Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dopey Challenge

I decided to sign up for my one and done Dopey Challenge this year.  You'll recall I've been sort of a grump about the whole Dopey thing.  I don't think it is much more of a physical achievement over Goofy and it costs about two arms and two legs more in both registration fees and time away from work/time at the parks.  However, I did want to do it once and this year seemed as good as any to make it a big bang trip.

Last year I was unusually very salty about the on-property transportation system to and from the parks from my usual home base of Pop Century.  Everything seemed so slow and so crowded and I felt my internal monologue saying, "I'm not a broke student anymore. I deserve to treat myself to something a little closer to the parks."  It ended up that last year was supposedly a slightly more crowded time of year with the proximity to the holiday crowds as well. I got a little alarmed when I realized 2018 Marathon Weekend pretty much coincided with New Year's and I didn't want to even imagine what it would be like to fight those crowds on busses and in the parks.

So I decided for 2018 to stay at the Contemporary which is the next door neighbor to my favorite park, Magic Kingdom.  You can walk from Contemporary to Magic Kingdom if you want or can catch the monorail.  By the time I got around to booking my hotel only the park view rooms were available.  $$$$$.  I balked at first, but figured, "What the heck, treat yo self." And so I did.  I justified it with the anticipated huge crowds the extra time in the parks versus sitting on a bus was worth the cost and I could easily get home quickly and into bed for the races.

I ended up flying out on New Year's Day to get to Florida on time.  You have to be there by Wednesday to pick up your bibs for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday races.  I wanted to fly in on Tuesday so if there were any travel snafus I had a little bit of a buffer.

Determined not to check a bag, I managed to stuff into my carry-ons 4 race outfits, 4 throwaway outfit layers, two pairs of running shoes, and all the usual travel stuff.

Luggage for 4 races and a week in the parks

I had heard there were generally monster lines at the expo at opening so I planned to hit it later in the day on Wednesday.  Bib pick-up and shirt pick-up was very easy but the merchandise line was out of control. I had heard earlier in the day people waited HOURS to get into the area with official merchandise.  I'd say by the time I got there the wait was about 45 minutes and I did brave the line to check out the gear.

Line to get into into the snaking queue line which then waits to get into the building, which leads to another bit of line to get into the merchandise area.

It seemed as if there were fewer vendors in the expo area this year, but that may just be because they now also have some of the vendors in an outdoor area.

Last year with my peroneal tendinitis this booth was the MVP of the weekend. 
So glad I didn't need their services this year.

Walt Disney World 5K

It was ridiculously cold with a feels like 28 temperature. The sweatshirt I had intended to chuck at the start of the race became my lifeline. I realized as I froze at the start I did not have anything to wear post-race if I ditched my throwaway sweatshirt. So I planned to keep it the entire race.

Pre-5K weather report. It was actually going to get colder as the sun came up. Note the time, 12:48 am. I actually took this photo before I went to sleep and had to wake up at 3:00 am. Jet lag and park night problems.

I ran into the first photo stop at mile 1 after I was just starting to feel my toes and warm up a bit (Chip and Dale) and stood in the 15 minute long line.  I'd take the sweatshirt off at the last possible moment, get my photo taken, then try to get it back on as I ran onward dodging the hoards of people who bypassed me while I waited.

I stopped for five photos during this race and it took me over an hour and half to finish the 5K (I even skipped two photo stops because I realized time-wise it was getting a little ridiculous).  I didn't break a sweat and didn't even feel as though I went for a run.  It was absurd but I was excited to do it again the next day.

5K motivation; 3:45 am depart room time.

Walt Disney World 10K

I got smart this day and packed an extra jacket to check to be able to wear at the finish.  I didn't want to travel home with my 4 throwaway jackets so I planned to ditch the sweatshirt at some point during the race.  It was slightly less cold this day than the previous.  I didn't feel so bad waiting around as I wore the two jackets, a set of pants I checked every day, a blanket... you get the idea.

The previous day I realized you couldn't wait until the last minute to get into the corrals.  I was supposed to be in corral B but had to run with C the day before since I took so long to get to the starting area.  I headed over a little earlier this day to be able to queue up in corral B and hopefully get the jump on people in the photos lines.

I spent so much time standing around in Epcot during the race the day before waiting for photos, I realized they looped the same songs over and over in the park.  I was impressed and thankful when I realized they chose different songs for the 10K day than the 5K day.

It was still plenty cold and I debated not throwing out the sweatshirt but I finally did around mile 4.5. I left it by a trashcan in Epcot and I really hope it got added to the donation pile instead of the trash pile.  I owe that sweatshirt for my survival the 5K and 10K days.

Both the 5K and 10K days I ran without water which only worked because it was so cold. I figured I didn't need it for the 5K being so short and cold and by the 10K day I realized that the on-off of the sweatshirt layer would be impossibly hard with my Orange Mud backpack on.  It was a good call to run without fluids which is VERY rare for me.  I will note there was an actual water stop INSIDE Epcot during the 10K which is the only water stop I have ever encountered on-stage at a Disney theme park ever during a race. Usually they'll have them backstage I imagine so that the mess can be contained more easily.

The longer distance meant runners got spaced out a bit more (I didn't stop for a photo until mile 4). I was a bit more selective with photo stops and even with the long photo lines I finished the 5K faster than the 10K the previous day.

I had a 8:05 am breakfast reservation at Kona at the Polynesian after the race.  Months before my thought process was that the race started at 5:30, figure about an hour to run which left plenty of time to get back to the hotel, shower and get to the reservation.  And then I ran a 1.5 hour 5K.  I have to say that reservation was on my mind and I decided I would plan to head directly from the race to the Polynesian.  I finished and had about an hour until my reservation.  I gambled and stood in line to get a photo with Minnie at the finish.  Everything worked out perfectly and I arrived at the Polynesian at 8:01 am! Phew.  I have to say nothing was better than having a nice hot sit-down breakfast after the race. Not sure I'd plan it so tight again but that was quite nice.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

This was the first day I got to take advantage of staying at a monorail resort and rode the monorail to the start area instead of catching a bus.  Frankly, I can't say it was any more convenient though I suppose you don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic or your bus getting lost.

There were tons more people at the half marathon than the 5K or 10K.  They reconfigured the security lines into snake-like queues to accommodate the additional people. I was excited because I finally got to meet up with Leana at the start.  I consider her my first internet friend as her blog inspired me to start my own in 2008 and she was the very first person to comment on this blog. She is also a Disney runner fan and we have been at the parks at the same time in the past but never got it together.  It was nice to meet her and have some company as we waited for the race to start.

It actually didn't feel all that cold when we were waiting for the start.  I didn't even nip into some of my extra pre-race layers this day.  My hands weren't cold without gloves so I decided to check them to save them for another day.  In my distraction of talking to Leana as I checked my bag I forgot to take off the fleecy hat I was wearing over my race hat before I checked my bag.  I really wanted it for the next morning and future cold runs so didn't want to throw it away but couldn't run with it on because my whole race outfit sort of revolved around the Monsters University hat I had made.  I was able to cram it into my Orange Mud pack during the race. Phew.

Leana and I parted ways when we got into our corrals and before I knew it we were off.  I don't know know what happened, but the first few miles were bitterly cold. I deeply regretted not wearing my gloves.  My hands were freezing and stinging from the cold.  But after a few miles it seemed to warm up a little.

I was again selective about photos stops, not wanting to extrapolate out a 1.5 hour 5K over a 13.1 mile course.  I saw Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars and stopped to get in line. Normally I would have skipped them, but my son loves vehicles and I thought he would get a kick out of that photo.  F, that was all for you.

The course was slightly different this year and we took a new approach to Magic Kingdom entering through the front instead of a side entrance.  I thought that was a nice improvement.  I saw a restroom right outside Magic Kingdom and decided to hop in line.

The run up Main Street is my favorite part of the race and it didn't disappoint. When I hit Tomorrowland I saw Mike and Sully and circled back to get into line since I was dressed as Mike.  Lo and behold Leana appeared!  So I got a photo with her (she was dressed as Sully) and Mike and Sully which was fun.  She was a lady on a mission and we parted ways shortly after as I hopped into another photo line.

Within Magic Kingdom before even running through the castle I stopped for photos with Mike and Sully, Goofy, Sebastian, and the Cinderella mice.  I logged a 51:35 min/mile half-mile split the first part of Magic Kingdom!  Gah.

The Cinderella mice left to take a break while I was in line so I started chatting with the women who were by me in line. One lady shared how years ago Dopey was out on the course and she didn't stop for a photo and has regretted it ever since (especially now that he is never on the course).  She said after that if there is any inkling she stops for the photos.  I had to agree with her. I'd love to one day run Disney with a mini time-goal (perhaps sub-4) but another part of me feels it is a waste of the experience to run this race that way.

By the time I made it out of Magic Kingdom with all the photo stops and that 51:35 pace half mile, I was once again behind much slower runners.  The area after Magic Kingdom is affectionately known as "Cone Alley" where Disney lines up cones side by side along the road to keep runners on one side of the street.  It is very narrow and it was frustrating to be stuck behind people moving at a slower pace than my legs wanted to move.

Disney's fuel sponsor changed this year from Clif to the sports jelly beans.  Those suckers were frozen solid and so hard to eat.  If you're ever planning on running a planned pace I would practice with the jelly beans. I imagine it would be hard to consume them if you were running hard, especially during cold years when your hands are frozen in addition to the beans.

The 5K and the 10K they didn't have characters out giving high fives at the finish line. This was disappointing for me and I thought maybe they had stopped doing that. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and Dopey were all in the finish area for photos ops so it sort of made sense none of them were out giving high fives.  So I was thrilled when I saw Chip standing by the finish line giving out high fives!  It is my favorite thing to get a high five from a character before crossing the finish.  I was all lined up to run by him and then a group in front of me stopped by him and turned around to get a selfie with him.  Blah!! They so they ruined my high five :(  Sadness.

The med team was telling people to hydrate as we walked through the finisher area.  They were even taking the caps off of bottles for people as we walked by.  I chugged a Powerade and ate a Clif Builder Bar I had packed to refuel right away with at the finish area. Eyes on the marathon the next day. I waited about half an hour to get a photo with Donald Duck with my medal and was freezing in the wind.

The shuttle bus back to the hotel took so incredibly long.  There was so much traffic approaching Magic Kingdom.

I was able to nap about an hour before I headed out to the parks.  I had a Fast Pass for Flights of Passage that I wasn't about to not use.  The wait time posted when I walked right onto the ride was 4 hours.  FOUR HOURS.  It was a great ride but I would not wait four hours to get on it.

Walt Disney World Marathon

Ah, the last 2:55 am wake-up call.

The previous three days I had worn two long sleeve shirts. I debated for a little bit but decided to go with a single long sleeve shirt for the full marathon.  It was supposed to be 39 at the start, warming up to the 40s/50s. Basically perfect weather.  I threw my compression sleeves and gloves into my gear check bag and decided I would make the call at the race start if I wanted to wear them or not.

The security line to check bags was pretty long on marathon morning but it moved quickly. I was meeting up with another friend this morning and found her quickly at our appointed spot. Talking with her I decided to run with the compression sleeves so wrestled them on before checking our bags.

We used the portapotties at the exit of the staging area before you head out to the corrals and there were no lines in that area. This year for the half and full they had less corrals but did mini-wave releases within the corrals.

I ran with a throwaway blanket draped around my shoulders and didn't get rid of it until right before entering Magic Kingdom.  I decided not to use the restroom before entering Magic Kingdom in order to not get pushed back farther in the line of runners at all of the photo stops. I figured I'd grab a restroom before exiting the park instead.

Waiting in line for Donald

I was a bit more selective this day for photo stops and only stopped for photos with Donald Duck, the castle and Woody in this park.  In all of the Magic Kingdom excitement I missed my first gel and realized I was feeling sort of hungry. My legs still felt good as we left Magic Kingdom.  During the half the day before I had tried to take a short walk break at every mile marker to save my legs.  During the full I didn't do this though I did walk briefly through water stations as I drank water.  I probably could have run without my hydration pack during the full since it was cold and Disney has so many water stations on course. I may consider running without it if there is ever another year the temps are in the 30s/40s.

Waiting in line for some Hercules characters

As we ran the long stretch to Animal Kingdom I had the thought that I had seen on the hotel television that morning that there were extra magic hours at Animal Kingdom that day.  So in my head I thought that the park opened at 8 am if you were a resort guest instead of 9 am.  I asked a cast member when we entered a park and he informed me that I was mistaken and that the park opened for everyone at 9 am.  My one major Disney Marathon regret is that I never rode Everest during the race.  Years ago I would pass by and the park was already open and the ride was up and running.  Nowadays with the earlier start time and the earlier placement of Animal Kingdom on the course the park is closed when I run through.  I hit Everest 40 minutes before the park opened.

I contemplated briefly about waiting around but after the last three days of finishing with runners much slower than myself I didn't want the frustration of trying to get around people for 13 more miles, especially once you factored in future photo stops. I thought about the conversation I had with the woman the day prior and realized that Everest is my Dopey.

As I left the Animal Kingdom area I passed two men who were handing out Red Vines.  I am staunchly in the Red Vine camp in the Red Vine vs. Twizzler debate. I took one and yelled, "Red Vines are better than Twizzlers!" as I ran away.  The two men cheered which made me laugh.

I ate a lot of food on course which I usually do at Disney.  Jelly beans, multiple bananas, and spectator supplied candy.  I carried 3 gels intending to eat enough on-course food to account for the 4th gel I'd usually consume. But I ate so much food I ended up using only two of my gels during the race.

As we headed towards Wide World of Sports for the first time during the race I felt ever so slightly warm. My hands were getting sweaty in my gloves which I fully intended to ditch at some point. I decided to keep them on just a bit longer in case it got cold again.  The approach to Wide World of Sports is slightly uphill which I had never realized in the past. I greatly dislike running at the Wide World of Sports. There are so many twists and turns and it comes at a low morale-point in the race as you tick off the early 20s miles.  There were a lot of character stop opportunities in this area but none of them spoke to me and I skipped them all.  Three cheers for being able to use a real restroom with no line in this area.

We finally made it to Disney Studios where I was eagerly anticipating the official chocolate/candy aid station.  This year I grabbed a package of M&Ms and malted balls.  I also dumped my gloves at about this time and nipped into another restroom.  Something about the slower pace or all the aid stations but I just always need to pee so many times at Disney!  They're doing a lot of construction at Disney Studios this year so we were barely in the park before we were headed towards Epcot.

My favorite sign I saw this race:  "Mile 23 is not the happiest place on Earth."

One of the aid stations had a sign that said, "Volunteers: The cold never bothered us anyway." That gave me a laugh. It was cold all weekend and the volunteers were so awesome to be out there for us.

My Twitter friend, Jen, was going to be out cheering at mile 24 and I kept my eyes peeled for her.  I told her later that expecting to see her was what kept me going that mile and I ran over for a quick hug when I saw her.

I entered Epcot and encountered what was the last water stop. I walked and took some sips and told myself I'd run all the way to the finish.  That idea was short lived as I encountered a photo stop at the mile 25 mile marker which was special for the 25th anniversary and Snow White who had no one waiting to take photos with her (I generally don't stop for face characters).

At the bottom of World Showcase I bumped up a gear and tapped into some dormant CIM speed.  Chip was out again giving high fives and this time I slapped paw with enthusiasm as I crossed the finish.  So fun!

There were extremely long longs for character photo ops at the finish.  I think I waited in Dopey's line for 45 minutes to 1 hour!  Luckily it wasn't horribly cold on marathon day so it was as pleasant as standing on your feet can be after a marathon.

That's the one to take a photo with Dopey; back and forth snaking properties of the line not captured

For the 25th Anniversary they gave everyone a set of Mickey Mouse ears commemorating the event. I thought that was a great touch!

My overall race comments are probably redundant from years' past:  Disney does aid stations better than any other race. They are plentiful and there are a couple that are very close together (in the sense they could probably delete one and get away with it, but they don't because they are awesome). They clearly have things set up with water at certain tables and energy drink at others and the volunteers call out what they are holding.  As mentioned, if I run this race again during a 30-40 degree year I may not even bother running with my own fluids which is a HUGE statement from me since I will take a bottle of water out on a 2 mile 50 degree run.

Disney also rules when it comes to on-course bathrooms. They have portapotties galore on the course but they bathrooms in all the theme parks are also available to use. I stopped to pee four times during the marathon and got to use a real flushing toilet every single time.  If you plan appropriately you can utilize real bathrooms instead of portapotties for sure.

After running 4 races in one weekend, I do wish they would mix up the on-course characters a little more.  For example, Vacation Genie was out on the course at every single race. I always say it seems that they have less character stops than in years far gone, but I don't know if that is just my perception or reality.

It helped I met up with friends two of the four days, but the long morning waits in the start area just didn't seem quite so long this year.  And since it was freezing that is a big statement. I was proud of myself for finally packing enough pre-race layers to combat the weather.  Gear check was created for a reason, people.

Disney now has their own photographers on course taking photos and I have to say they do a GREAT job.  This trip I actually bought the Memory Maker package where you get all the photos photographers take of you for something like 30 days.  So for me, that was all the photos around the parks and on attractions, AND four races worth of on-course photos.  So worth it not to have to haggle with my own camera on course which can't take nearly as great photographs. Highly recommend.

I stand by my opinion that Dopey isn't more physically challenging than Goofy. However I will say having to wake up early 4 days in a row is much harder than only 2 days. I planned each day to run the race, get back to the room and shower, and I took about a one hour nap before hitting the parks. I never really got into the groove of getting to sleep early. Coming from the west coast it is just too hard with the time change.

I love the Disney Marathon.  Every year Disney does something that riles up the masses and makes us shake our fists but we always go back for more.  I am always filled with joy during this race.  I feel like a kid running through the parks and love stopping to take photos with the characters.  Even through the tough patches this race keeps me smiling.  You never forget your first and this race always feels like coming home.

I wanted to make a few notes on the hotel (Contemporary) I stayed at this year in case anyone was researching that aspect.

Things I disliked: 
The food court at the Contemporary for quick service meals is quite limited in selection and there is a very long wait to get your food.  At Pop there are tons of food court stations and the food is more or less already prepared cafeteria style so you get it very quickly.  I always sat on a bench for 15-20 minutes waiting for my order at Contemporary.

I also really disliked that all of the race shuttles were shared with other resorts.  And of course Contemporary was the last stop. So leaving the expo or finish area we'd have to go to two other hotels to drop off guests before getting to my hotel. Huge pain and time suck. As a side note, the one morning I took the bus from the race to the Polynesian their bus stopped at their hotel first, so if you ware in the market for a Deluxe monorail hotel, that may be the better option from a post-race transport standpoint.

It is so expensive. I realized I could have probably taken a one month cruise for the amount of money I spent for one week's lodging here.

Things I loved: 
The toiletries at Contemporary are definitely a step above the Value resorts (though not at all a cost justifier).

I loved the room service option at Contemporary mainly because I hated their palsy quick service food court. But it was awesome to order a quesadilla post marathon and have it delivered to my room.

By far the biggest perk of staying at the Contemporary was the ability to walk to Magic Kingdom.  When staying at Pop in order to get home I would walk almost 10 minutes to the shuttle stop.  Stand waiting for 10-20 minutes.  Stand on a crowded bus another 10-15 minutes during the ride.  Then walk from the shuttle stop to my hotel room sometimes almost a quarter mile away.  Major energy and time suck when you're dealing with the races.  I set my GPS one night and it was a 0.6 mi walk from the hub by the castle to my hotel and from there just an elevator ride up to my room.  On my last day I was even able to utilize my 1:50 pm Mine Train Fast Pass and was on my 2:30 pm Magical Express bus to the airport! So that's the reason I spent a small fortune on the Contemporary this trip. I wanted to maximize my time in the parks given my desire to stay off my feet as much as possible and also knowing there would be higher crowds due to the timing of the races this year.

Another great thing about the Contemporary is when you do have to utilize the shuttles I found I was always able to get a seat on the bus whether I was leaving the Contemporary or returning from the parks.  Also, the shuttle stop seemed to often be slightly closer to the parks than the Pop stop which helped a little to minimize walking.

I didn't do this as much as I thought I would, but I did take the monorail to the Polynesian to utilize their food court.  The Polynesian had a really nice quick service counter but I only made it over once the whole trip and I never got around to go to the Grand Floridian to try their food options.

My balcony view

I can't decide if this is a pro or con given the fact I ran the races, but I had a room with a view of Magic Kingdom which was amazing. It was freezing cold the first half of the trip so I was barely out there, but the last couple of days I would sit on the balcony and take it all in.  I thought it would be fun to see the fireworks from my room.  It was great, but it also prevented me from sleeping early.  One night I tried to get in bed before 9 and was just dozing off when BOOM BOOM BOOM!  So you won't be asleep before 9:30 any night if that is priority the nights before the races.


Rabbits' Guy said...

4 "races" in 4 days!!! Whew!!!!

ياسمين حسام said...

شركة واحة الخليج بجدة ومكة ورابغ والطائف الشركة الأولى والأفضل في خدمات نقل العفش بجدة اذا كنت تريد الحفاظ على الاثاث الخاص بك فلا بد من ان تتصل على الفور على الرقم التالي 0555583146 رقم شركتنا اولى شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بجدة
لدينا افضل العمالة الماهرة والمدربة على نقل العفش بدون حدوق اي خسائر للعميل كل مايهمنا هو ارضاء العملاء وكسب ثقتهم لا تترددوا في التواصل معنا
من اهم خدماتنا :
افضل شركة نقل اثاث رخيص برابغ
شركات نقل عفش برابغ
شركة نقل عفش برابغ عمالة فلينيية

ياسمين حسام said...

شركة شركة المثالية للتنظيف بالدمام افضل شركة رائدة في مجال التنظيف شركتنا هي الاولى في محركات البحث العالمية والمحلية اذا كنت تبحث عن افضل شركة تنظيف فلابد ان يكون اختيارك على اساس صحيح حتى لاتندم بعد ذلك بسبب تواجد خسائر مادية ان في غنى عنها .
عزيزي العميل لا بد ان تكون حريص في اختيارك لافضل شركة تنظيف بالجبيل تمثلك لك الخدمة المراد تنفيذها حتى تتم على اكمل وجه بدون اي اتلاف في اي غض من اغرضا المنزل .
لذا شركتنا شركة شاهه المثالية افضل وارخص شركة متواجدة حاليا في المنطقة الشرقية لاننا حريصين كل الحرص على ارضاء العملاء والعمل على تنفيذ مهام عملنا على اكمل وجه .
لذا ننصحك دائما بالبحث عنا والاتصال بنا وسوف يقوم احد ممثلي خدمة العملاء بالرد عليكم .
الخدمة متاحة طوال ايام الاسبوع وعلى مدار 24 ساع لا تترددوا في التواصل معنا نحن شركة شاه المثالية اسم يعني ثقة .