Friday, January 30, 2015

Caribbean Running Cruise - we're on our way!

Independence of the Seas
What is it about going on vacation that means you are crazy busy at work for the week before you go? But never mind -- today we're flying to Fort Lauderdale, and tomorrow we set sail!
You may recall that we hadn't really thought about going on this trip -- we loved our Alaska Running Cruise, we adore John and Jenny, and we loved our Inca Trail Adventure... but it wasn't until a Manhattan-tinged evening with J&J that we thought, well, you know, we do love a bit of winter sun...
Even then, this almost snuck up on us... probably because we're absurdly spoiled and had a couple of other trips in between! So a little hurried packing, some last-minute house tidying (can't let our cat-sitter, Andrew, know that we live in squalor!), and an early morning Uber to the airport... and we're on the flight
It's funny... flying on a Friday to Fort Lauderdale means that the plane is FULL of people going on cruises. We can hear others talking about their itineraries, listing ports, etc. -- and clearly, a lot of people are on our ship. I didn't spot any obvious running cruisers, however -- but I wouldn't be surprised if there was someone on board with us!
In the last week or so, people have been asking us about the cruise, and where we're going. I think both of us were a little embarassed to realize that we haven't *really* thought about it much. I mean, we're not driving, we're just passengers! And we know the basic set-up: we get to a port, get off the boat, and run. :) It wasn't until two days ago that we read through the cruise info...
So, in nutshell, here's our itinerary:
Saturday, January 31 - we set sail aboard the Independence of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale at 5pm. We'll have a welcome reception with John, Jenny, and our fellow runners, and then head to dinner.
Sunday, February 1 - we have a morning session with Jenny, then the rest of the day free while we're at sea. Apparently, there's a football game on in the evening? We'll also do our first run -- a 3-mile deck run. At night. With glow necklaces. (Now, I LOVE a deck run -- looping around the ship as it's sailing is pretty awesome. But add in glow necklaces and I'm pretty much in heaven. Spoiler alert - I've brought my Brite Pink RUN HAPPY calf sleeves for this one!)
Monday, February 2 - another sea day, we'll have an afternoon session with John, but we're otherwise free. Dinner in the evening, drinks after.
Tuesday, February 3 - we have an early morning race briefing, then we have a "scenic 10K" in St. Maarten. Should be a lovely day -- we arrive at 8, start running at 8:15, and then have until 6pm to explore the town. (Apparently, there's a local liqueur called "Guavaberry"...) Dinner, drinks, repeat.
Wednesday, February 4 - we have an early morning race briefing, then we're off the ship in Basseterre, St. Kitts for a traditional Hash House Harriers 10K trail run. To get to the start, we'll pile in buses for a 25-minute ride, run in a botanical garden, then celebrate with a traditional Hash House Harrier ceremony and BBQ lunch. We have the rest of the day to explore -- apparently Basseterre has beautiful 18th-century architecture -- before the ship sails at 5pm. Dinner, drinks...
Thursday, February 5 - another early morning race briefing, then we're off on a Pirate-themed Amazing Race! 10K-ish... if you don't get lost... but we'll have a chance to explore San Juan, Puerto Rico as we go. We have less time in this port -- the ship sails at 2pm -- but we *might* just make it out to the Bacardi distillery... Then dinner, drinks, the usual.
Friday, February 6 - sleep-in day! Our race briefing is at 9am, and we'll be off the ship at 10 and start our relay race shortly after. We'll be running four miles each... assuming our little legs haven't given out on us by this point! We'll spend the rest of the day relaxing in Labadee, Haiti -- Royal Caribbean's private paradise. Back on the ship before 6, then dinner, drinks, and some celebrating.
Saturday, February 7 - our last day at sea, and pretty much open. We'll have our award ceremony and farewell reception starting at 3, then dinner, then ... there will be DANCING.
Sunday, February 8 - it's back to reality, as we disembark (debark? surely that's something one does to a tree?), and fly home to Seattle.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Star Wars Rebel Challenge Weekend recap

I can't believe it's taken this long to write this post -- but you know, life gets messy and all that! But we had an amazing time at the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland.

We flew down on Friday morning, finding the expo very quiet -- which was both a relief (since there were huge lines on Thursday when expo opened) and a little sad (a lot of the merchandise was already long gone). But with a little help from friends who arrived earlier, we got the two things we really wanted, the Star Wars pint glass:

And the medal replica pins:

We picked up a couple of the 2015 runDisney Vinylmation figures -- neither of which was the Minnie chase figure, unfortunately -- and were again a little surprised and disappointed that, as with Avengers, there were no "mini medals".

All told, there *was* a lot of swag... THREE RACE SHIRTS!!!! ... plus the pins and necklace we had preordered...

We then ran a few errands, checked in to our hotel, and arranged to meet up with Suz at Trader Sam's for her "finder's fee":

The pool -- and lunch -- and  a nap -- was calling, so we took it easy the rest of the day, only venturing into the parks in the evening. (Frozen Fun? Sure!)

Saturday morning, bright and early, we made the trek across Downtown Disney to the starting area for the Star Wars 10K. Really fun to see all the costumes as we made our way up to corral B.

By the time we got there, the hosts were already well into their chatter, and had been joined by C-3PO and R2-D2. The hosts were wearing costumes -- cute! -- and soon introduced the national anthem, and then the wheelers left. It occurred to me that the wheelers would finish the 10K circuit before the last corral started.

Corral A left very shortly behind the wheelers, and then it was our turn to move up. The corrals felt large, but not too crowded. We took off to a nice animation:

... but there was some clumping just before the start, as a lot of people clearly tried to get clearer versions of this shot:

(On Sunday I noticed that the hosts weren't in costume... and there were no characters on the stage when we passed. Disney is Very Good at making quick changes...)

I loved the 10K course -- we did a half loop of the parks first, which gave us nice broad roads to run on while the pack stretched out a little. Then we turned and ran into the park, which I especially liked because I didn't think we'd ever been backstage in that area before. In fact, I got completely turned around and wasn't sure where I was. Another benefit of this course: I can't imagine that they needed to sweep many people, since the runners were off the public streets before mile 2.

LOVE this 10K course!

Favorite race highlight: running through California Adventure, we saw a LOOOOOONNNNGGGG line for a character photo -- with BOBA FETT! As we got closer, I shouted "I LOVE YOU BOBA FETT" and he turned to look at me, and did a little nod of the head... you know, the one that sets all the girls' hearts a-flutter...

After all the waffling about my costume, I was really happy with it -- though my thought of making the bandolier bag lightweight sorta backfired -- it was so light that it was difficult to actually keep on, so I spent much of the 10K holding on to it so it didn't fall off. For the half, I simply pinned the bag down, and pinned the bandolier to my shoulder and back so it didn't move around. Problem solved.

We didn't manage to attract many photos during the race (hey, it's only a 10K), but we picked up our medals and snapped this photo:

We were sitting on our balcony, planning out the rest of our day, when we decided that rather than having a nap first, we'd go straight to the parks. When we got there, we discovered it was actually Extra Magic Hours... but the very nice castmember took a look at us, with our medals and bibs and outfits, and let us go in. Very nice.

We spent a quick hour riding all of "our" rides, and then went back for a swim an a nap.

(Do you see a pattern? Swimming and naps always feature pretty highly in our Disneyland trips...)

Sunday was another Very Early Morning -- the 5:30 starts for runDisney events is a little hard to get used to! But we walked over to the start area again. More amazing costumes -- none of which I captured on film (because I always feel funny about that). Yeah, I'm a dork.

A little trouble getting into Corral B -- people weren't moving up, so we couldn't squeeze into the back, but we knew that as soon as the corral was called forward, we would be fine.

The start was pretty uneventful, other than the fact that a guy in a FULL CHEWBACCA SUIT started in the same corral, which made me feel like I just hadn't tried hard enough (ha!). BTW, the guy in the suit was near us for much of the race. As Wil pointed out, maybe the guy is training to run Badwater and needed to practice running in crazy heat?

Star Wars Half Marathon course map

The half marathon course was different again and I really liked that we entered the park backstage in a new area. I love that Disney makes different courses for each of their events. Other than the all-too-brief time in the parks (again, no Castle run-through), my favorite part of the course was when we ran down what I assume was the old Main Street in Garden Grove. There was a cute Mexican restaurant with a guy standing outside dressed as Elvis. When we go back down in May for Tinker Bell, we're going there for dunner one night.

For obvious reasons, there were more spectators out for the half -- we did run past one high school band that had a pretty amazing tauntaun mascot costume, and another where the cheerleaders got Very Excited about my Chewie-esque costume and did a lot of shrieking. Bless.

Having not run long since, oh, the Avengers Half Marathon back in November, I got pretty tired out by mile 10. But Wil kept us moving (and, hey, we wanted to stick with the guy in the Chewie suit!), and we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand and with a nice shout out in a not-too-shabby 2:32.

Chewie gets a medal!!!

Amusing: as we headed down the home stretch, a guy shouted to Wil: "Don't let the Wookiee win!" Sadly, due to the vagaries of timing, Wil "beat" me (place-wise) both days... despite posting identical times. Sigh.

Things we loved:
- all the costumes!
- the 10K course was great. (Between Tinker Bell and Star Wars, this was by far the better 10K course.)
- the half marathon medal -- we didn't wear it much (preferring to wear the Rebel Challenge medal in the parks), but having it be a replica of the Yavin medal is fantastic.
- stormtroopers stationed on the ramps of the Carousel of Progress
- multiple stormtrooper photo op stations during the half marathon
- the "free hugs" Chewie and Stormtrooper who stood out on Harbor Boulevard ALL MORNING during the half
- the cosplay group out during the half -- loved seeing so many different costumes, all so well done!

Room for improvement:
- personally, I could, I dunno, TRAIN for a race again someday...
- post-race photo ops -- I love when they put up "selfie backgrounds" so you can take your own post-race pic... but I can see that that makes Marathonfoto unhappy...

And the usual wishes:
- more characters
- more time in the parks
- more entertainment outside of the parks

Monday, January 19, 2015

Star Wars Half Marathon weekend: the costume quandary

I love Disney. I love Star Wars. I love half marathons. And I love making costumes. So prepping for this race was, for me, all about the costumes.
From the very beginning, I dreamed big. Since we had two races, we had two opportunities for costumes! Wil wanted to run in his hilarious "Slave Leia" costume... but we feared that that might not be as family friendly as Disney would like. Besides, I couldn't quite figure out how I would construct -- or run in -- a Jabba the Hutt costume. I, on the other hand, really wanted to run as Boba Fett (my favorite character), and pitched the idea of Wil running as Han Solo in Carbonite. Somehow, Wil was opposed to that idea...
The obvious, super easy option was to run as a pair of Ewoks, but I knew there would be dozens of Ewoks and I didn't want that.
Then I veered to another of my favorite characters: Admiral Ackbar. Wearing a creamy white tunic was hard to stomach... but I would have, had I been able to figure out how I could craft a head that I would be able to run in. This made me so absurdly sad.
I even thought about my third favorite character, Wedge Antilles. But I didn't want to wear an all-orange outfit, and, really, it's only funny if you also have an x-wing attached to your body.
So, finally, last weekend, totally pressed for time, I settled on making Ewok costumes. But you know what? When I put light brown, doeskin / chamois on my head and cut an opening for my face... it looks an awful lot like a hijab. Now, I wouldn't mind if someone who doesn't approve of headscarves thought I was wearing a hijab. But I wouldn't want anyone to think I was mocking them.
I thought, well, maybe adding the ears will help.
Nope. Furry hijab.
At which point I decided to just pack it in -- i felt defeated, felt like I had failed.
I was truly, honestly sad about this, and confessed to Rebecca how sad I was. (All the while acknowledging that this was a Very Silly thing to be sad about.)
But at some point in over a very nice birthday lunch she said something about the Cheshire Cat costume I wore last year despite how simple it was to put together and BAM. I woke up on Thursday with an idea
I knew that in our costume vault I had a brown furry suit that I could use as fabric, though I wasn't sure quite what all I would do with it. I brought it upstairs and started plotting, then cutting, and made a few plans and a short shopping list for supplies.
After work I hit the fabric store, then set up my lovely new sewing machine and, literally, let the fur fly.
Three hours later, this:

I know it's not the best costume ever. It's not even my best costume ever. But it's funny, totally runnable, and it makes me happy. I might even wear it both days (apologies to my Boba Fett hoodie, but I will wear you in the parks, ok?)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Time Trial / Baseline

Before Wil and I headed out of town for New Years, I bundled up (it was c-c-c-cold!) and went to the high school track to take a baseline measurement: my time for a mile. 

I have never been fast. I doubt I will ever be fast. But one of my running goals this year is to run a mile in under 8 minutes. (Yeah, I know a lot of people for whom that is an easy pace. But I have to remember to run my own race.)

I walked briskly to the track, then finished warming up with a slow trot around the track, and then started my watch and took off running. 

Lap one:
Boy, it sure is cold. Maybe I should have warmed up more. My legs feel heavy. 

Lap two:
This was a dumb idea. Not sure I can run a mile today. Whine. 

Lap three:
Pant. Wheeze. Whimper. Why is this so hard today?

Lap four:
Leave nothing in the tank. But don't throw up. 


Not super consistent, split-wise, but I was pleased that my last lap was my fastest. 

I have a long way to go to drop over a minute off my time, but at least I know where I am starting!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Impressions of Paint Nite

A long time ago LSF Suz and I bought "deals" to go to Paint Nite -- one of those  group painting + drinks evenings. We didn't manage to actually SELECT a painting or an event until mid-December, but we finally went this week. 

We chose a painting called "Impressionist Winter":

The event was at the Ward Johnson Winery in Seattle. Instructor Gregory Copploe signed us in, got us settled, and pointed us to the bar. Clearly we were going to need a little liquid inspiration!

(We had a very nice Syrah, btw.)

Before this sort of event I am always anxious. Yeah, I know, dumb. The last time Suz and I went to a painting night (which was also the first time, I guess) there were a total of four people there... But this event was sold out - 40 people - and CLEARLY they would all point and laught at me, right?

But we settled in, sipped wine, gave each other puzzled looks ("where is purple supposed to go?!?"), and had an okay time. The instructor was funny and friendly, if a little overstretched with 40 pupils. We decided that he didn't give us much instruction because our paintings were SO DAMN GOOD. 

The best part was having a chance to spend an evening with Suz! That and doing something outside of my comfort zone. Oh, and did I mention that this crossed another "groupon" off my list?



Happy artists:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Race Ideas

there's a lotta potential here....

The start of the new year means ... there's a whole year worth of races to think about!!!

Of course, we already have some events planned (you know how fast a RunDisney race sells out), but there's still plenty of room in the calendar to fill in some other races, places, ... and states.

So, in a perfect world, here's how the year will shape up.


Anaheim, CA
Anaheim, CA
Seattle, WA
I've wanted to run one of this guy's local
races for years - maybe 2015 is the one!


1/31 -
Independence of the Seas
Sedro Woolley, WA
A small local race organized by
a great local running club.


Arlington, WA
We ran this a couple of years ago - great little
race that raises money for a local charity. And cupcakes!!!


Seattle, WA
Part of a monthly race series that I've never managed to run. Nice to have a backup race for April.
Louisville, KY
This race is the same day as the Country Music Marathon... if I can swing working that race I *could* make it.


Anaheim, CA
Anaheim, CA
Sage Rat Run Half
Sunnyside, WA
MASSIVE medals, and a fantastic local race
Sage Rat Dirty Rat 25K
Prosser, WA
Run 2 days, get three medals? Well, duh.
Seattle, WA
Really intrigued by a timed event...
can I keep moving for 7 hours?


Seattle, WA


Seattle, WA
I swore I would never run this race again, but there aren't a lot of other local halfs in July.


Coupeville, WA
I've considered this race for years -- nice scenery in a state park, plus the proceeds go to the Senior Class of the local high school.
Seattle, WA
Part of the monthly Magnuson race series that I've never managed to run. Maybe in August?


Day 1
Baker, MT
Center of the Nation Series
I have thought about this series for a couple
of years -- it would really help me fill in almost
all of my remaining "middle" states. Less
perfect this year, since it includes a 6th day in
Colorado, but still a chance to re-visit places
we went on our first road trip.
Day 2
Bowman, ND
Day 3
Belle Fourche, SD
Day 4
Sundance, WY
Day 5
Chadron, NE
Day 6
Sterling, CO


I'll be attending in Philadelphia from October 5 - 7 ... so why not pick up some states? These are all potential races.
Hollidaysburg YMCAHalf Marathon
Hollidaysburg, PA
not likely...
Wineglass Half Marathon
Corning, NY
highest priority
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon
National Harbor, MD
second choice
Grete's Gallop Half Marathon
not likely
Punxsutawney Shadow Run Half Marathon
Punxsutawney, PA
only for Punx.
Hartford Half Marathon
Hartford, CT
high priority
Shades of Death Half Marathon
Allamuchy, NJ
low priority
Newport Half Marathon
Newport, RI
high priority


Kent, WA
I've wanted to run one of this guy's local
races for years - maybe 2015 is the one!
Seattle, WA
Now THAT's what I call a Turkey Trot, eh?


Tacoma, WA
We ran this in 2014, and enjoyed it, for the most part. So potentially this race in 2015.