It’s day 3 of the 2020 Dopey Challenge and I was excited for another day of running, especially since this was my goal race of the weekend. Each Dopey Challenge I choose one race to really race or put in a hard effort and this one was it for 2020. I wanted to run the half hard and see what I could do and update my PR on an official USATF course after setting a PR at an uncertified course earlier this year.
I woke up again at 2:45, got myself ready, & this morning my husband came with me to the start line since he was going to do some spectating. We left the room around 3:20, walked to Old Port Royale to get some coffee in our refill mugs, and we were in line for the bus by 3:40am.
We ended up at OPR right as Team in Training was doing their morning meet up so my purple and lime green Maleficent 80’s bound fit in perfectly. A few people kept looking at me thinking I was on the team.
Since OPR is at the end of the pickup loop it took a couple buses before we were able to get on. We were on the bus by 3:57am but then we hit the major traffic. I started to get nervous but I trust Disney transportation to get me to the start. Our bus driver was clutch though and drove down the left lane before getting over so we were there by 4:30am.
I hopped off the bus and was happy to not have a bag because the bag check line was halfway down the row in the Imagine lot. The start area felt really crowded but I quickly made my way over to the running Ohana and because we had a walk to the corrals we parted ways just before 5am.
I was feeling pretty good, tired but not too tired, the only thing that was a little worrying was that my stomach did feel a little off. I made a pit stop at the porta-potties in the corral area before heading to corral B with Nathan.
The announcers kept us entertained, the National Anthem was sung, and with fireworks we were off. They sent off corral A all together and we ended up in the 2nd mini-corral of B so Nathan and I said our good lucks to each other and we were off!
The first mile was crowded, like really crowded, and I couldn’t quite get to the pace I wanted. I found my pockets to help me get around slower runners but I decided it was better to just try to go with the flow until we got to the wider roads. It was really warm and really, really humid so keeping it conservative was the best option at this point.
I was up to speed by mile 2 and felt good cruising between 7:00-7:15 min/mile. Right what I wanted. By the time I got to mile 2 I was also completely covered in sweat. Around mile 6 my stomach started to turn a little. I still felt okay so I slowed the pace and just kept going but I was really starting to feel the heat and humidity (something I haven’t trained in). Running through MK was a huge boost!
Made it through MK and exited through the backstage area into cone alley which felt slightly different and not quite as congested. We passed the Grand Floridian and Polynesian before heading back onto the wider roads.
Around mile 8 my stomach made some more movements and I was struggling with my head, I just wasn’t finding my flow. I needed to make 2 decisions, 1) to stop or not at a porta-potty and 2) if I should slow the pace overall or keep pushing. Everything about this race just felt hard. I was not finding the usual happy runDisney place that I normally find. This was just a hard run and I wanted to keep pushing mostly just to be done. My original goal of 1:35 was slipping and honestly I thought about throwing in the towel completely and just run the rest at a training place.
I made the decision to stop at a porta-potty around mile 9 and felt much better and removed one layer of difficulty from the remainder of the race but my stomach still was not 100%. I did some quick mental math and a sub-1:40 was still in reach and might put me in contention for an age group award, especially given the heat, so that became the new goal.
I also forgot how boring miles 8 to Epcot are and I wished I had brought my headphones to keep me company and motivated but it was also good to know that I could race without them. It wasn’t pretty and I definitely found that running dark place here but I kept going towards that 1:40.
This part was a bit of a blur. We ran up the ramp and made our way to EPCOT. When I got to the overpass near mile 11, on the other side of the road the balloon ladies were almost to mile 1. It was a bit of a mind trip. How delayed were the corrals released???
I just kept running, not as fast as I originally hoped, but I gave it what I had. This race was a total mental toughness challenge (which will be echoed during the marathon too). My legs felt okay and overall I felt okay but the heat and humidity were just zapping me in a way I haven’t fought in a VERY long time.
I ran through EPCOT and tried to get some smiling pics but I can see the struggle in every smile.
We crossed EPCOT and ran the super anti-climactic finish through the backstage construction area and exited to the finish. I was so done done done with this run. So sweaty, so tired, and so happy to cross that finish line.
I walked away with a shiny new official half PR on a USATF certified course of 1:39:47! Also, as of writing this, I came in 3rd in my age group!
I went through the runner’s chute, getting my medal, all the fluids, & the snack box. I met up with my husband and we mingled for a bit in the finish area before hopping on a bus to go back Caribbean Beach.
Characters I remember being on course:
Outside Epcot – Clopin (Jester from Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Heading to MK – Lilo
World Drive before MK toll plaza – Pirates of Caribbean characters
MK Parking lot – Christmas Reindeer
MK Parking lot – Christmas Duffy (this one still hurts that I passed by)
Tomorrowland – Stitch? Buzz? Someone was there
Tea Cups – Queen of Hearts
Seven Dwarves Mine Train – Dopey
Liberty Square – Colonial Minnie
Frontierland – Woody
Backstage MK – Pinocchio + Dumbo Float
Exiting MK – Chicken Little
Grand Floridian – Pluto
Golf Course – Daisy in gold dress
Past Polynesian – Goofy w/ water boat
Near MK parking lot – Mater & McQueen
Ramp – Cheerleaders
Epcot Backstage – Horace Horsecollar
Mexico – Jose
This race felt really hard. My legs were not necessarily holding me back but the heat and humidity plus the stomach issues just took everything out of me. When I finished, the thought that wrapped it up was the line from the Monty Python skit about feudalism, “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed”. During the whole race I just felt oppressed by all the factors impacting me, it wasn’t the running that was hard it was everything else. I was just hoping the marathon wouldn’t be too much harder (spoiler: it was).
Saturday is our non-park day so we got back to Caribbean Beach, grabbed some breakfast at OPR, and then tried checking out the pool but it was a little chilly for swimming thanks to the overcast and raining so we threw in the towel pretty fast and hung out at Banana Cabana for a bit.
We then headed to Disney Springs to meet up with a friend at Pepe’s for lunch (highly recommend this food option!) and hung out for a bit. Did you even go to WDW if you don’t step into the World of Disney store???
We then parted ways with my friend and headed back to the resort, took a quick nap, and then grabbed dinner at Banana Cabana before calling it an early night. We’ve got 26.2 miles tomorrow!