Race Recap: Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon!

Last weekend, Darin and I ran the Star Wars Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.  This was my second Run Disney event.  Last year, I ran the inaugural Dark Side themed race.  It was my first half marathon, and my first time ever running 13.1 miles.   Last year, I had no idea what I was doing and I was on my own.  Unfortunately, my excitement lead me to being ill prepared.   All runners had to be at the busses at 3am.  I forgot my banana and had nothing to eat before my corral started around 6:30 am.  While Disney did offer a spread at the waiting area, I also forgot to bring cash.  During the run, I didn’t really have anyone  to share my excitement with and when I was finished, it was hard to convey how amazing the experience really was.

This year was different.  This year, Darin was running with me.   I also learned my lesson, so when we headed to the busses this time around, we were prepared with bagels, peanut butter and drinks.  This year, when I saw something cool, I had someone to look over at and geek out with.  This time, I wasn’t the only one giggling like a kid at the excitement of running through the parts of that park that are generally only seen by cast members.

As per Run Disney custom, we dressed up for the run.  I was Darth Vader and he was  a Storm Trooper.  One thing I did really well last year, and repeated this year, was that I made my costume first and foremost running gear.  I did not want to sacrifice comfort on the run for looks.  I also knew that like last year, I would want to peel off layers and ditch them, so the costume was made in easy to remove on the run segments.

Having the costume easily come apart as needed on the run came in especially handy this year as it was record heat for that race.  Several areas of the race were flanked with paramedics assisting people with hydration or heat issues.  We made sure to take electrolytes and water at every station, which is not something I generally do but knew it was necessary this time.  One woman from the mid-west told us she wasn’t sure how she would make it, it was so hot and humid.  She pushed on but it was clear she was having a hard time.  Since we are Florida natives and knew to keep hydration a priority, we didn’t really have any issues.  We also fueled about 3 times during the race with Hammer gels.

One thing that made having a partner this time a bit more challenging, was navigating the crowd.  When I was on my own, I just dodged and weaved however seemed right.  There were over 16,000 people at the run.  When you are trying to stay together among hundreds at any given time, that makes things a little more challenging.  When we got to the finish line, I was relieved.  Somewhere around mile 10, I did something to my knee when trying to get around someone and I was quite ready to be done.  Thankfully, the Run Disney people are amazing to their runners.  After we crossed the finish there were people there ready to help patch us up.  I got an ice pack strapped to my knee and we headed in to get snacks and headed to the bus.

After showers, some breakfast and a much-needed nap, we enjoyed the rest of the day at Epcot.  You better believe I treated myself to a caramel frappuccino too!




Life, Triathlon

What’s your return on investment?

When an investment, of any kind is made, it’s important to figure out if that investment is worth the return.  This is something usually thought of in dollars and cents, but lately I have been thinking of ROI in many other ways.  Triathlon, like any sport or hobby, can be expensive but as I gain more experience I start to realize that if I consider the return it really helps in my decision making.  I look back and I made mistakes, but as always I am trying to learn from them.

When I first started running, I already had most of the important stuff from my days of Muay Thai and BJJ.  I had sports bras, tank tops, rash guards and shorts or capris.  The one thing I really didn’t have, was a good pair of running shoes.  The sneakers I had weren’t exactly cutting it, but at the same time I didn’t want to pay $100+ for shoes.  I also didn’t really want to go into a running store and be hounded by some sales person.  Now that I think about it, it was probably more the sales person than the money.  I never like dealing with sales people.  What did I do?  I researched, of course!  I spent probably hours online reading about running shoes, what’s good for what kind of foot, etc.  At the end of the day, I realized that I can pay $60 for a pair of shoes that won’t make it long, or I could pay $100-ish for a pair that would get me 400 or more miles with proper form and comfort.  No brainer there.  The return on  investment was sound.  The trouble was I still had to face the sales person issue.    Even if it was uncomfortable, the return on that would maybe be the experience or learning something new.  I went to Runners Depot and to my surprise, the people there were very helpful and not at all pushy.  It was a great experience, and now we run with them and their group almost weekly.  Not to mention, if you buy shoes there and run in them but they don’t work well, you can swap them for something else within 30 days or something like that.  I have done so already and it was a great experience.

When it came to cycling clothes, I messed up.  I shopped around and found that most really good cycling apparel is really expensive!  I still can’t find much information on how long they should really last, so I had a hard time wrapping my mind around paying $100 for cycling shorts.  I mean, I don’t think I have paid that for one piece of clothing other than a dress for a wedding.  Could they really do so much for my butt that I need to pay that?  Took me a while and some research to figure out why you don’t just get a big old padded seat for the bike, but that is a story for another time.  Anyway, I ended up finding a pair that were on sale for $50 but that was still a little much for me.  Sports Authority was going out of business, so I checked there and found some for like $20.  SOLD!  Sure, I could tell the fabric was a little different and the cushion thing wasn’t as soft as the fancy bike shop ones, but who cares, right?  My butt cared.   The shorts didn’t do very well on the ride, and they certainly didn’t do well after the wash.  I followed the instructions to the letter but they still were wonky after the first wash.  Not to mention the bands seemed to shrink and cut into my legs after that.  I tried another cheaper pair, which didn’t work out either.  Long story short, I ended up getting the $50 dollar quality ones that were on sale.  So, I spent somewhere around $90 on one good pair and two useless pairs, when I could have just bit the bullet and spent $50 to start with.  Lesson learned? No.

When it was time for my first triathlon, I started researching tri-suits.  My go to is Amazon, so if it wasn’t available there, I wasn’t getting one.  I ended up finding one that was pretty good quality, not what I really wanted but again, I could not justify the $200 price tags.  The suit worked out pretty well for my first race, especially for the bargain I got, but on the second one, I was not thrilled.  I could tell it was not going to hold up as well as I had hoped.  I waited for the season to end, knowing that the suits would be on clearance.  Sure enough, I was able to order a very nice suit that was typically $250 for only $80.   Even better, I had some issues with their customer service when I tried to process an exchange and ended up getting it for free!  All it cost me in the end was a little time!  Great return there!

Speaking of time, I have been really making sure I get the return on time spent on things.  When I train, the return on the time and effort is immediate.  My happiness levels are way up, I feel great, and my day generally goes much better when I start the morning with a workout.  Other than some cuddle time with the boys, training is probably where I get the biggest return on my investment of time.  I have started to eliminate things that don’t give me as much of a return.  I don’t really watch much television anymore, and I don’t miss it.  Once in a while, we will sit and watch a show as a family and just un plug, but that’s about it.  Don’t get me wrong, when Game of Thrones comes back on, I will invest that hour each week and enjoy it.  Otherwise, if I am stir crazy or need to unplug, I will read or go for a walk.  Something other than just plugging my brain into an electronic device.  This is something I am really trying to help D2 with too.  I’d much rather him go out and have a Nerf gun battle than get on the iPad.  I’ve cut back on Facebook and Instagram, though I do like to post.  I think it helps me be accountable to myself.  I  have filtered whose posts I see so that I get inspiration rather than the woes and recipes for all too tempting desserts.  Time spent with the family gets some of the best return, but I am also trying to work on the quality of that time.  Yes, we can sit and watch a show together once in a while, but I would much rather go for a walk or sit at the table and talk about our day rather than stare at an electronic device.  Nerf wars, bike rides and Legos have a much better return than video games and television.

I have some work to do when it comes to making sure I get the bang for the buck on gear sometimes, but I’m happy to say that while I could probably do even better, I am pretty happy with where I am with regards to investments on time.  At one point, I even questioned the time spent on this blog.  I want to post weekly, but with my midterm this week, I struggled to find the time.  Then I thought about what it brings me, and hopefully one day brings my son.  I enjoy going back and reading over how I felt during training or races.  I go back and learn from my own experiences all over again.  It’s a way for me to share my experiences not only with myself, but with others.  That is time well spent for me, and hopefully time well spent for those that care to read it.  Time is limited, so I challenge anyone reading this to take a moment and think about how you will spend your time today.  Are you getting good return on that investment?