Star Wars Dark Side Recap

It was great to be back for the Dark Side Challenge! Already hot in Florida, but both the 10k and half marathon were great experiences for us. And although we thoroughly enjoyed our 2 run weekends in California, we missed Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

The Flower & Garden Festival make any trip to WDW so pleasant. We stayed in the Epcot resort area this time and each brought one of our kids. These cousins have always been great friends. Here they are DisneyBounding in the Magic Kingdom as a modern Cindy and Prince, while we’re the ugly stepsisters (of course).

We also DisneyBounded as modern Aristocats who apparently adore the upside down car in front of the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. I’m Berlioz, my daughter is Marie, my sister is Duchess, and my nephew is O’Malley. In reality, he would wake up each day and say, okay, what color should I wear? Hilarious.

My daughter was Jane at the Gorilla Exploration Falls, a place we try to never miss when we visit the Animal Kingdom.

Star Wars events are so much fun – we love the costumes of runners and the theming that WDW provides. Good character stops (though we never stop) and great music to motivate us. We were so proud to earn our Kessel Run Challenge medals since we ran the Light Side Half Marathon in January in Disneyland!

LOVE seeing runDisney official photographers at the beginning of the races for decent photos (we always hate our “after” pictures). But there wasn’t a massage tent at any of the events, so we were a bit disappointed. And we even remembered to bring our cash!

We had no trouble getting on the buses to/from resorts, the Expo was easy… everything seemed to run well this weekend. The starting line fireworks for the half marathon were amazing! And one of our favorite things was running through a woodsy area with sounds of the speeder bike chase on Endor playing over speakers. It felt like we were a part of the cast of ROTJ!

We’re legacy runners for this event, and we’re already registered for 2018! (By the way, yes, we reuse our running outfits, because money. We might keep the shirt, change the leggings, or use the same leggings with a different shirt, or add a hat, or another new item. No shame in using what you’ve got!)

 

 

Star Wars – The Light Side Half Marathon (and by light, I mean cheap)

Here’s my belated review of our January runDisney Star Wars – The Light Side weekend in California.

We registered late and weren’t able to participate in the Rebel Challenge, so my sister and I focused on the half marathon, and my hubby came along for just one night and ran the 10k. This was his first runDisney experience, so we gave him all of our best tips.

We decided to make this a shorter and more cost-conscious runDisney experience, and we did a pretty good job! We only registered for one race, so that brought the cost down. Also, we didn’t really shop. We picked up our packets at the Expo and headed straight to the parks.

We usually go to WDW in Florida, so our favorite things in California are Hyperspace Mountain and lobster nachos at Cove Bar. We also tried something new – appetizers and drinks at Carthay Circle Lounge. Delicious food, but not filling. We followed it up later by going to our other favorite restaurant, Wine Country Trattoria. Such beautiful, outdoor seating and great food.

Again, the best part of the Disneyland events is the close proximity of EVERYTHING! We stayed at an inexpensive hotel right across the street from the park entrance, Park Vue Inn, and it was a good little spot (especially for the price). Their free hot breakfast was simple but yummy.

My husband said the 10k was great – he really enjoyed seeing the runners in costume, running through the parks, and spotting Star Wars rebels. It was pretty cool in the morning for both runs, so we took throw-away jackets. We really needed those mylar blankets at the end (thank you, runDisney)!

Quick comparison between 2 runDisney event weekends:

  • The route for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September had too many bottlenecks and part of the race was on a narrow path next to an empty cement ravine (not very pleasant, and a little scary), BUT it did have tons of supporters, from dance groups to classic cars to scouts, AND we ran through Angel Stadium (but it was very crowded).
  • The route for the Light Side Half Marathon in January wound through pretty little neighborhoods and, of course, through the parks with plenty of cast members, marching bands, and cosplay folks cheering us on. We love it when the rides are running and music is playing in the parks – so festive! There were also plenty of Star Wars characters urging us to “move along.”

Cost review: we saved money by staying at a cheaper hotel with free breakfast, registering for one race, staying fewer nights, needing fewer tickets to the parks, and not shopping. But… we love running, we love a challenge, and we love Disney World, so we’ll be there next month to run the Dark Side Challenge.

Can’t wait to earn the Kessel Run medal in SIX WEEKS!

Preparing to join the Dark Side

SWDS medalsMy dad was very proud of me and my sister for our dedication to running. We both won some local awards and he told EVERYBODY. That’s how I know he’d be very excited about our new adventure.

We’ll spend our next sister weekend running in the Dark Side Challenge at Walt Disney World. Five weeks to go!

This will be our first challenge – 10k one day, half marathon the next. Plenty of good food and wine, and nerds. Like me.

I saw the original Star Wars in the theater, and it has remained my favorite movie. The characters have been a part of my life since I can remember. They’re my fantasy family. I was less than thrilled that the Empire Strikes Back, and couldn’t wait for the Return of the Jedi. I really needed to see Luke again. No joke. I don’t have a brother. I have Luke.

So yeah, my sis and I will be in costume. Nothing elaborate. I’ve seen that picture of the runner dressed as the Death Star, wearing a big spherical object. Or the other runner with the keyboard attached to portray the member of the Cantina Band. Our costumes will be a lot simpler. But my love of Star Wars is unconditional, and I’m so excited to be part of the inaugural Dark Side weekend at WDW.

I’m also REALLY looking forward to sampling the food and wine at the Flower and Garden Festival.

Most of all, can’t wait to get my Grand Marnier slushie near France. My personal favorite beverage in all of Disney World. Just don’t ask me to talk about the musical Billy Elliot after I imbibe, because it’s very hard to correctly say all of those syllables! It’s like saying “sea anemone” or “scientists.” It’s hard to know when to stop pronouncing those repetitive sounds.

I miss you, Disney World. See you soon.

Wine & Dine at last!

Wine_DineDespite a busy few months, my sister and I made it Orlando for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November! We had such a blast on our sister trip. Here are a few highlights.

Resort: We absolutely loved the Beach Club, mostly for its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The Beach Club rooms are bright and airy, and our balcony looked right out onto the lake. Great resort!

Expo: It was fine, but I’ve attended the music teacher conventions in Texas for many years, and it’s hard to top those. We visited some of our favorite vendors, but we were saving our $ for the parks. The line to get our packets was short, but the line for commemorative items was pretty long. We talked to some runDisney staff members who were aware of the problem and promised upcoming changes for future events.

Run: This was the part of the weekend that was unusual… The weather was mostly great and we wore shorts the whole time we were there. But on the night of the run, there was lightning in the area and the race was delayed for an hour, and therefore shortened to a 6.7 mile run. Disappointing, yes, but we were still so happy to be at Disney World again. Hanging out for an hour inside the Wide World of Sports was kindof fun. We got to see all the costumes up close. I really hope the guy in the head-to-toe thick fur outfit didn’t faint from heat exhaustion!

Parks: We made a family trip to WDW in June and were planning to run in November and April, so we purchased Annual Passes in June and have thoroughly enjoyed the benefits. On all of our previous family trips, we only went to 1 park/day. But with our APs (and the flexibility of moving around without 6 other people in tow), we were able to enjoy Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival each day. We ate almost all of our meals there! And we went to other parks each day for our favorite rides and other experiences.

Overall, I loved my experience and want to participate every year. I especially liked running at night and the (mostly) good weather. This was my first runDisney experience and they put on a great event. I do hope that they might consider adding a challenge to this weekend in the future.

I was in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people, doing something together that we love and that challenges us. :))

Hollywood Studios favorites

Big HeroAhhhhhhh we managed one day of DisneyBounding together as the Big Hero 6! So fun.

We saw Baymax and Hiro in The Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios, and they were adorable. Of course, we turned around and saw a family that really did look like the characters. We were pretty lame in comparison. But it was fun, so no worries.

This was our first time visiting The Magic of Disney Animation, and I just read that this area closed in July. :(( (My sad faces and happy faces always have double chins.) Maybe some new Star Wars attractions will be moving in? Not sure.

We like to change up our Disney World trips by trying some new things on each visit. One year we discovered a pavilion down by the lake past the Flame Tree BBQ restaurant in Animal Kingdom – a peaceful and beautiful place to eat our meal!

Back to Hollywood Studios. Besides the obvious favorites, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster (single rider line), and Star Tours, we like the Writer’s Stop for snacks and funky souvenirs, the Great Movie Ride (good place to sit down, cool off, and enjoy scenes from terrific movies), Lights, Motors, Action (great show!), and Indiana Jones (fun and nostalgic).

Hollywood Studios has wonderful theming with funky signs and characters throughout the park. It’s a good place to watch cast members at their best, such as The Citizens of Hollywood, who are talented and hilarious and engage the guests.

Our other favorite thing in HS is the 50’s Prime Time Diner. We always eat one of our special meals here – the food is great and the waiters and waitresses seriously get into their roles in this Mom and Pop restaurant. Soooooo funny. If you go, just make sure to keep your elbows off the table!

Why do I run?

I was thinking about this question yesterday on my long run (10 miles – longest distance so far in my training for the Wine & Dine half marathon!).

Here are the reasons I started running about 1 year ago:
*to be healthier (it has been a very long time since I consistently used any form of exercise)
*to create opportunities to run with my sister (who has been running for 5 years or so)
*to participate in some fun races (a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could run a 5k, but then I did; I decided I could prepare for a 10k, which I ran; and I wondered whether or not I  could complete a half marathon – ran my first one in March of this year!)
*to run in Disney World!

I’m not worried about my time. Sometimes I refer to it just to prevent me from slacking. But I’m more interested in distance and the setting. Treadmills – no! Long, winding roads with trees and open skies – yesssssssss!

I work on math problems in my head while I run (does anyone else do this?) using distances. I think I used this trick to keep me from worrying about how short those first runs were, and how unhealthy I felt in the beginning. And the habit stuck.

Speaking of great settings for runs, 5 WEEKS til we’re running through Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, past the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios, and near Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom!

Photo from Disney

Photo from Disney