The Dopey Challenge – Orlando, FL (January 9-12, 2014)
I went Dopey.
This was the inaugural year for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge. Prior to this, the main event was the Goofy Challenge, which involved running the Disney World Half Marathon and the Disney World Marathon (a grand total of 39.3 miles) back-to-back. But, with the addition of the brand spankin’ new 10K race on Friday…a new challenge was born.
Four races. Four Days. A total of 48.6 miles.
So…this is how it works:
Thursday – Disney Family Fun Run 5K
Friday – Disney World 10K
Saturday – Disney World Half Marathon
Sunday – Disney World Marathon
The payoff? I walk away with 6 race t-shirts and 6 finisher’s medals. Yep. Six. Because included in this package is the t-shirts and medals for the Goofy Challenge AND the Dopey Challenge.
So, not really having told many people that I was doing the Inaugural Dopey Challenge (it’s the first year…which means it will be the year it is the cheapest to run…TRUST ME!), I hopped a plane to Orlando Florida on Wednesday morning, leaving behind the frigid temps in Louisville for the warm, 66 degrees at Disney World. After a stop at the grocery store for some necessities and getting checked into my resort (staying at Port Orleans Riverside…again!), Cathy and I boarded the shuttle bus to the ESPN Wild World of Sports where the race expo was being held. It was a hike to get there and we couldn’t find the way to get down to the packet pick-up level…until it was mentioned that there were stairs hidden behind the photo booth. Well…that makes sense, right?! I went and retrieved my packet for the Dopey Challenge, and was told my green bib is for me to wear during the 5K and 10K races. And the gray bib is for me to wear for the Half Marathon and Marathon races. I went to retrieve the commemorative pin I had pre-ordered and then hurried off to get my t-shirts. I got five of them at this part of the expo, but had to go somewhere else to retrieve the 5K one. In fact, the better part of the expo was where the 5K t-shirt pickup was happening. I didn’t have much time to linger, but hit up the Official Merchandise booth…snagging all the pins for each race. Cathy surprised me with a new BondiBand, a lanyard, and a decal for my car. WOOOOOO!!
We had reservations at Sanaa for dinner, so we couldn’t linger, but said after we ate we would return to the expo to do some shopping. My dinner was awesome…loving some Indian food as always. Then…back to the expo we went. I purchased some goodies…like more KT Tape…and had them tape up my Achilles. Hope that it lasts through these races. Cathy paid close attention to the technique and took pictures so we can probably replicate it if needed. This is the best my Achilles has felt though…so here’s hoping. Going to be interesting to see what happens at the 5K tomorrow morning.
After some browsing, shopping, and some talking me out of purchases, we headed back to the shuttles to return to the resort. The 5K race kicks off at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday morning and is the only one that won’t require a 2 a.m. wake-up. I will definitely enjoy that. Read on…for race reports on each of the 4 races in 4 days.
Disney Family Fun Run 5K
Race: Disney Family Fun Run 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 9, 2014
This was not a fast 5K. This was nowhere near a fast 5K. With about 10,000 people running in it, speed was hindered by sheer volume. Masses of people were everywhere…and I was in Corral A. So…take that for what it’s worth. Huge field. Lots of places where you were basically bottle-necked by other participants. Expected.
But still a good time.
And let me tell you…it did my heart good to get out on the road again. Race. Breathe. Struggle. Feel. It was therapy after having taken 3 long weeks off from running, save for 2 deliberate runs…one on Saturday and one on Tuesday before coming to Florida.
The Achilles was a little tender in the morning. I was taped up…but stiff. So, that was a bit disheartening, but with the 3:30 a.m. wake up alarm, I was out of bed and getting into costume bright and early. I was dressing as a Minion. Yes…I realize that Despicable Me is NOT a Disney movie…but…I had to be a Minion. It had to happen. And it did. And, despite the humidity and 56 degree temperature that morning, I even wore the knit cap as part of my costume. I knew I’d regret those long sleeves and the hat, but…it’s Disney…and I must run in costume.
I was up and dressed and then had to get Cathy up and moving. Our breakfast was a Greek yogurt…we took bananas to go. Once she was dressed, we headed out to catch the shuttle bus to take us to the race start. I was going to meet up with my friend Andrea. Soon after arriving, we went to the reunion area…where I had a few people ask to have pictures with me. Who doesn’t love a Minion? And then it started to rain a little. A sprinkling…but rain nonetheless.
Andrea texted and soon Cathy and I were heading over to where she was hanging out with her husband. We relaxed pre-race by chatting and talking about pretty much everything. Andrea had some other friends that were on their way to join us. And soon after…Cathy was wishing me luck and we were being ushered into our corrals.
The corrals were filled…and we all noted most of the runners were doing the Dopey…very few just had on 5K race bibs. There were some…but not many. We were soon after being let out of our corral to walk to the starting area. I heard Cathy’s sign for me get called out…which was awesome! After the National Anthem, the wheelchair racers were sent off. And a few moments later…the rest of us.
Totally caught up in the moment, I was out of the starting gate and running behind a large group of people. They held my beginning speed really in check, which, with this injury I’m nursing, was probably a good thing. But the further I ran, the better my Achilles felt. So, I bobbed and weaved my way through the crowd as much as humanly possible. It was no easy task, especially at the water stops. This race is run through Epcot. With the sprinkling rain, we were warned that some areas on the course might be slick. They weren’t kidding, but I managed to navigate them well enough.
I was frustrated with the crowds, but it’s a Disney race…that’s to be expected. I pushed on, rocking out all sub-8 miles…not bad for someone dealing with Achilles tendonitis. And it had been forever since I truly have been able to run sub-8…as this body does not react well to cold weather. At all. It tightens up and slows down. Give me heat any day.
Running in the shadow of Epcot was awesome! We dashed through Future World and then through the International Showcase. A lot of employees were out to cheer us on…and some to direct us on the right path toward the finish. I loved running past the giant Epcot ball and toward that finish line. I love seeing that finish at Disney races. There is something so thrilling about it.
I crossed it, still feeling good without much pain. Cathy saw me and started down. She went to toss me a water bottle, but I told her I wouldn’t be able to catch it. A very nice guy came over to catch it for me. He was awesome. I went around the corner where I was handed more water…a snack pack…and my Finisher’s Medal. As part of the Dopey Challenge, I had to get in a line to get a bracelet saying that I completed the 5K race. After that…I was out and meeting up with Cathy.
We had some plans for Hollywood Studios that day, so after returning to our resort, I showered, dressed, and we headed out for breakfast at Babycakes NYC in Downtown Disney and then some rides and shows at Hollywood Studios. Of course, I am totally feeling that run now in my Achilles. I’m hoping that the pain goes away over night. I’m still KT Taped and I just had Cathy tape up my feet…just for some extra help. Here’s hoping.
Tomorrow morning…another early morning…another race. This time…the Disney World 10K.
Disney World 10K
Race: Disney World 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 10, 2014
It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t pretty. In fact…it was hot and humid and just plain gross! Welcome to Orlando, Florida in January, folks.
And welcome to the Inaugural Disney World 10K. This is the very first year the 10K has been a part of this race weekend. Exciting to be part of the first group who runs it. Honestly. I think it’s awesome.
The morning started very early with my 3 a.m. alarm. I got up so that I could get into costume and get ready before today’s insanity spiraled out of control. I love to have a firm grip of my morning on race days. Cathy was up 15 minutes after me and we both enjoyed some Greek yogurt and water before gathering up our stuff to head out to the shuttle which would take us back to the starting area.
The ground was soaking wet. Soaking wet. Mostly because with the humidity, none of the water from the previous day of pouring rain really dried up. Puddles and wetness. Fun, fun.
This was the 10K and I was dressed up as Eeyore…complete with ears and tail. HA! Like I said…when I run Disney, I gotta dress up. At least I was a Disney character this time. Hahaha! Anyway, we got through the security check and instead of heading over to where they do bag check, Cathy and I immediately headed in to the starting area. We were meeting up with Andrea, Aaron, and Silvia again for pre-race shenanigans and the like. I remembered to stretch more today. Probably should have done more than I ended up doing…but at least I stretched. And I ate my prerequisite before-the-race banana.
We took a few photos together and then were being ushered into our corrals. We were all in A…so that worked out nicely. And we also knew that the further back in the corral you were, the closer to the front you ended up being. But, we stuck around where we were yesterday and just followed the crowd. The wheelchair racers were being sent off at 5:30 and Corral A was 2 minutes after that.
Exciting. Because after the National Anthem, we were pretty much ready to run. I told myself to take this one easy…and I vowed to do just that. When the fireworks were set off and we began moving to the start line, I kept telling myself to take it easy. After all, I still had 39.3 miles to run in the next two days. So, I kept to my promise and found a comfortable pace to start. Immediately after turning out of the park, we were put on this long and dull stretch of highway. Mile 1 was marked and then we took a sharp right turn and got sent up a hill. I think spinning and strength training are helping me hone in on my hill work. Because it didn’t slow me down at all. Perhaps I’m also just used to steeper hills. HAHA! That could be it. Miles 2 through 3 were marked by the highway…nothing to really distract you. There were a couple of character shots along the way…but not many. After hitting the halfway point…the fun started.
EPCOT! Again…but slightly different. This time, we took a longer loop through the World Showcase. It was beautifully lit up. And, dammit, if I didn’t enter Epcot and immediately hear the Tiki Room song. That song is worse than It’s A Small World. Trust me! But, off we were. I took in water at Mile 4 from the water station, because it was so humid and I didn’t want to get dehydrated. From a girl who ran a half marathon in this sort of weather…best to not press your luck. Over the boardwalks, over bridges, through the World Showcase…it was so much fun. The employees and members of the Cheer Squad were out to give support and guide us on the correct path.
As we came out of one of the back lots and towards the ball (which in the 10K you don’t run around), we were informed that we were close to the end. Sure enough…that finish line was around the corner and down a stretch of pavement. The sidelines were filled with people cheering. The DJs were announcing people. MarathonPhoto was out in hoards getting those finish line shots.
I crossed. Not happy with my time…but knowing that taking it easy due to injury…as well as having two very long races back-to-back in the next couple days…well…that was good. Honestly, I’m just happy to be out there. I’m loving it.
Of course, I am currently showered, sitting in my hotel room with a bag of ice on my Achilles. It’s feeling it today. Heading out to Animal Kingdom in a few. It’s going to be a fun…relaxing day.
Two down…two to go!
Join us for the inaugural Walt Disney World® 10K. This 6.2 mile course is the perfect distance for runners of all skill levels. Winding throughout Epcot® and the scenic World Showcase, it is the newest way to be part of the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend.
Disney World Half Marathon
Race: Disney World Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 11, 2014
UGH! UGH!! First of all, after spending all day at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios yesterday, my legs were feeling it this morning. I was already intending to take this one easy. So, that was okay. No problem. I had two alarms set this morning. One for 2 a.m. Then one for an hour later. That would give me ample time to get ready and then get Cathy up so we could get going. Not sure of when the sun would officially be up, I slathered on some sunscreen. Didn’t need it. I was done before the sun was up, but we were running through 99% humidity. So it was beyond gross!!
I dressed as Wonder Woman for this race…and kept it to just the bra top out of fear of having too much clothing on in this humidity. It was a wise chose, as I found out later. So, looking all adorable as Wonder Woman…it was time to get my third race in as many days on.
We made the walk from our room to the shuttle that would take us over to the race…as usual. I was expecting the bus to be cold, but for the first time…it wasn’t. I was shocked. Anyway, we arrived and I headed over to where I was supposed meet up with Andrea and Aaron again. They weren’t there yet, so I texted to find out where they were. Turns out they were stuck in traffic. My corral was already being called to get people inside…which felt early to me, but I keep forgetting that Disney World literally sends you on a hike to your corrals, especially those beginning letters in the alphabet. For the Disney World Half Marathon and Disney World Marathon, I’m in Corral B.
I ate my banana on the way to the corral and made it there with 15 minutes to spare. Ironically, this guy we kept seeing in the recovery area wearing only a speedo…was next to me in the corral. In only his red speedo. I hope he has a lot of red speedos, I’m just saying. They did their usual interviews. Not any celebs that I’ve heard of this time. Jeff Galloway was up there talking. The National Anthem was sung. And then Donald (this race’s character) came out to count off the wheelchair racers. But he brought along Mickey and Goofy too. The wheelchair racers were off just after 5:30 a.m. Then, 2 minutes later…Corral A was sent off. As my corral was moved up toward the start, “It’s A Small World” started to play on the speaker. The announcer said, “Congratulations, Corral B. You get ‘It’s A Small World’ stuck in your head for the next 13.1 miles.” It made me laugh. 2 minutes after Corral A had left, Donald gave us a “Ready…Set…GO!” Fireworks. We were off.
I knew this was going to be a tough one. First of all, I’m injured. Still. Secondly…I ran a 5K and a 10K the two days prior to this one. Thirdly…I was tired. These 3:00 a.m. mornings SUCK! And this was my third morning in a row with one. So, I chose to set an easy pace and try to stick with it.
The problem was that humidity. It was like back when I ran the Indy Women’s Half Marathon and practically died afterwards due to the high humidity. Like breathing through a wet towel. That’s what this felt like. Just like the Indianapolis race, I was already drenched with sweat before I hit that first mile. And that is not a good feeling. I wanted to take this one easier than usual anyway, so I didn’t push it. Not here to PR…just here for some fun and to finish all four races.
That being said, this course was the exact replica of the Disney Princess Half Marathon, which I ran last February. I knew that the first four miles were nothing but highway. And, save for the characters and some entertainment…can make for some rather boring miles. Thankfully, Disney is good about putting people out there to cheer, characters to break of the monotony, and music too. As you come into Mile 4, you enter Magic Kingdom. The most exciting part is just before Mile 6, when you run through Cinderella’s Castle. This is, by far, my favorite part of any Disney race. Send me through that castle. I was smiling the entire time.
After exiting Magic Kingdom, it was back out onto the highway. Ugh. I took in some GU and water, and was making a point now of using the water at water stops both for sipping and for pouring over my head. That felt amazing and definitely helped keep my body temperature down. Around the midway point, the speaker system was blaring this weekend’s theme song, “Let It Go” from Frozen. The highway, complete with characters and water stops was my path from the 10K mark to just around Mile 12. There were a couple of hills there at the end. I think the last half of the half marathon is far more difficult than the beginning. In fact, just before hitting Mile 12, you’re sent up a ramp and over a bridge that is over the highway. When you come down the other side, you’re at Mile 12 and about to enter Epcot.
I was happy to hit that mark and just decided to take it easy and cruise into the finish line. Epcot sends us in to run around the ball, make a turn, and come back on the other side of the ball. You round a corner, and that finish line comes into view. I was so happy to cross that finish line. But, I didn’t push too much. In fact, I was flexing some muscle at photographers, LOL! Leave it to me getting into Wonder Woman mode.
After crossing the finish line, I was handed my medal. Cathy spotted me up in the crowd and was cheering from the stands. She headed down and I walked through to get my bracelet showing that I completed the half marathon in my quest for the Dopey Challenge. Once I had that bracelet on, I was through to get photos taken with the backdrop, get a snack pack, then head out through bag check. Cathy was waiting for me on the other side. I told her I was gross but to come give me a hug. She brought a towel and managed to get the sweat off me for the time.
I wanted my finisher’s photo taken with the Disney Half Marathon backdrop. And Pluto just happened to be there. So…I had the chance to give Pluto a hug and pose with him. It was awesome.
Afterwards, we headed over to our shuttle. Cathy had me put my feet up so she could get working on my Achilles, to hopefully keep it from aching too much. We got back to the resort, back to the room, where I showered. We ate breakfast and got ready to head out to Epcot for the day. Then back over to Hollywood Studios for dinner…at Mama Melrose’s again. This time for pasta. I had a gluten-free pasta dish that was huge. In fact…I maybe was able to eat 1/3 of it. Because I just didn’t want to stuff myself full before a race.
I’m icing my Achilles at the moment, relaxing, and prepping for some foam rolling. Then, just getting some last minute things together for the early wake-up call that awaits.
I have a feeling it won’t be pretty. I get to meet the characters tomorrow!
Disney World Marathon
Race: Disney World Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 12, 2014
I went into this race with no expectations for speed. There was no way my legs were going to be up to any record setting. So, my entire plan for this marathon was to fall into an easy pace, take some pictures with the characters, and just have some fun. And that’s what I did.
Which was a good plan because my morning was a little more stressful than intended. The problem wasn’t so much in the getting ready part. Nope. Getting into my Snow White costume (made for me by my co-worker Andrea at the very last minute…and she did an awesome job!) was easy. Sunscreen. Easy. Prepping for the weather (humidity way down and actually a bit cool)…easy. Getting to the shuttle. Easy. Getting to the race…not as easy. In fact, I barely got to the corrals in time for the start. Seriously. The traffic was awful heading to the start area. And it was just a mess. So, when I got there, it was just in time to be told that I had 30 minutes to the start of the race and a 20 minute walk to the starting line. I quickly jammed the banana I brought with me down my throat, got a good luck hug from Cathy and headed toward the corrals.
But, I got there…just in time for the moment of silence, the national anthem, and have Mickey, Goofy and Donald come up on stage. Dopey even made an appearance…for obvious reasons. Mickey counted down the wheelchair racers and they were sent off with fireworks. Corral A was next, about 2 minutes later. Then my corral, Corral B, was sent off 2 minutes after that.
This race made me realize that I have some pretty amazing and really loud friends. Despite being across the highway, I could hear Cathy screaming at me as I started off on the highway toward Magic Kingdom. It made me smile. I gave her a wave. It reminded me of Heather at Chicago. Hahaha!! My friends are made of awesome.
Miles 1-4 are, as in my previous Disney World half marathons, spent out on the highway. Cathy went to catch the monorail to try to see me at Mile 4, but I apparently beat her there. So…whoops. She decided to try again at Magic Kingdom…but I had beat her there too. Oh well. Out of that…she did get to see the awesomeness that is the crowd at Magic Kingdom. It’s why that is my favorite part of any Disney race. Hands down. Miles 4-5 are spent in the Magic Kingdom…where crowds and Disney cast members are out to cheer you on. Just before Mile 6, as before, is the run through Cinderella’s Castle. It is the part I always look forward to on these runs.
After exiting the castle, it’s a short dash out of the Magic Kingdom and back out onto the road. I kept to my plan to keep it easy and meet some characters. Along the way, I made some stops for some classics and favorites. The next 6 miles were all highway miles…so the characters helped break that up. Our next stop…Animal Kingdom.
Normally, around Mile 12, I would be taking in a GU…but we were entering Animal Kingdom, so I didn’t want to tear into a GU packet when they are so strict about what is in their park due to the animals. So, I waited until I exited Animal Kingdom to do that. This was the smallest amount of time spent in a park. Less than a mile. But the employees were so awesome…and as we entered some had the animals out on the corner to welcome us.
After Animal Kingdom, we hit the highway roads again for 4 miles…taking us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. I loved running through here. Just before entering the motor speedway (going down and then up very steep inclines), the very last lady at a water stop was handing out cold, wet towels. I told her she was my favorite person of the moment, and took one to wring over my head. The weather was cooler…but the sun was up. So…it felt amazing. Ran the complex to the track…made a circuit…then back on out to head back toward the highway. Next stop…Hollywood Studios.
Park 3 of 4 shows up just before Mile 23. Again, you’re not in this park for long, but I was loving running through there. I have spent a lot of time in Hollywood Studios this time around. So, this felt like home. As I was exiting the park, however, I noticed Dopey…and of course needed to get my picture taken with him. Turned around and hurried back to do just that. I mean…come on! I was dressed as Snow White doing the Dopey Challenge. It was a must!
From there, it was on the boardwalk of the Beach Club Resort and Yacht Club Resort…which took us to Epcot. The finish was a mile away, but there were characters that caught my attention. Including Belle. I met Belle the previous day, but now I was dressed up as Snow White, at the request of my niece Kaytlynn, whose favorite Disney princess is…Belle. This had to happen. Unplanned photos that were totally worth it.
The entire race, I was getting a lot of “GO SNOW! GO SNOW WHITE! GO PRINCESS!” The spectators at Disney races are awesome…when you have them. But for long stretches you don’t. That’s why they have a great set of volunteers who fill in those gaps. Disney has their act together and really knows how to put on a race.
This was not a fast race, nor was it a pretty race. Running 4 races in 4 days was a nice challenge, but made extra difficult due to my Achilles tendonitis. That, in and of itself, took me out of training for this series…so I just had to take it easy on all of the races…and run them on a wing and a prayer. My goals were to finish and to do so without doing damage to myself. I did both.
Anyway…back to the marathon…
But…at Mile 26, the gospel choir was singing and I made the turn to take me to the homestretch to the finish line. I crossed the line, in 4:00:04, which was amazing, considering I made character stops, walked some water stops, and ran this with an injury that crippled my training and involved more KT Tape than I care to admit to even make it possible for me to run. I received 3 medals today – one for completing the Disney World Marathon, one for the Goofy Challenge, and one for the Dopey Challenge. WOOHOO! CHA-BLING!
Dopey was an expensive adventure, but one that I enjoyed. I’m just thankful I get to sleep in past 3 a.m. tomorrow.
I’m ready for another adventure, Disney. Give it to me.