2

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon – 2:07:40

Alright, moving on to the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon from yesterday’s 10k recap

Pre-race crap

After spending the day walking around the parks post-10k, I was really struggling to get a good read on my hip. It would feel okay while walking, but then hurt a bit while sitting. I knew I’d want to take the half smart and be willing to walk if I had to. I had an invitation to run/walk the race with my friend Jen, but she said I’d probably lose my mind going at the pace she was planning. While I was pretty sure I was going to just do my own thing, I didn’t fully decide until I was getting walking to the corrals.

Anyway, backing up a little bit… I got in bed and asleep around 9:15 and woke up at 3:15, netting me around 6 hours of sleep—a bit better than for the 10k. I’d’ve loved to have stayed in bed longer, but I had a race to go do.

(Yes, double contraction back there. I’m a fan of multi-contractions!)

Darth Vader Flat Amy for tomorrow's #StarWarsHalf! First time ever running in anything close to a costume.

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I was excited to put on my Darth Vader costume. It was my first race costume ever and I had only thrown it together literally the night before we left for the trip and hadn’t actually put it on yet so I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to look good. I Amazon Primed a very cheap Darth Vader costume at the last minute and then cut out the belt and chest control panel and cut the cape off. I pinned the belt to my shorts and the control panel to my sports bra and threw the cape around my neck. The costume also came with a lightsaber so I had that as a prop too! After everything was put on and ready, I thought I looked pretty decent. Much better than I expected, to be honest!

If I was uncomfortable with my stomach in a sports bra for the 10k, I was triply uncomfortable for the half. I’d been, uh, backed up literally all week and was looking super bloated from it. Plus, 🏃‍♀️ + (🚽 - 💩) = 😧. But it was either stick with the sports bra or ditch the costume altogether since I didn’t have a black tank top with me. I sucked it in up and just went with it. Whatever.

I did this again.

Not bad for a costume I put together the night before our trip! #StarWarsHalf

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When I got to the staging area, I checked my bag right away and went to the designated meetup spot. My friend Jeff was already there, but Patrick was waiting in line for photos and…I don’t know where anyone else was. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Jeff and I chatted for a while to kill time before hitting up porta potties and heading to our respective corrals. While in line for the porta potties, I joked that it was the kind of humidity where you sweat enough that you can just pee your shorts while running if you have to and it doesn’t even matter. Jeff and the guy waiting behind us looked at me like I was the grossest person they’ve ever met, but HEY WHATEVER IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER WHEN YOU’RE SO SWEATY YOU LOOKED LIKE FELL IN A POOL!

By the way, autocorrect changed that to “porta parties” which sounds like a totally different kinda thing.

But, yeah, anyway, it was humid as hell.

Since I didn’t have to sprint to make the corral before closing, I had plenty of time to just hang around and listen to Rudy and Carissa do their thing on stage. Though, the people checking bibs at the corral entrance gave me a hard time because my A corral letter was covered by my costume and they had to see it. My “I assure you, I’m in this corral” didn’t get me very far. I mean, I was bib 20,178 (Dark Side Challenge bibs started at 20,000), of course I was in the A corral! Oh well.

Eventually, the stormtroopers showed up again to send us off!


 

 

The race

My hip was a concern, but there wasn’t much I could do about it except take things easy and see what happened. I started off at a very easy effort and hit a 10:39 first mile including a photo stop with R2D2. My second mile got down closer to an 8:30 which is an easy effort for me, but I knew I should be going even slower than that and tried to slow myself a little. For mile three, I had to stop for a photo with some Ewoks so that gave my hip a minute to just chill.

Amelia with R2D2 at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

R2D2!

At this point, I was honestly surprised I was still wearing the cape. I figured I’d want to ditch it just after starting. It was that cheap costume material that just soaks up sweat like a sponge and sticks to you. And it was shaped to go over your shoulders and cover them, not just hang behind. Once I started running, I obviously got it off my shoulders and threw the whole thing behind me, but it didn’t want to stay, it kept swinging around to my right side. As much as I hated it, though, I liked having it for my photos so I just kept dealing with it. And, of course, I was also running with a lightsaber in my hand—and my phone in my other hand since an iPhone 7 Plus is too big to put in any of my running short pockets. The lightsaber was a real piece of junk. Like, accessory that came with a $25 costume kind of junk. It kept falling apart on me so I had to keep putting it back together while running over and over again. I think I had to pick up parts of it from the ground and reassemble it close to 15 times. It was the bane of my existence. I dreamed of finishing the race just so I could emphatically throw the cape and lightsaber in the trash.

Amelia with ewoks at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A couple Ewoks!

Somewhere just after the Eworks, I ended up catching up to Jeff and started running with him for a bit. We chatted and I said I’d probably stick with him for a while, as that was a good pace for me to be running with ol’ hurty mcstupid hip. My hip had been starting to hurt, but slowing my running pace to 9:35ish seemed to help a lot really quickly. Jeff was super worried about the humidity so he wasn’t trying to go too fast either.

That humidity suuuuuucked. It was sticky and sweaty and swampy and gross. Being from New Jersey, humidity is a concept I’m very used to, but it hasn’t quite settled in yet this year so I wasn’t ready for it.

As we entered Animal Kingdom via the back of park, I took a moment to appreciate that this was the only time I’d be there this trip—I’m a huge Animal Kingdom fan, bee tee dubs. We quickly made our way around through Asia and DinoLand USA and I had some fun passing the photographers.

Really happy with how my #StarWarsHalf costume came out! #DarthAmy

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Coming out the back of Animal Kingdom there were some stormtroopers, tie fighter pilots, and other characters out. I stopped for photos with the stormtroopers and then took some selfies with the others. I was too sweaty to operate my phone, though, so it took a while to open the camera app. Jeff kept on going so I was back to pacing myself again.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

My troops.

Amelia selfie with jawa at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some jawas.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some of my men.

Amelia selfie runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my men.

At this point, the sun still hadn’t really come up yet and I was trying to get as far as I could before it did. I knew it’d burn off some of the humidity, but I didn’t want to be dealing with the sun blasting on me on a day that was going to get up to 90º.

After Jeff and I split, my pace started creeping faster again and there was a big break in photo stops. By mile 5.5, my hip was starting to hurt again—really getting close to that 5 out of 10 threshold. At 6.5, I started thinking I’d need to walk soon, but I wanted to try to make it to 8 before I did. I just kept trucking. This section from 5.5 until 10 was the section between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. This included the trek down Osceola Parkway, similar to the marathon if you removed the Wide World of Sports part. This section is always my least favorite part of the marathon and it wasn’t much different for this race either. It’s just kinda boring.

Just as I was starting to think about switching to walking for a bit, I spotted Jeff up ahead again. I kept my pace so I’d catch him just a little before the 8th mile marker and then stuck with him again. The humidity was taking its toll on him, but we ran together for the rest of the race and chatted it up about all kinds of things. After running with Jeff for a little bit, my hip started feeling better. By mile 9, I think it was just about 100% pain free. I was thankful for this and knew it would be best to just lock it in around that pace.

My cape was still driving me nuts and my lightsaber was still falling apart. I considered ditching them, but I’d come so far already, I knew I needed to just stick it out.

Once we made the turn into Hollywood Studios, I knew it was runtime-funtime from there to the finish. I grabbed some photos coming down Sunset Boulevard and was all smiles while posing for photographer after photographer.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my troopers.

Coming out of Hollywood Studios, Jeff was starting to struggle. Being from Pittsburgh, this was not his weather at all. I tried to keep the conversation light and he kept doing some math for what his finish would be, wondering if it’d be under 2:10. I assured him he had plenty of time to work with to make that happen.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Having a blast coming around Crescent Lake!

This time, instead of running on the Beach and Yacht Club side of Crescent Lake, we ran around the Boardwalk side while Jeff told me about the time our friend Lauren got yelled at for cheering too loudly during a race. Classic Lauren! I stopped for a few selfies with some characters and sprinted to catch back up to Jeff. We had been running in the 9:30-9:45 range so my legs were pretty fresh for bursting my way back up to him.

Whoever this guy is.

Amelia with tie fighter pilot at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with one of my pilots.

I couldn’t remember what the course was from there and whether we’d be going the long way around the World Showcase in Epcot or not. I was trying to map it out in my head based on how much distance was left and was still a bit unsure. To my pleasant surprise, we did take the scenic route around the World Showcase. From here, I tried to be as encouraging as I could to Jeff and keep the pace steady. My hip was still feeling good so I was thankful for that.

Amelia in World Showcase at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Coming around the World Showcase.

We hooked right into Futurewold, under Spaceship Earth, and then out the side of the park towards the parking lot. I fist-bumped a stormtrooper because I couldn’t high-five with my lightsaber in my hand and he accidentally lapped my Garmin. Hah!

Sadly, most of the photos cropped Jeff out so this is the only one I have of us running together.

As we approached the finish, I asked if he had a finish line jump in him like he did for the 5k and he sorta just groaned at me. I went for it, though, and leapt into the air for the finish.

Amelia leaping in the at the finish at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

So serious.

I finished in 2:07 and Jeff was 2:05, well under 2:10. He thanked me for keeping him on pace and said he’d have slowed a lot if he was running alone.

We grabbed some photos with the photographers and then went over to get some Dark Side photos. We waited in the line for Darth Vader and then moved over to Kylo Ren. When I got up to Kylo Ren, I looked at him and said “grandson!” He did not appreciate my humor.

My wonderful running parter for the day, Jeff!

My grandson #StarWarsHalf

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Amelia with Darth Vader at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

We’re practically twins.

After watching the awards, I walked over to the nearest trashcan and threw my lightsaber and cape right in it. I mean, like I really slammed it in there. I was so happy to be rid of them! Oof!

This race was a lot of fun and my first time running in a costume was interesting. I’ll never run with a cape again, that’s for sure. I don’t know how superheroes do it. Capes are the worst for running! I’ll also never do another prop I have to hold again. Other than that, my costume was great and not a problem at all.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Medals

The Dark Side Challenge Medal Collection.

Hanging around Epcot.

1

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k – 1:08:15

Star Wars! Disney! Running! YEAH!

I grew up a pretty big Star Wars fan so I’ve been wanting to do the runDisney Star Wars races since they first became a thing a couple years ago, but this was the first one to actually worked out for me. And, of course, I’m going to do the “challenge” if the have it! Besides, a 10k and half marathon on back-to-back days isn’t outside of the how I run on a normal weekend.

Pre-race stuff

If you recall my state of running post from last week, things haven’t exactly been great for me in the running department. In in the eight days before the weekend, I only had done a 3.5-miler and a 4-miler because of my hip. And I knew going into the weekend my hip was going to be questionable. The plan with my physical therapist was to do the race, but be willing to take a DNF if the pain got worse than a 5 out of 10.

Because we just did our annual week-long trip for Marathon Weekend in January and were also in Disney in October, we decided to just make it a quick weekend trip and stay at a value resort—Pop Century. We flew down Friday morning and came back Monday afternoon. Using points for our flights, the refund gift cards from the canceled Disney Half Marathon in January, and only doing a few days, the entire trip cost us less than $600 out of pocket for hotel, flight, food, and race fees.

Leaving the expo.

When we got down on Friday, we hopped right on a bus for the expo without wasting any time. To our surprise, the expo was empty. We’re used to it being a zoo, but we walked right in and got our bibs and shirts without waiting. We also were able to walk right into the official merchandise section, though, we didn’t buy anything. Even though the expo was pretty empty and not stressful at all, we didn’t stay long before going back to the resort and dropping our stuff off. We had Chefs de France for dinner in Epcot and eventually got back to the room to go to bed by 10:15. Much later than I normally go to bed for runDisney races, but I was less concerned about sleep for a 10k / half marathon challenge than I am when there’s also a 5k and marathon on top of that.

Flat Amy.

The 10k

I hopped rolled out of bed at 3:25am and quickly threw my pre-laid out running clothes on. Having overeaten at dinner the night before, I wasn’t too thrilled with how my stomach was looking in just a sports bra, but it was humid and I wasn’t in the mood to be messing around with no shirt.

Just me being silly after getting dressed.

The bus ride over was short and was at starting area, outside of Magic Kingdom, in no time and the security checkpoint was a breeze. The lines for photos with members of the Dark Side were ridiculously long so I didn’t even think about it. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding any of my friends that I was hoping to see so I yanked my shirt off, checked my bag, and walked over to the corral. It was really nice having the start and staging areas be together, without the 20 minute walk between the two like there is for Marathon Weekend.

I found a porta potty line that only had a few people in it and when I came out, my friend Alison was right there. We talked for like 30 seconds before I got a tweet from my friend Jeff saying they were closing the A corral. As soon as I saw that, I took off sprinting to the corral while yelling back to Alison to have a good race. I got into the corral with time to spare and then ended up meeting up with Patrick and Karen. Patrick and Karen were Garth Vader and Obi-Wayne Kenobi for an amazing Wayne’s World / Star Wars mashup. They both ran in wigs and jeans. Not jean shorts, jeans. Not running pants that looked like jeans, jeans. A hilariously bad idea.

I mean, they looked great, but…those jeans.

The pre-start stuff included some old Star Wars trailers, as well as the trailer for The Last Jedi. And, of course, the usual antics of Carissa and Rudy. And then the stormtroopers rolled in to remind us that Captain Phasma would be watching us and send us on our way.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k fireworks start

The standard runDisney fireworks.

I wanted to start off conservatively and being with Patrick and Karen—who were, again, in friggin’ jeans—helped with that. It seemed like they immediately regretted those jeans. Though, they are the kinds of people who stop at every photo stop in Disney, so I ended up ditching them at the first stop.

I was worried about my hip so I wanted to try to take it as easy as possible. My first mile was a 9:20, right about where I should have been. And then I hit my first photo stop in mile two. Overall, I hit about half of the photo stops through the race. For the most part, the lines weren’t ridiculous, but most weren’t super short either.

I actually don’t know the Star Wars Rebels characters names :/

My hip felt okay for the first couple of miles, but started to hurt after that. The pain level was getting to around a 3 or 4, maybe, but when I’d stop and wait for a photo, it’d stop hurting and feel fine for a couple minutes after I started running.

It was a little more than half the race before we finally got into a park, which might be why I don’t really remember enough of the first half of the race to actually write anything interesting here. It’s like my brain just stopped recording for a while.

Darth Maul is more popular than I expected, tbh.

A little past the 5k mark, we rounded into Hollywood Studios and ran by Fantasmic and Tower of Terror and then down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. I stopped for some stormtrooper photos because obviously. From here, we continued down the same way the marathon does and followed along the water to Crescent Lake, past Beach and Yacht Club to Epcot. I’m not sure what happened on the boardwalk, but I passed a woman who was on her hands and knees and being helped up by two men. She seemed real slow to get up and looked like she might have tripped pretty hard. That boardwalk area can always be a little treacherous. It’s slippery if it’s wet and the boards are easy to trip over.

Hollywood Studios stormtroopers

Standard Amelia.

Right before turned into the service entrance to the World Showcase, I stopped for a photo with Chewie. He was quite sweaty. Not his sweat. He was putting his arm around sweaty ass runners and it was a serious yuck situation.

He was SO gross from runner sweat!

Coming through the UK and Canada and then into Futureworld, I wanted the race to be over. It was just 10k, but I was worried about my hip for the half. It was still under my pain cutoff, but it wasn’t feeling good and it wasn’t promising for the half.

More stormtroopers.

What is this rebel doing with these guys here?

As I approached the finish line, there were stormtroopers on either side and I went for a high-five with the one on the left. I got nothing. Nothing at all. I hung my head in shame as I finished.

After the race, my hip felt pretty much fine. I waited for photos with Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma and ended up seeing Jeff in line for Kylo Ren before I hopped back on a bus to the resort.

I don’t know what I’m smiling about, but let’s just say I was laughing at this guy.

I’m learning the dark side of the Force from Kylo Ren.

Jeff and I with Captain Phasma!

I had a lot of fun with the 10k and couldn’t wait for more fun with the half. That recap is coming tomorrow!

The photographer made me hold this damn sign. I was not amused.

Magic Kingdom for the day!

6

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge – Marathon

This is the third post for the 2017 Dopey Challenge. Checkout my recap for the expo, 5k, and 10k here and the half marathon here.

Rocking that Dopey Challenge medal in Magic Kingdom!

The marathon! Not only is the marathon my favorite race distance, but the Walt Disney World Marathon is one of my favorite courses and easily the most magical of them all!

Pre-race stuff

I set out my clothes and got to bed nice and early for the marathon. I’m pretty sure that even with my 3:25am wake-up, I still got seven hours of sleep. Pretty good! I would have probably gotten even more if I didn’t spend forever the night before worrying about what to wear.

This year’s race was cold. Okay, not cold for someone who lives in New Jersey, but cold for a race in Florida. The starting temperature was around 38º with 15-20mph wind. At home, this isn’t really that bad. In fact, with a race temperature that was predicted to be around 40-44º for most of the race, this is just about perfect racing conditions to me. Minus that wind, of course.

But, this wasn’t home. I wasn’t just walking out my front door and taking off like I normally do when I run in the cold. I had to wait around in that cold for the race to start. This is bad enough for most races, but runDisney races are exceptionally bad with how long you have to wait before the race. First, you have to deal with taking a bus to the starting area which means waiting for that and leaving extra time, just in case. Then you have to walk close to half a mile from the bus to the staging area with the bag check. THEN it’s another 20ish-minute walk to the corrals. Add in leaving time to hit a porta-potty, meet up with friends, and get into the corrals before they close without having a close call—like I did for the 5k—and you’re talking 60-90 minutes of being outside before the race. Not bad when the weather is nice, but brutal when it’s cold.

After a lot of back and forth regarding shorts vs crop tights and short sleeves vs long sleeves and throwaway arm warmers vs real arm warmers, I opted for Oiselle Distance Shorts (basically my standard issue marathon shorts), my Chicago Marathon short sleeve shirt, and Oiselle lux arm warmers as my race outfit. Prior to the race, I kept on a pair of loose joggers, the cotton t-shirt from the Disney 5k, the Dopey Challenge long sleeve we got this year, and a couple mylar heat sheets (one as a skirt, one for my top).

The final outfit. Took a lot of stress to finalize on this.

When my alarm went off, I was surprisingly awake and ready to get up and go. I gobbled down a Clif bar and drank some water, but I was trying to be conservative with how much I drank. I know hydration is important even when it’s cold out, but I also knew I wouldn’t want to be dealing with hitting porta-potties any more than I needed to in the cold. I quickly got dressed and Ellen and I headed out to catch the bus. Luckily, there was one waiting for us and we were able to get right on without waiting out in the cold! The ride was quick and so was the walk to the staging area. There was only a short line to get through bag check. It was cold, but it didn’t yet feel super cold.

We hit up the standard We Are Awesome Runner Friends meeting spot and chatted it up with the group. Everyone was cold, especially Nathan who lives right near Disney and isn’t used to the cold at all. Our friend Lauren came by to visit for a minute so we could get our group photo, but then she went back to the heated VIP tent like some kinda jerk! *insert me pouting here*

Eventually, it was time to check our bags and move out. When I pulled my joggers off, I literally screamed as the cold touched my bare legs. It was not pleasant! I quickly got my mylar heat sheets all tied around me and dropped my bag off. The walk to the starting area was the standard runDisney affair and all I could think about was hours from then when I was nice and warm again. Though, I did question if I’d ever be warm again. We were lucky to find some short lines for the porta-potties and took care of business—I must say, this was a minor feat in itself with all of the heat sheets and layering to deal with.

I got into the corral with plenty of time to stand and wait around. I just did my best to stay huddled up with myself. For some reason, Disney put me in corral E which isn’t really where I belong. I hate saying that and sounding like I actually care or think it matters or compare myself to other runners (I really don’t), but I was corral C last year and the time I gave was within the corral C range (and faster than the one I gave for last year). Plus, I’m a 3:28 marathoner. Still, I didn’t care too much since I wasn’t planning on racing. In fact, starting in corral E probably matched up much more with my plan to run just around a 4-hour marathon.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon starting line

Really hard to get a good selfie of the starting line here with this lighting.

Anyway, time flew by pretty quickly and it was time to go before I knew it! Which was good because I was violently shivering! While I had seriously debated if I could actually run while keeping the heat sheets tied around me, I ditched them as the corral before us got going. The announcers said they might interfere with the timing mat and I knew they’d just annoy my anyway. Some runners did start with them on though! They looked hilarious while actually running!

The first 10k

The corrals ahead of us went quickly and there were no mini waves so the corrals to off started with little delay between them. Amazingly, the moment I started running, I forgot about the cold and was totally fine. In fact, from race start to finish, the weather was a complete non-issue for me. It was basically perfect.

I started things off easy and focused on keeping myself steady. My plan to stay just under 4:00 meant my target pace was around 9:09.

I clocked in my first mile at 8:57. A tad faster than I planned, but not too shabby at all. The important thing was to just stay controlled in this first mile and set a good tone for the race going forward. Just past the first mile marker, I ripped my throwaway shirt off Hulk Hogan style. Just tore it right down the front like a total badass! We can ignore the fact that I had pre-cut the neck to make the hole bigger and easier to take off during my run.

Most of the way to Magic Kingdom was quiet and uneventful. I think runners were still pretty cold and the cheer sections on the highway were a less filled than normal. One thing I noticed was the lines for photos were really short. This was a trend that continued the entire race and, after the first two or three of them, they were never more than five or six people deep—most were like maybe one runner. This was shocking to me. It was cold out, which I suspect was a big reason for it, but with the half marathon having been canceled, I’d have expected Dopey and Goofy runners to be upping their photo game. I didn’t stop for any of these early photos myself, though.

As we passed the fourth mile marker, my pace was pretty steady. My legs were okay, but not as good as I would’ve liked (pretty sure I say this in every marathon recap I do). The section right around here is where the second big cheer section is (if you include the one on the highway going into the Magic Kingdom) and it was fantastic! The cold did not keep people from being out here and getting their NOISE on! It was such a nice surprise to see these amazing people out there.

Just after we sailed through this cheer section, I stopped at a bank of porta-potties for a quick pee-pee break. When I came out, I took a moment to take off my long sleeve top and neatly tie it around my waist nice and tight before I started running again. This made for a longer stop than planned, but it beat having to pull it off and tie it while running. It also meant less risk of losing a headband or something in the process.

Once I started moving again, I still felt like I had to pee. I felt this the entire race. I knew I didn’t have to, but I never stopped feeling like I had to pee. Ugh!

As we made our way past the 5th mile marker and into Magic Kingdom, I couldn’t believe how quickly it felt like this had come up. Main Street U.S.A. was packed and loud, just like always! So much excite! I didn’t stop for any selfies here like I usually do because I wanted to just focus on my running. But as we came through Tomorrowland, I saw Buzz Lightyear with only a short line waiting for him. I hopped in line and then he promptly walked away. WTF BUZZ! I decided not to wait for him, but I did see Patrick as I took off to leave again. Just a little ways up, I made up for it with a photo with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Tweedles!

Then it was through Fantasyland, both new and old, and Cinderella’s Castle—I stopped for a photo, of course. Coming through Frontierland, I stopped for a quick shot with one of the Country Bears and then got back into my rhythm as we passed the 10k marker.

This is an important photo!

A quick jamboree!

By this point, I had only taken water once. I knew it was important, but I didn’t want to risk spilling it all over my face or getting my gloves wet with the temperature where it was. I know my body and knew I went to bed hydrated so I kept my water breaks to about three throughout the course of the race. Instead, I used the water breaks to thank all of the volunteers for being out there.

I love this photo coming out of the castle.

Through the first 10k of the race, I had lost just about 3.5 minutes to my pee break and photos. Hardly anything for a Disney race!

10k to 13.1

The section between the two Kingdoms is always a tough part of the race. It’s nearly 10k and, unlike the section between Animal Kingdom and ESPN, you’re still early in the race and needing to stay controlled.

I stopped for a few photos along here with the characters that were out. There were no lines so it hardly cost me any time at all.

He’s big. He’s bad. And he’s a wolf.

My mile splits were a little erratic through this section of the course as I fought with my body wanting to pick it up a little and my brain knowing I shouldn’t, especially since my legs were feeling tired already. I was nice and warmed up and started pulling my arm warmers down. I wanted to pull them off completely, but I was afraid I’d need them after Animal Kingdom while on the highway with nothing blocking the wind—I tried to figure out which way the wind would be blowing there and thought it would be a headwind. My fear with pulling them off is that they’d be a pain to pull back on when I needed them again. So I just left them pulled down to my forearms.

I’ve never taken a photo with Genie before!

Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope!

Glitchin’ and wrecking’!

These guys!

These hippies replaced the RV hillbillies I love 🙁

There used to be a section of the course here that lapped around the Disney World Speedway, but the Speedway doesn’t exist anymore. Last year, there was a new out-and-back section added around mile 11. It was a boring stretch of plain road just to even out the miles a bit. This year, the out-and-back was in the same place but went out farther than last year. I wasn’t surprised by this when we hit it, though. I knew there would have to be some section to make up for the changes in Hollywood Studios caused by the construction of Star Wars Land (I really hope they don’t call it Star Wars Land when it’s done).

My first half splits. I had my watch in manual lapping mode and lapped it on each mile marker so this should be pretty on point.

The weird thing about this though was, from mile 11 on, all the mile markers were moved from where they previously were the last few years. It wasn’t a lot, but up until the 23rd one, they all came up a little sooner on the course than before. It was actually a nice surprise at times.

Anyway, the section between the two Kingdoms flew by way faster than it ever seemed to before. Maybe it’s my growing experience with this race (5th time running it), who knows? My only complaint here was the RV hillbillies that I always loved to take photos with were gone. Instead, they were replaced with a couple of hippies with an RV. Not the same!

Sadly, the animals that are typically out as you approach Animal Kingdom were MIA this year. My guess is it was just too cold for them. This was disappointing, but understandable! We made our way into Animal Kingdom and through Africa and Asia. Asia was nice this year with the construction fencing from last year being gone now.

We hit the halfway mark and I checked in with my watch. 1:59:22. Right on schedule! I knew most of my photo ops were behind me and I was picking it up so I wouldn’t have much trouble negative splitting if my untrained legs didn’t bonk.

Feeling good through the halfway point!

13.1 to 20

We came out of Animal Kingdom, passed the 14th mile marker, and then came around to one of my favorite photo stops, the graveyard! This year, I went for a zombie style photo, but it didn’t come out as well as I’d have liked.

Zombie Amy! Spooky!

Mile 15 came right up after that and the rest of these highway miles ticked off like nothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one of my other favorite photo ops, Phineas and Ferb, along this stretch where they typically are.

As we made the turn towards ESPN Wide World of Sports, I was feeling pretty good and my splits had dropped down in to the low 8s. As we entered into Wide World of Sports, I took my second gel. Typically, I take one every five miles, but I only ended up taking two this whole race. I just wasn’t really feeling like I’d need them.

Wide World of Sports has a ton of turns, but they’re not too bad if the course isn’t crowded and you’re not trying to PR. We did our lap around the track and then into the stadium with lots of energy. Heading into the stadium I passed Joy and Sadness! And there wasn’t a single person in line! I had to snatch that photo up!

Joy and Sadness from Inside Out

Joy and Sadness!!!!

Stadium lap.

I was feeling good as we crossed 20 miles, but I was starting to feel like I had to poop a little bit. I had done some mental math through this section and realized if I kept going as I was, a 3:45 finish was possible. It was going to be close, but I could push for it.

20 to 23

This is the last quiet section of the course and the section I consider to be the last part you have to worry about.

Coming out of Wide World of Sports, we hit a wall of wind in our faces. This was the only part of the race where the wind was even something I noticed, but it was stupid.

As we passed 21, I was starting to tire a lot, but that was probably more due to the fact that my pace dropped into the 7:40s for this whole section rather than stay steady where it was in the low 8s.

This section also features the last two hills of the course. The first of which is probably the worst one of the whole race. It’s really not that bad, but it’s a highway onramp so it’s banked and a big wide turn. This is the point of the race that I always think of as the “just gotta get past here” point.

After nearly a mile, we hit that second little hill which was smaller than I remembered. After that, we made our turn into Hollywood Studios! Nothing but fun from here on out!

Mile 24 to finish

As I mentioned above, the Hollywood Studios section was different this year because of the construction. This year, we entered over by Fantasmic…ish. The course followed some of the walkway between Sunset Blvd and where the amphitheater is and popped us out behind Tower of Terror where the ride lets you out. The park was open by now so you could have taken a quick detour to the Twilight Zone, if you wanted. From here, we ran down Sunset Blvd to Hollywood Blvd. This was actually a really cool change to the course. As much as I LOVE Streets of America (RIP), this might be even better.

After we got back onto Hollywood Blvd, the course was the same as ever. We exited by the front of the park and made our way over to the walkway along the river towards the Crescent Lake resorts and Epcot.

By this point, I was passing runners left and right, but I was ready for the race to be over. As we approached the Beach and Yacht Club, I started looking for Danielle who was cheering outside of our room. We spotted each other at the same time and as I flew on by, I yelled “I gotta poop!!!” at her. The people around her didn’t know how to handle this.

Second half splits. Picked it up quite a bit!

The section along Crescent Lake quickly ended and I was feeling exhausted, but powering through with what I had left in me. I really was trying to get under 3:45! Of course, the Boardwalk along the Beach and Yacht Club here is where the “you’re almost there!”s started. Oof. I must have heard it a dozen times before even getting into Epcot. Seriously, folks, don’t say this if the finish line isn’t within eyesight.

As we turned into the World Showcase, I knew the 25th mile marker was just on the other side of the UK Pavilion as we crossed into France. I lapped my watch for a 7:29 mile here and told myself it was just 1.2 to go.

The countries ticked off as we traveled around the world on our way to Mexico and then into Futureworld. The final bit. As we passed under Spaceship Earth, I looked for the 26th mile marker and lapped my watch for a 7:21. I was shocked I had just run my fastest mile of the day with how I was feeling for the last couple of miles.

Epcot Futureworld

Futureworld! So close!

We exited the park and there was the beautiful finish line staring me down. I heard my name called by the announcers and then sailed across the finish line.

3:43:29!

Post race

Last year, I dry-heaved at the finish and thought I was going to throw up for the last 10k. The year before, I thought I was going to shit my pants for the last 10k and thought it was all going to come out the moment I stopped running. This year, I didn’t feel either. I had to poop, but it wasn’t an emergency…yet. Whew!

I collected my marathon, Dopey, Goofy, and half marathon medals (runners of the challenges got their half medal here) and then stopped for some photos before hopping on a bus back to the resort. Now, my body has collected itself a little and that poop was ready to come out. I barely got back to the room in time. It was a real photo finish!

I look like a mess, but I’m pretty happy here.

Chip'n'Dale!

Chip’n’Dale!

After I got in the shower, I was dismayed to find out that I had forgotten to put Body Glide on my lower back to protect from my shorts’ waistband. Oiselle’s Distance Shorts are great for marathons because of their three pockets, but their waistband will fuck you up if you’re not careful. While I did put Body Glide on my thighs, I had also forgotten to do under my bra, but that somehow escaped unscathed.

That night, we met up with the We Are Awesome Runner Friends group at Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge where we pigged out on delicious food and PRed in milkshakes. And Lauren drank two liters of Diet Coke.

This is a lot of meat. Yikes!

It was Patrick’s birthday!

Final thoughts

I’m really, really happy with my time for this race. Not only was this a 16.5 minute course record for me, but I negative split by 15 minutes. And this is my second fastest marathon since transitioning. If I hadn’t run Chicago back in October, this would have been a PR.

I had a lot of fun with Dopey this year. While doing four races over four days that all start at 5:30am is stressful, these races are a lot of fun and really enjoyable.

First, you bite your pretzel…

…then you drink your beer!

Finally, one additional change that Disney made this year was to start using their own photographers for race photos. No more MarathonFoto. The great part about this is it enables you to add them to your Disney PhotoPass and they start showing up pretty quickly after the race. My guess is Disney is using a lot of facial recognition software here to pull this off, which also explains how I have some photos where you can’t see my bib at all. But the best part about this change is that Annual Passholders get their PhotoPass photos for free so FREE RACE PHOTOS!

Finally finally, I ran the entire Dopey Challenge, all 48.6 miles, with my phone in my hand. I don’t typically run with it and being an iPhone 7 Plus, it’s too big for any pockets so it had to stay in my hand. Anyway, it wasn’t an issue at all until two hours after the marathon when it fell out of my jacket pocket and the screen cracked. ACK!

Wait, one more finally! I really loved the medals from the races this year. The retro style of the marathon and half marathon medals was fantastic!

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge medals

These are good medals!

And when you’ve run 48.6 miles, you get as much ice cream as you want! Gimme that Dole Whip!