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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Clash Run

This fall I took on a new challenge, something that has been festering in my brain for a while. I decided to coach the local Girls on the Run (GOTR) team. The team of 8-10 year old girls meet twice a week for ten weeks in the park down the street from my house -- a quick half-mile bike ride away.

How hard could it be for me to volunteer 20 times? Harder than it should have been. There were the knowns (a week in Belgium and Paris) and the unknowns (the death of my mother-in-law). It was tough for me to build momentum and learn names. Then all of a sudden, or so it seemed, we had our Halloween session, our practice 5k, our volunteer day, and were finishing our season.

I won't post pictures of the girls, since I feel funny doing so in this forum. They have all signed photo releases, but I don't think their parents thought that extended to my family blog. 

Sunday the 10 weeks culminated in the Princeton Clash Dash 5k at Stuart Country Day School. There were 464 runners -- many GOTRs and their running partners. I thought I was teamed up with the fastest girl, but she talked her sister into running with her. Good thing since she beat my PR by at least one minute per mile. Instead I gave encouragement where I feel it is most needed -- the back of the packers. After the start I caught up to Miss D and her mom, a runner. Then I caught up with Coach Julia and Miss S and her friend, Miss C. We were a small pack until D and Julia caught a wind and took off. 

S's friend C was a great cheerleader. I motivated S by encouraging her to dash to the next mailbox, or stop sign, or some other marker. C kept up with her friend, all while jogging in place. When we made it to the finish line around 52 minutes, I snapped this picture of her crossing the line (I'm okay with posting backs of heads, just not faces). The more I tried to zoom, the farther she got away from me.


I will link to my time HERE for anyone truly interested, but I knew I would be so slow I didn't even turn on my running app. I did nail the CLASH part of Clash Dash:

In all honesty, it was because I was cold and not because I was trying to clash. I also wanted to wear my new running skirt. This was my fourth weekend in a row waking early to race. It was also the first morning I had to be outside with temps in the 20s in many months. I wore two sweatshirts, plus the GOTR coach shirt, fleece lined running pants, two headbands, socks, and the phone holder (the pink arm band). I did not get warm until I ran 2 miles in my neighborhood at my usual pace afterwards.

One more side story, and yes, this post is really out of order.
I did the responsible adult thing and went to Princeton Pacers on Friday afternoon to pick up my bib. I was assigned #41, as in I was the 41st person to pick up my bib. You can clearly see in the picture I am wearing bib #363. As I was walking to the start line I realized I left my bib at home. As this is a small, local race I decided to ask if I could receive another bib rather than calling Don to see if you could drive the 15 minutes to bring me the bib (I had at least 30 minutes before the start, but doing the round trip would have meant skipping the coaching responsibilities). Yes, they could handle that. Whew! That's when I realized what a mental block I had about the event. I tried to change my attitude and have some fun.

Coach Julia made the awesome purple headbands for everyone on the team.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New Running Skirt Made from Race Shirts

Last year while running the Perfect 10 Miler I spotted someone with a really cool skirt -- it was made up of running shirts. An idea was born. In 2011 and 2013 I ran the Disneyland Half Marathons and absolutely hated the "free" shirts. They were boxy. Had odd stitching. And were ill-fitting. Still, I kept them because I loved the events.

I asked a friend if she could make it. She agreed, but it never panned out. In the end that was good thing because when I ran the Disneyland Paris races this fall I had the opposite problem -- the shirts were cut way too small (about an inch smaller all around than in 2016, too late to take another picture now).


I sent Rebekah this picture:


And this weblink:

https://trailbrat.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/make-a-running-skirt-from-your-race-tshirts/

And some money.

And she sent me this:


The skirt was a huge hit! For once I was the one being stopped and photographed along the route, instead of the other way around. People asked me how I did it (I said a friend made it for me). I promised to blog about it and put in some tags. I wore it with Sparkle Shorts underneath because they have the best pockets. The skirt is super comfortable, fun to wear, and easy to wash.

I heard two men say they wanted one, too. There were many overheard conversations about "is that what I think it is?" and "how did you do it?" and "I want to do that" and "I was going to turn them into a quilt, but I like this idea better."

Seamstresses, this is a niche market just waiting for your needle and thread.


Disney's Wine and Dine

While in Paris after completing the Disneyland Paris Semi Marathon I had a crazy idea -- if bibs were available for the Wine and Dine in November it would be fun to go to Florida and run another half marathon. Makes perfect sense, right? Even though I hate running 13.1 miles.

I found out the Wine and Dine switched from a really cool nighttime race, to a daytime race. With that came a sharp decline in the number of people interested in running the event. Not only were bibs still available in September, they were still selling bibs the day before the event at the expo.

Another selling point for me was that in-between the race in September and the race in November I already planned to run the Perfect 10 Miler and the Trenton 10k, so at least I wouldn't have to run any long distance runs without water stops. Don and I ended up running 8.8 miles in honor of Honey Bunny's 88 years.

There were a couple of other thoughts. We had nothing planned that weekend. I thought about signing up for a couple of races for that weekend, but I hadn't. My parents were free to taxi Ashley. We had no plans on the calendar -- a rare weekend. And perhaps the most compelling reason of all, we could spend time with Don's former mentor's widow Linda and her family. In 2016 Don drove down to say good-bye to Linda's husband Andy as he was dying from cancer. This gave us an "excuse" to see her -- not that we should need an excuse.

Plus the medal is gorgeous!




We briefly looked into flying down and renting a car, but decided to drive down after work, go to the expo, run the race, and drive home. 

Don worked up the stats after we came home:
Driving 35 hours (18 down, 17 back)
Sleeping 9 hours (1 1/2 Saturday morning, 6 Saturday night, 1 1/2 at a rest stop on the way home -- to be honest, I slept more in the car)
Racing 3 1/2 hours 
Racing related 5 1/2 hours (2 1/2 before the race, 1 post race, 2 at the expo)

More than a bit crazy.

The expo was fun. I left with lights for my sneakers -- I've been wanting a way to see at night and the Night Runner 270 should fit that bill. I've only tried them once during a Girls on the Run practice, so I need to try them on a real run before making an official endorsement. I wanted a Sparkle Skirt but did not find any I wanted to spend that much money on.

I was disappointed I could not find a single piece of Chateau to Castle merchandise, even though they had plenty in France. At the very least they should have had leftovers to sell. I later learned only 100 people did the "chateau" part first. I saw someone on Twitter complaining about the lack of Coast to Coast merchandise, at least they had something. We had to explain the Castle to Chateau challenge to the manager at the RunDisney booth.


After swinging through Downtown Disney, I mean Disney Marketplace, I mean Disney Village, I mean Disney Springs, we hung out with Linda, Amy, and CJ celebrating Amy's birthday. It was nice having a relaxing night to catch up. Also nice was that we gained an hour of sleep that night, and went to bed at a decent time. Though with the alarm set for 2:30 AM (in anticipation of leaving Linda's by 3 AM for a 5:30 AM start -- she only lives 10 minutes away, but Disney said you had to be at the start by 4 AM if you wanted a bus from the finish line to the start line).

I wore a skirt I have been dreaming about since last year's Perfect 10-Miler when I caught a glimpse of someone else wearing a similar skirt. It is made up of ill-fitting race shirts. Rebekah finished it in time for me to debut it in Florida.

Don wore his Disneyland Paris Demi Marathon shirt and boring shorts. We were there super early, so we stood in a half an hour line to have a picture taken with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There wasn't much else to do at that hour. The corrals were not even open yet. Then we stood on line seemingly just as long for the port-o-pots. Don was assigned Corral C, but stepped back to Corral E to run with me (it is based on anticipated finish times).

Each corral was subdivided by three. Each corral had a fireworks start -- a much bigger display than the wimpy ones we had in Paris. I did miss my Techno Europe hosts. Don didn't care either way.

Finally we were off. 

The course felt long. It was well over a mile before we saw our first characters (Tinkerbell and friends). It was still dark by that point. All that waiting and the picture is overexposed. We passed Pirates, then paused for a picture with King Louie from "Jungle Book." By then the sun was out, just to give you a sense for how long it was between characters.

We did not enter our first theme park until around Mile 5, but we did pass the sewer and trash treatment plants. 

Our time in Animal Kingdom took us through Avatar -- their new section. We paused to look around since we don't have plans to return to Walt Disney World anytime soon.





That fun seemed to be over about as quickly as it began. We were back to the parking lot by 7:15. We could see people entering Animal Kingdom, presumably for breakfast. For the next three miles (or so, seemed longer) we ran through the parking lot and along the highway. We did see the Country Jamboree Bears -- it is rare by this point in our lives we find new characters to take a picture with, so we stopped to pose with them, and also with the penguins from Mary Poppins just because.


We climbed the hill and saw the infamous Green Army Man barking orders, but did not accept any of his challenges. I was pretty done by this point. It was in the 60s, humid for November, grey (which in hindsight was a good thing since the sun was not beating on us, but in the moment felt dreary), and the scenery was BORING. I was pretty done by the halfway point, which emphasized in my mind I really like the 10k distance and should find more races in that zone.

It did help mentally to see there were a lot of people behind us. I'm not competitive by nature, but this meant that the Balloon Ladies were far behind us and we had a really good shot at finishing before them and earning the bonus medal.

Finally around the 10 mile mark we entered Hollywood Studios, which is slated to get a new name one of these days.




We waited much too long for the Genie to return from his break. We were told it would be a minute, but was closer to 5. Had we realized, we would have kept on running. By that point, though, I knew we were way off from our Disneyland Paris pace.



I had been warned about just how narrow the section between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT is. This was one of the wider stretches. I had no idea how close those two parks are located. At this least this stretch was far more scenic than the other non-park stretches.

We were already past the 11 mile mark. I knew the EPCOT section was about a mile. That's how close they are to each other.

EPCOT was the most fun. Having the last stretch in the park makes up for the earlier boring parts in parking lots. Well, almost. While running through the parking lots I was reminiscing about Paris and how their course took us through the town near Disney, through the hotels (which are an easy stroll to the theme parks), and back stage -- but really cool back stage where we saw parade floats and firetrucks instead of a sewage treatment plant. This is likely to be our last WDW run race.

Finally around the 12 mile mark we were in EPCOT. There were lots of characters. Lots of cast members holding flags. Lots of PhotoPass stops. And, because I am slow, lots of guests entering the park. 


Made me think of Peggy Sue

Finally entering EPCOT
 Thus we began our counter-clockwise tour around the worlds -- starting in England.


 My skirt was a bit hit in France.





May as well stop for another photo. I like to get a castle photo with each Disney race, but this time we did not go through the Magic Kingdom. Now that Mickey's Hat is gone, not sure what the iconic pose is in Hollywood Studios. Does anyone have any ideas on that one?



We finished as we started -- together.




Time to find our medals! 



Our bracelets entitled us to the Castle to Chateau medal -- or as I keep calling it the Chateau to Castle medal since we ran in France first. These medals were only allowed to be handed out by the team leader. She is the one who told us only 100 people were doing this. Don thinks I got the last one since he didn't see any others in her hand. There was a problem with medals running out in Paris, so I would not have been surprised if there was a shortage here, too. Fortunately we both left with one.













The walk to the car felt really long. My leg had cramped up around mile 12.7 (in Germany). I stretched it and finished strong.

Another thought -- the mile markers all declared the time, which was both good and bad. When the time was around a 12-minute mile I thought "we are flying." Conversely when it was a 19-minute mile I spent much time trying to calculate where time was lost (how many pictures did we stop for? how many characters did we see? what else slowed us down) and impacted my mental ability to relax and enjoy. At no point did we see the Balloon Ladies, and that was our real goal.

We posed for a last picture and headed to the car to clean up, eat, and drive home. First, though, we had to go through the gift shop because it is Disney. Yes, vendors in the finish area.

A picture of the three medals together:

Love the one from Disneyland Paris and the Castle to Chateau. I think the Wine and Dine one is the worst Disney medal I have ever seen.

Another big change this year was the famous post party. When the race was held at night, you were greeted near the finish line with the drink of your choice. Instead we were told to return at 10 PM for the post party. By 10 PM we were halfway to New Jersey. Bummer. They did give us a $15 voucher to make up for it.

Fortunately the drive home, though long, was uneventful and we arrived in time to pick up Ashley from my parents' house and take her to school. The bed never looked so good.

Later we learned a Brazilian woman came in first overall -- she beat every man, which rarely if ever happens in major races. We also learned a man died near the finish line.

Kenny the Pirate loved the medals more than we did. Must admit seeing the challenge medal on his blog puts it in a whole new light.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thompson Street 2017

I was in Bordentown on October 30, so I took a sneak peek at Thompson Street. The first year we saw it, the theme was Alice in Wonderland. Ahh... Last year we took a sneak peek before Don's surgery, and the theme seemed to be spiders. Ew.... I wasn't sure what to expect this year. Saturday's weather was perfect for decorating. Sunday it POURED (over five inches in some places near us, not sure how Bordentown fared). Monday and Tuesday have been super windy.

This year's theme is Peter Pan. Here are pictures so you can enjoy it for yourself.


The lead house -- yes, there is a house behind that pirate ship

















I wanted to ask him how long it takes to make his 100s of
Jack O-Lanterns, but I dared not disturb him.



It is the little details that make it all the more special.
If Don and Ashley are up for it, we'll return in the next day or two and see how things changed. There is a lot to absorb.

UPDATE: Don and I went back last night. It is quite a party scene on Halloween! They even had a mini Mummers Parade through the crowds.


185 pumpkins -- less this year due to the carver's case of tendinitis






Chris, why don't you move while playing the bass?