have special powers!

In other news, we are now officially in the middle of the Balls to the Wall  (from the windowsssss to the wall!) portion of training.  All we have left is three 20 mile long runs with a down week in between each before heading to Taper Town (won’t you take me to Taper Town).  The mileage has been built up, so the next 4.5 weeks will be dedicated to getting more miles in at marathon pace and working to make marathon pace feel as comfortable as possible.

Workout Recap:

*Funny that on the days that I was writing my blog post last week about pushing through adverse conditions to be more like a soccer player, I was actually taking a couple of rest days to deal with some stomach issues.  Nothing too crazy, but experience has taught me that running through it equals having to crawl in fetal position on the side of the road.

Monday: 4 recovery miles

Tuesday: REST (yes, I was pretty happy to avoid an 800’s workout)

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: Tempo (15/20/10): Because Aaron was at a work event and the temperatures were hot outside, I opted to do this run on the treadmill.  I always increase the incline to 1% to simulate a more realistic effort.  Tempo pace was 7:39 which is perfect, but I’m trying not to get too excited because, incline or not,  I still had a machine pacing me and pushing me along.  When I can recreate it on my own, I’ll be happy.

20140702-122628-44788664.jpgI took a picture on the way home from work so you could sympathize with my choice to treadmill it…also, don’t judge me by my gas mileage!

Friday: REST

Saturday: 19 mile long run: Overall, drama free and with minimal pain.  The last few miles were hot, and as we were leaving after our river ice bath, an ambulance pulled up to rescue a runner who had apparently passed out, so even though we started at 6:30 am, things were getting into the dangerous realm by 10:00 am.  I ran this with an average pace of 9:22 which is 1.5 minutes slower than marathon pace and right on track.  However, in 4.5 weeks, I want this to be at a 8:52 average, so there is speed to be gained before then!

Also, we ran next to the river which means bugs.  I have so many bites on my legs, and if you look at this picture closely, you’ll see a the types of swarms we have to run through. This was right at eye level, and those little dots were bugs in front of my face.


Sunday: 9 miles:  This was supposed to be at marathon pace, but I knew I wouldn’t come close, and I didn’t.  Because I accidentally counted the weeks wrong, we started training two weeks late which meant significant mileage jumps over the last several weeks.  After only training for 12 weeks for Boston and having major issues close to race time, I’m extremely cautious about how that ramp up affects my body.

After Saturday’s long run I was feeling funkiness in my legs and I knew that pushing the pace wasn’t a good idea.  So, I stayed in the low 10’s/high 9’s and just got the run done. Not quite World Cup Soccer Player status, but I do think that my legs recovered much faster and much more adequately because of it.

20140702-123631-45391023.jpgTaking preventative measures against injury after a jump to a 28 mile weekend…AND MORE GREEN SOCKS!

As of right now, I think I’m on track to hit about 3:30 on Marathon Day.  I’m not giving up on a sub-3:30 marathon yet, but I know that the next few weeks are critical, and now is the time to stay focused. If you see me running, please yell at me to run faster, and be sure to make a comment about my socks!

What’s your craziest/most attention grabbing article of running clothing?


Marathon Training Recap: Week 7

Over the last week, I’ve been watching a lot of soccer, judging players by how well they know their own National Anthem, and yelling more than usual at the television (Giuseppe just sits there looking at us, bewildered).  But also, during the “down time” when people are just running back and forth across the field and not scoring, I’ve been thinking a lot about the conditions in which they have to play.

1) These dudes are sprinting for about 50 minutes at a time (almost non-stop).

2) They are playing in an jungle where it is hot and humid.  I imagine it might feel something like playing soccer in a steam room, but with more clothes.

3) There are no porta-potties on the field (I don’t want to dwell on this too much because I’m sure things have been done).

4) They are having to actually think and communicate and strategize while sprinting (potentially needing to pee) in the hot humidity.

Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

They look hot. And scary. 

4) They have to put forth a 100% effort, then they only get 3-4 days to recover before having to put forth another 100% effort…they do not get a “taper.”

5) Apparently they do most of this without water breaks or nutrition breaks (much was made of the fact that a referee let everyone take a HISTORIC 30 second water break during the USA vs. Portugal game).

6) ALSO: sometimes, they break their noses…or they get bit.

Basically, these people are having to play well and win in conditions that would cause most of us to go into breakdown mode if we encountered them during our runs.

I’ve determined that I need to adopt the mentality of a World Cup soccer player…preferably a good one.

10422554_818327120465_4633195273892978387_nIn front of Maracana Stadium in Rio, they have the footprints of the great Brazilian futeball players.  Time to channel my inner Pele.  

Adverse conditions are a given and even then, working hard will be uncomfortable/painful even in perfect conditions.  But to allow myself to give up or slow down will result in personal defeat (admittedly, less scary than international defeat), so the only option is to keep fighting. Otherwise, I will be the England of marathons.

I don’t think anyone in England is walking right now around saying, “they didn’t bloody win, but it’s ok because they were playing in the bloody jungle.”   No, I think those soccer chaps will be buying their own beers at the pub for a while.

Workout Recap:

Monday: 4 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 6×800 (with 1 mile warm-up and 3/4 mile cool-down): Kept it at a 3:35 average for the 800’s.  These need to be faster.

Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run

Thursday: Tempo Run 10/20/10 Kept the tempo average pace to 7:46 which is great! I’d like this to be closer to 7:30 by the time training is done, but I did notice that it felt a lot more comfortable this week, so I think my body is finally accepting that sub-8 miles aren’t sprinting.

Friday: REST

Saturday: REST (we went kayaking).  Marathon training has prevented us from participating in a lot of recreational warm-weather activities, so this was an awesome way to celebrate the first day of summer!


Sunday: 13.1 miles at half marathon pace: My half marathon pace is 7:47.  I ran this at an 8:32.  I knew I would never be able to hold half marathon pace without actually running an organized half marathon.  I mostly just wanted to get as many sub-8 miles in as possible, and push it harder than I have been for long runs.  Overall, I did okay/meh.  My slowest mile was my first at 9:20. I stayed sub-9 after that, but I couldn’t get myself any faster than an 8:07.  I hit a mental wall at around mile 8, but I know that I could have pushed harder through it if I had adopted the mentality of a World Cup soccer player.

I do think this run was a good “real world” indicator of where I’m at.  I know what I need to work on over the next 6 weeks before taper begins, and I still have confidence that I can hit sub 3:30, even if I don’t make it all the way down to 3:25.

This coming weekend we have 19/9 (OHMYGOD), and then we are up to 20! This training cycle has been flying by.

Hope you are having a great week! GO USA!

Run Disney Finally Caught Me

Like most children of the 90’s, I spent my days memorizing every word to every Disney movie, perfecting every Disney song, and dreaming of ways to get my parents to take me to Disneyland. Again. My wedding father/daughter dance? When You Wish Upon a Star (the actual Pinocchio version).  My sister’s college graduation trip? An adult family vacation to Disney World this last December.

20140620-130357-47037728.jpgJust a bunch of drinking age adults, spending vacation hours at Disney World

Despite the Disney obsession, I’ve never participated in a Disney race (they have 9 dispersed between Disney World and Disneyland).  The two big deterring factors have been the price (more expensive for HALF marathons than I’ve paid for either the Chicago Marathon or Boston), and the apparent lack of competitiveness.  And by that, I mean that most people either spend the race weaving between people (or walking when they give up), or waiting in 25+ minute lines to take pictures with characters along the course. I love Mickey, but not that much.

Also, up until recently, most of the Disney race themes (Tinkerbell, and Princess for example) have been female-centered (men literally are not allowed to win).  A big part of the appeal for me is beating the boys, and I also don’t deal very well with women yelling at me for bumping their fairy wings, so I just haven’t been interested to the point of actually signing up. The inaugural Avengers Half (held this fall at Disneyland) ALMOST got me, but come registration day, I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.

But then…the blog world exploded about a month ago when all of the Run Disney ambassador bloggers announced a new themed race at Disneyland: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (hash tag #letthewookieewin).

I wouldn’t say I’m a complete Star Was geek.  I’ve seen all of the movies, I know the general story line, and I can quote some lines.  But, I can’t name all of the planets and their significances, nor do I know all of the names of all of the creatures.  BUT, the thought of this race thrilled me so much more than any princess or fairy race to the point that I immediately shared this news with my incredibly geeky family (my sister has an actual R2D2 robot), and everyone was on board. Even Aaron.

I learned fast that Run Disney is a sub-culture of its own.  There are different terms for things, privileged early registration, and more race options than I would ever know what to do with.  And these people DO ALL THE RACES. On both coasts.  But they don’t seem to do other non-Disney races.  So, just like we might talk about our experiences at Chicago or Grandma’s or Santa Rosa or whatever, they talk about Princess, Tink,  Tower of Terror, and Wine and Dine.

Run Disney Terminology:

Challenge: Incorporates running multiple races in the same weekend.  For example, the Goofy Challenge (part of the Walt Disney World Marathon) involves a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.  They also charge more for the challenge option than you would pay for registering for these events individually which kind of makes me scratch my head.  The Challenge is also always the 1st event to sell out (within 25 minutes for Star Wars), which also makes me scratch my head. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10K and Half) was $320 + fees for a 19.3 mile weekend.

Coast to Coast: A special medal you get for running  a half marathon distance or more at both parks within the same year.  This is the crowning achievement for Run Disney folks and what they all aspire to accomplish.

ChEAR Squad: For $100, you can cheer on your runners (this is actually the most expensive “Platinum” option out of several including one free one…comes with Mickey clappers, rest rooms, a comfortable place to sit, and breakfast…I actually think this might be totally worth the price).

Annual Pass Holders: Special people who get to register early.  They make me totes jealous not only for this reason, but also because they presumably get to visit Disney Parks multiple times per year.

Ass-crack of Dawn: Official race start time. On the upside, I should be done, fed, showered, and ready to go when the park opens.

“Fun Race”: How Run Disney runners explain Run Disney races to other runners.  What they mean is, don’t expect to run a PR here.

People from Florida: People who complain every time Disneyland gets a new race. Because it isn’t fair to host events where they don’t live.

Theme Costume: Requirement, otherwise, no Mickey high-fives for you (just kidding, but it seems like this isn’t entirely untrue).

Park Admission: What you DON’T get with your race entry

Welcome Party: $100 bucks gets you dessert, pictures with characters, and access to select Tomorrowland rides.

Diaper Dash: Races for babies and toddlers.  Start them young! Also known as: let’s figure out a way to make money off of babies since they aren’t old enough to run the regular races. All baby racers get a medal obviously.

As you can see, this is a lot to get used to.  I had to employ the help of  Jac, my resident Run Disney expert (who has earned her Coast to Coast!), and I’ve joined the Star Wars Half facebook group because I’m still kind of intimidated by the Disney runner people.

When registration opened up last week, we got 6 people registered at light speed before everything filled up within 2 hours (it was stressful and we even accidentally registered one sister twice, but thankfully we were issued a refund).

So, in January, Aaron, one sister and her fiance, my dad, and I are running the half, and the other sister is running the 10K at the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.  Mom is ChEAR Squading in Platinum Style.

All sarcasm and disbelief over the prices of things (and the sheer number of people…now including myself…willing to pay those prices) aside though,  I’m excited to blend my love of running, Disney, and Star Wars into what will hopefully be a fabulously nerdy event.  We already made our hotel reservations, and I’m already trying to determine if I want to go the traditional (and easy) Princess Leia route, or if I want to do something crazy.  I told Aaron I was going to wear a shirt that says “Nice Buns” with a picture of Princess Leia’s hair, but he didn’t seem too amused.

I’m also hopeful that since this is the inaugural race, and since new Episodes are in production and in need of promotion, that the original (human) cast will be sending runners off.  A girl can dream.


Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! May the Force be with you!



Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 4-6

There is no denying it: we are in full fledged marathon training mode right now.

From that first 14 miler, the exhaustion, and the “runner tan” (racer back, shorts, compression socks), to the telling our friends that we couldn’t try SUP yoga with them because, running. All the time. I even kind of look forward to Mondays because I can actually sleep in.

We’re up to 40+ miles per week, hitting a 17 mile run last Saturday followed by an 8 mile run on Sunday.  I still consider this my “building” phase, but in about 2 weeks, we enter into 6 weeks of…is there a more elegant/anatomically more accurate way of expressing “balls to the wall?” We are just 2.5 weeks away from our first 20 miler of this training cycle, and I’m kind of amazed at how fast and how undramatic the last 6+ weeks of training have been.  I love drama-free runs! (knocks on wood…well, wood laminate anyway).

20140618-130119-46879990.jpgThis is me knocking on wood laminate right now

20140618-125919-46759983.jpgPost 17 miler soak in the ice cold river felt AMAZING

Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m getting faster, but I am holding paces within goal range as we increase time and distance, so my endurance appears to be developing.  I will focus more on speed during the BaToThWa period once that endurance has been built.  During my last training cycle, one of the lessons I learned was not to push it too hard too early into training because that only led to me screwing up my legs and having to sit out training runs when it was actually important.  A fast 800 repeat in week 3 does not equal a goal marathon.

This time around, we’re also kind of eating like adults on a regular basis.  Less happy hour friend food, and even less burritos!  I won’t say less booze because I would probably be lying if I did.  BUT, we are gradually trying to switch from beer to wine in order to accommodate Aaron’s gluten issues. And with all of this healthy eating, I feel the stomach issues much harder than I did before, so even when we do spring for the absolutely delicious nachos at our neighborhood pub, I immediately regret that decision.  It took me 3 days after a work potluck for my digestive system to return to normal.  I’m hoping all of this “healthy eating” nonsense will help come race day because I miss my nachos.

20140618-130203-46923007.jpgYummy, but a little too healthy for my taste. 

20140618-125921-46761692.jpgWe pretty much incorporate our garden kale into every meal. EVERY MEAL. 


I’m like 3 weeks behind, so instead of listing all of the workouts from the last 3 weeks, I’ll just provide highlights:

* Up to 17 miles for long runs

* Consistently holding about a 9:33 average pace for long runs with a few miles sub-9 and usually 1 sub-8 mile per run (I don’t seem to warm up or get into a groove until mile 8-9, and then suddenly faster miles seem effortless)

* Hitting 800’s in the 3:27-3:40 range…a bit slower than I want, but at least there has been no more puking! I even got through yesterday’s workout nausea-free!

* Tempo miles averaging between 7:45-7:56

* All but 1 run, a recovery jog, have been outside (not on a treadmill)…the treadmill run was actually on National Running Day because temps were too high.

20140618-130521-47121186.jpgI took this treadmill selfie to prove that I ran on NRD, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish. Until now. 

We have our first “Back Down Off It” weekend this weekend which I am really excited about.  We have a fast 13 on Saturday AND A REST DAY ON SUNDAY.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all of those extra hours of sleep.  But then we go right back up the following  weekend for 19 + 9, so the rest is short lived.

And that’s it for now! Hope your training is going wonderfully!