Which 2021 Disney Distance?

This is my birthday present! How awesome is this. But now I have to decide which of the races to do – Mickey’s marathon, Donald’s half or both for the Goofy or do I add the 5k and 10k in too and make it Dopey number 3? My heart is of course saying Dopey. Dopey is my thing, my impossible, it’s Dopey. Even having done it twice three years apart I can’t actually believe I have done it. Dopey is something special and of course I want to do it again. So now would be a really good time to remind myself why, after the last time, I said I was (probably) done with Dopey. I think this is maybe one of those occasions where I need to be more sensible. The getting up early and waiting around wasn’t fun and the 4 day challenge took an awful lot out of us and also out of our holiday. We either go to do Dopey or we go for a Disney holiday – I’m not sure both works.

So that leaves the Goofy challenge but I was also pretty categorical about not wanting to do another road marathon. Ok so for the Disney marathon I wouldn’t be doing it alone. Kath would be with me and there is something absolutely fab about running through each of the theme parks but there are long long stretches which are on pretty boring roads. So if I am not actually doing Dopey then I see no point in running 26.2 miles at all. I’m not bothered about Goofy. If I am going to train to run a half and full marathon back to back I might as well add a 5k and 10k… So

Well really that means decision made – half marathon it is. It is my favourite race distance. It’s a proper challenge. You have to respect the distance – well I do anyway – you can’t just go and run it but training for it doesn’t take over your life and running the race doesn’t take over the holiday – or even the day of the race – we will be done before breakfast. This sounds like the sensible plan, the thing to do, the thing that will actually be most fun all round – for training, for running, for playing in the parks… but there is a tiny bit of me that will always have my heart set on Dopey, those 6 medals and that feeling of just having achieved the impossible.

The Marathon

MickeyI am going to keep this short I think because I am really tired after the 4 days of really early starts and running. Today was marathon day. It was mainly just bloody awful.

We got up at 2.30am and left by 3am. Today the queue for security etc was much better – possibly because we were earlier. We got the the retreat tent and had plenty of time to have a bagel and peanut butter, check our bags and then walk out to the coral with the rest of the runners world people. That meant a much shorter walk there so I didn’t hit my 10000 steps until just after mile 1!

We sat for a bit and I was a bit overwhelmed with it all. I did cry a little. The start was delayed slightly, not sure why so we eventually crossed the startline about 8 minutes past 6am. They say you hit a wall during a marathon. Well I guess I hit mine then! I was ok for a bout half a mile, that’s something, right? We stopped for loos at the first opportunity again  and then kept plodding. Mile 1 was sort of ok, mile 2 seemed endless and I was convinced we should be at mile 3 by then. I got a little boost running through the magic kingdom arches and just kept plodding. By mile 5 my hips were sore, my back was sore, my knees creaky and I just wanted to curl up and cry.

Luckily we entered the Magic Kingdome park just after and running through that was great. Then we started the long stretch of just road. By mile 7 I needed extra walk breaks, by mile 8 I had switched the intervals to running a minu and walking two. Finishing seemed utterly impossible. Kath refused to leave me. And I became increasingly conscious that I might not make the required pace for Dopey.

Mickey2I can’t remember at what mile the animal kingdom came but running through the park was a welcome distraction. Running through one of the backlots the staff had brought out animals to see us including a donkey which was awesome (I like donkeys) and a vulture who was perched next to a sign saying ‘run faster, vultures are circling’. Onwards, slowly and painfully onwards.

after the animal kingdom came another long stretch of road that seemed to go on for ever and eventually we hit ESPN wide world of sports which covers roughly miles 17-20 but seemed to take ages to loop round playing fields and through the stadium. I felt awful. At this point I was pretty much just walking and pretty much resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t manage Dopey pace.

more road. Every time something new started hurting it took my mind of what had been hurting before. I had a few stretches where I went dizzy and my vision blurred but it never lasted long. I stopped at every water stop on course and I think I fuelled ok but the last 3 days and the humidity at the start made it a really tough one.

After what seemed like an eternity we reached Hollywood Studios. That was just fantastic. I managed a couple of little jogs through the park and began to hope that maybe, just maybe I might make it. Mile 23 came and went as did 24. Then we entered Epcot and ran round the world showcase. mile 25. I kept repeating ‘just keep walking’ to myself. It didn’t seem possible but somehow I kept moving forward. Then came mile 26. I suddenly believed. I managed what felt like the fastest run ever (but was actually barely faster than a slow walk) along the finishing straight and Kath and I crossed the finish line hand in hand.

We got our marathon medal, had our picture taken and went to the a Challenge tent where we had to have our time checked. we made it. 6.55.04. We had 4 minutes and 56 seconds to spare! We got our medals for the entire Dopey a Challenge and also for the Goofy Challenge which is for completing the half and the full marathons back to back.Goofy

we did it. I couldn’t have completed it without Kath’s constant encouragement. she just kept talking to me, telling me how awesome we were and that we were going to finish.

We just got into the race retreat before they started clearing up, got some food, our bags and then left to get back to the hotel, get a cold bath and then head out for dinner.

It is now 8.15 pm and I am ready for bed and so looking forward to not having to get up in the middle of the night. I’m sore but I don’t think anything is injured. I have done a marathon! And yes it was awful for the most part but it has also given me some great memories and a huge massive sense of achievement!

Reflections on the whole thing in the next few days!

Dopey c

Half the madness. 13.1 miles

Donaldso the Run Disney craziness steps up a gear comehalf marathon day. I am exhausted. It’s 6.45pm on half marathon day and I am not far of sleeping. I did want to write all blog posts on the day of the race though. The half marathon was fun. No really it was. I never thought I would say that.

we left the hotel room to get the monorail at about 3.35am.  As part of th Runners World Challenge we got entry into the race retreat tent and the plan was to get there, find a quiet corner, grab a bagel and sit calmly. However, the queue for the security check was mental and we didn’t get to the tent until 4.35. The scale is just indescribable. Masses of people everywhere. Anyway, just as we got to the tent loads of people from the Runners world bit left which panicked me a bit. However, there was time to check in our bags and have food just not in quite as calm a manner as we had hoped.Donald 1

Then we set off to the corals. We were in J for this race. It is about a 15 minute walk from the main holding area to the corals and they started with A and went all the way through to P. I don’t know how many people ran this race but it was thousands. Yesterday we’d had a conversation about Paula Radcliffe and were saying how she was our running hero. Well we were in for a lovely treat because Paula is here. She was running the half. In fact I think I heard them say she was running the Dopey Challenge. I ran in the same race as Paula!

corals started in roughly 2 minute intervals today and we crossed the startline at about 6am. I was a little stiff for the first bit and Kath called for a toiled stop at about half a mile in which was a great call because the queues were short and we both felt more comfortable after that. The first stretch is along roads and across car parks with music and Disney characters along the way to keep you entertained. As with the other races we didn’t stop for pictures or anything. I just can’t get my head round stopping for a photo during a race.

The first half of th half was really uneventful which I guess is good. I felt comfortable and we were plodding along at a steady pace every now and again reminding ourselves to take it steady and conserve energy for tomorrow. At just before mile 5 we passed our hotel and made jokes about nipping in for a shower and a nap. Just after we entered the Magic Kingdom and passed the 5 mile marker. There is nothing quite like running up Mainstreet USA with Cinderella’s castle up ahead. Annoying people just stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures. I get the wanting a picture bit, but please, just stand to one side!

Running through the park gave me a little boost and mile 6 came and went and we were suddenly half way. At mile 8, now back on the road I. Started struggling. I’m not really sure why but suddenly our two minute running intervals seemed long and our 1 minute walks seemed short. Kath offered to take an extra walk and I gladly accepted. Part way throught that walk a woman called Jacqui asked what intervals we were running and if she could join us because she was really struggling. Of course we said yes.

Well two really good things came from that for us. One, it took my mind off me completely and I focused on helping her get through. We chatted a bit but not much on the walks but for the most keep our 2 minute intervals going. She was struggling but she kept going and we promised not to leave her and we didn’t. The second was that it made us slow down a bit. That sounds daft but we were probably going a little too fast given the marathon tomorrow and going at that slower pace just helped me in particular finish feeling really strong. The other main benefit of course was that Jacqui finished. She was in pain and I’m not sure she would have got to the end still upright without Kath’s unwavering leadership and my constant talking telling her how amazing she was. It was so great to be able to do something positive like that and help her. I hope someone would do the same for me!

I missed the 9 mile marker completely, then were were at 10 miles. It’s hard to explain how good it feels to get to double figures on a half marathon!. Only 5km left! And on we went. The three of us, always telling ourselves and each other that we only had to run 2 minutes. Then we entered Epcot, I loved that last little run through the park. I knew we were nearly there, I knew we had got ourselves and Jacqui there and that we would make th finish line in roughly 3 hours. I suspect I was grinning like an idiot. We turned into the final Epcot back lot, passed the 13 mile marker and saw the finish. Jacqui was cramping up and really really struggling. I felt great. As we turned into the straight I saw Jacqui relax and we picked the pace up just a little and we ran, as we had promised her, the three of us together across the line.

2.58.59 is the official time. Kath is delighted to have gone sub three, as am I. I worry it wasn’t slow enough and took too much out of us for tomorrow but actually I feel ok. We have stayed off our feet mostly. We had to leave Jacqui because we thought we had to check in for Dopey but actually we didn’t. We then couldn’t see her again so we made our way to the Race Retreat where we could get some food in addition the the snack box we got immediately after finishing. I had 3 small bottled of water, some scrambled eggs and sausage and then we used the stretching area.Donald 2

Back at the hotel we had a cold bath, did some yoga, had lunch and then slept for a couple of hours. The. We did more yoga and went for teat in the Magic Kingdom. We had a lovely pasta with veggies drizzled in garlic and olive oils and sprinkled with feta cheese. Then we came back, got our things sorted for tomorrow and now I’m ready for bed.

I have run my 3rd half marathon. It was a good run, a really good run and I feel ok, I really do.image