So its been almost a month since the Dopey Challenge, and I’ve finally come back to say, I DID IT! Yep, I completed the 48.6 mile journey through Walt Disney World, something I never thought I would so especially after a horrible experience at last year’s Goofy Challenge. I didn’t have any big goals for these races, I really just wanted to complete each race within the “required” pace limit of 16 minutes per mile, so my goals were quite simple:
5k < 49:36
10k < 1:39:12
13.1 < 3:29:36
26.2 < 6:59:12
My normal race times are all well under these times, so I knew I mostly had it in the bag, I mean I ran a 5:51:09 marathon in October right? Just because I’ve BARELY RUN AT ALL SINCE THEN, I still felt confident. Last year it took me 3:19:53 to complete the half and 7:10:46 to finish the full. I was so disappointed that I finished over the “required” pace, I felt like I didn’t even deserve the medals. Long port-a-potty lines and an upset stomach combined with an over crowded course, rain, humidity and blisters from hell all contributed to my WORST RACE EVER. This year I was determined to get all my races done this year under the time limits.
My sister and my Dad would be accompanying me on this trip, so I drove up to New Jersey after work on Tuesday evening. When I got to my parents house I found out that my Dad hurt his back and he wouldn’t be able to come on the trip, so we had a lot of frantic room and flight canceling to do.
Since I was running all four races, I needed to be at the expo for packet pick up on Wednesday, so I booked an mid-morning flight and figured we’d have plenty of time to get to the expo in the afternoon, before it closed at 8.
And then our flight got delayed.
And delayed again.
Why? Because the plane we were supposed to be getting on… GOT SENT SOMEWHERE ELSE BY MISTAKE… What?! Seriously United? SERIOUSLY? There were a lot of runners pacing around the airport nervously awaiting their flight.
We didn’t even board the plane until after we were supposed to be landing in Orlando, I was starting to get nervous.
When we finally did arrive in Orlando bag pick up was a WRECK! United Airlines really needs to get their act together. I’ve never seen so many people from so many flights waiting for bags at the same carousel before.
Luckily my Aunt and her husband were able to pick us up at the airport and drop us off at our hotel, All-Star Music, so that helped to save a bit of time, but we were still cutting it close. We got checked into our room which was of course ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK of the resort, so we hustled to drop off our bags and then hustled back up to the main building to wait for a bus to the expo. We made it to the expo by 7:15, which was cutting it really close, but luckily we made it.
The first thing I did was grab my packet, get my photo taken and then get my shirts. Luckily for Dopey everything is right there. I wanted to exchange my 5k T-shirt for a smaller size though because the unisex t-shirts run a big larger than the woman’s cut shirts so we headed over to the expo. We grabbed a pretzel to share because we were STARVING. I traded in my shirt, and then checked out official merchandise. I decided to buy a Dopey “I Did It!” shirt. I’ve never once bought a piece of official merchandise, but it was orange, and they had my size, and its 48.6 FREAKING MILES. Yea, I needed it.
Finally we were done with our expo business, with about 15 minutes to spare. Exhausting.
What do you mean I still have 48.6 miles to run?
We made our way back to the hotel and grabbed some food, and then had to get back to the room so I could unpack my outfit for the 5k and get into bed.
I set my alarm for 4am, I wasn’t really in my usual panic and wake up extra early runDisney mode for some reason. I rolled out of bed around 4:15, threw on some clothes, and I was on a bus by 4:45.
It was quick and easy to get through the security checkpoint and then I hit up a port-a-potty and made my way to Corral D to wait for the race to start. Once the race started, I took it nice and slow as I made my way through EPCOT. I stopped for a few selfies and other pictures along the way, and before I knew it, I was done in 43:27. I was under the required pace and had my first medal.
I headed back to the room for a shower and nap until my sister was ready to wake up. We had some breakfast and then made our way over to the Magic Kingdom to ride some rides.
After a while we decided to head over to the Polynesian and hung out on the swinging chairs for a while until it was time for Trader Sam’s to open and we were lucky enough to get in with the first seating. We got seats at the bar and both ordered a Hippo-Poto-Mai-Tai because seriously, we needed those souvenir tiki glasses.
After that, we wandered around Disney Springs for a bit and I had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and then it was time to head back to the hotel to get my 10k outfit together and crawl into bed early.
Friday morning was much like Thursday morning, just a half hour earlier. And it was raining. Yay.
There was another bus, another security checkpoint, another port-a-potty stop and then some waiting in the corrals in the rain. I didn’t take any pictures during this race because I kept my iPhone in a ziplock baggie in my water bottle pouch for safe keeping during the entire race. I took my time during the race because I didn’t want to go all out the day before the half marathon, but I also didn’t want to spend too much time in the rain. I finished in 1:25:07 and collected my second piece of bling under the time limit.
I headed back to the hotel for a shower and another nap until my sister was ready to go for the day. By now, she was starting to feel a little under the weather, so we decided we would take it easy. We missed all of our EPCOT fast passes, but as it turned out, our Test Track pass was canceled due to the rain in the morning, so we were allowed to use one fast pass where ever we wanted at whatever time of the day, score!
We headed over to EPCOT around 1 for our lunch reservation at the San Angel Inn and I had some delicious enchiladas for lunch. Then we made our way around the world showcase and I collected candy to take home from a few of the countries. After roaming around for a while we decided to hit up Test Track with our fast pass and then visited Spaceship Earth on our way out of the park. I noticed I was starting to get small blisters on the bottoms of my toes, and was worried it was from the wet shoes, but oh well, I’d have to deal with it. I grabbed some create your own pasta from the dining area at our hotel for dinner and turned in early once again.
Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30 again, and got ready for the half marathon. I had no problem catching a bus around 4:15 and making it to EPCOT the day before for the 10k, so I decided to do the same for the half marathon. There was a bit more traffic getting over to EPCOT but it was still no big deal. And then I got to the security checkpoint.
What the hell?! It was a cluster of madness! It was so chaotic and unorganized and even though I got there at 4:30, I didn’t make it through this mess until 5:05 and still had the long shuffle back to the corrals. There was no time for a port-a-potty break, I was still trying to get to my corral when the first ones were going off. Luckily I am not fast, so there was still time before Corral J would be leaving, but it has never EVER taken me over an hour from the time I got off the bus to get to the corrals. I made a mental note to give myself an extra 15 minutes on Sunday for the marathon.
It was humid and foggy and gross, but here I was, once again running down the road, making my way to the Magic Kingdom. I was a hot sweaty mess that didn’t have time to stop at a port-a-potty before the race, so I found myself waiting in a long line for one just before mile 3.
After my potty break, I felt much better and continued on to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Before I knew it I was making my way down Main Street towards a hazed over castle, which reminded me a lot of my first half marathon, the 2014 Disney Princess Half.
Soon enough we were out of the Magic Kingdom and heading back to EPCOT. I continued to take my time, and tried not to get too fed up with the crowds. There were so many points where you couldn’t run even if you really wanted to, and I reminded myself that I had plenty of time, I wasn’t looking for a PR. I grabbed a selfie with a Green Army Man and continued on to the final stretch to EPCOT.
Once we got back to EPCOT I decided I needed a safety selfie, and then I saw my favorite! Vacation Genie! I already have a picture with him, but I still had about 20 minutes left on the required pace clock and his line wasn’t too long, so I decided to stop and wait. So worth it.
I ran past the Gospel Choir and then made my way to the finish line race three was done and I only had 26.2 miles to go.
I also found my lost BB-8 unit at the finish line. Mission accomplished.
I made my way back to the hotel and grabbed some breakfast to go from the food court to eat in the room after my shower. I realized the blisters on my feet were starting to look bad and I knew if I had any chance of surviving the marathon, today had to be an easy day on the feet. My sister was more than happy to spend the day in the hotel room because she was really feeling sick. We skipped all of our fast pass reservations at Animal Kingdom and didn’t leave the room until 4:45 to make our way over to the Boardwalk for 5:45 dinner reservations. I ate more pasta, and I was ready to head back to the room for the night.
When we left the restaurant it was POURING so we had to buy ponchos and then we didn’t want to walk far to the buses so we hopped on a boat to EPCOT. By the time we got off the boat the rain was calming down, so it wasn’t so bad walking through EPCOT to the buses, but my feet were wet again and my blisters weren’t happy. We took another tour of Spaceship Earth because there was no line and why not?!
I was starting to feel like I was getting a sore throat, so I grabbed some cough drops to carry with me during the marathon and then laid out my outfit for the marathon when we got back to the room. I was in bed by 9 and sleeping by 9:15.
It was here! Marathon day! 3:30am I sprung out of bed, coated my feet in bodyglide and band aids and prayed. I was on a bus by 4am and headed to EPCOT.
When I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see that they reorganized the security checkpoint and things were flowing much smoothly. As soon as I got through, I started my walk back to the corrals and decided to use a port-a-potty when I got there. I didn’t want a repeat of last year when I had to stop within the first mile of the race, and then again and again and again.
I made it to my corral just as the fireworks for the first corral were going off and just after 6am I was off and running. It was crowded and relatively uneventful. I was taking my time, but also didn’t want to waste any time by stopping for pictures in the first half. I just kept on trucking, running when I could, walking when it was too crowded to do anything else, and just making my way through the course. Just after leaving the Magic Kingdom, so not far after the 10k mark, I felt the Band-Aid slip off my toe on my left foot. The pain was horrible, but I just kept going until it basically went numb with pain. This was going to be a long day.
There were tons and tons of photo stops on the long stretch to the Animal Kingdom with lots of villains you don’t normally see out. I wanted to stop, but I was so worried about getting a stomach ache in the second half like I did last year, so I wanted as much wiggle room in the second half as possible, I couldn’t let myself stop.
When we made it to the Animal Kingdom I took a quick selfie with the Tree of Life and then contemplated riding Expedition Everest, but I knew it would be a bad choice, so I kept moving along.
Outside Animal Kingdom I saw the best sign ever.
And then we looped around the boring parking lot where I felt the Band-Aid slip off my toe on my right foot. More horrible pain, just keep running until it goes numb! Halfway there and my blisters were not happy, but I kept moving towards Wide World of Sports.
Once again Wide World of Sports seemed to take forever to get through, but at least this time I didn’t have to stop for any extended bathroom breaks. When I finally made it out, I was glad to see there were still people entering the complex, the year before the roads were clear and the sweepers had already been through. I knew I had plenty of time when I saw that the balloon ladies were still not in WWoS, I was going to be okay, unless something really bad happened, I was not going to get swept and I was well on track for making it in under 7 hours.
When I got to Hollywood Studios I was so excited for chocolate! I ate three pieces of Dove Chocolate because I was starving. Then we ran through the stupid tunnel with flashing lights that I hate. Seriously runDisney, WHY YOU TRYING TO MAKE PEOPLE HAVE SEIZURES AT MILE 23 OF A MARATHON?
After emerging from the tunnel of doom, I saw Boo! I’ve never seen Boo out on the course so I just had to stop, she hardly had a line and I knew I had plenty of time.
I continued on through Hollywood Studios and then out to the path to the Boardwalk. By now I was just ready to be done, and so was my Nike+ watch because it turned off just before entering the World Showcase of EPCOT. The final stretch!
There were tons of characters out and no lines at all, but I was so ready to be done I didn’t stop for any pictures, I just kept pushing forward. My feet were burning, but I was a thousand times less miserable than the year before, and for that I was grateful.
And then I saw the Gospel Choir and the 26 mile marker. I couldn’t believe that I was about to finish my FOURTH full marathon, and as part of the Dopey Challenge no less. I was so excited and I knew based on the time on my Garmin Vivofit that I was doing it well under 7 hours.
6:44:05 actually. Yes, this time is way off my October marathon PR and even my NYC Marathon time, but I wasn’t trying to be fast. I was just trying to finish under the required time.
I crossed the finish line, collected my medals and found my sister. I texted my Mom and Tim and even though my feet hurt like hell, I was so happy and felt so so so much better than the year before. I FREAKING DID IT.
My sister looked like hell. She was sick. We hobbled back to the hotel and she made an appointment for Urgent Care while I bought myself a cookie and a coke.
We slowly made our way back to the room and I got my shoes off and took note of the damage. My feet were COVERED in blisters in places I’ve never got them before (they’re actually still healing a month later). I laid on the floor with my feet up on the bed, and my sister literally stepped over my body to get to the door to leave for Urgent Care, we were quite the hot mess.
I eventually crawled (seriously) to the bathroom to take a shower and had to wear my flip flops in the shower because it hurt to badly to stand barefoot. I got myself cleaned up, threw on my PJs and crawled into bed to enjoy my cookie. I tried to take a nap but the adrenaline was still running through me and before I knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner reservations at O’Hana. My sister got back from Urgent Care with anti-biotics and soft food and decided she would have to sit dinner out. Luckily I was also meeting up with my friend Amanda and her fiancé Josh who live in Orlando, so my celebration dinner wouldn’t have to be a solo one.
I got dressed in my I Did It shirt and threw on my Dopey Medal and Amanda and Josh picked me up and we headed to dinner which was delicious. We even got to watch Wishes while we were eating dessert, it was a great ending to the day.
The next morning my feet still hurt, but I got ready and made my way to the food court for breakfast and brought my sister pancakes. She wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to make my way to Hollywood Studios alone while she rested. I wandered around for a bit and then found my BB-8 cup!
I rode the boat over to EPCOT and had a photo shoot with my medals and some guacamole in Mexico.
I wandered around the World Showcase until it was time to head back to Hollywood Studios for my Star Tours and Toy Story Mania fast passes. I’ve never done Disney rides alone before, but it wasn’t too bad.
After Toy Story Mania I made my way over to the Magic Kingdom (yes that’s right, I did three parks in one day on Dopey blisters) to meet my sister and Aunt for dinner at Be Our Guest, but first I needed bling pictures in front of the castle.
Dinner was tasty and of course we had to try the grey stuff.
I closed out the night with selfies with the Beast.
And Wishes selfies.
It was time to head back to the hotel and pack up for our morning flight!
I know this was a dreadfully long post, but thanks for sticking with me! I’ve got some exciting news to share next week so I didn’t want to break this up into multiple posts.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back for Marathon Weekend next year, and if I am, I’m thinking it will be ‘only’ for the marathon, we’ll see. If I’m not back next year, I definitely have my sights on 2018 for the 25th Marathon and 5 year Dopey anniversary medals.
I’ll close this post by saying… What a world of difference a year makes…