Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon 2017 (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

I feel like a lazy person not getting this out earlier.  But that's life and here it is.  Thankfully I made some notes about it so it won't be "dark, boring, hot, done".

If you missed my previous posts, please take a moment to catch up.
The morning started early again.  We didn't get on the first bus this time as we knew we weren't going to stand in line for any pictures.  Franklin was not running the half, but was there to see the start and both Kelly and I were in different waves again.  The time up to the start of the race was the same as all of the Disney races.  Like the 10k they split each coral up into different groups and let us go a few minutes apart.  The last coral didn't leave till about 50 minutes after the start of the race.

The first couple of miles were very unforgettable.  We started in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom and headed down towards Animal Kingdom.  They had a school band near the start and then a couple of photo ops.  The first was R2D2 with a not too bad of a line, but since I got a picture with him during the 5k, I decided to skip him.  The second was of an Ewok.  I really wanted to stop for him, but the line was super long.

But really what was annoying about the first few miles was that we were on back roads where it was very dark and hard to see much around you.  Every so often they would have spot lights, but that was it.  They did have a section where they had laser lights flashing around and they ended up flashing me in the eyes.  That was not fun.

By mile 3 it was already getting hot and humid as the sun started to come up.  I wished I had thought to bring my towel to wipe the sweat off my face.  About this time I decided to put on my music as I was really bored.  I did see a couple of fun "costumes" that people had.  One guy was in full Dark Helmet costume from Space Balls.  Man do I love that movie.  For the first Disneyland Star Wars race I dressed up as Dot.  And then another person had a Dunder Mifflin Fun Run shirt from The Office.  That is one of my favorite episodes and I would have never of thought to buy one to wear at a race.

They had a couple of non-character photo ops that I thought were fun.  The first I came across was from Star Wars A New Hope where they were stuck in the garbage compactor.  They had this setup at Disneyland and it still is a fun photo op.

About 4 1/2 miles in we finally reached Animal Kingdom.  Yay!!  I was so bored up till then, that I was glad to have something fun to look around and see.  I was doing a quick clip for my vlog and right as I finished I heard someone ask if I was Heather.  I looked around and it was Chaitali.  I knew she was going to be there and had kept an eye out for her.  I saw some of her Instagram pictures so I knew what she was wearing but she found me first.  It was so good to meet her and have someone to talk to for a few minutes through the park.

We really were in the park for about a half a mile, which seemed like a shorter time, especially having someone to chat with.  After we got through the park, we split our ways as we were doing different intervals.  As we rounded the lake outside the park we had this most beautiful view.

The other non-character photo op that I stopped at was the Emperor's chair.  There was a nice person there that was wiping down the chair after each person because we were all drenched in sweat from the humidity.  And I really felt like this, just hot and tired.  My IT Band was bothering me a bit at this point as well.

At this point we were making our way to Hollywood Studios.  Again there really wasn't much to look at on these back roads.  They did set up a few movie clips from different Star Wars movies throughout the course which was a nice distraction.  I think my times got slower near there so I could watch more.

Somewhere during mile 7 I really got into a funk.  I really kept trying to use my mantras to keep my spirits up, but they really weren't helping.  There weren't any spectators out in these areas as there isn't a way for them to get out there.  There wasn't anything interesting to look at except for road and other runners.  It was just getting hot out.  Thankfully at this time it was still a bit overcast so we didn't have the full sun beating down on us as well.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, just to get to Hollywood Studios.

By mile 9 the sun was starting to peak out from the clouds and just was making things hot.  I kept seeing signs for Hollywood Studios and kept thinking that we had to be close but we never seemed to get there.  It felt like a mirage, you could see it and you kept moving towards it but you never got to it.

We finally got into Hollywood Studios a little after mile 10.  The 501st Legion had a group set up again right before we entered into the park.  Like the 10k the day before, we were in and out of that park in less then half a mile.  It did help my funk once we got into the park, even for a short time.  I was in a park and would be done in less then 3 miles.  That was something to be happy about.

The rest of the course was the same as the 10k from the day before.  We made our way out of the front of Hollywood Studios to the path that leads to The Boardwalk.  Once I hit The Boardwalk I knew my funk was gone.  I really do love running there.  There are so many people that come out to cheer you on that it always picks me up.

And then we finally made it into Epcot.  It was great to see Spaceship Earth.  I knew the finish line would be right behind that and that thought got me to the finish line.  We actually were in Epcot about the same time as the other parks put together.

The 501st Legion group was also right before the finish line like they were for the 10k.  A last pick me-up before the finish line.  As I rounded the corner I pushed as much as I could to finish the race.

We went through the finisher's chute and collected medals.  I got my medal for the half marathon.

Then I got one for the Rebel Challenge.

Then I got the black Coast to Coast (which I still don't get why).

Then I got the mother of all medals.  The one I do both the Star Wars races for.  The Millenium Falcon.

Overall I really did not like this course either.  There was so little time in the parks and after spending that much money for the race, I would like a little more time in the parks.  Last year's course wasn't the best one I have done, but it was a ton better then this year's.  Would I do it again?  Yes, I already signed up.  I had a great weekend with my friends and expect the same for next year.  And there is always a chance that they will change the course again.

After the run I went back and cleaned up and rested for a bit.  I headed back to Disney Springs to find someplace to eat.  I walked around some and ended up back at Paddlefish.  Their crab fries were so good that I had to get them again.  I also read tons of reviews on how wonderful the Fish and Chips were so I had to try them out (minis the chips as I was having the crab fries).  I do have to say that the fish was good, but not for the price I paid.  I think next time my whole meal will be the crab fries.

And as I made my way back to the boat to take me to the hotel I was greeted with this beautiful sunset.  A perfect way to end my trip to Disney.

Have you ever done a race where the course just bored you?  Do you do races just for the medal?


  1. I am a medal girl - I just run for those medals but a nice course does make a difference. I am glad you had a great weekend with friends even if course wasn't the best (and you collected a ton of medals!!!)

  2. I did Tink last year for the medal, but I loved the course since the 10k is so park heavy. I've moved away from the Disney halfs since there's so little park time compared to time on the roads.

  3. Your race photos are too funny! Love them!! Great job with this race, I heard it was super humid! That's a medal well earned for sure!

  4. I'm glad we got the chance to meet and chat a bit during the race :) Your photos of the trash compactor and emperor's chair are great! I didn't stop for any of the photos and really wish I had. Oh well, lesson learned for next time.