Disney Marathon Recap – Dopey Challenge Day 4

This is it.  The last race of four on consecutive days.  If you missed my recaps of the earlier races, you can see them here: 5k then 10k then 13.1 half marathon.

Now we have the 26.2 full marathon to complete the Goofy and Dopey Challenges.  I had stuck to my plan of running personal worsts (PW) for the first three races.  Now I wanted to go for it in the final race.

Ready to go 26.2 rounds with Mr. Mile.

Ready to go 26.2 rounds with Mr. Mile.

My “A” goal was to break 4 hours (9:10 per mile).  Considering my pace at shorter distances, I should be able to shatter 4 hours, but I have yet to do it.  My “B” goal was to PR (PB).  I would accomplish one of the two goals.

Traditional pre-race family photo.

Traditional pre-race family photo.

We got a gift this day from the Weather Channel gods.  The temps went from hot and humid the day before at the half, to chilly (and a little humid) for the full!!!  It was in the 50’s (American) at the start!

With Sis on way to the corral!

With Sis on way to the corral!

Even thought it was chilly, I knew my body temp would warm up once we started running, so I wore light clothes – including a new Ohio University tech tee that the wife got me for Christmas!

Ain't I purdy?

Ain’t I purdy?

I also carried the GoPro camera with me.  Looking back, it probably was a bad decision considering I was going for a PR.  It definitely took energy and brain power (I don’t have much to spare) to use it throughout the course.  But I decided to take it anyway, and I don’t really regret that.  We did pass some cool attractions along the way.

Mid race selfie vision.

Mid race selfie vision.

The edited down video is a bit blair-witchy, but I think it shows the race experience.  It’s funny to watch how I go from cracking jokes and getting somewhat stable shots, to gradually having zero sense of humor nor the energy to hold my arm out straight!  Haha!

The night before the full I spoke via phone with my “coach” – My good friend (and awesome endurance athlete) Rexy.  We actually have history of sports at Disney World.  In college, we were cheerleaders and competed in the National Championships there my senior year.

Rexy is

Rexy is 3rd from left in front.  I’m 2nd from right in back.

Anyway, she gave me a pep talk and helped work out the race strategy.  She said to stick to exactly 4 hr pace for the first half.  Then evaluate how I felt and pick up the pace if I could for the next 7 miles.  Then let it all hang out the last 6.2.  She told me to leave it on the course, and that if I crash, it’s better to do so the last few miles knowing that at least I tried.

Peace homey.

Peace homey.

Again, we had a 2am wake up call.  And the race started at 5:30am.  The course began and ended at Epcot.  It immediately went from there to the Magic Kingdom.

26.2 magical miles.  Or so they claim... :)

26.2 magical miles. Click to enlarge.

The first few miles were a bit crowded.  I wasn’t able to go my normal pace, and I had to do some weaving.  By the time we got to Magic Kingdom, I knew from the clock that I was going too slow.  But I also knew I had time to correct that.  5 Mile in 47:39 – 9:32 per mile.

Runnin Down Main St USA!

Runnin Down Main St, USA!

We got into the park – which is the highlight for me.  It’s still dark out, and the whole park is lit up.  Main St. is lined with tons of cheering spectators.  And Cinderella’s Castle is all lit up!  We get to run right through the castle, which is neat.  The MarathonFoto folks had some pictures of me at the castle, but they lost them.  I had even stopped for the official Castle photo – like I took with my sis during the Half the day before…

They did NOT light up the castle for the half.  I wish I had the pretty lit up one to share with y'all.

They did NOT light up the castle for the half. I wish I had the pretty lit up one to share with y’all.

…But they lost that one too.  Bummer.  If they find them later, I will share.  They did have these though…

Still in the park.

Still in the park.

Feelin the love.

Feelin the love.

In Magic Kingdom!

Feelin a little fuzzy in Magic Kingdom!

After we left the Magic Kingdom, we then headed past the Polynesian Resort and the golf course.  There was a glow in the East and I knew the sun would be rising soon.  The weather was still cool, and I felt GREAT!  I was actually smiling and having a really good time.  My pace was steadily fastening.

Suns comin up. Right on my forehead.

Suns comin up. Right on my forehead.

Then we headed into the Speedway – their race car track.  We did the mile lap, and there were a ton of classic cars out.  A childhood fave – Herbie the Love Bug – was there, but for some reason the characters from the movie Cars weren’t out this year.  Where’s Lightning McQueen???

I think running on this race track is a pretty unique experience though – how many people get to do that?  Again tho, the MarathonFoto folks couldn’t find my photos from that locale.  Sorry dude.

(photo missing)

Then it was on toward Animal Kingdom.  Still feeling great.  Still picking up steam.  10 Mile in 1:32:49 – 9:17 per mile.

*Side note.  My sis works at AK, so I happen to know a few other of the zoo keepers there.  I was glad to see some of them at the entrance to the park.  They were there to cheer for us, very cool!


Feelin fine.

AK also had some animals and characters out.  And some marathoners would stop to ride the roller coaster, but I didn’t have time for that.

I'm ahead of the guy that thought he could fly.

I’m ahead of the guy that thought he could fly.

Once we left the park, we reached the halfway point.  I was almost EXACTLY at 4 hour pace.  Right at 2:00:06 for 13.1 miles – 9:10 per mile.  I had made up the time I lost due to the slow start.

B.O. check.

B.O. check.

Now was time to reevaluate.  I still felt good, so kept picking up the pace.  We were on the way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  There we got to run through the sports fields, along with a lap on the track where we had been before for the Kids Race.


Unidentified location.

The highlight here is getting to run a lap on the baseball field.  This is where the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball do their spring training.  It’s a really cool experience, especially with people in the stands cheering!  It was in WWOS that I had my fastest mile, but that would soon change.

I already got to first base, now I'm going for home.

I already got to first base, now I’m going for home.

Looking back, I think all the energy I spent trying to make up the time took it’s toll.  I started to feel it around this point.  But at mile 20, I was still on pace to break 4 hours.  3:02:30 – 9:07 per mile.

An angel in the outfield.

An angel in the outfield.

From there we headed toward Hollywood Studios.  Getting closer to home, but like they say, the real marathon starts at mile 20.  I was really feeling it and took short walk breaks at the drink stations to grab a little powerade (and one port-a-potty stop to get rid of the old powerade).

The tower of terror ain't got nothin on my towering form.

The tower of terror ain’t got nothin on my towering form.

But then I felt doing that worked and I got a second wind!  Awesome!!!  But then at mile 21 I think I made a bad choice.  Instead of continuing on with my new energy, I decided to stick to my recent pattern and grab a quick drink at the drink station.  After that brief walk, I never recovered.  I should’ve just kept running past it.

Keeping a brave face.

Putting on a brave face.

Also at this point, I think the cumulative miles from the previous 3 races started to kick in.  My legs started to cramp.  Every step I could feel my quads tense, and when I pulled over to try and stretch them, my hammies cramped into a giant ball.  OUCH!

Still going...

You lookin at me?

My pace slowed considerably as I tried to deal with the cramping.  Kept running, but had to take a few walk breaks.  Mostly at drink stations, but also on a hill or two.  Speaking of which….

…This is supposed to be a flat course.  It is decidedly not!  Sure, it’s not super hilly, but it does have it’s fair share of long steady inclines and declines.  Mostly from the bridges and overpasses we had to traverse.

That's a big wizard hat.  Where's the wizard sleeve?

That’s a big wizard hat. Where’s the wizard sleeve?

Anyway, at this point I could see my “A” goal slipping away.  It was frustrating, and I felt like I was letting people down who I knew were following along with the auto text/facebook/twitter updates runDisney was sending of my splits.  I also felt like I was wasting a great opportunity because of the weather and all the training I had put into it.  But I couldn’t control the leg cramps.  Maybe I wasn’t mentally tough enough to fight through it this time.  Ahh, the stuff we think when we look back.

Goodbye Hollywood.

Goodbye Hollywood.

By now the sun was up and the parks were open, so there were lots of people there.  I’m sure they were annoyed that they had to wait behind a rope for us to pass before they could get to the churro stand, but many of them still cheered, and I appreciated that.  And I had made it through the Studios.

I almost wore the same outfit as that chick, that would've been embarrassing for her.

I almost wore the same outfit as that chick…that would’ve been embarrassing for her.

We then made our way to the Boardwalk Resort.  I know that we’re close to finishing, as it borders Epcot.  I was slowing even more, but still going.

Somewhere in Disney World.

Somewhere in Disney World.

Finally we enter Epcot.  You’d think we’d be right at the finish, but get this – we still have 1.2 miles to go before getting to the parking lot finish.  That’s how big those theme parks are!!!

The big spiky golf ball means we're in Epcot.

The big spiky golf ball means we’re in Epcot.

Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.

Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.

By now I knew my “A” goal was gone.  And when I saw some characters with virtually line (queue), I decided to take the opportunity to stop for a photo – especially with DOPEY!!!!

I cannot explain the Dopey expression on my face, other than we were 47.6 miles into the Challenge.

I cannot explain the Dopey expression on my face, other than we were 47.6 miles into the Challenge.

Disney puts characters ALL along the course, but this is the first time I’ve ever stopped for a photo.  Then I got a second one with one of my Asian wife’s fave movie characters – Mulan!

I want a funny pet dragon.

I want a funny pet dragon.

One of the highlights, right before you leave Epcot, hidden from the general public, is a gospel choir.  When I ran past them, I turned to look at them and had one final big full body CRAMP!  I stopped in my tracks and doubled over in pain.  A race attendant asked if I needed the medics.  I shook her off, sucked it up and ran toward the finish!

Waving to my fans.

Waving to my fans.

About 100 meters to go and I see my boy!  My sister’s roommate and her boyfriend graciously agreed to babysit him while we ran, and they made it just in time to the race to see me finish!  That was the final boost I needed to finish strong!

Waving at the boy.  Pretty cool pic!

Waving at the boy. Pretty cool pic!

Past the bleachers of cheering spectators, I ran to the finish, and high fived Donald Duck (why wouldn’t I?)…

That guy quacks me up.

That guy quacks me up.

His hands were downy soft.

His hands were downy soft.

And finished with a defiant fist pump!

I will punch you air!

I will punch you air, in your face’s mouth!

Yes, I was disappointed that I didn’t break 4 hours, but I still PR’d!  I broke my previous personal best by 2+ minutes to finish at 4:07:47 – 9:28 per mile.

Yay for me!

Yay for me!

They said there were somewhere between 25,000 – 30,000 people in the marathon.  In the end, only around 19,000+ of them finished.

We did it!

We did it!

Overall Place: 2249/19,225.  Division Place: 344/1602.

Can I stop running now?

Can I stop running now?

It’s too bad, I had a nice negative split going on until I bonked.  But hey, at least I finished the challenge!  Next time I run a Full Marathon however, I will NOT run 3 races in the days leading up to it!

Pace getting gradually faster.

Pace getting gradually faster…

...and then the wheels fell off.

…and then the wheels fell off.

After we crossed the line, I collected my Mickey medal for the full.  Then on to the Goofy station to get that medal.  Then finally to the Dopey station to get that medal.

Finally our blingy reward!

Finally our blingy reward!

It’s funny, as soon as they put that medal on my neck, I felt real emotional.  Instantaneously.  I guess it finally kicked in all those months and months of training, all the early hours, all the miles and miles, all the preparation.  But sadly, the Disney folks don’t let you stop and enjoy the moment.  They.keep.you.moving.  “You can’t stop here.  You can’t stretch here.  Keep walking.  Keep moving.”  If only I had the energy to tell them that I can’t walk right now.  My legs are a ball of lactic buildup!

I'm screaming in triumph, or pain, either or.

I’m screaming in triumph, or pain, either or.

Funny story after I collected the medals and walked past the medical tent, a medical person started screaming – the other medics all thought someone was really hurt, but it turns out she went to Ohio University too.  You have no idea how many “Go Ohio!” and “Go ‘Cats” I got on the course.  Such great support!

After a chat with her, I then retrieved my gear bag, which had the other medals ready for their photo op!

Finally they are all got!

Finally, they are all got!

Later on after all our friends and family members finished, we wore our 6 medals into Epcot to cheer on the later finishers and to ride some rides and get some Guinness and grub.  People commented that we sounded like robots with all the clinking that accompanied each step.

It really was kind of heavy.

It really was kind of heavy.  The weight we Dopes carry is indeed a heavy burden of joy.

So there it is: 48.6 miles done.  It was a fun challenge, and I’m glad I did it.  It’s always a treat to run through all the parks that we would visit as kids.  And they do a good job of having characters and volunteers along the way to keep your spirits up!  Also, I’m glad I followed my “coach’s” plan the best I could, and even though I crashed toward the end, at least I left it all on the course.

Rumors confirmed - I am dopey.

Rumors confirmed – I am dopey.

In the future I’m not sure if I’ll do it again.  But I would like to do another full with this same training.  I think if I put in the same mileage, but with only one race as the goal, then I can slap that timing clock around!

I will say this though, the thing I’m most proud of is that while I was doing the Dopey Challenge, and posting about it on Twitter and Instagram and such.  That I had people message me that I had inspired them to get out and run themselves!  That’s probably the best result of this whole thing!

Did I leave anything out?  Any questions about the inaugural Dopey Challenge?  You have any desire to do it?  What’s up?


Categories: Race Recaps | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

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70 thoughts on “Disney Marathon Recap – Dopey Challenge Day 4

  1. SO, so awesome. Great recap! I am ashamed to say this out loud…but your story makes me feel better. I’m terrified if I agree to do a full marathon and I walk any of it, I automatically “fail”. But that’s so not true! You did awesome and I can’t even imagine going that far all on foot in so few days. Next time you full marathon, you’re going to punch air right in it’s dirty mouth and totally sub-4. I’m sure of it!

    • Thank you!!!!!!!! I’m glad I could help. Yes you can take walk breaks – Jeff Galloway practically demands it! And the guy’s training plan that I was following – Hal Higdon – says that he’s run some pretty fast marathons while taking a couple walk breaks at drink stations.
      Yes! I will punch it’s nasty teeth out!!!

  2. TartanJogger

    Yay! You Dopey, you!
    Well done. Brilliant report. I really, really want to participate in 2015 now……!

  3. First, Congrats!!!! You did awesome despite not making your “A” goal!! I really enjoyed reading your recaps

    I would SO love to do this. It’s on my bucket list for sure. My husband is apprehensive about and thinks I”m crazy (although, I think secretly he wants to do it too!) 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying them! I need to keep reminding myself that it was still a special accomplishment!
      Ahhh, you need to talk him into it! Tell him that you’re not crazy, you’re dopey!

  4. Way to go friend. I know I tend to be a smart ass but I’ve got to admit, pretty inspirational little read here. Cheers to you!

  5. Congrats on your race and surviving the weekend!!!

  6. Congrats on the PR! Sorry that the last few miles didn’t turn out quite the way you wanted. I enjoyed the recaps!

  7. Melanie

    My husband and I are planning to get Dopey in 2015 to celebrate the year we both turn 40. Reading your posts has made me even more excited. We are running a full in April of this year with the hopes of a PR so that time won’t be a factor at the Dopey. As for breaking 4, you got this! If you can get that close on the 4th day of racing. Just think how easy it will be on fresh legs. I can’t wait to read the post when you let us know that you crushed 4 hours.

    • Awesome!! Make sure to register right when it opens as it will sell out quick! Best of luck! I know you’ll do great! That is a smart plan to run your time goal full first! Disney races are really best for having fun, not so much for going your fastest!
      And thank you! You’re right, I want to try again on fresh legs! I’ll keep y’all posted!!!

  8. What a great race recap. Congrats on your finish. Despite your cramping, it looks like you are well on your way to achieving your marathon ambitions in the future. How did your sister and mom do? That was your mom, right? Amazing she took on the Dopey! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to high five Donald next time I’m on the race course. 😉

    • Thank you! I think you’re right about performing well in the future!
      My sis and mom did great! Sis finished about 15 minutes after me and I met up with her just before retrieving the gear bags. She then ran the Key West half marathon the following weekend! My mom finished the Dopey and her first ever marathon! Yes, high five all the characters!

  9. WOW is all I can say. The amount of time, energy you put into this (these) races … Hat’s off to you! Congrats and thanks for sharing your recaps.
    One question – would you do it again?

    • Thank you so much! It was quite the commitment, and I’m glad I saw it through!
      Right now I don’t want to do it again, and here’s why – when I sign up for a race, I want to race it. Really push it. And I wasn’t able to do that the first three races. Had to hold back. But for pure entertainment, and just as a fun family experience, I might think about it in the future!

  10. Congratulations on your marathon and the entire weekend of racing! I was going to ask if you felt emotional after it all- that’s a lot of sweat and effort poured into a race weekend!
    I imagine you’d be far under four hours if you ran a 4:07 after three other races!
    How did your mom and sis do? Also, really cool she works at Animal Kingdom!!
    Congratulations again on your Dopey weekend, and thanks for letting us be a part of it!

    • Thanks Abby!!! Yes, a lot of sweat, time, energy, commitment went into it for sure! Yes, if I can PR after that, then I should be able to crush it on fresh legs!
      Mom and sis did great! Sis even ran another half the following weekend! This was my mom’s first marathon, and she did it as part of the Dopey!
      Thanks again for all your support Abby!

  11. AWESOME recap! Congrats on an incredible race (and finish time)! Dopey was my very first marathon, and I had an amazing experience…I would do it again in a heartbeat. 🙂

    • Thank you! That’s awesome that your first marathon was part of the Dopey! Now you know 26.2 ain’t got nuthin on you! Glad you had fun!

  12. Awesome recap! I liked your Animal Kingdom/banana/monkey scene. Clever. I think only superman or a robot would’ve met your “A” Goal after running that many races. The fact that you did that much running prior to a marathon still boggles my mind. I also can’t get over all the bling! Very cool.

    • Thank you! And ha, I didn’t think anyone would actually watch the whole video! Glad you caught my jokes. They were spur of the moment. Thanks for your support! It was a great experience and yes, the bling is awesome!

  13. I really enjoyed all your recaps! I especially liked the videos since I can’t run right now; I lived vicariously through you. I know how it feels to play the what if game when you were on target to reach your goal for much of the race and then miss it, but PRing after so many miles the three days prior to the full is fairly remarkable in itself! I’m usually out of commission for days after a half marathon so I’m very impressed with your pace after all the miles you logged.

    • Thank you! I’m really surprised that people actually watched the videos. I figured I’d put them up just for reference sake. Glad you were able to get something out of them!!! Yes, it was frustrating to see the time slipping, but you’re right, the challenge was to run that many races back to back. You’ll be back running in no time!

  14. CONGRATS! What an amazing feat!

  15. You, sir, are a bad ass. I think you should train for a full and come run Portland with me in the fall. Bet you would smash the heck out of the clock!

    • I’d love to do that! Need to save up some skrilla though first as Disney tends to take a lot out of you…ha! Is it a hilly course?

      • If you talk to any locals, they will say no with the exception of the hill leading up to the giant suspension bridge. HOWEVER – coming from the land of flat? Yea. There be some hills.

  16. Congratulations!!! I’m proud of you for finishing so many races in just a few days 🙂 It seems like you had a lot of fun along the way. Nice!

  17. Wow, great job overall – I can’t say I’d ever attempt that particular challenge – it sounds super tough!!! A 5k, 10k, half, and full all in one weekend, yikes. Kudos!

    • Thank you! They call the half and full back to back the Goofy Challenge, and funny thing is that that had never interested me, but for some reason the Dopey (which includes the Goofy) did. Go figure!

  18. Loved reading the detailed recap! Those last few miles are so harsh, but you pushed through-there were so many people that couldn’t even finish! I can’t believe this was after running 3 other races. You will easily be able to break 4 hours if it’s just a marathon you are running (just..ha!). Congratulations on this huge accomplishment!
    Following your experience is definitely inspiring, it makes me wonder if I would be able to do it! 2015??

    • Thank you so much. Sometimes it’s difficult to look at the big picture. Yes, I really want to finally conquer 26.2. 5th time is a charm I guess.
      You could totally do it!!! If you do try it, let me know if you have any questions. Just be sure to register immediately. It went fast. Today the Disney land dumbo challenge sold out in like an hour!!!

  19. This is the recap I’ve been waiting for. Congratulations for completing the Dopey Disney Challenge. (1 more plug to boost your google rankings) Well written, and of course humorous recap.

    • Thank you! It took me a little while to get it all put together, but it was a biggie! Thanks again for your support (and for getting my jokes)!

  20. WOOOOO LOVED this post!!! Congrats on the shiny new PR!! I still don’t have the desire (yet) to run 26.2 miles, but you just convinced me that if I do, one needs to be at a Disney Theme Park. As usual, your captions cracked me up. I just had to explain to my friend that Epcot is an outdoor park. She thought everything was inside of the ball lol.

    • THANK YOU!!! Yeah, don’t worry about 26.2 until you get comfortable with the half distance. Disney definitely does it big! Lots of distractions from the pain, ha! I was hoping you’d see the captions! Hahahaha, your friend is a mess! Tell her that the silver ball is a ride (inside it) – Spaceship Earth. Epcot is a huge park, but the best part is all the different countries where people like to go to “drink around the world”.

      • Lol exactly, I would think it would easier (not easy) to distract yourself at Disney. I know right?? I should have messed with her and told her that you have to ask to go inside the ball for a special ride and make a reservation. LOVE Epcot!!! So fun to turn the corner and feel like you’re in a different country! And totally jealous that your sis works for AK…

      • Haha, I would’ve messed with her!
        You know the best part of my sis working there…free entry to the parks and discounts at pretty much everything inside them!!!

      • Ugh. Just keep pouring the salt in my wounds.

      • Ha, you just need to time it right so you’re there running when I am!

  21. This just made me want to do it even more!!! I’m counting down the days to registration. Kudos to you for an awesome race(s). And why do you look so normal in every photo? I look like the hot mess express in every picture of me running.

    • Haha, well here’s a secret – I didn’t share ALL the race photos….Only the ones that I didn’t look completely like a hot mess!
      Make sure to register RIGHT when it goes on sale. And to so at the Active registration page, do not try to go through the runDisney page – did you see the mess from the other day when the Dumbo Double Dare went on sale? The site kept crashing and it sold out in like an hour or so!!!

  22. I’m so in awe of the fact that you PR’d a marathon after 3 other back to back races. And from the pictures, your running form looks solid. Not as good as your son’s, but you look better than you say you felt.

    Just so you know, when in ran the Disney half in November, my husband and I made fun of people wearing their medals in the park afterwards. I’m a mean girl.

    • Thank you, I did feel strong toward the end, it was just the legs cramping that slowed me down. And no, I don’t have the perfect form that he has, but I’ve been studying his running!
      Haha, You are mean! We wore them immediately after when we entered Epcot. And the next day just wore the Dopey medal to Magic Kingdom. We figured it would be our only chance to wear them. Plus, you get soooo many “congrats” and it starts quite a few conversations.

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  24. Such an amazing recap…something about that fist pump picture really gets me. I can only imagine what that moment must have felt like! So happy for your accomplishment…and you are so damn fast!

    • Thank you so much. It was great yet weird to finish. I’d been training for it for so long that the end never seemed like it would come.
      Ha, speed is relative. I have a friend who just ran a 13.1 in 1:03:54. That’s damn fast!!!
      Glad you’re back, I look forward to your somewhat vulgar posts!

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  37. Just read all of your recaps after today’s post – well done! I had a friend who did the Dopey Challenge last year as well, and it was her first full marathon ever! Congratulations – and I’m glad you had a good time.

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