Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 Dopey Challenge: Half Marathon trail adventure

Part four of our Dopey Experience: The one with the off road running. And the fog. 

By Saturday morning we were beginning to settle into a routine. The 3AM wake up call didn't feel too bad, Andy was enjoying it so much that he had decided to one up all of us and wake up at 1:30. (he continued to do this, much to his dismay for the rest of our trip. UGH!)

Things were funny on Saturday. Apparently the strange hours were getting to us even though we felt acclimated. Eric began laughing uncontrollably for no apparent reason within moments of turning the lights on. Andy cheerfully serenaded us with Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah. (this would be an ongoing theme for the next 48 hours.)

Typical routine, we walked outside (and it was not raining!) jumped onto a bus, made new friends and took a different and slightly longer route to get to the start.

We certainly noticed a change in the crowd level once we arrived. There were lots of runners.
The relative calm of the first two days wasn't present on this morning and before we could even see the security and bag check area we had ground to a screeching halt.
We aren't sure what was up- nobody could really tell what was going on (other than we were not moving) but it certainly took a long, long time to get through security.
None of us were bothered, we were in Corral P so there was no need to rush. Even better, we decided to make getting thru bag check an additional part of the dopey challenge- we all picked different lines and GO! I lost, miserably.

From there it was, as we had been told, a solid 15 minute walk to the starting corrals which were set up on a 3 lane highway. Nice change from the glorious parking lot of the previous two days.

Unflattering three lane highway selfie
By the time we made it to P it was so late that we were about 5 minutes from the start (of corral A, that is.) Getting into our corral there were a few runners from B who didn't make it to the gate in time!  However, at 5:30 corral P was nowhere near full (maybe 1/3) and certainly not ready to go so we set up to relax against the wobbly fence.

We got pretty comfy since we were staging area pros at this point. It was a nice surprise when we timed a 3 minute hold in between corrals. We had not been sure what to expect and this was ideal!

Around 6:25 we started the walk to the start and, once again were serenaded with the endless puns of Disney's favorite race MC's. (at this point we were over them. at this point THEY were over them!)

Anyway, right on schedule there were bigger fireworks than the days before and off we went. We were all planning to do our own thing and meet up back at the hotel. (in retrospect this is good. making a pace line for a 5k is fun. for a 13.1 it would have been exhausting!)

There were a fuck ton of people.
Right off I was running in the grass. Yeah, I know I know. You don't go to Disney to "race". But I wanted to run, and to run the best I could.
An off road trail adventure was the only solution.

I tried to figure out what the weather was up to for the first few miles. It almost felt like mist, and in lit areas it looked like drizzle. Once the sun came out it became apparent that it was FOG. Heavy, heavy fog. At about 59 degrees it was a perfectly nice morning for a run. (really, I liked it.)

Take note of the thick fog
The first 4 or so miles of the course were a combination of highway and parking lot. While they weren't the most exciting to look at they gave me a better chance to find room to run, get into a rhythm and assess how the crowd was moving better than I could in the parks. Right before mile 5 the road narrowed significantly as we approached the Magic Kingdom. At this point I was having to completely focus on staying safe, there was some phenomenally erratic running going on to the point that I was involved in a legit 4 runner pile up.
The moral of the story is, if you slam on the brakes to take a selfie you are going to get hit. The man in front of me had no choice but to hit selfie runner (and then get hit by me, as I was absolutely flattened by the woman behind me.) He then used some choice, non-Disney approved words to express his feelings which I found quite amusing.
As much as I had been attentive to traffic to this point, I was on high alert from then on out.

We ran through the Magic Kingdom. Everyone's favorite. Not mine because I am the worst.
I couldn't get out of there fast enough! Running through the castle.... Complete bottleneck. I was like "easy Bradlowski.... easy. this is fun. people are having fun. they are being very unsafe but THIS IS FUN DAMNIT EVERY MILE IS FUCKING MAGIC!!!!!" Ugh Magic Kingdom.

Fucking. Magic.
Anyway. We finally made it out of there.

From there the course ran behind the Grand Floridian and there were a ton of spectators through that area. Right around there (maybe mile 8?) The course opened up beautifully and I ran right along!
There was still a considerable amount of off road running but I was just so pleased to have some space. From what I understand mile 8-12 are the most hated parts of the Half.
I'm such a rebel, they were my favorite!
In other good news even though it was still quite foggy the sun had (sorta) come up and I could see where I was going. I could see well enough to notice that I was passing people who had started in corral D.
Some people have fun taking pics with the castle, some people have fun running with friends. I have fun catching people and blowing by them.
This makes me a jerkface and I own it. This is how I have fun.

I look mad, but I'm passing people so I AM HAPPY!!!
At mile 11 I decided to hustle and I ran the last 2 miles at an 8:00 pace. This was especially adventurous as we spent the last mile or so doing the weaving/looping thing through Epcot again. It was kind of like, here we go UNDER spaceship earth. Now let's turn around! Time to go BACK under spaceship earth!! What are we doing hahah?!

Running away from Spacship Earth and passing people like a BOSS.
I ran to a glorious parking lot finish (today with much more hooplah, bleachers and all kinds of staging and excitement!) in 1:56:37.
I felt like my 4WD choices made the race feel a bit harder than it should have but that's what you get for being impatient. Also, I wasn't convinced that my collision with the other runners in the beginning had not grievously injured me. I got my medal and met some of the most delightful volunteers ever, imagine if all of your grandparents were race volunteers and how nice they would be! That was happening.

Thanks to my race Grandpa for taking my pic!
I did have one funny moment though. I got my medal and my volunteer looked at my bib. "Is that your bib?" she said. I was like "yeah" because it was. She proceeded (in a very nice way) to ask if I had actually started in my corral. Which I had. She went on to say that she only had to ask because it was so early for a corral P finisher to be running in, hahaha. For about 5 seconds I felt like a fast celebrity. Maybe I always want to start in the back so that I can impress people with my amazing running prowess.

As was per the norm I was thru the med line (ice for broken femur) back on the bus, showered, mostly organized and holding chocolate croissants for everyone when the twins came back. (thanks to the buses, not really to my *formidable* speed.)

They had enjoyed the race, even the ghastly Magic Kingdom part! They had also chosen to run on the road the whole entire time which, while smart, really doesn't hold the promise of death and/or broken limbs. Wimps! My mud run had secured my spot at the top of the leaderboard of excellence!

For the remainder of the day we took ice baths (awful.) Sat in the hot tub (glorious) Ate the aforementioned chocolate croissants (the best thing in Disney!!)

We took the fabulous boat to Disney Springs to enjoy some live entertainment and dinner at the downright geriatric hour of 3:30. Yes, you read that correctly.
We totally wore our medals to geriatric dinner time
When we got back Andy needed to do laundry, Eric needed to put his feet up and I needed to eat another round of chocolate so we did those things with tentative plans to watch the kids movie on the grassy knoll for a while. (this happens at Disney resorts and is lovely.)
But it POURED!!! What the hell Florida?
So we sat at the pool bar, not drinking BECAUSE MARATHON and we made more friends who were great fun! I must admit, I had a ton of fun having a non-park Disney experience. Maybe it is because I have been several times as an adult but I did not feel any urges to spend more time in the parks than we did. Our resort was great and we took advantage of everything it had to offer. Plus, if we had spent any more time on our feet we would have straight up died.

We were all in bed early, with visions of a three medal day dancing in our heads.
What would the next day bring? Who would win the security line race? Would Andy be able to get a whole corral to sing Zip-a-dee-do-dah???
All these answers, and more in the next episode....

The stats:
Sara: 1:56:37 
Eric: 2:12:36
Andy: 2:12:37



  1. So I'm reading these posts backwards, but great job on the half! Sorry about your broken femur...I won't run DC's Cherry Blossom 10 miler anymore because the entire race is bottlenecked like that. Last year, I got boxed in by four guys who were double my height and had to run with my arms up like I was dodging hits in a boxing match. True story.

  2. The bottle neck in Magic Kingdom is a total nightmare. I still do love running in the park, though. I automatically get speedier. Congratulations on a great finish from the last corral!