|Race Report: The 2017 Dopey Challenge, Part III - The Walt Disney World Marathon
||[Jan. 10th, 2017|05:56 pm]
Jeffrey, Jeff, or Jeffy
The Day of Reckoning: The final day of the Dopey Challenge - The Walt Disney World Marathon|
When I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, I wasn't at all worried about the first three races. I had run that many miles in a shorter time during Ragnar Relays. The marathon was what concerned me more than anything else. But as with the first three races, I vowed to run this one easy.
My strategy for this race: Run easy for the first thirteen miles, and then assess where I was at. At least one short walking break at every mile. If I got bottled up by slower runners or walking walls, (Groups of friends who walk side-by-side when taking walking breaks because I don't know why,) just let myself get bottled up.
One advantage of running this race: It was my last one. Even if it was the longest, I didn't have to worry about saving myself for the next day.
We were brought to the same area as the first two races, but our 5K/10K corrals were dark. We wouldn't be starting there. Our corrals were somewhere else, and I couldn't tell where.
The first three races had warm or decent weather. No such luck for today. The wake of the storm had brought cold, cold air. It was freezing. I had bought a plastic poncho the other day to help protect me from the cold. I could have worn one of my long-sleeved running shirts, but I heat up too quickly in those shirts and start to boil over, even in really cold weather. (It has to be near freezing for me to run in long sleeves.)
I scrunched myself into my poncho which helped keep the cold wind from slicing me too much. To help warm myself up, I bought a cup of hot chocolate from a food stand. While I was making my way to the corrals, a large metal sign blew over in the wind and almost smashed into me. I managed to catch it just in time before it bruised my hip, but that also meant I spilled hot chocolate all over my poncho and myself, and even got some on one of my favorite running shirts, my Pixie Dust Challenge shirt.
As I mentioned before, we weren't going to the regular corrals. We were being herded to an obscure corner of the field. I asked another runner if he knew where we were being taken and he told me we had a loooong walk ahead of us. He wasn't kidding. Down one long path, and then around a turn and down another long path, I quipped to another runner that it seemed we were being taken on a 27.2 mile race.
It turns out there were far more runners for this marathon than there were for the first two races. Suddenly I didn't see very many Dopey bibs anymore. Most of the bibs were just for the marathon. (I say, as if "just a marathon" were a small thing.) For the first time the Dopeys seemed to be outnumbered! (And I had to wonder what the half marathon would have looked like. Mostly Dopeys and Goofys? More Halfers? Hmmm...)
Despite the large number of corrals, the organizers were pretty good about launching us. As my corral wandered closer and closer to the start, I knew I couldn't keep my plastic poncho on during the race. People were ditching their temporary coverings along the metal barriers as they moved closer to the start. I found a couple of commemorative Disney shirts that someone had ditched, and I had to snatch them up to see if they were my size. Nope. Smalls.
My corral finally took off around 6 AM. Not bad, I thought. I was worried it would take longer for my corral to get out. Ditching my poncho, I was one of the very few people running in bare arms. I was a little warmer when I finally got to move, but I was still really cold. Eventually I found a light jacket on the ground, a Niagara Falls International Marathon jacket with a Canadian leaf, which fit me just fine. I donned it and ran with it for awhile to keep myself from freezing too much.
True to my word, I stopped for pictures and kept enforcing walking breaks at every mile. Despite an easier than usual run, I decided I couldn't run it at the same pace as the first three. I did pick it up, but the walking breaks helped me from tiring out.
The initial start was along a long road. First we made our way to thee Magic Kingdom Park. We knew we were going there because we ran right through the main gate! Running around the park was a gas, though keeping my pace easy was hardly a problem, as going through the park meant running many really narrow race paths. That would come up again and again throughout the race.
After that we took a long and winding road to the Animal Kingdom Park. Some of the roads were the main streets that went from park-to-park, but sometimes we ran backroads and got to see behind-the-scenes artifacts. And one point we spotted a ride graveyard, which had relics of rides long past, such as Mister Toad's Wild Ride, (A car,) and an old gondola cab, and even a submarine from the Nautilus adventure.
In the Animal Kingdom, the park had already opened for business by the time my herd had gotten there, and the running road was sequestered from the regular walkways by traffic cones. Surprisingly, the guests in the park really stayed clear of the running path. I don't know if it was because there was such a herd of runners going through it, or if for once the civilians were actually being decent about keeping clear of runners. Disney's pretty good about putting up warning signs. They may have had a lot of "DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THE RUNNERS OR ELSE!" signs posted about the entrance.
I was informed by runners and even staff that, if we wanted to, runners were free to veer off and grab a ride on the Himalayas roller coaster during the marathon. It was tempting, but I was running a pretty damn slow marathon already and didn't want to chew into my time. (Besides, I had rode it the day before anyways.) It was just before the Himalayas ride that I ditched the Niagara Falls jacket. I placed it on top of a pile of other discarded clothes, as it had gotten warm enough to run without it.
We had hit the halfway point in the Animal Kingdom. I had really taken it super easy for the first half, true to my intentions. Now I picked up the pace a little. Back out onto the roadway, we were headed for the ESPN complex, the giant sprawling sports addict place where the running expo had been held. Between miles 16 and 17 we saw a loooooong stream of runners herding down the road. This is where we could really see a long stretch of the race. It was more than a little intimidating. seeing so much of the course in a flat and open field.
Much of the run in the ESPN complex was just long roads, but we did get to run through their baseball stadium. It was within the ESPN megaplex that we hit mile 20. That's when I said, damn the torpedos!
The WDW Marathon would turn out to be the slowest marathon I've ever run. But that's because I stuck to a plan of super easy marathon running. At mile twenty I still felt fairly strong and fresh, so I hit the jets.
I still took my quick walking breaks at every mile, and I walked through the aid stations, but I quickly broke into a run afterwards. This is where the easy parts paid off. Virtually everyone else in the race was hitting the wall, and I was passing them up. For the last six miles of the race I must have literally passed at least several hundred runners. I decided to run around the bottlenecks, rather than let them slow me down or hold me up. "On your left!"
We hit Hollywood Studios around mile 23, and then it was a quick jog to Epcot, where I winded my way through runner after runner after groups of runners. I kept my new running pace all the way through to the finish line.
Yes, I got negative splits and how! The longer I ran the race, the faster I got. Now if only I could manage that during a regular marathon at a regular pace! :)
Considering I had completed 48.6 miles of races, I felt pretty good. Only a slight amount of thigh soreness, and just a little bit of stiffness. I felt better at the end of the Dopey Challenge than I had felt at the end of many of my marathons. Easy does it was the motto for this challenge, and it paid off. I even walked all around one of the Disney World parks the day after!
I also attribute that to the training my PT has been putting into my running form. It makes running and recovery so much easier when I've adjusted a few things about my stride, my cadence, and my gait.
In any case, so went the grandest running adventure of mine to date!
Me, freezing my tucas off in the food line before the race. Very warm the day before, now super super cold! :O
Entering thee Magic Kingdom! :D
Lotsa neat stuff to see during Disney runs! :D
I stopped a few times to get pics with characters. Great fun!
This soldier was barking orders. "Get up that hill! Move it move it! Drop and give me ten!" (One runner did!)
My Dopey Challenge medals, from left to right starting at the top: 5K, 10K, Half, Full Marathon. On the bottom my Dopey and Goofy Challenge medals!