Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World

I finished!!!  I am still in shock that I actually completed all four races as part of the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World....while recovering from an upper respiratory infection and while on antibiotics.  Of the few people that actually knew I was running a race at Disney last weekend, even fewer knew that I was running another challenge.  On the way to the airport, my boyfriend even asked me if I was still going to run the marathon after being sick for nearly two weeks.  My co-workers asked the same question before I left.  Although I felt a bit insulted, I also knew that it would be a miracle for me to finish the marathon let alone all four races.

I took it easy for the 5k and 10k.  I literally walked pretty much the entire course for each race and jogged only at the end so that I could stretch afterwards.  The weather was mild for those races but of course a heat wave came through the day of the half marathon.  The high was in the mid/upper 80's which neared a record high for Orlando in January.  Just my luck!  I was not going for a P.R. at this point, I just wanted to finish so I let myself be happy about a 2:56 finish.  The rest of that day was spent resting and luckily it rained that night, which cooled the temperature significantly as well as lowered the humidity.  

The morning of the marathon is kind of a blur at this point.  I had everything laid out from the night before, still I managed to leave without sunscreen.  I started near the back of the 20,000 some runners but I figured that would help me take it slow in the beginning.  I felt REALLY good, really good in the beginning but told myself at mile eight I would start jog/walking so that I could finish strong.  So when I hit mile eight I walked for about a quarter-half mile and then I jogged until the next mile marker.  This actually made the remainder of the race fly by.  I somehow managed to hit the halfway point at Animal Kingdom about eight minutes quicker than I had finished the same distance the day before in the half marathon.  Bizarre, but I'll take it!  The halfway point was the first time I saw Mom and John on the course, that cheered me up and boosted my pace for a while.  

The jog/walking cycles continued all the way until mile 25.  Once I hit 25 I kept jogging as long as I could, knowing the finish line was near.  At this point, it actually felt better to continue jogging than to walk plus we were in Epcot and there were people all along the route (ego affects adrenaline).  As I rounded the corner and neared the finish I could see Mom and John again.  Whatever energy I had left I used to race to the finish line.  To me it felt like sprinting, but I am not sure what it looked like to spectators.

It seemed like an eternity between the finish line and the medals but I managed to pick up the remaining three medals: the Marathon, Goofy Challenge, and the Dopey Challenge.  I limped my way through the water/Powerade area and grabbed the snack box.  Since I knew I could not sit to stretch and get up easily, I just waited for my parents to find me so that I could use them as a support while I stretched.  The accomplishment still hadn't hit me at this point even though the stiffness and pain had.   

After an ice bath and a nap, we celebrated as we always do with Irish food at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.  You could see the other marathoners not only by the slower speed they were walking and limping, but also because everyone was wearing their marathon shirts and medals.  It felt like we were at the Olympics.  Everyone was congratulating each other and it was an amazing feeling being surrounded by so many other runners and their support systems.  That is just one of the reasons why I love Disney races.  Granted they are expensive and can be so congested that you are forced to walk during the race, but the on course entertainment and support followed by the post-race support and recognition is just priceless.  After the race I had a relative who pointed out that I actually completed the marathon with a faster overall pace than I did the half marathon.  Normally this would be reversed but somehow I managed to shave 6 seconds off my overall pace Sunday when compared to Saturday.  It wasn't the P.R. that I had hoped for but it was still an amazing weekend!  

A HUGE thanks to Mom and John for letting me drag them along to so many races, getting up early and standing around for hours just to see me pass by and quickly wave. Love you guys!

The medals:

Mom and John with their medals:

The Magic:

Now that I am back to reality, I really miss hearing: "Have a magical day!"

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