I started running January of 1977 when my best friend talked me into signing up for Track & Field. We were going to run the hurdles. I loved the hurdles and I soon began running in the 440 and 1 mile relays. The hurdlers always had a friendly rivalry with the distance runners on who had the harder event. We always were begging the coach to let us hurdlers run a distance race, but he would not. The coach didn’t want us tired for our events. One meet late in my junior year, we were so far ahead in points, it didn’t mater how we did in the high hurdles. We saw our chance, and the coach let us run. I didn’t win, but I pulled out a 4:50 mile. The next week, I was surprised to see that I was listed for the mile and not the high hurdles. I wasn’t very good at the highs, but wait, what? Yep, I was signed up and I ran a 4:55. The final week of the season, I was signed up again, and this time I ran a 5:00. I was slowly getting worse, but I also was not training for distance. I was still practicing for hurdles and relays.
That summer, the Cross Country coach talked a former student into trying to convince me to try out for the Cross Country team in my senior year. Was he crazy? I was a hurdler. I was finally convinced to try and we had an awesome team that year. I ran most of the year as Junior Varsity (JV), but both the JV and Varsity team were pretty close in talent. The coach would swap us for about 1/3 of the races to rest the varsity team and so they didn’t use up all their points for races. Both teams received Varsity letters that year as we all earned enough qualifying points to Letter. The last quarter of the season I was moved up to Varsity when one of the Varsity members was injured. For track that year, I still ran low hurdles, but ran distance races instead of relays. Most of my distance friends had run marathons, but I never had any desire to run one. Those things could kill you. The longest I ever ran was 10 miles.
After graduating from High School, I continued to run local races, but did not run college track. My school had great Cross Country and Track & Field teams. I also wanted to concentrate on school. College was not the same as high school. You really had to work there. My running eventually began to peter out. I would run for a while, then not run for a while. When I started work, I began running to stay in shape for work. This was on again, off again running. In 1987 I started running regular. but even this eventually just became a daily chore. Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home and clean the house, make dinner, run…
But I was running. Then in 2011, my wife, a none runner, announced that she and a friend of hers was going to run the Disneyland Half Marathon. Was she crazy? They trained and they did it. I went to support them and to take pictures. The race was amazing. So many people dressed up as their favorite characters and there were some truly amazing costumes. It looked like so much fun, was so well organized, and they couldn’t stop talking about all the cool stuff Disneyland had done to “Plus” the event. They got these amazing, really heavy metal medals. Right then I decided that I was going to run one too. I started training for the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon. I could do this. I ran 10 miles before, and this was only 3.1 miles more. Of course, I had run that ten miler 31 years before.
I was way out of running shape. Ok so I did have a shape, but you wouldn’t correlate it with a runner. I trained, stopped, started, got hurt, but eventually I made it to the starting line. Would I be able to finish? I wasn’t the runner I use to be. My ideas about how to run were old. Sure the core was still the same. But look at how many people were there just to have fun. So many were dressed in amazing costumes. I wasn’t sure how some of them would finish the race in their costumes. I started the race and was amazed at all of the wonderful things Disneyland did to make the race special. After running about 4 miles through the Parks and seeing so many characters and other amazing things, we hit the streets. Wait, what, we are already 4 miles into the race?
Now I was seeing amazing crowds, high school marching bands, Cheer leaders, Cosplayers, and even a car show. We went through Angel Stadium and the crowds cheered for us. I even saw myself on the Jumbotron. After exiting the stadium, I noticed a lot of people cheering for a Russ. They kept yelling for him to keep going, you’re almost to the finish line. There was only about 3.5 miles to go. I was wondering who this other Russ was until I realized one of the people was looking straight at me. How did this person know my name. I’ll say I was just tired, but I think it was just a brain “f*rt”. Ah, they print your first name on your bid, duh. I was really having to push myself.
The crowds were still yelling. other runners were encouraging me to keep going, almost there. Does it seem like you are always “almost there”? But then, there is was. The finish line. Old skills kicked in and I dug deep. I kicked it in as I had been taught all those years ago. I crossed the finish line with a 2:39:54 time. Really? I ran a 12:12 minutes per mile pace? And there were the medal people. A nice lady came up to me and placed that medal on my neck. It was even heavier than my wife’s medal had felt the previous year. It felt great. I had finished my first Half Marathon, and I was hooked. Sure I was sore and pretty much couldn’t walk for the next 3 days (just kidding, but I was majorly sore). I was proud to wear my medal around the Park that day. So cool to hear so many people’s medals clacking as they walked around the Parks, and I had one too.
Since that Day, I have run several more Run Disney races including 12 more Half Marathons, two 10k’s, 2 Virtual half Marathons, and 9 Virtual 5K races. My races include running at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I have run all of the Star Wars Light Side and Dark Side Half Marathons. I was on track to be a legacy runner for both the Light Side and Dark Side Star Wars Half Marathons. You have to run every race in a series and get the title after the 5th year. At Disneyland, they would post the names of all of the legacy runners. One more Dark Side and I will be a Legacy runner. They discontinued all of the races at Disneyland due to construction. There is no word yet whether they will start the races again after the construction is completed. If they do start them again, I’m not sure if they are counting the virtual races towards the Star Wars Legacy, will pick up where they left off, or have to start over again. But I will be there if they start running at Disneyland again.
My next Run Disney race is the Star Wars Light Side virtual race that they are running to get people moving and have a little fun. It is also the race that allows you to get the Kessel Run medal if you also run the Rivals Half marathon (formerly Dark Side). My next race at a Park is next April 2020 for the Star Wars Rivals Half Marathon. With the break due to no Disneyland races, I have really been working on updating my knowledge of running. Adjusting my diet, losing weight, learning how to properly use gels during races, how to train better, and to actually be training without injury. I really would like to get a 2 hour race next April. I know if I work hard and put my mind to it, I can do it. My times have been improving. As part of this prep, I started the My Disney Races Facebook and Instagram accounts.
I also truly hope as things start to settle back down at Disneyland, that they bring back the Half Marathons. I know there are political and operational consideration that must be addressed before the races can start again. But I know all of us Disneyland Half Marathon runners want our races back. I love the races at Walt Disney World, but that is such a long trip. It’s nice to be able to pop down on Friday and go home Monday, and still get to spend a lot of time at the Parks. I still don’t have a desire to do a full marathon, and not much motivation to run other Halfs, but I love Disney races and as long as Disney puts them on and I am capable to running them, I will be there.
I went out today just to keep loose. Started feeling a little pull in right thigh. Decided to play it safe and cut it short. I’ll work on stretches and roller the rest of the week. Probably walk run on Wednesday, but rest up for next Sunday’s Walt Disney World, Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon. Ran 2.28 at 9:30 pace.
Today’s run was a light maintenance run for next week’s Walt Disney World, Run Disney, Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend. I’m pretty happy over all with today’s run. I ran 3.06 miles at 9:51 pace.
“CYBER MONDAY”!!! This sale was so popular on “Black Friday”, that I am bringing it back for Cyber Monday. Buy autographed copies of my books about the details of Disneyland today for only $13 each, or get both books for $25.
Both books cover the details of Disneyland that you are meant to see, but may not be aware of. There is no duplication between the two books.
Just go to sudbooks.ecwid.com to order your books.
Sale valid for Monday 11/27/2017 (PST)
I first met Marty Sklar at a special eventput on by the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet in 2012. At the time, I had a rough draft of my first book. Mr. Sklar was very inspirational and is part of the reason I pressed ahead and now not only have that book in print, but a second book in print and a third in the works.
I had the good fortune to see him talk several times and even got to have a brief private conversation with him twice.
He is not without his controversies, but he was a good man. He brought much joy to countless numbers of people, including me and my family. He took Walt Disney’s founding principles and never wavered from them. They were successful for Walt, and he continued with that success. I have signed copies of both of Mr. Sklar’s books and will always cherish them and their great words of advise.
I can’t claim to have personally known him, but I have benefited from his writings, presentations, and personal words of advise.
Thank you Marty,
Russell D Flores
Here are some links reporting on Marty Sklar’s passing:
Looking for that last minute gift for Dad? For the next 24 hours, you can get my books for just $13 each (plus shipping). Hurry, don’t miss this great offer. Follow this link for this special deal www.sudbooks.ecwid.com
Disney as “Seen” thru Russ’ Lens.
By Russell Flores
How to enjoy the Disney Parks more and see those details?
I get a lot of questions along the lines of, how do you find / see all of these details or how can I enjoy the Disney Parks more. The quick answer is obviously, you need to stop and smell the roses. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That’s the real trick to finding Disneyland’s many details. That’s all there is too it. Thanks for reading this post. What? You want something a little more specific? Ok, I’ve still got a little space Lynn and Laura let me have. Here is what I do to apply this principle.
First of all, I literally stop and look around. I look up, I look down, but most of all I look backwards. Especially in lines. The Imagineers know most people look in the direction of the line’s movement, so they will put some of their best stuff behind you. Sometimes things peek my interests right off the bat. Other times, I look at something and think, is there something here and just take a picture I can look at more later. I will use this techniques in areas such as queues where you can’t stop for long periods of time to just look at something. I will then look at it later and do research to see if there is something there. I did this with the Mule Engine in the Thunder Mountain queue. I looked at them every time I went and took several pictures. Then one day I found the answer I was looking for. I learned that the one in the queue and one behind Thunder Mountain were used in the movie Hot Lead, Cold Feet staring Don Knotts.
Another way to find these hidden secrets is to do research before you go. Read books or cruise pages on the internet. Shameless plug, my Seen Un-Seen Disneyland book series would be great for this. There are many great books out there. Books by Jeff Kurtti, Jeff Heimbuch, Dave Smith, Sam Gennawey, Kevin Yee, Tim O’Day, Jason Surrell, Bob Gurr, Jeff Baham, Lynn Barron and Ken Pellamn, Joshua Shaffer, and The Disney Imagineers just to name a few.
Be careful though, especially with the internet. The internet is self feeding, so one person posts something, another copies it, and before you know it, it is on several sites and everyone is taking it as the truth. You see this a lot with “quotes” from Walt Disney. Another is the spike behind Sleeping Beauty’s Castle being the center of the park. This is a classic example of such a Disney Urban Legend. There is also the clock on the back side of the castle being set to the time of Walt Disney’s death. This one is quickly dismissed by looking at the clock and then looking at Walt Disney’s obituary. I’m not saying be a total negative nelly, just be aware while cruising the internet. Use multiple resources like an internet source and a book.
Another great way to learn about many Un-Seen treasures is by listening to podcasts such as The Sweep Spot, Dis-Geek, Mousetalgia, Communicore Weekly, Dis-Unplugged, Skywalking Through Neverland, and many, many others. Find one or more that are entertaining and/or informative. Listen to them while driving to and from work like I do, while working, or even while exercising. These shows can be very fun, entertaining and informative.
The last source I’ll write about is looking at DVD’s / Blu Rays and videos. Especially the ones of people who worked on the various projects. You’d be surprised how many videos of the great imagineers exist such as Tony Baxter, Rolly Crump, Bob Gurr and many more are out there. Many have books too. Check out the bonus material on Disney DVDs / Blu Rays. As Jeff Kurtti said on one of my posts, “Did no one watch the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs I produced?” Documentaries such as Waking Sleeping Beauty by Don Hahn can be great for finding details. These are a great series with a lot of great information. They are a must for the true Disney fan. Also check YouTube.
There are additional ways to get information such as attending Disney related events, emailing Dave Smith at Ask Dave, Talking with Imagineers you have the opportunity to meet, or fellow fans. And don’t think I’m just talking about Disneyland. You can find these Un-Seen treasures at all the parks and even the Walt Disney Studios. I find great joy in finding and sharing these hidden treasures that Walt Disney and his imagineers add to make the Park that special place we call Disneyland.
I hope these suggestions help you find new ways to enjoy the Disney Parks more. If you have suggestions or comments, please fell free to post your comments.