Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dopey Challenge Race #4 - Mickey Mouse Marathon

If you have been looking for my Disney Marathon Recap the last few days, please accept my apologies. Once my Dopey i.e Mickey Marathon was in the books, I was off to the parks for some long over do fun. My notebook computer went back in to the case, and I didn’t feel any desire to pull it out until this morning.

So let’s back up to last Sunday morning. For the 4 day in row, I was dashing over to Epcot just after 3 am in the morning. If you must know, by the 4th day the newness starts to wear off on entering the runner village.  

With the temperature hovering new 60 degrees and just a slight wind, the worries shifted from being too cold to being too warm.

I stretched out my towel out on the ground and settled into a comfortable position. To pass the time, I set back and people watched. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. There is no better place to recognize this point then among the 20,000 runners participating in the Disney Marathon.

Around 4:30 I made my way through baggage drop and proceed with the long walk to the starting line.

Upon entering the “A” corral, Tom, Michael, and I chatted for a few minutes. Then, I just focused on doing some leg exercises to get myself ready for the start.

I could feel a tad bit of soreness in my quads but rather I was most worried about my hamstrings. Three straight days of racing had definitely taking a toll on them.

Mickey came on to the stage and after a few quick announcements gave us the 3, 2, and 1 count down. We surged into the night as the fireworks bursted overhead.

Running on adrenalin, I “willed” my legs to start moving. Just like the ½ marathon course, the first mile is slightly uphill. At the mile split, the display clock read 6:24. Runners were starting to string out now. By mile 2, a nice tight back of about 20 or so runners had formed around me.

The pace was a little faster than I expected. My goal was to run a sub 3 hour marathon, so with these early splits well under my goal pace, I just hoped that I hadn’t burned my candle at both ends.

The miles continued to roll back. The entire time, I just set at the back of the pack. During each mile the same thought resonated over and over in the head. Just hang in there. Let’ them do the work and maintain contact. We went under the water way by the Contemporary Hotel.  We headed into the Magic Kingdom through a side entrance to run down Main Street, then around through Tomorrow Land, through Fantasy Land, back through the Castle, and turned right to enter Frontier Land. We then exited on the far side of Magic Kingdom.

A few runners were dropping away from our group but the core group of men and women were still there.

Miles 8, 9, and 10 took us over to and around the Walt Disney World Raceway. Getting into the track was a bit of pain. There was a steep under passes to access the infield that needed to be navigated. This was followed by a hairpin turn so we could run on the track.

All along the course were numerous cast members and family members. A number of customer sports cars were lining the track. At least the exit from the track wasn’t too bad than our entrance. We did have to cross a grassy section.

The course from here took a right and headed over Animal Kingdom. The route to and through Animal Kingdom was pretty much as I remembered it from my last Mickey Marathon.

We ran through Africa, by Everest, by Dinosaur Land and then skirted the front edge of the park entrance.

We followed the exit along the highway from Animal Kingdom. The skies were slightly overcast, but the at least the light was bright enough that we could see now.

I took my first gel at 7 miles, and plan to take my second gel around 16 miles.

 The miles between Animal Kingdome and ESPN Wide World of Sports can test you mentally. There isn’t much to see. The road is pretty much straight, and the only change is the undulation that comes from running across the bridges. .

As we were exiting from Animal Kingdom, this guy comes up into our group and starts to press past us.

The other guys in our group attach on to him and it finally breaks up our group.

At this point, my legs feel the drain of the racing and choose to not go with them.

I finish my second gel and grab a water to wash it down.

Disney races have clocks at every mile mark. These clocks are a huge help because I use them to count down the miles and to estimate what my finish time might be.

Along the way, my brain is continually running a body check with each step. My hamstrings are getting most of the attention during each scan. Turning into Wide World of Sports, the course is a gentle climb. Then, we start weaving around through the various fields, around the track, and run along the warning track with in the baseball stadium.

Heading out the WW of Sports, I pass 20 miles in 2 hours and 8 miles. Mentally, I am already doing the math. 7 minute miles, 10k left, I have the potential of a 2:52 marathon.

The trouble was that my legs were starting to feel the strain from all of the racing miles. They were starting to tighten up and I wasn’t feeling nearly as fluid.

The Army Sergeant was yelling for me to “charge” the hill. This was easy for him to say.

I could feel that I was slowing down, but I was also catching a few other runners. Several of which had been our core group earlier.

I entered Hollywood Studios through side entrance and made my down by Sunset Blvd. Then, I exited from the park and headed over to the board walk by the Epcot resorts.

I always enjoy the run along the board walk section. Then, we enter into Epcot and ran around the world. I am nearly finished with I feel someone coming up behind me. The lead woman had caught me.

She had been in our group early in the race and was definitely making a strong push to the finish.

My legs had reach their breaking point so I was just watched her pull away.

Running by the Epcot ball and exiting the park, I looked at the 26 mile clock. Seeing the 2:48:55 time was unbelievable.

Again, I “willed” my legs to run faster. They hurt but now they only needed to hurt for another 2 tenths of a mile.

I watched as the lead women broke the finish line tape and they shot confetti into the air. Much of it was still floating into the air when I crossed in 2 hours and 50 minutes and 33 seconds.

I watched as the photographers snapped photo after photo of her. Let her enjoy her moment.

I moved on content with the fact that I had just completed 4 days of racing. I kept my goals realistic and far in away exceeded anything that I thought possible.

At 50 years old, this is about a good as I am going to race for 4 straight days.

I took a towel to wipe off the sweat running down in to my eyes. The temperature had risen enough that I was rubbing the sweat from my eyes at numerous times during the race.

I got my Dopey Picture taken and picked up my medals for the Dopey and Goofy Challenges. It felt good to get my clothes from the baggage check. Even thou, it was 60+ degrees, I could feel a chill.

Participating in the Dopy Challenge was an awesome experience. I have been a long time Disney fan so getting to run through the parks is just an added bonus for me.  This 4 day stretch of races just makes me want to do more of their races.

Side note, for some reason my chip was not picked up at the finish of the Disney Marathon. I reached out the Track Shack guys, and they sent my email on to the head timer for the race. They should have it sorted out in a few days. Thanks to the guys from Marathon Photo, I have pictures from all along the course, and pictures of me just crossing the finish line.

Based on the posted results, I will have most likely finished around 23 Overall and 1st in the 50-54 age group.


Sharing the last of my Dopey Challenge experiences.

The Cool Down Runner





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