Monday, February 13, 2017


I was thrilled to be a featured on the  #RunAlways Instagram account in January. Like the name implies, it's an account designed to inspire and connect the global running community.
A RUNNING STORY ------------------------------------------ I am an addict/alcoholic. Running is a huge part of my recovery and it has turned into a form of meditation; my head is quiet when my body is moving. . I was 35 years old when I began running. It started out of necessity because my son wouldn't stay in childcare at the gym. I ran 3-4 days a week pushing a baby jogger, but it took a full year before it was something I looked forward to doing. . I had heard you could get high from running. At age 38, I decided to run my first full marathon. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I ran my second full marathon on my 40th birthday. . Two weeks afterward, my entire right arm went numb during a run. I thought I was having a stroke or heart attack, until I realized the sensation stopped immediately when I began walking. I was diagnosed with bulging discs in my neck. My doctor said I had to stop running. . Against his advice, I slowly began running again. I made some corrections to my form and gave up road cycling. Three years after my injury, I ran my fastest half marathon and finished the course with a PR of 2:05. My glory was short-lived. During the race I felt a small tug on the back of my leg, but I had so much adrenaline onboard that I was able to shake it off and finish strong. . I tried running a few days later - the tug had become a sharp pain at the top of my right hamstring. I was diagnosed with bursitis. Despite seeing my chiropractor weekly, it took nearly four months of no running for the injury to heal. This coincided with some thyroid issues and I quickly gained 25 pounds. . Over the last 5 years, my relationship with running has changed and so have my expectations. Last November, I ran the same event, only to finish one hour and forty-five minutes slower than my PR. It was enormously humbling. . Running is a fickle thing. Injury has taught me to be resilient, and it is a part of my success as a runner. I always surprise myself when I persevere. - Featured Runner: Brea McInnes @babydoll_brea / California ~ It's not just about inspiring pictures, it's also about inspiring stories. _ Tell us yours: run-culture@run-always
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The account is run (no pun intended) by several administrators, one of whom goes by the pseudonym Runnermarx. I discovered his account years ago, and he now has over 6.5K followers. Mark is a lifelong runner with a true passion for the sport. He's a great guy: outgoing, smart and incredibly knowledgeable. And yeah, it doesn't hurt that he starred in a beer commercial that aired during Superbowl halftime. Just sayin'. 

Anyway! It was an honor to be chosen to share my running story. Check it out and let me know what you think. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Star Wars Half Marathon 2017: The Light Side

I ran the Star Wars half marathon in January for the second year in a row. You might recall the general bedlam of last years race: how I nearly missed the start of the race and my brush with the notorious 'balloon ladies'. I had wanted to run the 10k this year and pick up a third medal for running two consecutive days, but it was completely sold out. I should have purchased the Rebel Challenge packet when the race was first announced, but I was cranky and didn’t pull the trigger when registration opened. Oh well.

This year was more even fun than last year, if that’s even possible. I was in a much better headspace (read: I actually trained for this event) and I even planned an outfit.

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The race coincidentally fell the same weekend that I needed to pick Girldoll up from the Long Beach port. It worked out to be a bonus because we got to spend the night at my SIL’s house and visit with my niece and nephew. The kids are always such good sports and came with me to pick up my packet at the Disneyland Hotel. The only hiccup was that I was supposed to pick Girldoll up at 10:30AM, but she wasn’t ready to go until well past noon. This ended up pushing everything back so that we didn't get to until a half hour before it closed. I had hoped to browse longer -- no one does an expo like Disney -- but time was too short.

Part of the problem was getting into Downtown Disney itself. Security was INSANE. In all the times I have been to Disneyland, I have never had to wait in any sort of security line to access the area surrounding the park. It is a sign of the times that security has become a necessity during travel or entering concert venues, but it definitely stole some of the magic visiting the resort. I’m not talking about a quick look inside backpacks, either. We were subjected to a full search of our belongings as well as being required to walk through a metal detector. Bummer, man. The only thing I could attribute the high security to was that Trump had just officially taken office as POTUS, and there were a lot of people in Los Angeles who weren’t happy about it. (You can count me as one of them. No surprise there.)
What has two thumbs and the best nephew ever??
This girl! Johnny and Lego Hulk at Downtown Disney.
This backdrop coordinates nicely with my glasses.
Of course, anything blue does...but whatevs.
By the time we got to the Disneyland Hotel, we had barely enough time to grab my bib number and pick up my race t-shirt. I quickly bought some anti-chafe Glide from an expo vendor and we were on our way. It was probably the least amount of time or money I've ever spent at an expo. Girldoll and I treated the cousins to a late lunch, and then we enjoyed a nice evening with family.

Of course, I took an obligatory Flat Babydoll photo. It was so cute that my niece reminded me to post the photo on social media; she had remembered me talking about the phenomenon of laying out your race day clothes and taking a picture of your race bib and outfit. The stuff kids remember!

Orange is the new black!
I got lots of compliments during the race on my excellent on the BB8 skirt I found on Etsy. Although there are all kinds of things that could go wrong running thirteen miles while wearing a knit beanie, I was totally fine.

The race was so much fun. 90% of the runners were wearing a costume or Star Wars themed embellishment. My personal favorite was a couple who dressed as Leia and Chewie wearing Belle and The Beast costumes. It was so meta! The spectators did not disappoint, either.

I decided I would live stream the half marathon on Facebook while I ran through Disneyland. I started in narrating my way through Tomorrow Land and filmed an epic lightsaber battle among cast members. I also caught some really fun footage of my hand as I high-fived a dozen Disney employees who had lined up along the course. I ran through Fantasyland and shared my favorite ride with Facebook (Storybook Land, in case you were curious) before the pièce de résistance: running through Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

After I crossed the drawbridge, I went to stop recording the video...only to discover I had never started recording in the first place.
Rachel doesn't use that word lightly, either.
I'll be honest: it took me the next mile to shake it off. For whatever reason, I fixated on my disappointment of not getting the video to work and had trouble letting it go. I'm charming that way. 
Right after this photo was taken, the key fob
to my car fell out of my Flipbelt. Someone
literallyran after me with it in their hand.
I mean, can you even imagine?? #bulletdodged
Fortunately, we were hitting the streets of Anaheim and it was time for me to focus and get my game face on. Since the rest of the race is through business and residential areas before finishing at the Downtown Disney parking lots, sections of the race on the streets feel like it starts to drag. That is, until the cosplay spectators start lining the course. It is truly an incredible experience seeing all the elaborate costumes and props.

Red Leader was all smiles and thumbs up.

I kept lapping these guys. I'd stop and mug for
photos along the course and pass them. #redleader

This was one of the most clever
costumes on the course. I love Greedo!

This couple finished the race together. How
her hair stayed perfect after running a half
marathon is one of The Force's mysteries.

Poppa Stormtrooper and Baby Stormtrooper

We had a moment. #BB8

There was something slightly despondent about
this ghetto Death Star. 
Done. Eye on the prize!

In addition to the half marathon next year, I really want to run the 10k for a chance to earn three medals. I know I said the same thing last year...but it's worth putting out to The Force, anyway.