Showing posts with label race review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race review. Show all posts

Are runDisney Virtual Races Worth the Price? - 2021 Star Wars Virtual Rival Run 10K Recap

Star Wars Virtual Rival Run 10K - www.runningonpixiedust.com


All magic comes with a price, right?  Well, runDisney fans are no stranger to paying good money for some magical miles, but as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of racing in 2020 and into 2021 the question remains - is a runDisney virtual race worth the price?  I ran my first runDisney virtual race in 2021, the Star Wars Rival Run 10K and in this race recap, I'll break down the whole experience.


Registering for runDisney Virtual Races


Star Wars Virtual Rival Run 10K - www.runningonpixiedust.com


runDisney used to use a third party platform to process their race registrations, but now they have their own portal through the runDisney site - but the 6.6% processing fee still exists.  The registration process is quick and easy, and, if you already have a Disney account, it links with that account and some of your core information transfers over.  

Anthem Star 10K Blue Ridge Races - 2021 Virtual Race Recap



Several months into 2021 and "hybrid" racing is now the trend that some races have adopted.  In April 2021, I ran the Anthem Star 10K, part of the Foot Leveler's Blue Ridge Marathon weekend.  While I participated virtually, the race weekend also had in-person participants.  COVID-19 has made me a regular on the virtual racing scene, and, while you think each race weekend may be the same, each event has had a unique story - and this one was no different.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon 10K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Anthem Star 10K Race Recap



Ever have a rough night before a race?  I've done some crazy things before - like running a 5K and half-marathon in the same 24 hour period (hello Frederick Running Festival Nut Job and Baltimore Running Festival Balti-moron-athon) and the 2AM race day wake-up calls courtesy of runDisney (if you runDisney regularly, you know what I mean!), but I don't think I've ever been as tired at the start of a race. 

Top 10 Posts of 2020



2020 was a crazy year - that goes without saying!  But, we had a lot of fun still here at Running on Pixie Dust and I'm excited to take a look back with you at my top 10 posts of the year.  From running to recipes, travel and family, there's a little something for everyone!

10.    Family Guide to Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando - Before COVID hit, we had the chance to visit Orlando in January and spent two days exploring SeaWorld with the kids.  This was the first time I had been to the park in 25 years and so much had changed.  We loved exploring Sesame Street Land with our boys!


9.    Holiday Gift Guide for Runners - I've been lucky this year to join the BibRave Pro Ambassador family and as such have had the chance to try out some amazing running gear.  I compiled a list of some of my favorites to share with you in a holiday gift guide which became a very popular post in Decemeber!

8.    Hersheypark Seasonal Events 2020 - If you've read my site over the past few years, you'll know that Hershey, PA is one of my favorite places to visit.  I was excited to share with my readers the awesome activities that took place in the fall and winter - Hersheypark in the Dark and Christmas Candylane.  These are annual favorites and we can't wait for next year to hopefully be back to normal so we can enjoy more time in the "Sweetest Place on Earth!"

Allstate Hot Chocolate Tampa 5K Virtual Race Recap - December 2020

Allstate Hot Chocolate Tampa Virtual 5K 2020

I've watched Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races from the sidelines of social media for years, so when I had the chance to register and run in 2020 as a Bib Rave Pro Ambassador, I jumped at it!  What made it even sweeter was getting to "race" in one of my favorite travel destinations - Tampa.  Now, 2020 meant that in real life racing was limited to say the least so the Allstate Hot Chocolate races series went virtual.  While I wasn't going to be running in Tampa, I was excited to represent an awesome city and celebrate with some amazing swag.  Did the race day live up to my hype though?

You can find my preview of the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Tampa here!


Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Tampa race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Ready to run!


The weeks leading up to the race didn't quite go as planned from a training perspective.  I ended up with a toe injury about a month before the race and it sidelined me from just about everything working out related for about 2 weeks.  I wish it was an exciting story, but I simply stubbed my toe something fierce.  It was black, blue, and swollen to about twice it's size for a good couple of days before things started to improve.  I did get back to some light working out leading up to the race, but primarily was focused on my strength training and walking on the treadmill.

DC Wonder Woman 10K - Virtual Race Recap

DC Wonder Woman Virtual 10K


With virtual racing being the "norm" in 2020, I've really jumped on the bandwagon!  Prior to this year, I really didn't understand the interest in running a virtual race.  What I've come to learn though is that running a virtual race can be really rewarding when you bring the fun and treat the race day like a race day.  With that in mind, I approached my DC Wonder Woman 10K - although things didn't go quite as I thought they were going to go when I wrote my announcement post about this race.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the DC Wonder Woman Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Getting Ready for Race Day

My original plan for this race was to partner it up with the DC Batman 5K Virtual race and complete the Good v. Good Superhero Challenge in one weekend.  But, things don't alway go as planned.  October has thrown my a couple of curve balls that derailed some of my training and made my evenings and weekends busier than I expected.  Looking at my calendar with fresh eyes, I had to space the two races out to make them work for me. . .see, a great perk of virtual racing - flexibility!  I bumped the Wonder Woman 10K up a week which means my challenge didn't quite come together as I thought it would, but I was still excited to run.

Part of what made this race so much fun to prep for was the theme.  My regular readers know how much I love a good theme and Wonder Woman was fun to prep for.  Even in the swag kit, there were some fun wristbands that I could incorporate into my outfit.  Check out everything that comes in your swag package here!



To complete my look for the race, I lucked into finding a star-spangled tutu as I was walking through Wal-Mart on clearance for $2.50 - how lucky was that?!?  Then, in another stroke of luck, I won a pair of Pro Compression socks on a Twitter chat and decided to order the Americana ones that would go great with the outfit.  How do I look?





DC Wonder Woman 10K Virtual Recap


As I mentioned before, training for the race got a little derailed but I was still able to pull it together on race day.  I'm always a fan of Galloway's run/walk intervals when I run longer distances and this time I put them to work for me on the 10K as well.  I ran the race through the downtown area of my small town.  There are a number of hills that roll throughout town so rather than sticking to times for my intervals, I opted to run down the hills and walk up them.  I have a pre-measured loop around town that equals just about 2.5 miles so I did that twice and then added on an extra loop closer to my house to close the gap.  While I was passing the miles, I enjoyed listening to the latest BibRave podcast.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can find all the details here





I finished the 10K in just over 1:24, showered up, and then proudly put on my Wonder Woman pullover and added my medal to my display of bling.  Want to learn more about the DC Wonder Woman run?  You can visit their website to join the fun for 2020 and keep an eye on what's to come in 2021!  

Castaway Cay 5K - What to know before your run!

We're fresh off our latest Disney Cruise Line vacation in January 2020 and during our sailing on the Disney Dream we made a stop at Disney's Castaway Cay - a private island paradise in the Bahamas!  This island has it all. . .sun, sand, crystal clear water, food, a kids club, and much more.  But running friends will be happy to know that there is a FREE, yes you read that right, FREE 5K run available on every stop at Disney's Castaway Cay.  This was my second time participating in the run, but while many things remained the same, a few have changed and it's important to note what you need to know before you run.

It's a fun run, not a race - If you're a regular reader here, you know my deep love of runDisney races.  Alas, this is not considered a runDisney race.  In fact, it's considered an "onboard activity" for cruise guests.  When you are planning all of your cruise activities on the Disney Cruise Line website you can "register" for the race.  Once on board, stop by guest services and pick up a waiver that will need to be completed before the race.  Or, you can walk up to the race start and get the waiver to fill out.  Trade your completed waiver for a bib and you are good to go.  The start is a simple "1, 2, 3. . .Go!" announcement and there is no chip timing - just a simple clock at the start finish area.  

But you do get a medal! - The other thing you probably know about me is that I care about the bling. . .deeply.  All finishers in this fun run will get a fun rubber medal.  Yes it's only rubber, but it has a cute ribbon and a fun design to commemorate your accomplishment.  I mean, you ran on a cruise vacation while most people on cruises only run to the buffet line!  Wear it proudly and be sure to stop by and see the characters around the island after your run for some pictures showing off your bling.

Getting off the ship - So this was a change from the last time I ran this particular event and the guest services staff told me it started just a few months ago.  In the past, runners would receive a "shore excursion" ticket the night before and meet in a specified lounge around 7:45.  As soon as the ship was cleared, the runners disembarked first together as a group to take the nearly 10 minute walk to the start line.  That's in the past now.  Runners just meet up at the start line which means that you have to join the pack of people exiting the ship when it's cleared at 8:30 and make your way very quickly to the starting point near the bike rentals.  I have to say, I was not a fan of this change. . .even if I got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

This run is for everyone - You will find serious runners here who go all out and others who are 100% walkers just looking to stretch their legs with some exercise and take home a unique cruise souvenir.  I know sometimes we all find ourselves being self-conscious with our abilities, but don't be nervous about joining this fun run.  The course is a super simple out and back and the island terrain means you will encounter no elevation change whatsoever.

Speaking of the island - Regardless of what time of year you run, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Even with an 8:50AM start time, you are running on an island. . .in the Bahamas.  It's hot and oftentimes it humid.  The sun is intense most days too.  Even the walkers in this event want to take hydration very seriously.  Think about it in the days leading up and drink plenty of water on board.  Along the course of the fun run, you pass a water aid station 4 times - take advantage of it!  I saw a lot of people stretching out cramps along the way.

The Castaway Cay 5K is truly a family fun event that casual and serious runners will want to check out on your Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Kids as young as 10 may participate.  If you need a space to check-in younger children while you run, Disney has a kids club, Scuttle's Cove, on the island which is open as you make your way to the run.

You may also want to pack some extra money for the race apparel that you'll find at the finish line! There is a cute collection of hats, tanks, tees, and long sleeve shirts along with pins and much, much more to further commemorate your fun run on the island.  I picked up a Castaway Cay 5K hat to bring home as my cruise souvenir and something I can use on cold training days to remind me of the island vibes this run leaves you feeling!  Enjoy the scenery, the fun, and the bling. . .then enjoy the sun, sand, and drinks!


Baltimore Running Festival - Things to Know Before You Go!

I just wrapped up my third Baltimore Running Festival and it was less than a great showing from a performance standpoint.  I went into the weekend undertrained and well aware of that fact so I ran some and walked liberally to my 2nd slowest half-marathon time yet.  But, I finished and still had an amazing time - that's what's important!! So instead of making this the typical race recap post, I'm going to shed a little insight to things you should know about the Baltimore Running Festival in case you decide to run in the future!

Registration - Registration is easy and on the relatively inexpensive side if you do it early enough.  This race is organized by Corrigan Sports Enterprise (CSE), which organizes several other races around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic.  When you register for the Baltimore Running Festival, you'll also see this race connected with several other.  You can register for the Maryland Double or the King Crab Challenge as well if you're interested in competing in multiple races during the course of the year.  For the Baltimore Running Festival, you can find a race distance regardless of your ability - 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Team Relay, and even the BaltiMORON-a-thon (running both the 5K and Half in the same day).  Thinking about registering?  Keep your eyes open during the holiday season as previous years have seen race discounts as deep as 25% for a 24-hour period during the holiday shopping season!!

Premiums & Bling - Each year the Baltimore Running Festival provides top notch premiums from one of our favorite Baltimore companies, Under Armour.  Runners for the 5K and Team Relay each receive short sleeved tech shirts, while half and full marathon participants get long sleeved tech shirts.  And then, there are the medals!  In recent years, the Baltimore Running Festival has celebrated Maryland's unofficial state symbol, the crab, with their designs.  As the final leg in the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge, you'll hear lots of runners walking around with "clanging" medals after the race.

Getting Around - In each of my three Baltimore Running Festivals, I've had different transportation experiences on race day.  My first year, I ran the 5K and was on the road into the city in the early morning hours.  Traffic was backed up and it took a while to get into the city, but there was ample parking at M&T Bank Stadium that was free.  Getting in and out of the city isn't super easy on race day with road closures though so plan with ample time on both sides of the race.  The second time I ran, my husband and I got a hotel room at the Hilton the night before.  This was the year I ran the BaltiMORON-a-thon and was a fabulous option.  We could sleep in a bit on Saturday morning, walk right out of our hotel just a few steps to the 5K start and had a warm place to hang out and relax between the 5K and the half.  This year, I was only doing the half and opted to take the Metro into the city.  This was a super easy and effective option.  If you know me at all, you know I despise city driving so I couldn't have been happier to park in Owings Mills and take the subway in from there.  This may not be a good choice for 5K or full marathon runners though depending on how early you need to get into the city and when the Metro begins it's service that morning - be sure to check the schedule!

The Course - Is it just me or does Baltimore get more hills every time I run there???  You will certainly find your fair share of hills throughout the course.  The fist half of the course trends uphill so be sure to train for them.  On the plus side, what goes up must come down, so the the back half of the course trends down hill.  One of the prettiest parts of the course is the run around Lake Montibello.  This is such a serene half-way mark on the course and features the best aid station - energy gels!  Well, maybe that's the second best aid station.  Who can forget about the munchkin mile presented by Dunkin' Donuts?!?  I usually pass on donuts during the race, but decided to stop and smell the sugar this year with any time goals being nonexistent anyway.

The Best of Baltimore - This may be my favorite part of this race.  Baltimore doesn't always get the best press, but this event brings out the best in the city!  First of all, the support from the police department and other first responders is top notch.  There were countless cops who not only worked to block intersections throughout the city to keep runners safe, but they also joined in on the cheering and the fun.  Neighborhoods came together to throw some of the absolute best block parties - from music screaming from speakers, to costumed dancers, to children giving high fives, and endless cheers and applause, it was certainly a sight to be seen and helped motivate everyone regardless of how fast you were running.

Despite the tough terrain, Baltimore is one of my favorite running events - for all of these reasons and much more!  I hope to see you in Charm City sometime soon!!

Frederick Running Festival 2019 Half Marathon

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we ran through Frederick
On that wet, wet, wet day

Okay. . .so maybe that's not exactly how Dr. Seuss wrote it, but that's my adaptation to intro you into a recap of the 2019 Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon.  I had never run a race before that rained (and rained hard!) most of the race, so this was definitely a first.  Let's recap - the good, the bad, and the wet!

This was my third time participating in the Frederick Running Festival. In 2014, I ran the Twilight 5K and in 2016 I completed the Nut Job Challenge by running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half marathon on Sunday morning.  I've always enjoyed this race weekend for several reasons - number one probably being the company I get to keep when running!  Several of my friends participate in this race each year so it truly is a fun filled event.  In fact, one of the couples we are closest with lives in Frederick and play host to a pasta dinner on Saturday night and open their house to runners to sleep at the night before the half.  I also really enjoy the course in Frederick, or at least the first 10 miles of it.

Miles 1 through 10 of the race are ran primarily through the streets of downtown Frederick.  Whether you're running through the shopping and dining district or winding through neighborhoods, the course always brings out a good number of fans and the time in town passes quickly.  The last few miles of the course though are brutal.  The course opens up to basically be wide open road.  With all visual interest lost and a pretty terrible uphill climb through mile 11, it's easy to quickly fade out, especially in the rain.

So let's talk about the rain for a minute.  We knew a few days out that weather forecasts were predicting a soggy half marathon, but forecasts only increased rain totals as the hours drew closer.  Having never run a race in this type of steady and consistent rain before, I was seeking advice from my more experienced friends.  Armed with anti-chafe cream, a hat, and my poncho I took to the starting area ready to get this race started and finished.  Maybe the rain would motivate me to run faster?  About 5 minutes before the race started, the skies opened up big time.  As I'm standing at the starting line, I'm watching rain pour from gutters of the surrounding buildings and realize I'm already accumulating puddles of water in my already soaked shoes.  It was at this time I started to think that I had made a tremendous mistake.  Luckily, the rain eased up as the race began and by a mile into the race, it was a steady, but slow rain.  It picked up again around mile 6 and I was again trudging through a downpour for about 2 miles.  The highlight of that stretch was one of the volunteers standing outside cheering us on with the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" blaring from his car!

After mile 8, the rain again slowed to a more manageable amount, but by this point I was thoroughly soaked and tired and I slowed considerably for the final miles of the race.  I was ahead of pace for where I wanted to be until then, running on average around 11:30 miles, but slowed to over 12:00 miles and then eventually closed in on the 13:00 mile pace.  I think I really need to build in some speed work before my next half because when I tried to "kick it in" at the end, I had nothing - no next gear whatsoever.  Despite this collapse at the end and the conditions, I actually set a new PR by 11 minutes, besting my previous time of 2:53 with a finish of 2:42.


Overall, I would say the day was a success.  With a new PR firmly in hand and proving to myself that I can conquer the weather, I was pretty pleased.  However, I think my favorite part of race day was the hot shower that was waiting for me at the end followed by the big greasy cheeseburger from McDonald's - and the bling! And a great perk post race is that Care First provides runners with FREE, yes FREE, race photos!   Missed the Frederick Half Marathon, but still looking for more great races in Maryland.  Corrigan Sports, the group that hosts the Frederick Half Marathon, also has both the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Baltimore Running Festival coming up in the weeks and months ahead.  If you're interested in learning more about the Baltimore Running Festival, check out my referral link here!