Star Wars Half Marathon: "That's No Moon, That's a...Sandwich?!?"
The Star Wars Galaxy
Female Luke on a Puppet Tauntaun (spectator)
The half marathon was finally upon us. From what I remember, it was the hardest day to wake up. But we were in Corral E again and needed to be at the front so we were once again up at 3:30am. For the past couple of days I had been hoping to get my picture on the RunDisney Facebook page; they post pictures of people in good costumes and a couple of my friends got their pictures up there and I was hoping the half marathon would be the day I would get my picture on the page. Tyler speculated that it was because I was in costume but he wasn’t. So he agreed to wear my Chewbacca hat to increase our RunDisney Facebook chances. (We didn’t make it on, but the sentiment was touching).
We walked to the corrals. Tyler checked a bag with an extra shirt to change into so he could remove his sweaty shirt immediately after the race. It was another cold morning...and I think I was suffering the most this morning. I think it was because we could see the end at this point that everything became slightly worse. The finish line was in sight and we were ready to get there…but we had to wait to start and we were impatient.
But finally we did start! We crossed the starting line just past 6am and were on our way to be half marathon finishers. Again, I had to pee. I wanted to wait to use the spectacular Disney bathrooms but when I saw the line to the port-a-potties was non-existent I couldn’t resist. It was getting pretty painful and annoying trying to hold it in. It was an interesting experience because it was still dark out and there was no lighting around the toilets so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. AND, in trying to figure out the lighting situation, I forgot to lock the door though and someone opened it on me! Oh well, it felt SO good to relieve myself and I was ready to rock and roll.
The course through the park was similar to the previous two days, but the crowds were much larger. And a lot of them were walking. It was very tough getting around the walkers in the park and at times, Tyler and I were forced to walk because there was no way to get around them. I even heard stories of people wiping out trying to get around the walkers. I was looking forward to getting onto to the wide roads in the latter part of the course.
But running through the park was still an incredible experience. The sunrise was stunning! And being able to watch it come over the Disney attractions was breathtaking. The rocket in Tomorrowland almost looked like it was about to take off! The photo ops were endless. The most characters were out this day; Luke and Leia and the Gammorean guard were a fun addition! But the lines were long once again, and we wanted to finish with a good pace. We did, however, get to take a professional picture in front of the castle since the line was only three people deep. And we took a nice selfie in front of the Mickey Ferris wheel. I was happy we got to do that.
We passed Jena and friends at mile 3. They started up in corral D and took their time as this was not their first Disney race. They were taking a photo with the very cool mile 3 mile marker; all the mile markers were lit with colored lights and decorated with lightsabers. Jena and her friends took LOADS of pictures and finished almost last and made sure to stop at every mile marker for a pic. Sounds like fun, but again, we wanted that good pace and finish time.
After mile 4, we were finally out on the roads…and so were the spectators! I was so happy to see how many people came out to cheer on the runners! It gave me a huge boost. It was around this point that I realized we still had 9 miles to go. That’s no short distance. I started focusing on relaxing into the run, breathing, keeping my shoulders loose, and keeping the speed light, easy, and consistent.
I was worried that once we were out of the park, the run would get harder. There would no longer be fun Disney things to enjoy and we would just be seeing the boring city of Anaheim. When there are attractions to distract you, the run is easy. The less there is to look at, however, the more you (or I at least) focus on the fact that I’m running, which gets into my head and stresses me out. But there was no need to be worried as there was never a shortage of people cheering us on.
I don’t know how many high school marching bands/cheerleaders came to support us but it seemed like every school in the Anaheim area sent their kids out to play/cheer for us. There were people holding out clever Star Wars signs, people dressed as Star Wars characters cheering us on, and even a Chewbacca giving out “Free Hugs” (I didn’t indulge as he looked like one of those dirty Hollywood Blvd performers…be he was a hit with most of the other runners).
The miles flew by and suddenly we were at mile seven, more than half way through the race. I don’t think it would have felt as fast without the bands, cheerleaders, and spectators, so they were truly a blessing to me. There was a street called “Newhope St.” that we passed which I thought was super clever and I wondered if this was an intentional addition to the course. Since Tyler sweats profusely, he brought a second shirt and changed at the halfway mark. Back into the race the marching bands were still lined out on the side of the road and I don’t think we saw our last band until mile 8 or 9.
A real treat along the course was the presence of the 501st. The 501st is a Star Wars cosplay group that specialize in making their Star Wars costumes as accurate as possible to the movies…and then some people put their own personal twist on the costumes. This was definitely THE place for photo ops. Tyler and I took a Stormtrooper selfie, but again, I couldn’t justify waiting in line for pictures. And boy, were there lines. I mean, the costumes were just incredible. There was one in particular that I loved but the line was long. It was a woman dressed up as Queen Amidala, in the black dress with the feathered headdress. It was amazing. I took pictures as we past her.
We kept on running, down a cute little cobblestone street at one point where Elvis was outside a bar cheering for us, and let our feet carry us onward. Around mile 10 I felt that familiar twinge in my knees, the one where they say, “Hey Kristyne, how bout we don’t run anymore, ok?” I was worried. We were at mile 10 and if I had to stop running at this point I would be devastated. I was determined to finish the race running. I had crossed the finish line walking at the LA Marathon and to cross the line running was the achievement I was hoping for with this race.
I told Tyler how I was feeling and he suggested we walk one of our 3 minute run intervals and asses how I felt afterwards. We did that and after 5 walking minutes tried another 3 minute run. The knees were tired but I didn’t feel the pain. I felt ok to continue running and our mantra became “Only a 5K to go.” I could run a 5K no problem. It was here that we ran into the guy we met at the photo line the day before. It was so great to run into him! We chatted for a bit, wished each other luck with the remainder of the race and he took off. We kept an easy but consistent pace and didn’t try to over exert ourselves. 3 miles was still 3 miles. There was also a couple dressed as stormtroopers running close to us and we joked we were chasing each other in an action sequence (since I was dressed as a rebel pilot).
The cleverest signs were on this last stretch of the run. “Stay on target,” “Do it for Alderaan,” and “Stop, and we can rule the galaxy together,” were some of the best I saw. I saw an advertisement for “Fresh Off the Boat,” and just had to take a picture with it because it was so weird to be seeing Constance everywhere, even down here in Anaheim while running the Star Wars races. Constance was a main actress in the web series "EastSiders," which I produced. Tyler had hooked my Chewbacca hat around his belt and I noticed that it looked like he had somehow killed and scalped Chewbacca and was wearing the scalp like an American Indian.
The bands were back for the last two miles and around this time Tyler and I realized that we could possibly finish before 9am. We made this our goal, and this desire carried us to the end. We turned down a street lined with the most magnificent palm trees. We were so happy to be close to the end. Tyler requested that we listen to the gummy bear theme song to give us that extra final push. We also listened to the Batman theme song and the Duck Tales theme song somewhere earlier in the race for some extra energy but I forget when that happened.
Another thing Tyler did throughout the race was recite Star Wars quotes. Only, he would change one of the words to “sandwich.” So “That’s no moon, that’s a space station,” became “That’s no moon, that’s a sandwich.” And “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” became “these are the sandwiches you’re looking for.” He never explained to me the reasoning behind it, but I never got tired of laughing at him. I think my amusement increased his energy some. I’d like to think so anyway.
Back to the race...with a cheer from a simultaneously awful and amazing blow up Jabba the Hutt costumer, we turned the corner into Disneyland. We were almost there and 9am was quickly approaching. We were going to finish before 9am! There were tons of employees and volunteers reminding us that we were almost there. We came down the final stretch, and were greeted by R2D2, C3PO, Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, and Goofy Darth Vader. And we crossed the finish line at 8:59am! Total race time was 2 hrs 53 min, and total run time was 2 hrs 47 min (total time minus the small breaks we took).
We got our medals for the half marathon, were shuffled over to the rebel challenge tent to get our medals, took some pictures (including one in which Tyler made peace signs with his fingers in an attempt to look like an Asian tourist) and stopped at the medical tent where I wrapped both my knees in ice. I carried the four medals Tyler and I had gotten for the 5K and the 10K in my belt during the run so that we could take pictures with all the medals at the finish. We got our snacks, picked up Tyler’s shirt, and headed back to the hotel for breakfast and nap time.
We took a quick sleep and then catch the football games and a bite and “that’s no moon” drink at ESPNZone. Our nap lasted longer than expected and we barely caught the end of the Green Bay/Seahawks game. We got dressed and headed out to ESPNZone. I finally got to wear my Star Wars Marathon Weekend jacket (I was holding out until we actually completed all the races). The medals made a LOT of noise when we wore them together, and I was worried they would scratch each other so Tyler and I each chose one to wear so we could get our meal discount. Tyler chose the Rebel Challenge medal and I chose the Half Marathon medal, which, to my surprise, was my favorite. I think it’s my favorite because it’s gold. I felt so accomplished and so happy.
We got to ESPNZone right as the Colts/Patriots game started and the place was PACKED. We ended up sitting upstairs in the arcade where there was family/picnic style seating where they were serving a limited BBQ type menu. We did get to watch the game on a huge projector screen which was fun and we did get our “That’s No Moon” drinks…but they ran out of Death Star glow cubes! They gave us regular light cubes which we totally took home and I will keep them as a reminder of the Death Stars we didn’t get. It was ok. If we had drunken alcohol earlier, it probably would have made the run harder.
I then hunted down a churro ice cream sandwich, which was sticky, and Tyler indulged me with a walk around the World of Disney store…a store that I absolutely love. It was time to go back to the hotel and rest/catch the fireworks show.
The next day we woke up, Tyler went for a brief swim (which the front desk opened the pool early for), packed, and headed out (the front desk also offered us breakfast after they had put it away…they were so nice!). We headed to lunch at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (which we saw on our run the day before and planned to go to for lunch) ate an amazing breakfast and headed home. I was on cloud 9 the whole weekend and I was so sad it was ending. I was immediately thinking of how I could afford the next Disney run. It was a great experience and I hope that I can run next year’s Star Wars race and other Disney races in the future!