It’s marathon day and the final day of the Dopey Challenge! This is the day that no matter how awake I think I am, I still look tired in every picture. :P
After yesterday’s rough half marathon I was feeling apprehensive as I got myself together. My legs were feeling tired and a little stiff but okay by Dopey standards and I just hoped that as I started running my hip wouldn’t be in too much pain since it was giving me so much trouble during the half marathon. The weather was also a little warmer today which had me a little nervous since running in heat I can deal with but I haven’t run in serious humidity in a VERY long time which might cause issues for me.
I was up by 2:40, I took some Tylenol (to help the stave off hip pain), got dressed and was out the door by 3:20. I stopped in the food court to fill up my resort mug with coffee and was on the bus by 3:27am. It’s time to go!
Normally, going into a marathon I have some loose goals about how I want to tackle it but this morning, as I sat on the bus, I knew I would be at the whim of my hip. I would just have to play it by ear and try to keep my spirits up if things started to go south. I had zero goal other than to finish.
I was off the bus by 3:45 and through bag check by 3:55, not too shabby. I met up with the running Ohana and you could tell us Dopey runners were tired and ready to get this done. This morning Nathan opted to start in corral A so after walking to the corrals we parted ways and I went to wait in corral B. I was definitely ready to get this start but nervous about how it would go. My plan was to pay it by ear and try to enjoy it no matter how much my hip was bugging me. I wanted to make it half way before taking some more Tylenol in hopes that it would tied me over to the finish and make the journey a little easier. I also promised myself that I’d stick to my fuel plan.
The National Anthem was sung and the fireworks exploded and we were off.
Again they sent corral A all at once and then I was in the second wave of corral B (or maybe we went all in one wave too, I’m having trouble remembering). I just kept the pace easy and just tried to let everything warm up slowly. At about the 1 mile point I could tell my hip was feeling off though so miles 1-5 I just took them easy and stopped for characters in hopes it would keep my spirits up and give my legs a little rest.
By mile 4/5 my legs were actually starting to feel okay. I was still nervous but decided to up the pace a little bit and that actually seemed to help. Some combination of it being warm, taking Tylenol, and my legs warming up was making my hip feel normal again. However, my tummy felt weird so I took a bathroom stop around mile 4 and felt a bit better. Sanaa might not have been the best pre-race meal :P (Still #worthit)
We ran under the train station and up Main St and tears definitely came to my eyes. It’s just my favorite part of the race and CAN NOT be beat.
I ran through MK, stopping for a couple characters, and then we were back in cone alley. My hip was feeling pretty good at this point, I took a gel and just settled into a comfortable pace. My hip was feeling surprisingly good and I was starting to feel more confident, but I kept everything super conservative and just kept reminding myself I had a lot of race ahead of me.
We cruised down the road did the out and back section around mile 12 which felt a LOT longer this year, we saw the entrance gates just down the road from where we turned around so we really were running corner to corner of WDW property. I took another gel but my stomach was still feeling off so ate it really slowly.
We then ran around the water treatment plant (bless those volunteers standing in that smell) and then it was time for Animal Kingdom! There were animals greeting us (llama, sheep, snake, falcon, etc) as we ran into the backstage area. We then came out, ran around AK, and out through the Dino area like we normally do.
My stomach was feeling off again so another bathroom stop and I decided I would slow my gel/water consumption since I had been taking in a lot the whole race up to that point. While the map looked different for this portion of the race, the route didn’t seem different from past years as we rounded the corner and ran in front of the AK entrance. This is one of my favorite places since there are always so many people cheering.
At this point, it was about 7:40, I had gotten to the halfway point in 2:01, I grabbed 1 Tylenol from the aid station as a precaution because honestly I was feeling pretty good, and kept trucking. I picked up the pace a bit because I felt like I could 1) negative split and 2) come in under 4 hours. These were my cautious new goals fully realizing that I still had a lot of running to do and it was getting hotter every minute.
Once we left Animal Kingdom, we come to the first of my two least favorite sections of course. The first being the run from AK to Wide World of Sports (WWoS) and then the portion from WWoS to Disney Hollywood Studios. My new goal was get to WWoS and get to those sponges that they are normally handing out. I entered and after an extra turn, there they were! These sponges are one of my favorite things on the course, they feel so perfect at this point!
We ran all around WWoS, some people hate this part but honestly other than the narrow paths, this part is kind of like a wormhole to me. We enter and then I just zone out and keep following people and making turns and we come out 3 miles later. I’m not sure why but this part of the course has definitely grown on me over the years.
As I exited, I was able to cheer on Jeff as he was entering and I was feeling great. I was 20 miles in but definitely still had a lot in the tank and was feeling good enough to push the pace. I cruised through my second least favorite part of the course to get to DHS. We ran backstage by Tower of Terror, up a steep ramp, then down Sunset, and turned down Hollywood Blvd. At this point I knew this was going to be a good race and that if I kept positive and focused I could come in sub-4 hours. I always get teared up running down Hollywood Blvd because I know I’m almost there. And of course when I tear up while running I hyperventilate, so that’s fun : )
Anyways, we exited DHS and then ran along Crescent Lake, taking the Boardwalk side which was a great change since it felt like there was more people out cheering than normal, and then ran into Epcot. When I came into Epcot, “I’ve Got a Dream” was playing so of course run dancing commenced, then they played “You’ll Be In My Heart” which brought on another bout of tears and hyperventilating, and then I finished Epcot off with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” which was super fun. World Showcase never feels longer than when you are in the final mile of the WDW Marathon.
A run through Future World and then out and around to the finish, with a wave to the finance, I crossed in 3:57:32, which is nuts!
I feel so lucky that everything aligned and that I was able to enjoy this race so much after not enjoying the Half Marathon. While this is not my fastest time by a long shot, I’m so proud of what I was able to do and how good I felt at the finish. While the temps were higher, it was the perfect temp for me at the effort I was running. I feel so lucky!
After getting my medals, my cooling towel (which was much appreciated), and my beverages and snack box, I went out to the post-race area and b-lined it directly to Dopey for a pic. Love getting this picture after the race!
I met up with Nathan who finished about 10 min behind me and we swapped stories. After chilling for a bit, I was starting to feel all the Dopey miles and I knew it was time to head back to the hotel for some R&R. We grabbed breakfast at Pop on the way back back to the room and I made sure to shower and stretch before taking a quick nap because we had plans to go to Epcot that afternoon/evening.
We headed back out around 12:30 and got to the parks around 1:10 with just enough time to use our Spaceship Earth Fastpass. We then met up with some Ohana peeps to talk running and enjoy a margarita before heading to Test Track to use our other Fastpass. We headed to the Seas (my DCP home!) and then to the Land pavilion to use our final Fastpass at Living with the Land and stopped in for a whoopie pie at Sunshine Seasons.
We then hung out with Nathan and wandered around World Showcase until our 8pm reservation at Rose and Crown. This was the perfect way to cap off the day with a prime viewing spot for Illuminations (probably the last time I’ll see this version) and enjoying good food and beers. Our server was awesome too!
At this point I was pooped, so it was time to make the long walk back to the buses and then to our beds. We then spent our final day at the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed a really good meal at Skipper Canteen and met up with Jeff and his wife for a showing of the Tiki Room. I love having so many great runDisney friends to share this experience with!
As I sit here more than a week later typing this I’m still in that runDisney glow. This weekend always gets me jazzed for running and I just come out of the weekend feeling so positive and ready to tackle new running challenges. Friends, Disney, running, and everything else went into making this a really great vacation and I can’t wait to be back next year. This year also has taken a lot longer for me to recover from, I really ran and my hip is still giving me a little bit of an issue but I’m starting to feel more like myself and look to 2019 and what I want to accomplish this year.
Things I will be doing again next year include:
Ordering through Prime
Doing a split day at the parks after races
Continuing to support my running Ohana!
That’s it for now, until next year Dopey Challenge!
Finally, here are all the characters I remember being on the marathon course: Peter Quill & Gamora, Darkwing Duck and Launchpad, Nick Wilde and Judy Hops, Buzz Lightyear, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, Goofini, Tangled Mime, Fairy Godmother (maybe Cinderella, too), Woody and Jesse, Mary Poppins’ Penguins, Bachelors, Golf Minnie and Mickey, Attraction Vehicles, Orange Bird Statue, Bowler Hat Guy, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow, Lion King performers, real animals, Rafiki, Fantasia Ostrich, MK Parade Performers, Haunted Mansion Grave Diggers, Soccer Minnie, Sports Goofy, Happy and Sadness, Green Army Man, Mr. Incredible, Alice, Jasmine, and Snow White.