Dopey Challenge Recap: The Half Marathon

Note: if you’re just joining us, check out my recap of the 5k and 10k first. Thanks!

Complete!

Saturday: The Half Marathon
As if waking up at 2:45AM for two straight days wasn’t bad enough, Saturday brought a 2AM wake-up call. The half and full marathons are significantly larger races during the weekend, traffic is heavier, and roads around EPCOT (where the athlete village is) begin to close several hours before the race. So we needed to be up earlier to hit the road and ensure we were parked before the roads closed.

Much like the previous two mornings, it was still bitterly cold that morning. It was just a touch warmer though, so we opted to check some warm clothes and I didn’t even wear sweats over my running tights. It was still friggin’ cold though! For this race (and the full) the corrals were in a different area, about 0.7 miles worth of walking. And, you had to be there much earlier than the first two races, so we ended up not sitting in our car as long as we did Thursday and Friday.

After the videos and with a countdown from Donald Duck himself, our corral slowly started working its way towards the start. One thing that’s awesome about the Disney races is that every corral (and now every mini corral) gets its own send off, complete with countdown and fireworks. It’s pretty awesome! About 10 minutes after the first wave started, we crossed the line and began running down the road towards the Magic Kingdom!

The course for the WDW Marathon Weekend half marathon essentially starts in the EPCOT parking lot, runs to and through the Magic Kingdom, and then returns to the EPCOT backstage area, into the World Showcase and finally finishing back in the EPCOT lot. We made it to the MK entrance feeling pretty good. We even dropped our cover-up clothes at that point, which we immediately regretted as we felt a chill from a few wind guests. But the energy and excitement of running through that special place was amazing! Being essentially alone in the park, with the holiday lights still on, sent us good chills.

When you leave the Magic Kingdom, you exit out to the side and go down a road. A very long road. A very narrow road. A very boring road. One that is filled with orange cones and barricades. Bob’s Barricades, as they have become known (although the cones this year were labeled Acme, so who knows what’s going on anymore). This can be a bit soul-crushing, and it’s very hard to maintain a run/walk because there are a lot of people and you’re running down a single lane of the roadway. I’m not going to lie, it’s bad. But eventually, you come back out onto World Drive (essentially the road to and from the Magic Kingdom gate) and head back towards EPCOT. At this point, Ro had to use the porta-potties, so we stopped. As soon as we stopped, I noticed a crowd and saw Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbosa, so I ran over to get in line. Ro came out just in time to join me for the photo before we hit the road again and began running up the off-ramp to Epcot Center Drive.

On the ramp, I heard a voice barking out orders and motivation. Army Guy!

With his words ringing in our ears, we headed to EPCOT and popped out near the UK pavilion and began running towards Spaceship Earth.

And soon enough, we heard the gospel choir and saw the finish line

We grabbed our medals, our photos, our food, and our checked bags to put on some warm clothes. We also had a beer and champagne, but it was so cold we drank them quick and headed back to relax before a late breakfast at the Grand Floridian.

Three races down, one more – and the big one! – to go. 22.6 miles covered, 26.2 left. Tune in next time!

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Dopey Challenge Recap: The 5k and 10k

Complete!

First off, the good news: We successfully finished the Dopey Challenge! 48.6 miles of racing across four (very early) mornings. A 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, and a full marathon. I’m still amazed we even signed up for this thing, let alone finished it with flying colors. I’ll say at the outset that it was very cold, the morning wake-up calls were horrible, the marathon was very challenging emotionally and physically, and I couldn’t be happier that we got to run it together. It truly was a magical weekend.

Wednesday: Packet Pickup and Expo
Before the running began, we had some business to attend to. First up was picking up our packets. Obviously since we were running Thursday – Sunday, all Dopey participants had to pick up their bibs on Wednesday. This led to a VERY crowded expo with very, very long lines. Bibs and shirts were on the upstairs level of the HP Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports venue.

The line to pick up bibs

For Dopey, you get two bibs: one for the 5k/10k and one for the half/full (they have the same number, though). They take your photo so that they can prove you ran with those bibs later on. After that, you pick up your (SIX!) shirts.

Downstairs you can visit the runDisney store and pick up any pre-purchased stuff. We did a bit of shopping, avoiding the super long line to get into the merchandise area by simply ducking under the ropes separating the pre-purchased portion from the rest of the store. We headed back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the next day.

Thursday: the 5k

Brr

It was friggin’ cold! The temperature was right at freezing, with a slight wind chill dropping it into the high 20s. We drove over from our resort so that we could sit in the car for as long as possible. When it was time, we opted not to even bother checking a bag, as we planned to keep our drop clothes on for the entire race.

The 5k has a pretty simple course: start in one of the EPCOT parking lots, run through a bit of the backstage area, pop out onto the World Showcase in between Mexico and Norway, and run around to the other side, underneath Spaceship Earth, and finishing back in the parking lot. We opted to skip the first few photo stops, as the lines were a bit long and we were too cold to stop. It was all about forward motion, get back to the car as quickly as possible. We did stop for one character though. Soon enough, we were done.

Done with the first race

After the race, I actually had to get to work, so I showered and drove to the office for a bit. When I came back, we simply relaxed at our resort, ate a quick dinner, and tried to get to bed early. It didn’t work, but hey, we tried!

Friday: the 10k

Still cold

Friday morning brought essentially the same temperature and wind chill as Thursday. It maybe felt just a tad warmer, but that could have been our tired minds playing tricks on us. We kept to the same plan: I kept my throw clothes on the entire time, we stayed in the car as long as possible, and tried not to stop very often. Of course, I couldn’t NOT stop to say hi to Vacation Genie:

Or to get a photo with Spaceship Earth:

The course for the 10k was pretty similar to the 5k, just with a longer run around parking lots and other streets before the backstage area. We also ran into and around the boardwalk before going back into EPCOT. After we finished, we got our second medals of the challenge and decided to take a few photos with some of the finish line characters (AKA the Big Ones: they had Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy and Dopey out each morning and immediately post-race) before heading back to the room.

And just like that, we were halfway done. Well, halfway in terms of days. In reality we had only ran 9.3 miles, and still had 39.3 to go. The rest of Friday was spent walking around our resort to keep our legs fresh, along with dinner at Mama Melrose at Hollywood Studios. Another early bedtime (in theory) to rest up for the remaining two races.

Stay tuned…

2017 Year in Review

Quick post to review my 2017 in running…

Goal 1 – Break two hours in a half
COMPLETE! FINALLY after years of trying, on half marathon #7, I broke two hours. I broke it by a lot, actually, coming in at 1:55 at the Kentucky Derby half marathon in Louisville, KY. It felt amazing to run a great race and knock that off my list.

Goal 2 – 1,250 miles
Complete FAILURE on this one. I ended the year at 964 miles over 180 runs. Both are records for me, besting last year’s 900 miles. Quite short of my goal though, and so utterly close to 1,000 miles.

What did me in was basically the lack of running from the end of May through late September. I ran, just not as much as I should. Even just a few runs here and there would have gotten me to 1,000 miles. With Dopey coming up this week, it wasn’t worth it to push for 1k though, too much of a risk of injury for that.

So, on to 2018! I’ve got Dopey, and then nothing else planned for the year yet. We technically have MCM in October, but we’ll see.

On Track

Well, as much as we can be. We are getting closer and closer to Dopey in January, and I’m proud to say that other than missing a long run for my birthday the other week, we’ve been nailing our runs. Either four or five days a week, getting some miles in. Sure, our long runs aren’t quite up to par (we are WAY behind on that), but at least we’re getting there.

Since we can’t catch up to the plan at this point, it was time to start developing a new one to get us as close as possible. The next three mini Dopey’s are 4/8/18, 4/9/19 and 2.5/5/10/20. Our longest run to date has only been 11, so that’s not gonna happen. Instead, here’s what we’re going to do:

    The Plan

  • This week: 3/6/14
  • Two weeks: 4/8/16
  • Peak week: 2.5/5/10/18

It’s aggressive still, but it’s the best we’ll be able to do given our current fitness levels. I think a good portion of the longer segments will need to be run/walk as well, so we will train for that.

But otherwise, we’re doing ok. We did our three miles on Thursday and six miles this morning, so tomorrow will be 14. Longest I’ll have run since Louisville, and after two days of running, so it’ll be interesting to see how our legs are feeling during and after the run. Going to be an early bedtime I think!

Going to Disney is the same as running, right?

This week we were scheduled for runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with the Friday/Saturday runs at around 5-8 and 12-14 miles. We had the best of intentions too. We even managed to hit up the gym Thursday morning and get in a strength workout. But alas, it was not meant to be.

The weekday runs went fine, 4-5-4 as I had planned. Friday I woke up a bit tired, so only did four miles before work. It’s my birthday week (well, it’s Monday, but you know…celebrations start earlier). Friday after work we hit up some spots for happy hour, then went home after walking around at a monthly art show thing in our neighborhood.

Saturday we knew we were going to Disney, but had still planned to get some miles in. Instead, I woke up very late for me, and there just wouldn’t be time to do both. And in a battle between running and going to Disney to have some fun for my birthday….Disney won.

Next week I hope we can get back on track. My mother-in-law is with us for another week and a half, then my aunt-in-law is here for two weeks, then my mom for a week. By that point, over a three and a half month span, we will have been alone for one single day. It’s not ideal conditions to be training for anything, let alone an undertaking as large as Dopey, especially after wasting away July, August and September. But what can you do.

Big congrats to Shalane Flanagan! We woke up to watch the NYC Marathon this morning, and it was awesome to see her rock it! She held tight and then dropped the hammer and made her move in the last couple of miles, and no one could stick with her. First time an American woman has won since 1977! Friggin’ awesome