Star Wars Rebel Challenge 2015
Location: Disneyland - Anaheim, CA
Cost of Race: Approximately $330 for both 10K and Half Marathon
Race Dedications: In the memory of Christopher Hannington (brother) #ForChris, in honor of Arianna Bongiorno #ForAri and in gratitude for the Garrison Carida (part of the 501st Legion).
We departed Las Vegas Thursday evening after both Angela and myself were off of work (at last). I must admit that I felt like a kid before Christmas waiting for that work day to finally be over. It would take us almost 4 hours hours to reach our destination which was a Super 8 on Disneyland Drive. We loaded up the car with our bags and a cooler filled with clementines, water and snacks.
The hotel itself was not the super fabulous hotels of Disney acclaim but it was clean and relatively cheap at $80 per night. It was also really close to the race start line. Roughly a mile. If you are doing a Disneyland race I would recommend it for those reasons. After the expense of the race itself, the added gear I purchased and then the cost of Disneyland tickets, parking and food.....well, you get the picture.
On Friday morning we got up relatively early but not at the crazy ass times to follow over the course of the next two days. The hotel had a continental breakfast so we made our way there first but the fare was less than stellar. The coffee was worse. We knew that REAL coffee must be had before the day could go on.
We headed to Downtown Disney to go to the Expo at The Disneyland Hotel. Before doing so, we made sure to grab coffee Starbucks. This Starbucks is huge and has the best system of serving people I have seen. They have it roped of like a theatre and at the end of that line there was someone to direct you to the next available register to take your order. Kudos to one guy Sal for being super friendly to everyone that came his way. He was a gem. Despite the number of people we saw there over the three days it remained clean and orderly. Once we were caffeinated (I had my first falt white by the way - yum), we went over to the expo hoping to beat the lines I saw the day before on Facebook. Surprisingly it was a relatively quick in and out to grab our bibs, and once in the expo the crowds were busy but doable.
Expo is like crack to runners. Seriously.
Needless to say I had to get my fix again this year and needed to find a skirt to complete my Darth Vader outfit. My tutu made by my friend Heather did not arrive in time thanks to the U.S. Postal Service but I remained steadfast in my goal to pull off Darth Vader for the 10K. I would be going relatively straightlaced for the Half Marathon, wearing only a tee with the Imperial logo. I found the best tutu replacement at the Sparkle Athletic book in the form of a skirt which cost roughly $25. It was light and airy and though I usually stay away from running in new attire on race day I was pretty confident it wouldn't be an issue since it was so light and would be obver my tried and true Nike running pants anyway. I also had to stop at Bee Cause to pick up new running shoe charms and they had two cool ones I really liked. One was the 19.3 Star Wars themed charm and a Penn State charm. For buying the two charms I was able to get a third charm for an added $5. Total cost was $20.
I then picked up a Darth Vader tee at Grassroots sports for $19.44. It was a Champion tee and is super comfortable. We then hit up the official merchandize area and I picked up a RunDisney Vinylmation ($14.95), C-3PO Mickey Ears ($17.95), Rebel Challenge Pin ($14.95) and a Star Wars Rebel Challenge Magnet ($14.95). I also picked up 2 Sparkly Soul Headbands, one was sparkle red and the other was imprinted with "May The Sparkle Be with You". I honeslty cannot remember how much they were and cannot find my receipt but they are listed on their site as $15 each.
Once we were done shopping we stopped by a few of the photo opportunities inside of the hotel before heading out to our next stop - Disneyland. I pre-purchased the tickets for both Angela and myself and including parking it was $220. Ouch. I was determined to hit the park this time since we didn't do so when we went for the Inugural Tinkerbell. I think we were too nervous back then since that was our first half marathon.
Disneyland is awesome. I was so excited about entering the park that I nearly tripped on the curb. Our very first stop: Start Tours. This ride was reburbished from the previous ride to be a 3D Start Wars adventure that did not disppoint. Out of all the rides we did this was the longest wait but it was roughly 30 minutes which was not terrible. We actually had a great experience with lines this trip and barely had to wait longer than that for any of the remaining rides or attractions including characters. We saw Goofy, Mickey, Thor (who was drop dead gorgeous) and Captain America. Our timing was impeccable yet again when we arrived to Main Street just in time for the start of the parade. We also did the Alice in Wonderland ride, Innoventions (where we met Thor and Captain America), enjoyed Mickey's House and lots more though I know we barely scratched the surface! There are so many rides that we didn't get to. I defintely need to go back again!
I did FINALLY get to try an Dole Whip. I now know what all the hype is about. Holy toledo that was delish! We sat on a park bench waiting for the parade to begin again but decided that sicne we saw the earlier one that we would just head out to explore more. It got colder at the end of our stay in Disney so we picked up long sleeve tees on Main Street U.S.A. Mine cost about $40 but it was a ncie momento to have of our time in the park. After we left Disneyland we headed back to where our car was parked at the Anaheim GardenWalk to grab dinner. The wait at P.F. Chang's was attrocious (an hour and a half) so we head to California Pizza Kitchen next door where we were immediately seated on the outdoor patio. It was still cool but they had heat lanterns so it was rather pleasant. We had a chips and salsa/guac appetizer and I had the Margherita Pizza (price not listed on online menu).
Once we got back to the hotel we started prepping for the race but stopped once we heard the popping sounds outside which we finally remember were the Disney fireworks that go off every night at 9:15 PM. I am glad we were back at the hotel and not at the park because it allowed us to keep most of that prep time since all we had to do was head back upstairs after it was over.
The start of the 10K was so close to our hotel that we were able to sleep a bit longer than I had thought we would. If by sleeping later you mean 4 AM. Despite knowing why the races start at 5:30 AM, it still does not make it any easier to get up at the crack ass of dawn to run them. Once we had our gear on, which we dutifully laid out the night prior, we headed out into the dark to the start corrals. We met two nice runners along the way though I now forget their names. One was rather sick still with a cold and had just done the races I WDW so I hope she did okay for the Rebel Challenge depsite bing tired and under the weather. We even stopped to get a picture with them. In fact we got aton of pictures from the official photographers which I have yet to donate blood to be able to pay for. Once I do I will add those to this page for viewing.
For some ungodly reason Disney had me in corral A for both races even though I did not submit a time when I registered. Angela was in Corral B for the 10K so I headed there with her. It was rather easy to get to, plenty of race volunteers leading the way, and a long line of porta potties before we hit the corrals.
We went into this weekend knowing we weren't going to PR so the stress of that was off. I felt pretty good before the 10K and was looking forward to running through both Disneyland and California Adventure (I need to visit that park too).
The majority of the race took place in Disneyland and California Adventure. The first mile and a half was street running, with a slight incline as we passed over the highway. Where the first mile maker was sighted and I knew I was past that dreaded first mile! Every mile marker had a different backdrop and I did try to high five them all as is my tradition but did have to skip a few because of pictures being taken. After that we came along tunnel which was filled with the sounds of Darth Vader’s iconic breathing. It was way cool! After the incline after that tunnel we crossed the courtyard between Disneyland and California Adventure where spectators were cheering us on as we entered Disneyland.
We passed Mile Marker 2 and made our way in to Frontierland, where standing in front of the Mark Twain Riverboat was our very own Chewbacca!! We took pictures a lot on the course and the only line we skipped was Chewie's because it was too long. We through through Frontierland and in to Fantasyland.
As we entered Tomorrowland, and headed toward the far end near Innovations, I noticed the sounds of familar breathing. It was man machine himself, Darth Vader! With a few Stormtroopers standing guard, Lord Vader was ready for the runners. OUr timing paid off because here was only a few people ahead of us. That is right people: I GOT MY PICTURE WITH LORD VADER!!!! Kid in candy store. No word of lie. It was awesome.
After the awesome photo session with Vader we headed onward. We hit the area that is for Cast Member’s only.Alot of the staff gets up early and comes out to cheer on all the runners. One guy told us he was up at 3 AM but didn't care, he was having a blast cheering on runners. A lot of the cast members gave us HIGH FOURS with their Mickey Gloves. This area also had a few tar Wars graphics projected on to the sides of buildings. Very cool! We exited across the courtyard once again to make out way in to California Adventure. Mile Marker 4 was almost in sight!
We passed the Hollywood Tower Hotel (aka the Tower of Terror), through a Bugs Life which was very neat and we made our way towards Paradise Pier. There we saw a long line for most famous bounty hunter, Boba Fet. We decided to just take a quick picture as we ran by and kept on going. We ran on to Carsland which I am sure my husband would love to see. We were at mile 5 by then so since the end was in sight we didn't stop much here on out. We made our way out of the park, across Disneyland Way, and in to the parking lot area for Downtown Disney. As we towards the Disneyland Hotel we spotted the Mile Marker for mile 6. Shortly after, we saw the two storm troopers at the finish so we sprinted home! Finish time was 1:27:22. Not bad considering the stops we made.
After the 10K you know that we HAD to stop and get coffe and then breakfast. We did wait about half an hour to eat at Le Brea Bakery Cafe but it was worth it. We had a nice chat with some runners while we waited. Got to love the running community for that reason, can jsut chat about a race with strangers and not feel awkward in the least. We each had the bellini ($8) and I had the Eggs any Style ($13). It was deicious and the service was pretty good. We were still chilly but we were seated under heat lamps so it was comfortable.
After breakfast we headed back to our hotel where we crashed for a few hours of shut eye. Angela had to wake me up at 3 pm just so I would be able to sleep later on. We took our showers and then had the leftover pizza from California Pizza Kitchen whcih hit the spot. We also finally dug into our race snack packs too. We went through the drill of getting our gear laid out (which I did a terrible job of). After that we watched TV and just relaxed. We knew that 3:30 AM would be here before we knew it.
Gear Worn for 10K:
Nike Pants (Black)
New Balance Tank
Black Cape (from an old halloween costume I had - just trimmed it and added eye hooks for easy on/off)
Sparkle Athletic Skirt
Injinji Socks (black)
Mizuno Wave Creation 16
Red Sparkly Soul Headband
Gawd dang 3:30 AM is a crazy stupid time to wake up isn't it? As I mentioned I laid my gear out poorly compared to the night before so I had a bit more hunting to do then I would have liked but after we got ready we were out the door at our planned time of 4:30 AM so that we could have time to drop off our bags at gear check. Since we were cold the day before once the race was over we made sure to bring warmer jackets. We watched the pre-race activities at the finish area and got a close up view of Darth himself as he entered and exited the stage.
After that we headed to Corral C and it was then that I had a bit of nerves kick in. Though I have been training for this and pther events it still was my first half marathon since April 2013. Soon we would be going through 13.1 miles of Disneyland, California Adventure, and the streets of Anaheim California!
Once we got going though I felt fine. The first part of the course was familiar since we did the 10K the day before. I knew were the inclines were so it was easier to mentally prepare for them. The spectactors, volunteers and ChEAR Squad members were out in full force and it made this race a hell of a lot of fun. There was a portion in the city portion of the race that died down in the spectator part but not for long. I saw people handing out candy and water from their homes along the race route, holding signs of encouragement, overall very positive. At one point we saw the elite runner heading to their mile 12 and I was in awe of their skill. It looked effortless though I know it wasn't.
Mentally I was doing okay. I was tired, but determined. I complained to Ange that my back and hamstring hurt so I knew somewhere I had overcompensated for pain in my leg which resulted in my back hurting. We stopped at an aid station and I slapped on some BioFreeze. It helped with my back pain a bit so I was glad that she had spotted that aid station.
We stuck to my 2:1 ratio of walking/running until we met up wit Angela's friend Jenn (who awesomely came out to show her support). Angela and Jenn ran consistently then and I made sure to keep them in eyesight. At between mile 8-9 we started to see the 501st legion members (and a few other Star Wars costuming groups) line the route. Hands down my FAVORITE part of this portion of the challenge. I enthusiasticaly told one guy who had the 501st written on his shirt that I was running to say thanks to the Garrison Carida and showed him my patch. He replied "Way to go!" Cool!" We took shots with the storm trooper with him and high fived the entire line of Imperial members and Rebels as we took off. I yelled back "501 forever!". They do so much for their respective communities. You really need to check themout on Facebook too.
After the adrenaline rush I was fine as far as my leg and back went but my feet hurt like hell. Never had that happen before. I kept trucking but at about mile 11 I was just fatigued. I refused to give up though and stuck to my intervals even if i had to slow down. I was so happy to see the finish line area and started to pick it up. I saw the Storm Troopers, c-3PO and Darth Goofy but they were on each side so I could not high five either without slowing down to avoid others so I just headed home. I FINISHED. That awesome bling was now mine! Finish Time: 2:53:43 not far of my usual time and no PR, but I was happy with that performance after running a 10K the day before.
After we took a few more pictures and grabbing our gear, we headed over to Starbucks yet again. Once we ad our javaand a snack to tide us over we went back to the hotel to pack up. We were going to head home right after grabbing a bite to eat at Downtown Disney. We planned to go to ESPN but the wait was long and we were starving so we went to the Rainforest Cafe and ate there. We got the Cheese Stick appetizer at $10.79 and I ordered the BBQ Cheeseburger (sans cheese) at $14.99. The burgers were tasty and there was not uch left but the cheesesticks were a bit overpriced in my opinion.
Gear Worn for Half Marathon:
Lust InknBurn Pants
New Balance Tank (white with black Imperial Logo)
Injinji Socks (grey)
Mizuno Wave Creation 12
General Observations (as posted on Facebook; January 19, 2015)...
1. I heart Disney. The bastards know how to take your money and yet leave you feeling really good about it. Sure, I may be broke but I saw Mickey & Goofy, hugged Thor (Hellooooo Hottie), looked into the eyes of Captain America (sigh)....
2. The volunteers, Disney Cast Members, and spectators were incredible. These people get up at the crack ass of dawn just to help motivate complete strangers as they run. AWESOME SIGNS, CHEERS, CANDY, bands playing....anything to keep us moving!
3. The Star Wars cosplayers were beyond amazing. Dozens on the race route between mile 8-9 when most of us were starting to feel it (myself included). Personal kudos go to my faves at the 501st. Nothing more motivating than not wanting to let them down...
3b. Another kudos to the Garrison Carida for helping me out and it was an honor to represent you in my small way on race day.
4. Things got left behind or lost in the mail (twice), and kudos to Angela for giving UPS the "what for" on her lost item. Don't mess with her!
5. My legs are tired but my heart is full from the happiness one weekend brought.
6 . Dole Whips are the shiznit.
7. I may have to make my own Storm Trooper costume. One day....
I have a suspicion that we may end up doing this race again it was that fun. Aside from leaving my blanket behind(thankfully they shipped it) and Ange's ipod being sent the wrong UPS method issing the race entirely (I ran with no music so we could keep each other busy as we ran), and my delayed tutu this weekend went off with hardly any issues.
Despite the costs, and some of those minor issues I had on the half marathon, I would say this gal had a magical time!
the half marathon, I would say this gal had a magical time! -Karen