Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rebel Challenge Recap

After what seemed like a long week at school (though really just four classes over three days), I packed up and headed out to the West Coast for Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at DisneyLand! I must thank the executive staff of the Maryland Journal of International Law for lining up our 2L deadlines so perfectly with both the Avengers and Star Wars weekends, so I could feel like I really accomplished something before taking a vacation. I left BWI early in the morning, and had an hour layover in Nashville. After a terribly long flight (almost six hours!) from Nashville, I finally landed in LAX, and we were off to Anaheim! After a pit stop at In N Out, we fought for parking at Downtown Disney and headed to the expo.

Expo
The Expo was set up in the DisneyLand Convention Center, just like in the past. The layout was pretty standard, with the Star Wars carpeting and touches. After picking up our packages and getting photos taken with our bibs (required for Rebel Challenge participants), we went straight to the runDisney booth to get some pins. These could have been pre-ordered, but not when you checked out for the race; it was added online later, as well as pre-ordering a special jacket and the D&B bags. I don't even remember getting an email when these things were available. Bad planning on Disney's part, I think.

After checking out (we got there around 3:30, so there were no lines for anything), we checked out a few of the other boots, but decided there was nothing else we really needed at the time. Since we knew it would be an early morning, we drove back to my in law's house and joined the family for dinner. After an early morning getting to the airport, I was in bed by 9pm.

10K
4am came early for the 10K on Saturday. We parked in the Mickey and Friends garage, and walked over to the start line. Apparently it was backwards from the layout used for Avengers, so we had to run to catch up to the very end of the A corral before they released B. Sometimes I enjoy all the pre-race announcers and interviews and things, but this time, I was so cold I didn't mind going straight into the run.
The 10K course wound through some of the outer roads around the park, then through backstage areas and both of the parks before finishing by Downtown Disney. There were a few very short overpasses, but other than that, the course was completely flat. The weather was a perfect 55-60, so this race felt great the whole way through!
There were a few water stops on the course, and lots of great cast members through the whole thing! Most of the park was off limits to spectators, which was a little lonely, but all the special groups of cast members (way to go, third shift custodial!) made up for it. As with most of the 10K courses, there weren't to many photo ops. We stopped in FrontierLand to get a picture with Chewie, and Boba Fett was in California Adventure. All of the other photo ops were smaller characters and barely had a line.
One of the best moments was coming out of the backstage area and into the Cars area in California Adventure. It was absolutely stunning! We hit there right after the sun started coming up, so the dramatic lighting wasn't even necessary.
Heading through the finish area was about as expected. After getting our medals, we stocked up n water bottles and powerade, then skipped the photo area and headed straight for the exit. I was hoping they would have heat blankets at the finish so I could bring it the next morning, but they didn't have any out. Being only a 10K, we ended pretty early and headed back home to shower and nap before meeting up with my best friend at Orange Hill for their awesome brunch buffet. K definitely thinks that crab legs are a good way to recover.
Overall, I absolutely enjoyed the 10K! I have been starting to really enjoy shorter races lately, and feel less like they're a waste of time. If you find the right ones (not Disney ones), it's much more of a challenge to keep a fast pace than a longer race! I really think Disney should increase the slots they have for 10Ks, since they're a lot better to run, costume-wise, and easier, since they don't require as much training. A lot of times I see people walking the halves, and think it would be just so much easier to do a 10K than suffer through 13 miles of walking in a scratchy tutu (but that's just my perspective).

After a very long brunch, K decided he needed some more gels for the half and pocket-sized body glide, so we headed back to Downtown Disney and the expo. Since we had already paid for parking in the morning (couldn't it be nice if Disney had a discounted 2-day parking pass for these races?), we parked in the structure again, and wandered around with my friends. I had wanted to go to the parks during the afternoon, but K didn't want to spend too much time on his feet. So much for that plan. We continued our eating trip, and had some beignets, and also picked up an adorable candy apple for K's dad. As if all that wasn't enough, we headed out for all you can eat Korean BBQ for dinner, and didn't get home until after 10. I almost fell asleep at the table as K and my best friends bf tried to out eat each other. Because more meat is the best way to carb load.

Half
Sunday morning came even earlier, since we were determined not to dash into the corral at the last minute. Oh well, it happened again, and we were off so fast I didn't even get my GPS watch on before we started. Once it kicked in I ended up pausing it at one mile and restarting it at mile marker 2. Even after that, it was about .10 mile off the official mile markers, and I wasn't the only one who noticed. When my watch hit a mile marker, I could hear all the buzzes and beeps around me as well, so I know everyone else was a little off.

The first four miles of the course wound through the parks, much like the 10K. We did stop for a picture with Luke and Leia, but, even though we were in the A corral, by the time we got to Darth Vader at Star Tours the line was HUGE. I did like seeing random stormtroopers all over the park, because who else is going to guard the carousel? Main Street in DisneyLand was conspicuously empty, though, which was a little sad.
I wasn't sure how the rest of the course would be, since it was all outside of the park. K had some horror stories about the wind on the last course, and claimed it was "boring," which I always take with a grain of salt whenever he says anything about running. When I saw the course, I was definitely a little disappointed that it wouldn't be going through the Angels stadium.
Like the 10K, though, it was mostly flat, wound through some neighborhoods and downtown Garden Grove, and then back towards the park. The long stretch down Harbor had a ton of bands and cheer squads on it, as well as spectators, but was open to traffic on both sides. I didn't realize this at one point when I darted across the street to get a port a potty, and the traffic guard almost had a heart attack. Sorry!
Running down the main street of Garden Grove was also a lot of fun, and some group was passing out Red Vines! I LOVE Red Vines, and have been known to demolish a box of twizzlers during race recovery. Whatever group this was, you guys are the best! I also remembered trying to get into a bar in GG once when I was in college by telling dead Elvis jokes. It didn't work.
Around the Civic Center the local chapter of the 501st was out in full force, and they had some awesome costumes! Costumes are obviously the best part of the prequel trilogy, and I really admire all the people dedicated enough to make such awesome reproductions! There was another group of storm troopers and bounty hunters about a mile away as well.
The last couple miles were along Harbor again, and by this time, K was pretty wiped. Since we had agreed to take it easy for this weekend, I stuck with him and we walked-ran the last few miles. There were more people with Red Vines, like the JG training group, and I love these people too!
The finish was fun, and Darth Goofy was there giving high fives. I wish more of the classic characters had been out on the course, but I guess we'll just have to plan a trip for Star Wars Weekends to see Leia Minnie!
After getting our medals, we went through another line to get the Rebel Challenge medal. Apparently they were checking our  bibs against the pictures taken at packet pickup. Is bib fraud that rampant? Maybe the transfer/refund policy should be a little more lenient. My best friend was waiting by the stage area with some fresh coconut water (gross)  and we went to get some Jamba Juice.



Recovery
After showering at my friend's house in HB, I wanted to take a nap and warm up, but the boys wanted to get some food. Obviously. They lured me to In N Out again by promising me my own milkshake (in strawberry). I had almost forgotten it was so early when we got there and it was the first time I have ever seen In N Out without a line. Delicious. After that, I definitely took a nap before heading back home. I packed quickly that night, and had to get up super early the next morning to catch my flight out of LAX. After a long flight back through Atlanta, I finally made it home, and crashed on my couch. As usual, I am exhausted, but not too sore, and, after some foam rolling, ready for the week!

What I wish I had packed: I wish I had brought my own pillow. Travel can be rough, and I think having my foamy contoured pillow I usually sleep with would have helped me sleep better. I also wish I had packed more options for my race day outfit. I brought semi-costumes (I'll have pictures later), and wish I had brought some arm sleeves or something to keep my arms warm. While I was running, I was fine, but as soon as I stopped, I was shivering. Thank goodness for heat wraps after the half! I also wish I had packed some bagels or something for breakfast. I brought my own gels (since I hate the Clif gel on the course), but a little more fuel earlier on would have helped out. I also remembered why I usually don't drink powerade on a run.

As usual, Disney lives up to the saying, "every mile is magic!" Even though I, and K, were a little underprepared for a challenge, I enjoyed every part of the courses, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! Now I can't wait for the Wine and Dine Half in November; maybe this year I'll actually get that Coast to Coast! 

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