Only Different In Your Mind: 2019 Giant Race San Francisco Recap!

Sleepless Knight

Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
Joined
May 15, 2008
As I look at my last post, I note the irony. The uncertainty over Star Wars Light Side 2018 made if difficult for me to find motivation to run. I ran off and on once or twice a week in the summer, but as work deadlines drew closer, motivation became even more scant. The formal cancellation last week of all California runDisney events left me in a bit of a motivational funk too.

And then 2 nights ago something crazy happened. In the middle of the night, I either dreamed that I asked my little sister if she wanted to run Avengers with me or it came to me as one of those thoughts you get in brief moments of being awake. Either way, yesterday morning I began formulating a plan to run Avengers on 3 weeks of training. I even found a 4 week training plan that convinced me it was possible to pull off. And next thing I knew, I had booked a hotel and registered for a half marathon three weeks away. Am I insane? Yes. But here we go.

So here's the basic outline of my training plan. The 4 week plan recommends being able to run 5 miles comfortably as a base.

10/23/17 5 mile run. Designed to see where I'm actually at in relation to where I should be. Finished the 5 miles at 15:46 minutes per mile with little trouble, and certainly stronger than I thought.

10/24/17 35 minute run at minimum pace. Or at least that's the plan. It could also be a rest day, but I feel like I have so little training time that a slow run will help me adjust to running again without overdoing it. The goal is to run 7 miles on Saturday which puts me roughly on track for Avengers in 2 weeks.

I'll post the rest of my plan later. I've even given it a name: "Who Doesn't Skip Leg Day? BATMAN!!!" 3 Week Half Marathon Training Plan. We'll see how this goes.
 

Sleepless Knight

Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
Joined
May 15, 2008
May the Force be with you!!!
Always. Or as Han Solo said to Luke after wishing him good luck in the attack against the Death Star "you're gonna need it."

So day 2 of training is in the books. It was a 35 minute easy run, which I chose to run at 15:46 per mile. As a slow runner, I'm not sure what constitutes an "easy" run, but I'll always err on the side of below 16 minutes per mile to be sure that I can stay ahead of the balloon ladies. At any rate, it went fine. No aftereffects from yesterday's 5 mile run, so that's good. Honestly, I'm a bit afraid of the enormity of what I've taken on. It sure seemed like a grand idea yesterday morning when I registered as I alternated between giddy thoughts of excitement and I'm actually going to do this. Now having had time to think about it, I'm wondering if that was such a good idea. Can I really build up enough endurance to push through to finish the race?

Now, for the rest of my "Who Never Skips Leg Day? BATMAN!!!" training plan. Those of you who have seen the Lego Batman Movie may recognize that line. It's also a nod to my favorite comic book character and a reference to the complete lack of room to take any "lazy" days. Please forgive the lack of @DopeyBadger detailed spreadsheet. This is my first time following a non Galloway plan, although I feel like I'm learning enough about running to recognize certain principles and how they work.

As always, thoughts and observations including where I maybe ought to consider tweaks are welcome.

The overall objective here is to increase my mileage by enough to be close enough on race day to power through to the end. From that perspective I feel like bumping up from 5 miles yesterday to 7 miles this coming Saturday to 9 miles the Saturday before the race means I should be able to run 11 miles on race day itself and then refuse to quit my way through the last 2 miles if I have to. In the past I've done 3 runs a week. The 2 maintenance runs followed by the weekend long run. The hope in daily runs of appropriate distance for this crash course in training is that they will help me in recovery and maybe, just maybe build up just enough to help me push through to the final 2 miles if need be on race day.

Wednesday 10/25/17

65 minute run. This will likely be at 15:46 per mile, but I may experiment with some increments of speed depending on how I feel.

Thursday 10/26/17

Intervals during a roughly 30 minute run. I've never done intervals before since my method has always worked, so I didn't see much need to change it up. However, in reading how intervals work, I believe they can help me build up enough endurance to push through come race day.

Friday 10/27/17

35 minute run. This will be done at 15:46 per mile.

Saturday 10/28/17

7 mile run. The hope is to run the whole 7 miles at 15:46 or faster per mile. In fact when my brain says go faster, that's not good enough on race day, I usually hear Jeff Galloway say it is not possible to run the long runs slow enough. The key is to get the mileage in to build up endurance.

Sunday 10/29/17

Rest day. I took a jogging course in college taught by the head coach of women's cross country at BYU, who was then in the middle of a 4 year span where the worst finish at the NCAA national championship meet was 2nd one year. I will never forget him talking about the importance of taking a rest day each week to give the body time to recover and thus reduce injury.

Monday 10/30/17

Interval runs

Tuesday 10/31/17

40 minute run. Plan is for no slower than 15:46 per mile, although I may toy with some speed work if I feel like it.

Wednesday 11/1/17

70 minute run.

Thursday 11/2/17

Interval runs

Friday 11/3/17

40 minute run

Saturday 11/4/17

9 mile run. This is the last long run before the race itself. I know from past experience that I can increase by 1.5 miles from the previous week with little trouble and another 1/2 mile over that amount really isn't much. I hope.

Sunday 11/5/17

Rest

Monday 11/6/17

Intervals

Tuesday 11/7/17

45 minute run.

Wednesday 11/8/17

60 minute run

Thursday 11/9/17

Intervals

Friday 11/10/17

Travel to Disneyland and the Expo. Will probably spend the evening in the parks

Saturday 11/11/17

Light touring of the parks. Lots of stage shows and sitting down. I'm used to this after the Light Side and Dark Side Challenges I've finished. At least for me, light easy touring of the parks helps me to keep from obsessing over the race the next day. Before the 2012 Wine & Dine Half, I tried to avoid the parks altogether the day of that evening race. At about 11:00am, I realized that I was beginning to go stir crazy, so I headed to Epcot and spent a lot of time in the shade sitting down. It worked. Early bedtime of around 8:00.

Sunday 11/12/17

Avengers 2017 Half Marathon. The goal, obviously, is to finish. While I've always defined finishing as a good enough time, that will especially hold true this time. Hopefully, I'll get some nice photos running through California Adventure and Disneyland with the parks all decorated for Christmas.

My biggest concern about this plan is that it could cause trouble during the taper week. But maybe I need to think of this not as a taper week since time is compressed anyways and just focus on staying healthy and powering through the finish line on race day. I can always "taper" the week after the race.
 
  • Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 3 Update. The plan called for a 65 minute run. I'm feeling sore from two consecutive days of running after a month off or so, but when I don't want to run and there's a race coming up, I convince myself that this is practice for when I'm tired during the race. Suffice it to say, I got the full run in, and in that strange thing that happens to me when I run, I find that my soreness afterwards is strangely lessened.

    Since this afternoon, I've been arguing with myself about calling to see if I can upgrade my half registration to the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. The rational part of me says the half is challenge enough. The insane part of me says it's the last hurrah for runDisney Anaheim for the next few years at best and possibly the grand finale at worst, so embrace the whole experience. But at the same time I'm not entirely sure how much I really want to actually run the challenge. Those two days really take it out of me. I can't imagine how the Dopey runners do that for 4 consecutive mornings. It's also the beginning of Christmas time at Disneyland and I want to be able to really enjoy that experience, which will not happen if I run the challenge since that essentially defines 2 nights of the already short weekend.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 4 Update: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Intervals.

    Big training day today. My first ever interval run and ultimately first ever attempt at something resembling the run-walk-run method. Historically, I've maintained roughly 15 minute per mile throughout all training sessions. I suppose this is because a major setback during training for my very first half spooked me into being very afraid to put some speed into it. Today I broke with that and ran some intervals. Given the much shorter training window I have for this race, I'm willing to explore methods of training in order to build up enough endurance to push through to the finish line on race day.

    5 minutes at 15:46 per mile
    5 minutes at 15:22 per mile
    2 minutes at 13:19 per mile
    5 minutes at 15:22 per mile
    2 minutes at 13:19 per mile
    2 minutes at 15:22 per mile
    7 minutes at 15:22 per mile
    5 minutes at 15:46 per mile

    The running portions were the fastest I've ever ran during training. One big difference is that I have finally come to understand how I can handle the challenges of running. Namely, I do not actually need to run for lengthy periods of time. I can do some running at high effort, but slow down for a spell before it starts to hurt instead of waiting until the pain kicks in. The other benefit of this strategy today is that I now feel confident in pursuing a run-walk-run strategy during my long runs the next 2 weekends. If I'm going to employ this during the race itself, I think I should have some idea of how I respond to it during a longer run. At the very least, I feel confident that I can do those long runs at closer to a 15 minute pace than a 16 minute pace.

    I also came to a temporary decision over whether or not I should even think about upgrading to the challenge. I love the uniqueness of Disney 10Ks especially when they're almost entirely in the parks in Anaheim. It's a long enough distance to feel challenging, but short enough to not wipe me out. Plus, I think the mile markers in the Disneyland 10Ks are better than the half mile markers. The extra bling would be cool as well. Even the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medal is growing on me. I get the design, I'm just not sure how much I like it. However, right now I have no idea how I'm going to feel after on Sunday morning after a 7 mile run on Saturday.

    One thing I'm trying to battle right now is the mental game. Part of me feels like I should push myself harder and go faster in order to build up enough endurance to make it past the finish line on race day. But that's extremely risky. The objective here is to remain injury free. Even during my running sessions today, I paid careful attention to how my legs felt and monitored closely for bad pain as opposed to soreness. I've also noticed that the soreness tends to get worse after a day in the office. So while I feel very sore when it's time to go run, I find that the soreness lessens after I actually run. Or perhaps is still there, but a different kind of soreness. Either way, I need to remind myself to not push too hard, follow the plan I laid out, but be ready to dial it back if I need to.

    I'm also constantly reminding myself to manage my expectations. While Avengers has traditionally been a small field even for a runDisney race, I need to assume that will not be the case this time. So I should maintain my strategy of not expecting to get any character photos during the race given my speed. Then if a line is short enough, I'm pleasantly surprised. I also anticipate that merchandise will be pretty sparse by the time I get to the Expo so I'm not really set on anything. Maybe an I Did It shirt for the half.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 5: Easy 35 minute run at 15:46 per mile. Well maybe I should call it a walk. But I digress. Tomorrow will begin to answer my questions about the real feasibility of all this.

    Day 6: Once again in the middle of the night, I got an idea. Maybe instead of running 7 miles, I'll run 9. This will allow me to run 11 next week, and then the half the week after. However, this time upon waking up, I managed to talk myself out of this. A substantial increase in mileage does me no good if it brings about an injury. So I decided to run the 7 mile minimum with a possible bump up to 8 depending on how I felt. I also incorporated some intervals into this run. However after the first couple of high speed runs, I felt fatigue coming rather quickly, so dialed it back. That said, most of the run was at a 15 minute per mile pace with a few breaks where I dropped to 15:46 per mile or 15:22. In the end, I decided to push it up to 8 miles.

    So how do I feel today? Sore, but nothing too bad. Nothing along the lines of the every muscle in my body ached after my first half. Today is my rest day, so I'm enjoying that. The mental break is nice.

    Now, what I have learned from all this after 1 week?

    1. After a few days of internal debate about upgrading to the challenge, I'm strongly leaning against it. Barring no setbacks, I am confident I will finish the half. However, based on how I felt yesterday after 8 miles, I'm not sure I actually want to subject myself to the demands of a half the day after 10K.

    2. Compression good. With a full day's worth to activity after yesterday's run, I opted to wear my Nike compression socks for the first time ever after a long run. In my mind, I always wore regular socks after the race because they were more comfortable, but I learned yesterday why people love compression socks, et all. The soreness in my calf muscles that lingered day after day this week was virtually non existent last night. Looks like I'm heading to a running store tomorrow to get some compression gear.

    3. In part because this may be the end of runDisney on the west coast and in part because of the 3 week training, i find myself looking back a lot on my very first half, which I wrote about on page 1 of this report. Most of this reflection is on how far I've come since that first race. The day after that first half I was in line to meet Chip and Dale along with quite a few other runners, including some ladies who had ran the WDW 5K, Goofy, and possibly Princess in addition to the Disneyland Half. I remember being in complete awe of how they did it. Here I was, quite happy with my single very hard earned half medal attempting to grasp the enormity of running as many races as they had. And now I am considering taking all my medals from this year down to Disneyland once again for a handful of photos with what I hope will be all 9 medals. 6 from the respective Star Wars 10K, Half, and challenge events, 1 Kessel Run, 1 Coast to Coast, and hopefully the Avengers half. Somehow, against all odds that day, I've become the casual runner with a large amount of medals. After that first half, I was glad I did it, but there existed a real possibility that I would never do it again. That day I never could have dreamed that in 6 years I would be attempting that on only 3 weeks of training and feeling even remotely confident that I can do this.
     
  • Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 7: Rest. Felt good to take a physical and mental break from training.

    Day 8: Why didn't I buy compression socks years ago? Seriously, why? Before my first race, I bought some Nike basketball socks since they were inexpensive and I figured they would work well enough, which is true. They served me well for many years on many a long run and all 7 half marathons and all 4 Star Wars challenge events. But after feeling calf soreness every day last week, I came up with the idea to wear said Nike basketball socks Saturday after my long run since I had a very busy Saturday after my 8 mile run. Saturday night I realized that my legs were substantially less sore after an 8 mile run and having minimal downtime than every other previous run over the week. I concluded that compression was my answer. So before this evening's run, I ventured out to my local running store. Again, why didn't I do this years ago?

    The lady I spoke with was very helpful. She measured my calf circumference, listened to what I had to say and what I was looking for, and guided me appropriately. So after today's run, I put on my new pair of compression socks and noticed immediately how much less sore my calf muscles felt. This is a revelation to me. She also helped me with some nutrition questions and guided me on how to deal with other runner issues. On a side note, when I mentioned that I was running the Avengers Half at Disneyland, she asked if that was the 4 race event. Even out here on the west coast, they're aware of Dopey. And like me, in awe of those who run Dopey. I did enjoy geeking out and telling her about the Kessel Run medal and the 10K/Half challenges runDisney offers for the less "crazy" among us who don't run Dopey.

    Suffice it to say, the new compression socks are going through full use come Saturday during my 10 mile run. There might be more pairs coming before race day. One thing I've realized about the insanity of trying to train for a half in 3 weeks is that I've learned a lot about recovery and how to do it better.

    Now for today's run. The plan called for intervals with 7 brief intervals at RPE 5. During the second tough interval at 13:37 per mile, I noticed sever calf soreness and mild discomfort in my ankle. Since that was only 2 minutes, I powered through it, but immediately dropped all future plans for that speed during this training run. I know that I am currently capable of maintaining minimum race pace for the duration of any runs I do, so I'm going to make sure that I don't sacrifice that in an attempt to gain a few seconds that could lead to injury and worse. That said, I continued to vary speeds and tempo and finished the 35 minute run strongly with a few minutes spent at under a 15 minute per mile pace. In the end, I'm okay with that. I can really play around with getting faster when I don't have a half marathon looming in less than 2 weeks.
     
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    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 9 Halloween: Schedule called for a 40 minute easy run. Maybe it the was mental exhaustion from a month long work deadline, or perhaps the 20 minute weight session did before, but this run did not feel easy, whatever that actually means. Or maybe it was just one of those runs that just doesn't go the way you want it to.

    I did get a crazy costume idea though. Maybe I'll buy one of those Yoda backpacks and use it for my running costume and go as Batman being trained by Yoda. That way I keep the superhero theme and do the Star Wars race I was supposed to do in January. From a certain point of view. . .
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 10: Again, why didn't I try compression socks earlier? Why?

    Today's run called for 70 minutes at an easy pace. I chose to start at 15:46 for 10 minutes and bumped up to 15:22 for a few more minutes before heading up to 15 minutes for all but 5 minutes of the rest of the run. I am satisfied with my progress to this point. I ran over 50% of today's run at a pace that I hoped to be up to come race day. I need to keep reminding myself that the goal is to finish on race day and not worry about time.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 11: Intervals. Definitely beginning to notice that my stamina is increasing over where it was a week ago.

    Day 12: My internal debate about maybe being insane enough to sign up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge continued. But when I began to see if it was even possible, I found that it looks like runDisney is no longer offering the challenge. I'm okay with that. And it's probably for the better.

    Oh wait a minute. It's definitely for the better. Because as of today, I have decided that Avengers training is over. Oh, I'm still getting my running in. But instead of next weekend's Avengers Half Marathon being my last half marathon for a while, it has now become a long training run that ends with a medal while I train for the 2018 Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend First Order Challenge. So yeah, that happened. I'm alternating between giddy excitement and complete shock that I actually did it since none of this was even a remote possibility when I woke up this morning.

    In all the excitement I almost forgot today's run. An easy 40 minute run with some weight training thrown in too. 10 to 10.5 miles coming up tomorrow.
     
  • Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 13: The reality of a half marathon next weekend has set in once again after yesterday's euphoria over registering for Dark Side and thus deciding to go to Disney World. I got 10.5 miles in today, which was my "maximum" goal for today. This was a tough one. Started off more difficult than anticipated, but after about 30 minutes, I started to find my second wind.

    One thing I've definitely learned about a compressed training schedule is the wisdom of the gradual buildup to the higher mileage. While my 2-3 mile increases are not excessive, I definitely feel them a lot more near the end of the run. With only 2 weeks training to this point, I find myself slowing down a lot more than in my previous race training sessions. Still, I should finish and that's all I can really ask for.

    I went to see Thor Ragnarok last night. Kind of a hype me up for the race next weekend although I was likely to see the movie anyways. In hindsight, I think it's better not to watch movies on long run days. While my seat certainly had plenty of leg room, I kind of wish I could have stretched out some more.

    Day 14: Today is my rest day. Much needed and always welcome.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 15: Supposed to run intervals today, which I sort of did. However, after pain in my right leg during the 2nd segment of the interval runs, I decided to alter the rest of the planned run. I slowed down to minimum pace and cut the run portion off at 30 minutes. The pain subsided substantially which is good and with Avengers this weekend, I'm in hyper sensitive to discomfort mode.

    In Dark Side related news, I have booked my room at Port Orleans French Quarter and started making my ADRs. I was surprised at the lack of availability for some this far out, but I'm happy with what I got.

    On the docket:

    Tutto Italia the afternoon before the 10K

    Tenative ADR at Jungle Navigation Company the afternoon before the 1/2. I ate there this year before the 10K and loved it. May also be canceled so I can eat there later in the trip and not be bound by the race. The POFQ food court has some appealing options for dinner if I cancel Jungle Navigation.

    Le Chefs de France the night of the 1/2. This was my pre half meal this year. And while I loved it, I also felt somewhat limited as to what I could eat.

    Day after the half is wide open. I plan on sleeping in and not going to the parks at all. This year, I did the Star Wars Guided Tour the day after the challenge. That was a whole lot of walking the day after the half.

    Tuesday: Jungle Navigation Company. This time not restricted by the races.

    Wednesday: Tiffins Rivers of Light Dining Package. My favorite meal from this past April.

    Thursday: Le Cellier. This year it was my post half celebration meal. Pushed it to after the race in the hopes that I will enjoy it more after my appetite is back to normal.

    Still hoping to land a Be Our Guest dinner, but there are none available right now.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Tuesday November 7, 2017 Day 16: 45 minute run at minimum race pace went fine. However, the worrisome news is the high sore throat and stuffed up nose. I really hope this is just post nasal drip, but started taking Zicam just in case and am being extra vigilant with hydration and rest. Fortunately, to this point it's acting more like post nasal drip.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Day 17: 60 minute run at minimum pace. Have decided it will be my final run the Avengers Half. I'll be spending time in the parks Friday after the Expo and Saturday so I need to give my body a rest.
     

    roxymama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2015
    Day 17: 60 minute run at minimum pace. Have decided it will be my final run the Avengers Half. I'll be spending time in the parks Friday after the Expo and Saturday so I need to give my body a rest.
    Finishing the last training run is an exciting feeling. Good luck this weekend!!
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Finishing the last training run is an exciting feeling. Good luck this weekend!!
    Thanks. The greater stress comes from the condensed nature of the training. Barring no major setbacks, I feel confident I will finish, but we'll see what kind of speed I actually pull off. I've ran slower than I would normally like to this week, but after Monday's pain during running, I felt it better to slow down and not push it.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Who never skips leg day?!? BATMAN!!!! That's right it's time to recap the 2017 Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon Weekend. As most of my race weekends tend to be, it's a cast of one. This has its advantages for race weekends since I set my own pace and can sit down for lengthy periods of time if I feel like it. I left home early in the morning to begin the drive down to Anaheim.

    First up the Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon Weekend Expo. Since my bib will always be there, I stopped off at race merchandise first. No line whatsoever and plenty of selection. The race jacket was plentiful and there were plenty of Avengers weekend shoe ornaments. I passed on both. Maybe I should have gotten the shoe ornament since I have both Star Wars shoe ornaments this year, but I didn't. If I really regret it, I can alway try ebay. I did wind up getting the last Men's XL I Did It shirt for the half.

    As I proceeded towards checkout, this caught my eye. And I had to take a picture of it. Why else sign up to sign up for a half marathon with only 3 weeks training only to later decide that I really wanted to run Dark Side next year since there is no Light Side race weekend? #LetTheWookieeWin indeed.



    Next up the special carpet for Disneyland race weekends. The downside of being by yourself is that sometimes you just don't feel like asking people to take pictures or you can't find anyone.



    The welcome banners on your way to shirt pickup after getting your bib. Captain America and Thor for those who don't know.



    Doctor Strange and War Machine



    Falcon and Vision



    Hulk and Ant-Man



    Black Panther and Spiderman



    Black Widow and Hawkeye. Since Black Widow is the race medal and my favorite Avenger on account of my fascination with characters with dark pasts working to overcome them (see also Batman and Darth Vader), I opted to ask someone to take this picture for me.



    This really seemed like a great idea 3 weeks ago when I signed up and started training.



    Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon Weekend Bib Photo



    The Disney photographer asked me to show him my best superhero pose. I learned this one from some crazy old wizard hiding in solitude on Tattooine.



    That's it for the Avengers Expo. Coming soon to this training journal: Invitations to train for the 2018 Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend!
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Mileage update:

    October 2017: 26.27 miles. All during the last week of the month when I signed up for Avengers with just 3 weeks to go.

    November 2017: 60.42 miles. I took it easier than I had planned the week after Avengers, but have gotten back into a consistent routine. While I accelerated my tempo during Avengers training, I decided to back off that for a while and build up my tempo gradually instead of trying to do too much too soon. The tenative plan is to start tempo work back up as it gets closer to the official plan start of Dark Side in mid December, which just so happens to be the same week The Last Jedi opens.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Avengers Race Weekend Recap Episode II: An Invitation to Join the Dark Side.

    If you've been following along with my training journal, you may remember that 2 weeks after signing up for Avengers, I was reading some running threads on these very boards and managed to convince myself that I should run Dark Side next year. So after emailing my travel agent and getting a very quick response from her, I mapped out a plan to to get all my work done before leaving for Walt Disney World and took the plunge and registered for Dark Side 2018. One of the side things I was looking forward to in running Avengers weekend was the opportunity to get some medal photos at Disneyland. Both my coast to coast runs finished at Walt Disney World and I didn't really want to get medal photos at Disneyland if I'm the only person wearing medals. So Avengers race weekend gave me an opportunity to celebrate the Kessel Run at Disneyland as well. And since I ran both Star Wars challenge events and earned the Kessel Run too, there are lots of Star Wars photos I need to get. So after dropping my race swag off in my room, it was back to Disneyland with a stop at Star Wars Launch Bay.

    First up was Darth Vader. Upon seeing all my medals, he pointed at me and informed me that the Dark Side has been waiting for me. I'm really geeking out now because my next race after Avengers is Dark Side.

    I'm Looking Forward to Completing Your Training


    Impressive. Most Impressive.


    Next up I find that Kylo Ren is also on the bridge. While examining the guests in line, he spots a little girl who is clinging to her father's arm. He says to her, "are you scared little one? It's okay if you are. You should be." He spots me and says "I sense that you are hiding something from me. Or someone."

    When my turn comes, he notices all the Star Wars medals and says "I sense that the Force is strong with you. I can make you stronger. I have foreseen that you will be my apprentice." My geek out level continues to rise, now exponentially.



    One of the great things about meeting Kylo Ren is that he is really fun to taunt. You will get a rise and reaction out of him. Whereas Darth Vader is composed and controlled anger, Kylo Ren is not. So he notices the Dark Side Half medal with his visage on it and says "I see that our values are aligned." I reply by lifting up my Kessel Run and Light Side Half medals (the Light Side half medal had Han and Leia on one side of the spinner) and Kylo Ren tersely responds "we do speak of him."



    Now for the mighty Chewbacca. He gives me a huge hug and we proceed to speak to each other in Shriywook (the language of the Wookiees) and together we triumphantly celebrate all 7 of my 2017 Star Wars race medals. For obvious reasons, Chewbacca is rather partial to the Light Side medals and especially the Kessel Run.





    I found a park guest kind enough to take my picture in front of the entrance mural to Star Wars Launch Bay. His little children were in awe of my medals. Maybe someday they'll run a runDisney event and earn medals of their own.

    A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy, Far, Far Away. . .


    Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle.


    Extreme Closeup!!! Extreme Closeup!! Bonus points if you get the reference.


    From left to right: Dark Side Challenge medal, Dark Side Half medal, Rebel Challenge medal, Kessel Run medal, Light Side half medal, Light Side 10K medal, Dark Side 10K medal


    I certainly feel strong after 38.6 Star Wars race miles in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Not to mention all the training miles.
     



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