We were back in our hotel room before 7:00 a.m. after the 10k. It felt weird to be done so early! I showered and did work while Jeff napped. We left our room around 9:00 to grab breakfast at the resort before heading to EPCOT for the day.
We rode our favorites – Spaceship Earth, Soarin, and Test Track before heading over to World Showcase for lunch. On the way, we stopped at the Baby Care Center. Since I was nursing, I used the Baby Care Centers in the parks to pump. If you’re a nursing mom, I highly recommend taking advantage of these areas! I met several other breastfeeding moms who were running the races.
Lunch was at Via Napoli in Italy, which may be my favorite restaurant on property.
We carbo-loaded like champs and then went to China to meet up with our friends, Crystal and Mary.
After Crystal and I ran our first marathon – Disney ‘09 – we said we’d never do one again! HAHA. Famous last words.
While we were standing there chatting, it started to get cold. Not that it was ever warm that day, but the wind picked up and the clouds disappeared. So, we decided to call it a day.
That evening, we ate a light dinner at the hotel – again, I barely had an appetite either due to the cold – and I was passed out by 7:30 p.m.
The morning of the half we woke up to temps in the low 40s and a wind chill in the high 30s. I was trying so hard to have a positive mindset about the weather. I kept trying to visualize my PR half marathon this past fall, when temps were 40 at the start. I felt fine that day, so I was hoping I’d have the same luck today.
I got dressed as Daisy. I grabbed my bathrobe and we were out the door of our room by 3:40 a.m. to head to the buses.
My favorite costume! Lesley made my adorable Daisy tutu! It was custom-fit to my measurements and was so comfortable.
Unlike the previous two days, the bus line was very long. We didn’t board a bus until 4:10 a.m. Still, we figured we’d have plenty of time to make it to our corral since the bus ride to the race site had not taken longer than 5 minutes the previous two days. WRONG. We were on the bus for 45 long minutes! We were just stopped dead in traffic.
We realized that there was no way that we’d make it to our corral in time. The race started at 5:35 and we were in corral C – so we’d start around 5:40. The walk from where the buses drop you off to the race site is long and then there’s another mile walk to the corral area. That mile walk is packed with runners in the 30 minutes before the race starts. It takes a good 20 minutes to walk from the race staging area to the corrals. We also had to check a bag and use the porta potties.
We decided not to rush. runDisney lets you move back corrals, and we’d be taking it easy for this race, so it was probably best to start a little further back.
Our strategy for this race was a little different than the 5k and 10k. We wanted to go slow so we didn’t tire our legs for the marathon, but we also didn’t want to spend too much time on our feet. I feel like it’s harder on the body to run a race super slow. I’ve done “for fun” half marathons that took an hour longer than my normal half marathon time, and I swear I’m always most sore after these races. So, our goal for the half was my long run pace – between 9:15- 9:30 minute miles.
At the race site, Jeff checked a bag while I got in line for the porta potties. I used the porta potties by bag check instead of the ones by the corrals because I thought they’d be more crowded (again, I was wrong). I didn’t leave the bathroom until 5:25 a.m. I kind of freaked out over how late it was so we booked it to the start. We heard the first fireworks go off and Jeff turned to me and said “let’s run”, so we did. We ran on the grass to get to the corrals because we didn’t want to start too far back.
Eventually we got there and were able to start with Corral D! Only one off from where we should have been. It was only then that I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything yet that morning. Huge mistake. I ate an entire Clif Bar within 30 seconds, and before I knew it, we were running!
There’s nothing like the start of the half and full marathon. The 5k and 10k were fun, too, but I think having SO many runners around for the longer races just makes it so much more exciting. Plus, I love knowing that it’s only a few miles until we’re running through Main Street, U.S.A. – my favorite part of any runDisney race.
I remember not feeling too cold, so I shed my bathrobe right after mile 2.
By the time we made it to the Ticket and Transportation Center, I felt weak – like we should be at mile 8 of the race instead of 4. Eventually, I recognized the feeling. I needed fuel! Not eating enough for the past two days had finally caught up to me. I was bonking at mile 4 of a half marathon when I had a marathon the next day – not good!
I usually only take one Gu during a half, between miles 7-8, but I took one before mile 5 today. It definitely helped, and I was able to enjoy running through the Magic Kingdom.
I always get a little bummed leaving MK. I hate that it’s so early in every race because it’s the highlight. Luckily, I was on a mission today. Megan said she’d be outside the Grand Floridian on the left side. I cannot tell you how many times I have missed seeing spectators. But today I was determined to see Megan because she was out cheering for us at 6:30 a.m. on her vacation!
Luckily, we had no problem spotting her. Thanks Megan!
Before I knew it, I was hungry again! This was unlike me. I told myself I had to be extra on top of fueling for the rest of the day if I wanted to make it through the marathon tomorrow. Luckily, there was a Clif food stop around mile 9. I grabbed a mocha gel and it was the most delicious thing ever.
After mile 10, we made our way up the on ramp to head back towards EPCOT. It felt so good to run on an incline! I live in a hilly area and I think I do better on courses with hills because I’m used to the change in elevation.
But as soon as we got off the ramp and started running in a new direction, it got cold. Very cold. We were running straight into a headwind – and I started to feel sick. That gel that tasted so delicious only 15 minutes earlier now seemed like the worst idea ever. I started shivering like crazy and felt exactly like I did during NYCM. I could not believe I was experiencing symptoms of hypothermia during a half marathon in Florida!
At mile 11, I had no idea how I was going to make it another two miles. I asked Jeff how he felt and he said he was freezing. I told him that I was, too, and I didn’t know if I’d make it. He had some uplifting words for me, and somehow I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The rest of the race was a blur. We finished in 2:03:39 – a 9:26 pace, right where we wanted to be.
I remember getting my medal after the finish line and taking a selfie quickly, so my parents could see that I finished.
Then it was on to the medical tent because I was freezing and felt awful. Jeff told one of the medical volunteers what was going on and asked if they had a heat sheet for me, but she told us that they had none (I heard other people went to the medical tent after the race and got some, though). Once again, this was a huge fail. And since I didn’t feel well, this really upset me. We left the medical area, made a beeline to pick up our checked bag, and headed towards the buses. Luckily, our bus was there and it was so warm inside.
Apparently we also took this picture, which I don’t remember at all.
Once we arrived back at the resort, Jeff went to grab us breakfast and hot coffee while I took a warm shower. I scarfed down my food, got dressed in warm clothes, and fell asleep for about 30 minutes.
I felt 100 times better when I woke up. While I’m very disappointed in runDisney for not providing us with heat sheets, getting that cold was my mistake. I’m more susceptible to hypothermia now that I’ve had it twice (once during crew in college and during NYCM), and I should have dressed more appropriately and fueled better leading up to the race. I think I’ve finally learned my lesson now! No fun costume is worth freezing my booty off and feeling miserable the last few miles of a “for fun” race!
Three races down! But we weren’t even halfway there…
After the 5k, we went back to our hotel room to warm up and get ready for the day. We had big plans! The Keys to the Kingdom Tour.
This is a tour we have always wanted to do. Taking the tour meant spending 5 hours on our feet, perhaps not the wisest thing to do during the Dopey Challenge. But we were in Disney without our kids so we decided to take advantage of our free time and do the tour.
The tour was absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend it. However, the weather continued to be cold and windy and the majority of the tour was outside. I packed a light jacket, and wore my running hat and gloves, but I was miserable all day.
Being cold was not how I wanted to spend the day before the 10k. When I’m cold like this, I lose my appetite. My breakfast included 2 Clif bars and coffee, lunch was chicken nuggets and broccoli, snack was hot chocolate and half of a pretzel, and my dinner was half of a turkey sandwich and chips.
The hot chocolate came in this adorable travel mug!
This is no where near enough food for me (keep in mind that I’m a nursing mom so I need extra calories each day), and I knew this at the time, but there was no way I could scarf down any more food. I kept sipping on Powerade as much as I could because I knew I needed the calories. But I definitely woke up the morning of the 10k not well fueled.
Still, when my alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., I jumped out of bed. I pumped and got dressed. Today, I was Ariel. I hadn’t planned on wearing pants (the same ones I ran in the day before – oops) with my costume, but it was in the low 40s and I felt like I never really warmed up from the day before. I’d rather be overdressed than underdressed so I went with pants.
I knew the forecast for the half would be colder than today, so I left the bathrobe in the room. I grabbed my blue NYCM finisher blanket because it was lighter than the bathrobe. I was sure I’d toss it because the wind was gone.
We made our way to the buses, hopped on after waiting for 2 minutes, and were at the race site within another 5 minutes, by 4:00 a.m. I was cold, but I kept trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad because it was somewhat warmer than the day before. But it wasn’t long before Jeff and I were both shivering.
Luckily, I got to meet up with some social media friends whom I’ve been wanting to meet for awhile – Lani, Megan, and Carlee! Chatting with these ladies was so much fun. It helped the time fly by and made me forget about the cold!
Eventually it was time to head to our corrals. The staging area was the same as yesterday so it all felt a bit like deja vu. We huddled in my blanket and then it was time to go!
Today, we took a left turn after the starting line instead of a right. We’d run down towards the front gate of the parking lot of EPCOT before looping back around and joining where the 5k course was just before World Showcase. I’d heard from friends that this part of the race was boring, but I really didn’t mind it. In fact, I didn’t mind that much of the course was the same as the day before. Yes, a new park would have been nice, but I can see why runDisney doesn’t do this from a logistics standpoint.
Around mile 2, I could tell I was sweating, so I wanted to shed my blanket. Jeff didn’t want me to toss it, though. He thought I’d get too chilled after the race, especially if we needed to wait around for the buses again. So he ran the rest of the race holding my blanket. Of course I offered to take it from him, but he wouldn’t let me.
The most challenging part of the 10k was keeping our pace slow. I didn’t mind going too fast for the 5k, but I didn’t want that to happen today. I must have told Jeff 10 times “we need to slow down”. I have no idea why we settled on 9:00 minute/ miles as a goal, but now I wonder if it was too conservative and if we should have run by feel instead. Oh well.
The part of the course around the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club was our favorite. We were married at Sea Breeze Point on the Boardwalk and had our reception at Ariel’s in the Beach Club, so this part of Disney is our favorite – and it’s also the best spot on property to run.
Eventually, we turned back in to the backstage part of Future World and I saw we were at mile 5. I told Jeff we could pick up the pace for the final mile if he really wanted to, but then I saw THEM – Chip and Dale. Chip and Dale have been my favorite characters forever, so when I saw them on the course with only a few people in line, I had to stop for a photo. We rarely stop for pictures, but since Dopey was just for fun, Jeff said he didn’t mind if we stopped a few times.
After hanging out with my favorite chipmunks, we took it in towards the finish. Our time was 56:12, a 9:03 minute/mile pace.
We grabbed our medals, some Powerade, and took pictures. There was no Powerade on the course, which was disappointing. I’d heard this was the case last year, too, and was hoping runDisney would fix it. I usually drink Gatorade on any run over 30 minutes, so I was hoping for Powerade – especially since I didn’t fuel well the day before. I actually felt OK for the whole race, though, and thought maybe my fueling error wasn’t a big deal (oh but it was – I’d learn that the next day).
Once again, there were no heat sheets. Luckily, Jeff had my blanket so I was able to wear that. Jeff checked some warm clothes in case we weren’t given heat sheets and he changed before we headed to the buses. The buses were already there by the time we got in line. Thankfully, the 10k course wasn’t on this part of the road. We were back in our hotel room by 7 a.m.!
Two races and 9.3 miles down. “Only” 39.3 more miles to go…
We arrived in Walt Disney World on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 – the day before the runDisney Dopey Challenge was set to begin. The Dopey Challenge is a crazy race challenge that includes a 5k on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday.
Top bib for the 5k and 10, bottom bib for the half and full.
We landed, checked into our resort (Port Orleans Riverside), and immediately hopped on a bus to the expo.
The last time I wore short sleeves for 4 days.
We arrived at the expo right before noon and it was packed. We grabbed our bibs, picked up our shirts, and checked out the runDisney race merchandise and high-tailed it out of there. I’m not a fan of crowds so race expos aren’t my thing.
We went back to the resort, ate lunch, and started getting our stuff together for the morning.
I packed my race outfit for each day in its own giant plastic bag so it was easy to keep everything together.
The best part about the Dopey Challenge is that you’re eased into it. The event starts out easy – “just” a 5k the first day. Plus, the 5k has the latest start time out of all of the races at 6:15 a.m. The last bus for runners left the resort at 5 a.m. We planned a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call and planned to leave the room by 4:45 a.m., which gave me plenty of time to pump and get ready.
We weren’t nervous about the race distance or the early start but we were freaking out about the weather! There was a wind advisory for Thursday morning. Temps at the start were forecasted to be in the low 30s with a wind chill in the 20s. Unlike Elsa, the cold really bothers me, especially when there’s wind thrown in. Welcome to Florida!
Our race strategy for the 5k and 10k was simple – keep it slow so our legs were rested for the marathon. For us, that meant around a 9:00 minute/ mile pace. We decided we’d take as many character pictures as we’d like, too.
I had always planned on dressing as Olaf for the 5k. His tooth on the hat obstructed my vision a bit, so it made sense to dress as him for the shortest race. The weather threw a wrench in my original costume plans. I had to trade my white shorts for black tights and add a long sleeve top underneath my tank.
I was dreaming of summer and all things hot.
Before we left on Wednesday, I threw an old bathrobe and my NYCM finisher blanket into my suitcase. These were perfect things to use as throwaway layers in case it was cold on two race mornings. I am so, so glad I brought that bathrobe. As soon as we stepped outside, I knew that bathrobe was never getting tossed!
We made the 5 minute walk to the bus – shivering all the way – and rode the bus to the start. We were at the race site right before 5 a.m. The next 1 hour and 15 minutes felt like an eternity because of the cold and wind. Jeff ended up hopping in my bathrobe with me, and we took shelter in the bag check tents with all of the other runners. I’m so glad everyone was willing to get up close and personal! There were several runners in shorts and tanks and I felt so bad for them. There were also a lot of kids. I hated that the family fun run 5k was the coldest day. I heard one mom say to her shivering son that they didn’t have to run and they could go back to the resort, but he said he had to run because he wanted his medal. My heart broke for them! I know that poor mama must have had such mixed feelings.
Finally, it was time to head to our corrals. We piled into the A corral and everyone huddled at the front so we could keep warm. The announcers called us up and we walked to the start. We were sent off with fireworks, and we were thrilled to get moving!
The start and first mile or so were crowded. There were a lot of kids in our corral walking with their parents. I’m guessing their parents carried them in (to keep them warm) so only the parents’ bibs were checked for correct placement. Honestly, this didn’t bother me, and I wish runDisney allowed all families to start first to get the children out of the cold more quickly. We had to do some weaving, but our legs were way too stiff from the cold to run faster anyway.
The crowds started to thin out after the first mile. There were some really dark spots in the course that made me nervous. I was so happy once we made it to World Showcase. The path was wider and much more illuminated. Jeff asked if I wanted to stop for character photos, but there was no way I was stopping – it was too cold!
Believe it or not, running in a bathrobe isn’t difficult at all. I forgot that I had it on!
The weather and our slower-than-normal pace was making this feel like the longest 5k ever. I really didn’t feel the Disney magic that morning because of the freezing temps. I just wanted to be done. We picked up our pace a little too much in the last two miles, and ended up finishing in 26:53 – an 8:39 pace.
As soon as we crossed the finish line, I asked for Mylar blankets but runDisney didn’t have any. Huge fail! I’m assuming the cold temps snuck up on them so they weren’t prepared. But surely they’d have them ready for us by the 10k and half marathon (spoiler: they didn’t).
We grabbed our medals headed over to take our picture with Dopey. We heard he’d be here after the 5k and weren’t sure if we’d get a chance to see him again, so I made sure to get our photo.
Then we waited for the buses. This was another problem. The Disney resort buses pick-up location was actually on the first mile of the 5k course. People were still starting the race as we were waiting in line for the bus. So, here we were, waiting in line for 30 minutes, wet and cold from the weather and sweat, and shivering (related: here’s how you should warm up after a cold run – standing in the cold is not recommended). Everyone was upset. I don’t know how runDisney could fix this logistically, but again, I wish we at least had heat sheets.
Eventually, we got on the bus, made it back to the resort, took hot showers, and downed scalding hot coffee. Race 1 of 4 was complete! Only 45.5 more miles to go…