In Which Jenn Picks Her Very Favorite Posts

What Tiggers like best

Hey guys! As of a couple weeks ago, this little blog (it’s called The Fairest Run Of All, but you can always glance up at the header if you forget again) turned eight years old. This isn’t as big a deal as the sort of anniversary that has a five on the end of it, but not bad, right? A good run so far.

We’ve racked up a heckuva lot of posts over the years, and I figured this would be as good a time as any to comb through the archives and put together a list of my top ten favorite posts so far. Like all such lists, it is not definitive, and doubtless posts would swap in and out depending on my mood if you asked me on another day. But for now, if you’re bored, here’s a great way to kill some time with some of my greatest hits! Assuming of course I am a good judge of my own work, which… is probably also hard to judge. We’ll all just have to trust me together.

As a note: I removed all trip reports and race recaps from consideration from this top ten list, lest the whole thing wind up composed exclusively of trip reports and race recaps. They are, of course, nicely collected in the aforementioned links, so get to clickin’ if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

If you’d prefer a standalone episode, as it were, try these:

  1. In Which Jenn Discusses The “Fine, Don’t Come” Mentality: How to deal with those WDW haters.

  2. In Which Jenn Is A Poor Disney Archivist: My vintage Figment t-shirt.

  3. In Which Jenn Is Obscene, If You Ask Disney IT (Assuming You Can Find Them): The infamous Pork Butt Magic Bands incident [bonus: the sequel].

  4. In Which Cinderella Castle Is A Swamp Castle: She’s got huge… tracts of land.

  5. In Which Jenn Runs On Assateague Island: For the love of God, stay away from the ponies!

  6. In Which Jenn Notes Something Odd About “Jolly Holiday”: Is that a chimney sweep in his pocket, or is Bert just happy to see you?

  7. In Which Jenn Selects Her Favorite WDW Bars: The landscape has changed in the subsequent years; maybe I should do a follow-up…?

  8. In Which runDisney Seems To Have Lost Its Unofficial Mascot: I thought Goonies never said die.

  9. In Which Jenn Pantsed A Mannequin For Running Tights: And I regret nothing.

  10. In Which The Babysitters Club Goes To Walt Disney World In 1988: Hardly anyone makes it to Epcot. Amateurs.

So there ya go! Those were pretty good, I think. Mind you, there’s a lot more where that came from (my brain). Let’s see what I write next; I’m not sure either.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Does (& Doesn’t) Run In Walt Disney World

The full trip report is over, but the details still need filling in. Read on for more May 2021 WDW fun!

Hourglass Lake

Remember how one of my pre-trip to-do items was to run the full loop around Seven Seas Lagoon? Well, I… didn’t. But it’s not entirely my fault.

See, I thought with the completion of the bridge from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian that the loop would finally close – and that if you could walk from The Contemporary to the TTA, or the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian, it stood to reason that you can run the full circle.

Whelp, I checked with a Magic Kingdom security guard, and it turns out that’s not the case. There’s a portion of the loop – I think he said it was between the TTA and the Polynesian but don’t quote me on that – where there’s no legal place for pedestrians to travel. No sidewalk, no nothin.’ Bridge or not, the full loop remains an impossible dream. Bummer.

Since I was briefly staying at Bay Lake Tower anyway, I certainly could have run just a portion of the route, but I… didn’t do that either. And I kinda regret it a little, I must admit. But in the age of COVID, the unknowns proved too daunting, what with masks up and down and avoiding people at multiple resorts and/or the park and having to potentially stop for temperature checks depending on where I ended up, etc., etc.. So I just slept in on those mornings. Sleep is good for you too!

Once we moved to Pop Century, however, it was a whole different story. I ran four three milers over the course of the week, and they were awesome. The Hourglass Lake route was contained enough, and the early morning quiet enough, that I felt comfortable just pulling my mask up whenever I happened to pass somebody. 

Hourglass Lake

Hourglass Lake is a well-known on-property running path, but I don’t know if people realize how magical it is now that the gondolas operating over the lake. Even though they don’t open to passengers for an hour or two, they frequently start up for testing way in advance. I saw them operating every morning I ran, and I was starting up before 7am. It’s a uniquely Disney touch to an otherwise mundane workout. (Darned hard to photograph while running, though.)

I haven’t fully given up hope on the Seven Seas Lagoon run, either whole or partial. I mean, who knows? Maybe Disney will hear our cries and add sidewalks to the entire route. Either way, if I’m ever lucky enough to stay at a monorail resort again, I’m definitely running at least part of it.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Gives Her Running Shoes Funny Names

Gear tracker

My favorite feature of the Garmin app is the gear tracker. No more guessing whether or not I should replace a pair of sneakers – the app calculates exactly how much mileage each pair has! EEE! … I am easily pleased.

But then you may wonder – what if you, like me, have multiple pairs of the same brand and model of shoe in rotation at the same time? How do you differentiate? No problem – in addition to designating the make and model, you can give each shoe a name.

The easiest way is of course by color, but what if the colors on two pairs are similar? Also, what if you realize after a time that simply doing it by color is boring? Why not make like your own whacky aunt and have a little fun with it?

NO, nothing dirty… today. But I’ve had some fun ones, I think. P!nk, that one was easy, because I already had some shoes that were factory designated as Peach Frost (and the catalyst for discovering that going by color wasn’t a foolproof plan). Captain EO, for obvious reasons (not the same pair but the colors were similar). Blue Steel because I like to free associate and the shoes in question are bright blue.

(Bonus scavenger hunt mode: all but Captain EO can be seen in blog photos over the last couple of months.)

But the best name? Obviously the best name was the one YOU GUYS picked.

A couple weeks ago I threw up a Twitter poll asking you what I should name my new sneakers. They look like this:

And I gave you three choices: Naval Academy, Mr. Blue, and Threat Level Midnight. Well, I think we have some The Office fans in the audience, because Threat Level Midnight got 100% OF THE VOTE. Threat Level Midnight it is! I’ll think of you all every time I lace them up.

My new purple Nikes I’m naming myself, though. They’re called Princess Amethyst, because The Ordinary Princess is one of the best books ever. Read it! I’m sure you’ll be 100% on board.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The 2021 Wilmington Marathon

Wilmington Marathon

I’m gonna be up front with you guys: that went poorly. But it went, so I’m gonna tell you about it. I’m consistent like that. 

It all started out okay: I woke up on time, fueled up, taped up, dressed, and made it to downtown Wilmington without incident. Weather ranged from 55 in the morning to the low 70s later in the day, which is a little chilly for me but most would call it perfect running weather.

There was both a Wilmington Marathon and Half Marathon going off that morning, and due to COVID restrictions runners were divided into waves going off every ten minutes over the course of two hours. I was in the second wave, so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Waves were called about fifteen minutes before their actual start times, and just before six I was funneled with others of my predicted finishing time (future me says: ha!) around the court house and onto the steps, where we watched the first corral start before moving into their space. We were initially told to space ourselves out according to traffic cones that had been place into the corrals, but no one paid much attention. Everyone had had their temperature taken before entering, of course, but I was still glad to be 80% vaccinated.

And then, without much further ado, we were off! We headed down Front Street and almost directly into a short but steep hill – but that’s okay; they’d warned us about it in advance. From there we headed out of the downtown area and into quieter residential areas for several miles, much of which ran along a lake. This was all very pleasant and picturesque, but it did get monotonous after awhile. I guess they can’t all be Walt Disney World.

I was pleased with my energy at the start – I actually felt fresh and ready to roll for once! But I kept my pace free and easy in an effort to keep myself from burning out later in the race. I tried to think of my legs as a perpetual motion machine rather than one of those toy cars that you wind up with friction. 

After a brief port-a-potty pit stop around mile 5, I rolled up to the oak tree turn around point and began the long slog back the exact way I had just come. Yes, it was an out-and-back course, and yes, because I was running the marathon I was going to have to do that out-and-back twice. Out-and-back inception! But that’s the price of running in the age of COVID – sometimes you have to compress the course so it can function with less support.

Wilmington Marathon

I traversed the lake and neighborhood portion of the route again before splitting off an heading back into downtown Wilmington, going past the finish line on my left and deeper into the city. We ran past the community college and the convention center where packet pickup had been before taking another U turn and running down onto the Riverwalk boardwalk area. (If you ran last year’s Battleship Half, you may recall this as the beginning of that course.)

From there you either finished – lucky you! – or bypassed the finish and took a left to start the whole thing over again. Which meant the first thing I faced on round two was that big ol’ hill again. Glorious. But I had signed up for the marathon, so up the hill I went.

I’m not 100% sure where it all started to go wrong. As I said earlier, I started the race out feeling pretty good. My training had been solid. My nutrition felt good. I had taped up my problem areas. Maybe as early as mile 8 I might have started to get a bad feeling, although that could be hindsight. And anyway, as I’ve discussed before, the darkest psychological part of a marathon tends to hit me pretty early, simply because I have soooo much fartherrrr to goooooo. 

All I know is that somewhere in the mile 14 to 15 area things started to go sideways. My right hand swelled up, which is a new one – I think because I have some eczema on those fingers, and the combination of hand sanitizer and the morning breeze was irritating.

More salient to the moment was that my right calf started to seize up, which is something that has occasionally niggled me A BIT but never to the point of being a legit problem. This time, however, when my calf started throwing out protest signals, my hamstring was ALSO like, oh, word? Are we shutting down? And THEN my stupid IT band, which longtime readers may remember as a problem from FOUR YEARS AGO, thought it might be fun to join the pity party, which caused my LEFT IT BAND TO START HURTING TOO, and THEN MY LEFT HEEL FROM THE UA SHOES, and basically what I’m trying to say here is that both of my legs mutinied.

They mutinied for the remainder of the race.

I swear to God, guys, it was the 2017 Baltimore Marathon all over again. Except with that race I at least saw it coming. This muscular disaster was out of left field. I had to do the whole poor man’s run-walk intervals and everything. I was literally running to the next orange course marker cone, walking to the next one after that, running to the next, walking to the next, for like ten miles. It suuuuuucked. Like, discomfort in a marathon I’m used to, but this was more akin to pain. And somehow downhill made it worse?

So there I was, hobbling my way down the edge of the lake, around the tree, back into downtown Wilmington. Needless to say, I walk all the water stops. Everything is terrible and I hate it. My time has gone from pretty good to one of my worst. 

I knew I was going to finish. I was confident in that much. I was going to drag myself to the end one was or another. But I’m still thankful for the small miracle that was the final half mile.

I was back on the Riverwalk boardwalk and forced myself back into a run just as I was passing another lady. “Well, if you’re running, I’m running,” she said, thus forging one of those instantaneous friendships that come of races, fleeting but forever meaningful. “All right!” I returned, and somehow from there on I was able to run the remainder of the race, pain be damned. 

Just like that, the famed runner’s high kicked in. “You’re almost there!” shouted a random passerby. “Hey, I didn’t quit!” I shouted back, and he laughed and said “I love it!”

“You catch anything?” said a runner behind me as we swung past a guy hanging out with a fishing pole. “No,” he said, which for some reason struck as all as hilarious.

“You’re very handsome!” I told a German shepherd as I passed him, briefly startling and confusing the middle aged man walking him.

“There’s the finish line! Charge up the hill!” said a volunteer. “Are you coming with me?” I asked, but he sadly wasn’t allowed to leave his post.

But I did charge up the hill, somehow, and the spectators lined up all clapped and cheered for me because I was running, and then finally the finish line was in site. “Number 11 is finishing the FULL marathon!” said the announcer as I passed beneath the arch, and I got bonus cheers from the crowd. I WAS DONE!

It was awful.

BUT I finished and that’s what counts. I can be sulky about a less than ideal race, but as long as you finish how bad can it really be?

There was a finisher’s only area where we picked up bags that contained our medals, fresh masks, and an assortment of snacks. I was thrilled beyond measure to find a can of seltzer energy water in the bag; I’d been craving something with bubbles for miles. Races should offer Coke at later water stops if you ask me.

Wilmington Marathon medal

All right, so, that wasn’t exactly the performance I’d been hoping for. All the same, I finally have my fifteenth marathon under my belt. Today I get my second COVID vaccine shot, and I hope you’re somewhere on your vaccine journey too. Because the sooner we’re all vaccinated, the sooner race schedules can get back to normal. runDisney can (knocking on all the wood) return, and we can stop with all these limited expos, cancelled after parties, and stupid out-and-backs. 

Here’s to a future full of races! Hopefully I will do a better job. 🤣

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Suffers A Garmin Emergency

Garmin Forerunner 235

Okay, so, my Garmin Forerunner 230, greatest Christmas present of all time, developed a crack in the watch face a few months back. It was a little concerning, but the watch continued to work fine, so I assumed it was superficial. This theory was borne out by runs in the rain and even a couple dunks in the ocean (the Forerunner is rated up to 5ATM for swimming). It had a cosmetic defect, sure, and it was getting a little behind on the tech, yes, but basically my Garmin was working fine.

… Until last Sunday, when I was once again hopping about in the Atlantic. I splashed about in the waves for about twenty minutes and then intended to come in – but then I thought, what the hell, I’m having fun; I’ll stay out a little longer.

I think we all see where this is going, and yes, you’re right: ten minutes later, I did indeed look down and see my watch screen had gone blank. My watch. My GPS watch. The GPS watch I rely on for my training. The same GPS watch I needed for my 17 miler in two days.

Kuzco
Here’s your cadence.

“By this point you know how long it usually takes you to run a certain number of miles,” said Pat. “Can’t you just do it without GPS?”

“HAHAHAHAHA!!!!” I said in return, dumping my watch in a bowl and pouring rice over it in a time-honored ritual of desperation.

I didn’t have a great feeling about it, but after a night hopefully drying out in the rice I tried to plug my watch back in. BZZZZZZZ! was what it had to say to that. I hurriedly unplugged it. It was also seeping salt.

Okay, time to get a new watch. I wanted it to be a Garmin again, because I like the app and I feel like they do a good job on running-specific metrics. The Forerunner 245 seemed the modern iteration closest to my current model, and it had excellent battery life. 

Unfortunately, shipping to Puerto Rico can be a bit of A Thing. We get Amazon Prime down here, but only in that the shipping continues to be free. Two day shipping is out the window. Actual ship times are variable, and what Amazon tells you is the estimated arrival date may or may not have any bearing on the reality. Sometimes it’s quicker than expected, but other times packages been known to arrive in a Miami sorting facility and then just kinda hang out.

All that is to say that I found the Garmin Forerunner 245 on Amazon, but the estimated delivery date of a full two weeks from then was not comforting. 

I could get a Forerunner 235 for half the price and half the time, but that was an old model, and did I really want to buy a watch that was 5 years behind the technology? And anyway that’s still not in time if I wanted to keep my training plan intact. If I wanted that, I needed something almost instant. How could I get my watch instantly?

In the end, it was a real, retail storefront to the rescue. Who says malls are dead?

Walmart had no stock. Best Buy had no stock. I was distraught. But then I had an idea that should’ve occurred to me first: I looked up, y’know, running stores in my area. I discovered there was a Fit2Run in the mall less than ten minutes from my apartment. Not only that, but they showed the Garmin 245 in stock! I called to confirm, and that night I double-masked up and went to the mall to pick up my treasure. (Oh, what a strange world we live in that I miss the mundane comfort of a mall!)

So here’s my new baby, the Garmin Forerunner 245. It has like a million new metrics and I am 100% in love with it. 

Garmin Forerunner 235

We went out together the very next morning and enjoyed a successful 17 mile run that was by some miracle 10 seconds/mile faster than my 16 miler a few weeks before. I have named it Louis, as in Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

Casablanca
Middle name “I like to think you shot a man. It’s the romantic in me.”

My old watch lasted me more than four years before I inadvertently drowned it, so as they say: FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Shares Her Long Run Disney Parks Playlist

Pray for me now and in the hour of my 17 mile training run.

I will appreciate those prayers when the time comes (tomorrow), but as they say: the Lord helps those who help themselves. In addition to prayers, I shall try to make my long run as painless minimally painful as possible with the help of such items as KT Tape, mocha Clif Shots, a spare water bottle, and, of course, music.

I will start out with my usuals from Amazon Music (Aerosmith!) or my own personal iTunes stash (J. Roddy/Floggy Molly/Jukebox the Ghost), for at the absolute least the first nine miles or so. But when the going gets tough, I’m gonna bust out that big guns. You know what blog you’re reading, so of course you already know it’s Disney music.

But not just any Disney music – Disney parks music and parks music only! But not the background music loops; they’re designed to create ambience, not capture your attention. For running, performance music is where it’s at. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more transportive than a good show soundtrack. I’m talking fireworks, parades, nighttimes spectaculars – you know, with the stirring orchestral scores and catchy medleys, the ones that immediately thrust you back in time and put your imaginary feet on Main Street. You’ll forget you’re running at all

Want to follow along? C’mon, we’ll run together – I put together a playlist special. It’s unlisted, but I’m willing to share it with my bloggy buddies.* If the below embed gets wonky or you lose me at any point, here’s a direct playlist link. Lace up and step into the magic!

*You know, all these other people think I’m talking to them, but I’m really just talking to you!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has To Run For Oga’s Cantina

Okay, let’s pretend for a moment you’re me. (I’m sorry.) You are going to Walt Disney World, theoretically and vaccines willing, in April. Your travel buddy is on top of the vast majority of dining reservations, but just to be safe you have been given one, and only one job: secure the ADR for Oga’s Cantina. Mission date: February 16. You put a reminder in your phone and carry on your merry way.

Of course, February 16 arrives. You remember nothing of your assignment. You get up at 5:30am, cheerily slap together your morning’s outfit and provisions, and set out on an 11 mile run. Your bothersome heel is taped up, you’re wearing your newest Brooks Ravennas, and you’re feeling good. 

Until 7:30am,* when the reminder you set all those day ago pops up on your Garmin: Oga’s Cantina ADR. Thirty minutes. You have a little over 2.5 miles to go.

You can do this.

You – not really you; take a deep breath and remember that for you this is strictly a mental exercise – don’t want to blaze it because of that whole left heel thing and you don’t want to risk an injury. But you trudge out your last mileage under mild stress and come screeching into the alley next to your apartment building with scarcely any time to spare.

No problem! You have the My Disney Experience app in your phone and you know how to use it. OR DO YOU? Because you open it up with your thumbprint and tap furiously through to the Oga’s Cantina ADR screen only to discover that it’s not giving you the day you need. Why isn’t it giving you the day you need? Is the app angry?!

You race through the gate and into the elevator to hit up your computer, feverishly checking your email while you’re at it to make sure you’re trying for an ADR on the correct day. You confirm that you are as you slide in front of your laptop and whip through the MDE login screen. Ah, there’s Oga’s Cantina, and there’s the day you wanted!

But wait… the calendar on the website won’t load?!

You hit a hard refresh while you thumb through the MDE app on your phone and discover that while you were logged into the app, you were somehow not logged in ENOUGH, and the app didn’t register the hotel reservation that should open up the extra ten days of ADR openings. You fix this problem and now you can access the correct date. You select 1pm per the agreed upon early afternoon time slot preference. Hooray!

Hold on. It’s not loading? Switch back to the website. Ah, yes, there’s the calendar. Refresh. Okay, 1pm is gone, but there’s 1:20pm. GO THROUGH, DAMMIT!

Okay, back to the app. How about 1:40pm? No? 11:25am on the website? Fine. No, not that either? 2:30pm on the app? 3PM ON THE COMPUTER???

Ah, whew. That one finally went through. You did it! You did it! It’s a bit later than originally intended, but you did it! DJ Rex, save me a seat!!!!!!!

Oga ADR

Sit back. It’s over. You’re not me anymore. Sweet.

Hmmm. It’s hard to tell, given how far up Disney’s butt I have crawled over the last 15 years or so, but this might be one of the most inside-baseball blog posts I’ve ever written. But then I suppose you’d have to be pretty inside the baseball yourself to get to the end of such a melodramatic tale. The point is, I got my coveted ADR. Now who’s got a vaccine they’re not using?

*Yes, you’re right – the Disney reservation system opens at 7am. PR doesn’t do daylight savings and is therefore currently 1 hour ahead of… everybody else, basically.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Happy Friday: How To Make Virtual runDisney More Realistic

I’ve said it many times before: unfortunately, I’m not all that big on virtual races. Whenever a runDisney race has been cancelled of late, I’ve always taken the refund rather than switch to the virtual version. But there are many who disagree with me, including the thousands who performed a virtual WDW Marathon Weekend race (or 2 or 4) last weekend.

One such individual was Justin Stone, who tackled an at-home Dopey Challenge. Not content to simply wear a bib and accept a medal upon the completion of his requisite miles, he decided to make his virtual runDisney experience as true to the real, in-person thing as possible. 

Oh, sure, you say. He probably wore a costume, got his family to make posters, got friends to spectate, that sort of thing. I’ve heard of people doing that.

Okay, but have you heard of people doing all this?

Justin Stone rundisney

Now that is commitment to the runDisney art form. Brilliant! Hilarious! And, frankly, spot on. Can’t say it tempts me to join in, though. 😜

Follow Justin Stone on Twitter just in case he says more funny things.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has Forgotten How To Run In The Cold

Christmas Run

Hello and welcome to The Fairest Run Of All, 2021 edition! Shall we start out the new year with a little light complaining? Let’s!

Because boy howdy, kids, as a denizen of the warm and humid land of Puerto Rico for almost two years now, I have all but forgotten how to run in the cold. I ran a series of 5Ks over the last couple weeks while in Maryland’s wintry throes, and while I knew intellectually it was going to be chilly I was not prepared.

Literally. I wasn’t prepared. I almost was – I packed gloves for my runs, and long-sleeved shirts and pants, and even puffer vests. So far so good. 

I also own four pairs of crew socks, the kind that go halfway up your calf. They’re soft and thick and warm and perfect for running, and currently live in a drawer in Puerto Rico. Of course in Puerto Rico they’re useless, but I keep them there so that if I’m ever flying somewhere cold, I can pack them. In this case, I did not remember to pack them. My ankles were COLD.

Not the end of the world, of course, but you know what ELSE winter running throws at you on top of the cold? Wind! Frickin’ GUSTS of wind! What is that about? Is the cold not enough??? (After the 2017 Rock ‘n Roll Marathon DC, you think I’d learn, but I guess I blocked the memory from my brain.)

Oh, and the rain. Why not add some rain while we’re at it? That’ll make it extra fun. Nothing like a good rain juuuust above 32 degrees – all the cold and wet with none of the pretty snow elements.

And the ice! The day after it rained, it got down to below freezing overnight, and during my next run there was ice. I kept my eyes on the ground and didn’t fall, but I still thought that was impolite.

Although! It did flurry on Christmas. I liked that. And the cold makes me much faster – a good minute per mile, sometimes. And once you get started and warm up a little, if the wind can just chill tf out, it’s really not so bad. 

I guess I did formerly run outside all winter and survive. I could get used to it again. Except that I’m back in Puerto Rico now, and don’t have to. Let the cycle begin anew!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The Battleship Half Marathon

Battleship Half Marathon start

Okay, so the Battleship Half Marathon may not have been a triumph, but it turned out fine.

The race was a bit unusual in that in order to accommodate COVID precautions, the start would be staggered across several hours. My wave time was 8:30am, so I didn’t even have to wake up until like 6:30am (which if you’re into runDisney is like one in the afternoon, seriously). My dad drove me over to the race start, and as we crossed the bridge to downtown Wilmington I saw the marathoners who had started at 6:30am already out on the course. 

I was worried about getting to the race on time – what if it turns out important roads are blocked? What if I can’t find the start area? What if I can’t find the porta potties? – but of course since I had budgeted the time everything went smoothly, and I arrived about an hour before my call time. We were on strict orders not to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance for our individual wave, so I busied myself taking a few laps around the neighborhood. 

At 8:15am it was my turn to file into the start area, where I found Becky from Disney In Your Day, so that was nice – it was good to have company for a couple minutes. We were given a few last minute instructions and warnings (the boardwalk could be slippery; don’t take off your mask until you reach the trash cans past the start line) and we were off!

Battleship Half start corral

I took off at a pretty speedy clip as, per my pre-race post, I harbored unrealistic but not entirely unattainable hopes for my first sub-two hour marathon. The first few miles, along the edge of the water, were reasonably flat and any predicted boardwalk slipperiness proved no problem – so far, so good.

We turned off the boardwalk area and crossed a bridge, which had a bit of an incline but not too terrible. From there we ran around the namesake Battleship North Carolina’s memorial boardwalk, which goes all the way around the ship – I was very pleased with this, as I had fully expected to run up to it in the parking lot and then immediately turn around, but nope! We got a full 360 degree view. The ship was in drydock, too, so I saw rather more of it than I ever had before.

Following that we had to suffer through a bit of an out-and-back, but not too long of one, and at least it was flat from what I can remember. Then it was back out onto the road and over what would prove to be my nemesis: the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Boy howdy, was that bridge steep. I kept telling myself I could run the whole bridge, a la the Severn River Bridge when I ran the ZOOMA Half, but no – this one was much longer and much worse. And, to add insult to injury, my dad pointed out on the drive back that we had to run up the side with the steeper incline; the downhill portion wasn’t as steep. I demand a reversed course!

After escaping the bridge, the course turned back to downtown Wilmington and its brick walkways. And then: power to the finish!

HA HA, JUST KIDDING. If you were doing the half marathon, it was time to do the whole thing all over again!

Yes, the half marathon course was a double loop, which meant it was time to pull a Bill Murray and repeat everything I just outlined: the Riverwalk boardwalk, the battleship, and – gulp – the stupid Cape Fear bridge.

Oh, and I hadn’t mentioned the weather yet, had I? It had been sunny and steadily climbing toward 80 degrees all morning. I went into it all cocky, thinking: I live in Puerto Rico! This shouldn’t be a problem! What an idiot. It was still hot, and it was still affecting my performance. I also feel like we could’ve stood to have more water stops, but I totally understand why that wasn’t possible given the desire to keep volunteers from congregating as much as possible.

All of which is to say that when I hit the halfway mark and checked my GPS watch, I knew I was already just shy of my A goal even if I kept my pace steady. Given the heat and the stupid bridge, I knew coming in under two hours was out of my reach. Drat.

But it was okay. While it would’ve been nice to hit my goal, all I ever really wanted was a decent proof of time for my runDisney corral placements. I resolved to Do My Best on round two, and while I don’t know if my best is right, I certainly didn’t give up, either. I just wish I’d decided to bring my headphones – I was worried about missing directions, but ultimately I don’t think it mattered and I could’ve used some music.

Wait, what I said a few sentences back was a lie. I did give up on the second round of the Cape Fear bridge, but only a little. I definitely ran some sections, but I also walked some too. And once I got to the top I made myself run again. I just didn’t want to risk burning myself out completely, you know?

At least I didn’t sign up for the marathon; I can’t imagine doing the bridge four times. 😱

By the time I ran back into downtown Wilmington again, I was approaching toast. A random spectator – some of ’em got in somehow – called to me, “Looking good! Nice steady pace!” which just goes to show that it’s impossible to know what a runner’s actually going through at any given moment. 😆 Honestly, I probably could’ve stood to push myself a little harder over that last mile or two, but what can ya do. I crossed the finish line with a decent time and with the vast majority of my reserves exhausted, so at least I can say I put some effort in.

Battleship Half GPS time

Medals, new masks, and snacks were all bagged to minimize contact, so I grabbed one and plopped down on a nearby curb; I needed a quick break before I felt ready to get on the move again. Becky came up behind me shortly, and we commiserated over the dang bridge for a bit before she headed off to her hotel and I called my dad for a lift. Success!

So I didn’t make sub-two, or even get a new PR, but for a first race back in sub-optimal conditions I’d say it wasn’t so terrible. I got my decent PoT, and that’s what really mattered. Now here’s hoping Rivals happens – with runDisney magic and some accompanying negative splits, maybe my sub-two hour half lives there?

Thanks to the organizers of the Battleship Half for making this race happen with maximum safety and COVID precautions. I’m sure it took even more care and planning than usual, and without it I wouldn’t have my new and improved PoT, so I say again: thanks to those guys!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!