|Yes, we are all Dopey.|
I stepped outside first thing to determine how many extra layers we would need to stay warm and came back in with this: "you guys. this isn't good."
It was, by 10+ degrees the warmest morning we had encountered. And thick with humidity.
Thinking that the conditions certainly could change we bundled up as we had in the previous days and, well stocked with snacks headed to the now familiar bus. We had a much less scary driver on this particular day. Our Half Marathon bus driver was filled with rage and a desire to terrify all of us. (he was fairly successful and I guarantee that he terrified several motorists who he just about pushed off the road. Be AGGRESSIVE!)
|Waiting (5 seconds) for the BUS!!|
|There were still loads of people though. And I like snapchat.|
|See the lack of clothing? Warm.|
There was some GOOD NEWS. There was only a 3 minute hold for most of the corrals- spacing to a 4 minute hold for the final few. Such a great feeling for all of us who were dreading the 10 minute hold we had been warned about. I'm not sure if this is a case of Disney changing things or a case of "don't believe what bus strangers tell you" but either way- PHEW.
|The whole gang, about to start!|
While people genuinely had quality race etiquette throughout the full, it was slow going.
My legs were a bit heavy from the previous days, the air was like glue and nobody was moving quickly.
Similar to the previous day, traffic slowed down one notch more around the Contemporary and throughout the Magic Kingdom. I give kudos to whoever decided to divert traffic into two lanes after running through the castle but there wasn't an option to do much more than slow run throughout the whole MK.
|OMG such FOCUS. Just looking at the traffic ahead actually.|
Heading out of the MK traffic opened up a bit since the roads did. Around mile 8.5 we started on a different route, one that was not visually stimulating but did allow for a bit more progression.
(I need to be brutally honest- I was running off the road again and working hard to get around the other runners doing the same. all this effort only allowed me a barely sub 10 pace. not normal!)
I knew, with the humidity that I would be ill advised to pass up any water stop. I think that I walked briefly through 18 hydration stations, picking up 2 cups of powerade at most of them. I ran through another 4 or so- and I don't believe I would have finished healthy had I not done so!
Just before the Animal Kingdom we finished the boring stretch of road by running past some (what I believed to be) water treatment facilities, then along a short out and back. Water treatment facilities are not exciting.
After that we were greeted by some animals which I was very excited to see! I won't stop for characters but I will certainly stop for a majestic vulture, who was not too impressed with the situation. He was badass though and I talked about birds with his handler before hobby jogging out of there.
|I LOVE HIM. The vulture, that is.|
(There was also a highschool band. There were many highschool bands and they were quite good.)
Thank heavens the sun pretty much stayed away- when it peeped out the temps went from tolerable to a bit nasty.
From there we ran towards WWS (ESPN Wide World Of Sports) on a pancake flat stretch of highway. Again, unlike the rest of the world the highway was my favorite! After the half split which I came to in a downright pedestrian 2:14 I was able to pick it up a bit. I had started the day hoping that a 4:15 might still be in the cards but had begun the reconsider after the death march of the first half- especially the first 10k.
On the way to WWS there were many wonderful people who wanted to feed all of us cheez-its and pretzels. I could not thing of ANYTHING that sounded better so I shoved all of them in my face.
I am a complete germaphobe and in real life would never take food from a roadside person.
On marathon day all bets are off, give me a communal dish of salty snacks and we can be best friends!
While WWS was a bit twisty and turn-y it was also fun! There were lots of spectators, an aid station with cold sponges and an aid station with bananas. I hate bananas but at the time they sounded delicious so I ate one and it was like a little slice of heaven in my mouth.
(now, thinking about eating a banana grosses me out. who knows.)
|Wide World Of Sports- I liked it here.|
Heading up to mile 21 were the green soldiers!!! I love them and they were straight up giving people shit which was hysterical! "GET OFF YOUR PHONE" they would yell at people "IT IS NOT TIME TO CHECK YOUR FACEBOOK, YOU NEED TO RUN!!!" "Do PUSHUPS!!!"
I like their style.
Then there was some highway with people passed out on because of the humidity, I imagine.
Luckily there were people tending to them because I am not a Doctor.
I was glad not to be passed out, because on occasion I have been known to run faster than the weather warrants. Thankfully, I continued to feel quite well. I was still sweating like a fool and I could do basic math so my brain was still functioning on an acceptable level.
Quickly, Hollywood studios came along and it was cool. There was new shit to see! A disco dance party tunnel! A chocolate aid station! Lots of spectators! Hollywood studios was super fun, plus I was running right along and passing people which I enjoy.
Basically right after HS we got to run towards the Swan and Dolphin and the Boardwalk. I think I might have decided where I want to stay for our next trip because it's gorgeous over there. The running got a bit crowded again but I was still making better time and it was really pretty.
PLUS. I had managed to make it to mile 25 without any crying or complete emotional breakdowns. 10:00 pace for the win....
Back into Epcot. Around the world. Under the ball.
|Yep. Under the ball.|
|Done!!! 48.6 miles of running complete!|
I looked all around the finish area and found our favorite race MC's back at it *sigh*
I considered a beer but I was too cheap to cough up the $12.
While I was at the finish it was very uncrowded, I don't know if I just lucked out if the glorious parking lot was just huge enough to accommodate thousands.
From there you know the drill. On the bus, back to POFQ, showered, dressed and back at the bus stop to greet Eric and Andy and congratulate them on their GREAT SUCCESS!!!! I was very excited that they had completed a successful marathon and had stuck together the whole time, having some kind of twin fun. They both looked good and healthy and were upright and walking!
I went to the food court and collected the most sensible post race meal of all time, grilled cheese, fries, chicken nuggets (which I had been dreaming about since mile 8) chocolate milk (gross) and ice cold Coke. We all got back into our beds and had a most delicious feast!
We enjoyed some time rehashing the race, looking at strava, accidentally falling asleep and then getting ready to depart. Post race time is the most fun until you actually have to mobilize..
|We mobilized for a photo op!|
As it turned out all of our flights got cancelled which, despite the cost of staying in the airport Hyatt for the night was a blessing in disguise. We had fun. We ate a big meal of healthy food AND were asleep by 9:00, which is about the time we were supposed to depart.
So yeah, basically winning.
We were all feeling reasonably comfortable the next day and uneventfully reentered the real world where customer service isn't that great, the weather is cold BUT the food is better!!
Closing thoughts. I never thought I would want to do the Dopey Challenge again.
But I do.
While the view from the last corral made for some amazing memories I think it would be a completely different experience from (closer) to the front of the pack. I would not be at all surprised if we revisit this adventure at some point!
There are serious improvements that runDisney could make to their website, registration and communication but once we were there we had no complaints. Things ran like clockwork and they managed to make some of the more unpleasant aspects of racing easy (bus lines, etc.)
My legs appreciated a pancake flat course, between that and my reasonable pace recovery was a snap.
Also.... We got a SHIT TON of medals. And shirts. So much stuff.
I really had a blast experiencing this with Eric and Andy, it was a great way to celebrate their new age group and to have some family time. We are all super busy so it's hard to imagine another situation where we would all hang for close to a week! We certainly have a nice collection of bizarre inside jokes after the time we spent together.
So maybe, in a couple years we will get together and do it again... :-)
And one more time:
(we are all amazing)