Finally - the last race of my Dopey Challenge weekend recap. I know this was two months ago and that I just returned from yet another awesome race weekend a few weeks ago but the truth is I've been working on this post for awhile. This race was full of emotions for me and I wanted to give this post justice so I've taken my time to make sure I can put into words just how incredible this day was. So this post might get a tad long - #sorrynotsorry.
Spoiler alert - remember how I said I was really hoping for a good time for this race? Well I got the PR I was hoping for. Blew away my previous full PR at that. But it took a lot of work to get me there.
So, here we are at early wake up #4. I had the foresight to get in bed earlier Saturday night than the rest of the weekend, which was easy considering Suzanne and I skipped park time Saturday and spent some time relaxing at Senses before dinner at Tutto Italia with the rest of the Broads. I went into Dopey weekend with one major goal - to PR the marathon. But discussions at dinner Saturday had me wondering if this goal was unrealistic given the miles we had already put in that weekend. So before I went to bed I prayed that I would wake up Sunday and be at peace with however it went.
And when I woke up Sunday morning - that's exactly how I felt. I was ready and felt very relaxed as we headed into our second morning at race retreat.
No pics with the Pinocchio crew this time - just ate my bagel and stayed off my feet as long as possible. We knew going into this race that the Broads would be splitting up with different race plans, but my plan was to stick with Suzanne til the end. We were Dopey partners in crime, after all. We headed to corrals and I knew I needed one more potty stop but lines were insane that morning so Suzanne and I decided we would get started and then make a pit stop.
And it didn't take us long. Like maybe a mile - LOL. So after our quick potty stop we were back on the road. We were tired from 4 days of 2am wake-up calls but otherwise we felt good. We decided to stick with our 3:1 intervals since that had worked for us so far that weekend.
It wasn't until mile 11 that our plan unraveled slightly. We had a banana stop right outside the entrance to Animal Kingdom and I told Suzanne I was gonna take a potty stop inside the park near Expedition Everest. When I came out though I could tell Suzanne wasn't feeling too swift. The banana had not set well with her, and she started talking about me going on without her.
This crushed me - I had told her I wasn't leaving her but by the mile 13 water stop she needed to pit stop. Our friend Lisa was volunteering there and she had some supplies and Suzanne once again urged me to go while she tried to settle her stomach. You see, Suzanne knew I had my heart set on a certain time for this race and I cannot even tell you how much it meant for her to push me on so I could reach my goal. I made sure she was ok with Lisa then turned to keep going. I had no music or anything, so it was going to be me and the pavement for 13 more miles.
I knew Bonnie was waiting right outside the Animal Kingdom entrance and it was so, so great to see her right then!! I still felt bad about leaving Suzanne but Bonnie was so encouraging and told me to go crush my goal time! So after some BioFreeze to the knees I grabbed an Uncrustable for the road and got back at it.
|Pic courtesy of Bonnie|
I was hoping that just adrenaline plus the joy of running at Disney plus the distraction of looking for my friends would keep my mind occupied for the second half of the race. Bonnie had told me that Wendy was up ahead of me so as I headed onto Osceola Parkway towards ESPN Wide World of Sports I made it a mission to find her. Luckily it didn't take long, as I found her climbing the overpass at mile 15. We exchanged some quick words and encouragement before we separated.
The road to ESPN I spent counting to 3 (Suzanne's watch had been set with the intervals do I had to count them myself after we split) and watching for my other friends as people were coming out of ESPN. The winding through WWOS did not seem near as bad as it had the previous two times I had run the course. We got another banana at mile 18 and since I had nibbled on my sandwich for about two miles I wasn't quite ready for fuel yet. Then I remembered that there would be a photog inside Champion Stadium and the idea for an epic photo hit me.
Disclaimer: I am waiting on a coupon code to purchase this pic so these screen shots will have to do for now...
I think that is one of my all time favorite race pics.
Leaving Champion Stadium I was headed towards the hike out of ESPN at mile 20. I started looking out for my Broads again and hit the jackpot as I saw Amy, April, Shannon, and Tania all together on their way in to WWOS!! Seeing them really got the adrenaline flowing - especially knowing I had a 10K left and I was feeling great.
I hit Hollywood Studios and the park was open and full of spectators. And they were all cheering for every runner - the rush is just indescribable! But perhaps even more exciting to me as I excited the Studios headed to the Boardwalk was knowing that Bonnie was waiting for us outside of the Beach Club. So I turned on my phone to let her know I was headed her way and my phone blew.up! So many notifications and texts from my friends and family cheering me from home - y'all, I just can't.
But the tears really started flowing when I saw Bonnie - and she was holding a sign with words from Fight Song, which we had all sang in the car the night before. She told me I was doing great and asked what I needed - and at that point, I just wanted a (sweaty) hug, which she happily gave before I took off for the International Gateway.
My local LiveFit friend Angela had been surprised by her husband and daughter showing up Saturday to cheer for the final leg of the Dopey journey, and he had messaged me that they were right outside the Mexico pavilion. So as I approach I start scanning the crowds and found them right as I was about to make the turn towards the front of the park. He even caught this hilarious video:
We headed out the front of Epcot and passed by the Hallelujah chorus before turning towards the finish line. And at this point - I had no doubt that PR was mine.
5 hours and 24 minutes after crossing the starting line, I completed the Dopey Challenge with a 45 minute PR.
Tears flowed. My phone blew up again with texts and messages (including one from Mr. SS that really made me cry) and I remember getting my marathon medal but not much after that until I hit the challenge tent to receive my Goofy and Dopey medals. I know that poor girl thought I had lost my ever loving mind I was crying so hard but I was too happy to care.
I made my way to race retreat and got some food and waited on Suzanne. Luckily I got to see her finish from the live finish line broadcast and when she joined me in race retreat the tears were flowing and the hugs were plentiful.
WE FREAKIN DID IT.
You know that feeling you get when you set a goal and you achieve it?? It embraces you like a warm, fuzzy blanket and gives you #allthefeels. To this day I still feel that warm feeling as I look at my medal on the wall. I truly believe you can do anything you put your mind to. The Dopey Challenge was by far the hardest thing I have ever done! And you know what???
I can't wait to do it again 😊