Disney Challenge Recap: Character Photos!

Note: If you’re just joining us, please check out my 5k and 10k recap, my half marathon recap and my full marathon recap.

Complete!

I knew I couldn’t complete my Dopey Challenge recap without talking about the character stops! It’s one of the best parts! You see, throughout the races, Disney has characters out that you can take photos with. Everyone from Mickey to Genie to members of The Adventurer’s Club. Most of the stops have Disney Photopass photographers there to take your picture with the characters, which can be tied to your bib # for easy retrieval. If you don’t have Photopass, or don’t want to pay for it, the cast members there can also take a photo with your cell phone. It’s pretty awesome. As APs, we have Photopass and had planned to take full advantage of it.

It seems this is all we have between the 5k and 10k, but I know there were more. During the 5k we skipped Chip and Dale, Vacation Genie (he was actually out for all four races, in different places), and some of the guys from Move It! Shake It! We did stop for Clara Bell the cow outside of The Land during the 5k, as well, but that picture seems to have disappeared.

Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas

Sebastian from The Little Mermaid

Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbosa from Pirates of the Caribbean

Ro had to stop at a port-a-pottie, and as we did, I looked over and saw Jack Sparrow. I ran across the street and got in line, and she came out right as we only had one or two people in front of us. Perfect timing!

Assorted Fairies

We waited in this line because Tinkerbell was there. As we were the next one’s up, Tink and another fairy left, so we missed them but got these two.

Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck

Yes! One of the longest lines we waited in, outside of Jack and Sally.

Jessie from Toy Story 2 and 3

Another stroke of bad timing, we waited in line for Woody and Jessie, but with just a few people in front of us Woody took his break. Oh well.

Rafiki and Timon from The Lion King

These guys went on break right before we got there, but we waited anyway. And kind of odd that it was Rafiki with Timon, and not Pumba.

Oscar!

Belle and Sleeping Beauty

In the athlete’s village area, several of the big name characters were out. Each of them would have insanely long lines during the day of their race (aka Pluto on Thursday, Donald on Saturday, Dopey on Sunday), so we opted to take them during other days.

Dopey!

Mickey!

Goofy!

Minnie!

Pluto!

Donald!

All in all, the photos were great. We took a few with our cell phones as well, since a few of the stops didn’t have a Photopass photographer. If you’re debating getting Photopass for race weekend, do it! We love it.

And with that, my Dopey Challenge recap is complete. It was an incredible experience. The first question we get asked is, “Are you crazy?!” The second is usually “Would you do it again?” To that I say, maybe. Not every year, that’s for sure, as it’s very expensive and takes up a great deal of time. We have the privilege of living close by so we can visit the parks often. But for many people, race weekend is also vacation weekend. Trying to manage the races, family, having fun, etc. is just too much for me. Maybe we’ll do it again for the 10th anniversary, but for now there are other races and other goals to do first.

Until next time!

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Dopey Challenge Recap: Full Marathon

Note: If you’re just joining us, please check out my 5k and 10k recap and my half marathon recap.

Complete!

Sunday: The Full Marathon
Day four, and another pre-3AM wake-up call. Yeah, these were getting old, but last one! Woohoo! At this point a bit of delirium was setting in. We ate our typical pre-marathon meals, dressed for multiple weather scenarios, picked up our friends and drove to Epcot. I had heard that traffic could be a nightmare, so we left a tad earlier than Saturday but made it just fine. We had a solid hour in the (warm) car before heading to the corrals.

The weather would be very cold at the start (mid-30s) but would warm up into the high-50s/low-60s and sunny later on. We knew we would be out on the course for a long time, so we had to dress for both. I opted for shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, a short-sleeve tech shirt, hat, gloves, and a fleece throw-away top to keep me warm up in corral and for the first few miles. It was a solid plan, and I felt good throughout the run.

The first several miles were the exact same as the half the day before. We started on the highway, ran onto World Drive, through the auto plaza into the Magic Kingdom, around the parking lots (stopping for photos with Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck!) and through the TTC, towards the Contemporary and into the Magic Kingdom itself. We skipped all other photo stops until we got to Woody and Jessie, and even though the line was long we decided to stop. In a story that will repeat throughout the day, right before we got to the front of the line Woody took a break, so we just got Jessie.

Somewhere in the midst of taking a photo of the mile markers (which we managed to get all of them!), I lost a glove. Not both of them, just one. It was when I was ditching my throw-away top. So there I was, one glove, and it started getting a bit chilly again. Crap. We were only a few miles in, and there was a loooong way to go. Yikes.

Upon leaving MK, you head down Cone Alley by the Grand Floridian, and finally deviate from the half course. The WDW Marathon gets a well-deserved reputation for being a bit of a boring course, with a lot of long stretches on highways, lots of ramps, lots of dead space. You leave the MK at mile 6. You enter Animal Kingdom at 12.5, leave it at 14, and don’t enter another park until 23. The rest of that time is just plain, boring roads. In a repeat from our Woody/Jessie photo, we got in line for Timon and Rafiki (where’s Pumba?!) who promptly went on break. We decided to wait, and luckily it didn’t take long for them to come back, and we were back on the road.

Now, the time between AK and HS is miserable. You’re on boring roads again, until you hit the Wide World of Sports. This is just round and round you go, throughout the property. Even the DJs seemed pretty miserable. You’re there for a few miles, and as soon as you get out you feel relief. We opted against most photo stops there, since we had taken many with the characters at the start/finish village instead. Plus, I think Ro just needed to keep on moving. At this point we slowed our interval from 4/1 to 2/1. Eventually it would turn into run whenever we could.

With WWOS in the rearview, we were onto the last little bit: Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, World Showcase and margaritas and beer! Wait, what? Yup! We opted to stop at the margarita stand and get some drinks to power us through the final half mile. I mean, everyone knows fueling and hydrating is the most important part of a marathon, right?

Ah, glorious!

We stopped at mile marker 26, listening to the gospel choir, and knew we would be finishing in just a few minutes.

We crossed the finish line in what was our slowest time, but also the most fun marathon we’ve ever done!

And with that, we were done. We had completed the Dopey Challenge, 48.6 miles of running in four days. A 5k, a 10k, a half marathon and a full marathon. Unreal. We started celebrating as soon as we got our medals, heading right for the beer tent to wait for our friends to finish.

We headed back to our hotel where we cracked a bottle of champagne and put our feet in the cold pool water. Eventually Ro and I showered and hit up Disney Springs, where we munched on some sushi at Morimoto and a few cocktails at Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar. We were beat, so we called it an early night to get some sleep. The next morning we hit up Epcot and MK for photos before a dinner at Citricos, and then drove back to our apartment to crash.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and we loved every minute of it – except the wake up calls. This isn’t something we would necessarily repeat anytime soon, maybe for anniversary years. Otherwise, we’ve got Dark Side half marathon coming up next – though we’re searching for another half prior to then.

Next up: a recap of our character photos!

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!

MCM Training: Week 1 and 2 Recap

Sorry y’all, I’ve been slacking on my blogging about training lately. Thankfully, my running hasn’t been slacking!

Training for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon officially kicked off for us on June 20th. For previous marathons, we’ve both followed Hal Higdon’s Novice plans (1 and 2). This time, however, we wanted to increase our mileage a bit and really come in under 5 hours. So, we’re both doing Intermediate, which calls for five days of running. The midweek stuff is fine, no real differences there. But running both Saturday AND Sunday, that’s a huge chance. Sundays were our days to kick back, sleep in, relax, and get ready for the week. Now we basically have to wake up early every day. Sucks.

Week 1 was good, actually some cool weather in the mornings, which was nice. We even managed to go out Friday and Saturday night and still hit our runs. Woohoo!

Week 2 was a bit warmer, but still not bad. Already up to a weekend of five and eleven miles, so this plan definitely ramps up quickly. But we’ve been running a lot, including two half marathons in the first part of the year, so we’ve been consistently going 8-12 miles every weekend.

This weekend we also undertook our first semi-serious DIY project around the house. Our pantry (and all closets) have these awful wire shelves, which I hate. I’ve wanted to get rid of them since we moved in, but never got around to it. So on Saturday (after our five milers) we went to Home Depot and bought everything we would need. The project spilled into Sunday (after eleven miles), but we finally finished it all up around 4PM. We were exhausted! But it looks great, so we’re happy with the outcome.

Week 3 has begun, and so has the heat. Not looking forward to those terrible runs when it’s so hot and humid you can barely breath and want to die after five miles.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Race Report: 2017 Bluff City 10k

Alternate Title: So Close!

This was the third year I’ve signed up for this race, and the second time I’ve actually ran it (last year…I uh….had too much fun the night before). It’s always right around Ro’s birthday, and it’s super convenient to our house. The course is essentially a massive loop that runs alongside our typical routes anyway, so we’re used to running on the terrain. Having just done the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and hitting a massive PR only two weeks ago, we didn’t have high hopes for this, though PRs were dancing in our heads.

Friday I picked up our packets, and then we headed to dinner for her birthday. Now, we usually have pasta before a race. But given it was her birthday, she wanted something fancier. So off to the Capital Grille we went. We munched on delicious seafood, crazy good steaks, a decadent dessert, a bottle of wine and some cocktails before. Absolutely delicious, but not the right meal before a race!

Saturday morning, we woke up feeling very heavy and not at all interested in eating any more food. We did the best we could and ran the mile or so to the race start.

We started a bit closer to the front than we had hoped, and right at 8AM we were off. My goal was to keep things as close to an 8 minute mile as possible, to hopefully hit a sub-50 finish time. Things were right on track for the first four miles, but then the course turned uphill for nearly an entire mile, and I started slowing down a bit. I was still keeping things close though; mile 6 was 8:11. I crossed the finish line in 50:43, so damn close!

Afterwards, I waited for Ro to finish (1:00:34! So close!), then we started walking back to the house. We stopped along the way to cheer on some other runners (did I mention the course literally runs in front of our house?) and a very dear friend.

All in all, a great race all things considered. I’m not gonna complain too much about a nearly two-minute PR, and coming just two weeks after a PR in the half; two PRs in three weeks! Not too bad!

That’s it for scheduled races until October (things tend to slow down after May here in the mid-south, given how damn hot it gets) and the MCM. Formal training for that begins in late June, though I’ll be keeping up my base workouts for the time being.