Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dopey Challenge Race #3 – Donald Duck ½ marathon

They say if you do something several days in a row, it becomes habit. I am here to say that getting up at 3 AM is not one of the things that I really want to form in to a habit.

Never the less, my alarm went off at 3 AM, I dressed quickly and headed for the Disney buses to Epcot. The announcer said they were expecting 16 thousand plus for each of the ½ marathon and full marathon races. The buses would be probably loaded and the traffic would be worst getting over to Epcot.

And, yes, it did take a few extra minutes to make the trip, but I was still walking into the Runner’s village by 3:50.

With the temperature hovering in the mid 40s and wind blowing, although not as hard as Wednesday, it was still tough standing around outside.

At 4:45, I shifted to my racing attire, dropped by bag at the baggie check tent, and headed for the starting line.

The starting line for the ½ and full marathons is different from the 10k and 5k starts. There is every bit of a mile walk from the Runner’s village to the starting corral “A”.

Something that did surprise me, 5k and 10k starts were supper crowded, but I easily slide up to the front row. 

Donald gave us the 3, 2, and 1 count down and with the fireworks going off, the ½ marathon had officially started.

The first mile was slightly uphill and nearly a straight shot. I clocked in a 6:01 and felt pretty good about it. My breathing was steady and controlled, and I was focusing on staying as relaxed as possible. Groups were quickly forming due to the head wind so I found a welcoming pack to share the work. Mile two clicked off so did miles, 3, 4, and 5. My Garmin was just shy of each mile mark.

Then, we hit the Magic Kingdom. The crowds were where absolutely awesome. The street were all light up. Cinderella’s castle was nearly glowing.  I got an emotional boost going through this section. We made a right into Tomorrow Land, then a left to catch the edge of Fantasy Land before coming back through the castle. Here, we made a right and headed off into Fronteir Land.

We exited out the side of the Magic Kingdom and started our trek back to Epcot. These miles were long and straight until we hit 10 miles. At this point, we used the on ramps and bridges to make our way back to the Epcot parking lot.

While the majority the ½ course is essentially flat. The bridges are a long slow grind and make the closing miles of this ½ a lot tougher. Throw in the fact that there are not one but two U-turns in the last 2 miles.

Nothing makes the legs sting more than having to do a 180 degree turn.

We entered Epcot via a side gate and made our way by the Epcot ball and up to the lake. Then we were sent back on the parallel path to exit the park in the same fashion as the 5k and 10k.

The state record for males in NC is just over 1:20. This fact was not lost on me during the race. As the miles flowed by, I thought I could be relatively close to it. Although, I could not break this record here at Disney, NC State records can only be broken during race held in side of NC. It would give me a lot of confidence for my attempt next month.

At 10 miles, I wasn’t sure about it. Mile 11, I thought it might be close. At mile 12, I was 1:12:42, and didn’t think it would be possible. Then, the 13 miles marker came into view 1:18:58. Suddenly, the fatigue and cold were lost on the fact that I might still do it.

I pushed hard all the way to the finish. This was probably not the best of ideas considering that I have a marathon tomorrow. The closer that I got the more I drove my legs forward.

I could hear the announcer call me name. I flashed under the finish banner in 1:19:34 to finish 23 overall and 2 in my age group.

Disney results use chip timing so I got beat by another 50 year old that I never saw.  He was 5 seconds in front of me, but he must have started in corral “B”. And, just to be fair about comparisons, I checked and couldn’t find that he had run the 5k or the 10k race. He had to be running on fresh legs.

Disney was on top of it after the race. I picked up my gear back, changed clothes, and headed for the buses. By 7:30, I was walking to my room.

Ok, so I am three races into the Dope Challenge, and I have exceeded my expectation by far. Tomorrow is the marathon. The goal that I set for myself was a sub 3 hour time. Now, I am not sure if this is realistic or not. My legs feel pretty bad after 3 straight races. Tomorrow could very well turn into a nice long run. If it does, so be it. I have still had a fantastic time doing the Dopey Challenge.

All things Disney are great and well worth the money that I spent to do it.

One last thing, I need to give a shout out to Dennis from Queen City Timing. I was standing at the starting line. This guy walks up to me and says “hi”. It takes me a second to register that it is Dennis. Dennis has helped with the Disney Timing for years. I remember him telling me that usually does the timing somewhere along the course. It is always good to see a familiar face when I least expect it.

Talk to you after the marathon,

The Cool Down Runner



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