Race Review: Star Wars Rival Run

2016 was the last time I ran a half marathon, it was in Disneyland Paris and you can read about it here. I wanted to run one last year but the pandemic hit and nearly everything was cancelled so I decided to wait until the pandemic passed. Here we are in 2021 still in the pandemic and I couldn’t wait anymore. Many races have switched to a virtual model anyway so it was just a matter of picking one to lock in a date, and start training for that goal.

Completing another half-marathon after a 4 year absence is also part of my DDPY Positively Unstoppable Challenge which you can read more about here.

I picked the Star Wars Rival Run. I thought it sounded fun because its Star Wars and its non location specific. I’ve see virtual runs advertised for actual cities, for example, run the virtual London / Copenhagen / Paris marathon, and get a medal posted to you for said run with the cities landmarks on it. If I’m going to get a medal with city landmarks on it, I want to have run in that city. Star Wars seemed like a better alternative.

In 2012 I ran my first ever half-marathon and I did it in a time of 2 hours and 5 seconds. I’ve only once completed a half-marathon in under 2 hours. This time around, based on my training, I thought father time was catching up with me. A half marathon is 13.1 miles. While training I had run 12.5 miles in 2 hours and 23 minutes and I ran 14 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. I was sure that come race day I’d finish roughly around 2 hours and 30 minutes, my slowest ever time.

But no. The week of the race I made some changes to see if I could improve my time. And the changes worked. I ran the Star Wars Rival Run on April 18th, in a time of 2 hours, 5 mins and 33 seconds. I’m pretty pleased with that time. I trained for 15 weeks, following the same training pattern I have for all the half-marathons I’ve run. Two 30min runs during the week, and a gradually increasing distance run at the weekend. What changes did I make that could have me cross the finish line 25mins sooner than expected? Heres what I did:

More Rest

I normally exercise 7 times a week across 6 days, with one rest day. On race week, I had two rest days in the two days before the race to allow myself to fully recover.

Change the time

I usually run late at night after the kids are in bed. On race day I set off earlier, at 1.30pm.

Change the location

I normally run in the areas surrounding my house. I ran the actual race in the much more scenic and enjoyable Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Virtual Water Breaks

It occurred to me that on my long training runs, I ran the entire time. In a normal race, I’d walk through the water stations, which gives you a short bit of recuperation time. So I decided to walk for 60 seconds every 3 miles, as if I were at a water station.

All of the above made a huge impact. Its crazy how a few variables, none of them running related as such, could so drastically change my finish time. In sum, it was a fun race to do and it was nice to have a specific date to aim for to help keep focus. I did miss the excitement of a “live” race and I look forward to the day we can do those again. Now all I have to do is wait for my Yoda medal to arrive in the post. “Do or do not, there is no try”

A tale of two races

My new Vivobarefoot shoes arrived today. Its mad to think that they are the only brand of shoe I wear. Minimalist shoes have really helped strengthen my feet and ankles. Running has become low impact and pain free. As an example, I give you a tale of two races.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2012

  • I had a standard pair of Nike running shoes, nice big soles on them
  • I trained for the race using Jeff Galloways training programme, two timed runs a week, and one distance run a week that gradually got longer
  • I ran the half marathon in 2hrs and 5 seconds.
  • My knees were in agony. I hobbled back to the hotel.
  • I was in Disney World so after I’d showered and changed, I went to the Disney Studios theme park. With my knees too sore to actually walk around, I spent most of the day on a bench people watching, envious of the other runners I saw with ice packs strapped to their knees, “clever” I thought

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2014

  • Between this race and the last I had learned to run with a professional running coach (yes, running is a skill that has to be learned) and on their advice I now wore Vivos, a minimalist shoe
  • I trained for the race using Jeff Galloways training programme, two timed runs a week, and one distance run a week that gradually got longer
  • Ran the half marathon in 2hrs, 9mins and 24 seconds.
  • I felt fine and walked back to the hotel
  • I was in Disney World so after I’d showered and changed, I went to the Disney Studios theme park. I spend the day in park, went on all the rides and had great day

If you have 9mins to spare, the below video from Vivobarefoot is a great watch.

Race Review: RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts

During the summer I ran the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts. The RunDisney events are great races, but because I don’t live in California, Florida, or France, they are expensive to get to, and usually involve the planning of a holiday around the race date. Previously I’ve taken part in the 2016 RunDisney Paris half-marathon as well as the 2012 and 2014 Walt Disney World half-marathons.

The RunDisney Virtual Shorts event consists of three 5k races, one in June, one in July, and one in August. Registration is done online and you pick your own date and location to complete your 5k races. So you don’t need to travel at all if you don’t want to. Race Bibs can be printed online, and once you complete your race, you can enter your times online to get your finisher certificate. Finisher Medals are sent out in the post. You can sign up for as many or as few of the races as you want, but you get a bonus “Series” medal if you run all three races. Everything is done on the honor system.

The whole process is very easy, from sign up, to printing bibs and certs, to getting the medals delivered. Typical Disney efficiency. No doubt Disney make money from this but its a great initiative all the same. Its a great way to motivate people to get active over the summer. I had fun picking locations and routes.

Without a fixed race date it is easy to let the race slip. I ran the August race in September because I, and my fellow runners, had difficultly finding a date that suited everyone. This isn’t ideal but sometimes life gets in the way. Other than the August run slipping into September everything went well and I enjoyed the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts. I would do it again, and I’d recommend it if you and your friends / family are looking for an excuse to have an active Summer 2018. Getting fit and active with a bit of Disney motivation.

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June Run

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July Run

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August (aka September) Run

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Medals!!

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