In case you missed my previous recaps, be sure check out my recap of the Health and Fitness Expo, Disney Family Fun Run 5k, the inaugural Walt Disney World 10k, and the Walt Disney World Half Marathon!
On Sunday morning, my alarm went off at 3 AM for the third morning in a row. I got out of bed and starting getting ready. For some reason, I wasn’t really intimidated about what I was about to do. I actually felt ready to finish this thing and earn my medals. Since this was my big race for the weekend, I decided not to wear any sort of costume. I also decided to wear my knee brace in an attempt to avoid the pain I had at the end of the half marathon. Around 3:45 AM, I kissed Pete good bye and headed off to catch the monorail.
When I arrived at Epcot, I dropped off my gear bag and started heading towards my corral. I made a quick pit stop at a port-a-potty and found a spot in my corral to just relax. My feet still felt a little sore I wanted to stay off of them as much as possible before the race started. The weather was already better than it had been for the previous races. I was actually a little cold while sitting in my corral. It felt amazing compared to last year’s marathon weather.
At 5:30 AM, the Corral A runners started the marathon. Since I was in Corral K again, I still had 40 minutes to wait until I crossed the starting line. I didn’t mind thought because I got to see some awesome fireworks. Around 6:10 AM, my corral was started and I was off on the 26.2 miles of my Dopey Challenge journey through Walt Disney World.
- Mile 1 – 13:15 min/mile pace
- Mile 2 – 14:02 min/mile pace
- Mile 3 – 13:58 min/mile pace
As I crossed the starting line, I spotted Tricia and we decided to run together again. Our basic plan was to follow my 1/1 intervals until we couldn’t anymore. Then we would switch over to her 30/30 intervals. We headed off along the same route as the half marathon towards the Magic Kingdom. Once again, the course was a little congested but we didn’t let that stop us from keeping our pace.
When we spotted the Mile 2 Marker, we started doing a little happy dance. We had FINALLY reached the halfway point of the Dopey Challenge. Of course, it only took us 3+ days of running to do it. The people around us were looking at us a little strangely but we didn’t care. For most marathoners, no one normally celebrates finishing two miles.
Shortly after that, we reached the Magic Kingdom parking entrance gate and that sense of déjà vu struck me again. Weren’t we just here? We kept moving forward and soon found the Mile 3 Marker. I sent Pete a quick text to him know that I was at the 5k mark. He asked how I was doing and I told him that I actually felt pretty good.
- Mile 4 – 13:24 min/mile pace
- Mile 5 – 13:22 min/mile pace
- Mile 6 – 13:23 min/mile pace
As we ran past the Speedway, we marveled at the runners who were already on the part of the course. We continued running through the Magic Kingdom parking lots and then snaked through the Transportation and Ticket Center. I love the crowds along this part of the course. They have so much energy!
We left the TTC and made it back out onto World Drive going towards the Contemporary Resort. This is probably one of the hardest parts of the course to maintain your pace but we managed to keep up our pace. Plus my timer buzzed at the perfect spot again so could walk down the steep downhill and walk up to the steep up hill under the water bridge.
When we hit the Mile 5 Marker (and the first timing mat), I checked our official pace. To our surprise, we were running faster than we had during our first three races. We were actually on pace for me to score a MAJOR PR time. When I told Tricia that about my potential huge PR, she decided to help me run an awesome race. I entered the Magic Kingdom with thoughts of a PR floating through my head.
We turned down Main Street USA and I heard my name being called. I turned and saw Meghann among the spectators. I waved hello and continued making my way towards the Cinderella’s Castle. We headed through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Oh and we stopped for a quick selfie with the Dwarf, who started this whole crazy adventure.
As we ran through the Castle, we decided not to stop for a photo. We had one from the half and we were on a mission. I spotted Pete and smiled at him like a love sick loon. I was happy to see him and really happy with how I was feeling. We ran through Liberty Square and Frontierland before leaving the Magic Kingdom.
- Mile 7 – 13:22 min/mile pace
- Mile 8 – 13:56 min/mile pace
- Mile 9 – 13:42 min/mile pace
We were back out on the road headed to the Grand Floridian Resort. We ran past the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, and the golf course. The stretch of road in this area was congested again but not nearly as bad as the day before. We were able to find a path between the walkers during our run intervals and easily stay to the right during our walk breaks. We passed the Mile 8 Marker and turned towards the Speedway. Once again, my timer knew that we needed to walk down and up the entrance ramp. That thing is steeper than the one at the water bridge.
When we entered the Speedway, we kept plugging along. The crowd thinned out a bit since there was more room along the infield of the track. After making almost an entire loop, we spotted the Mile 9 Marker. We exited the Speedway and started making our way towards Animal Kingdom.
We loved this guy’s shirt. It was totally worth it to run up and catch him to grab a pic!
- Mile 10 – 13:48 min/mile pace
- Mile 11 – 13:55 min/mile pace
- Mile 12 – 14:37 min/mile pace (<— attempt to ride Expedition Everest!)
- Mile 13 – 13:38 min/mile pace
The course took us along Bear Island Road, a part of Walt Disney World that most people never get to see. We ran past a water treatment plant and tried to ignore the smell. When we spotted the Mile 10 Marker (and ran over the second timing mat), we realized that we were two-thirds of the way through the Dopey Challenge. We also realized that attempting to do math while running a full marathon is not as easy as it may seem.
I checked our time again and noticed that we had actually run a negative split! Our average pace had gone down by an entire second! I was well on my way to running an amazing race. I even started thinking about achieving my goal of running a marathon in less 6 hours. Could we pull that off? Can we continue running negative splits?
On our way to the Animal Kingdom, we spotted a few characters including Pluto and Dug in front of a super cute dog house. Then we spotted the Mile 12 Marker and started making our way through the Animal Kingdom.
As we entered the park, I started hearing people around start to talk about riding the Expedition Everest ride. Tricia rode it during last year’s marathon and said that it was an awesome experience. Of course, it caused her to miss her goal time by a little more than a minute. We decided that we weren’t going to risk our pace but then we ran past the ride. As we saw other runners dashing into the line, we turned back and jumped in the line. Unfortunately, the line wasn’t moving fast enough for us and decided to not risk our finishing time.
Before we knew it, we exited the Animal Kingdom and were crossing over the halfway point timing mat. We were halfway through the full marathon and we only had 13.1 miles left of the Dopey Challenge. Plus I was well on my way to rocking a brand new shiny PR!
Check out my other Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend posts: