Totally DOPEY Challenge Accepted: Marathon Recap

And then it was Sunday.  The day of the full marathon.  The last day of the challenge.  The last super early morning.  And the one day I was the most nervous about. I had one marathon under my belt, just two months prior, but to say {it didn’t go smoothly} is kind of an understatement. My legs were toast from the day before.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read {part one here} and {part two here} of my Dopey Challenge recap first!

Averaging 7-9 miles at the parks each day probably didn’t help, but I reasoned that at least it was keeping my muscles loose!  A little fearful that the painful cramping in my calves would resurface, a lovely side effect from training for my first full, and a little uncertain about how my body and my brain were going to handle the next 26.2 miles – I knew there would be no chance of keeping pace with this crew for the final race.I had met up with another friend before this race, but when we figured out that she was planning on a much faster pace than me we headed off to our separate corrals with hugs and Godspeed.

So I set off for my first solo race in a really, really, really long time …I made a few friends early in the character lines that I would end up seeing pretty consistently throughout the rest of the race.  Mary Ellen, from Philadelphia, and I met on the monorail from the resort and I saw her periodically throughout the entire race and at the finish line!  First park – Magic Kingdom! This castle view never gets old! Running down Main Street in the wee hours of the morning for both the half and the full were definitely course highlights.  It’s gorgeous and the crowd support is incredible as you are running into and out of the castle.   The road from MK to Animal Kingdom wasn’t too bad.  I was still mostly running character stop to character stop, but the stops were much less frequent once out of the park. The course exits MK around mile 6 and you don’t enter AK until mile 12.   Pumped to get to AK and see Timon and Rafiki – only to wait in line for 5-6 minutes, be the next one in line then be told they’re taking a 5 minute break.  Five minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time to wait for two of my favorites, but my legs were not happy to be standing around so I snapped this picture and took off. Many of my friends will tell you, I was the MOST excited about being able to ride a rollercoaster during the race – I mean, you just can’t do that anywhere else!!  I was told AK opened at 9am, but in the past had, supposedly, opened Expedition Everest at 8:30am on marathon day for the runners since it’s a course highlight for many.  One couple I overheard chatting along the way were discussing how much to slow their pace so they didn’t have to stand around very long in AK.  Sounded like a good plan at the time, so I slowed down too.  Stopped for a couple characters I wouldn’t have otherwise stopped for.  Walked through a couple extra water stops where I didn’t stop for water.  Arrived in line for Everest at 8:35am!  BOOM!  The line was already pretty long – but I waited 8-10 min before a cast member came out and said they weren’t opening that morning until 9am.  BOO 🙁  Once again, the legs decided I had to keep moving, so off I went … Exiting AK at mile 14, the road to Wide World of Sports felt a lot longer than 4 miles.  And winding around WWS took about 3 miles, but it felt like forever.

PS: Only Disney could close a 4 lane highway for several hours on a Sunday morning for a race!!  Pluto was a bright spot along that highway! Made it to WWS around mile 18 and found Minnie first 🙂The character stops here were fun but few.  Minnie and Goofy (plus I passed on Mickey and Donald together because it was another long line) were all on the track at WWS.  Including those stops, there were only a handful between miles 14-23.  Miles 17-21 were mentally rough. Which is is met with some anticipated irony, since it was almost that exact same stretch that was so tough for me during my first marathon.  I guess when you’re going 26.2 miles, the “beginning of the end” as I call it is probably a popular time to hit a wall.  You’re past the halfway point, but still so far from the finish line.  But then there was candy around mile 21! Dozens of volunteers handing out truck loads of candy! Made the next couple miles go pretty quickly … especially since I found my family waiting for me as I exited Hollywood Studios! Their smiling faces at mile 23.5 were all I needed to make it to the finish – I was on the home stretch!

25th Anniversary banner at mile 25!!! Running “around the world” at Epcot was the BEST way to finish – for me, it was just before noon.  The parks had all been open for 3 hours and they had the middle of the walkway through the countries roped off for runners.  Park-goers and runner fans are lined up on either side cheering you on, often calling you out by the name on your bib or your costume.  “Fly Tink Fly” was one I heard a lot during this last mile 🙂  Once I crossed the finish line, the tears started to flow.  Lots and lots of tears.  I honestly can’t remember another time when I cried after finishing a race … but they were all proud-of-me happy tears for sure! Got my marathon medal and 25th anniversary Mickey ears – tears.  Witnessed a proposal at the finish line – tears!!!  Grabbed my water, banana and runDisney snack box – more tears.  The day we went to Chef Mickey’s, I had all the characters sign my bib.  How perfect that I ended up with signatures from the 5 characters with their face on a medal 🙂  Made my way to the Challenge Tent to pick up my Goofy Challenge {13.1 +26.2} and Dopey Challenge medals – more tears.  The volunteers were all so sweet, but I’m sure they thought I was crazy!!Finally stopped crying as I made my way to the bus that would take me back to the Polynesian.  It should be noted that the first three days, I ran back to the bus after the race to make sure it didn’t leave me.  Post-marathon? I frantically waved my arms (full of food and mouse ears) hoping the bus attendant would understand my desperate plea for help!  The bus did not leave me, but climbing those three small steps to board the bus was possibly harder then the previous 26.2.  My first stop off the bus? Dole Whip of course!A shower followed by a quick nap and a 30 minute wait for another bus meant I didn’t get to meet up with my family at Hollywood Studios until after 4pm, but made sure to show Chewy my medal! Managed to stay awake for the Galactic Spectacular fireworks show, then was more than ready to head to bed!  So grateful to my husband and parents for taking over all kid duties those last two days so I could focus on running and resting.  Such an incredible week full of wonderful memories becoming totally DOPEY!!And that’s the story of how the Dopey runner survived 48.6 miles and lives happily ever after.  The End ❤
 Photo courtesy of fellow FFCrew member Sarah @3acemom