Keeping your assets in gear: cutting (to the) chafe

In my previous Getting in Gear post, I discussed shoes, watches music and headphones. Today we’ll tackle some other “must-have” and “nice-to-have” items, particularly those that help prevent that foe to those with fast feet: chafing. And just to be clear, this blog is not sponsored at this time. I do not receive any compensation from brands mentioned here. I just like this stuff based on my own purchases and experimentation.

  • Running Shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Music
  • Headphones
  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Anti-chafing shorts or leggings
  • Hydration belt or vest
  • Fuel for long runs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

First, a few words about chafing. It’s kind of awful and happens to runners of all sizes. While it’s a bigger issue for runners in bodies with larger dimensions, it can leave anyone smarting for days, and it’s avoidable. As a newbie runner, nobody warned me about this. I didn’t even realize it was a thing until after my first half-marathon when I climbed into the shower and suddenly felt a ring of fire around my waist, where my leggings had chafed a ring around my entire middle. Ouch. Many mistakes later I’ve learned when and where I need to use chafing cream. (Hint: a lot of not very glamorous places.)

Anti-chafing cream: You can buy lubricant / anti-chafing products at any running or sporting goods store. One of the biggest brands is Glide, but I have to say I’m not a fan. It comes in a tube that looks like deodorant. It’s kind of waxy and hard to apply, and I don’t care for the smell. I found a cream that I really like when I attended the expo at my local marathon a few years ago. Chafex is a small brand that sells just one powerful product. Their cream retails for $24.95. It’s easy to apply, survives harsh conditions (like rain and sweat), and very effective! You can get it on Amazon, but I recommend going straight to the Chafex website. It’s the same price there, and the last time I ordered from them, they sent me an extra tube as a bonus, plus I got a personal note from their president along with my order.

Chafex anti-chafing cream

Socks: Good running socks fit snugly and are your first line of defense against blisters. Stay away from mostly-cotton socks by all means and stick to purpose-designed running socks. I like the Hidden Comfort socks by Balega because they are: A. really cute, and B. have lots of cushioning. My daughter recently borrowed a pair and said “Oooh, they’re like walking on a cloud!”

Wall of Socks!

Sports Bra: (Guys, feel free to skip to the end of this section where I mention nipple covers. Ladies, strap in.) A good sports bra is a necessity, and sadly they are not cheap. This is one of those times when more “endowed” runners will need to invest in high impact bras. Lots of bouncing is uncomfortable, distracting, and for sure can bring on that nemesis, chafing. I have some high impact bras from Fabletics. They’re cute, but to be honest I don’t love love them. There is no way to adjust them, and they end up having gaps in funny places. I do hear women raving about Shefit bras, although I don’t own one. This is another company that focuses on just one product, so they are very motivated to get it right. Shefit bras are fully adjustable and have an extra layer with a zipper in the front for more stability. Just be prepared for some sticker shock though, because they do start around $65.

Nipple covers. OK… I didn’t know these were a thing until I started running. For men with prominent nipples, it’s not uncommon to get chafing caused by all the friction of a running shirt bouncing up and down over the course of a long run. I once saw a man at the end of a race with streams of blood running down his shirt. It looked incredibly painful. So… you can buy inexpensive nipple covers at your local running store, but I bet some strategically placed Band-aids would do the job just as well.

Shorts or Leggings: Again I will stick with our anti-chafing theme here. Unless you’re a naturally wiry person with a non-photoshopped thigh gap (I’ll try not to hate on you), this is for you. I generally look for tight-fitting shorts or leggings that won’t slide down during my run. The worst thing that could happen to you is allowing your thighs to rub together. It always ends badly. Look for shorts with lots and lots of spandex. I also like high-waisted shorts that keep my belly in place. Maybe it’s just personal preference but I look for every opportunity to reduce the jiggle.

We still have a few more categories to cover on the running gear rundown, but since the announcement of Springtime Surprise races is imminent, you might have to hold your breath for a minute before we get to hydration, fueling and sun protection!

FOMO Disney – It’s a Real Thing

Anyone who has attempted to register for a runDisney race in recent memory knows that registration is a more competitive sport than the races themselves. You can count on the races filling up in under an hour (or much quicker) like you can count on death and taxes. We have seen races re-open periodically, and then fill up once again within minutes. Word of race openings tends to circulate pretty fast on Facebook, and there is a Twitter account that announces when races open up (@runDisRegStatus or

Usually when this happens there are a bunch of people that finally got the race they’ve been stalking, and a bunch of people that still didn’t get it. Either way there’s a mini shock wave of energy that spreads through the runDisney universe. As a participant in these runDisney social groups it’s so hard not to get caught up in the madness.

There’s something about being able to get your hands on a product or experience that’s hard to get, whether you need it or not that’s pretty addictive, and Disney sure knows how to generate the buzz and demand.

Case in point: I’m running all of the Wine and Dine and Marathon Weekend races this year. I made the conscious decision not to do all of the Princess weekend races. I’m *only* running the 10K that weekend. I don’t live local to Disney, and planning 4 (or more!) Disney trips for race weekends is really a budget buster. I’ve gotten pretty adept at managing airline credit card offers, low cost airlines, and travel club promotions. It’s a game to be won – but if I slip up I know I’ll spend my weekends delivering for Grub Hub instead of training. There are stakes involved (hopefully not steaks).

Airfares to sunny spots, particularly Orlando, can double or triple in the winter when schools are on vacation. Some days of the week are better to fly than others. Always try to fly (and also buy your plane ticket) on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But since that’s not always possible with work and school schedules, sometimes you just need to be smarter in your planning process. The one time of week I always avoid flying is on a Sunday – usually the most expensive day of the week to take to the air. A February Sunday flight out of Orlando might set you back as much as a flight to Europe, so plan wisely!

So… back to my story, I already decided not to run the Princess Half, which happens on a February Sunday. Assuming I needed to get home immediately after (which I would) might cause me to miss a mortgage payment. And yet… one day I see that the Fairy Tale Challenge (10K plus Half Marathon) is open. My irrational FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) takes over. The calculating planner in me gets body-slammed by the adrenaline junkie that sees the green “register” button available on the runDisney site.

Now in previous years, it seems that people were permitted to edit existing race registrations and upgrade to a Challenge if the Challenge was available. People who have done this reported that they had to email runDisney, maybe a few times, but minus a processing fee, they would be refunded for the original race and get the Challenge upgrade.

It seems they may have changed the rules because I didn’t have any edit/change race option available in my profile, and when I tried to register for the Fairy Tale Challenge, I got an error message and couldn’t proceed. I heard the “Womp-womp” buzzer in my head and the same time Gandalf scolded me, “You shall not pass!”

Thankfully, rational me took over again and took this as a sign from the running and financial gods that I needed to let this one go. It’s not just the race fee that I saved, it was significant extra travel expense, too. It was HARD, but I’ve made peace with it. I won’t call it a decision, because the runDisney website decided for me, but really, if I want to make it to Orlando for Springtime Surprise it’s for the best.

So what are our take-aways here?

  1. Fear Of Missing Out is real. It is expensive. You can overcome it.
  2. runDisney races DO re-open from time to time. Follow social media or the Twitter account to find out when races re-open.
  3. Make sure you have a plan in place for how to handle the race re-opening announcements. Don’t let the FOMO win.
  4. Don’t try to fly out of Orlando on a Sunday in February

COVID and Compromise

A week a go I was riding high. I was just back from Disney, where my daughter and I had, arguably, the best day ever. My training was on track and I had squeezed in a run while in Florida. I had eleven miles planned. I slept a bit later than normal and got myself to the trail… and turned around about 2 minutes into my run. I just wasn’t feeling it. I HATE quitting on a run, something I haven’t done in quite a while. I chocked it up to being off schedule, or the cocktail I had the night before, or plain laziness.

That night I had a sore throat, and tested negative. The next day I still had a sore throat, and tested negative. The day after that I was supposed to travel for work, and woke up feeling under the weather. This time the test was positive, so I settled in for a week of work-at-home isolation. I didn’t really feel like working, but also didn’t feel bad enough to not be working, so I toughed it out.

My training plan was essentially grounded for the week. I managed some treadmill walking and strength training, but it was nothing like what I had envisioned.

Today I was ready to give it another try, in some capacity. It’s been hot everywhere all week, and I saw so many posts from runners that didn’t fare well in the heat and humidity. I decided on an “easy” 5 mi run, and headed out at 6 a.m. to try and get ahead of the conditions.

All in all, my run did not suck! I was a sweaty mess after an hour, but my pace was good, and I was in a good headspace the entire run. So in the long build-up to Wine and Dine and Marathon weekends, maybe an off week isn’t such a big deal. Maybe my body got some needed rest – I am sure my knees appreciated the week off. I am just happy my case of COVID was mild, and hopefully it was an immunity-boosting event for me. There’s way too much fun coming my way to miss out.

Finally! Medals revealed for 2022 Wine & Dine Weekend

It’s hard to say what generates more anticipation among the runDisney community – the announcement of race themes or the medal reveal. Fortunately we don’t need to wait another minute to see the medals for the 2022 Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend! The Disney Parks Blog released our first look yesterday – and they’re GORGEOUS.

5K Miguel from Coco

10K (Closed) Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon

10K (Open) Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon

  • The 5K medal features Miguel from Coco
  • The 10K has a hidden surprise – closed you see Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon and when it’s open you can see Sisu.
  • The Half Marathon has a concentric spinning circles – featuring Joe from Soul on the front and the 50th Anniversary logo on the back
  • The Two Course Challenge medal also has a hidden surprise the Genie from Aladdin is busting out of his lamp!

Half Marathon (Front) Joe from Soul

Half Marathon (Back) 50th Anniversary

Two Course Challenge pops open to reveal Genie from Aladdin

Can’t you just hear the Genie exclaiming “Ten thousand years…..”?

So now that we know what the medals look like all we have to worry about is:

“WHAT am I going to wear?” And possibly more importantly, “WHAT am I going to eat at the after party???”

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind lives up to the hype

Spoilers ahead – read on if you want the scoop on the hottest new E-ticket!

I scored a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an almost private trip into space on the new roller coaster at Epcot, and wow, oh wow, oh wow! Currently, there is no standby line for this indoor coaster. If you’re very lucky, you can join the Virtual Queue at 7 a.m. or purchase an Individual Lightning Lane entry. Individual Lightning Lane prices can vary, but generally are around $15 per rider.

This time I was very, very lucky. Acting on a tip from my Uber driver, he said that they key to getting into the Virtual Queue is not to hit the button on the My Disney Experience app before exactly 7 a.m. . Starting at 6:58 or 6:59 and hoping to get in on the refresh will just end up putting you behind the game. So I waited like the cat ready to pounce on the mouse hole (à la Lucifer in Cinderella), and struck at my prey -the “join queue” button – the moment my phone said 7 a.m. I was rewarded not with a far-distant boarding group that would require me to be at Epcot all day (I had park hopping plans), but boarding group 4. FOUR – Which required a scramble to get on the bus for the park. Right. NOW!

Virtual Queue Success

We were staying at a Disney Resort, so we had early access to the park that day. We breezed through security and tickets and passed by anxious non-resort guests waiting for rope drop. We were just a few minutes ahead of park opening and headed straight to the main event. We did not stop at Starbucks. Really. That’s how focused we were.

Once we got over to Guardians, it looked like they were waiting until rope drop to call the boarding groups, so we seized an opportunity for Test Track. We headed for the single rider line – standby was already backed up out of the building – and walked on. Wait time of zero. (I told you we had some incredible luck.)

As soon as we exited Test Track (what a way to start the day), the boarding groups were called for Cosmic Rewind. Just steps away from our current location, there was nobody in front of us at the gate

So we bolted to the entrance and got the ever-so-satisfying dopamine hit of watching the Magic Band Mickey on the turnstile turn to green and feeling the little buzz of excitement on our wrists with the happy chime that signaled we were about to step into a new world of wonder that few have experienced. There was nobody in front of us.

We made our way through a spacious, glowing blue and violet queuing area and wound our way around the graceful curves of the first room, past the Xandar artifacts and into the final waiting room. We kept looking over our shoulder, and no one was there! We waited in the final room just a few moments before the preshow began. Finally one other couple joined us, but that was it! No pictures are permitted after the preshow, so you’ll have to experience the rest for yourself!

We were escorted to the spacious loading area and had our pick of seats. We were about to climb into row 1 of the train, but the Cast Member clued us in to the best experience being in row 9. So we headed for the back and strapped in for the ride of a lifetime. So why is row 9 so much fun? Well, Cosmic Rewind is a reverse launch coaster, and all the vehicles rotate… so once we left the station we spun around and were facing the back for the reverse launch… which was a lot like Rockin’ Roller Coaster, except backwards.

The story plays out on massive screens that surround the coaster. In classic Guardians of the Galaxy fashion, we have an important mission – to go back in time and save the birth of rock & roll! Like Mission Breakout at Disney’s California Adventure, the soundtrack is randomized. We got Blondie’s One Way or Another as we swooped and swiveled through space.

The ride itself was incredibly smooth. There was at least one inversion… and with the ride being in the dark, you could never anticipate what was coming. It was really a rush of cosmic proportions, and would be worth just about any wait in line. I can’t wait to go back to Epcot to experience this again during the Wine and Dine weekend! 5 out of 5!!!!

2022 Virtual Series #3 – Frozen – “The Broadway Hit”

What better way to close out the 2022 virtual series with a run AT Walt Disney World? Thanks to a rock-bottom airfare I was able to to plan a “quick hit” trip to Disney World this week. I won’t call it cheap, because, Disney, but I managed to squeeze a whole lot of fun into two days. I had some time on the last morning of the trip to run at my resort.

There are a number of resorts on property that have paths that are good choices for running, but the All-Star resorts are not among them. I didn’t have a car and didn’t want to over-complicate things so I kept my run on the sidewalk on Buena Vista Drive, which connects the three All-Star resorts. It was necessary to do a bit of back-and-forth to make up a 5k, but whatever. There were no sidewalks past the security checkpoint, which is a pretty clear sign they don’t really want any pedestrians there, and I didn’t feel much like playing in traffic, so I stuck close to “home”.

Even though it wasn’t the best place to run at Disney World, I still felt welcome. Midway through my journey, the sidewalk was emblazoned with a runDisney logo – a sure sign that I picked an OK spot for my final virtual 5k! I also found some mile markers on the sidewalk, but honestly they weren’t that helpful. There was no clear starting or end point, and some of them were missing. This left me wondering if these markers were left behind by some long-past event – with only some of the markers withstanding the ravages of time.

Not gonna lie, even a 5K was pretty challenging after 2 full days of park-hopping. The day before was a 15-hour, 28K step day that left me stiff and drained (but oh so happy). Honestly, what better practice for Dopey could there be? The Dopey Challenge is as much mental as it is physical, and being able to get out there several days in a row is key to completion.

I’m smiling. Really.

I finished up my 5k and posed on the runDisney logo with the finish line marker that I printed at home and brought with me. I swear I was smiling – but maybe the smile was all on the inside because the sun was in my eyes. Anyway, 2022 Virtual Series is complete, and now I play the waiting game to get the medals in the mail. Those won’t show up until September at the earliest – which feels like forever when you’re waiting for your reward!

Getting in Gear: Running essentials to make the miles fly by

We just celebrated a minor holiday in my house: New Running Shoe Day! This is a special day that doesn’t come around too often. A good pair of running shoes will set you back somewhere between $100 and $200, and like tires, mileage will vary. When I was a newbie runner, I naively thought a pair of old gym sneakers was all I needed. I’ve been running, in some capacity for about 35 years, and by now I’ve managed to sort through the hype and have a pretty good grasp on what I do and don’t need. I’ll share with you my take on the “must-have” items to get you ready for race day.

To get the most out of your runs, here’s my list of go-tos:

  • Running Shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Music
  • Headphones
  • Anti-chafing cream
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Anti-chafing shorts or leggings
  • Hydration belt or vest
  • Fuel for long runs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

While the only item on this list is that is non-negotiable is running shoes – although there’s a very small minority of runners that would argue that even those aren’t necessary, bless them – this post will focus on the first 4 essentials for many runners.

Running Shoes: I belong to a lot of running-oriented social media sites, and probably the scenario that irritates me the most is new runners asking “what kind of shoes do you recommend?” and the ensuing litany of answers from anonymous “experts”. The fact of the matter is that everyone’s needs and physiology are different. There are lots of different running shoes designed to solve all kinds of different problems. The only way to know the right one for you is to get a professional fit from a store that specializes in running shoes. A good running store will measure your feet, put you on a treadmill, take a video of you running and do a gait analysis to help you find your perfect match. There is really no substitute for a professional fitting!

GPS Watch: Let me tell you a story about when I started running long distances. There were no GPS watches back then. I would look at a map and figure out a “precise” distance to run. I thought I knew how fast I was running and knew how to pace myself. When I got to race day, with the timing clocks running, I was always disappointed. It always took me so much longer to finish the races than my training runs…but why? How? The races felt pretty much the same in my body as training runs. I couldn’t fathom why I was so much slower on race day.

The day finally came when I got my first GPS watch. That was the day I found out my “10-mile” route was only. Eight. Miles. My map method was completely off and I had to do a complete mental recalibration of my running capabilities. I have been using Garmin watches exclusively and tried a number of models. They seem to last me a couple of years before they die or I decide I need an upgrade. Garmin was an early player in GPS technologies and favored by runners for its precision. When I look at my post run maps, I can see the times when I stepped to the side of my path to grab a drink of water. The level of tracking accuracy is slightly creepy to me, but very reassuring for my performance!

Entry-model Garmin watches start around $150, but I’m sure you can find quality used ones on eBay for far less. The top-of the line watches top out over $1,000, but I’m wondering who actually needs a watch that washes your windows for you.

Activities menu on my Garmin

I’m currently using the Garmin Venu 2S, and I absolutely love it! It’s got all the great running features I love, and handles all kinds of other activities well! I was seriously into weightlifting over the winter and loved being able to track all my reps and weights on the watch. It even tried to guess what exercise I was performing, and was right more than wrong. Hands down my favorite feature of this watch is the music function. I can store my running playlists on my watch and connect with wireless headphones. No more need to carry a phone or an iPod with me. One less thing to worry about!

Music: I’m not going to tell you what kind of music to listen to. Next.

Headphones: Now this is a topic on which I have some strong opinions. I’ve tried just about every style out there, and there is a clear winner. There are 3 predominant styles that I’ve seen on the market:

  1. Over-the-ear: These have the advantage of staying put while you’re running but are often big and bulky. If you use headphones not specifically designed for sports, they will probably get corroded with time and lots of sweat. Yuck. Some over-the-ear headphones have noise-cancelling capabilities. That’s great if you’re on a plane. Not so great if you need to listen for traffic.
  2. Earbuds: Lightweight and convenient, I can’t get these things to stay in my ears while running. I have extra small ear canals, so that doesn’t help. They are always painful in my ears after about 20 minutes. I’ve tried extra small earbuds, earbuds with hooks, keeping the earbuds in place with a bandanna, and never met a pair that really did the job. I know that wireless earbuds are extremely popular right now. Given how easily they fall out of my ears, I think those are a pretty bad idea for running. If you really want to use earbuds, at least look for a pair that has a wired connection between left and right earbuds so that you are less likely to use them.
  3. Open-ear: I have to be completely honest, I didn’t even know these existed until recently. These are headphones that are a bit like earbuds but they sit outside the ear on the tragus which, apparently, is that little flappy thing at the front of your ear that you would push on if you wanted to plug your ears. The sound travels through your bones and the quality is amazing. Added bonus is because nothing is actually inside your ear, so you can still hear approaching cars. I invested in a pair of Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones (currently retailing at $179) and they were worth every penny! Honestly, after registering for Club runDisney, everything feels like a bargain. There is another model that goes for $129. My Shokz are so comfortable and have a 10-hour charge, so even at a pace like mine, they’ll last a full marathon. Hands down, these are my choice!

There’s much more to say on running gear. The next post will cover clothing, anti-chafing and other “hidden” tools for race day success.

2022 Virtual Series: Running in the Kingdom of (make-believe) Arendelle

2022 Virtual Series 5K #1 – Celebrating Frozen “The Original Classic”

It’s a really long wait between Springtime Surprise weekend and Wine and Dine weekend (probably because letting thousands of amateur runners loose in Central Florida in July and August isn’t a very wise idea).

Thankfully runDisney offers a virtual series of three 5Ks designed to fill in the gap over the summer. This summer’s theme is Celebrating Frozen! Since I’ve been dying to run a Disney race, and Frozen is in my top 2 Disney films, this one was pretty much a no-brainer.

I had the added mega-bonus of being able to do this one with my dear friend Kas, who I haven’t seen in more than 25 years. Kas was my sidekick and partner -in-crime in what was my best summer ever – the summer I worked at Magic Kingdom as part of the Walt Disney World College Program. We were based at Tomorrowland Terrace which, if rumors are to believed, was the world’s fourth-largest fast food restaurant at the time. The Tomorrowland Terrace of 1992 has now been re-imagined as Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, but it doesn’t look like much else has changed. On stage, we were the embodiment of the Disney Cast Member persona. Backstage we made up new, not so family-friendly lyrics to Disney songs. There were many hijinks and shenanigans, but those are stories for another day and another blog. Getting to do the Virtual 5K with my Disney buddy for life was a close second to doing the race live at the parks.

Ready to Race

We decided to walk this one, and picked a route from my house. One big bummer about running from my house is that I live on a hill. There’s always a lovely downhill at the start, but the flip side of that coin is that there’s no getting back to the house without that interminable, insulting incline to cap it off when your legs are gassed.

runDisney does their best to give you some fun to help you with your pretend trip to the parks. You can download bibs, mile markers, and a playlist to entertain you along the way. We opted to skip the mile markers and just use the start/finish line markers. It seemed a little ludicrous to run ahead or drive to plant the mile markers.

There are 3 individual virtual 5ks, and of course you can choose a challenge, if you want to do all three and earn the extra challenge medal. The mile markers we could download were specific to the race, but because we were both registered for the challenge, we got challenge bibs instead of the race-specific bibs. I was slightly disappointed at that because I hang my bibs on my “trophy wall”, and I would have liked to have all three, but this is a small detail. I’m not really sure why they didn’t make individual bibs available to challenge runners – it’s not like they had to pay to print them.

I donned my daughter’s sparkly blue ears and we set out. A good time was had by all – despite the soul-crushing hill at the end. The weather was perfect, and so was the company. We realized after we got back that we listened to the wrong playlist for the race – I hope that doesn’t disqualify us!! We were listening to the playlist for the second virtual 5k, which is themed on Frozen 2 rather than “The Original Classic”. Oh well – I guess I can redeem myself by listening to the first playlist during my second “race”.

Front Yard Finish Line

In the end, we made it up the big hill and back to our finish line. It might not have been a walk in the park, but it was definitely a walk to remember! I’m looking forward to doing the next 5K soon… but Dopey training beckons, so my next run is 9 miles. In my virtual rulebook that does not count as a 5K, so “The Heroic Sequel” will have to be run another day.

Why I Joined Club runDisney

April 19, 2022 is a date that is going to live in infamy within the runDisney community. Not to spread unnecessary negativity, but Marathon Weekend 2023 registration was in no uncertain terms, a logistical and public relations disaster. Pent up demand for races converged with server traffic overload, and a total meltdown was in progress.

The registration queue waiting room opened up as expected at 9:45 am, and visitors, expecting registration to open at 10 as promised patiently waited for the “Thank You For Your Patience” spinner to change to the estimated wait time screen. That is, those who were lucky enough to get into the waiting room at all.

Another cohort of visitors reported they couldn’t get in to the waiting room –the entire runDisney site was reduced to an error page with the Seven Dwarfs insisting “We’re working on it.” That ceased to be cute in short order. As time ticked by, social media sites started lighting up when would-be registrants started to panic, cancel plans for the day, and of course, gripe.

The dreaded Dwarf screen

At 10:37, the waiting room page flashed a message asking us to stay put, and not to refresh the page. It was very ,very difficult to resist refreshing – whenever someone tells you not to push the red button, all you want to do is push it, right?

So another message flashed at 11:15…11:30… 11:45… you get the point.

At this point, social media anxiety was out of control, people were calling their congressmen, claiming conspiracy theories that this was planned by Disney to boost registration in the incredibly overpriced Club runDisney, and of course, the memes were flying.

Finally, around 12:20, they announced that registration would begin at 12:30. Thousands, THOUSANDS of anxious people had been sitting at their computers on standby, not even daring a potty break for two and a half hours. I was just lucky because I happened to have the day off from work, but I know that there were many people who had changed their schedules so that they could register, and just weren’t able to stay by the computer. Seriously who expects that they need to take a day off to register for a race?

This time it went off as planned, but wait times were lengthy. I was lucky and got a place in the queue in about 40 minutes. I managed to get the races I wanted and get checked out. By the skin of my teeth. Nearly as soon as I got my confirmation email, races began to sell out.

The whole experience left me drained and exhausted, but as the social media posts started rolling in, I realized how fortunate I was. So many people had waited it out only to end up at the end of the queue and missed out completely. Even more heartbreaking were the stories that had races in their shopping carts to get a “Not Available” (sold out) message when hitting “I’m ready to pay”.

As dreams got crushed, normally positive social communities (understandably) turned their anger towards Disney and sometimes on other community members (bad manners, folks!). Many people were bitter. Others set their sites on alternatives – looking for a charity bib and thinking about fundraising, selecting a virtual race, or looking for a different race all together,

I knew I wasn’t up for this type of emotional roller coaster again, and frankly who knows if they will have the time to sit and wait in the queue on a future registration date? At this time in my life, I still have the endurance for long races, and I’ll look for any excuse to get to Orlando. Who knows if my circumstances will change and running at Disney is no longer an option for me?

The other route for peace of mind registration is joining Club runDisney. It’s the super pricey way to buy a jacket, and at some price points, a guaranteed opportunity to register for future races and better corral placement.

Three tiers are currently offered, and these are the benefits highlights

  • Silver, which gets you a jacket, a virtual race and bragging rights will set you back $265.43
  • Gold also guarantees you the opportunity for registration for yourself for a full year of races and early access to merch at the expo for the low, low price of $531.93. Keep in mind that this is not your registration fee. This is an extra tax to give you the chance to spend even more money to register for next year’s events.
  • Platinum offers the lower tier benefits, the chance to register 2 people for all race weekends, an upgraded expo experience, and an upgraded corral placement. I hope you’re sitting down or very, very rich, because the total with taxes and fees is $851.73

I guess that there are enough runners with money to burn here, because when the Club runDisney memberships went on sale today, the Platinum level sold out within an hour. So… again I guess Disney proved that they can charge whatever prices they want, because there’s always someone willing to pay it.

To save myself from going through the registration hell again, I opted for the Gold level. Will I have to eat ramen for an extended time? Yep. Will I need to wait a little while before changing out my running shoes? Yep. Will my kid get to go to college? No clue. Will the Club runDisney expense be worth it? Only time will tell, I guess. Until then, I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my jacket to show up!

What to expect on race day, part 2

After months of training, crossing the start line is pretty climactic. In a surge of adrenaline you realize that it’s finally happening and every step you take is one closer to your goal. But (particularly for slower runners), you might not be taking those steps as quickly as you would like to. I say that because slower runners are placed in the final starting corrals, to keep the elite and competitive runners out of the log jam I am about to describe.

It can be difficult to get yourself into a good pace at the start of the race. There are thousands of other excited runners there to share the experience with you, and you could be slowed to a walk unexpectedly in the first few miles of the race. Eventually more space will open up, but it could take a few miles before the pack thins out.

In the shorter races like the 5K, you’re likely to see a few “runners” wearing jeans and holding hands strolling with their sweetest – effectively blocking your path. Do your best not to be annoyed that they didn’t even bother with a cute costume for you to admire while plotting your path around them.

Did someone say costumes? They’re the BEST at runDisney races. They’re not required, of course, but they are a huge part of the show, and they range from basic to elaborate – bringing up everyone’s spirits. There are some restrictions on costumes for safety purposes, particularly around the use of full-face masks and long robes. Be sure to check the runDisney website for current guidelines.

So what’s so great about Disney races? Well first, you’re running through the Disney parks, sometimes before they’re open for the day. Disney’s known for lots of on-course support, surprises, and of course the character stops! Lines for photos with the characters can get pretty long. If you’re a faster runner go for it! If you’re a back-of-the-pack runner, you might want to reconsider using up the clock waiting for that photo, even with your favorite character.

Pacing is strictly enforced on the longer races, and if you can’t keep pace, you’ll be “swept” from the course, put on a bus, and forced to live the rest of your life with the shame. I get nightmares about this, which is enough to keep me out of the photo lines, at least for now.

You will get a little warning if you’re in danger of being swept. A dedicated group of pace runners – the “Balloon Ladies” start at the very back of the last corral and run at the slowest possible pace to finish the race. If you get passed by the Balloon Ladies, you’re likely to end up on that bus, so do your best to keep them in your rearview mirror!

Of course there are plenty of water and fuel stops, but you may want to bring your own fuel – it might be many miles before you find something substantial like a banana. Better safe than sorry. Medical stops are available, and you can find Vaseline, Band-aids, and Biofreeze along the entire course.

Other on-course medicinals include beer, margaritas, and other sundry cocktails! As the parks open up, the drinking establishments are available to runners, so bringing some cash or a credit card is a good idea. You may want to pace yourself though, or you could end up buying the Balloon Ladies a drink.

The courses in Florida are generally flat, except when you are running up highway overpasses. What seems like tiny inclines in a car feel like the lift hill for Everest on foot, when you’re 20 miles into your marathon.

With luck and training on your side, eventually you reach that most magical last mile and the adrenaline that got you over the start line has transformed to the grit and determination that usher you across the finish line. You’ve earned your medal or medals, you box of snacks, a warm Power Ade and your photo shoot!

The finish line is a chaotic party, and finding your entourage might be difficult. It’s so loud that your cell phone conversation might be impossible, so make sure you decide with your family ahead of time if you’re meeting up at the family reunion area with the letter that starts your first name or the letter that starts your last name. That could be important.

From here, you’ll take a long, insulting walk to your resort bus, or a long, insulting walk to your car. But wherever your next stop may be, you’ll be showing off your medal with the glow that comes from making your dreams into reality.