The Ghoul Gathering: a DIY Halloween Run

No Halloween race in your town? 

Why not get some friends together and hold your own?

In years past, a local gym hosted a Halloween 5K in Tallahassee. But the gym closed down, and that was the end of the race.

So this week, our friend Michelle, pictured below, planned a 'Ghoul Gathering - Zombie Run' and invited several friends. 

Love this outfit!

hat closeup - isn't it cute?

The group was made up of fourteen ghouls, zombies, and assorted scary monsters.  DG and I opted for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum costumes (recycled from when we ran the runDisney Enchanted 10K). We did a Halloween themed 4 mile run/walk  at 'Zombie' pace. 

blurry running pic

Magnus joined us - in his shark costume.

a better pic of his shark fin - but he would not keep the hood/jaws part on.

Guess who won Best Costume & Runner Up?

And there were cute little finisher medals (Halloween themed AND reflective)!

Yep - Magnus got a finisher medal too.

After the run, we took over the patio at a nearby restaurant, and the Halloween party began.

Michelle brought buckets of candy,
And goody bags for all.
This is DG's goody bag

and mine...

DG and I also got prizes for winning Best Costume.

It was a great way to celebrate Halloween!
Have you ever planned a themed run with friends?
Happy Halloween!

Review: Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea


In our journey to better nourish our bodies, DisneyGroom and I have been incorporating various superfoods into our diets: chia seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseed, and others.  The latest of these is matcha green tea.
Check out some of the benefits you get from green tea.
I got to try out the Organic Matcha Green Tea from Kiss Me Organics.  The matcha I received is a high quality culinary grade.  This is more concentrated than many readily available commercial green teas.  I always order green tea with my meals in Asian restaurant, and was accustomed to a slightly bitter taste.  When I made the matcha at home, I was immediately struck by the stronger flavor and scent.  A lower grade of tea is bitter, but the organic matcha I tried was not at all. 
Included in my order was an ebook with dozens of match green tea recipes - from cupcakes to soups to entrees - even cocktails! Sweets are currently banned in the house, so a smoothie it was!
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup berries (frozen)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used Trader Joe's vanilla coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 chopped kale* (optional)
DG has been on a kale kick lately.  So there is always a big bag in the fridge.  It wasn't part of the recipe, but I threw in a handful of kale into the smoothie as well.
A serving is typically 1/2 teaspoon, and I used a full teaspoon, so I did taste the matcha in this smoothie.  You could cut it back a bit and still get all the benefits of the tea.  I liked the flavor and plan to add it to several other recipes. 
One thing about the powder. It will turn your food green! (Don't worry - it is all natural - no artificial dyes here).  So green Christmas cookies and eggnog?  St. Patty's Day treats? 
Yep - that is happening.
Let me know if you try out this matcha tea!
Run Happy (and eat happy too!)
  • Do you drink green tea?
  • Do you have a favorite superfood?

Disclosure of Material Connection: No financial compensation was received.  I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions stated on this blog are our own. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Recap: 2014 runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Let me start this recap with a couple of things you should never do just before a night race.
  • Don't schedule a fundraiser the morning of the race.  
  • Don't schedule that fundraiser 300 miles from the race. 
  • Don't check into your hotel at 5:00pm. 
  • Don't run without any rest at all. 
DO let your spouse/partner/BRF talk you into a last minute race. 

Ok, the weekend may not have had the most ideal beginning. But we had so much fun at the 2014 runDisney Tower of Terror 10Miler and Villains Bash, that all that was quickly forgotten.

Do get dressed up.  It should come as no surprise, I was dressed as Buzz.  DisneyBride tried to put together a Tron Legacy costume for me, but we had no idea finding reflective tape would be so difficult.  So my good ole stand-by just happened to be available for race day.  One day I will be an old man, and I will look back at all my race photos and not know which race was which - since I am dressed as Buzz in half of them.  ha ha.

I also strapped on my NoxGear Tracer 360 vest.  If you recall, DisneyBride wore the light up vest during her 5K and 10K events during Princess Half Marathon weekend this year.  With the Tower of Terror 10 Miler starting at 10pm and the after party continuing until 3:30am, it wouldn't be a bad idea to assist my visibility.  As it turns out, a lot of runners had the same idea, and I spotted several NoxGear vests on the course.

If it's not readily apparent, the ToT trip was a very last minute addition to the race calendar.  I didn't even get a chance to check out the road closures.  Thankfully, runDisney had plenty of traffic signs to detour us to WWoS.

After a quick bus trip from WWoS to Hollywood Studios we arrived at the race.  The starting area always has a really cool atmosphere.  The DJ got everyone pumped up, playing "What does the Fox Say?" --- perhaps one too many times for me  (DisneyBride still can't stop singing it three days later) and also they also did a good job making announcements to make sure all the runners get to their corrals in time.

The obligatory 'Portapotties in the Background' race pic. I take my DisneyBride to only the classiest places.

This starting area seemed far less crowded than previous runDisney events.  The official results show 9389 finishers - and the word is that there were 800+ runners swept.  So with less than 11,000 starting (half the size of the WDW Half and Princess Half) this felt much smaller to me.  

We've made so many 'runDisney' friends, we can never catch up with all of them.  And we are very sorry to have missed seeing some of our blogger friends, including MerandaPam & Christine, and Kimberly - to name just a few. However, we were fortunate to catch up with several of our running friends before the race and even to make a few of the pre-race photo meet-ups.  

Look! I found @DopeyRunr

There was a bit of a hike from the corral to the starting line, but soon enough we were off, and I was running my first ToT race.  The weather was great; not a drop of rain (it had been forecasted to pour cats and dogs all week) and the temperature was great (felt like high 60's).  Apparently, the temperature has been an issue in previous years.  RunDisney prepared for the heat this time. In addition to water and Powerade at the start and finish line, the course had 7, yes seven fluid stops, plus cool wet towels at the finish. 

The race was packed with pretty cool theming.  It seemed like at least every mile they had some sort of character, DJ, or creepy giant spider on the course. 

The lines were not bad at all - so I stopped for quite a few characters. 

I asked Jafar where his parrot was --- that didn't go over well...

Sure, you're powerful and come with your own army, but DisneyBride is the Queen of My Heart. Sorry, not sorry!

Hook told me a joke.  He isn't a bad guy really. Just cranky about losing a limb. Wouldn't you be?

A little ditty about Jack and Di...errr  SALLY!


My only complaint about the characters- no Zurg. 
Seriously though, WHERE IS ZURG???
I didn't see him on the course or at the "Villains Bash". 
I guess he is hiding, since this is what happened last time we met.

The offroad portion (or trail) into the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex has caused some runners issues in the past.  DisneyBride had warned me that it was pretty dark last year and she convinced me to wear a small headlamp (it was clipped to my visor). RunDisney actually provided plenty of lighting along the path this time, and never did I need the headlamp or any additional light.
I had hoped that they would have used the space in WWoS to have the Headless Horseman or perhaps some roaming zombies.  Just seems like the fields and the track could have been used for characters. 

This is past the halfway point of the course, and the Grave Diggers were on hand - ready and willing to bury any runners who couldn't finish the race. 

It's okay... I'm not really dead.  Don't collect the life insurance yet, DisneyBride!

Following the WWoS, you make your way back to Hollywood Studios.  The last mile or so of the course leads you through the very short portion that is actually in the park.  I enjoyed running through Hollywood Studios, and only wish there was a way to increase the portions that we do run.

It was nice seeing Lotso outside of Toy Story Mania! 

Do you hear banjos? (Let's see how many of you get this...)
I told Lotso to save me a spot in the queue.  But he didn't.  Don't trust a bad guy.

As pointed out by @dopeyrunr, Lotso did NOT smell like strawberries.

The backstage finish at the Tower of Terror is great.  You get a great view of the hotel and the ToT sign as you approach.  I wish I had stopped to take a finish area pic with my medal.  I guess I need to add that to the "to-do" list for my next ToT race.  The ToT medal with the moving elevator may just be the coolest in my collection.

 This guy gave me my medal. We just love our race volunteers!

And speaking of volunteers, after crossing the finish line, I bumped into a few running friends helping out at the event. Caitlin from the Magic Milers was working the finish area for Trackshack, and Elizabeth (pictured)  was handing out bananas.

After collecting my snack box (still waiting for Tonga Toast to be offered at the finish line by the way- ahem), I hiked my way over to the Villains Bash after party. 

DisneyBride will post a recap of the Villains Bash.  The highlight for me was I was able to ride Toy Story Mania (with only a 15 minute wait!!!) and I was champion of my car.  That's a win in my books. 

We hung out with our friend and fellow Seminole fanatic, Avery

I really enjoyed this night race - a lot more than I expected.  Count me in for 2015! 

Some takeaways
  • Bring a REAL camera- the pics I took on an actual camera came out WAY better than my iPhone photos that you might have seen on my instagram feed.
  • Pay attention when the course makes sharp turns.
  • Make sure to stop for pictures.  The lines do move much faster than you expect.
  • Enjoy the after party. A lot of runners just go back to their resorts and crash.  You missed HALF THE FUN!
  • Unless you are an elite, this is not a race about finish times and PRs.  If you are in front of the Balloon Ladies - you are fine.  If you do get behind them, try your best to not to let them out of your sight.
  • Don't eat a big meaimmediately after the race.  Don't stuff your face with greasy fries for your post race meal.  The giant turkey leg was my first choice, but that quick serve place was closed. boo!  
  • Do ride Toy Story Mania. 
  • Do ride Tower of Terror (I did fight it at first, but I'm glad I did).  Did have some major regrets about the aforementioned greasy fries though.
  • Nap a few hours before your night race. If you can't nap - then hydrate more than usual.  If you can drink caffeine, then have some right after the race, so you can enjoy the rides!
  • Sleep in the following day.

Have you done a night race?

What are some of your takeaways?


The 'other' Walt Disney World 5K

As we prepare to head down for another runDisney weekend, I think about how few and far between running events at Walt Disney World seem to me.  I say this of course, mindful that new events have been added in California at DisneyLand.  But where is the love for Florida?  

Well, as it turns out - there is something else out there for runners.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS) complex on property is host to numerous events throughout the year - everything from soccer to cheerleading to Crossfit.  DisneyGroom even participated in basketball events there during his high school years.  

If you are like me, your main association with the WWOS is the location for the runDisney expo.  And yes, it is that too.

On October 10 - 11, 2014, ESPN Wide World of Sports will hold its annual Disney Cross Country Classic. Now in its 19th year (yes, this has been around almost as long as the WDW Marathon), the event attracts cross country runners from middle schools and high schools around the country.  

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Oh... it's just for kids.  Well, many of the events are, as they are organized by age groups.  But there is a OPEN event for ALL ages.

Cross Country Open 5K  Dust off your spikes and hit the trail on the new and improved Disney Cross Country Open 5K course. This fun run is open to athletes of all ages and skill levels. The new course will guide you on a scenic run through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 

From what I've seen, part of this course is off-road, similar to the Happy Haunted 5K during runDisney's Tower of Terror 10 Miler Weekend.  Word is that there may be a character or two at the finish line. 

The Cross Country Classic weekend even includes some extras runDisney runners will appreciate.  A mini 'expo' of sorts and a pasta party WITH CHARACTERS.

From the page

Vendor Village:   Be sure to visit the Disney Cross Country Classic Vendor Village located at the HESS® Fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex before or after your race!

Pasta Party: Athletes, coaches, and race spectators – everyone’s invited to be a part of the fun during our Cross Country Classic Pasta Party, 6:00 p.m., Friday, October 10, 2014 at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!Treat yourself to a scrumptious buffet dinner including mixed greens, smashed potatoes, panko baked pasta, chicken with marinara sauce, rolls and drinks.Kick off race weekend with a live DJ, meet your favorite Disney characters, enjoy a delicious dinner and take in all of the Disney magic. Tickets are $25 for pre-purchase and $30 on the day of party (based on availability at Welcome Center). Get your tickets today at Disney Sports Travel or at theBolt Ticket Store it’s a celebration you won’t want to miss!

You probably want to know "Are there medals???"

What awards are given to the runners competing in the Disney Cross Country Classic?  A: Trophies will be given to the top three (3) athletes and top three (3) teams in each team race (high school, college, and middle school). In each race, individuals placing 4-10 in will receive a medal. For the Open Race, trophies will be given to the top three (3) male and female athletes and individuals placing 4-10 will receive a medal. A first place team trophy may be added for the Open Race if there are sufficient team registrations for the Open Race.

I did a web search and discovered that past medals look like this:

So, okay - you have to be pretty fast to snag a medal.  But still, there really is something magical about lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement (or trail) when you are on property. Since we are heading down to WDW this weekend, we won't be able to make this event next week.  But, for locals, and any other runners that find themselves there next week, it's definitely worth checking out!

Have you ever run this event?

Did you happen to catch the cool Mickey Mouse trophies in the video?

Did you ever do any of the many youth athletic competitions at ESPN WWOS?