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Running Coast to Coast with Jes Stern

I’m super excited to be starting a new series here on Running at Disney called Running Coast to Coast!! Last month when I was looking for contributors for Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, I had an overwhelming number of people want to write about their Coast to Coast experience.  So instead of limiting it to one story for that race weekend, I thought it would be great to hear from everyone since I’m sure all stories are very different.

Today Jes is here to kick things off with her Coast to Coast journey from Princess to Disneyland!  Not only does she have a fun story, but her costumes for all of the races are AMAZING!  Check it out…

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My journey to the coveted Coast to Coast medal began before I even knew it existed in July 2013 when I signed up to be one of St. Jude’s Heroes and run the Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge. I signed up on a whim, having no worldly proof that I could run a 10k, much less a half marathon and raise $1800. At the time, I had only been training for 5ks, but this was just the motivation I needed to take my training to the next level.

Having never run a Disney race or anything longer than a 5k, I immediately began to do research online and found a bunch of great blogs like Running at Disney. While I was reading every blog I could find about runDisney races, I quickly learned about the upcoming Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare and the Coast to Coast Challenge and just knew I had to add these to my list of goals for 2014. With proper training, I knew I would be able to complete the challenge. When registration opened for Dumbo in January, I still hadn’t run the Glass Slipper Challenge yet but knew I had to sign up right away because it would sell out, so I did!

In February I headed down to Walt Disney World to run the first leg of my Coast to Coast. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Florida, so Walt Disney World was a place I got to visit quite often and I was no stranger to the heat and humidity that Florida has to offer. However, after training through one of the coldest winters I can remember in the north east, the heat and humidity really did a number on me, and I threw any time goals I had for myself out the window. My only goal now was to finish.

I got through the 10k, dressed as a St. Jude Hero version of Rapunzel and moved on to the half marathon dressed as Snow White (with a St. Jude cape, of course).

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I did it, I survived, my first half marathon was complete, and boy was I sore. I couldn’t believe I had signed up to do this again. Eventually the soreness went away and I was pumped to tackle another challenge and make my first trip to Disneyland.

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Fast forward through a couple more half marathons and triathlons to August and I was on my way to Disneyland. Also at this point, I found myself smack dab in the middle of training for the New York City Marathon, and the Disneyland Half Marathon had a very specific time range for me to meet for my training.

We arrived in Disneyland on Thursday morning and had somewhat of a less-than-magical experience, but we pressed on and headed next door to the Expo. Once we made our way downstairs at the Disneyland Hotel, I found my packet pick up spot; it was the only one without a line! Finally something was going smoothly for the day! That’s when I realized there was no slot in the book for my Coast to Coast wrist band! I asked the volunteer what to do about this and she flagged down a runDisney employee. He asked me if I was sure that I had done a race in Disney World and if I had marked off on my registration that I was participating in the Coast to Coast Challenge. I said yes, and he sent me off to wait in a line at the Runner’s Relations booth. When I made it to the front of the line, the woman at the booth asked for my identification and which race I participated in. She then looked me up in the official results and strapped that green Coast to Coast Challenge bracelet on my wrist. PHEW!

Apparently it is quite common for there to be mistakes with the Coast to Coast Challenge wristbands. If there are any mistakes from one registration to another, such as a new address, a change in name, or in my case, my birthday was a day off on one of my registrations, it won’t sync up right in the system. So if you know you’re supposed to be earning your Coast to Coast, don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t have you marked down for a wristband on packet pick up day!

We spent all day Friday in the parks and had a plan to take the 10k slow, have fun with it, and stop for pictures and then focus on a PR on Sunday at the Half Marathon.

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Everything was going according to plan, and we were about to hit the 5k pad in California Adventure.

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Right in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant, I looked down and saw the trolley tracks. I told myself “DON’T TRIP ON THOSE TRACKS!” as; I have a habit of falling down running. The next thing I knew, my foot was caught, and I was going down hard. I twisted my ankle and slammed to the ground. It seemed like slow motion as my iPhone and water bottle flew out of my hands. My arm was bleeding, my ankle was throbbing, and I sprung up from the ground. A few runners gathered around me to make sure I was okay; one told me that I had a great recovery. Two or three Disney workers tried to escort me off the course to a nurse’s station, and I refused. I wasn’t about to give up my Stitch or Dumbo medals, so I pressed on. I hobbled/jogged/walked to my worst 10k finish time ever, but I did it.

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When I got back to my hotel room, I realized my arm was in pretty bad shape, but my ankle seemed okay enough for a day in the parks, but probably not well enough to attempt that half marathon PR, so once again I was throwing my time goals out the window. Luckily, it’s a runDisney race, so even without a PR I knew I could still have a good time and get that Coast to Coast medal.

On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and got dressed for the race.

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My leg that I had gotten stuck in the trolley tracks was doing some weird muscle spasm thing that I never had before. I’m sure it was some combination of falling, spending all day in the parks and dehydration. I made sure to fuel throughout the race and take as much water and PowerAde as possible. I loved that at the Disneyland Half there were so many spectators handing out food to the runners. It was nice to have an orange slice, red vine and a pretzel instead of just ShotBloks and water.

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I started the race out slow and got faster bit by bit. My leg wasn’t feeling the best and the muscle spasms continued, but I just kept thinking of that Coast to Coast medal waiting for me at the finish line. Then finally there it was the finish! I crossed the line just three seconds slower than at the Princess Half Marathon and collected my Disneyland Half Marathon Medal, Dumbo Double Dare Medal and most importantly the Coast to Coast Medal!

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My super speedy friend Matt had finished nearly an hour ahead of me, and my boyfriend Tim was stuck on the other side of the course with spectators, so we all agreed to meet up at the hotel room. I hobbled back to the Paradise Pier Hotel alone with my leg cramping up. I was nearly in tears from the pain, but people walking by me kept congratulating me on my Coast to Coast and that kept the tears at bay.

When I got back to the room, I took a shower and my legs was cramping up worse and worse. I downed a bottle of water with Nuun and took some Aleve and a nap. When I woke up it was time to head over to the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for all you can eat ribs and chicken.

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Later on, we headed back to California Adventure and I did a dramatic reenactment of tripping on the trolley tracks.

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Overall, the Coast to Coast Challenge was a great experience despite a few minor set-backs. Running through Disney World and Disneyland have a lot of differences and I’m glad that I got to experience both. I can’t wait to do it again next year to earn my pink medal when I take on The Glass Slipper Challenge and The Pixie Dust Challenge!

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Jes is a full time engineer, part time toy maker and runner in training living in Maryland. She began running in 2013 after making a deal with her Dad that if she lost 30 pounds, he would get his long overdue colonoscopy. Her first half marathon was the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2014. Since her running journey began, she has run five half marathons, three 10ks, completed two sprint triathlons and numerous 5ks. She is currently training for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon and Goofy Race and a Half Challenge. Follow along with her journey at runsandcrafts.com or on Instagram @epictoychest.

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Have you completed the runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge?  Want to share your experience?  Send me an email to sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Running Coast to Coast!!

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2 Responses to Running Coast to Coast with Jes Stern

  1. I LOVE that Genie costume!! So cute! I can’t wait to get my C2C in November!
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted..Weekly Recap 9/15/14 – 9/21/14My Profile

  2. I love that genie hat! How did you make it?

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