Local Race Recap: Rotary River Run 5K 2022

I ran the Rotary River Run 5K on multi-use trails here in DeBary Florida on Saturday, April 9, 2022. I first ran this local race in 2016, its inaugural year. I also ran it in 2017. Since then, the charity race, put on by our local Rotary club, has added a 10K distance option. See my previous race reports here:

Local 5K Race Report: Rotary River Run 2016

Local Race Report: Rotary River Run 2017

Over the winter, crews removed several large trees that lined parts of the trail around Gemini Springs park, the location for the start/finish of this race. Before the tree work, some of the asphalt on the trail was already bumpy. The heavy tree-removal equipment seemed to damage the trail in even more spots, making bike riding especially annoying in certain patches, and running a bit tricky. During the two weeks prior to this race, crews were out again, resurfacing the trail. The work was much needed, and much welcomed! The trail looks great now, rides smooth, and runs easy. Even though the trail is extremely familiar to me, I was looking forward to seeing the finished trail for the first time.

Training & Goals
I'm still working on coming back after a period of no running, managing knee pain and working on losing some pandemic weight. My plan for this race was to warm up for the first five minutes, and then run/walk using 60/90 intervals. 

Race Day: April 9, 2022
I love when there are races at Gemini Springs, because these are my default running trails, and I can bike to the start. On race morning I arrived in plenty of time to get my packet, stow my stuff in my bike bag, and line up for the race.  It was 57°F at the start with delightful 55% humidity, and clear blue skies. 

Mile 1: 13:42
It was great running on the newly resurfaced trail for the first time.

Mile 2: 12:59
I tried to jump for a photo mid-course, but I was too close to the photographer. Oops. She captured me running, before the failed jump. Thank you Lily.

Mile 3+: 12:52, :53
Coming in at 40:20, it looks like I'll be able to get a sub 40 soon. It's depressing to me to be so slow, but I'm seeing small improvements over time. Running feels so much harder now, but at least I can see my runs getting incrementally better. My Garmin recorded a final distance of 3:07 for the run.

Recommendation
This is a nice small race with a good atmosphere and fine support and organization by Runner's High Timing and Race Management. I would recommend this race to other locals, and am likely to run it again, as long as I am able.

Chip time: 40:20
Placement details: 5/9 in Age Group; 78/146 overall
Race Amenities: Cotton race shirt, finisher medal, beer and bbq treats after the run
Cost: $29.67

Featured and race branded photos (c) Almost There Photography

runDisney Race Recap: Tower of Terror 10-Miler 2022

The inaugural Springtime Surprise race weekend concluded with the Sunday event: the Tower of Terror 10-Miler.

Training & Goals
My plan for the weekend races was to have fun and finish before the sweepers. I aimed to start towards the front of my corral to have an extra buffer for photo stops and other shenanigans. I planned to follow my run:walk intervals on the road, stop for selfies at the mile markers, and mostly walk while in the theme parks to enjoy the entertainment, characters, and atmosphere.

Costume
There were lots of bellhops running Sunday morning. I dressed as a Star Wars style bellhop: Darth Bellhop. I matched the printed costume shirt with a Tower of Terror bellhop headband, attached to a Headsweats visor, and a Tower of Terror bellhop skirt.

Race Day: April 2, 2022
Arthur and I left home at about 2:35AM, and had the car parked at about 3:35AM. During the drive down on I-4, overhead signs indicated to look out for a reported wrong-way driver! Yikes! That kept us on extra high alert as we sped down the highway.

We got the car parked and headed to the morning's photo ops before I made my way to the corral. 

I tried to make my way toward the front of the corral, but as we started moving forward I must have mis-calculated my tangents, because at the last turn I looked back and there were hardly any runners behind me! I did not want to DLS (Dead Last Start)! 

With the release of each ever-shrinking wave, I tried to improve my position. The second half of corral 4 was released in many very small waves, my guess is due to congestion other runners were experiencing on narrow parts of the course. 

When I got to the front, I was just behind the 2:30 pacers. When I crossed the line with them at 6:10AM it was 64°F with 100% humidity and I was feeling 100% insecure about my position in the race.

Mile 1, 2, 3: 13:55, 13:56, 14:30
I ran with the pacers for a bit, trying out their :15/:30 ratio as we navigated getting out of the parking lot. At this time they were a little ahead of pace, anticipating course congestion later on, and maybe banking a little time for the three overpasses on the course. While the pace was comfortable, the run:walk ratio was not, so I decided to run ahead. One of the pacers loudly announced each interval change, so I figured I would hear them when they caught up to me. In the meantime I'd be able to stop for some photos. 

Shortly after I left the pacers behind, I felt some weird chafing on the underside of my upper right arm. I looked and there was a pale red patch forming. What the heck? I'd been wearing the same brand and size of shirt for all races with no issues. Ugh. I kept my hand on my hip during my walk breaks to keep my arm from rubbing on my shirt. I stopped at the first medical station to get some Vaseline to smear on the area. This helped tremendously and I ended up quickly stopping at every medical tent for the duration of the race to slather on some more Vaseline.

While the elongated corral mini-wave release process was annoying at the start, I experienced zero course congestion around the Boardwalk, and in the narrow path between Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios, which was actually pretty awesome.

Mile 4, 5: 15:09, 15:09
These miles took us through Hollywood Studios, the best part of this 10 mile race. 

We ran past Star Tours, and then through Galaxy's Edge. I felt a little bit emotional in this part, really missing the Star Wars races and thinking this run through this part of the park should have been for Dark Side runners. *sniff*

Next we ran through Toy Story Land before heading down Sunset Boulevard to the star attraction, the Tower of Terror.

Leaving Hollywood Studios, all that was left to run was five and a half highway miles, including three (!) overpasses. Around here the 2:30 pacers passed me, and I was fine with that. I knew I had the cushion of the 2:40 pacers behind me, before the Balloon Ladies would bring up the rear.

Mile 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+*: 15:30, 16:04, 16:11, 16:24, 17:28, 3:28*
There were a few characters on the course for this part of the race. Four from the Adventurer's Club were out, along with a big camel prop.

And some haunted hotel guests in full makeup, including popular Disney host Mark Daniel.

Other characters that I skipped were formal Goofy, Scrooge McDuck, and Bowler Hat Guy.

The final mile was back through Epcot. 

After the Race
I met up with Arthur, had a celebratory beer, and headed to Caribbean Beach for a quick wipe-down and change of clothes before heading to the Magic Kingdom for lunch at Skipper Canteen. I'm so glad I noticed the weird arm chafing early on, and could treat it with Vaseline, thanks to the medical volunteers on the course. It could have been painful!

Recommendation
It was awesome running so much in Hollywood Studios. The second half of the course was kind of a slog, and I wish the course could have been run in reverse (with the boring stuff first). Otherwise it was another fun runDisney race!

*Garmin data: my watch always shows a little bit extra mileage

Chip time: 2:37:40 
Placement details: 392/622 in Age Group, 7317/10819 overall
Race Amenities: Nice tech shirt, awesome Tower of Terror finisher medal, plus challenge medal and shirt
Cost: $474.37 for the challenge

runDisney Race Recap: Race for the Taste 10K 2022

Following the Expedition Everest 5K Thursday night, and a rest day on Friday, Saturday morning found runDisney enthusiasts like me back to toe the line for the Race for the Taste 10K.

Training & Goals
My plan for the weekend races was to have fun and finish before the sweepers. I aimed to start towards the front of my corral to have an extra buffer for photo stops and other shenanigans. I planned to follow my run:walk intervals on the road, stop for selfies at the mile markers, and mostly walk while in Epcot to enjoy the entertainment, characters, and atmosphere.

Costume
In keeping with my Star Wars mash-up theming, for this race I wore a novelty graphic t-shirt for the fictional Ratatooine Academy of Culinary Arts Running Club, along with a bulbous chef's hat and Remy-inspired grey fur print skirt.

Race Day: April 2, 2022
The weather for the weekend continued to look iffy, with predicted rain showers fortunately disappearing shortly before the start time. I left home at 2:34AM and got the car parked at Epcot by 3:26AM. After checking out the pre-race photo ops (there are still no characters out before the races), I headed to my corral to wait for the start. It was about 72°F with 95% humidity when I crossed the start line at 5:41AM. It was overcast and misty, looking like it might rain.

Mile 1, 2, 3: 15:57, 15:19, 15:25
The humidity was a real problem for me. I was already dripping with sweat before the race even started, and the thick air was tough to run through. The air was heavy and I felt worn out very quickly. 

I was part of a Facebook Messenger group of runners who reported on the location of characters on the course as well as the status of the balloon ladies (effectively the last runners before participants are swept from the course). Having this information was super handy and based on intel from the group I felt it was safe for me to stop for Horace and Clarabelle during the first mile. Later, Pluto was also out, but I didn't stop.

Miles 2 and 3 were more highway steps, including one overpass (the only elevation gain on the run). 

Mile 4, 5, 6+: 16:45, 18:58, 17:20, 7:25
Mile 4 brought us briefly through a part of Epcot before we headed to the Yacht, Beach Club, and Boardwalk resorts. There were some characters out, including Joy & Sadness, and Mickey & Minnie.

During mile 5 we finished with the Boardwalk and headed back into Epcot for the most fun parts of the race. Besides Chip and Dale and Goofy, other character stops were Geppetto with Pinocchio, and Emile with Remy in France. The line for the chef rats was so long it extended to Morocco -- whoa! I may have had time for that but I didn't want to risk it. I was truly afraid if the Balloon Ladies came by that I would not be able to keep up. The struggle with the humidity was real!

After the Race
I was totally knackered. My already slow pace fell during the last miles, and not just because I was stopping for a few photos. The humidity was completely defeating. Luckily the rain held off, but I couldn't have been more wet if it did rain -- I was totally sweat-soaked.

Recommendation
Despite running through pea soup, it was a fun morning. 

Chip time: 1:46:19 
Placement details: 459/656 in Age Group, 7022/9571 overall 
Race Amenities: Nice tech shirt, fun retro Epcot themed finisher medal
Cost: $474.37 for the challenge

runDisney Race Recap: Expedition Everest 5K 2022

On Thursday, March 31, 2022, Arthur and I participated in the Expedition Everest 5K, part of the new Springtime Surprise race weekend at Walt Disney World. Here's my recap!

Background
The 2020 Star Wars Rival Run race series was the first runDisney event to succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was fully cancelled, the only runDisney event to be completely wiped off the map. 

Wine & Dine 2020, Marathon Weekend 2021, Princess 2021, and Star Wars 2021 all were offered as virtual-only events (Star Wars was initially offered as in-person before being transitioned to virtual. I am not sure if this was also the case for the other race weekends). Eventually the Wine & Dine 2021 race weekend marked the return to in-person racing at Walt Disney World.

When Star Wars 2021 was transitioned to a virtual event, runDisney announced it would be the last Rival Run event, with the springtime race weekend to be reimagined with new theming. At first, many hoped for a different Star Wars themed weekend. But it was eventually revealed that the spring race event put on by runDisney would be something altogether different: the Springtime Surprise race weekend.

The theming for each race would call back to now-defunct events previously held at Walt Disney World. 

The Expedition Everest scavenger hunt and 5K race would take place on Thursday night at Animal Kingdom. If I heard correctly, this was the first nighttime race at Walt Disney World since 2015.

The Race for the Taste 10K would take place on Saturday morning. This foodie-themed race came before the Wine & Dine weekend we know today.

The Tower of Terror 10-Miler would return as a daytime race, taking place on Sunday morning. This popular race used to take place at night. 

Runners who completed all three races would also earn a challenge medal.

Registration
Arthur and I planned to run the 5K together, while I would run the 10K and 10-Miler as well, to complete the challenge. 

The 5K and challenge quickly sold out when they first went on sale for the general public on December 9, 2021. On that day, Arthur got into the 5K, but I got bounced out of my registration at the final step. I was extremely lucky to snag a challenge bib when registration opened up again very briefly on January 20, 2022.

Training & Goals
Arthur and I came home from a brief European road trip vacation the day before the 5K. I had run a few times during the trip but I'm still struggling with knee issues. We planned to walk much of the race, with some short jogs here and there, and we planned to stay together for the whole race. 

Expo and Race Day: March 31, 2022
We headed to the race expo in the afternoon. We got our bibs & shirts without issue but the one thing I wanted to buy from the official merchandise area (challenge ears magnet) was already sold out.

Costumes
As a tribute to the Star Wars races, I decided to wear mash-up or mixed-theme costumes for each race of the Springtime Surprise weekend. Instead of dressing up as the Yeti from Expedition Everest, I dressed up as another frigid bigfoot character: the Wampa from Hoth. Arthur dressed up as Luke Skywalker in his Hoth outfit. 

Available in my Etsy shop: Wampa shirt, Wampa skirt, Luke on Hoth shirt [WeRunForFun]

As race time (10PM) approached, the weather was looking iffy. Thunderstorms were predicted. It remained dry as we headed to Animal Kingdom after getting dinner off-property. But in the corrals, the race announcers let us know that the course would be shortened, and that the scavenger hunt part of the event would be converted to a virtual experience.

Arthur and I were in the last corral. When we started our race at 10:42PM, it was 72°F with 83% humidity.

The race course that we should have run

The race course we actually ran

Mile 1: 15:21
I had fun hamming it up for the Photopass photographers.

I hadn't been in a race that went through Animal Kingdom for several years so it was pretty fun. The last time was probably the 2018 marathon, and it wasn't dark when I went through. Pandora is neat in the dark so this part was cool. 

Mile 2+: 18:05, 11:05
We didn't stop for any character photos, but we did stop for some selfies, especially by Everest.

The course was shortened to skip a long out and back on the road, after we left Animal Kingdom. My watch gave me 2.67 miles in total.

After the Race
We headed to the car right after we crossed the finish line, and after a very quick change of shoes and wardrobe, we hit the road home. Nearly the entire drive was in a steady rain, with the second half driving through a torrential downpour that had me holding onto the steering wheel with a death grip. The rain helped keep me awake, for sure, since we were both still struggling with jetlag following our overseas trip.

Recommendation
It's too bad the race had to be shortened, but I still had a good time. I don't prefer running at night, but I know a lot of participants were excited for a night race. It was great running through Animal Kingdom, and I had the most fun running with Arthur in our silly costumes.

It's also too bad they deferred the scavenger hunt portion of the race to a virtual experience. We missed the window (it was available through race weekend) so we didn't get to check this out at all.

Race Amenities: Nice tech shirt, cool compass themed finisher medal
Cost: $474.37 for the challenge

Weekends are for Virtual Races T-Shirt and More

Weekends Are For Virtual Races Gift Ideas for Runners

Weekends Are For Virtual Races Mug – Another awesome gift idea from WeRunForFun! Is your race calendar suddenly empty? Or rather, is it suddenly full of virtual races? With in-person events and large... View on Zazzle
Weekends Are For Virtual Races T-Shirt – What happened to your racing season in 2020? The same thing that happened to everyone else -- races cancelled, races postponed, races converted to virtual events.... View on Zazzle
Weekends Are For Virtual Races Hat – What happened to your racing season in 2020? The same thing that happened to everyone else -- races cancelled, races postponed, races converted to virtual events.... View on Zazzle
Weekends Are For Virtual Races Magnet – Another awesome gift idea from WeRunForFun! Is your race calendar suddenly empty? Or rather, is it suddenly full of virtual races? With in-person events and large... View on Zazzle

Can You Wash a Sparkle Athletic Headsweats Tiara Visor in the Dishwasher?

It's fun and cost-effective to find slightly used running gear, including hats. Many hats can be washed easily in the dishwasher, or top-loading washing machine, using a cap-washing frame to help the hat keep its form. I love Headsweats visors and I'm always on the lookout for a good deal. Sometimes this means finding a previously-owned visor at a marked-down price. Score!

I've washed several Sparkle Athletic Headsweats visors, mostly successfully, with some expected color loss and no sparkle or shape damage. See the following post for details on my previous experience washing these sparkly visors.

Can You Wash a Sparkle Athletic Headsweats Visor in the Dishwasher?

I recently purchased a lightly used Sparkle Athletic Headsweats Tiara visor from Poshmark. Poshmark is an online marketplace where users can buy and sell new and used goods, mostly clothing. 

I washed the visor in the dishwasher as usual. This time, I was surprised to see that the plastic tiara portion of the hat was totally stripped of its sparkly shine! The coating was completely washed off and appeared translucent. There was some expected color loss to the pink fabric part of the visor as well.

Of course, I forgot to take a before image of the hat before washing. This hat still sells new, and you can see how the tiara should be shiny silver on the product images here: Pink Tiara Sparkle Headsweats Visor (Silver Tiara). The below image shows what happened when this visor went through the dishwasher.

The hat was in otherwise good shape. I decided to wear this hat as part of my Star Wars / Princess mash-up costume for the 2022 Princess Half Marathon. I dressed as a combination of Ming-Na Wen characters: Fennec Shand and the title princess for the race, Mulan. 

The pink hat fit nicely with the look. I used black nail polish to bring some life back into the tiara. I think silver or a glitter style polish would work as well to give the dull accessory its shine.

Race Recap: Best Damn Race Orlando 2022

I ran the 2022 Best Damn Race 10K in Orlando on Saturday, March 5th. 

In April 2020 I registered for the 2021 race, which was postponed from 3/6/21 to 7/19/21. Due to a schedule conflict, I deferred to the 2022 race. 

I previously ran the Best Damn Race in Orlando in 2018, when I ran the half.

Training & Goals
I'm still working on coming back after a period of no running, managing knee pain and working on losing some pandemic weight. I finished the Disney Princess Challenge the weekend before. For this race I aimed to start with a five minute walking warm-up and then keep up my run:walk intervals for the distance. 

Race Day: March 5, 2022
I didn't pick up my packet ahead of time, so I aimed to get down to Lake Eola around an hour before the start. I got downtown in time, but ended up in a long, slow line for a nearby parking garage, where I didn't get the car parked until about 6:45AM, 20 minutes before the race would start. Yikes.

I hustled the half mile to the runner's village and was surprised to see that packet pickup was still open with several other runners in line ahead of me. I got my packet, pinned on my bib, and dropped everything else at bag check. With 5 minutes to go, there were still lines for the portapotties! I was inside a stall when I heard the race start. Luckily it was a big field that had to pass through a narrow lane to the start, so I was able to start among the masses.

It was about 61°F with 88% humidity and clear skies when I crossed the mat at 7:10AM.

The 10K route was a wide L-shaped box around downtown. I was surprised to see that the half marathon distance basically ran the 10K course twice, with some added turns for the extra mileage. The half course in 2018 was one big weirdly-shaped loop with no overlaps.

Mile 1: 13:30
This mile took us from the start/finish area at Lake Eola Park down E Robinson Street heading east.

I don't know how this mile was so fast, with the first five minutes spent walking. My run intervals were much too fast, I reckon.

Mile 2: 13:41
This mile continued down Robinson before turning south onto Lakewood Drive, with a short jog east on E Central Blvd before continuing south on Maryland Ave.

Lately I keep my watch on the run:walk alert face, so I don't get distracted by pace, time, or distance. I just run when I'm supposed to, and walk when my watch tells me to. I was really surprised to see my relatively consistent intervals once the race was over. 

Mile 3: 13:13
Next we ran back west on E South Street for about two miles.

Mile 4: 13:31

Mile 5: 13:42
Mile 5 took us past Dr. Phillips Center before turning north to run along N Orange Ave into the heart of the downtown business district. Somewhere along this mile, the first half marathon runners lapped us back-of-the-pack 10K runners. It was fun to cheer them on and marvel at their speed.

Mile 6+: 13:28, 3:38
Much of this last mile was on brick, so I was looking down a lot. We turned right on E Concord then right again on Broadway Ave, heading back to the finish at Lake Eola Park.

After Party
Best Damn Race puts on a great event, with lots of snack, food, beverage, and beer options for finishers. I grabbed a banana, brownie, Diet Coke, and some packaged snacks for later in the day. The village was full of tents giving out samples and selling wares for runners. The after party is a good vibe and it was enjoyable walking around for a bit before I headed out to try to find my car.

Recommendation
The 10K course was a nice run through Orlando, with good support and safety protocols. I'm not a fan of the brick roads and there weren't many, so that was good. Over average swag and after party. Recommended.

Chip time: 1:24:35
Placement details:
55/75 in Age Group; 864/1029 overall
Race Amenities:
Soft t-shirt, no-show socks, personalized bib, nice finisher medal, well-stocked after party, free race photos.
Cost: $33.25 (early tiered pricing)

runDisney Race Recap: Princess Half Marathon 2022

If I'm not into princesses, why did I run the Fairy Tale Challenge this year? With my big birthday travel dreams quashed by the pandemic, I decided to celebrate 50 years a little closer to home by running a half marathon at Disney World.

I last ran Princess in 2017, when it was close to my 45th birthday. 5 years later, the half took place on my 50th birthday. 

I registered for the challenge ridiculously late. Team Muscle Makers for UCMD hooked me up less than a month before race weekend, waiving their fundraising requirements in order to get rid of excess bibs. 

In solidarity with others mourning and protesting the loss of the Dark Side Star Wars race weekend, I dressed as mashup characters for both races. For the half marathon I was Princess Fennec Shand, a mashup of the Star Wars character with the race princess Mulan. My custom shirt also had text on the back that read "This Princess Turns 50 Today".

A big draw for Princess weekend is the half marathon course that takes runners through the Magic Kingdom. The course for 2022 was very similar to the one I ran back in 2017.

Training & Goals
In July 2021, persistent but manageable knee pain became acute. Following a stint in PT, continued stretching and strength training is helping to mitigate the pain, along with cortisone shots. 

Since the start of 2022 I've been actively trying to get back into running shape while also working to lose a bunch of COVID weight. My intervals still have me walking more than running, but I've seen slow improvements.  For this race weekend I knew I was going in under-trained for the half, having only completed one 8-miler as my longest run. I also only managed to run back-to-back once, two weeks prior to race day, with 3 miles followed by 6 the next day. It wasn't ideal. 

So while it's easy to take it slow and steady during runDisney events, being slower means less time for character visits, photos, and other shenanigans. 

My plan for the half was, as always, to have fun! I had some serious anxiety about finishing the half, but I was feeling good the morning of, with little residual knee pain from the 10K the day before, which was great. 

I planned to follow my run:walk intervals on the road, stop for selfies at the mile markers, and mostly walk in the parks to enjoy the entertainment, characters, and atmosphere.

I joined a Facebook chat group where rockstar faster runners posted upcoming characters on the course. Others posted updates on the location of the balloon ladies (effectively the last runners before sweepers pick up participants who are not maintaining the required minimum pace) throughout the race. Being a part of this was a great comfort to me as a slower runner.

Race Day: February 27, 2022
Arthur joined me race morning. We left our nearby Flamingo Crossing hotel at about 3:16AM to head to Hollywood Studios. Runners and spectators had to park at Hollywood Studios and take bus transport to the start/finish at Epcot.

The roads were a bit backed up and we ended up in a slow traffic jam getting into Epcot on our bus. The race start was delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic issues. Once we arrived at Epcot, I went straight to the corrals to find a good spot close to the front. I think I ended up starting in the second or third wave of s4.

It was clear and about 61°F with 100% humidity when I crossed the mat at 5:51AM.

Mile 1, 2, 3, 4: 14:48, 14:42, 14:43, 14:38 (mile splits from Garmin)
Consistent easy run:walk miles here, hoping to bank some time for walking through the park and the inevitable slowdown I'd experience in the later miles. 

This was a long slog from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom with some photo ops, including Merida with Pocahontas in the first mile, and Moana with Mulan in the second mile. Mushu was in the median in the third mile; we'd see him again on the way back. Soon we ran through the Magic Kingdom auto kiosks on our way to the park itself.

With the sun starting to peek through the hazy humidity, it began to feel seriously sticky, but not too hot just yet.

The atmosphere was full of excitement and anticipation for the fun that was to come!

Arthur took this photo while spectating on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

Mile 5: 15:25 
This mile took us into the Magic Kingdom, down Main Street to the hub at the center of the park. 

Before heading inside the park itself, 50th Anniversary Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse greeted us from the train station over the entry gate as we ran on towards Main Street and the castle.

I managed to find Arthur spectating along the side of Main Street for a quick hug before moving on. It's so great to see all the cheering spectators inside the park, and it was a great boost getting a kiss from Arthur.

Running in the parks is the best part of any runDisney event, and I took it all in. I was still feeling pretty good, happy to slow down my pace and enjoy this part of the race.

Mile 6: 17:25
Another mile mostly in the Magic Kingdom, with close up looks at the castle from the front before running though from the back. 

Characters in the park included Sebastian with Ariel, Gaston, and Snow White with Rapunzel. Back stage, Cruella de Vil stood on a set piece obviously designed for Maleficent (the characters switched out).

There were plenty of PhotoPass photographers in the park, but I missed a lot of opportunities. Sometimes runners stopped in my way, or straight up cut me off to get in front of the cameras. My castle photos are all pretty comical, with objects and people blocking my face or my share of the image is about 10% with no castle background. I don't mind, but it made me laugh. By the time we passed the final PhotoPass tents inside the park, I was sure I didn't get any shots at all inside the Magic Kingdom, but there was one okay photo, posted above.

Mile 7, 8, 9: 16:52, 17:03, 18:35
After leaving Magic Kingdom, I felt like my whole body just didn't want to run anymore. First I tried skipping every other run interval, but this soon turned to an all-out walking death march in the increasingly hot sun. At least I wasn't alone. I don't know if ever heard so much complaining during a runDisney event before: about the heat, the boring stretch of road, our poor life choices as runners, etc etc.

We did have some characters through these miles. In the 7th mile we had Elsa with a snow sled and Tinker Bell with Silvermist.

In the 8th mile we had Cinderella with Prince Charming and Princess Atta. Also in mile 8, there was a nutrition stop where volunteers were handing out Honey Stinger Energy Chews. I took a pack of Fruit Smoothie and snarfed them down pretty fast.

Mile 9 was a stretch with no entertainment, just hot sun.

Mile 10, 11, 12: 18:16, 16:24, 18:04
More hot sun. I stopped for a photo with Mushu in mile 10. No characters in mile 11.

In mile 12 we could stop for a photo with Genie from Aladdin. Later, approaching Epcot, Aladdin was out with Abu.

Mile 13+: 21:57, 8:01
We were back stage at Epcot for the first part of the last mile, and I took some photos of flowers and plants staging for the upcoming Flower and Garden Festival. 

Just outside the park, colonial Mickey and Donald were a photo op. I got in line but when it was my turn, Mickey was out for a break.

Just a short bit through Epcot and then it was over the finish line for another completed runDisney event!

After the Race
Through the long finisher chute, I picked up my medal, cooling towel, snack box, water, PowerAde, and banana.

I met up with Arthur for a celebratory beer before heading back to the hotel for a quick clean up.

Lunch was at Ale & Compass and then Arthur treated me to a spa visit, with a pedicure and massage.

Dinner was at my favorite spot to have my birthday meal: Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios. It was a very good birthday!

Recommendation
runDisney is back, and I'm so happy! A Disney race is always a great time, even if you're not the biggest fan of the theming. 

Chip time: 3:46:46
Placement details: 757/840 in Age Group; 11786/12766 overall
Race Amenities: Really nice medal and improved tech race shirt, bonus medal and shirt for completing the challenge
Cost: $355 for the challenge

runDisney Race Recap: Princess Enchanted 10K 2022

I'll admit I'm not too into princesses, and Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend is my least favorite of all the runDisney themes. But. It's always at the end of February, and so is my birthday. I last ran Princess in 2017, when it was close to my 45th birthday. 5 years later, trying to get my fitness back after injuries and pandemic weight gain, I thought I'd run Princess again for my 50th. 

This time around, I signed up for the Fairy Tale Challenge, which means running a 10K on Saturday morning, and a Half Marathon the next day. I registered ridiculously late, signing on with a charity who had leftover bibs with no fundraising requirements. Team Muscle Makers for UCMD hooked me up less than a month before race weekend. 

In solidarity with others mourning and protesting the loss of the Dark Side Star Wars race weekend, I dressed as mashup characters for both races. For the 10K I was Darth Tiana.

The 10K course was mostly familiar, starting as usual in the Epcot parking lot. After early road miles, runners briefly hit Hollywood Studios and headed back to an Epcot finish via the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts.

Training & Goals
In July 2021, persistent but manageable knee pain became acute. Following a stint in PT, continued stretching and strength training is helping to mitigate the pain, along with cortisone shots.

Since the start of 2022 I've been actively trying to get back into running shape while also working to lose a bunch of COVID weight. My intervals still have me walking more than running, but I've seen slow improvements.  For this race weekend I knew I was going in under-trained for the half. It's easy to take it slow and steady during runDisney events, but being slower means less time for character visits, photos, and other shenanigans.

My plan for the weekend was, as always, to have fun! I had serious anxiety about finishing the Half, but I felt good about completing the 10K. I planned to follow my run:walk intervals on the road, stop for selfies at the mile markers, and mostly walk in the parks to enjoy the entertainment, characters, and atmosphere.

Race Day: February 26, 2022
Arthur and I decided to make a weekend of the races. We packed up the car and headed out for the 10K at 2:30AM Saturday morning, getting the car parked at about 3:25.

Since the races have come back in our pandemic world, there haven't been characters at the start of runDisney events. This is disappointing, but understandable. There were a couple of character themed photo ops and 50th Anniversary backdrops out for runners to take photos. I elected to skip these, but I did stop for a quick pic with a Mickey Mouse statue out for the 50th anniversary of Disney World, on the way to the corrals.

Arthur and I parted pretty early, as I wanted to get a good spot at the front of my corral, s4 (out of 5). I found somewhere to stand and managed to be in the first wave sent off.

It was clear and about 63°F with 94% humidity when I crossed the mats at 5:33AM.

Mile 1: 14:04 (mile splits from Garmin)
I intended to start my run:walk intervals after a 5 minute warm-up walk, but it was congested through the first half mile or so, so I started with slow running from the beginning.

Mile 2: 14:36
Shortly after we passed the Mile 1 marker, Tiana was out for photos. Next we passed a marching band, and an empty photo op staging area for Joy and Sadness (Inside Out), who were on a break when I went by. 

Mile 3: 15:11
The only photo op I noticed during this highway mile was Merryweather with Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty). 

Mile 4: 16:46
During this mile we ran over an overpass. For a slower runner, it's great to see all the participants behind, out on the road you've already run.

We headed into Hollywood Studios for some park mileage. A pair of Tower of Terror bellhops were out taking photos with runners -- with no barriers, or visible handler. I wondered if the two cast members decided to be a photo op on their own?

Inside the park, we also had our first PhotoPass photographers for running shots.

When I ran through, dawn was starting to break.

Mile 5: 16:43
We left Epcot, on our way to Yacht & Beach Club. Prince Mickey was out for photos near the exit.

Next up was a long, narrow bit where running was very difficult in areas, due to the number of walkers, and general congestion on the course. A princess DJ was playing "Highway to Hell" when I went past.

The next characters out on the course were 50th Celebration Chip and Dale in their dapper earidescent vests. 

Mile 6+: 17:45, 6:04
During the final mile we had vacation Donald out for photos as we approached Epcot's International Gateway.

Once inside the park, runners were stopping everywhere to take selfies with the Flower and Garden Festival topiaries, already up for the festival that would star the following week.

The Harmonious screens on World Showcase Lagoon had Princess Race Weekend graphics on display.

Inside Epcot I actually stopped for a photo with Clarabelle Cow.

Just a little bit more through Epcot and then it was over the finish line for another completed runDisney event!

After the Race
Through the long finisher chute, I picked up my medal, snack box, water, PowerAde, and banana. I met up with Arthur so we could head to the Art of Animation resort to change clothes and get a little something to eat.

Next it was back to Epcot, where we had lunch reservations at Rose & Crown. After walking around Epcot for a bit, taking some photos and riding a couple of rides, we checked into our Flamingo Crossings hotel. Finally, we headed out for our dinner reservation at Trattoria al Forno in the Boardwalk resort.

An early wake-up for the Half Marathon meant an early bedtime Saturday night! 

Recommendation
runDisney is back, and I'm so happy! A Disney race is always a great time, even if you're not the biggest fan of the theming. 

Chip time: 1:41:04
Placement details: 628/980 in Age Group; 7354/10885 overall
Race Amenities: Really nice medal and improved tech race shirt
Cost: $355 for the challenge

Tower of Terror 10-Miler Character Running Costume: Sally Shine

Are you looking forward to seeing all of the fun characters running during the inaugural Springtime Surprise race weekend at Walt Disney World starting on March 31st? The race weekend brings back some defunct race events, including the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, previously run in the mid-2010s but discontinued after the 2014 run. 

The race theme, the Tower of Terror ride, the Hollywood Tower Hotel setting, and the Twilight Zone spook factor, will surely see lots and lots of bellhops and haunted bellhops running on the course. 

If you're looking for something to wear that's themed to the ride and race but don't want to be a bellhop, consider if you will: Sally Shine, child star and Hollywood Tower Hotel elevator passenger on that fateful night.

Sally Shine appears in the pre-show video on the Tower of Terror ride. Her ghost is later encountered during the ride itself, along with the other passengers who were on the elevator when it was struck by magical lightning from the 5th dimension.

Sally Shine Tower of Terror Child Star Costume Running T-Shirt Dress

Suggested Accessories for Sally Shine Running Costume

Add accessories to your Sally Shine running costume to complete your look!

Pink Running Shorts with Pockets

Found on Amazon

Wear yoga- or bike-style running shorts with pockets to carry your 10-miler gear and prevent any chafing issues during the long run. These shorts are highly rated and come in other colors if you find you like them to wear more often. There is a large pocket on each thigh, suitable for holding your phone and race nutrition. These also have a hidden waist pocket for smaller items like keys and/or cash.

Carry a Mickey Mouse Plush Doll

Found on Amazon

Sally Shine carries a plush Mickey Mouse doll when she enters the elevator. If you don't have a 1930s-era doll handy, pick up a lightweight one like this 9" Mickey Mouse stuffed toy. If you decide to carry this on your run, consider if you'll need a way to stash it if you don't want to have it in your hands all the time.

Curly Blonde Wig for Sally Shine Costume

Found on Amazon

Sally Shine wears her blond hair in curled locks, in a sort of Shirley Temple fashion. If you can run in a wig, consider this option for an authentic look.

Sally Shine Pink Ribbon Athletic Headband

Found on Etsy

Sally Shine wears a pink bow in her hair. The bow matches her dress, and the bow on this athletic headband matches the costume dress! Whether you go for the wig, already have curly blonde hair, or aren't doing up your 'do, this matching headband is a great way to complete you costume look.