21 Days to Dopey, 12 Days to Christmas…how about a song?

Dashing through the snow, to get my miles in…slid on some black ice, and went home again.

Actually – that wasn’t the song. I have a better one below…The 12 Days of Dopey Christmas!  Because you know…. its only 12 days to Christmas and holy crow – 21 days to DOPEY!  Yay!!

Let me just say first, I am SO happy I have a treadmill. Because even tho I had only 10 miles on my schedule for Sunday, it wouldn’t have happened without one.

I got about a 1/10 of a mile from my house and stopped to admire this winter wonderland.

The next step, black ice, foot out from under me and I decided it’s WAY too close to Dopey to do anything stupid. (cold? sure.  snow?  sure.  Ice? no way.)

So I went home, swapped fleece for shorts and knocked out 9 miles on the treadmill and 2 episodes of Haven on Netflix.

While it wasn’t the training run I had hoped for… all roads lead to Dopey. Even the indoor ones.

But you know what happens when you spend 90 minutes on a treadmill?  You get creative.  Even while watching a great show, its not always enough to keep you going.  And mine started thinking about what I want for Christmas…from a Disney runner’s standpoint.

So, let me present…the 12 Days of Dopey Christmas!

You know the song…i’ll just feed you the lines.  🙂  On the 12th Day of Dopey Christmas, Mickey Santa gave to me…

12 o’clock reservation at Be Our Guest

11 rides on Everest

10 perfect toenails

9 Mickey bars

8 character stops

7 dwarves mine train fast pass

6 shiny medals

5 long sleeved race shirts

4 finish lines

3 gran marnier slushies

2 race bibs

And a pair of rose gold Mickey ears

Yes, you’ll be singing this all day.

You’re Welcome.

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Four Magical Weeks to Dopey!

And then there were four.  Four weeks left for training and planning and ‘omg what have I signed up for.’  Four weeks until….Four Days, Four Races, Four Parks, Four 4am buses.

In keeping with this week’s theme, i’m going to bring you four top-4 lists.  But first, a training update.

While not truly a Dopey simulation, I did run four days in a row this week.  Not a TON of miles (4, 7.4, 4.25, 3.25), but this was the first time i’ve run four in a row in a very long time.  And everything felt fine.  Tho I was glad for that one rest between it and my 20-mile long run.

Sunday was my first of my 20-milers.  The second will be at the end of a true Dopey simulation the week before Christmas.  And knowing that that one will undoubtedly involve some walking (as will the marathon itself), I wanted to do well on this one.

Well….have you ever had one of those mornings that you put SO much pressure on yourself to do well on a run that you had an absolute meltdown before you even got out the door?  A whole “why do I even run, I’m going to be awful out there, I won’t even be able to enjoy it,  i’m gonna push too hard and have to walk the last four miles” meltdown? I know it’s just this stage of training.  It’s the longer miles and the “I have seen the same road SO much lately I just can’t even” route boredom.  And it messes with my head.  You’d think having 12 marathons under your belt would be enough.  Yet still…20 miles freaks me out.

So I planned out a longer loop over into a more rural area I don’t run often and hoped for the best.  I ran slow, stopped for a minute when I needed to eat my gels, and gave myself permission to relax.  I looked at all the beautiful christmas decorations (and mentally ticketed those with pumpkins still out). I stopped to say hi to a pony (character op! Lol)

I talked myself through a couple of rough patches, and somehow, I managed to actually run all 20.  Yay!!

It feels good to have that done.  And to know it’s like 15 days before I do it again.  LOL

Now back to the fun stuff!

So here’s four lists, each with four items, to get you in a Dopey state of mind: Costumes, Characters, Rides, and Things We Want.

Costumes – do you have yours planned?  I do. And I have yet to repeat one from three years of Disney races, because there’s SO many to choose from. This year, the four i’ve chosen are…

  • Mike Wazowski
  • Dopey “style”
  • Figment
  • Moana

I won’t tell you which is for which race, because while 2 are set, the others may depend on the weather the other two races (warmer vs colder).  🙂

Characters – I’ve been very lucky over the years to meet a lot of characters, but there are still quite a few I haven’t.  I’ve made a character goal list for this year, which between the races and parks i’m hoping to hit. And it is…

  • Snow White
  • Mike Wazowski
  • BB8
  • Rapunzel

Rides – What’s on your fast pass list?  Did you get all the ones you want?  They did just release some extra time slots this week, so don’t give up if you didn’t – just keep checking!  My four that i’m most excited about (one in each park) are…

  • Flight of Passage
  • Seven Dwarves Mine Train
  • Test Track
  • Rock & Roller Coaster

Things We Want – So…what are we runners waiting for right now? What, other than the long runs, is keeping us awake at night? These…

  • Waivers – show me the waivers!  They’ve come out anywhere between the 5th & 16th. So soon my pretties.  Soon.  And may the corrals be ever in your favor.
  • Event Guide – Just as important as the waivers…we want the courses and the other little details and information that matters.
  • Magic Bands – Mine are ordered and I’m just waiting on them to ship.  I can’t wait until they arrive so I can customize (Etsy has some fun decals to trick them all out.).  If i’m going to wear something all day, its gotta be pretty. And I have a special surprise for my nephews.
  • Merchandise – this we won’t see until race week.  Although a small picture of the Dooney & Bourke purses has been released, and a throwback 25th anniversary shirt came out, with the design below, which leaves us all wondering ‘what in the world will the weekend logo look like’ (and kind of hoping it’s less…pastel)

What else is on your “alright, where is it” list?

Are you as excited as I am? Let’s Get Dopey!!

Fab 5 weeks to Dopey! Here’s some must pack items and a TVQ Vol 2 update

Another week bites the dust…and we are now just five fabulous little weeks to Dopey!  Yay!!

I know its still a little bit early for packing – but I totally started my packing list already.  There so much to remember to bring that if I don’t write it down while i’m thinking of it, i’ll forget. Especially the little random items that aren’t on everyone’s list. 

But before we get to that…gotta talk turkey!   As in Turkey Vision Quest Vol. 2.

I hadn’t brought it up in my blog because I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, or if it was even a goal this year, but now that I have…gotta brag!

Thanksgiving morning was my new favorite tradition – the Attleboro Gobble Wobble 5k.  What I nicknamed Turkey Vision Quest last year, as I had a goal to finally get a new PR and / or place in my age group.  How that went, was the PR, but 6th place. And I was kind of disappointed.  So I went into this year with a ‘well, i’ll just do my best out there’ attitude.

Things I did differently this year? The hubs, my sole sister Karen and I hung out in the car until right before the start to stay warm and my ‘warmup’ consisted of a quick 20-foot sprint down and back.  Just to make sure nothing bounced, moved or rubbed.   I did however, line up in front with the fast folk.  Because taking off like a shot with them definitely helps get me to a faster pace early and then I just kind of hang on for as long as I can.

My watch was buried under a sleeve and I didn’t want to see it anyway.  So I had no idea my pace.    There was some ice on the course from the rain the day before (did I mention it was COLD?), but otherwise its a nice flat fast route with a few speedbumps so its easy to go fast.

The course is looped out and back so you can see runners going the other way,  and at mile 2ish I heard Karen yell my name.  I yelled back and grinned.   Shortly after someone else called my name – thanks and my apologies for not looking over, but I was in the zone. Then just before mile 3, when the exact same song in the exact same place as last year came on my playlist – I knew I had to be close to last year.  And figured I could definitely snag top 10 AG, maybe top 5.  But I had no idea how many women my age had been in front of me.

We turned the corner at the 3-mile mark and I kicked.  And kicked again.  And gave it every last bit I had out there.  And after I crossed, I finally looked at my watch.

A PR!  25:08.  Unfortunately the race is gun time (not net), so my official was a 2:11. (What’s 3 seconds right? Lol) When I walked over to the results tent, I didn’t get my hopes up…and when the page flipped and there I was, I almost shrieked with delight.  2nd AG!  22nd female and 77th overall.  Out of nearly 600 people.  WOW.  Just WOW.    

Must be the shoes. 

Because #purpleisalwaysfaster. And, this year, Turkey Vision Quest is complete.  A PR and an AG win.   I suppose next year the quest is to be sub-25.  #alwaysroomforimprovement

But that wasn’t my only Dopey training run of the weekend.  I got in a slower 10k run on Friday and a half-marathon distance run on Sunday.  So a sort of Dopey simulation.

And speaking of Dopey… I said I’d give you some ideas on what to pack.  Pack Everything!!

Be the Macgyver of Disney races.  Have such an assortment of random items in your travel bag it looks like you’re about to go on Let’s Make a Deal (instead of about to run Disney.)

Here’s a list of some items I bring that people don’t always think of.  Things that to me, are packing essentials.

  • Ziploc bags
    • Why?  I like to eat my pre-race meal/snack (muffin, bagel, dry cereal) in the start corral. A baggie is a great way to do it.  And toss a napkin in there too.
  • Mini Flashlight
    • Why?  Do you know how dark a portapotty is at 4am?  DARK.  And I kind of like to know what i’m getting into.  Sure, most phones have flashlights built in, but i’m kind of old fashioned about some things.  (and I worry about dropping my phone somewhere it can’t be retrieved)
  • Garbage bag
    • Why?  To sit on in the start corral or even wear to keep warm.
  • Cheap poncho
    • Why?  A) in case it rains and B), you can always use it to sit on in the corral if you don’t bring a garbage bag.   True story – I had one I carried to close to a dozen races before it finally rained at my May marathon and I ran 26.2 miles in it.
  • Sharpie
    • Why? Because they don’t sell them on property anywhere.  And its handy for marking stuff.  Or having someone sign your medal.
  • Disposable coffee cup
    • Why?  Personally I cannot run without coffee.  So i make a cup to go in the room and bring it to the start.  I don’t like to check a bag at the start, so these are great for tossing.  You could always instead bring a travel mug and check it in your race bag.
  • Old pair of socks or cheap pair of gloves
    • Why?  Hand / arm warmers.  If you aren’t using arm sleeves as part of your costume and just want something to keep your hands/arms warm before the race (or during those first couple miles), these work great.  I have a collection of the hub’s old tube socks for just this use.
  • Handwarmers
    • Why?  In case its cold.  Because yes, its Florida, but its still January and sometimes its just cold.  I have circulation issues and my fingers go numb if i’m cold.  And trying to open a gel packet when you can’t feel your fingers is a challenge.
  • Moist Towelettes
    • Why? Because portapotties don’t always have hand gel. And sometimes, your gel gets your fingers sticky.  Or you get biofreeze on your hands with no way to remove the remnants. These little packets fit neatly into whatever is hauling your gear so its easy to carry.
  • Masking tape or duck tape
    • Why?  Why not!  It can work for fashion emergencies (OMG my costume eyes fell off) or to put on something you need to label so your nephew doesn’t claim it as his (hands off the oreos buster.  LOL). You know what they say – theres’s nothing duck tape can’t do.

    Yes, I’m skipping over the essentials like gel, and your costumes and your buddy pouch (or whatever carry pack you use).  And safety pins are a plenty at the expo.  This is just a list of stuff i’ve learned over the years that I’m glad I have. 

    Anyone have anything fun i’ve missed? What’s your can’t live without that people tell you is a “genius idea”?

    And happy training fellow Dopeys. 🙂

    6 Weeks to Dopey! And 6 tips for a great Disney race.

    Holy cow – 6 weeks?  Its all happening so fast…

    Don’t freak out, don’t freak out, don’t freak out. I mean its not like its the furthest I’ve ever run in one weekend or anything.  Tho, at least I have four days to do it. (Unlike the 44+ miles in 12 hours that’s my last furthest.)  Of course, 4 (make it 5 with travel) days of waking up at an absurdly insane hour may be the bigger challenge.  Should I train for that too?   Nah…there’s no sleep at Disney anyway.  Too much excitement, magic and wonder for sleep.  I think they put pixie dust in the air.

    So, I figured with just six weeks to go, I’d bring you six ways to make your race as magical as can be.  

    But first, a training update.

    Sunday was 18 miles on the plan.  The weather wasn’t looking great for Sunday, and I considered switching to Saturday. But, Saturday morning it was 26 degrees and I was just  not mentally prepared.  Plus Saturday mornings are Eddie’s “freedom” time where he gets to spend it outside his cage, rolling around in the ‘hammy death star’ and in his “playpen”  And #petsfirst…so Sunday it was.

    I’m gonna whine for a moment – it was WET and there were GIANT puddles and my feet were thoroughly soaked by mile 2 (I sent a humorous video to my friend Amanda at mile 8 to gripe as she’d run in the same mess the day before) and I think I might lose a toenail – but it was still a great training run.

    It was warm out and I saw both halloween and christmas decorations (ah, thanksgiving – the hybrid holiday. lol) and even though I was trying to run easy I still ran a great (for me) pace.    I am a little disappointed I couldn’t get a post run turkey selfie (my neighbor’s inflatable bird met an untimely demise this week #ripturkey).  But I did randomly find my initial lying on the ground, so that was photo op worthy.

    Running Disney…is totally magical.  Its the most fun i’ve ever had at a race, and that is what keeps me coming back. (For some people, its the post race cheese they return for)   And I want everyone to find it as amazing as I do, so here are six tips for having the best Disney race you can – whether its your first 5k or your 5th Dopey.  And it starts before you even get there.  This is applicable for any Disney race, not just marathon weekend.  And, I will say, if you’re running Dopey you’ve hopefully at least done #1 by now.  😀

    1. Set Your Goal(s)
      • Do you wanna run a PR? Or maybe just have fun.  Do you wanna try everything?  Or just go the distance.  Find what matters most to you and plan for it.
    2. Be Prepared
      • Pick a training plan.  They are not ‘one size fits all’ and there’s plenty out there (Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon are the most popular).  Find what fits your life and ability level, modify it if you need to (its a guideline, not the law) and complete as much of it as you possibly can.
      • Practice your fueling and try to train in what you’re going to race in (Yes, I’m even going to try out my costumes between now and then – just likely on a treadmill.  Less gawkers.  LOL)  Learn what works and what doesn’t.  And know that race day, anything can happen – cold, rain, fueling mishaps – so experience as much as you can leading up to race weekend (even the bad stuff).
    3. Do Your Research
      • Read the runDisney website.  When it comes out, read the weekend event guide.  Know where you’ll need to be and when.
      • Review the course map when its available (a couple weeks out usually). Find where your water/fuel stops will be, or where the perfect spot is to drop your toss hoodie when it finally warms up (mine was left under the unicorn in the animal kingdom parking lot).
      • I’m not saying overthink and overplan…just have enough knowledge to help reduce race day jitters. There will be enough of those without wondering where you get the bus race morning.
    4. Have Courage
      • Racing can be scary. It doesn’t matter how many marathons i’ve done, I still hit that line slightly terrified, and it usually is just because I care about how I do.  But if you’ve done the prior 3 items, then know you’re ready.
      • Trust your training, stick to your plan and be brave.  You got this!
    5. Be Kind
      • You are going to be sharing the course with a LOT of people.  All of which have different goals and different paces.  And the best way to make sure that everyone hits their goals and finishes in the upright position is to be nice to each other out there.
      • Smile at other runners.  Talk to them.  You would be amazed at the fascinating people you’ll meet on course.  Commiserate with each other during the ‘purgatory’ of the Wide World of Sports zone.  Encourage those that are struggling.  We’re all in it together out there.
      • Best way to be kind?  Communication.  Please, if you are about to slow down and move over, look behind you first.  And just like driving, signaling goes a long way to preventing a crash – raising an arm in the air is a great sign to other runners that you’re slowing down/stopping.  (I can tell Disney runners in my non-disney races by that exact thing.  And I thank them for doing so.)
    6. Enjoy every moment
      • From the expo to the finish line, there’s so much to see and do.  And there’s runners EVERYWHERE.  I still get giddy seeing race weekend signs up all over property.  And the flags with race weekend trivia at Disney Springs. Soak it all in.  Smile.  Say hi to other runners.  Pay compliments.  Wear your medal(s) everywhere and soak in the accolades.  You’ve earned it.  Enjoy it.

    Hope this helps – and happy training!

    And to all my readers, I hope you have a Happy  Thanksgiving! 

    9 Weeks to Dopey! And my 9 favorite Disney foods 

    Well, since we are now NINE weeks to the Dopey Challenge, and this weekend is the Wine & Dine Challenge races, it seems only fitting to talk foods.

    So, I compiled a list of my 9 favorite things to eat at Disney.

    First, a quick training update…

    Sunday was a 14-mile long run. And in honor of Halloween I tried to find the “most sincere” fall route I could. And I got rewarded with stone walls, falling leaves, falling paces (loving these negative splits lately), and an adorably enthusiastic cairn terrier puppy. 🙂  Plus, there were some great Halloween decorations. I’ve decided this was my fave – because why not add a dinosaur skeleton. Lol And dinosaurs technically count as Disney. I love that ride at Animal Kingdom.

    Plus, this run was even faster than last week. I so love fall running. 🙂 Its when all the summer suck pays off.

    Next weekend will be my first back-to-back weekend training run – the Edaville Rail Run on Saturday and 16 miles Sunday.  Its getting serious.

    All those miles, require fuel.  And i’m Disney dreaming of what i’m going to have when i’m down there.  There’s SO much yumminess.  Even for a celiac pescetarian like me.  🙂

    These are my nine absolutely favorite things to nosh at Disney. Bear in mind they are all gluten free (and all but 1 vegetarian), but still good enough for non-celiacs to enjoy.

    1. The lemon raspberry creampuff at Be Our Guest. It may be four years since i’ve had it, but i still remember every delicious bite.  That was my first cream puff in years (because not many places make gluten free ones) and it was AH-mazing.
    2. The cornbread at the Hoop De Doo Revue.   This is one place that treats celiacs like a princess.  The dessert is amazing too (strawberry covered brownie? YUM).  But the gluten free cornbread is what keeps me coming back.  Best cornbread i’ve ever had.
    3. The goat cheese and beets at Le Cellier.  Two of my favorite foods – on the same stone platter.  One of those things that takes me twice as long to eat as normal because I have to savor every last morsel.
    4. French Fries from D-Luxe Burger.  It was the only thing that I could eat there, but i was so full from them it didn’t matter.  Best french fries ever.  Like five guys only a million times better.  🙂
    5. Calamari at Coral Reef. Probably the best calamari i’ve ever had.  It was perfectly cooked, great texture and seasoned just right.  That and a salad was the perfect post-half marathon lunch.
    6. The stuffing at Liberty Tree Tavern. This was my pre-vegetarian days, but the gluten free stuff was like “I want a vat and a fork and to be left alone” good. One of those things you could just eat all day and never tire of.
    7. Donuts from Erin McKenna’s Bakery. Really, ANYTHING from here.  Its gluten-free vegan paradise.  But, the chocolate coconut covered donut I had was amazing post-race.  🙂 And the banana bread was perfect before it.
    8. Dole Whip. I know – its a Disney classic.  And sure, they kind of sell it at the local froyo places. But its NOT the same as at Disney.  And this year, I plan to finally try the version with rum at Animal Kingdom.
    9.  Mickey waffles. Pretty much any sit-down breakfast you can get the chef to make you gluten-free Mickey waffles.  And they are always a fun and tasty way to start the day.

    Are any of my faves your faves?  Are you headed down to Wine & Dine and planning to get your hands (or fork) on any of these?  Or are you like me…a Dopey just Disney dreaming of the amazing offerings and counting the days – 63 to go!

    How far I’ll go…

    See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me. 

    It always has….but it wasn’t until this week when I finally watched Moana, that the lyrics sunk in. 

    I mean, you’d think a fiery Aries would be all desert and sun. But this one? Loves the water. Well, looking at it anyway. Sitting on the sand, staring at the line on the horizon. Wondering what lies beyond. And who might be doing the same from a shore on the other side. 

    And of course now that I’ve seen Moana and fallen in love with the animation and the music and this wild-haired, strong-willed, “not a princess”, I think I’ve found my Disney marathon costume. 

    Because, we’re in the time between dining reservations and fast pass reservations, where we Disney runners run all the miles and plan all the costumes. 

    I had 3 of the 4 I’ll need picked out (subject to change of course), but couldn’t finalize the 4th. The marathon costume. 

    Last year I was my other favorite curly-haired, strong princess. Merida. And she will always be one of my favorite running costumes. 

    I had already picked Ariel for my half outfit. Because she and I were teenagers at the same time. And I totally identified with her longing for something more and her love of the sea.  🐠 And while I have run as her before, 

    I have a better skirt now (lol) and need to be her again. 

    For my “marathon princess” I was leaning toward Snow White, because well, I’m running Dopey, I am currently brunette and I love animals. 🐇 But I wasn’t sold on it. 

    And now I know why. Because Moana was waiting for me to discover her.

    She’s just badass. And, as a friend pointed out, Moana and Ariel are “sisters of the sea”. 🌊

    So, it’s perfect. 😁

    Because how far I’ll go…will be 48.6 miles. 

    The cold never bothered me anyway…tales from the Disney Marathon

    Cold? No problem. Rain? No Problem. Lightning? No thank you!

    This year’s Disney marathon weekend was definitely one for the books. There were highs and lows and a new challenge formed. But thousands of people proved this weekend that you can’t keep a good runner down. And the power of positivity will always win. 😀

    My plan this year was to up the stakes and go ‘almost Dopey’, running the 5k, the half-marathon and the marathon.  My brother that I always run Disney with was running his fourth Dopey. Mother nature had other ideas. I’ll get to that in a minute.

    I flew in on Wednesday and after lunch at Disney Springs (D-Luxe burger has the BEST FRIES EVER), we hit the expo.  Or at least most of it.  Because for some reason, the line to get into the main building where all the exhibitors was was long than the ones for Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Frozen combined.  Eek!

    Fortunately everything I needed (bibs, shirts, Dooney purse, sparkle visor) was in the other buildings.  Yay!

    After the expo we settled into the hotel and headed over to the Wilderness Resort for some frontier style family fun – the Hoop De Doo Revue.  Its become kind of a family tradition to eat here marathon weekend.  The show is corny and hilarious.  And the food is amazing.  Even for celiacs… the chef made me salmon and veggies and for dessert, brownies covered in strawberries & whipped cream.  Oh yeah, and the sangria is good too.  Plus! I got to play the washboard!

    Thursday morning was the 5k, which i ran with my brother, sis-in-law and nephews.  It was the younger one’s first 5k and the older one’s second and they both did SO good.  We had a blast running through epcot in the dark, lit by torches and crossed the finish line all holding hands.    There is always moments as a runner that warm your heart and stay with you.  Crossing that finish line hand in hand with family will always be one of them.

    Friday was my morning to sleep in with the boys while my brother & sis-in-law tackled the 10k. We did spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom where I got to meet Merida (love her!) and tell her I was running dressed as her Sunday. 😀

    Saturday should have been the half-marathon.  However, as often happens in Florida, fireworks of another kind were on the schedule.  I have to give props to Disney for how they handled it.  As this was the 20th anniversary of the half-marathon, it was a big race for them and they had a lot of special things planned.  When the first threat of storms came along they monitored the weather and updated us regularly through social media.  And when they realized that the danger wasn’t going away, they made the difficult decision to cancel the race.

    Then they made sure that all runners were aware via email, social media, the event guide, messages to all hotel room phones, and anything else they could think of.

    They also gave options to those registered for just the half, including the choice to run the full marathon Sunday as space permitted.  1,500 people took that opportunity.  And from what i’ve heard, a good portion of them finished.  Other choices were transfers to other races, a refund, or park tickets.  Plus every runner still got their medal.

    And this is where those amazing half-marathon runners made lemonade out of lemons.  They decided to run anyways.

    After the storms rolled through (and boy did they – crazy forks of lightning striking about when I would have been at mile 9 – EEK) those runners all got together and did their own half.  Running through hotels and the parks to earn their half medal, or in the case of challengers, their Goofy & Dopey medals.  Cast member set up water and aid stations as best they could.  Other vacationers donated snacks.  Everyone really came together.

    And this is why I love running Disney – its truly an amazing group of people.

    Did i run 13.1 Saturday?  No.  I had already walked about 20 in the parks the past two days and my brother & I decided that we’d rather save our legs and have a really great marathon. And I think we made the right choice. Also, we got to go into Epcot early which let us meet Joy & Sadness. And I got to tell Joy I had run dressed as her the day before. 😀

    And here’s where mother nature threw us another curve ball.   After those storms came through, the temperatures dropped.  Like to Boston temps…  we were going to go to see Wishes Saturday night.  But as we sat at dinner shivering we decided having an early night in a warm room was a way better choice.

    And Sunday morning, at the race start…was a wind chill of 30 degrees. Say what?

    Those who know me know I like running in the cold.  However I usually have more clothes with me than a skirt, tank top, sparkle arm sleeves and a thin toss hoodie (when I left home they said high 40’s for the start.  oops).  Needless to say we caught the latest bus possible to the start to minimize waiting time.  But even still… it was COLD and windy. 

    Our first mile was the thawing out our hands and legs mile.  I ran with my hood up and my hands tucked in my sleeve as best I could.  It was crowded and slow going, but eventually room opened up and we warmed up and it got better.

    We trudged along chatting and laughing and soon were at mile 5 – the Magic Kingdom.  Main Street gives the Wellesley girls of the Boston marathon a run for their money.  Its lined with adoring and loudly cheering fans, plus the castle is right there, all covered in lights, a beacon showing you the way home.  Its….magical.

    And when we came up on the castle from behind to run through, there stood Elsa on the balcony.  Poor Elsa probably caught a lot of grief…I simply yelled out “The cold never bothered me anyway”.  Before getting through the castle and mugging the photographer for an “I’m freezing” pic.  LOL

    The course has long stretches between parks, but there are character stops everywhere and fans along most of the route.  So there’s always something to see.  There are also things i’ve now seen in each of my three Disney marathons.  Because it isn’t mile 7 unless i’ve heard “Don’t Stop Believing”

    Around mile 8 my brother tossed his hoodie (he’d had both a hoodie & sweats for the start) in a pile with some others, but i kept mine.  Mine had been given to me by a friend when she & I walked a half-marathon together the year I broke my hip.  And I wanted to leave it somewhere that meant something.

    Mile 12 is the entrance to Animal Kingdom.  Every year volunteers stand out there with animals from the conservation station wearing race bibs.  Its one of my favorite things on course.  So I had to stop…and pet a sheep.  🙂

    We made it through Animal Kingdom, crossed the half-marathon point and cruised along. My brother was doing great – and I could tell that he was going to have his best race ever.  And around mile 14 coming through the parking lot of Animal Kingdom, just past the marching band (love that!) I saw the spot to leave my hoodie.  We were in the unicorn lot.  And there, at the base of the next unicorn, I carefully placed the ‘tribute to the unicorn gods’ with a smile and a “Thanks Amy”.

    The next ‘destination’ was the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex…aka the labyrinth of doom.  Seriously – I don’t know if its the way it winds or simply because its at those critical miles of a marathon, but everyone I know considers it sheer torture.  I took a picture of my brother on the “highway to hell”  LOL

    By now we were taking a couple minute walk break at every mile sign, which gave us a chance to hit the water stop and take in fuel as needed.  A great strategy, which always helped break up the miles.

    We ran around the track and we ran the warning track of the baseball field and then on the way back out we stopped to fish stones from the warning track out of our shoes (and I almost couldn’t tie my shoes – my fingers were so numb.), we were offered beer and assorted candy and I found a pats fan in a jersey in full game-day attire (love that guy – Go Pats!).

    By mile 22 my brother was at the “get all the biofreeze” stage of the race.  So we hit the water stops and the med tents and while our paces then slowed, our spirits didn’t.  My brother looked better than i’ve ever seen him at this point.

    And a shoutout to a guy I chatted with for a bit that mile.  A runner and race director from Utah named John who was running 411 (412th?) marathon – and like 280 something consecutive month.  Such a nice guy and really amazing.  He’d been wearing a marathon maniacs shirt and I came up behind him with a “you maniac” which got us talking.  Thanks for the chat!

    As we made the turn to head towards Hollywood Studios, I had one of those awesome karma moments… they played Don’t Stop Believing followed immediately by Sweet Caroline. I sang along (well, sorta) to both and thought of my Sole Sister Karen – who loves both.  That was your mile woman!

    Coming through Hollywood Studios is always fun – they hand out chocolate as you enter!  And I mugged for the camera (really – I had all race) on the turn, then grabbed smarties from a spectator.  There is a picture I won’t share of me with half a roll in my mouth.  Its funny!

    And coming out to head to the boardwalk was a sea of fans and high-fives.  I had to high-five someone dressed as Judy Hopps!  Great costume.

    Along the boardwalk are just tons of people cheering and handing out sugar. I snagged more smarties and a nestle bar. Which I declared “omg this is better than a medal.” Then “no, not really” which totally cracked up the couple standing there. 

    And we made it to Epcot. We decided to walk to mile 25 and then run it the rest of the way in. And we did…waving at fans, smiling and watching all the while for squirrels. I didn’t want a repeat of last year. Lol

    And I suddenly had a genius idea for a photo. I don’t know if it was the warrior music playing or not, but I channeled my inner Merida and pulled out an imaginary bow & arrow. And was rewarded with what is now my new fave race photo. 

    Just before mile 26, my brother looked over and said “see you at the finish”. With a grin I took off. 

    Just before the finish chute I spotted a man struggling. Badly. And I noticed he was wearing plaid pants that matched my ribbon. So I put my hand on his shoulder, said “come on clansman, let’s finish this” and kept going.  (He came up to me after to thank me. Said he really needed it at that moment. Awww. I’m just always happy to help another runner. We’re all in this together). 

    And I sprinted full on to the finish line. Veering over to the side to high-five Pluto. 

    And crossed the finish with arms held high. Gosh I love this race!!

    It should be noted that this was a marathon PR for my brother, by 7 minutes. So proud of him. He really trained hard this year. And even tho we didn’t get to run the half, he still 100% deserves that Dopey medal. 

    It should also be noted that I ran the entire marathon with my hair down. That’s a PR too! Lol

    Speaking of Dopey…I think it’s time. I’ve been Goofy long enough, and it’s time to fully embrace the crazy. Let 2018 be the year I get Dopey. Who’s with me? 😁

     Thanks Disney for an awesome weekend. See ya real soon!