There’s a feeling you get when you cross the finish line of a race. It’s a combination of victory, exhilaration and exhaustion. When you cross the finish line of the marathon of the Dopey Challenge, its all that amplified. I could only describe it as “Run Drunk” I was, in a word, HYPER. 🙂 And i’m sure the sangria didn’t help. LOL
I don’t think i’ve ever been so happy, excited and tired in my entire life. I felt completely badass and victorious. And I instantly knew I need to do this again.
It was that same kind of feeling I got after riding Flight of Passage. Such a major adrenaline rush that you want again. And again. I totally get why my brother is Perfectly Dopey. You just can’t resist repeating it.
As someone who is three times Goofy (well, two and an asterisk) I have always loved running Disney. But running Dopey is its own creature. Its hard. But beyond rewarding. Plus its fun when my coworkers ask “oh, did you run the half or the full” and I reply “both, plus a 5k and 10k”. The look on their faces is priceless.
I’ve spent days trying to write this blog. Because how do you capture four days of running and parks and magic and pixie dust and amazing experiences in a few hundred words. Lets just say the weekend as a whole was magical. And i’m going to highlight a few of my favorite parts of each race.
5k – Thursday
Running with my husband, brother & nephew was a blast. Even tho it was absurdly cold and I had to layer my warmest hoodie over my mike wazowski tank, I still pulled off cute. I love this course – the world showcase light by tiki torches is so pretty. And not only running with, but crossing the finish line with the hubs was a highlight of the weekend. I was also inspired post race to take a silly medal photo – a trend I continued all weekend (photos below).
We spent the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom. Got to see hippos lying on the ground with their mouths wide open (LOL), rode Flight of Passage twice, hit all the rides we could (Everest was closed and Dinosaur had a 2 hour fast pass line so those were out) and had amazing drinks at Nomad Lounge. I’m also glad we got to see Pandora at night. To me, that was cooler than fireworks.
And while at Nomad lounge, I met some great people. We were invited to share a table with two random strangers, who turned out to be members of the Dopey Challenge facebook group I’m in, and had a great time chatting with them. Shortly after they left a family asked if we were leaving soon as they were looking for a table. I invited them to sit down, as we likely were, but we were happy to share space, as we’d been invited to do. It was a couple and their son, and noticing our medals we chatted about the races. The mom, Julie, was in a wheelchair, and in awe of runners, as she’ll never get to. I vowed to run a mile for her. Which I did during the half (see that section for more….).
10k – Friday
This was me, my nephew and my brother. My nephew’s first 10k and he did SO good. We had coordinating shirts (Perfectly Dopey, 1st Dopey and Trevor’s Challenge) which got some love from other runners. At one point my nephew was struggling so I told him to smile. That when runners smile it makes the running easier because you’re happy. At this point another runner chimed in with “and listening to runners talk about smiling helps too”. With a fist bump, he was off. 🙂
This was my first time running a Disney 10k. And i’d heard that its a lot of folk’s favorite course. I could totally see why. Not only do you get the beauty of the tiki torch lit world showcase again, but running the boardwalk is SO fun. The lights reflecting on the water, the smells from the bakery, the spectators cheering so loud i’m sure it woke people up, all of it made for a fun run.
A shout out to my favorite volunteer at the race – after thanking her for a bottle of water she replied singing “You’re Welcome” Disney humor…never gets old.
The rest of the day was spent at the Magic Kingdom. I got to ride Haunted Mansion for the first time in years, but going there first cost me a chance at Space Mountain (the wait never dropped below 2 hours). It was worth it. The park was crazy crowded but through my brother’s skill at “Fast Pass Chess” we managed to ride some classics – Dumbo, the Tea Cups – as well as Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor and a first and final ride on Stitch’s Great Escape. I’d heard it was terrible, but since its closing, it was now or never. And I love Stitch, good or bad.
13.1 – Saturday
Down to me and my Dopey brother now. (My nephew isn’t old enough for the half yet, but will totally run it once he is.) It was slightly warmer for the half so i was able to run in a skort and compression socks instead of pants (YAY). And in ran this one sort of dressed as snow white, and continuing a trend from last year, with my hair down.
My brother had a goal for this one; he wanted a PR. And we were going to get him one.
The first mile at Disney is always slow as you find space and get through the narrow sections, but we quickly settled into a good pace and were through the Magic Kingdom clocking sub-10 minute miles and out to the narrow mile 7 with no crowding issues. (aside – there was a truck stuck in the middle of an open area of deep sand here – much to the amusement of the runners. Dude…what were you thinking?)
By mile 8, the course opens wide and there’s lots of room to run and lots of spectators to cheer you along. SO many signs, so many high fives, so much fun. And still moving faster than we expected. So fast in fact that we flew past Jeff Galloway who was walking along the side of the road.
I hit a mini wall at mile 9. The second it started to hurt I thought of Julie, who would give anything to run and knew that this was her mile and i was going to push through it for her. At mile 10, we took one quick walk break, assessed our time, and knew that with just that 5k left, we were getting Jeff that PR. We dropped our pace, flew up those annoying onramp hills and surged into Epcot on a mission. And then, the dry heaves started. I don’t know if it was from pushing pace a little, or from this weird congestion thing i get while running, but it wasn’t pretty.
When we got close to the finish my brother looked at me as he typically does during the half and said “See you at the finish”, only for the first time in 4 years of racing, HE was the one that took off. 🙂 I didn’t fall too far behind, only finished 6 seconds back, but it took everything I had to smile while high-fiving Chip and crossing the finish.
My pics are hilarious – half are happy and smiley and half are a weird “omg i’m going to hurl” face. And I love them all. Because getting my brother a shiny new PR? Priceless.
For the rest of the day we went to Hollywood Studios – rode Tower of Terror, Rock & Roller Coaster & Star Tours, met Chip & Dale (who tried to eat my nephew’s medal) and saw Muppet Vision 3D (always a classic), then on to Epcot to ride and see everything we could and grab a Orange Slushie (OMG those are SO good). By 5pm we’d hit our limit for the day, because the final leg would soon be upon us. And I was tired.
26.2 – Sunday
The Big day. The final 26.2. And my favorite costume for the weekend – Figment.
Maybe its because I made a lot of it myself. Maybe its because everyone loves Figment. But it was super fun and I got TONS of love and figment related jokes out on course.
I’m not gonna lie and say I woke up feeling great and ready to race. In fact I sort of didn’t recognize my alarm for what it was and the hubs had to nudge me up. I also woke up to a sore achilles and a desperate need for coffee. Fortunately my brother was also stiff and sore so neither of us had great expectations for the race other than “We WILL finish”
We started out slow and stayed there. LOL We hit the first med tent for some bio freeze for Jeff (and several other ones along the way…) and at mile 5.5 hit a restroom near the carousel. Waiting for my brother I snagged a quick photo.
We trudged along, never pushing, just keeping an easy pace. At mile 7 we discovered the truck from the half had been rescued (YAY) and we kept our fingers crossed we could get through the narrows easily again (we did). Mile 9-10 Disney had hauled out some throwback items from rides (20,000 leagues, jungle book, haunted mansion) and played Making Memories. I started singing along and Jeff was like “what is this song”. Awww, early epcot. Kodak sponsored imagination stuff. I’m not old, but i’m glad i’m old enough to remember it.
At this point our goal became to run to the half (or 14) before we started a run/walk strategy. We made it into Animal Kingdom, where I was disappointed that I had just missed the critters from the conservation station (it was cold enough that they had the out in shifts and we were between shifts). Oh well. We were happy to get bananas – and I carried mine for a half mile to get a new banana phone pic. Which oddly never showed in my photo pass. (So if any of you encounter figment on a banana phone in your pics – send it my way.) And we made it to mile 14 and a little past, before we decided to walk through the parking lot, past the marching band, to finish the mile. And that we’d run a mile / walk a mile to the end.
Mentally, its a great strategy and it lined up perfectly so that all my gels, etc were during walk miles. It also gave us a chance to relax and have fun. I totally raised hell during the walk miles – singing, dancing, chatting. I run Disney because its fun, and fun I am going to have. So even when we entered “purgatory” (i.e. Wide World of Sports Complex) I was in a good mood. We got around the track, past the boring mile 19-20 amused by the DJ and the bad jokes they had posted on signs along the mile (Where does a mermaid sleep? A water bed.) We ran the warning track at the baseball stadium, and I heard them announce my name (woohoo!) and made it out to the parking lot, where I HAD to run over and high-five the guy in the Brady jersey (Go Pats!). And we made our exit out to mile 21 and the final stretch. I had friends who had started in later corrals that I thought might be headed in there as we were headed out, and I watched the ‘parade of runners’ as long as I could, but never spotted them.
Mile 22 we were facing a steep onramp hill and I was afraid I was going to have to walk it, but after a brief biofreeze stop for Jeff, I was rested enough to crush that hill past the green army men and then back downhill to the strains of Sweet Caroline (So good! So good!)
We entered Hollywood Studios and snagged some candy (omg those were the best m&ms EVER) and cruised up Sunset Boulevard, where my favorite photo from the race was taken:
Then out through the front and to the water. This is a crazy narrow stretch to the Yacht & Beach Club and there’s not a lot of room for getting around runners, so its good that we didn’t want to. But we got through, and to the back entrance of Epcot and felt the crowd. Past the mile 25 marker (themed for the 25th anniversary) and through the world showcase. I said to Jeff “I have $30 in my pocket, what should we get” and we decided on Sangria from Mexico.
It cost us about 10 minutes in line, but it was worth it. I said to my brother, it is very hard for me to not care about my time during a race, but this sangria helps.
We walked past Spaceship Earth, waving to our adoring fans and sipping our drinks. The closer we got to the finish, the slower I wanted to go. I didn’t want it to end. But we walked past the gospel choir and to the finish chute and ran it in. I crossed the finish with my sangria in one hand and the other raised in victory. (Oooh – and a photo that shows me doing this, my brother and some other folks made the post event guide – sweet!).
We got our marathon medal and a heatsheet and suddenly spotted our family! The hubs, my sis in law and my nephews had come to cheer us on. LOVE! We got the rest of our medals, some great pictures and then found our family. I was just so freaking excited.
Best. Day. Ever.
Back at the hotel to shower I found Mickey Mouse. And got a picture with him.
Then we went to Disney Springs for a good medal photo. And some onion rings.
I’d say it was a once in a lifetime kind of weekend, except that I know i’m going back next year to do it again. And I can’t wait.
Oh, those silly medal photos I mentioned? Here’s the complete set.
A quick shout out to the products that got me through this weekend:
- Running Buddy – my buddy brites let me brother easily find us during the 5k & 10k (he started a corral behind), my bib clips kept my run shirts hole free and my buddy pouch kept my phone secure under all those layers
- Sparkle Athletic – LOVE my sparkle skirts and visors – and my purple one pulled double-duty this weekend. Runs are more fun when you sparkle
- Pro Compression & Balega – kept my legs and toes warm and happy. My two fave kinds of socks (5k day i wore both!)
- New Balance – 880 v7’s for distance and vazee pace for speed. Love these shoes
- Huma gel – raspberry lemonade (YUM) got me through the marathon
- Miscellanous – three toss pairs of gloves, two toss hoodies and two heatsheets returned back to rundisney.
Its been a lot of fun these past few months blogging my Road to Dopey – I hope you’ve all enjoyed it. Time for some new topics, which I hope you’ll enjoy too.