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Final Race – Dopey Challenge 2015 – Disney World Marathon race report and pictures!

Ok – last run of the 2015 Dopey Challenge…up and at ‘em! (see my quick report for the 5k, 10k and half marathon here)

So as a warning this report is long :-(  But it has pictures :-)  But lots of those pictures have me in them :-(

Again the wake up call and alarms go off at a time of night usually best seen when going to bed not getting up. But at least I got a good 6 hours of sleep – kind of nice to not go into the hardest run feeling like an utter zombie!

Got dressed and grabbed my gear. Double checked to make sure my repairs on by bib that broke the day before were holding up then downed a quick bit of caffeine and some food…well really some coke and pecan clusters…

The full day was forecast to be warmer than the past 3 days so it was finally a day without several thermal layers! Baggy shorts over compression shorts because ain’t nobody needs to see that, compression calf sleeves, Hoka One One Cliftons, long sleeve shirt (more to prevent any chance of sunburn) and my hydration backpack.

I was taking the hydration backpack because I have finally learned my lesson that Gatoraid / Powerade just does not work for me – so I was bringing my own liquid fuel (flat Coke) and avoiding any on course electrolyte drinks. I was also using the backpack to clip my point and shoot camera to (more on that later).

Out the door of the hotel a bit later than I had planned meaning there was a bit more of a wait at the buses than there had been the past few days. Still, the buses got me to the staging area with plenty of time.

Again I met up with Bill (who blogs over at rillaruns.wordpress.com and on twitter at @rilla6969) and we chatted about previous races and strategies as we wandered out to our respective corals. After a quick good luck I headed off to coral D to get my mind in the correct frame of mind.

coral D

Coral D

 

Bill...and Ted...

Bill…and Ted…

My intention was to hit multiple photo stops, take it easy, finish happy and around the 5 hour mark. Basically this is likely to be my last Disney Challenge race for a while so I wanted to just finish strong and really enjoy myself.

A little while before it was time to head off I dropped my jacket and went to put on my backpack…and discovered my point and shoot camera was no longer attached to the backpack…CRAP!!!!

After a couple minutes of kicking myself I realized that I had to just deal with it and hope it was sitting back in the room and hadn’t been lost on the long walk out to the corals. I had been planning to get the MarathonFoto package of shots anyway so told myself I was going to have to make sure I got good shots with the characters with the professional photographers. I also had my smartphone on me but with its newly cracked screen (from the 5k) so I could take some other shots if I wanted but I wouldn’t be handing it off to other people to take shots of me. The fewer times it came out the holster the better.

So one minor crisis passed and we were quickly off and moving!

I took it fairly easy in the crowd at the start and like most folks just tried to find a clear path to run for the first while.

And then coming up on the first character stop – gut check time…could I actually do a marathon as a string of photo ops? I had never done it before and I wasn’t sure if I could sustain that or if I would regret not pushing harder….

Deep breath and stop…no lightning strike or earthquakes…maybe I could do this…

First photo stop was Captain Jack Sparrow at around mile 2.

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

 

Then very quickly after that another stop to take a photo on my cell phone of the Magic Kingdom entrance gate.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Settled into a bit of a groove through a water stop and then stopped for a picture with Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope.

Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope

Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope

 

Off running again and very quickly at the next photo stop – Jack Skellington and Sally. A bit more of a wait for these characters but at this point I was getting into the swing of things with these photo stops. This one stop was themed pretty well too – very cool.

Jack Skellington and Sally

Jack Skellington and Sally

From there off toward the Ticket and Transportation Center – at this point I ran past Sean Astin and wished him good luck.

At mile 4 (yes only mile 4!) I took my first solid fuel break before heading off toward the Contemporary Resort and the mile 5 marker. Along the way there is a long underpass with a good climb as you go under one of Disney’s canal ways.

Then mile 5 and on to the Magic Kingdom. Hit the 5 mile marker at 50:06 – not too bad – definitely in the right range to make sure I hit 5 hours or less.

Shortly before the heading out of the backstage area and out onto Main Street USA I took out my phone to try to take some video but without image stabilization it was looking pretty awful…so I stopped that!

I then quickly stopped for a pic of the Christmas tree that was still up before heading down Main Street, stopping a couple times to take pics of Cinderella’s Castle all lit up with the Elsa / Frozen lights.

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

 

Just before heading into Tomorrowland I stopped for a pic with the castle done by the professionals of MarathonFoto.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

Then part way across the bridge into Tomorrowland I stopped to take a pic of scenery before continuing on to a stop to see Buzz Lightyear.

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Off and running again and missed the picture stop with the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland by the Tea Cups – whoops! Must keep moving forward! Just to stop for a quick stop with the big mime guy from Tangled. Awesome!

Mime!

Mime!

Just a short jog from there to come up on Cinderella’s Castle from the back side – pulled over to the site to take a quick pic and vid of Anna, Else and Kristoff who were hanging out on the balcony of the castle over the arch way that the runners head through. Very cool!

Elsa, Anna and Kristoff

Elsa, Anna and Kristoff

I also grabbed a short video of them talking to the runners. The audio in this one sounds like “…a little goofy. It looks good on you…” It wasn’t directed at me but is vaguely appropriate.

Now – through the castle! Always very cool to enter and see Main Street all lit up on the other side.

Once I was through the castle I stopped to get another photo in front of the castle before continuing on.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

Damn – missed another photo stop as I headed past the big crocodile from The Princess and the Frog before I noticed him.

Didn’t miss the next stop though – Woody!

Woody

Woody

Wow…only mile 6…feeling good but not definitely not moving fast!

I deliberately skipped stopping for the steam train but it was cool to see as I ran past heading toward the next stop – Snow White, her Prince and Rapunzel with Flynn – this was the longest wait of any of the photo stops but very cool. Too bad the pic is a bit blurry.

Princesses

Princesses

Ok – now maybe time to move a little…

Heading out of Magic Kingdom onto Cone Alley (nicknamed by runners because of the steady stream of miles upon miles of cones with no breaks between them). This stretch is always a bit tight to move but I did get some speed going and felt good.

I made a quick stop to get my picture taken with Mary Poppins, Burt and the penguins before I realized that there didn’t seem to be a professional photographer there? Odd – like I mentioned near the top I didn’t want to be handing my broken phone around to folks in case it got worse so I headed off without a picture.

Shortly after that it was I hit the picture stop for Abu and the Genie from Alladin just before mile 8 and my second solid fuel stop.

Abu and Genie

Abu and Genie

Then into the Speedway (after the frighteningly steep ramp down and then back up to the track…

I was a bit disappointed this year that McQueen and/or Mater weren’t there for a photo stop like they were in a previous year.

Oh well – out of the Speedway and past mile 9. And this point could not deny a nature call any longer so I quickly hit a porta potty before continuing on.

Around mile 10 or so I ran into the villians photo stop – Cruela, the voodoo guy from The Princess and the Frog, the Queen of Hearts and the Evil Queen…I would check the photo but unfortunately it looks like it is not showing up in my photos package. Crap!!! I have to say I am pissed about that. Hopefully it gets found and posted soon as MarathonFoto says they are still sorting through the images from the race. This was also the second longest photo stop of the race at around 4 minutes.

Edit January 16th – got the photo!

Villains

Villains

 

I hit the 10 mile mark at about 1:53:28 – so over 63 minutes to do the second 5 miles of the race – kind of understandable with all the stops and a few crowded areas.

After coming off of this character stop I was feeling damned good. I found I was passing people like crazy here – looked down at the Garmin and it said I was doing 10 mph…? Looking at my phone GPS app after it was probably closer to 9 mph but still – crazy to get that kind of a burst of energy at about mile 10 of a marathon!

 

Edit January 16th – I forgot about a character stop? Found the orphaned photo while looking for the villains pic! Hanging out with the big bears. I can’t remember it if it came before the villains stop above or the Robin Hood stop below.

The Bears

The Bears

 

Continuing onwards I ran into Robin Hood, Little John and Friar Tuck and got a quick photo.

Robin Hood and friends

Robin Hood and friends

At this point things had opened up a bit I got some room to move and my average pace was significantly quicker than it was in the first hour or so.

I then ran into Jiminy Cricket just on the edge of Animal Kingdom. Matching his pose was a fluke and not planned at all.

Jiminy Cricket

Jiminy Cricket

It would have been about this time that I took my mile 12 solid fuel stop.

Into Animal Kingdom – not particularly exiting this year – there were so many construction barricades up blocking the cool views everywhere. Too bad really.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

The sun did come up and out of the clouds though at this point and that was pretty awesome.

Also Expedition Everest wasn’t open when I went through so I couldn’t do the ride like many others have managed to do in the past. Oh well.

Right before leaving Animal Kingdom, I ran into Minnie and Daisy in safari gear and got a quick photo before heading out to the parking lot and the half way point of the race!

Minnie and Daisy

Minnie and Daisy

Hit the half way point at just around the 2:24 mark – the 3.1 mile since the 10 mile marker done in 30.5 minutes – pace definitely came back up a bit. Still well on track to hit 5 hours or under.

I realized that there would be fewer character stops in the second half but I also knew I would have to stay focused to keep moving well and make sure I hit the goal.

Shortly after the half way marker I came upon Mickey in his safari gear and grabbed a shot with him – a bit more of a wait for Mickey of course but worth it.

Safari Mickey

Safari Mickey

Just a short run from there to run into the grave diggers / Haunted Mansion folks with the graveyard. I didn’t stop to lay down and have my picture taken but I did grab a quick pic on my phone before moving on. This was just past mile 14.

Graveyard

Graveyard

I think at this point I passed Sean Astin again – he had obviously gotten ahead of me at one of my many stops and I caught up with him again.

In the mile 15-16 range Phineas and Ferb were waiting and I definitely needed a picture with those guys!

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb

Interestingly after heading out from this photo stop I noticed how comfortable my feet were – I felt like I was still running fresh. These Hoka’s are really working for me.

Then continued on toward mile 17 and the ESPN World of Sports – at this point I was moving a pretty steady 7.2 mph but the back of my left thigh kept cramping a bit. So I made sure to get some water at the next couple water stops and to keep the speed down a bit.

Unfortunately the clouds came in at this point which was kind of disappointing.

I continued on through the ball diamond around mile 19. Much of the trail through ESPN seemed new to me, which was strange as I have run the same course 3 times now so it should all be familiar – kind of speaks to the fact that I was feeling much more coherent and in control in this race compared to previous races.

Right before the ball diamond Chip and Dale were out and I stopped and they realized there was no professional photographer again (just like Mary Poppins) – strange. Oh well – no photo for me here.

ball park

ball park

After the obligatory stop to take rocks out of my shoes after the ball diamond, I continued on toward mile 20 where I had my final solid fuel break.

I hit the 20 mile mark at 3:35:01 – very solid to be well under goal pace of 5 hours. I did the 6.9 miles from the half point to here in 1:11:02 – definitely not bad with some character stops and a break to get rocks out of my shoes.

At about mile 20.4 or so they had up a big video camera projecting the runners on giant screen – I caught a look at myself and thought “man…I still look strong!” Awesome!

Then hardest part of the Walt Disneyworld Marathon begins – the stretch between that point and about mile 22.5 – those couple miles of highway and overpasses and up and downs can kind of wear on you. The only real entertainment in that area is the green army man at just past mile 21 on the onramp. He definitely provides solid encouragement but this area can be kind of dull.

But then into Hollywood Studios!

In previous years they have had some character to get a photo stop with just as you enter the backstage area but I didn’t see that this year – maybe I missed it.

A big change this year from previous years was the tunnel where on the Backlot Tour you could see where character costumes were made. With the closing of the Backlot Tour, Disney must be doing some refurbs in this area and the windows were all blacked out. To make this section not just be a dark tunnel they added fog and disco lighting! It was kind of cool and brought a smile to my face – there was an issue with people stopping dead to take pictures though…

Anyway – onwards!

Mike and Sully! Got in line to see these guys but just before it was my turn they took Sully off for his break. So I didn’t get both of the Monsters, Inc guys but still, it was cool.

Mike

Mike

From there it was quick tour through Hollywood Studios.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios

And then out toward the walking path to the Boardwalk Resort. I love this area around the Boardwalk, Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts and was feeling great as I hit mile 24.

At about mile 24.5 I stopped to walk and tweet that I was at my happy place – in front of the Yacht / Beach Club pool area (Stormalong Bay). I figured this would also let my wife know how far out I was so she could try to catch me on the live finish feed that Disney had set up.

From there on toward International Gateway and into Epcot by the England pavilion, quickly followed by mile 25! Still feeling great – even if it had decided to start raining.

Just a few steps away I ran into Aladdin at the Morocco pavilion and got a picture with him. Last character stop!

Aladdin

Aladdin

Next up a quick tour through the World Showcase.

By Mexico

By Mexico

And onto the run toward the fountains and Spaceship Earth – I love that straight shot toward the big ball – that stretch of the run always lifts me up!

Just as you get up to the ball there is a quick jog right to head toward mile 26 and the choir. Just 0.2 miles to go!

Focus!

Focus!

A few bobs and weaves and then continue on the final stretch to the finish line for the 4th time in 4 days – and with that Dopey Challenge is done!

Whohoo!

Whohoo!

Cross the line

Cross the line

 

1st Dopey Challenge, 5th Goofy Challenge, 10th marathon, 15 half marathon all finished over the course of this challenge. Awesome!

Done and happy

Done and happy

4:40:36 – definitely beat my goal pace for the race. Meaning that I was faster than my goal for each of the 4 races this weekend. I will take that as a solid victory!

I figure with all the stops I made I ran most of that race at marathon PR pace and never felt like I was falling apart. I am simply giddy about that.

From there I got my finishers medal and did the walk toward the photo stop and then checked into the Goofy/Dopey Challenge tent to get verified before getting my final 2 medals for the weekend. Then one more photo stop with 3 medals and off to find a beer.

One medal

One medal

3 medals - they multiplied

3 medals – they multiplied

Had a good beer and a bit of a snack and then headed toward the bus and hotel. On the walk to the bus I walked past Sean Astin again and congratulated him quickly. Strange that of all the multiple thousands of people out there running that day it would be him that I saw so frequently. Life is strange.

Quick bus ride to the hotel and a shower before calling the wife and grabbing my brother to go get lunch. At Epcot of course!

We spent a few hours there before heading back to the hotel to figure out supper. Best we could find was back at Epcot (Tokyo Dining) – it was very good and we hung out and hit Soarin’ before fireworks.

Illuminations at Epcot

Illuminations at Epcot

Then back to the hotel for a quick beer and a well deserved rest. Felt awesome the next day too – whoohoo! Dopey was conquered in style!

It looks like my full total for all 4 races was 7:58:44 – wicked!

Interestingly it looks like I may have also been the top Dopey Challenge finisher from Winnipeg this year (I could find 11 Dopey finishers in the stats). It is kind of a silly thing to look at really since everyone ran those 4 races with a different strategy so it really doesn’t mean anything. But it is a cool statistic to see. Surprisingly that also puts me at the 4th fastest overall time for the Goofy Challenge for Winnipeg finishers as well. Again – doesn’t mean much but cool to see.

Alrighty…now what?

 

ps – the missing camera was in the room

My rough game plan for the Dopey Challenge…

Alrighty – so I took today off work so I could sleep in and then get my final organization done for the Dopey Challenge before I leave tomorrow morning. And of course I end up waking up an hour before my alarm would normally go off on a work day…and I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I kept running through my head what my game plan was for each day of the challenge and finally I decided I might as well get up and put it down in writing so I could think about something else for a while!

 

Wednesday the 7th:

First flight is at 5:15 am – so not really just doing 4 early mornings, I am doing 5! Will probably have to get up around the same time I will for the 10k, half and full days so that I can get to the airport and check in on time. Flying through Toronto which can be fun but I have plenty of time to clear US customs and make the connecting flight without rushing, but not so much time that it will feel like I am stuck in the airport forever. I will be meeting up with my brother at the Toronto airport and we will be traveling together from there.

We should get into Orlando at around 1:30 pm – grab the Magical Express and off to the hotel from there. Hopefully should then be at the hotel and checked in well before 3:30 pm (would prefer a bit earlier but this still gives plenty of time).

From the hotel, we will hit the shuttle bus to the Expo (with photo ID and race waivers in hand) and grab the race kits…and buy lots of stuff. I am hoping we will be at the Expo before 4:00 pm, this would give lots of time to do the Expo thoroughly in one go.

Then off to find supper…not sure where this will take us yet, potentially Epcot unless we are just too tired.

 

Thursday the 8th:

5k! Strangely this will be my first ever timed 5k run…I have done 14 halfs and 9 fulls at this point but have not run a timed race shorter than that. So I guess a guaranteed PR there?

I’m not sure what corral I will be in for this one but based on my corral placement of D for the other races it should be A or B for the 5k.

Plan for this one is just to take it easy – I just want to wander around Epcot in the dark. I love the atmosphere of Epcot and I want to enjoy every second of it. That being said I also don’t want to walk the race – so I will go for sub 30 minutes, maybe 27 minutes? That should be a relatively easy leg stretch to work out some of the kinks.

After the race, back to the hotel, grab my brother (who is doing Goofy) and off to a park. Perhaps Magic Kingdom? I have set up some fastpasses there for Thursday but may change them based on our moods that day.

Early to bed after Skyping my wife and kids!

 

Friday the 9th:

10k…same as the 5k here, I have never done a timed 10k. A double PR weekend!

The 10k runs through Epcot and the Boardwalk / Yacht Club / Beach Club areas and those all fall in my list of happy places (especially the Beach Club area) – so I will be taking it easy here as well. I want to just absorb the atmosphere and the vibe.

I assume I will be shooting for under an hour but might walk a bit to take pictures and absorb.

Once the race is done then it will be park time again! Still not sure which park – maybe Epcot but perhaps Animal Kingdom. Just staying flexible there.

Then again off to bed early after Skyping the family back home.

 

Saturday the 10th:

Half marathon! I think this is the race I am most looking forward to out of all 4 in the challenge. This is the one race that I expect to try to achieve some speed on. Basically the fastest I have done the half course at the Disney World Marathon weekend is about 2:20. I did a few Goofy Challenges when I really wasn’t ready and took the halfs slow to save myself for the fulls, so my times have never been up there as being that quick. I have also gotten trapped in slow corrals before and also run with others giving me a slower time than I would like to put up.

Now, I’m not going to shoot for my half PR of 1:46:00 but I would like to push a bit. I’m not planning on taking pictures or just wandering around on this one – I want to run strong without hurting myself for the full. That means sub 2 hours but if I am really feeling it sub 1:50. But that will really depend on how beat up my legs feel. So not a PR but a personal course record is the goal.

I will be strapping on my Hoka’s for this race, so that should help protect my legs a bit for the full.

After the race the plan will be to avoid further damage! Ice bath once back at the hotel and compression gear for the rest of the day.

I will probably also hit a park but one without a lot of walking. I will want a bit of walking to help stretch out the legs and work the lactic acid through the system but also don’t want to feel like my legs are wood the next day.

Early, early, early to bed! After a quick Skype to the family.

 

Sunday the 11th:

The full! It all comes down to this race in the end! My stated goal for this one was that I want to enjoy it – that means I will be doing picture stops and taking it easy. Weather forecast for Sunday (so far) is hot and extremely humid right from the beginning so I will definitely be trying to not push too hard.

So yeah, character picture stops – I have never done that before on a Disney race (which seems odd now that I think about it) so it will be something new to me and the lower corral placement should mean shorter wait times for the characters.

I’m not sure I really have a goal time on this one but I think a personal course record should be quite achievable even with character photo stops, if I am focused. The fastest I have done the full course at Disney World is about 4:40 which I did during last year’s Goofy Challenge (marathon PR of 4:09:44 with a bad knee and in a downpour). I am in better shape for the Dopey Challenge this year and have been training for these back to back to back to back scenarios so hopefully my legs should be good when I toe the start line! If the legs are feeling strong then a personal course record should be more than possible even with the character photo stops.

I will also be using the Hokas for this race and that should help. I ran my Hokas on the 12 hour race (49.2785 miles) I did back in early October (the Lemming Loop) and when I finished I was still able to climb stairs and was quite functional the next day. Since I trained to do a 50k and did damned near 50 miles, the condition I was in after had a lot to do with the Hoka cushioning and I will be looking to use that to my advantage during the Dopey Challenge!

I have a history with the portapotties during the full marathon at Disney World that I am trying to avoid on this trip. The biggest downfall for me seems to be Poweraid on course – my system can’t seem to handle it. To combat that issue then I will be bringing my hydration backpack (which carries 2 liters of liquid) onto the course with my fuel of choice (flat Coke). With the heat and humidity forecast I will supplement on course with water but not Poweraid.

After the race is done and I have purchased and drank the obligatory finish line beer (hopefully Disney does that again this year), I will head back to the hotel. How long I hang out at the finish line will depend on where my brother is on the race and who I run into from the Twittersphere!

Then an ice bath and more compression gear. What happens next depends on how my brother is doing and what he is up for. I am hoping that I am solid and functional because I would love to hit a park (or 2) after the race is done.

Today I go as long as my body and mind will let me!

 

Monday the 12th:

Returning home today – at least I got a direct flight back to Winnipeg – it isn’t until late evening and the Magical Express probably won’t take me to the airport until sometime around supper so I am hoping to spend some time at Downtown Disney but again that will depend on how my legs are doing!

 

Tuesday the 13th:

Home…sleep. If I wake up…do laundry.

Mickey Mouse Full Marathon Day

Sunday January 13th – full marathon day

I had a Pokemon card with me that my son had given me as a present a few months back that I brought along with me on the half the day before and I had realized that I didn’t bring anything for my daughter that I could take along.  So we had found these little tokens that Disney calls “pieces of magic” that you can pick up for 6 for $10 (or something like that) and I put those in my little camera bag to take with me.  I had one for my daughter that was in the shape of Tinkerbell and had the caption on the back of “believe”.  The one for my son was a little envelope that said “thinking of you”.  And the one for my wife was a little Cinderella carriage that said “happily ever after”.  Strong words and good sentiments to take with me to help give strength when it is needed so I made sure I had these packed and ready to go with me in my gear.

Woke up before my alarm again – up and moving by about 2:20am.  Had a shower and got dressed and my brother and I headed out for the buses.  Probably got on the bus around 3:15am or so with a quick and easy ride to the drop off.

I had decided due to the amount of running around people I had to do the day before I was going to make sure I got into the staging area past the bag drop area early so that I could be near the start of my cue.  My brother had decided that in order to cut some of the heat issues he figured he would have he was going to take advantage of the Race Retreat and join the others Runners World Challenge folks in corral B.  He figured the earlier he started the less direct sunlight he was going to have to endure.  So we separated relatively early and went to work through our own plans.

I got near the gate to the corrals pretty early and amazingly Disney opened up the gate at around 4:10 – at least 20-25 minutes earlier than Saturday – I’m guessing they realized their mistake and were making sure not to repeat it (whoohoo!).  You could hear the relief in the voices of some of the runners when they saw gate opening earlier.  This all made for a nice leisurely walk to the corrals.

Once at the corral there was still an hour until the official start and probably 1.5 hours before I would get to start so I took the cue from several others and had a seat to rest my legs.  I had brought a thermal blanket with me so I wrapped myself in it to cut the slightly cool breeze and sat there munching on a few snacks I had brought and sipped at a Powerade.

A 5 hour marathon pace bunny lined up near me in the same corral so I knew who to watch for after I got going if I wanted to shoot for 5 hours.  I came down trained to shoot for 4:30 but kind of expecting that not to happen but with 4:45 being possible.  With the heat I figured I would be more realistic and shoot for 5 hours instead so seeing the 5 hour pace bunny was good.

Prior to the official start many luminaries were quickly brought out to talk about the race and the universal message was “take it easy and hydrate” – words to live by today with temps expected to be around 28C and real high humidity (say a “feels like” temp of around 33-35C when I was set to finish – majorly different from the -15C / -25C with the windchill that I had on my last outdoor training run).

I started off pretty solid as things got going but was still holding things back since I knew I would need energy in reserve for later.

I was pleasantly surprised that the bottle necks from the previous day seemed to have cleared – running was pretty smooth with only the normal expected dodging that you would see in any race.  I only spent a bit of time out on the grass passing and then only on some tighter choke points.

Even in Magic Kingdom things went much smoother even with the tighter confines – one guy did start to walk right at the entrance to Cinderella’s Castle right in front of me but his running partner gave him a tug on the shoulder to nudge him along at least until they were in a less confined space.  Awesome team work there.

After Magic Kingdom the Richard Petty area was fun – most people knew the course changes for the anniversary run and weren’t surprised to see the change but I think almost everyone was surprised at the sudden steep ramp down and then back up to enter the track.  I heard a collective “ooohhhh” as people got close enough to see the ramp.

Running on the race track was fun as was seeing the vintage, classic cars and the some of the modern super cars you wouldn’t normally get to see.  Yay Aston Martin – gorgeous car!

Richard Petty - track full of a different kind of racer

Richard Petty – track full of a different kind of racer

dawn over Richard Petty - between mile 8 and 9

dawn over Richard Petty – between mile 8 and 9

The change in the course was also a welcome addition to add some more flavor on the run between Magic and Animal Kingdoms.  The addition of the run past the solid waste station could be considered added flavor as well but was not quite as welcome.  That being said I like seeing behind the curtain and getting a view of the logistics of Disney World is one of the reasons I do this race.

Animal Kingdom was good to run through a little earlier in the course when I had more energy to enjoy it – some folks might have been disappointed they couldn’t get on Expedition Everest part way through their race though.

But for those of you who were concerned about the course changes – don’t be!  THE RUN PAST THE SEWER TREATMENT PLANT IS STILL THERE!!

The 5 hour pace bunny caught me just before Animal Kingdom and lost me around mile 15.  At around mile 14/15 I had to do a bit of gut check – up to that point I was on track to hit 5 hours but I could feel the energy falling off as the temperature kept rising.  Up until then I had only been doing a bit of walking at water stops but at this point I decided I needed to trigger run/walk cycles to maintain my energy.  I wasn’t falling apart yet but could feel things slipping.  So I fired up a run/walk cycle app on my Android media player and set it for 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking.  I followed that pattern for the rest of the race – a couple places I had to partially skip a run cycle to match up with a water stop or just to take an extra breather but in a few others I skipped the walk cycle.  This definitely kept me push through the heat even if it meant I had to toss out the 5 hour hopes.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Center – this was an interesting addition – breaking up those there and back again miles out on the highway near the end is a very welcome addition without a doubt.  I think some might not have liked all the short stretches and multiple turns which would have made it harder to maintain a faster pace but as I was already into a run-walk (5 min – 1 min) cycle I enjoyed how the miles slipped by in this area.  Plus the shaded areas were nice.

The scenery is definitely more distracting there than along the highway stretches so it helped keep the mind occupied as did the constantly changing venues.  The running track was a favorite for me and I did enjoy running through the stadium as well.  I had a few minor complaints on the stadium run though – one being the little stones that got in my shoes while running through it (around mile 19 bending over to take stones out of the shoes was not a pleasant experience) and number two was the video camera putting everyone up on the jumbo-tron (you didn’t know it was there until it was too late to see yourself on the big screen – it would have been nice to have some warning so I could have seen it) – minor complaints really.

The Mile 20 spectacular was pretty cool with the big puppets / marionettes of the various Disney characters but it seemed a bit of a letdown after how the ESPN section felt.  Maybe the ESPN section was supposed to be part of the whole Mile 20 spectacular too and the puppets were just the end of it?  Not sure.  Either way back to the highway after that.

The previous times I have done the Disney World Marathon and the Goofy I have ended up walking by now and these few miles before entering Hollywood Studios always seemed awful but they felt pretty good this time.

Hollywood Studios – I have done 1 Disney World Marathon and 2 Goofys before and this was the first time I actually still had energy to keep running when I hit the park so I skipped a walking cycle or 2 at this stage to enjoy that victory.

After Hollywood Studios the run out to the path to the Boardwalk and the boardwalk along by the Yacht and Beach Clubs was great.  The area by the Yacht and the Beach is one my favorites at Disney World and I really enjoyed the run through there.

Met my wife (according to plan) up by the bridge that leads to the Boardwalk from Epcot and stopped to chat for a minute before continuing on into Epcot.  She walked into Epcot from there as well and I saw her again by the England Pavilion and again (after my trip around the lagoon) near the fountain.  From there it was it was just a short run to 26 miles and then that extra 0.2 to go.  I had a walk cycle come up just past the 26 mile point and was going to skip it but figured a short walk would make the final run happen with much more energy.  It felt good to finish in the end but I also felt good in general which is a nice change.

me just before entering Epcot with about 1.5 miles to go

me just before entering Epcot with about 1.5 miles to go

So my time? 5:25:54 – much slower than I wanted but 45 minutes faster than last year and a full hour faster than my first Goofy.  So a solid time all things considered – it this case Disney had everything laid out to let me have a good race and maybe get that time I was looking for – unfortunately I got spanked by the heat.

Again on this race Disney had more than enough water and Powerade along the course and after the race was done (no Coke again dammit) – they also had some health officials making sure people were drinking something as soon as they got off the course.

I have to give credit to all the volunteers out there – it was bad enough running in that heat but just standing out there for hours on end would have been a rough go.  Thanks to any volunteers who might someday read this!

Grabbed my bling and wandered out to the family meet up area and caught up with my wife – just in time for my back to spasm again.  Yay!  Obviously held myself too rigid for most of the race again – this is definitely something I will need to work on further.

Because of the spasm and not really knowing where my brother was on the course I decided to skip the plan of heading back along the course to try to cheer him on and instead we got on a bus and headed to the hotel.

So after a quick warm shower I had a good cold one (although it wouldn’t get too cold) to help reduce any swelling and took a couple Tylenol.  My wife had gone to get us a couple bagels as a quick snack and after those were done and I had put a few things in the sink to soak for while we lay down for a nap.

After the nap we got dressed and hunted down some Advil to help further reduce any swelling (my travel bottle ran out so we grabbed another).  We talked to my brother to see how things had finished up for him – I had caught up with him on the Richard Petty race track and he had settled into a walk/run cycle that was working for him and his injury and he was able to push out the race in a solid time all things considered – fantastic job dude!!

My wife and I went for a bit of a walk around the Boardwalk and once my brother caught up to us we headed into the Yacht Club for a celebratory supper of meat at the Yachtsman Steakhouse.  Great food, good service, good beer.  Awesome.

After a leisurely 2 hour supper and chat we headed back to the hotel and my brother decided to do his own thing while my wife and I headed into Epcot, wandered around, did Spaceship Earth and then headed off to the monorails to Magic Kingdom.

We did a few hours in Magic Kingdom – we did the new Under the Sea ride, wandered around the new Fantasyland before wandering over to do Small World, the Tiki Room, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  At this point they were closing down the Magic Kingdom and we headed out to the buses to go back to the hotel.

Amazingly my legs felt fantastic – better than after the half – I was awake, had energy and was ready to move.  Apparently I was training properly!

I crashed pretty hard at around 12:30 and got a good 8 hour sleep.  We check out of the hotel in the morning but our flight isn’t until the evening with a Magical Express pickup in the late afternoon.

Race Day minus 1

Friday January 11th, 2013 – more of a rest day

We were up relatively early – my brother hadn’t managed to get to package pick on Thursday after he got in so he was heading there this morning to get his stuff.  He had missed the regular Goofy sign up so he had signed up for the Runners World Challenge so he had a different pick up location which went smoothly.  The Runners World folks didn’t have to get their shirts at the expo so he didn’t have to go in – he had thought about it but the line was apparently out the door so he passed.

While he was doing that my wife and I went to Animal Kingdom to do the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  It was a good day for it – weather is nice and the animals were very active.  We saw an elephant playing in one of the pools – running around with only its trunk and tusks up.  We also saw a pretty young white rhino running around and playing.  One of the better runs I have had on the ride – very cool.

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view of Everest

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tiger on Maharaja trek

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same tiger

very colourful pigeon

elephant having fun

rhino family

After we were done there we had a text from my brother and headed out to meet him at Downtown Disney.  We got a bit of a surprise – I knew that they run buses to other parks from Animal Kingdom and had assumed they ran a bus to Downtown Disney as well…but they don’t.  I can understand why as they wouldn’t want someone parking for free at Downtown Disney and riding the bus over to Animal Kingdom from there.

So we ended up taking a bus to Port Orleans: French Quarter and then riding the boat from there to Downtown Disney – a nice ride and good weather for it.  The extra time it took though without having a direct bus meant my brother had already eaten but he joined us as we had Earl of Sandwich and wandered around shopping.

We stayed at Downtown for supper – T-Rex – we had a bit of a mix up as the hostess sat us in a closed serving location and we didn’t realize until people around us were getting served that had been seated after us.  That was all resolved and we headed out to the buses to get back to the hotel.

Ended up having some fun on the buses though – one of a group of 4 teenage boys was taking a bunch of flash pics of the bus which ended up in a bit of confrontation.  I assume the boys were there as part of one of the high school bands playing along the course or something over the weekend as they didn’t seem related.  His friends gave him crap and they ditched off the bus at the next stop – while he did try to get chirpy again as he got off the bus it was pretty obvious he just blustering and trying to get attention – pretty sad really.  The worst part of that would be that if he was part of one of the bands or something it takes away a bit from the great thing that the bands and volunteers are doing on race day.  You don’t often run into jerks at Disney World but when you do they really stand out.

Got back to the hotel – laid out my stuff for the morning and sacked out.

So – being amped up on adrenaline from the pissing contest and worry about the heat on the race the next day it took quite some time to fall asleep.  Probably got 2 hours sleep – yay!