2017 Star Wars Kessel Run Challenge Recap

After completing the Dark Side Challenge in Disney World by finishing the half marathon and 10K in two days, I wrapped up my weekend with my mama with some time in Hollywood Studios. The Great Movie Ride, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid… we had a blast:

We even stumbled upon the Star Wars show happening right in front of the Chinese Theater almost as soon as we got there:

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I don’t think I need to tell you that’s me going “OOOOOOOHHHHH” and “YEEEAH!” in the background of both videos.

If you thought I was having a crisis of joy during the races just from all the Intergalactic Love, you should have seen me when this happened:

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As if my day couldn’t get any better, we headed over to Star Wars Launch Bay to meet some characters, and they did not disappoint. Once again, I was a total idiot around Kylo Ren (I swear I should make flipbooks of these photos just so you can watch me get dumber around him):

But me and Chewy had a MOMENT with a capital M when I showed him my Millennium Falcon medal:

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And I went 2 for 2 on getting lost in Wookiee hugs:

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After noodling around for a bit and having a drink at the Prime Time Cafe while we waited for our dinner reservations, we had the time of our lives at the buffet – where we shared our meal with Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the gang! Commence happy tears breakdown #272 of the weekend.

Seriously, when Mickey hugged my mom, I burst into tears. I’m an emotional person, OK?!

After dinner we headed over to the theater where the Star Wars fireworks show was scheduled for 9PM, and man oh man. I wish I could describe what it’s like, but videos and photos and words don’t do it justice. It was incredible.

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After the show, we called it a day in the parks and got ready to head back home the next day, exhausted and happy and already planning our next trip back.

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All in all, running both Disney Star Wars races was a dream come true, when I didn’t even know I had this dream in the first place. When I “joined” the Star Wars fandom and discovered these races, they were a “wouldn’t it be nice” thing to add to my bucket list. But after talking it through with my husband and working out the financials – and a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get there! – my brand new dream was a reality. And it only took about 8,000 miles flown to run 19.3 twice in 2 different states and earn 8 beautiful medals that each represent their own accomplishment.

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There were plenty of pros and cons on each coast, and while I go into them in detail in their own recaps, I can say this:

  1. Disneyland was smaller but had a lot more on-course support from local cosplayers so the run felt much easier, plus the milder weather made it a breeze. Sadly, the Anaheim races have been suspended indefinitely due to issues between the town and the parks, and while that is very unfortunate, they do offer virtual races that you can run, earn medals for, and have count towards the Kessel Run Challenge if you still want to do it!
  2. The races in Walt Disney World were less in the park and more on the street (and HOT AS HELL) but they offered characters before and after the races to help you make the most of your experience.
  3. Both race weekends were excellently executed in terms of logistics. RunDisney races are NOT cheap by any means, but Disney quality and organization is second to none. There’s a reason they’re one of the most well-known brands in the world.

All in all, if you’re a Star Wars fan and have the chance to do even one of these races, I can’t recommend them highly enough. They take a lot of work and time (and yes, money), but it all comes down to creating experiences that matter, and Disney races allow you to do exactly that.

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Have you ever run a Run Disney race? Would you ever do a Star Wars race? What costume would you run in? Share your thoughts in the comments!

2017 Dark Side Challenge – Half Marathon

With the 10K complete (and another day of Florida fun under our belts), mama and I got back to the hotel on Saturday night and found this fun voicemail on our room phone:

Gotta love that Disney touch 🙂

The next morning we woke up nice and early – 2:30am again! – and after putting on Flat Vader (with Tiny Trooper!), I headed out for the Dark Side Half Marathon and the completion of the Kessel Run Challenge and Disney’s Coast to Coast Challenge!

The same bus ride as the day before took us to the same Start location, but instead of doing any character photos, I hung out near the stage area and watched the pre-race show (and almost got picked for the trivia contest but chickened out)! The best part was getting to see The Last Jedi trailer on the big screen with everyone, and admiring the insane costumes some people were running in.

That’s a Millennium Falcon in Mickey ears, a SUPER REALISTIC Krennic (hubba hubba), a Dark Helmet, and yes… a George Lucas (I stole the pic from Disney’s website, it’s too perfect). 

My friend Lizzie was running the half with her uncle, so we met up and headed over to the Corrals, where we chatted and waited for a final bathroom break, then went our separate ways. While waiting to start in Corral E, I managed to get some video of the fun psych up speech the Stormtroopers gave every morning about these races being a test for Captain Phasma to find the best soldiers and it gave me a little giggle.

Another fun thing I caught was the HUGE fireworks display they set off at the very start – Disney really pulls out all the stops for these things!

After corrals A-D and E1 went off, one of the coolest things happened: the corral was cut in half RIGHT in front of me and I was one of the folks that got to hold the start ribbon!!

Me and the folks around me were losing our minds – how cool was it to START our corral? It was an awesome experience to be the very first people to start, and gave me a taste of what the elites must feel (although they probably don’t selfie NEARLY as much when it happens to them):

When the gun went off and the fireworks shot off over our heads, I ran through some ash from the firework and laughed the whole first 100 yards – we felt like we were in the Olympics all by ourselves up there! I had to calm myself though: no sense in going out at an 8 minute mile when I still had 12.1 more to go.

The first 3-4 miles in the dark were on the highway and in back roads between parks, and almost immediately I noticed a difference from the 10K. They had more music on the course, screens playing the movies, and one section where they laid out a crazy laser light show along a stretch of about 100 yards between forest on either side, complete with big speakers playing music and background noises and Ewok battle cries to simulate the battle on Endor! I loved it, even if I did get blinded by a few rogue lasers.

By about Mile 5, the sun started coming up, but thankfully, it stayed behind the clouds. It was a true blessing:  with the sun hidden, it stayed relatively cool, even though the humidity was still around 90%, even at 7am.

In addition to a few character stops that I didn’t bother making, I got to see another fun piece of Disney magic around mile 6: a real live elephant! I didn’t get a picture, but apparently the Animal Kingdom park has an elephant care and rehab facility where they treat the animals, and one was hanging out watching us run! I know there’s some controversy around the fact that these guys are even there at all, but I had to laugh at how random it was to find an elephant on my half marathon course. Only in Disney.

After the Animal Kingdom we headed back out on the highway for mile 7 on, and my stomach was starting to get a little wonky. So I stopped at a medical tent for some Immodium (just keeping it real, folks), and headed back out for the final 5-6 miles feeling much better.

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One of the last character stops I made was partially for the character and partially just so I could get a break from running in the humidity! Darth Maul was never really a *must have* for me, but I turned out to really enjoy this guy. The cast members managing his line led him off for a break right before I got to meet him, so I was “first” in line again. The one cast member thought the line deserved a photo, so she snapped one. And when she showed me, I HAD to have it. But as I was giving her my cell # to text it to me, Darth Maul came back and had to wait for me to finish chatting. He was not pleased. Either that or that’s just his face. Either way, it made for some funny photos:

After Darth Maul, we ran through Hollywood Studios and I managed to get a fun picture with my squad, along with some nice runfies and shots of the scenery:

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While I had gone easy for most of the first 10 miles, I ran the last 1-2 miles feeling strong.

It was the same route we ran the day before so we got to pass the Dolphin and Swan resorts before entering Epcot for the final stretch (and I got to see Hux again! What’s up, General Bitchface Weasley?!)

Bonus: as we went through the Boardwalk, I found Denny of the Diz Runs podcast spectating at mile 11 (he’s at the far right in a red shirt below)!! Seeing a friendly face and giving him a big ol’ sweaty hug was just the boost I needed to get me to the finish.

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As if Mother Nature knew we were almost done, the sun came out FULL force as we rounded the corner into Epcot.

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Having to run the final mile in full sun was brutal, but the view was nice and knowing we only had a mile left made me run stronger than ever.

After learning that the finish line was just on the other side of Spaceship Earth during the 10K, that big metal ball was a sight for sore eyes.

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I gunned it and made it through the finish with a big ol’ smile – I had completed the challenge!

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After getting a cold towel and my medal (and a bottle of water that I was instructed to have OPEN as I passed through the finisher’s chute, thanks to a bunch of attentive medical volunteers), I was directed to the challenge tents where I picked up the bling that made me want to do this whole thing: my Dark Side Challenge medal, Kessel Run Challenge medal and Coast to Coast Challenge medal.

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I won’t lie: I cried when the volunteer put the last medal around my neck. She hugged me and said “Oh, bless you! Congratulations!” and I couldn’t pull it together. These medals were more than just pieces of metal; they were the culmination of a LOT of hard work, travel, and time, and they were finally mine. A fun side effect of all that bling: the music they made when we walked around the finish area:

After a quick stop at the medical tent to ice my sore calf (no big deal, just tenderness), I hung out and waited for one last picture with Kylo Ren (again with my awkwardness), and called it a day.

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Stay tuned for the final recap where I head into the parks and round up both Disney experiences in one last post!

2017 Star Wars Dark Side Challenge – Dark Side 10K

After a relaxing pre-race day in Florida, my alarm went off at 2:35 and I poured myself into my snazzy homemade Captain Phasma outfit for the Star Wars Dark Side 10K! PS – a HUGE thank you to Tiffanie (aka Star_Wars_Runnah) who made my skirt and tank BY HAND! She’s one of the only other runners out there who loves Star Wars as much as I do, and I pretty much fell in big-puffy-hearts-on-your-Trapper-Keeper-LUV with her after meeting her in Disneyland during the Light Side Challenge. Go give her a follow on IG.

If there was one good thing about getting to Florida a few days early, it was being able to acclimate myself to the heat and humidity. Seriously, it was brutal. Like, in the 90’s with 86%+ humidity every day we were there. But arriving a few days early gave me a chance to get used to it and hydrate extra, which paid off in the end. So I hopped on the easy-peasy lemon-squeezy bus to the start area right outside my hotel and before I knew it, we were at the Magic Kingdom parking lot start staging area!

I SPY A MATT THE RADAR TECHNICIAN!

The coolest thing I discovered about the WDW races (when compared to the Disneyland races in Anaheim) is that they set up character photo ops at the start and finish areas to guarantee that you get a pic with whoever your little heart desires without having to worry about missing them on the course (or being swept from the course if you waste too much time waiting)! They had Phasma, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Jabba, Boba Fett, and BB8! So what’s a girl who arrived way early to the start to do? Go make some friends in low places:

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I almost stole Salacious Crumb but the running from the cops would have added extra miles to my legs before 19.3, which seemed kind of pointless.

After heading into Corral C and waiting for what felt like a LOT longer than I waited during the Light Side Challenge (probably because I was alone this time), we were finally at the starting line!

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Once the gun went off just after 5:30AM, we took off in the dark through the Magic Kingdom parking lot and out the gate that folks drive through, which was fun:

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The one downside to the WDW races (compared to Disneyland) is the time spent off Disney property. The run down the highway to get to the first park was a loooooong one. Especially when it’s dark and about 90% humidity and you’ve got a cape that doesn’t breathe (but absorbs your sweat quite nicely) flapping round your ass the whole time.

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They DO kill it on the pro photos though, especially in the parks!

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This is a funny shot I had to share: apparently, social media is now a part of my very DNA, as evidenced by this pro shot after I stopped to snap some on-course pics:

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And while I kept an eye out for the character stops at each mile, no one really jumped out at me as a must have. Darth Maul and R2-D2 were there I think, but I was just kind of hot and wanted the whole thing to be over with, really. The last 3 or so miles as the sun came up were quite lovely, though!

And for all the miles of non-character filled highway we had to run, I will say that Disney made up for it BY PUTTING HUX ON THE MILE 5 MARKER.  YOU GUYS, HUX. GENERAL BITCHFACE HIMSELF. I died.

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He’s one of my favorite characters in the new trilogy. He continually looks like he’s watching someone NOT use a coaster on his new Ikea coffee table, and it’s killing him. I love his sassy ginger resting bitch face.

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They also had some non-Disney pro folks (aka the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion!) IN the parks, which was cool!

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Another fun part about the Dark Side race (and dressing up as a Dark Side character): is getting to play a BAD GUY! I had SO much fun sassing the Stormtroopers – and they got into it too, saluting me and giving Phasma the respect she deserves (yaaasss QUEEEEN).

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Right before we finished, the last character stop that I made was for Chewy, because how can you NOT stop for Chewy?

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Here’s another fun pro pic. Of course I had to do airplane arms because I’m a child and can’t think of anything better to do in front of a race photographer:

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Finally I entered Epcot, the final half mile in view of Spaceship Earth, and crossed the finish line with smiles and thanking the lord this running sauna was over with.

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The medal was so cool: a badass Stormtrooper with a red ribbon that matched my pedicure of all things!

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While I was glad the race was over, I was even more excited: now I got to wait for more character photo ops that I didn’t get before the race or on the course!!

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Finally, I jumped in line for a photo with my namesake and LOVED it. I wanted to hug her like Mickey Mouse, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have liked that.

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Fun Fact: Alex, who I met at the Disneyland races, also went for the Kessel Run Challenge and ran these races too. He snapped a pic with Phasma and posted this to Twitter:

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Thank you for making me giggle-snort, Alex!!

Once I had my fill of character photos I headed back to the hotel on the bus and showered for a day of fun with mama and friends at Disney Springs.

I also made it to the WeRunSocial meetup as well, where I got to hang out with folks I’ve only ever seen online – so fun to make “real world” friends!

Overall we kept it low-key (to spare my legs before 13.1 the next day) and had a great time before heading back early for another 8PM bedtime and 2:30 wakeup for the next day’s half marathon!

2017 Star Wars Dark Side Challenge – Expo and Bib Pickup

So here’s the deal – I know I fell off the face of the earth on this blog, and I know this is a recap of something that happened 3 years ago, but when I was looking into doing any Run Disney races, a huge part of my decision to go was reading about others’ experiences. Also, this weekend is when the Star Wars Rival Run would have been happening in Florida (if we weren’t all stuck inside trying to stay safe and healthy), so I figured I’d kill some quarantine time and share the intergalactic fun by sharing my Star Wars Dark Side Challenge recaps. Let’s kick it off with the expo and pre-race fun!

For this race-cation, my husband opted to stay home and let the girls off the leash for a weekend – that’s right, Mama and I took on Florida in a big way. The flight was excellent (any day that starts with a mimosa that’s 95% champers is a good day) and we landed, picked up our rental car, and arrived at the All Star Movies Resort ready to take on the world.

Our first order of business was to get to the Expo to pick up my bib and ALL THE MERCH. After dumping our luggage and grabbing a snack, we hopped on a bus to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex where everything was located, and found it to be super easy to navigate. We even made friends with a gentleman and his tween son on the bus – dad Paul was completing the Kessel Run Challenge like me and his son Avery was taking on his first Disney race. We had a good time talking Star Wars and racing while my mom shook her head, saying “you people are all insane but it’s great!”

Speaking of insane, the Expo was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

After picking up my bib, getting my photo snapped for the Dark Side Challenge, and earning some bracelets that noted my Coast to Coast and Kessel Run medal status for the end of the half, we stopped at the merch tents at the bib pickup building and the expo building (they were about 100 feet apart). After snagging a few things at the expo, I stopped by the Altra booth to say hey to my people there, and hightailed it out of the building. I was going on 14+ hours of nonstop action and needed a break. (PS incorrect quote alert on the first picture there!)

Seriously, I posed with EVERY SIGN THEY HAD. I couldn’t help it. I was on Star Wars overload!

When we got back to the hotel at about 7pm, we were wiped out, but we still had to explore the hotel – and lo and behold, we discovered that they were playing a movie in the outdoor Movie Room by the pool!

The crisis of joy continued as I got to watch The Force Awakens while tooling around on social media and planning my race strategy for the 10k/half marathon to come in just a little more than 24 hours!

After the movie, we wandered to the pool for a bit, grabbed some dinner, split a Celebration Cupcake (because: CUPCAKE), and called it a night.

The next day was blissfully free of any plans, so we literally did nothing.

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No, for real, we really didn’t do anything but wake up when the hell we felt like it, ate breakfast, sat by the pool from about 7 hours, wandered around our hotel and made friends, and then went to bed again. It was GLORIOUS.

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The best part of our day was after dinner: in the hotel lobby, we stumbled upon a couple of women who were laughing their asses off at these screens hanging in the hall. See, we’d seen my name on one before, and wondered if it was just a coincidence. But these sassy ladies cracked the code: there were apparently sensors that read our Magic Bands (bracelets coded with our info that let us buy things all over Disney and get into our rooms), which then displayed our names on the screens. Krin and Julia realized that if they walked slowly past certain areas, it triggered their names to appear on the screens, which they demonstrated for us about a half dozen times, much to our mutual delight.

Seriously, we were laughing so hard I had to use the bathroom. It must have been the Disney Magic they pump through the air vents 😉

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After we got our cardio in by laughing with our new friends, we took a slow walk around the resort property and snapped some pictures – it really was a nice place, even if it was a more “budget-friendly” option it was still Disney, so the quality is everywhere!

After a glass of wine by the pool after dark, we headed back to the room for Flat Phasma and an early bedtime! That 2:35AM wake up wasn’t going to get any easier.

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Up next: The Dark Side 10K!

Building Resistance Rey: The Pants

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… I started my Resistance Rey build.

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I was excited for this build mainly because it was my “wouldn’t it be nice” cosplay that magically came true by like 85% when Wendy of Chic and Geeks hooked me up with the vest, gauntlets, arm wraps and bag for this costume for an unbeatable price over the summer.

But, as it tends to do, life happened. I commissioned a shirt that took a bit longer than I’d expected (10 weeks, yikes) so I kind of hung around blaming my cosplay laziness on the delayed shirt. WELL. When I learned – with about 2 weeks before NYCC – that the shirt would arrive in time for the con, I went into ConCrunch mode on the pants night after night. Here’s how I modded them!

Thanks to the advice of the lovely ladies in the Rey Cosplay Community on Facebook, I started with a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt Anita Sateen Straight-Leg Pants in Toasted Brown.

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I know: they look VERY brown. But trust me. Much like EVERY SINGLE THING REY OWNS, the color changes depending on the light and they’re actually quite greige/olive in some lights.

To start, I put the pants and marked where they should come down to just past my knees, leaving room for the knee slit:

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This was the most stressful task, and I put it off way longer than I had to. But cutting those pants was so FINAL! I mean sure, I could go back to Kohls and get a new pair but that wasn’t the point. So I measured like three times and cut even lower than I thought I’d need to, and figured I’d hem them up if I had to.

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My plan was to use the leftover leg pieces to create the kneepads that I’d then stuff with batting and sew on separately, last. Of course, I ended up cutting not enough off of the leg and had to remove the seams on the bottom to get an extra inch or two of fabric (as you can see above).

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To get the shape of the kneepad, I wish I had a more scientific method but I honestly just obsessed over movie screenshots and photos of the actual costume and eyeballed it against my own leg.

The Rey group on Facebook has a bunch of super great templates and stencils that people who are much smarter than me can scale to the size they need based on their heights and create amazingly accurate, perfectly smooth-seamed kneepads. I, on the other hand, take the Gerald approach: smile with blind confidence because I HAVE A BUCKET.

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So I took some thicker card stock and traced the outline of the oval-ish knee pads the CRL required, and then did some pencil sketching to figure out what size the blocks should be inside, while also allowing for space between each section. Keep in mind I was going to be hand-stitching all of this because I also don’t own a sewing machine. So… yeah.

#IAmGerald.

Once I had the kneepad templates done, I cut out the 4 kneepad pieces from the remaining pants fabric, ironed them to get the seams out, sewed them together cruddy side in, and left one corner open so I could stuff in a few layers of low-loft batting (look at me throwing actual correct terms around!). Then I stitched up the top and voila: two semi-oval-ish-if-you-squint kneepads. I also cut the templates so that I had the sections ready to hand stitch, too.

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Hey, the good thing about Rey’s outfits is that they’re technically all handmade and scavenged, so they don’t have to be Imperial Perfect (TM).

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Next came the thigh seam and whipstitching around the hem and knee slit and kneepad making.

Alternatively titled: the week I watched 32 hours of  YouTube videos on “how to pintuck” and “how to whipstitch”. Once I was confident in my ability (and reassured myself a hundred times that IT’S JUST THREAD AND YOU CAN ALWAYS RIP IT OUT AND START AGAIN), I marked off where the thigh seam should lay and pinned it out around both legs, front and back (see the pin job in the pic above). Then I turned on The Great British Bake Off and stitched my heart out for about 10 hours over the next 6 days.

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Not pictured: all the blood I shed while doing this work.

Slowly but surely over the evenings, I finished the thigh seam…

…and all of the stitching around the hems and knee slit, and one kneepad.

At this point you might notice that the kneepad looks a little… sad.

Well that’s because I didn’t use enough batting.

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What’s a seal with no sewing skills and a lot of ingenuity (and a bucket) to do?

Finish the other kneepad with the same amount of batting, then cut tiny slits in the backs of each section of both pads and SHOVE EXTRA BATTING IN WITH A CHOPSTICK then stitch each hole shut again, and delicately attach each kneepad by hand while The Last Jedi plays in the background and between sobbing breaks every time Leia is on screen.

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Reader, it worked.

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Full disclosure: I finished the pants AFTER NYCC, and wore my Resistance Rey without the kneepads (see above) to the con, but I finished the kneepads the week after NYCC when I was laid up with the ConCrud (TM), submitted the following weekend, and was approved within a few days.

The only other thing I had to do was tighten up the whipstitching on the undershirt literally eleven hours before we went into Manhattan for NYCC, but hell… what was one shirt’s worth of whipstitching when I’d done endless inches of it on my pants already? I was practically a professional seamstress!

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PS: Cap shouted “REY!” when he saw me and made me get on his bike for the pic, so if that doesn’t scream Mission: Accomplished, I don’t know what does.

And that about does it for my Resistance Rey build! In short, it was a build that I mainly commissioned and re-used my Jakku Rey belts and boots and staff for, but making the pants was a super time-consuming and confidence-building part of this costume that I don’t take for granted.

Does this mean I’m about to jump right into the Red Invasion Gown of my dreams? No, no it does not. BUT, it did give me the confidence to believe in myself when it comes to the work I do on these costumes, no matter how small or insignificant it might be in the grand scheme.

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Making a Scavenger: Rey’s Hair and Makeup

OK so now that we’ve covered how to build Rey’s staff, outfit, tabards and accessories, we’re left with the finishing touches: hair and makeup.

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I’ll be real: I’ve seen some girls go all out and do contouring and all that to try to achieve Rey’s facial structure and they SLAY.

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I don’t do that.

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Only because I don’t know how.

And also because I’ve found that kids just kind of go with it and don’t care if you’ve got the perfect Daisy Ridley cheekbones. Hell, I’m sure when they see me they know I’m not Daisy Ridley – or they see me and think Daisy Ridley really let herself go, because I am not close to her physically in any way, shape or form, aside from the brown hair.

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Instead of driving myself crazy pre-troop, I focus on THREE things when doing Rey hair and makeup:

  1. A defined brow
  2. Highlighter (to simulate that desert sheen)
  3. Three buns

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For makeup, I don’t stray too far from my everyday routine, but just add a few extra layers or extras.

  1. First I start with my everyday foundation, IT Cosmetics CC+ cream in Light. It adapts to my skin so even if I get some color in the summer it’s not mask-like.
  2. I’ll pay some extra attention to my brows with my every day Cover Girl Easy Breezy Brow Pencil in Rich Brown. If I’m feeling extra, I’ll use a setting wax on them too.
  3. I’ve used Maybelline Define-a-Lash pretty much as long as I’ve HAD eyelashes, so I stick with that.
  4. I honestly don’t remember where I picked up the Bronze/Blush highlighter palette up there, but it’s my go-to when I want to be EXTRA, when cosplaying or on date night. I’ll dust some on my cheeks and forehead to simulate a little desert shine and tend to like the way it looks in photos (see above for this highlighter in action).
  5. For lips, I flip flop between just a swipe of chap stick for a natural look, and this old-as-hell Cover Girl Lip Slicks in Bronze Goddess. It’s a sheer, bronze-y gloss that just adds a slight pop of color that looks like I spent the day in the sun. Which, you know, Rey…
  6. When I’m all done I take a big brush and dust a light layer of my most prized possession: bare Minerals Mineral Veil. This is a finishing powder that I honestly didn’t know I needed until I got it for free with a Sephora purchase. The full size is ridiculously expensive and when this one runs out I will undoubtedly start a gofundme to get a full size version because it is that integral to my LIFE. It’s a basic setting powder that holds everything in place but it’s like… magic because it doesn’t add any color or a chalky look. It just… makes everything perfect. Which is helpful when I’m at a 7 hour troop where I won’t have time to check my look in a mirror every hour.

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Although if Phasma’s around, I’ve got a walking mirror whenever I need it 😉

Once the makeup is done, I tackle my buns.

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The three-knob hairstyle is by far the most iconic part of the costume, and I’ll be honest: I love it. I love that kids can emulate Rey’s look easily just by asking their moms to do their hair, and my heart leaps with joy when a little one with Rey buns bounces up to me at a troop and I get to exclaim “We have the same hair!!” and see their excited, proud smiles!

The thing is: I’ve got what I call Bun Luck(TM).

When I first started cosplaying as Rey, I had loooooong hair, in varying layers:

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This made for incredibly difficult buns.

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Even when I tried two buns, I wound up ripping a lot of my hair out when trying to take the buns down.

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Halloween 2017: these took 30 minutes to put up and 30 minutes to take out.

For many reasons – easier buns being one of them – I chopped most of my hair off in January and have had mostly Good Bun Luck since then.

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Aside from the day I took my Rebel Legion submission pictures (when it took me about 45 minutes and a near meltdown to get the buns in), I’ve been able to nail the buns on the first try EVERY TIME.

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I figured out the trick early on to get the “biggest knob on the bottom” look: start with even less hair in the top bun than you think is right, and then build the next bun using what’s left, including the tail of the previous bun.

Then bun, wrap, repeat.

It took me a lot of practice, but that’s honestly all I can give you by way of advice. That, or make friends with a handler at a troop who just finished putting Rey buns in her little daughter’s hair and give her puppy dog eyes until she offers to do your buns.

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Seriously, we were the best Reys there, thanks to the Resistance Hairdresser:

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And that wraps it up for my Rey build! I hope you enjoyed learning how I built my Rey and can’t wait to see what you create using my tutorials and advice!

Scavenge on! ❤

Making a Scavenger: Rey’s Accessories

With Rey’s staff, base outfit, tabards and arm wraps complete, it’s time for the finishing touches, or what I call the Four B’s: belts, boots, bracer and butt bag!

Belts and Bracer

I’ll start off by saying that I could have made these myself. But if I did, they’d look like junk and I’d probably be short a few fingers because I don’t know how to cut leather. SO I once again turned to the lovelies in the Rey Cosplay Community on Facebook, where countless talented creators with a passion for Scavenger Gear reside.

For my belts and bracer, I opted to work with one girl who had done a bunch of pieces for other group members, and I was not disappointed in the least. She took my measurements and built these babies to my size – and even combined shipping with my 3D Staff pieces since she lived near the guy who made them!

 

She also made the holster in case I wanted to go full Resistance Rey later on! (Spoiler Alert, I did.)

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The best part: lovely personalized little notes that only I know are there 🙂

These are beautifully crafted and handmade leather, so I had to do a little breaking in if I’m honest. It was stiff at first but after a few wears and just twisting and rolling the leather around in my hands, it’s gotten softer and more pliable – and more weathered.

Boots

I’ve seen SO many talented cosplayers build their own Rebel Legion-approved Jakku Rey boots by modifying existing boots. They’ve saved TONS of money and created some really incredible things.

But much like the belts and bracer, I lack the talent and time to create such masterpieces. So I saved up some cash and sprang for the basically-screen-accurate-yes-they’re-licensed-and-approved Po-Zu Rey (formerly Piper) boots.

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*Gollum voice* my precioussssessss

To be honest, these were actually a super wise purchase. I picked them up during one of Po-Zu’s insane sales so they were much cheaper than regular price, and I’ve worn them a HELL of a lot outside of cosplaying. They’re quite comfortable and vegan (if that floats your boat) and they’re adorable with skinnies and a long sweater… or casual day Rey 😉

 

So while I can’t take credit for making them, if you’re on the fence about getting them I can vouch for their comfort and quality!

Bag

While this is the final piece I’ll discuss making, Rey’s butt bag was actually the first piece I made. And I call it a butt bag with only the utmost respect – it genuinely is a bag that sits on her butt by way of the second belt, and is not to be confused with her “scavenger pack” which she’s seen with in the beginning of the film in “Full Scavenger” costume with head wraps and goggles.

 

She may be a scavenger, but the girl sure owns a crap-ton of BAGS.

I started out with this bag that I’d seen some other girls successfully modify.

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All told, it’s actually a pretty decent bag for the money, and requires little modifications that even a novice can do. Like I said – this was the first piece of my first real cosplay “build”, and I feel like it was a great place to start because it boosted my confidence in my skills.

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It came with belts that I didn’t end up using, but it essentially had everything I needed, minus the black Alice clip and spare Square rings for the side of the bag, which I was lucky enough to get from another Rey in the Facebook group who had extras.

One day when I was in the throes of a nasty case of bronchitis, I finally decided to start this baby. And while it took me the better part of a day (and a few band-aids), I was so proud when I was done.

 

Here’s how I did it:

  • attached black Alice clip to lower left with khaki thread
  • removed random loop on top flap
  • replaced D rings with screen accurate square rings
  • re-positioned side tabs with new rings and re-sewed them on with space in the middle (secured with hidden hot glue too, shhh!)
  • cut up a cardboard box and re-taped it to fit the inside of the bag and keep its shape (see photo above of that in progress)
  • weathered with eyeshadow

And that was it! With just a few hours of mindlessly sewing while I sneezed and watched old episodes of Hannibal, I had a perfect Rey butt bag and I was ready to submit to the Rebel Legion!

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Or SO I THOUGHT! (cue dramatic music by John Williams and tightly-edited action scenes interspersed with me crying in a bathtub surrounded by RIT dye).

Stay tuned for the harrowing tale of my first rejection and my comeback!

Making a Scavenger: Rey’s Tabards and Arm Wraps

So you want to make your own Rey cosplay? You’ve come to the right place!

First, take a look at how I built Rey’s staff and created her base outfit. Once you’re up to speed, let’s go into those “extra” pieces that make Rey’s costume so recognizable.

Tabards

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To start, I had a bunch of gray gauze left over from my first version of Rey, so I figured if I just made them a little more brown, I could match everything.

Oh how wrong I was.

Not only did I not get the colors right, but I also mismeasured the fabric I had left. After I’d spent two full days of unemployment dyeing gauze with different mixes of dye, tea, and coffee, I tried them on and realized I needed about 2 more feet to get the length right:

At that point I had dyed everything so much that I wouldn’t have been able to get that color again in a million years, so I decided to start from scratch with a fresh batch of white gauze that I could dye to the perfect colors – and cut long enough to reach the right length.

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Once I had them dyed and measured properly – again with a mix of different dyes and tea and coffee – I did some ninja stitching that ended up saving me TONS of time and fidgeting attached them to the shirt at the shoulders.

You see; so much of Rey’s look is strategically placing those stupid tabards in the right spot so they look effortless, but let me tell you – there is a LOT of effort involved in getting them just right!

First I gathered the fabric at the shoulders and sewed them through with a few gathering stitches. To get them the right width, I threaded the needle and thread through the whole width then scrunched it up on my shoulder while looking in the mirror, and tied off the thread at the right width.

After the shoulders were shirred, I then draped everything at the right length and direction, then added a few stitches at the shoulder. This makes it easy to get in and out of the shirt and keeps me from having to re-affix them every time I get dressed.

Lastly, I put the whole thing on – belts and all – and fidgeted and futzed with the wraps until they laid just right. Then I sneakily safety pinned the spot where the fabric criss-crosses in the front and where they nearly connect in the back. The catch with these: the pins are hidden by the belts!

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Once they were on, I finished them with some weathering courtesy of my trusty eyeshadow weathering technique I learned while working on the shirt. And I even mopped up some eyeshadow spills with pieces of tabard for the uneven splotchy look with some success too! The fun thing about Rey’s outfit is that it doesn’t need to stay CLEAN!

Arm Wraps

Yet another great thing about the Rey Cosplay Community on Facebook is that it’s international – meaning those UK Reys get all the good Boots wraps!

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These are apparently the screen accurate wraps that Daisy Ridley wore in the films, and I have to admit: they are pretty badass and accurate.

To get them to look right, I discovered a tip from another Rey: Take Dollar Store knee high pantyhose and cut the toes out, then use them as makeshift compression sleeves which you tucked the edge of each wrap into and wind down the arm to the wrist then tuck the edge in.

While other Reys have used two wraps on each arm or cut one in half for more layers, I found success with just one wrap on each arm, with minimal gapping or slippage. The pantyhose act as a kind of grippy liner but don’t choke the life out of my not-very-toned bicep or create that unpleasant sausage-casing look that a full on compression sleeve would do to me.

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Once they’re wrapped, I then take the same approach to weathering them as I did my shirt and tabards: a bunch of eyeshadow and a big brush. This ends up coating the edges just right. While I have to go back each time and re-apply the weathering, it actually adds to the rough and tumble kind of feel of the whole thing. Win-win!

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Next, we’ll take a look at how I finished my Rey with the 4 B’s: bracer, belts, boots and butt bag!

Making a Scavenger: Rey’s Base Outfit

Originally I had considered mashing all of the soft pieces I created for Rey into one long post, but after I hit 1,000 words halfway through the pants alone, I decided to break them up into shorter posts so you’re not hit with a wall of words.

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You’re welcome.

Before we start, let me make two notes:

ONE: There is a saying among Rey cosplayers that our girl’s outfit consists of “fifty shades of greige”, and let me tell you: this is one hundred percent true. Depending on what source material you’re looking at (movie stills, photos of the costume from traveling displays, the movie itself), the material changes colors, making it damn near impossible to perfectly match the original.

Having said that, the goal when dyeing your pieces should not be to match the screen-worn outfit, but for all of your pieces to match each other. That is, your pants need to be the darkest of the pieces, with the shirt being the lightest along with the arm wraps, and the tabards (the flowy fabric that drapes from her shoulders) is somewhere in the middle.

Now, if you’re just going for a con Rey and have no desire to go for Rebel Legion approval, by all means, GO NUTS. Get down with your greige self! But if you’re going for 100% screen accuracy, prepare for a lot of tears, a lot of wasted dyeing, and desperation on a scale you previously only thought existed in Jane Austen novels.

And TWO: f you’re building a Rey – Rebel Legion or not! – I HIGHLY SUGGEST you join the Rey Cosplay Community on Facebook. If I hadn’t joined the group, I never would have known where to even begin. This group has the most detailed files and lists and links, seriously. I have yet to find another costuming-focused group on FB with as many well organized resources. Go join. I’ll wait.

Good? OK. Let’s get started.

Shirt

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To make Rey’s shirt, I started out with a recommendation from the Facebook group – there were 3 or 4 options, but at the time this one was the only one available, so I went for it. In hindsight, I could have easily gone a size or two smaller on the shirt (and wouldn’t have had to take it in on the sides like I ended up doing), but maybe when this shirt falls apart I’ll upgrade.

Either way, I started off with white and just dipped the shirt in a big pot of tea that I had brewed to add some brown to my tabards (more on those in another post). After the tabards were done, I tossed this pure white shirt in there for a few seconds and voila: perfect color.

But the shape was off because I bought it big, so I took in the sides, sliced the sleeves shorter and stitched the collar up ever so slightly so it resembled our girl’s busted up tunic even more:

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To finish it, I weathered it with brown and black eyeshadow and a big-ass makeup brush.  It was surprisingly easy to get it looking kind of grimy within a few minutes!

Pants

Many girls in the Rey Facebook group had luck with these pants from Amazon. Because they were so cheap and wouldn’t require hemming, I got them in white first. I say first because I had to eventually re-dye them, but we’ll get there.

On dyeing day one, I had next to no idea what the hell I was doing. So when I first dipped my white pants into a bath of Sandstone and Frost Grey Rit dyes (according to the Rey Facebook group this was the concoction that worked for everyone), I took them out and screamed: as you can see on the left, they were basically blue/green and unusable.

Now, this was also before I DRIED the pants. For all I know, they would have been just fine if I’d waited for them to dry. But I panicked and immediately tossed them in a pot of dye remover… which gave them a permanent green tinge.

I’ll pause here to note that the dyes I used were specifically for synthetic fabric, which is what these pants are made of. But the ratio of colors was never really listed anywhere – it’s always “just eyeball it”, so I did. Depending on what fabric you use, you might be able to use regular Rit dye and get better results than me! The point is start slow and do not get discouraged.

At the time, I thought the pants (after drying) looked a tiny bit green, but because the colors all had to be relative to each other, I took a break and focused on finishing the tabards before I went back to the dye pot.

So stay tuned for my next post where I go into detail on how to make Rey’s tabards and arm wraps!

2017 Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Post Race Park Hopping

If you missed any of my recaps from this weekend, catch them here:

When we last left off, I’d just finished the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon and earned my Rebel Challenge medal! After a quick shower and slipping into some Pro Compression recovery socks post-half, we decided to hit up Disneyland for our last full day in California – and MAN was it fun!

We’re not huge Disney fans, but when you walk through those gates and smack-dab into a parade of characters and marching band led by Mickey effing Mouse himself? You feel the love.

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The plan was to make a beeline for Star Wars Launch Bay because that was where Chewy and Vader were – I wanted at least to get photos with them before we did anything else.

 

 

I didn’t know what to expect – remember, I’m a total Disney newbie, only been to WDW like twice in my entire life, and not in about 17 years – but when we walked into the Launch Bay, I went into total Star Wars overload.

 

 

It wasn’t just a place to hang out and take pics with the characters, it was like a little museum! I also didn’t realize that Boba Fett would be there and walked in on him leaving for a break. A cast member with a tiny Minnie Mouse voice informed me that “Mr. Fett has an important meeting so unfortunately he has no time for photographs now, but Lord Vader is on the ship now and accepting visitors. We have also received reports of a Wookiee being onboard, but if you find him, please report him to us immediately.” I die.

So we found the spot to wait for Vader before being invited into his inner chamber for a photo op. I put all of my medals on for the picture, but that may not have been the best idea.

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Despite my best efforts to flatter our Dark Lord by complimenting his cape as I was introduced, I immediately had my personal space invaded and was accused of being “guilty by association”. I won’t lie – I really flinched, it was scary!

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not pictured: the fact that I may have peed myself a bit

Mike stepped in when he sensed the danger and saved me in time for a group photo (that I still look terrified in, lol):

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Once they took the picture I all but ran out of there, then discovered that Mike had some words with Vader after I left. He claims he was telling Vader that he was “on his side”, but the photos show a different story:

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Listen here, bucket head. I’m the Emperor now. You work for me. Got it? No back talk. Get out of my sight.

As soon as we left Vader’s area, I spotted the line for Chewy – FINALLY I was going to get my Chewy hug! I’ve waited forever. After the 15 minute line, I could barely contain my excitement, and by the time we were greeted by the Wookiee himself, I couldn’t help it – I burst into tears. Like full on, had to wipe them away tears. But to his credit, Chewy took one look at me and gathered me up in his arms for the BEST HUG EVER. I’ll never forget the feeling of him patting my back like I was some small child, like “There, there, tiny hairless Wookiee. It’s OK.”

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No, really – if you zoom in you can see the tears in my eyes:

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After my hug we got a group shot – when Mike came into the photo Chewy gave him a big hug too and that pic cracks me up just as much: look how happy I am that Mike got a hug too!

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It looks like Mike just accepted Chewy’s offer to be his best man.

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I was not ready to say goodbye, but we had to. The cutest part came when we turned to leave and Chewy reached out to play with my medals – he went right for the spinning BB-8 on the 10K medal and spun it. Mike tried to give him a high five but he didn’t quite get it, to which his handlers offered, “He’s new to earth, he’s working on it.” My heart. It bursts.

After that, I had to take a moment to collect myself, and realized just how hungry I was. Oh yeah, I had run 19.3 miles in the past 36 hours, maybe I should get something to eat! So off to the Galactic Grill we went, where I treated myself to a post-Rebel-Challenge victory lap of a Cheese-3PO Burger (I die), a Dark Side Lemonade (omg), and a Darth by Chocolate parfait for dessert (COME ON).

 

 

While we ate, the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show happened to start right behind us, so I wandered over and caught some of it just in time for you know who to show up:

My favorite part of that video is hearing the grown-ass man standing next to me shout “OH YEAH!!” when Kylo Ren comes out of the fog. Never gets old.

After the show I returned for my dessert – worth every Imperial calorie.

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At that point we’d only touched a part of the park, so we made quick work of the lines at Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

 

 

It was fun seeing the original attractions that I’d only ever heard about before – and the lines weren’t TOO long so that was a nice bonus. Throughout the day I kept checking the lines for Hyperspace Mountain because that was the ONLY other ride I wanted to hit before we called it a day, and unfortunately my legs were starting to feel the effects of all the running and standing. Finally before we were about to call it a day, the line opened up again (it had been closed on and off all day) so we jumped on it and waited for nearly 2 hours.

 

 

Now, neither Mike nor I knew what to expect going into this ride. Mike especially. I knew it was a coaster, but forgot just how long it’s been since I felt speed like that. Needless to say, I screamed pretty much the whole time, between laughing and shouting out “It’s a TRAP!” when Ackbar does during the ride. By the time they took our photo on the final drop, there was virtually nothing left of us but shocked skeletons clinging to the handles of the coaster cart. No, for real:

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WE WERE NOT PREPARED FOR HYPERSPACE MOUNTAIN.

After that, we called it a night at the park and hobbled our way to dinner at Catal in Downtown Disney for a final meal (and glass of wine).

 

 

We couldn’t have timed it better, either: the nightly park fireworks went off just as our meals arrived so we were able to watch them from the comfort of our table!

The walk back to the buses was a painful one – my legs had basically called it a weekend and decided to stop working, but we made it back to the hotel and crashed before leaving the next day.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend that lived up to all of my expectations and then some. I never thought things would go as well as they did. And I was so impressed with the whole experience that I got home and immediately upgraded my plans for the next race: instead of just doing the half in April, I decided to do the whole Dark Side Challenge instead, and earn another set of 3 medals for those races in addition to the Kessel Run medal for doing both Star Wars Halves in one year!

I can’t wait to tell you all about what happened next when I took on another 19.3 mile challenge for the Dark Side in Disney World! Stay tuned.