Vital stats: 5:30 am start (alarm off at 1:45) 43 degrees at race start. Finish time 6:31:57
Due to the half-marathon debacle and looking for my friends, I was able to work with the powers that be and get into my proper place in Corral D. However the plan for this race was for me to run much of it solo anyway. I would stop for a few characters and ride Expedition Everest. This presented an interesting problem, though. I had to balance race start at 5:30 (my wave went off at 5:49) with the 9:00 opening time for Everest, but also not go so slowly that I would get too far behind. I felt this allowed for quite a bit of time for the first half (Everest is at the half marathon mark).
So at the start I ran with Gerald and my new friend Karen. They were ready to rock and roll, and I knew I needed to keep the burn at a simmer so as not to shred my legs by the second half. This time I was also tracking my husband, Dave, who was attempting his first marathon. His start was only 12 minutes behind me. The Corral start system they used worked very well, and each wave seemed to move through fairly quickly to start.
Somewhere around mile 1.5, I let Gerald and Karen go ahead, and found a groove at about 12:30 pace. This was nice and easy, and I knew I could maintain it for a while. I got in line for the Ducktales characters just after the 5k mark, and the Castle shot in Magic Kingdom. At this point, I realized I was ahead of schedule for the 9:00 mark. So I kept stopping for the cool and rare stuff. At one point on the first half of the marathon, the course gets somewhat boring, so I just tucked in, hit cruise control, and relaxed into a pace. Every mile or so or whenever there was a character stop, I did the math on how much time until 9:00. I skipped a couple of the longer lines, but made it to Animal Kingdom just before 9:00. Two character stops put me in line for Expedition Everest right on time!
There was a bit of a line that I wasn’t expecting, waiting about 10 minutes to get on the ride. While I was in line, Dave passed me just outside (the half marathon timing mat was just outside). Now here’s the crazy thing. I’m on the coaster, going like crazy, and it stalls. Mid-ride. The train was filled with runners who were like…uhhhh…The stall lasted only about 30 seconds or so, but it felt like an eternity. When the coaster started again, I was laughing even harder than I normally do! Jump off the ride and keep on running. I did it! I rode a roller coaster during a marathon!
But, next up was the “Highway of Death” and ESPN Sports complex. 7 miles of nothing but a net elevation gain. Once again, I put my head down and shuffled along, but it was starting to warm up. Fueling up to this point had been consistent, and worked very well for me. I took a GU or Sport Beans every 4 miles like clockwork. I drank 6 ounces of water at every water station. This was perfect, and would have remained so, except that I got distracted.
So here’s the cool thing, but that which distracted me. The next timing mat was at 20 miles, inside Champion Baseball stadium at ESPN. You run around the Baseball field before you exit the complex. Fun, but I’m halfway around the stadium when I get an alert that Dave just crossed 20 miles! I look up and he’s 200 yards away! I got a boost of energy and caught up with him. We walked together for a bit, but he was hurting. He needed to walk, and I needed to keep my shuffle going (it was easier to shuffle than it was to walk). But there is where the distraction happened, and I didn’t notice it until about mile 23 near Hollywood Studios.
I hit the wall.
I didn’t know how that was possible when everything else was going so well, but I looked down at my bib belt and noticed I hadn’t taken a Gu at the 20 mile mark, like I had planned. I was so excited to see Dave, that I just forgot. So I fixed it. I took the Gu and also grabbed twizzlers and M&Ms from the food stop. A mile later I felt right again — still hurting, but definitely better. The heat was rising, but with only a couple of miles left, and lots of spectators, I was carried into the final stretch at Epcot. Turning into the Great Britain Pavilion and seeing all the spectators and hearing all the cheering brought tears of joy, and I knew I was about to finish the Dopey Challenge. After almost 2 years of work, countless miles, and a cancelled half in 2017, I was finally doing it, and feeling fantastic! As I rounded World Showcase, one of my new friends ran into me, and we finished the Marathon side by side. Her first marathon, as part of the Goofy Challenge, and she rocked it. My friend Gerald PR’d his marathon. Dave finished his first 26.2 only 10 minutes behind me. I couldn’t be more proud of my friends, and thrilled that I can say this time “I DID IT!”
Post-Dopey summary: Except for the one missed nutrition stop, everything was on-point all weekend — from the snacks and meals prior to and in between races, to the pre-race breakfasts, on-course nutrition, and post-race hydration and fueling. I managed the cold well for all four races, layering when I needed to, and keeping myself warm enough to conserve energy. Park time was the perfect balance of walking, waiting in short lines, and still seeing what we wanted to see. I had the miles in my legs (and still feel strong enough to pick up where I left off), and enjoyed every moment of this RunDisney event. I milked the races for all they were worth, and although the PRs I set were for the SLOWEST finish times, I can say I got my money’s worth!
The race kit included (from head to toe): Homemade ears, Long sleeved tech t-shirt, Vanellope short-sleeve hoodie, Green Saucony Scoot Capris, Brown Sparkle Skirt, CEP full length compression socks, and Saucony Guide 10 shoes. Plus a “ditchable” fleece jacket that I dropped right after race start.