By the morning of the half marathon, I was pretty tired. And sore. Not so much from the races, but from walking the parks all day AFTER the races. You see, I know I should have taken it easy, but when I’m at Disney World, I have a really hard time resisting my usual urge to tour the parks commando-style…and we really were spending the entire day in the parks.
What saved me? I made sure to plan for an 8-8:30 bedtime in our itinerary (yes, I had a park-touring itinerary) for the nights before the half and full marathons, combined with several other strategies for surviving back-to-back races in one piece (which I’ll talk about in a separate post)!
What also helped is that I typically decide to shell out the money for a rental car when I’m on Disney property for the convenience of not having to rely on bus transportation — and during a race weekend, it pays off because I could “sleep in” (HA!) just a little bit later. Of course, I didn’t want an episode like the previous morning, where I almost missed the start of the race, so I made sure we got to Epcot in plenty of time…and Todd, hilarious as he is, made sure to make a big production out of laying out my bib and safety pins the night before.
The half marathon was going to be extra special because I wouldn’t be running alone. It was going to be Todd’s very first runDisney experience, and of course, I coerced him into dressing in matching costumes, with the promise that they consist of actual running clothes that wouldn’t be uncomfortable for a 13.1-mile run — which I thought was more than fair.
I was ridiculously excited to share the magic of running through Disney parks with him…honestly, having him run with me on this trip was (almost) as exciting as conquering the Dopey Challenge in general, not gonna lie.
We got ready and were out the door a little after 4am to make the drive over to Epcot, where we were greeted with the usual DJ music and various other excitement — including, THANK GOD, a snack stand where I could caffeinate myself. I didn’t get a chance to drink any coffee before the 5K or 10K, and ended up with a splitting migraine after both races. (Withdrawal, much?)
We then began the slow walk to Narnia to find our corrals. RunDisney isn’t kidding when they warn you about a 20-minute walk to the starting line! Though we submitted almost identical half marathon proofs of time (2:02 and 2:03), Todd was just running the half, so he was placed in E, whereas I was in G, so he joined me so we could start together.
We waited impatiently for each corral to be released (just a minute or two of each other), until it was our turn for the fireworks!
And then we were off. We had previously discussed my need to keep a slower-than-usual pace to conserve energy for the marathon and, of course, my penchant for collecting character photos, so this was definitely not a race we were running for time. Plus, as Todd said, his legs weren’t exactly feeling “fresh” after walking all over Disney property every day since landing in Florida on Tuesday morning.
Unfortunately, that morning was also brutally humid, and I was, once again, practically drenched in sweat by the end of the first mile. Gross.
Still, we were keeping a very comfortable, easy 11:30 pace, and after stopping for a potty break at the TTC, I was anxious to make our way to the Magic Kingdom!
We did pass up photos with a few characters along the way, like Jack and Sally from A Nightmare Before Christmas (never got into the one), and the pirates because a.) I’ve already taken my picture with them and b.) neither of us are huge fans to begin with.
Truth be told, I was already a little disappointed by the lack of characters in general…I kept thinking back to my first half marathon, the Princess Half in 2014, and just how many more characters there were (and hoopla in general).
So…you know I had to stop for some photos. Please ignore my pit stains. And various other sweat stains.
(I told you it was HOT!)
My other favorite part? Actually running THROUGH the castle!
Of course, before we did that, I once again had the joy of running through Magic Kingdom. My favorite place in the world. Honestly, that one mile we’re in the park makes the entire experience worth it for me, as cheesy and ridiculous as that sounds.
We ran through Tomorrowland and grabbed a picture with Buzz.
As we ventured into Fantasyland, I had to stop for Pooh…since I heart him.
And then, given our costumes, we HAD to get in the ridiculously long line behind the castle for — you guessed it — Donald and Daisy Duck.
After waiting several minutes for our turn, we were finally next in line…and Donald decided it was time to go on his break. OF COURSE!
Very much wanting a picture of Todd and I dressed as the ducks actually posing with the ducks, I asked the cast member if we could step off to the side to wait for Donald to return…and then pretty much everyone and their mother followed suit.
The line became non-existent for Daisy Duck — so much so that the cast member had to continually call out to see if anyone wanted a picture with “just Daisy”…and nobody budged. Haha.
Donald finally returned, and we got our picture (which came out kind of crappy on my camera, and I can’t for the life of me find it on Marathonfoto and am getting absolutely no help from them…but that’s another story for another time).
After running through the castle, we stopped for a few more photos.
We also saw Woody (ANOTHER missing picture…not happy about that, either), and then made our way back out of the Magic Kingdom. We headed out to what I knew would be my least favorite part of the course.
It’s tight, it’s crowded, it’s boring…and you really have to make a concentrated effort to weave around the walls of walkers. Granted, I realize that because we stop so often, it’s my own fault for getting trapped behind those running at a slower pace than I normally do, but it’s still not the safest thing in the world to have thousands of runners with absolutely nowhere to run.
Fortunately, I spotted some of my other favorites along the way to help keep me distracted.
And there were some parts of the next several miles that were more scenic than others, like the golf course, which is always nice.
It was within the last couple of miles that I felt myself starting to struggle a little bit for the first time since starting the Dopey Challenge. The 5K and 10K were pretty much a breeze for me, but that morning’s humidity and my third early wake-up call and consecutive day of running were starting to take their toll.
My feet hurt and I was hot and drained and I was looking forward to that finish line…and, truth be told, starting to worry how I’d feel the following morning when it was time to take on my first full marathon.
Fortunately, once we made our way back to Epcot, I forgot all about any discomfort I was in. Funny how that happens.
We were still keeping a pretty consistent pace, and I was excited to run through another park!
I tried to focus on savoring the last mile or two of the race and not let my fears about what the next day might bring ruin it for me. Because believe you me…I was enjoying this moment!
Before I knew it, I saw the mile 13 marker…and it seemed more than appropriate to stop for one last photo.
And, yes, you are reading that time correctly. We were released about 20 minutes after the official start of the race, so our finish time hovered in the 3:25 area, when we’re both pretty solid 2-hour half marathon runners (in fact, one of us…not me…has already broken 2 hours).
But I couldn’t care less about our finish time. I run every other race for time, and there was no way I was passing up a picture with Donald and Daisy or various pictures of us in front of the castle. I had an amazing time “running Disney” with Todd for the first time, and have absolutely no regrets about just how long that actually took.
After collecting our medals, we posed for just a few more photos. Surprise, surprise!
And then hopped in — believe it or not! — yet another long line for Chip and Dale.
We headed straight back into Epcot, cleaned ourselves up (I swear, Shower Pill wipes are the best invention EVER) and enjoyed everything that we had missed on our visit after the expo, including a yummy dinner at Biergarten.
(Oh, and, yes…we did wear the ridiculous duck hats for the rest of the day).
We skipped Illuminations since we had already seen it on Wednesday, and headed back to the room by 7pm.
I had been stressing out about my first marathon for months. The night before my first half marathon, I couldn’t sleep. At ALL.
I fully expected yet another restless night of staring at the ceiling, wondering if I had already done too much harm to my legs and feet, wondering if I had trained enough, wondering if I was ready, wondering if I would ever see that marvelous 26-mile marker.
But then my head hit the pillow…and I was OUT.
Next up…FINALLY…a recap of my first full marathon and the conclusion of the Dopey Challenge!