Just a Little Dopey

The weekend part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend finally arrived – it was Saturday the day for the half marathon. Back when it started it was a weekend event, they only had a marathon. Four years later they added the half – so I assume that was weekend. Now the events start on Wednesday with the Expo and go thru Sunday with the running of the marathon. I guess Mickey’s weekends are 5 days long, I wish I were him.

Of course we had to get up very early to have breakfast, get ready and then head out to catch the bus to head over to EPCOT yet again. Unlike the small crowd of only 10,000 runners for the 5 and 10K there would be somewhere between 20 and 25 thousand people running and a good number of others going to chEar, so we knew we needed to get an early bus.

Each of the Disney races has a primary character – the half is Donald’s race.  The plan was to do the half together at Leslie’s pace, so of course we did a joint costume. I was Donald and Leslie was Daisy. The hats we wore were from Tokyo Disneyland (we decided we are going to have to visit Tokyo Disneyland to buy more hats in the future).

2014 Dopey Half - Donald and Daisy Ready for a Little Run

2014 Dopey Half – Donald and Daisy Ready for a Little Run

We got to EPCOT and met up with friends and chatted for a while we waited until it was time to head to the starting corals. Since I was doing the Dopey I also bought the race retreat which gave me access to a special tent that had breakfast (but nothing I could eat – mainly bagels), a separate set of porta potties , and special character opportunities.  (more about the race retreat after the race).  Here is my picture I got in the race retreat.

2014 Dopey Half - Mary Poppins

2014 Dopey Half – Mary Poppins

For the 5K there were lots of costumes, less on the 10K and even less on half. This Japanese couple made an impression on everyone.  Yes he did carry it for the whole race.

2014 Dopey Half - He is Committed to his Costume

2014 Dopey Half – He is Committed to his Costume

Unlike the 5 and 10K’s which had only 5 corals and started in the parking lot of EPCOT, the half (and full) had 17 corals which with the Start line are on Epcot Center Drive.  This time Leslie and I were in the same corral – L.  It was a long walk from the staging / finish area to our corral, and from what I figured on Google maps it was about a .4 miles from our corral to the start line.  Here is the map of the half course.  It started to rain a little before the start of the half, and Leslie and I sat under the Overpass Road overpass. You can see how far that is from the parking lots and the start line.

2014 Dopey Half Course Route

2014 Dopey Half Course Route

Well we had lots of time waiting. We had to be in our corral before the start of the race at 5:30 and our corral was not scheduled to start until 6:17. After a long wait and slowly inching forward we finally got close enough to get a picture of the start line

2014 Dopey Half - Start Line

2014 Dopey Half – Start Line

It was finally time for us to start and we were on our way. As we moved forward we listened and counted off the fireworks that stated the following corrals so we could estimate how much of lead we had on the balloon ladies at the end of the pack.  As we went I would stop and take pictures of the mile markers and then catch back up with Leslie.

Of course Disney has characters out in various locations along the race route, but they also have other decorations along the way. I really liked this banner that was hanging from a lighted balloon type thing. The wind made it difficult to get a good picture, but I stood there for a little and got one.

2014 Dopey Half - Race Decorations

2014 Dopey Half – Race Decorations

Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 we go thru the gates where cars stop to pay the parking fee.  The course for the half is the same course we did when we ran the Princess half back in February, but Leslie and I were not walking together so I got a picture of her in front of the gate (sorry it’s a little blurred).

2014 Dopey Half - Entrance to the TTC

2014 Dopey Half – Entrance to the TTC

Between mile 3 and 4 there were some cars (from the driving experience) and Launchpad. Of course I had to stop and get a picture of Donald and Launchpad. I am guessing that he had not seen that hat before he made a big deal and we interacted for longer than normal during a race.

2014 Dopey Half - Donald and Launchpad

2014 Dopey Half – Donald and Launchpad

The marker for mile 4 is in the Ticket and Transportation Center near the building that has the bathrooms.  There was a band in the TTC and then we head back out onto World Drive towards the Contemporary.  I took what I thought was going to be a great picture of the Contemporary – but I guess I need to stop when I take the pictures so they are just a big blur (most likely I will forget in the excitement of my next race). Next up it was time to go under the water bridge that connects the Seven Seas Lagoon with Bay Lake.  The guy on the top of the bridge with the giant Mickey hands was a blast telling everyone to breathe normally even they we are going under water. It made me think of Dory and all I could  think was just keep running, just keep running.

2014 Dopey Half - Just Keep Swimming

2014 Dopey Half – Just Keep Swimming

The mile marker for Mile 5 is just before we enter the side backstage entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

2014 Dopey Half - Entrance to the Magic Kingdom

2014 Dopey Half – Entrance to the Magic Kingdom

Then there is Main Street – it is so much fun running or walking in a race down Main Street. There is always a group of people there to cheer you on.

2014 Dopey Half - Running on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

2014 Dopey Half – Running on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

Leslie and I stopped for a picture at the end of Main Street in front of the Castle.

2014 Dopey Half - Picture In Front of the Castle

2014 Dopey Half – Picture In Front of the Castle

From there we head into Tommorowland – where I managed to do my Magic Kingdom Half Marathon Pin trade. I don’t really care which pins I get during these trades – but I managed to get one that I did not have. From there we head into FantasyLand and thru the castle. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that there were not trumpeters on the castle as there were for the Princess.  Then it is thru Liberty Square  where Louis from the Princess and the Frog was hanging out and into FrontierLand where the marker for mile 6 is.

In the back side of FrontierLand you cross back into the backstage area of the park.  This area also has a Railroad crossing and they had one of the Steam Engines there with some conductor cast members. I decided to stop and get another photo. Well one of the people before me got down on the ground in front of the train making it look like the train hit them. Of course I had to do this also. The problem was that I held on to the front of the train and ended up with grease on my hand which then went onto my skirt.

2014 Dopey Half - Watch out for the Train

2014 Dopey Half – Watch out for the Train

In the backstage area they had the big float that the Prince and Princesses are on, with a Prince and Princess for pictures. If it was someone other than Aurora I might have stopped.  We then left the backstage area and went onto Floridian Way, where I stopped for a picture with a Cars like VW fire van, which was with the RCFD around the half-way point.

2014 Dopey Half - RCFD Van

2014 Dopey Half – RCFD Van

A big part of mile 7 is along the side of the Grand Floridian and the course gets really narrow during this area which is not fun.  There were some reindeer out for a picture, but for the life of me I could not really figure out what they had to do with Disney.

2014 Dopey Half - Reindeer

2014 Dopey Half – Reindeer

Things got interesting right before mile 8. I should have stopped for a picture with golfer Mickey and his fancy cart, but I figured I would do it during the full if I had the time, not realizing that Mickey could not be out golfing for his race.  I did like the trivia signs about Donald; I learned things I did not know.  It looks like I did not get the first sign which talked about his grandparents.

2014 Dopey Half - Golfer Mickey and Donald Trivia

2014 Dopey Half – Golfer Mickey and Donald Trivia

Then there is the long road back. There really is not all that much noteworthy for the next number of miles. Just a long road to the finish. Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 there were a group of cast members from the Disney Cruise Line with one of their busses. I would have been a lot more impressed if they had the Disney Dream on the side of the road.  There is also the dreaded ramp that goes from World Drive back onto Epcot Center Drive between 10 and 11.

Having run the course twice I think the area between getting back on Epcot Center Drive and actually getting back into EPCOT might be the worse section of the run. There is another overpasses  shortly after you get back on Epcot Center Drive.  There is no real entertainment and there is this annoying section where you go a bit past the turn and then have to go back before climbing yet another overpass to climb to go over Woodpecker Lane.

Shortly after that we are diverted into the parking lot and the emotion of having really done it starts to build.

2014 Dopey Half - The End is in Sight

2014 Dopey Half – The End is in Sight

We enter the park on the right side (assuming you are facing the EPCOT ball), run towards the World Showcase. We stopped for out only joint picture during the race right at the start of the World Showcase. From there we run back towards the EPCOT Ball and the pin trading booth. Ah the Pin Trading Booth.  The park is open so there are cast member working in the booth. During the Princess I ran up to the booth and asked to see their pins – the case member stood there for a moment looking at me realizing I was participating in the race and wanting to trade pins and was not sure what to say or do. So I did it again and I made a trade for a Fozzy Bear pin.

2014 Dopey Half - Dopey Bib with Pins

2014 Dopey Half – Dopey Bib with Pins

From Pin Trading Booth the course takes a right hand turn and goes back stage where the Hallelujah Choir performs to propel the runs forward thru the most important part of the entire race – the last one tenth of a mile.   We got our medals, and I went to get my third wrist and last wrist band (I got a different wrist band after each race which I would trade in for my Dopey Medal at the end of the marathon).  It was a lot of fun doing the race with Leslie and look forward to doing more races together. Since I had the race retreat and Leslie had the Chear Package, we headed into the tent to have some well-deserved breakfast of bacon and eggs.

Then it was back to the bus to return to the All Star Movies resort.

2014 Dopey Half - Job Well Done

2014 Dopey Half – Job Well Done

After we took our ice baths, showers and got into some clean clothes we decided to explore the All Start Movie Resort and get pictures. It turns out that Donald and Daisy spend a good amount of time hanging out at All Star Movies – so we got some pictures with them.

2014 Dopey Half - Visiting with Donald and Daisy

2014 Dopey Half – Visiting with Donald and Daisy

After our photo session we made our way over to the Wave for a wonderful dinner with our friends Niki, Steve, and Rebecca. It was a wonderful end to a really delightful day.   It was again time to head home and get to sleep, although Leslie had completed her running I still had one more little run to do to earn my Dopey. I really enjoyed running with Leslie and was a little sad that she would not be joining me for my run on Sunday.  Perhaps next year?

Impossible Things Are Happening Everyday

So a couple years ago I would have told you that for me to run a half marathon was Impossible. Well I am here to tell you that impossible things are happening everyday.

Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll

Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Quotes about impossible things becoming possible are some of my new favorites. In the beginning running a mile seemed impossible and then I did it. Then running 3 miles seemed impossible. I will never forget the day I ran my first 10k (6.2-mile) distance. I was on a treadmill in a gym in Apopka, Florida. I was supposed to run 5.5 that day but when I got to 5 miles I felt wonderful so I decided to plug on. Part of the reason was because I knew that on the map for the Princess Half Marathon I was training for around mile 6 is where you run through the castle.

When I started this whole running thing I really honestly thought to myself that if I just made it to the castle I would be completely happy to just be done with it all. Of course months later after I successfully completed my 10-mile and 13-mile walks (I couldn’t run due to my bone spur) I knew that the castle would never really be enough, that I wanted to finish.

Back in July/August I tore my calf muscle just weeks before what was supposed to be my second half marathon at Disneyland. I was devastated. I cried for a week and then I pulled myself together and went to the doctor. I went through over 3 months where I wasn’t able to run at all and I had to rest my leg. I did massage therapy and acupuncture in hopes that it would speed up the healing process. When I was finally able to run again I was terrified of being injured AGAIN. I decided I needed to back off running for a bit and strength train and focus on losing weight so that my body could better handle the running thing. I made the decision that I may not run the half marathon in January that I already signed up for.

As the months went by I started walking again and I lost 28 pound and 16 inches and things started to get easier. I got out and walked several days a week to try and increase my athletic tolerance. Around the middle of November I started running again. It is so very difficult running again after being off for so long. What was easy at one point is now a challenge and you have to fight your way through the first of many runs. I fought my way through and my speed increased some. Now I am as slow as a turtle running through peanut butter but at least now the peanut butter was more like caramel. Ha!

As I cheered for Bill for his marathon in December I decided when we got home I was going to try for a long distance run. Now it’s funny to me how two years ago a mile was impossible and now a “long” run was at least six miles. Boy how times change. I went out for my long run and easily finished eight miles which was quite a surprise given I had not run over three miles in nearly six months. Then two weeks later I plugged on to 10.5. I knew that I might be able to finish the half marathon. I was still too slow to stay ahead of the pacers but if I had enough of a buffer with my corral placements I knew I could do it the same way I did the Princess with the bone spur.

We get to Florida and I am not convinced anymore. I began doubting my ability and myself. I knew if I had all the time in the world I could go 13.1 miles but I don’t have all the time I have a limited amount of time. After the 10K I was really thrown into a world of doubt. Having to keep up with the Balloon Lady pacers was almost impossible for three miles. If they caught up and passed me I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch up with them for 13 miles. I had a good buffer with my corral placement and I should have an extra 20-30 minutes before they started after the last racer started. Bill decided to walk/run with me like we had planned to do for the 10k. If the balloon ladies caught up he was going to leave me and finish his race. I was very happy at the beginning of the race to hang out with all my friends that were running. I was also very happy with our Donald and Daisy costumes. We both looked great. We got to our Corrals and sat down because we had over an hour until we started. We started chatting with a few of the runners sitting near us. The thing I love about races and especially Disney races is everyone out there has something in common. We love Disney and we love to run. This makes everyone instant friends.

The time came for us to move forward as the race began for those in the early corrals. I felt like I left my stomach in the hotel room. I was not this nervous for the Princess because I was injured. For the Princess I was in motivation mode. I was going to go out there and do whatever it took to get as far as I could humanly go. I could easily have been compared the little train that could. Nothing was going to stop me. I swear the majority of the race at the Princess I spent staring at the area where my foot was going to hit next. I almost had blinders on to the majority of the experience. This race I wasn’t nearly as sick even though I still caught a nice head cold before the race. I wasn’t in the severe pain I was in at the Princess so I was more aware of what was going on around me.

Bill and I moved up to the starting line and I was not feeling secure. The thing about races is it doesn’t matter how you feel when the gun or fireworks go off you go. So off we went. We started out at a decent pace and as we went we would count the fireworks. We started in Corral L so the next set was M and then N next up O and finally P. The later corrals started out slower because they had a lot more people in them then the early corrals. With each set of fireworks would come a flood of people. People who forgot to put in a finish time or those that may have put in a fake ones and ended up in the last corral. All kinds of people behind me that are now faster then I am. Finally after the last corral set off the fast folks caught up and passed us. We were in the midst of a sea of people. I loved looking around and seeing all the people in costume. Costume running isn’t exclusive to Disney but people that run Disney are some of the best-costumed people. Many of you know how much I love running in costume so this is my happy place. So many great characters portrayed but that will have to be another blog.

2014 WDW Half -  Donald and Daisy

2014 WDW Half – Donald and Daisy

We made our way through the course and things had definitely improved with the extra corrals from the Princess race. It was not nearly as crowded as we made our way past the hotels and into the Magic Kingdom park.

Now the one thing that I was unhappy about for the Princess Half was we did not stop to take a picture in front of the castle. I was in such a state that I just wanted to keep pushing on. We stopped to have a cast member (employee) take our photo and she screwed up the camera so we didn’t get a picture. The one and only thing I wanted to make sure we did was to get a picture in front of the castle. We saw a cast member on Main Street and I darted over and handed him our camera. He snapped a great photo of us and we moved on. We rounded through the park and when we came out of the castle we ran over and got another photo right in front. I was pleased as punch. Now I just had to plug on so I could finish this thing.

2014 WDW Half - Picture In Front of the Castle

2014 WDW Half – Picture In Front of the Castle

We headed out of the Magic Kingdom and passed the 10k sign. I smiled remembering that first 10k run so very long ago when 10k was all I thought I would ever do. Well I sure as heck wasn’t ready to board a bus to the finish line I was gonna do this.

Things started looking more positive. At this point I knew there was big sweep at mile 10 so if I made it that far I hoped I could keep it up and finish. We pushed through mile 8 and 9 and Bill mentions that I was doing a heck of a lot better then I did at the Princess because by mile 7 I was mumbling to myself about how I felt like I was gonna die. LOL Well mile 9 I didn’t feel like I was gonna die but I sure felt like I wasn’t gonna be doing much that afternoon.

Now this is one of the funny things. The races start at 5:30 am east coast. So by the time I finished most of my friends and family on the west coast weren’t even up for their morning coffee. I swear at Disney races I have completed more before dawn then I do most days.

I munched down a couple almond butter packets in hope they would give me the last burst of energy I needed to get through the last 4 miles and when I was approaching the dreaded uphill area at mile 10 I put on the combination of Pink and Katy Perry that I know pumps me up and I tackled it hard. I went over to the far left and charged the hill like nobodies business making mile 10 my fastest mile the whole race. As I charged past the weary looking souls I got a number of very dirty looks for showing off all my energy. I would like to thank Jeff Galloway for some of that. Start slow and Finish Strong he says.

I got to the top of the hill and realize the balloon lady pacers were already on the hill somewhere behind me. I have passed one of the big sweep stations so I am feeling confident that I will finish now. I plow on up and down the little hills and when we hit the roundabout the balloons are less then half a mile behind. All I have to do is make it into Epcot and I know I will be allowed to finish. I put on more pumping music and plow up the last big hill at mile 11.

Bill actually fell behind me on the hills as he wasn’t prepared for how I was planning to TAKE THE HILL. I remember a scene from some old war movie my dad likes where they had to take the hill and I just put my head down and plow onward. I jogged down the downward slope into the Epcot parking lot. There waiting at the entrance into Epcot is the ever present and amazing Peggy. Peggy is a mother of a runner and she is at nearly every Disney race all year long. She hands out candy to those that want something sweet. She is an angel and I love seeing her.

We head into Epcot and now I know I will be allowed to finish. We get to the turn around by the lake and since I know I am safe I decide it is finally time for a character stop. Rafiki and Timon from the Lion King are standing there with no line at all. By the time most people get half a mile from the finish they are ready just to be done. Not me I see an opportunity for a character photo and that is all the incentive I need. With a mighty big grin on my face we get the photo and head towards the finish.

014 WDW Half - EPCOT Photo Stop

014 WDW Half – EPCOT Photo Stop

On our way back by we see the balloon ladies are mere yards behind us. I am about done. I have next to no energy left but I want to beat the balloon ladies. One last good sprint as far as I can go and then walking it into the finish line. Donald Duck is standing off to the right of the finish line. I am dressed as Daisy so I make a calculated choice and let the balloon ladies pass while Bill takes my picture with Donald.

2014 WDW Half - Leslie at the Finish Line with Donald

2014 WDW Half – Leslie at the Finish Line with Donald

My hat is crooked but I don’t even care. I have FINISHED! I wept. I seriously just broke down. Princess weekend I thought I would cry more but I just was so determined I couldn’t think of anything. This race was so much more emotional for me. We walked through and received our medals and then Bill got his third wristband to show he had completed the race for his Dopey medal.

2014 WDW Half - Leslie Gets New Bling

2014 WDW Half – Leslie Gets New Bling


We got our photos with our medals and then headed over to the race tent for a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. Mary Poppins wasn’t in the tent when I finally got there so I didn’t get my photo but that just means next time I gottta run faster. Yes there will be a next time.

Walt Disney said, “It’s Fun To Do the Impossible.”


I execute my vision to make those dreams come true

I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs,

I dare to take risks,

and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.

Walter Elias Disney

Not very long ago the idea of running even a mile was not something I ever considered doing. I would see TV shows or movies where people talked about why they run and they would say things like “It is what I love.” or “It clears my head”. I would sit in my chair and think these people must be nuts. How on earth could running be enjoyable? Well a couple years ago things changed and I guess I must be a runner because I do “get it”.

Friday morning we woke up to do the 10K. When I signed up for this race a year ago I had just finished my first half marathon with a bone spur and was not even able to run at the time. I guess even then I must have been a runner because I knew once I finished with PT the first thing I was going to do was run again.

So we were under the impression the 10k was not going to have sweepers. Some people had said that volunteers told them they weren’t going to. They were wrong.

The 10k was a comedy of errors. I initially thought I was in the same corral as Bill which I have been every race we have ever run I was not I was in the last corral. Nicole and Bill decided to come back and walk with me so we could have fun and get some great pictures. We get to our corral and move into the start and look back and there are two bright sparkly Mickey balloons. Oh great. They were about ten feet behind us. For those that don’t know there are a few ladies that run most of the Disney races. They are the pacers and keep at a 16 minute per mile pace. If you are not in front of them before some mile markers you are boarded on a bus and driven back to the start where you collect your medal and go home. This is about when I realized I should have brought something to eat as my stomach started growling. I grabbed a nut butter and stuffed it in and hoped it would be enough for the next while.

We got started and with the huge crowd of people over stuffed into the corral it took us a solid 5 mins just to get to the starting line once our corral started. At last years 5k there were 5,000 runners with corrals A-E. This year we have 10,000 runners and the same number of corrals can you say crowded? We finally get out and things start to spread out and wouldn’t you know right about 0.4 miles into the race the balloon ladies saunter past. Crap.

In training, due to my injuries, I have barely kept a 17 min per mile pace. I know if I have a buffer I can finish the race but now I have no buffer. I tell Bill and Nicole to head out because they have a Dopey to finish. The lovely balloon ladies are quite nice but I am currently hating them. They were telling people that there was going to be a big sweep at mile three but then you would be inside the parks and they didn’t know if they would sweep after that. Three miles never seemed like eternity before.

I am a tad ridiculous about my running costumes, as you may know. Well this race we were Mickey and Minnie and we were carrying the giant gloves. Bill had one and I had one. Around mile two I realize I am going to have to have another nut butter if I plan to finish this thing. I am fighting to keep a pace I have never kept before while trying to open the little pack while trying to hold on to the glove. Well that is where I lost the glove. I cussed as I tossed it off to the side.

2014 Dopey 10K - Mickey and Minnie Ready To Run

2014 Dopey 10K – Mickey and Minnie Ready To Run

We hit the mile 2 marker and the balloon ladies are ahead of pace. Of course they are! They just wanted to see if I could keep up with them. They stand off to the side at the mile marker until their 16-minute pace hits and then they start up again. I look down and I have just beaten my Personal best mile by over 40 seconds. Mile 3 was only a few seconds slower then that.

We finally get into the park and I realize there is no chance I can keep up the pace. If they are sweeping in the park there is nothing I can do about it.  I slow to a manageable pace and just keep chugging along. There are still several hundred people behind me after mile 3 so I feel good about my chances. I honestly couldn’t tell you what characters stops or even mile markers looked like up to mile 3. I hoped that Bill was taking pictures as he went by. Right at the curve around mile 1 I did see Captain Hook and Smee but then I was just doing my best not to cough up a lung while I chased the balloon ladies. Being sick definitely wasn’t increasing my pace.

One of the reasons I run Disney is because I really love running through the parks and seeing the characters. At some point when I can actually run more then a couple of months without injury I hope to run fast enough to stop for some character photos. Once in the park I saw Genie in Morocco, Then Football Goofy on the Boardwalk by ESPN.

The back of the pack runners are some of the coolest people. I chatted with several different people and we all have our own stories. I swear I am going to bring our GoPro to one of these races and do race interviews with the last 100 people to finish the races. We all chugged along around the Boardwalk. Once we got a substantial way around I looked across the water and still saw people entering the Boardwalk area from Epcot so I knew I still had a lead on the sweepers if they were picking people up. The miles around the Boardwalk were a lot of fun. I haven’t run through that area before and so it was nice to run somewhere new. Around mile 6 we headed back into Epcot and I saw Dale standing off to the side about to leave. I used the last burst of energy I had to run ahead and hollered to please wait. Dale stopped and grabbed his handler and they waited for me. I was able to get my very first character shot on course and I will always adore Dale for waiting.

014 Dopey 10K - Leslie and Dale

014 Dopey 10K – Leslie and Dale

I was finally getting close to the finish line and the finish line for most of the Disney races I have done is the same area coming out of Epcot and into the Epcot parking lot. I started running as much as I could and had a great finish line photo. Come to find out I was less then two minutes behind the balloon ladies. It was a great course and I love the medal. I knew I had the Half the next day which was my priority for the weekend so I was just glad I finished. After crossing the finish line Bill was waiting off to the side for me and walked with me through to pick up my medal and to see a few other friends that had run as well. We decided not to wait for a photo with Minnie because the line was insane so we headed back to the hotel for showers and ice baths.

All in all I loved the race. I know I need to work on my speed but I am glad I was able to finish. I would absolutely do this race again without any hesitation.

Leslie sharing her accomplishment with everyone that listen :)

Leslie sharing her accomplishment with everyone that listen :)

And here is what Bill has to say  -  It was day two of the four-day Dopey Challenge  - so going into the 10K I was 25% done (unless you look at the mileage in which case I was all of 6.38% done).  The 10K was scheduled to start at 5:30 so we had to get up a bit earlier than the day before to get ready. We also decided to take the Disney bus so we had to be out in front of the resort no later than 3:30am.  It is a good thing that we worked on moving our schedule before we left the west coast or we would have gotten up before we normally go to sleep.

The Start line always looks so calming when there is no crowd of 10,000 people waiting to run.

2014 Dopey 10K - Start Line

2014 Dopey 10K – Start Line

When we went to the staging area we met up with some of our friends doing the Dopey, Niki and Nicole and saw Anna and her family for a moment. After hanging out for a while it was time to move into the corals which is when we realized that Leslie was in coral E not D with Nicole and me.  Since we were all going to walk the 10 I suggested that we just go back to E with Leslie (you can move back in corals, just not forward).  As we were waiting to start, we turned around and realized that there were balloon ladies not far from where we were standing. Well that is going to change things.

Getting swept was just not an option for Nicole and I – if we did we would not get our Dopey, so when Leslie said we should go, we did. Nicole was recovering from an injury so she could not really run much so for the first few miles we continued to look over our shoulders and ran some here and there to keep ahead of the balloons and the sweepers.

2014 Dopey 10K - Route

2014 Dopey 10K – Route

The course was very different than the 5K – when we got to the edge of the parking lot we turned left instead of right and head out the entrance to the parking area and then turn on Epcot Center Drive and head back towards the other side of the park.  Shortly after mile 3 we were off the road and heading back into the backstage area by Test Track. I texted Leslie again and asked if I should wait, she did not want me to incase they were sweeping so I continued on with Nicole.

When we did the other races Leslie always wanted pictures of the mile marker signs, so I guess I got trained to. I would stop and take pictures and then catch up with Nicole again.

2014 Dopey 10K - Mile Signs

2014 Dopey 10K – Mile Signs

When we went by Germany I looked, but Dopey was not there this time, so we continued on. We exited the out the International Gate and I stopped for my only character pictures this race – with Genie. We then did the boardwalk loop before heading backstage in Epcot reentering the park by the Journey with Imagination ride.

2014 Dopey 10K - Genie and Mickey

2014 Dopey 10K – Genie and Mickey

I did manage to trade pins during the 10K. I got a Fast Pass pin (hoping me that I could just skip ahead to the finish of the Marathon).  It is interested to note that this was the “inaugural” Dopey, however it was the “inaugurual” 10K as noted on Leslie’s bib.

2014 Dopey 10K  Race Bibs

2014 Dopey 10K Race Bibs

Overall the 10K was a lot of fun and I felt good that I was 50% done (unless you are one of those people that care about mileage in which case it was only 19.14%).

Starting to get Dopey or The Journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step

There is a saying that goes something like the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Well the running 48.6 miles begins with getting up way too early.  It was the day of the Family Fun Run 5K, the first hurdle in the Dopey Challenge.  There was a time not all that long ago – when the thought of running 3.1 miles was truly foreign to me, now it did not faze me. However getting up early enough to have something to eat, get ready and be in the starting corals for a 6:15 start did not sound good at all. Even though Leslie was not running in the 5K, she got up and helped me get ready and went to cheer all the runners.

Disney runs busses from the on property resorts to the start of the races, but for the 5K we decided to drive. One thing that is nice about the Disney races is the costumes that people wear.  On the walk between were we parked and the starting area we got to see a number of wonderful costumes. I am sorry to report that I did not get dressed in costume for the 5K.

2014 Dopey 5K - Costumes

2014 Dopey 5K – Costumes

We found our friend Niki before the race. We said goodbye to Leslie and I made my way to the start corals. For the 5K there were 5 (A-E) and I was in D, so I had a good amount of time to stand around. As I stood there and looked over at the EPCOT ball in the night sky and realized that I would be looking at it a lot over the next few days, and looking forward to seeing it Sunday afternoon near the end of the 48.6 miles instead of at the start of it as I saw it now.

2014 Dopey 5K - The EPCOT Ball

2014 Dopey 5K – The EPCOT Ball

More standing and then finally we moved into position.  My plan was to do my run / walk intervals during the 5K since I  was going to mainly walk the 10K with Leslie.

2014 Dopey 5K - Waiting to Start

2014 Dopey 5K – Waiting to Start

The course for the 5K takes us thru the parking lot (as you can see on the route below – except  there are race tents replacing the cars).  We stay in the parking area to some back roads and enter EPCOT behind Test Track. I did not take any pictures of the back of Test Track because I thought I had some from the 5K the year before – but could not find them.

2014 Dopey 5K - Route

2014 Dopey 5K – Route

We enter the World Showcase by the side of Mexico and it is really beautiful with the lights on all the buildings. I took a picture – but it did not turn out.  As I approach Norway I noticed there was a line for a character, so I moved over and joined the line thinking that it must be someone from the new movie Frozen.  After waiting in the line for a minute or so I found out that it was Norwegian Daisy. I like Daisy, but since Leslie and I were going to dress as Donald and Daisy for the half, I figured I did not need a picture.

In general the atmosphere while wandering around the World Showcase is fun – but when you are in a race and going thru the park it is really amazing. I continued my way around – - – and then I got to edge of Germany. Right on the edge of Germany is wishing well where many times during the day Snow White can be found.  However Snow must have been  asleep and sure enough Dopey was there.  That was it – I had to have a picture with Dopey.  I was not the only one – the 5K had 10,000 runners – of which 7,000 were registered for the Dopey. So I continued on looking for the end of the line, and continued and continued.  I finally found the end of the line on the other side of Germany.  Since my time did not matter – I just had to finish and I was pretty sure that they would not sweep. I waited.  From what I can tell from my Garmin it looks like I waited about 25 minutes – but it was worth it I got a blurry picture with Dopey (however there should be a good picture of me with Dopey on the disk from MarathonPhoto).

2014 Dopey 5K - Picture with Dopey

2014 Dopey 5K – Picture with Dopey

I continued around the World Showcase and saw that Remy and his brother were available for pictures. I should have stopped, but since I spent so much time waiting for Dopey I just continued on.

014 Dopey 5K - Remy

014 Dopey 5K – Remy

The course took us over the bridge and then out of the International Gate entrance to the EPCOT where we ran thru some more backstage area before re-entering the park between the UK and Canada. From there it was the home stretch with less than a mile to go.

About 12 years ago Disney came up with yet another way to make money – by selling pins and giving lanyards of pins to cast members that contain pins that cannot be purchased for them to trade with guests.  Since Leslie and I are really into pin trading when we visit the parks I put pins on my Princess Half Marathon bib and traded during that race.  My goal was to trade once in each park I ran thru for each race, so I had some pins on my bib.  I had not seen cast member with pins, so once I got to France I started running up to the cast members and asking them if they had any.  I am sorry to report that I failed to trade a pin during the 5K. However I did achieve a personal record for the 5K – it was my slowest ever (but I did get a picture with Dopey and had fun).

After the 5K we went back to the room for me to shower and change and then it time to meet up with a group of our favorite people. We had breakfast with the Rudd family at Kouzzina and we all went over to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the Pearson’s from the UK.  While we were in the park we also met up with our friend Nicole and her daughter. One of the things we love about doing Disney races is being able to see so many of our friends at one of our favorite places. As you can see a lot of people can ride Dumbo at the same time.

2014 Dopey 5K - MK with Friends

2014 Dopey 5K – MK with Friends

Long Days Before Dopey

The months of training had come to an end. I could no longer say – well the Dopey Challenge oh that’s a long way off – it was now only days away. It was Tuesday and we had to get up at 3am to finish some last minute packing and then head to the airport.

It is always a long day when we travel from Seattle to Orlando – but we had no idea how long this day would really become. To save some money we got some cheaper flights on Southwest and had to change planes in Milwaukee. The flight from Seattle to Milwaukee was full and took off a little late. Since we were scheduled for only a 30 minute layover we were a little concerned about making the next flight (little did we know we had nothing to worry about). Well we got into Milwaukee and there was conflicting information – the screens at the airport said the flight to Orlando was on time; however the Southwest website said it was delayed.  Turns out our 30 minute layover turned into something like 7 hours.  Needless to say we were not going to be able to make our dinner plans with friends from the UK. We did meet other runners including a couple that were getting married Wednesday at Disney and then running the Dopey together.  After a very long day that included going to the wrong Disney resort to check in (we went to All Star Music – but were staying in All Star Movies) we got into our room around 2:30am.

Going to bed that late would not have been that bad except for the fact that we had to get up early to head to the race expo on Wednesday. Every Disney Race has an expo associated with it. This is where you pick up your race shirts and bibs. Of course there are tons of merchants that have all kinds of stuff for runners – everything from clothes, to torture devices that are used after runs to roll the tired muscles. Of course RunDisney has their official race merchandise on sale and New Balance has a booth with the official RunDisney shoes (which currently can only be purchased at the RunDisney Expos).

The RunDisney booth has been known to run out of merchandise early, and Leslie wanted to get in the line for the New Balance shoes so we had to be at the expo before it opened and before the busses would start arriving – the plan was to get there prior to 8:45 am.  Unlike previous events where the line for the New Balance shoes wrapped up and down and around the expo hall, New Balance had a new process. You could register and they would text you when it was your time to try on and buy shoes. Leslie went to stand in that line and I went over to get my race packets. I also wanted to get there early because I was going to have to trade in my shirts for a different size (they only have a limited number of number shirts available for trade and then you have to wait until someone trades in the size you need).  When I registered back in April of 2013 I requested XL shirts – I traded them in at the expo for mediums.

Our trip to the expo was a success – we got our race packets. We got what we wanted from the RunDisney booth and a few other places (like MarathonPhoto). We had some lunch and we were trying to decide if I should head over to the Magic Kingdom by myself for a haircut when Leslie received the text telling us to go to the New Balance booth. We each got a pair of RunDisney shoes – Minnie Mouse for Leslie and Sorcerer Mickey for me.  Overall we think the expo was better than the previous one we were at for the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland.

2014 Walt DisneyWorld Marathon Expo Haul

2014 Walt DisneyWorld Marathon Expo Haul

Here is what is in the picture – Leslie got two race bibs and two race shirts, she also bought 3 shirts. She also signed up for the Chear Squad so she has another shirt, a blanket and a clapper. I got 2 race bibs, 6 race shirts and bought one shirt and the hat.  We got Dopey window cling, a Dopey magment and 5 runDisney distance magnets. Of  course our cool new shoes can also be seen in the picture.  It was a good expo, but we might need another suitcase for the trip home

After we finished at the expo we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for my haircut in the barber shop on Main Street followed by dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. After my haircut we wandered around the Magic Kingdom a little and started to fade quickly. The travel day before and only about 4 hours of sleep was taking its toll. Luckily we were able to get at least an hour early for our dinner. Dinner was wonderful and we headed straight back to the right resort to finish off the evening and get some sleep.