I had a dope time, yo

While I guarantee I will be referring to my weekend again in future posts I think this will be the last in the Dopey series (1, 2, 3, 4).  I’m sure you want to thank me for moving onto a different subject matter.

run!
run!

I’m really happy I took on this challenge.  It was a huge confidence boost and brought back many of those “I love running” feelings that can sometimes get lost in a majorly long training cycle.  Yes, I started rebuilding my foundation back in May or June and then started training around July.  Those are some long months!

all the medals!
all the medals!

Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Met Amanda from Too Tall Fritz!  Well, ambushed her actually but those are just semantics

a celebrity siting!
a celebrity siting!

2.  Went over to Animal Kingdom lodge where I had my tasty mouse head waffle and checked out the animals.  It’s great – you can see some of the animals you would see on the safari tour without having to go to the Animal Kingdom park.

giraffes are the best
giraffes are the best

3.  Discovered the Mickey head ice cream sandwich.  Also very good and cute to boot.

this was very good regardless of the shape!
this was tasty regardless of the shape!

4.  Disney kind of slacked on the Dopey merchandise and early expo attendees wiped them out of the stock they did have (I mean in about 4 hours).  They had tech shirts left but I wasn’t interested since I already had one.  I finally found a light sweatshirt from Raw Threads, which I love.  Also in Downtown Disney Hanes has a design your own shirt so I created a long sleeve Dopey one.  It was super speedy and they have a ton of different characters.  Disney did come through afterward though and I found a (cotton) shirt online and yes, I already ordered it.

the sweatshirt is from raw threads
the sweatshirt is from raw threads
this is the shirt I made!
this is the shirt I made!

5.  I took advantage of the fun atmosphere.  Disney races are geared toward all-level athletes and it is a good time with no pressure – well, aside from the pressure you place on yourself!

my namesake restaurant in downtown disney!
my namesake restaurant in downtown disney!

6.  The race snacks weren’t anything extravagant but they did have these rice chips and little things of cheese.  This became the absolute yummiest thing in the entire world.

dopey snacks7.  Running in costume is so fun!  People are so freakin’ creative and I loved seeing what everyone came up with.  Mine was fairly simple but thanks to Sparkle Athletic, Running Skirts, Pro Compression, Aspaeris and some RockTape, I was running in style.

cleaning my costume in my room - much better than being all smelly
cleaning my costume in my room – much better than being all smelly

8.  It was warm.

beautiful view and no snow!
beautiful view and no snow!

9.  I’m obsessed with all things Dopey.  Luckily, I didn’t let this overtake my pocket-book but it was close!

dopey is just so cute!
dopey is just so cute!

10.  Iced mochas are tough to come by outside of the parks.  There aren’t coffee shops in the resorts, which really surprised me.  So future race attendees not visiting parks, you can score a good (naturally expensive) espresso drink right outside of the ticket areas of Epcot.  You do have to go through bag check but then it’s fairly close.  For me, it was totally worth the cash!

my view from the coffee hut
my view from the coffee hut

11.  I’m not quite sure on how much money I spent but doing a Disney race certainly isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to racing.  As I was walking to Epcot after the marathon, a security guard asked me if I would be returning next year.  I told him, to ask me after my body had recovered!  Honestly, I won’t be back next year.  There are a lot of other races I want to do and Disney kind of saps my race budget.  Nevertheless, I am so happy I could take advantage of this opportunity and was actually able to save for it!

I so wanted to keep this space blanket... but I didn't
I so wanted to keep this space blanket… but I didn’t

10.  Simon has decided I can’t go anywhere for a good long while.

dopey simonI am so grateful for this experience!  I’m grateful for all of the support, encouragement and confidence from all of you and my other friends and family.  There were times when those “you got this” were what kept me going!  Thank you!

now 26.2? what a dopey idea

Did you know there is a handle in the porta potty hooked to the door to hold onto while doing your business??  I had no idea!  I was quiet Sunday morning thinking about what was ahead of me.   As we gathered at the porta potties for our last race, we were all talking about nerves.  Almost falling in the porta potty (again) made me even more nervous and I told my friends this.  They asked me why I hadn’t held onto the handle?  This was race-changing folks!

only 26.2 miles to go!
only 26.2 miles to go!

At the start line, I was freezing cold.  It was a chilly morning and I was happy as a clam.  We all knew it was going to be much cooler than the day before and I was thrilled.  I sat and chatted with a woman who was doing the Goofy and we talked running for about a half hour.

oooo - pretty! now RUN!
oooo – pretty! now RUN!

An even bigger set of fireworks exploded and the first group was off!  At this point, I realized I had to go the bathroom again.  I had time to run to the porta potty but I thought maybe I was just nervous and I wouldn’t need to pee anymore once I started running.  Plus I hate porta potties so I didn’t want to use it if I didn’t really have to.  Unfortunately, I overestimated my bladder and I had to stop even before I hit mile 1!  Great job, Aim! But the handle sure was helpful!

dopey marathon signI used the same strategy as the last three races and made sure to walk once a mile.  I used the water stops a lot and also walked any hills despite them not being very steep.  My legs were sore and at the start of the race I seriously questioned whether or not I could pull this off.  Five miles in, I knew I would finish.

it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you
it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you

The day before, I found some flat ground in the grass along side the road and since it was a similar course for the full I did the same thing.  It allowed me to get in a zone in many areas of the race and I could just run.  It was hugely helpful – physically and mentally.  My pace was pretty even and I felt more and more confident.  All of a sudden I completely believed I was a STRONG runner.

Mile 14 changed my race and my running future.  When I saw the mile marker I said to myself, “I only have 12 miles left!!”.  Last year?  “Oh my gosh, I still have 12 miles left”.  The difference between the words “only” and “still” is the best example I have of my strong mental attitude.  My  quads were tight and hurting.  My feet were sore, my left calf was irritated and I was more and more excited about this race and distant running as a whole!  It’s completely twisted.

race/game/life changer!
race/game/life changer!

I took some fun pics – Rafiki is my little zen master and last year when I saw this army guy I wanted to punch him in the face.  It was nice not to hate him this year!

rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
he was pretty funny!
he was pretty funny!

The woman who brought the cups of Pepsi was back (tasted fabulous!) and another woman brought pretzels.  I love taking treats from strangers during a race!  I took another picture of the castle so I could completely take in the moment.  My new motto became, “it’s going to hurt anyway, so I might as well go for it”.  I would select something in the distance and run to the point and then walk a certain amount.  I stuck to these mini goals like glue.

once again, chills as I ran through
once again, chills as I ran through

My average pace was approximately 14 mins for the first half and a little over 14 mins for the second half.  I really owe all of my solid pacing to the treadmill, which I no longer hate with a passion.  I hit the medical tents for BioFreeze 3 or 4 times, was able to get 1 Tylenol (they were really strict about this), went through every water stop, and took advantage of the two banana stations.  They also had a cold wet wash cloth station and incredible volunteers.  I finished in 6 hours and 2 mins!  I crossed the finish line and started crying.  I truly had a good time the entire race.  I felt tough and ran through the muscle fatigue and the hurt.  I was/am so stinkin’ proud of myself!

wahooo!
wahooo!

I collected all of my medals, took a massively cheesy finisher picture and headed to the ice tent.  They wrapped my quads and I waddled out to our meeting area.  I was waiting for friends and then kind of forgot I had the ice on my legs for about 45 mins maybe?  It wasn’t until my friend asked me why my knee was turning blue that I took the ice off and noticed my numb legs.  I gave myself a minor case of frostbite!  It’s no joke!  I got a ripe ol’ sunburn and frostbite in the same day.  By the way, my legs are still kind of numb so take it from me and be careful when icing.

this wasn't my smartest move
this wasn’t my smartest move

Oh and right when I got to the meeting area I had to ask a stranger to help me sit down!  My legs were incapable of doing it on their own.  Once we had all of our team in, we took pics and I headed off for coffee.  Seriously, knowing an ice cold mocha awaited me was a huge motivator.  I did forgo activities in the evening as I was beat.  Just getting off of the bed to pack was an effort!

oooo - shiny!
lots of shiny!

I really am looking forward to my next marathon.  When I was running, I kept thinking about how lucky I was/am to participate in such a cool event.  I thought about how just 8 months ago I was so depressed getting out of bed was my accomplishment.  I remembered how I had to rebuild mileage and the love and support I’ve gotten from so many people.  Endorphins + feelings of gratefulness is some powerful stuff people!  Thank you all!