Wednesday, November 15, 2017

runDisney Avengers Half Marathon Weekend 10K Review

I was up at 2:30am. The race didn't start until 5:00am, but we were told to be standing at our corral by 4:00am. There was a walk from the hotel I was staying to the corral location, so we wanted to allow enough time to have a quick breakfast before the race. 

We were at the entertainment stage by 4:00am. It was freezing cold. Otterbox was sponsoring the coat or jacket check-in. Once we were at the stage the announcer started calling for people that were in costume to come up front as a group and get our picture taken. Shortly after that we checked in our jackets and began to endure the cold morning breeze. 

It was nice seeing how creative some of the runners were. I hadn't thought of doing a 'mash-up". That's where you combine two or more costume ideas into one. For example, there was a lady dressed as Mary Poppins with a blue face and a fin on her hat. She had done a Mary Poppins and Guardians of the Galaxy combination. 

We then meandered over to find our corral letter. We were in the last corral, on purpose. It was our first runDisney race and I wasn't sure if I could keep up with everyone, so we played it safe. 

I noticed that many people had mylar blankets. My swag bag did not have one. I don't know if only the people doing the Gauntlet Challenge got them or if they had saved them from previous runDisney races. However, it's now clear to me that I need a couple of those for our next race. 

As people started to line-up in their respective corral, we looked around us and wow, we were among a sea of people. The Thor 10K had 7,900 people running and overall for the weekend a total of 39,000 people. That's by far the largest race I've been in. 

Corrals were released in alphabetical order. We were so far back that we could hear the announcer, but couldn't see a thing. It probably took an hour and a half of waiting until our corral was released. Needless to say, I was eager to get going and warm-up.  

It seemed like a lot of the race course was through the back lots of the parks. I didn't mind that though. How often do you get to see "behind the curtain" and see where things are made and put together for the rides? However, some of the walkways along the back roads are very narrow. All runners were pretty much forced to slow down to a fast walk because there was just no way to get around the crowd of people. 

We eventually resurfaced at the back of Disneyland at Toon Town. That's where the in the park running began. All throughout the race, there were hologram projections of the symbols of the various Avengers. I would always smile and point them out to Jim. It was a small reminder that we were on track. 

All the bathrooms at the park were open for us and there were portapotties available as well. Having enough bathrooms was not a problem for this race. 

I was touched by all the employees that were out cheering us on. They didn't seem upset that they had to get up so early, they truly were encouraging and happy to us there. Some even had signs saying what shift crew they were and thanking us for participating in the race. 

I didn't have headphones on. I wanted to take in the whole experience. However, there were plenty of runners that chose to wear theirs and that's fine. It's a personal choice. 

I saw some of the security guards on bikes surrounding us. I panicked and thought we were going to get scooped. Nope. They were just making sure everyone was okay. They commented on Jim's costume and told him they liked it. The security guards seemed to be enjoying the festivities too. 

We ran through both parks: Disneyland and California Adventure. I got to see a part of California Adventure that I don't normally go through when I visit the park. It's in Cars Land. While I love Cars Land, I had never walked past this particular area. That was neat and again made me smile. 

I didn't try getting photos taken with any of the characters. I knew I wasn't going to have the time. When I passed the Matterhorn, the line to have your photo with Thor when around half of the Moutain. I didn't have to spend like that. In fact, I don't know how the racers in line finished the race without getting scooped. 

My goal for this race was to finish without getting scooped. I was not concerned with my time, just getting it done and I succeeded. I am very proud of myself. I had a panic attack the night before and had a lot of doubts. Talking to Jeff Galloway during the Expo helped and the support of my loved ones helped too.

Top Holiday Gifts for Runners

1. Garmin Forerunner

Garmin is not new to making watches with GPS. What makes this watch amazing is that it is specifically designed for runners. It has on-screen predictions of the athlete's pace would be for each of the major running events (5K, 10K, Half, Full) based on the person's current speed. 

Many runners listen to music while they run. The problem is that when you run outside, you also have to be aware of the noises and alerts around you, like traffic, other runners, dog walkers, etc. Having a headphone that totally blocks all exterior noise can pose a safety concern if you're not paying attention to the surroundings. 

AfterShokz bypass the outer ear and transmits the sound vibrations through the ear bone. I know it might sound weird, but trust me, it's really cool! This leaves the ear open to being able to listen to oncoming traffic and anything around you, without jeopardizing the audio quality of the music.

3. Active Advantage Pro Membership

Let's face it, a runner runs a lot. Not only to train but also to compete and earn racing swag. is the website that hosts many of the races around the U.S., including runDisney races. For the yearly membership, you get discounts on upcoming races, running shoes, gear, and more. 

4. Motivational Socks

Some days you need just a little more motivation to get out there and workout. These socks are inspirational and functional. They make an easy stocking stuffer. 

After a long race, you are left with aching knees, legs, and quads. Having a trusty pair of recovery sandals is a must. 

Keeping sweat out your eyes while running is important. Headbands are used by both female and male runners. I love Bondi Bands because they are lightweight and come in a variety of different colors and patterns. Bondi Band even has a design your own option if you don't find the design you're looking for. 

Runners use KT Tape to provide additional support to weak joints and prevent injuries. KT Tape comes in a variety of colors and it's easy to apply to the skin. 

8. Race Dots- Bib Magnets

Using safety pins to pin your bib onto your race shirt is a serious pain. Not only do you get pocked in the process, you also run the risk of damaging your shirt. I found this product at an expo and I think they're great!

Race Dots are small, yet powerful magnets that keep your bib in place no matter what weather conditions you are running in. They come in various designs. Jim got the last pack of the running turtle design and I got the paw ones. I will be ordering a pair of the running turtle for myself. They're so cute! Imagine, a slow turtle with sneakers on. That's totally me! 

When in doubt, get an Amazon Gift Card. Anything and everything is available on Amazon. You can get the gift card in the mail, send an e-gift card, or just print it out. Gift cards have no fees or expiration dates. Choose from various gift cards designs for free. 

A personalized ornament is a perfect way to commemorate a runners race achievement. The runner's name, race, and stats are all personalizable. 

runDisney New Balance Shoes

Rumor had it that some New Balance Outlets had an inventory of runDisney shoes. I called my local store and sure enough, they had Dumbo's from 2016 and Tea Cups and Haunted Mansion from 2017. I was actually wanting the Dumbo sneakers. I know it's a men's shoe, but I think it looks great as a women's shoe. I thought the same thing about the Toy Story runDisney shoes. I didn't see them as a men's only shoe, I thought it was gender neutral. At least that's my opinion. I saw plenty of people last week at Disneyland wearing all the 2017 runDisney shoes. 

I got to the store and they didn't have my size in the Dumbo. I did score a pair for Jim at $99. That's what they were selling for at the Avengers Half Marathon Expo. The smallest size they had was a 9 men's. While at the store I decided to search on eBay and see if by chance anyone was selling the Dumbos in my size and eureka! There was one seller that had them, so I quickly hit the buy now button. Now Jim and I have matching runDisney Dumbo sneakers.

I didn't see the clip-on that matches the Dumbo sneakers at the store, so, for now, I'll have to go without those until I can spot them at a decent price. 

So, the morale of the story, if you're wanting runDisney shoes, check with your local New Balance Outlet Store. I was told that some of the stores will tell you over the phone if they have runDisney shoes and others won't so be aware of that. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

17th Annual Race Against PH Review

This year was the 17th year the Race Against PH has taken place and the first time I've done it. 

There were about 4 portapotties near the parking lot and actual restrooms nearby by the stadium and by the race track. Parking was abundant and free. When you registered for the race you could choose to have a chipped bib or not. There was a $5 difference between the two. 

The course went through Stanford Campus. Stanford is such a beautiful University. I enjoyed the route as it was different the entire way. Each of the Stanford buildings had a different style of architecture and design. The grounds have several eucalyptus trees that you can smell along the way. 

There were lots of volunteers at the race. Many had cowbells and were holding signs that times made me laugh as I passed them. 

Some of the paths were limited to the sidewalk since traffic was not stopped, but I found that running on the bike lane worked out just fine. There were several walkers on the course. Several companies and teams had special shirts and showed their team spirit. There were people of ages running or walking. There were definitely a lot of families running together with their dogs. 

There was one water station along the route. I only saw one of the mile markers, but then I was keeping track of the mileage on my Fitbit. I wasn't putting a lot of effort on spotting the mile markers. 

At the end of the race, there were many people cheering the runners on as they passed the finish line. No medals were awarded, except for top runners in each category. After you finished running, you could go claim your t-shirt. I found it strange that it wasn't handed out before, but I'm assuming there was a good reason for it. It was a nice technical long-sleeved shirt. The volunteers at the shirt table were doing a nice job of helping people decide on what size shirt best fit them. 

Of course, after running you will need to replenish your energy. There were plenty of free snacks for everyone to enjoy. There was freshly popped popcorn, string cheese, donuts, fish crackers, and more. 

Overall, great race. I would definitely do it again.

Thank you to @ProCompression and #runchat for the compression socks. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse VRC Medal

The recent Total Solar Eclipse that was visible from the U.S. on August 21st, 2017, was an amazing natural event. Jim drove to Oregon and camped out there so that hee would be in Madras during the eclipse. Madras, Oregon was in the Path of Totality and where we live in California, was only a partial view of the eclipse. 
If you didn't read my previous blog on his experience, here's the link

Of course when I saw that Virtual Running Club was hosting a Total Solar Eclipse Virtual Race, I knew we needed to be a part of it. The race was either a 5K or 10K and the medal was the same for either distance. The entry cost included the medal, a pair of eclipse glasses, and a downloadable racers bib. I paid the extra $5 to have a racers bib mailed to me. Even the stamp on the envelope had a total solar eclipse. So cool! 

 I like hanging my bibs just as much as the medals. You could for an additional price, purchase a t-shirt. Some people don't care to have another racing t-shirt, so this gives you the choice to purchase it or not. 

The Total Eclipse Virtual Race Medals were such a hit that VRC had to order a second bath of them. I completed the race in early September and patiently waited for the second batch of medals to be mailed out. It took a few months, but I got it! Boy, is it worth the wait! The back of the medal has the Path of Totality engraved on it. The front has the Moon covering the Sun. When you slide open the medal the Moon swings out to cover the Sun. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What To Look For in Fitness Ambassador Programs

What's an Ambassador Program?
It's a marketing strategy. The company selects a group of people who are already in the nitch that they want to target. For example, athletics, dirt bikers, runners, triathletes, etc. In return for the individual's participation, they get something (money, products, or discounts). 

In the old days, companies would hire a marketing company to promote their product on TV, magazines, and on the newspaper. That's still being done somewhat, but companies have figured out that social media marketing is where they get the best results. 

In general, it's a win-win situation. The company gets lots of exposure from somewhere already running, biking, etc. and the participant gets something for their effort and time.

Social Media Marketing is very powerful these days. Not all Ambassador Programs are created equal. Know what you are getting into. 

I'm not going to mention the names of the companies that I'm talking about in my post. The point isn't to bash companies. Instead, it's to make other athletes aware that being part of an Ambassador Program might not be the right fit for you depending on whether or not what the company is offering meets your needs. 

1. Pay your way in
Company X charges $55 to join their Ambassador Program. For this amount of money, you get a t-shirt, some stickers, and discounts on their products for the whole year. You get free product evaluations, but if you keep the product, you are charged for it. You must agree to post Company X's hashtag on all your social posts. 

2. Only get something (money or products) if you successfully get someone to use your coupon code
Company T has a tiered system that only pays out something to the Ambassador if they get someone to purchase something using their particular code. First-tier starts at 25 products sold. You get nothing if you sell less than 25 products. You get nothing upfront. You get nothing if no one uses your code. You are expected to work for free at their sponsored events at least twice a year. 

3. The requirements are mystery
Company N is very mysterious. It encourages people to sign up for the Ambassador Program once a year. It doesn't say what the expectations or freebies are going to be. 

4. Get free stuff and promote it on social media
Company Y sends you a box full of their new line products at least 3 times a year. The products are free for you to keep. The company expects for you to take photos of yourself using the products and hashtag the company on your posts. No need to sell anything. No out of pocket costs to you.

5. Must only use their product
Company M sends you one free product twice a year. In addition to the free product, you get a discount for any additional products you purchase. You are required to not blog or talk on social media about any direct competitors and you can only use their product for races and events.

6. Sign-up and then never hear from them again
Company P claims to promote community among athletes. When you sign-up and are accepted as an Ambassador you get a digital badge that the company requires you put on your blog. You get one small item for free $3 value. Then, you are expected to share Company's P hashtags on all your social posts. No other discounts or freebies are given. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Making Running Us Time

We live in such a busy society. We face so many daily obligations (work, school, chores, etc). The stress from each of those responsibilities eventually builds up. It's hard to find family time in the middle of all the chaos. 

Jim and I have been running every day after work. I'm not a morning person, so there's no way you can get me up early in the morning and then getting me running. The only time I deal with it is when there's a race and the excitement of racing gets me going. Many runners run in the wee hours of the morning. Good for them, but that's not me. 

For us, it's an opportunity to hear how each others day went, a moment where you can relax and forget about your day to day title and obligations, and an opportunity to spend time together. In doing so, we've improved or running and physical and mental health together. We both value the time that we spend running together, because it's not another obligation, it's an opportunity to spend time together. 

In addition to being a good running partner, I have a built-in photographer that helps me capture great running shots along the way. When I first told Jim I wanted to take photos of my running he didn't understand what the point was, but now he does. 

My photos help me not only stay accountable for continuing to get out there and run, but also I've been empowering other new runners with my slow times and efforts. I didn't do that on purpose, but it happened and I feel blessed for being able to inspire others, even though I don't think I'm anything admirable. 

You can view my running photos on Instagram @barb_sweet.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to Make Easy Superhero T-Shirts With Cricut

I signed up for the Halloween Haunt Race in San Jose this year. I didn't want to wear the running costume I had already made for the runDisney Avengers weekend. I wanted something new, but I didn't want to put a lot of money and time into it. Jim and I were both going to race, so I wanted our costumes to match in theme, but I wanted me to be a more girly version. 

I decided on Batman, but in reality, I could have used this idea on any superhero. 

First, I looked for a Batman symbol that I liked. I found it on Etsy and bought the digital file for $0.99. The Batman symbols I was finding for free online weren't quite what I wanted. Here's the link to the company I bought my file from.

If you download an image from the internet, you'll probably need to convert it into a SVG file so that the Cricut can read it. 

I bought two colors of iron on t-shirt adhesive. One in a pink gold and one in gold. I bought some plain black shirts from Michaels. 

I changed the file settings from printing to cutting in the Design Cricut Space. I picked out what I wanted to be cut out of the image and what I wanted to stay, leaving negative space in the final product. 

I changed the blade to the regular blade and selected the type of material I was working with on the software program (iron-on). In a couple of minutes the Cricut had cut through the material and it was ready to iron onto the shirt. 

You will want to remember to put the iron on material facing down with the dull side up when cutting. I did it wrong the first time.

To add a little more to our outfits, Jim wanted some special socks. Batman socks with little capes! He was wearing a total of 3 capes that day. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Avengers Half Marathon 10K Map & Corral Placement Info

RunDisney has now posted the map for all the Avengers Half Marathon Races (5K, 10K, and Half). According to your bib number is the corral placement. 

To be honest, I'm kind of nervous now to see the map. It makes the race feel real and that it's around the corner. It's my first runDisney race. I'll continue training. I don't need to be one of the top racers, I just need to finish without getting scooped.

How are you feeling about the race? Do you have your costume figured out?

Here's the link to the other course maps, if you need them. Happy Running!

What Puppy Toys Work Best

Puppies can be very destructive. They need a lot of love and attention. Chew toys are necessary so that they don't chew unwanted objects (like your shoes) and so that it keeps the dog mentally stimulated. 

My friend Piper is a very hyperactive Jack Russell Shortie. She has to be constantly doing something, which usually involves running around, playing, or sleeping. She has several toys that she gets throughout the day to keep her entertained. Kong toys are her favorite because they dispense treats in addition to being fun. 

Kong toys come in several sizes. You would think that the biggest size would be too much of a challenge for a small dog, but it's not! She loves it. It's opening is the right size for almost any puppy treat. I usually put Milk Bone Snacks in the large Kong.

The smaller Kong toys can be used with a combination of peanut butter and some treats and then frozen to add some additional level of challenge. 

The Kong Puppy Tire has a groove on the inside of the tire. Makes a great hiding spot for some of the Pup-Peroni treats Piper enjoys. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What to Wear For Running in the Fall

Fall's are pretty mild in California. I do run near the water, so that makes it a little colder during the Fall and Winter months. Of course what you choose to wear is up to you and what makes you feel comfortable and happy during your outdoor activities. 

1. Long-sleeve moisture wicking shirt-
The one I'm wearing in the picture is from Target. It has a zip front opening, a small zipped pocket on the right side, and thumb holes. I didn't see the point to the thumb holes until I tried it. On windy days, it keeps my hands a little warmer.

2. Long moisture wicking pants-
I'm liking the Neonysweets Women's Workout pants with pockets. These pants have two side pockets. It makes it convenient to run with my cell phone and not have to wear an armband. The pants are compression, so they sit snuggly against my body, which also keeps my cell phone from falling out. I have an iPhone 7 and the pocket is plenty big for it. 

3. Fleece headband-
Chilly weather will make my ears get cold. Wearing a hat is often too much warmth, so a headband is a perfect solution. It holds my hair in place, keeps sweat from running down my face, and keeps my ears warm. I like the Turtle Fur Double-Layer Bang Band. They are so soft! The Turtle Fur Band is easy to wash and unisex.


I don't wear a jacket unless the temperature really gets cold. I prefer to run with the least amount of layers that I can get away with. 

Non-fleece headband-
Sometimes I wear a non-fleece headband if it's not windy out. I got these Under Armour Mini Headband pack in my Compete Crate for October. They have grips on the bottom and aren't too tight on my head. 

What do you wear for your Fall runs?
Let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Next Big Trip: Cruise Through the Panama Canal

Everyone has a bucket list. A trip through the Panama Canal from Ocean to Ocean was on my husband's list for a long time, 17 years to be exact. My bucket list has different places, but sometimes the opportunity for one particular trip arises and you have to go with it. 

It's a long cruise, 15 days. It will be longest cruise that we will have traveled on. Hopefully, that will work out. I love how comfortable it is to cruise from one country to another. 

Our stops include: Aruba, Cartagena Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Puerto Quetzal Guatemala. I've never been to any of these stops before. Aruba and Colombia new destinations for Jim. 

Jim's doing a Locks Tour in Panama, while I'm headed into the Jungle to do visit a Monkey Island and Wildlife Center. Give me animals over man made marvels any day. 

We're doing the Hop on Hop Off Bus in Colombia and that's it. We don't have any other tours scheduled yet. It's hard to tell what is going to be a "good tour". I'm not a big fan of being narrated to. I like to see and experience things. 

What's on your bucket list? 
Share with me in the comments.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It's Official, No Disneyland runDisney Races for 2018

I was a little shocked and quite sad to hear that runDisney will not be hosting any races in Disneyland for 2018. Here's the blog article link.

 RunDisney races are what motivated me to start running is the first place. They will continue with the races scheduled at Disney World, Virtual Races, and Disneyland Paris. 

RunDisney said that the cancellation is due to major construction taking place at Disneyland Anaheim. The safety and happiness of the guests always come first. I understand the decision, but it's a difficult pill to swallow. 

Avengers Half Marathon weekend is coming up in less than 30 days. I guess that will be the last Disneyland race in a while. Looks like they still have openings for the half and full marathon. This race might have not been your first choice, but given the cancellations, it might be worth it for some to reconsider it. 

Were you already planning on doing a runDisney race at Disneyland in 2018? Which one and what will you do now?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Art of Quilting: PIQF Santa Clara Quilting Show 2017

Every year I visit Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) that's held in October at the Santa Clara Convention Center. There are always classes, lots of vendors, and competition quilts, both local and international ones. 

I do sew, so I take advantage of the multi-day pass, especially since I live so close to the Convention Center. Some people fly in for this show and others are bused in from other parts of California. It's that good of a show!

I have my own strategy for visiting the event. I first walk it all and look for new things that I haven't seen before. My second sweep involves going back to the particular booths that caught my interest early on. My third sweep involves trying to find the various fabrics or zippers needed to complete certain projects. 


During my last sweep, I also dedicate time to look at all the competition quilts. I stand at a distance and try to understand the concept and then I look at the work up close and read the description to get a better understanding of what the artist was trying to convey. 

Each year there's a theme to which people can make quilts in order to compete for a money prize and or a ribbon of recognition. If you think quilting is just your grandma's traditional quilts, you're so wrong! 

If you enjoy art whether traditional, modern, impressionistic, etc, you will find a quilt at this show that speaks to you. Okay, not literally, but you know what I'm saying. If not, you will at least appreciate the thousands of hours that people dedicate to their quilts. I don't have that kind of time or commitment to my craft or the ability these quilters have. 

Also, don't think that quilting is limited to women. While the majority of quilters are still women, many men are quilters. I have seen many engineers enjoy the Math and visual/spatial challenge of quilting. 

The Cherrywood Challenge had a Disney's Lion King theme. I'm a Disney fan, so I got very excited to see this particular group of quilts hanging together.