5 Reasons to Run a runDisney Race

It’s no secret that I love runDisney races. My very first one was in January of 2010, and I have been hooked ever since. The great thing about these races is that now there are so many, so there is something for everyone, at many different times of the year. If you are on the fence about signing up for a race, here are just a few of the many reasons why a runDisney race may make sense for you and your family.

5 reasons to runDisney

5 Reasons to run a runDisney race:

1.) Vacation for family: I like to call this a “racecation”. You don’t just have to come in the night before, run, and then go home like any other race. No no, you can make a whole week of fun out of a runDisney event! Many of the events are across multiple days, and then people sometimes choose to add a few days for relaxation after the race as well. With so many resorts, parks, and other activities to choose from, there is no shortage of fun. Just don’t forget to wear your medal around the parks, you earned it!

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2.) Everyone can participate: What some people don’t realize is that a runDisney event consists of more than just a half marathon. Most of the event weekends also include kids races (all the way down to the diaper dash!), a family fun run 5k, and some even have a 10k and full marathon. So everyone from the smallest mouseketeer to grandma can join in the fun.

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3.) Characters and course entertainment: Where else can you stop along the course to snap a picture with a few princesses or the big cheese himself? Not to mention the idea of running THROUGH Cinderella castle or around the World Showcase in EPCOT? There are plenty of things to see to keep your mind busy and a smile on your face as you race to the finish line. Not to mention, there are tons of awesome spectators along the routes!

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4.) Great expo/speakers: One of my favorite parts of a runDisney race weekend would have to be the expo. So, so, so many vendors with great products for you to test out and purchase. There is also a plethora of official race merchandise, a speaker series where you can hear from some of your favorite knowledgeable runners, and not to mention those coveted New Balance running shoes.

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5.) Amazing bling: I have a lot of race medals, but my favorites generally are those I earned from completing runDisney events. The designers do such a great job of incorporating magical components, shimmering touches, and even moveable parts. I always feel so accomplished after running a race, so having a beautiful medal to commemorate my experience makes it even more worthwhile. These guys are always outdoing themselves!

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I could go on for days about why I love runDisney races and think you would too, but these are the top five that came to my mind. If you have any questions about runDisney, or want to know more about my personal experiences, I would love to hear from you or even help you plan your next trip! Email me at [email protected] so we can chat!

For more information on registering for a runDisney race, visit rundisney.com

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is the main reason why you run runDisney races? Is there something that just keeps you going back for more?

Dopey Challenge 2014: Marathon Race Recap

The fourth and final installment is finally here!

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The marathon was the only thing standing in the way of me getting three beautiful new  runDisney medals. I knew this would be the hardest day of all, and I was nervous. I felt undertrained, tired, injured, and just wanted to be done!

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We hopped on a bus for the fourth and final time, and made the long walk to our corrals after meeting up with a  few team runDisney friends before the race. We sat again again, conserving energy, and waited for our turn.

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We inched closer to the start, and I just couldn’t believe I was about to run 26.2 miles after already racing for three days.

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The fireworks went off, and it was finally our turn! Luckily, the congestion wasn’t near as bad as the day before at the half. There were still a few bottlenecks going over bridges and around turns, but it cleared up a lot better than before. We made it to the Magic Kingdom sign…wasn’t I already here once?

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I was feeling pretty good. We were walking through water stations and for about one minute every five or six minutes as well.

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Those first few miles were kind of “just keep swimming” for me, I knew we had a long way to go, and it was still dark so I was focusing on my feet and how I was feeling and not what was around me. The big crowd at the TTC was a nice boost, and I was going to stop ad use a “real” bathroom there, but the line was out the door, nevermind! We kept going and finally made it into the Magic Kingdom. I was bummed it was already daylight, I love running down Main street in the dark. I did get to see a couple familiar faces cheering us on though, thanks for coming out Kelly and Meghann!

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I decided to stop at the Tomorrowland bathrooms, huge line again, drat! I finally found an empty one where Tomorrowland meets Fantasyland, so we also stopped for a picture with this guy.

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I wanted to get a good castle picture of the both of us, so we stopped off on the side next to the castle to take a selfie.

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A super sweet girl saw what we were doing and asked if she could take the picture for us. Sure!

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Bobby took one of me, and mid photo a reader called out to me, which resulted in this photo:

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We made our way through the rest of the Magic Kingdom, and I took some Tylenol at the same med stop as the day before. Soon we were back out on the tiny road going to the Grand Floridian that is always crowded, and I saw more friends cheering for me at the wedding pavilion.

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We also had to get a photo with this duck.

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I was glad when we got to the speedway, having new ground to cover proved to be more entertaining.

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(looking like I’m running but actually at a standstill trying to turn onto the speedway!)

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Saw this lovely lady about this time, always good to see her on the course! Also, I have no idea what I am looking at here.

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An odd thing happened about this time, my feet started THROBBING. Not from my injury, but just the bottoms of both feet were killing me with every step. Luckily I remembered there was a med tent up ahead, so I stopped for more Tylenol. I was very thankful that the rest of my body felt fine, but wow my feet made me want to cry, and I wasn’t even halfway yet, or even close to it.

We trudged on to one of the two more boring stretches. (one is from the speedway to Animal Kingdom, the other is Animal Kingdom to the Sports Complex.) Several readers recognized me, and it was so much fun to chat with everyone! It lifted my spirits and kept my mind off the race, too!

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We were finally nearing Animal Kingdom, and I knew on the other side of it was the halfway mark, woo hoo! We love animals and were excited to see so many going into the park.

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The pig was wearing a bib! Adorbs.

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As I was in line, I saw a familiar face….but I thought nah, just coincidence. Then someone ran up and asked to take a photo with her. It WAS her! Yup I was right behind Tara from the Biggest Loser! She let me take a photo with her and we ended up running about the same pace back and forth for the rest of the race, and she finished just before me.

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We went on into the park, and Bobby said he had to go to the bathroom, so I nodded and kept running and stayed to the right, which is what we were doing any time one of us had to stop so the other could catch up and not get lost.

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Well…I kept going and going…ran into Dave Mari….kept going…and still nothing so I stopped after Everest and waited about two minutes…then he calls me…he was WAITING outside the bathroom! So we were both just standing still for several minutes ug! I told him I was going to keep going and he could catch me.

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I made it out the other side of the park and hallelujah I reached mile 13!

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Bobby finally caught me after this, and we headed out towards the Sports Complex. Bobby wanted to stretch his legs so several times he would run ahead of me, then stop on the side to stretch until I caught up with him, and this worked well for us for several miles. I didn’t want him to cramp up because he was shortening his gait to run with me. We made it to the sports complex, still doing our stop and go/not run with each other the whole time thing. I also took a bathroom break here (there was a line but I had to go!)

We rounded Champion Stadium, and headed out again back onto the road.

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Coming out of the complex Bobby said he was going to run ahead again and told me to stay on the LEFT, which I did. I was approaching mile 20 and the DJ was playing “Roar” and I started singing, and I have no idea why but I started crying during the chorus. I started thinking about this whole journey that I was so not prepared for, and how it definitely takes a fighter to do this, and no matter my time in the end I was going to be a champion. Running 48.6 miles in four days is awesome, and I couldn’t believe I was a 10k away from my goal. I had been SO nervous about this race, about how my body would hold up, and here I was, mile 20, and feeling pretty good. it just all hit me at once, and I was SO proud of myself. No matter what life throws at me, no one can take this accomplishment away from me. The little high school track sprinter who hated running was competing in a crazy race challenge, what a dream come true for me.

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The moment passed, I kept running for a good ten minutes, still no Bobby. I crossed over to the other side of the road about to exit towards Hollywood Studios, and my phone rings “did you cross over the road yet””?” Uh…yeah…about 7 minutes ago…. Bobby had somehow missed me and was way behind me. I told him I would run walk but I couldn’t just stop, he would have to catch up. Apparently I was REALLY far ahead because it took him until we almost turned into the Park to catch me!

We grabbed some chocolate and I knew the worst of the race was behind us. The parks were entertaining, and I knew I was going to make it from here.

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If you have read my first marathon recap you know exactly what these two pictures are for. Smile

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I surprisingly wasn’t that emotional going around this turn, I think I used up all my sappy emotion back at mile 20. I was just focused on finishing at this point. Bobby was happy and feeling great which I was SO thankful for since the last two marathons we ran here, Hollywood Studios is when his hamstrings would start to cramp.

It was a tight squeeze going along the path to the boardwalk, but we made it to the bridge going over the water. Fun story: during the 10k when we ran over that same bridge I told Bobby I could not WAIT until crossing this same point on Sunday. We would be so close to DONE and I would be so, so happy. Well, Bobby remembered this, and stopped and took my picture.

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I saw some more friends cheering outside the Beach Club, it’s always great to see familiar faces! We made our way to EPCOT. We saw the line for a photo with Dopey and decided to pass, I just wanted to be done and off my feet.

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We made it around World Showcase, and it was so great to see so many spectators calling out our names, it was just the push I needed that final mile and helped so, so much.

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Holy moley we were almost there!

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I couldn’t believe it was almost over. I was trying to soak it all in, this was it, the moment I couldn’t wait to arrive. The triumphant finish. We earned it. Turning that final corner is always such a rush for me, seeing the people, hearing the shouts, and that beautiful finish line straight ahead.

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I grabbed Bobby’s hand, and we finished the race, together. We started this challenge that way, and it was the best way imaginable to finish.

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We finished in 6:06, just eight minutes slower than last year when we were only running two of the four races. I was very pleased considering all of our stops, and even more pleased at how “ok” I felt. Sure I wanted to sit down and eat a cheeseburger (that would come!) But I wasn’t dying either. A win! My goal for Dopey was to finish in an upright position, and that I did. God totally got me through that race, I have NO IDEA how my foot and knee hurt during the shorter races but not this one. Yes my feet ached very badly, but my recurring injuries stayed away. Amazing.

I knew a friend of mine was handing out marathon medals, so I was super excited when I was able to get mine from her. How special!

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We headed over to get out Goofy and Dopey medals. FINALLY MINE!

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We didn’t stick around. I wanted a shower ASAP and needed some food. Right onto a bus we went.

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Then this happened:

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It was glorious, and I was ready for a nap. I think I deserved it.

QOTD: Do your feet hurt when you run long distances? Who is ready to tackle Dopey?

48.6 Miles Done

Well folks I did it! Four days, four races and 48.6 miles later I have 6 new medals and very sore legs. Thanks for all the encouragement you all showed me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Your virtual cheers helped! We are enjoying one last day in Disney today then we head home tomorrow!

Here are a couple pictures from today:

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QOTD: who wants to tackle Dopey?!

Packing for the runDisney Marathon Weekend/Dopey’s Challenge

Last year, I wrote a post about packing for runDisney’s marathon weekend. I even included a fun video to help be your guide, and I thought packing for TWO races (Goofy) would be the most I would ever pack for. Check out that link if you want a super extensive packing list!

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Weeellll, I was wrong. Most of you know I am running runDisney’s Dopey Challenge, so now I will need FOUR of everything! This can get quite confusing since We are staying for six nights and will also need park clothes, nice clothes for dinners, etc. I am not going to do another vlog (sorry guys, there is just no time!) but I did want to give you some tips to ADD to this vlog, for those running Dopey.

1.) Ziploc Bags: You will need four sports bras, four pairs of socks, etc, and it can get confusing as to which you want to wear for what race. To minimize confusion (and a messy suitcase) pack the items you need for each race in a ziplock bag or two, and label the bag with a sharpie.

2.) Carry on your shoes: If you are flying, be sure to carry on or wear your running shoes. Most other items are replaceable, but you don’t want to run (especially four races!) in new shoes

3.) Extra running shoes: I plan to bring three pair at least, and rotate them out for the races. Also, in case one pair gets soaking wet, muddy, etc. you will want to have a back up pair for the other races.

4.) Lots of fuel: I take fuel every 3-4 miles, so between my husband and I we will have a lot! (They also sell GU etc. at the expo but don’t try anything new for the race!) I will also be hydrating a lot, it’s going to be another warm race weekend.

5.) Recovery aids: In between each race there are certain things you can do to minimize stiffness and aches for the next race. I plan to bring my traveling stick/foam roller, ibuprofen (do not take ibuprofen before a race, take Tylenol if you must!) compression socks and pants, and Biofreeze.

I hope everyone has a wonderful race experience! If you see me at the expo or any of the races be sure to say hello! You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook as well, I will be posting live from Florida and from the races.

Happy packing, safe travels, and I hope to see many of you in Florida!

QOTD: What am I leaving out between the video and these tips?

For information on runDisney events, registration, and dates, be sure to check out runDisney.com

runDisney Marathon Weekend Extras

Everyone knows that runDisney is about well….running! But, did you know there are other fun events you can participate in during the race weekend?

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Let me give you a few examples for marathon weekend that is coming up in less than TWO weeks!

Race Retreat: You can be pampered by signing up for the VIP Race Retreat for before and after your runDisney event. Before the race, stay warm and dry inside a private tent where you will enjoy a pre race breakfast, coffee, water, and PowerAde. There is also a private restroom area and your own bag check. Stretch out before the race on the padded stretching area or lounge around on the comfy seating. After the race, come back to the tent to check your results on the computers, enjoy brunch with hot and cold beverages, and reunite with family and friends. There is even a changing area and a self treatment/first aid station. Have some sore muscles? Enjoy a 10 minute massage for just $10. This is especially a good idea if it’s COLD outside!

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Even more exciting is that this years VIP Race Retreat has a Mary Poppins theme! You will also receive commemorative socks and a towel, special character meet and greets, and access to a live video feed of the finish line. You must sign up for the race retreat at runDisney.com, space is very limited, so hurry! (Fees apply). I had the opportunity to go to the race retreat once before a couple years ago for the Princess half marathon and it was a great relaxing atmosphere. Recommended especially for first time racers that are a little nervous.

Pasta in the Park Party: Carb up before the race at the Pasta in the Park Party. With your ticket you will get exclusive access to EPCOT as well as a pasta buffet (and dessert!) followed by a special viewing area for Illuminations. You may also run into Minnie, Mickey, and other guests while you party the night away with a live DJ and face painter. When I attended, it was a great time for special character interaction. I got to stand and talk to Rapunzel for at least five minutes. (Rumor has it Dopey will be making a special appearance!)

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Breakfast: Are you participating in the family Fun Run 5k or the Walt Disney World 10k? You can have even more fun by purchasing a ticket for the special Monsters Inc. themed breakfast at the finish line at EPCOT. (Did you know I LOVE Monsters Inc.? This sounds so, so fun!) This event is from 7:00-9:00 am the mornings of the 5k and 10k.

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Cool Down Party: After all the magical miles have been run on Sunday, it’s time for a celebration! Head to the Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney. Party with your best running friends, eat, shop, and enjoy special discounts at select stores by presenting your finishers medal. Admission is open to runners, their families, and the public.

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ChEAR Squad: If you are not running but still want to spectate the races, you can take part in one of three levels of ChEAR squad packages. More information and to sign up can be found here.

Related: Sign up for my free My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

Want more info on runDisney races and “extra” events? Check out runDisney.com.

runDisney WDW Marathon Sells Out

It’s official, the 2014 runDisney marathon in January has SOLD OUT! (There are still a few spaces left for Goofy’s challenge and the kids races, but hurry!)

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This race officially sold out in under four months, which happens to be one of the fastest marathon sell outs in the history of runDisney. Way to go guys!

Did you know that almost 26,000 runners are participating in marathon weekend? It’s going to be a giant runner party all weekend long, and I cannot wait to participate. Of those 26k, over 13k are signed up specifically for the marathon. There will be lots of new 26.2 stickers slapped on the back of cars after this one yall!

Lots of fun new things happening for marathon weekend. This will be the first time the event is stretched to five days with the addition of the new 10k race distance.

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Just for a refresher, here is the schedule of events:

Schedule of Events

· Disney’s Health and Fitness Expo: Jan. 8 – 11

o ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

· Disney’s Family Fun Run 5K: Jan. 9, 6:30 am

o Epcot

· runDisney Kids Races and Mickey Mile: Jan. 9, 10 & 11

o ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

· Pasta in the Park Parties: Jan. 9, 10 & 11

o Epcot

· runDisney Family Reunion Breakfast: Jan. 9 & 10

o Epcot

· Walt Disney World 10K: Jan. 10, 5:30 a.m.

o Epcot

· Walt Disney World Half Marathon: Jan. 11, 5:30 a.m.

o Epcot

· Walt Disney World Marathon: Jan. 12, 5:30 a.m.

o Epcot

· Cool Down Party: Jan. 12

o Downtown Disney

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WOW that’s a jam packed week of fun. I am going to love every minute (well, except maybe mile 25 of the marathon?) We are just starting to get back into “race season” as far as runDisney is concerned, and I am getting super excited for all the fun things coming up! (Hello, Dumbo Double dare in three weeks?!?)

Stay tuned next week for some packing and travel tips for Disneyland half marathon weekend. It’s so close!

QOTD: Are you participating in Marathon weekend? Are you racing ANYWHERE in January? Where?

runDisney Marathon Weekend Changes for 2014

I just got off the phone with Faron Kelley, director of marketing and communications for Disney sports to chat with him and some other bloggers about marathon weekend 2014, and some of the changes the runDisney folks are making to have the weekend be a great experience for all involved.

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First of all, the obvious news, is the new Dopey challenge (Faron is running it, too!) He said he is super excited about the six medals, as well as the inaugural 10k race. In keeping with the theme of the classic Disney characters (Donald for the half, Mickey for the full, etc) they knew they wanted Minnie for the 10k. He was also excited about the fact that there are very few if any places where you can get a race experience like this one, and have the opportunity to earn so many medals and run so many races in four days.

He also wanted to be very clear in stating that runDisney listens to it’s runners. They read blogs, social media, (such as the runDisney Facebook page) and listen to feedback to get information from participants and to make changes to give everyone a great race experience. One of the main concerns folks have been having is crowding on the race course. Well friends, runDisney heard you loud and clear, and is making some big changes for 2014. Let’s take a look:

-There will be 2,000 less runners for marathon weekend distributed between the half and the full. Since the half is where they have seen the main course pinch points, most of the cutting down will come from that race. Faron mentioned that it’s a tough decision because there is so much demand to run these races, and they want to give as many people as possible the chance to run. However, they realize this is the right thing to do to make the run a better experience for everyone.

-There will be more corrals to spread out the runners a little more and to help even out the course.

-A proof of time will be required for 95% of runners, so pretty much everyone who has run before, all to make sure runners are in the right corrals. It can become a safety issue if participants are in the wrong place, and again it goes back to helping everyone to have a fun experience.

– Finally! Women’s fitted shirts! Faron said they have heard about the desire for the shirts for awhile, and since ladies made rundisney what it is and are driving the running boom in the country, we should get shirts that fit us. Hooray! Also, as far as he knows they will continue to be long sleeve shirts.

-The marathon course will be the same as this past year, the 20th anniversary course. The half course will remain the same as well, as will the 5k. The 10k course is yet to be released.

-There will be a new marathon medal. Faron knows people run for the bling and seeing the awesome medals is something he loves!

-Spots for Dopey: They have not officially decided on a number of spaces yet. They are watching the numbers for the presales, and don’t want to take all the 10k spots because runDisney wants to leave most of them for people wanting to run the 10k only. Faron said it is quite the balancing act, and that the presale numbers were very limited.

-An earlier start time is possible in order to add the new corrals, however, the main objective is to get to the Magic Kingdom as soon as possible and then clear it out so guests can go to the park for the day. For 2013 the loop around EPCOT was taken out, and we ran straight to the Magic Kingdom, clearing the park sooner than ever. runDisney is confident they can still accomplish this goal, even with more corrals. People in the back corrals will just start later and finish later in the day.

-The 16:00 per mile pace requirement is to remain the same

– They are working out the details for the kids races so they will hopefully not interfere with the runners participating in Dopey. runDisney knows the weekend is a family affair, and wants everyone to be able to participate in the races as well as their children.

-I asked Faron about people wanting to submit proof of time from Wine and Dine, but it’s after the November 1 proof of time cut off date. He said that was actually a really good idea and said he would check on that for me. So stay tuned for updates on this as the race gets closer.

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We had a great call, and I am so thankful that Faron took the time to talk to us about the changes for 2014. I could sense the excitement in his voice, and I can’t wait for January! Don’t forget, registration opens to the general public TOMORROW. So be sure to visit runDisney.com to secure your spot. You won’t want to miss this fun weekend! (Don’t forget registration is still open for the Tower of Terror 10 miler and the Wine and Dine half as well!)

I’m Dopey!

We did it. Bobby and I took the plunge and registered for the Dopey Challenge for the runDisney marathon weekend in January of 2014.

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I know, I know. I kept saying after Goofy 2013 that I would never do Goofy again. Well…TECHNICALLY I’m not doing Goofy, right? I just can’t resist. Inaugural race, six medals. four days of fun runDisney races? Sign me up! Yes, it will be difficult, yes, I am petrified, but I said the same thing about Goofy and I ran that after being sick for months, and only running a max 18 mile long run, so I think I am up for the challenge. Of course, just like with goofy, my goal is to just FINISH the race, and not run any type of time goal. There will be so Galloway run-walk-run involved, and not as much park time as this past year so I can make sure I am well rested.

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Why yes, I am thank you!

It looks like we will be arriving in Disney on Wednesday so we can go to the expo and get out packets since the first race is Thursday morning. We will run the 5k Thursday, 10k Friday, Half Saturday, and Full Sunday. I am hoping we will be able to spend a couple more days in Disney to relax and hit the parks and bask in the glory of our accomplishments.

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Where will we stay? Who knows. How will we train? Not a clue. But we have plenty of time, and plenty of races between now and then, and it’s going to be an adventure. I probably won’t “officially” start training until after Dumbo.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of marathon weekend, but don’t forget there are TWO other races open for registration right now before marathon weekend. Sign up for the Tower of Terror ten miler or  the Wine and Dine half marathon before they sell out. (If you missed my interview with Faron Kelley from yesterday about the popularity of runDisney races be sure to check it out!)

QOTD: Are you signing up for any of the marathon weekend events? If not, what is the next race on your calendar?

2013 Disney Marathon Recap Part 2

I left off part one of the Disney marathon with us leaving the speedway and heading into the more low key part of the race where we were running on back roads and by the water treatment plant (which luckily didn’t smell terrible like in 2011!) We kept an eye out for characters and were able to stop and get a few good photos on this long stretch. The first up is one of my favorite photos from the race. Its villain time!

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They were a hoot, I loved the smoke, and can you see scar chilling up in the background? We soldiered on and found well, a soldier! Along with some other Christmas friends. Although I must say, the weather wasn’t feeling very Christmas-y in the 70’s.

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Ahead of our winter time friends, we found a couple of pirates, aaarrrgghhh!

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Just around the riverbend….eeerrr…water treatment facility, we found Pocahontas, John Smith and Meeko! I love that little guy.

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After we bid them farewell, there were tables full of bananas for us, yes! My one (very small) complaint was the banana table was IMMEDIATELY followed by a water stop. I was trying to choke down my food so that I could drink some water, it would have been better to have the water stop a tad bit further down so I could have time to eat. But again, very very VERY small complaint in an otherwise awesome race! I wasn’t sure how my body would react to eating a banana mid run, but I did fine, and think it really helped give me a boost.

We kept going and were soon greeted with some animal friends as we came into Animal Kingdom. We had to stop and take a photo with this guy. I think he liked me way more than Bobby.

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They had birds, a sheep, and even a SNAKE, gross! I decided to pass on a photo with that one. It was nice to be in Animal Kingdom and have another park to run though. I told Bobby to watch his footing because the ground in there was a bit uneven. Bobby had to make yet another bathroom stop (number 3 so far for him, seriously!?!?) So I decided to stop and stretch while I waited. He had told me to keep going, but it was so crowded in the park I was afraid I would lose him. We were back to running before I knew it, and we passed Everest right as they were opening it, and there were some runners there waiting to ride. Too funny!

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We were back out onto the road all too soon, and knew we had another bit of a stretch before getting to the Wide World of Sports. Luckily, we found a little entertainment along the way.

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We started passing signs with great quotes on them, and they really gave me a boost. This one is a favorite, and I knew it was on the Mickey Marathon medal, so I had to stop and get a picture.

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We also ran into these guys, this may be my favorite photo of the race.

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Bobby didn’t realize the ground was still wet so his back was all dirty after, oops. Up ahead, we could see people heading back towards us, then turning to their right going onto a different road. I was confused, because I knew we still had to go to Wide World of Sports, so I thought maybe I was just turned around. There had to be a turn around up ahead soon. Then I noticed a medical tent on the other side of the road, and we had just passed one, so I thought well….we have to go far enough down to justify another medical tent. Little did I know we had many miles to go before we would be those people running back the other way! We turned right, and then right again into the Wide World of Sports complex.

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We soon hit a track, and it was SO NICE to run on a different surface, my feet instantly felt better and I wished we could run the rest of the race on a track. We wound around the complex some more, stopped for ANOTHER bathroom break, and headed into the baseball stadium. I was excited for this part, because running through Angel Stadium was my favorite part of the Disneyland half marathon, and I was hoping there would be just as many fans and it would be loud and fun.

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Well, it was cool to run around the inside of the stadium, however there were few fans inside, most not even cheering, so I think I inflated that one way too much in my head.

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Soon we were back out of the stadium, and heading around another baseball field. I found it was odd that the players out on the field were staring at something behind home plate. We made our way around, and finally realized what was going on. There was a girl on the ground in the middle of the course with a bag of ice on her head, Disney workers running around, people around her etc. Someone hit a foul ball back over behind the fence and it hit her on the head! I felt so bad for her, this far into the race. What are the odds??!? I hope she is ok and got to finish.

Up ahead we saw an inflated Mickey balloon that we had seen in the distance coming into the complex, and knew we were getting close to the mile 20 surprise. For a minute I was thinking “is that it?” But we weren’t quite to twenty yet. I think Mickey was tired and needed a nap.

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We made a couple more turns and I got really excited, knowing we had to be close to mile twenty. At least it kept my mind off of running! Finally, we could see up ahead, some really cool looking puppets, a neat banner with all 20 medals on it, and a stage with some Disney characters. Neat! It was really cool, but to be honest I think Disney made such a big deal out of the secret surprise that people were expecting something crazy. If they would have been more low key about it, I would have thought it was a really neat addition, that’s the only way i can think to explain it.

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Of course we had to stand in line for a picture with Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto…even though it was super long. Bobby sat on the curb as we waited and some lady in a very concerned voice asked if he was ok and I started laughing, lots of things I could have said in response.

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Three people before it was our turn, the characters left nnnoooo! However we did get Goofy which was neat since we were running Goofy’s Challenge.

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I told Bobby to take a picture of me under the arch/banner, and he kind of failed.

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Um…you can’t even see the arch. I think he was getting delirious.

Luckily, we finally made it back to “the turn” where we thought we “couldn’t be that far from” and were now heading in the other direction with runners coming towards us. I felt bad for them, still several miles back, not knowing they were nowhere near the turn around, the same way I had felt just a few miles ago.

We got off the exit ramp, and I knew we were not that far from Hollywood Studios. We stopped at every med tent for Biofreeze and sometimes Tylenol, and Bobby took another bathroom stop (number 5, oh yes. I have no idea how he was able to go with the amount I was sweating I only had to twice!)

We went up a ramp and up in the distance I could see people turning right into Hollywood Studios. We were in the home stretch and I knew we would make it. We had the distraction of running in Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, then EPCOT, and then the finish line! I was starting to get excited. I also knew we were about to get candy! I grabbed two pieces of chocolate as we went by.

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This is where Bobby started to struggle with his legs and feet. I could tell he was hurting so I kept turning around yelling for him to come on, and that we only had a few miles to go, you know, like a short training run. I felt badly for him because I felt so good, like I could have just sprinted those last few miles to the end. Sure my body was aching and wanted to stop, but otherwise I felt fine. I looked at my Garmin for one of the first times all day, and saw it was possible to break six hours if we pushed. We decided not to stop for more characters (the lines were super long anyway) and see what we could do.

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We wound our way through the studios, me in front and Bobby a few yards behind. I had to keep turning around and giving him “the look” to get him to keep going. I knew he had it in him, and that we were SO CLOSE. I started having flashbacks to 2011, this is the same mile marker where Bobby started having Hamstring trouble and we had to basically walk the last 3-4 miles of the race. I started praying that God would help the pain to go away so we could finish strong.

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Notice Bobby behind me, poor thing.

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As we started heading out of the Studios, I started thinking about the first time I was here during a race. It was 2009, and I was here with Karen watching our friends run the marathon. Back then, I knew nothing about marathons or running really in general, and thought these folks were nuts. However, after watching the determination in their faces, and all of the strangers cheering them on, I knew it was something I wanted to do…something I HAD to do. Karen and I vowed to come back and run the half the next year, and we did! Followed by the full the next, and here I was….four years from that day, running Goofy’s Challenge. This girl. I couldn’t believe it. As we got closer and closer to “inspiration curve” as I now call it, I started to get a little chocked up. I was really doing it. Something I honestly never thought I could accomplish, and I was doing it with a smile on my face. I was doing ok, and then all of the sudden Bobby breaks the silence and says “here’s your inspiration curve honey, this is where you stood, and you are DOING IT! You’re here, and you are really doing this!” That’s all it took, I couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I cried a few happy tears.

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Inspiration curve, where I stood to watch the 2009 Disney Marathon, right outside the gates of the Studios.

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I gathered myself together, and we headed onto the path to the Boardwalk.

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Jen had been texting me, and I knew she would be waiting for us outside the Beach Club. She let me know exactly where they were, and it was the boost I needed to get me from Hollywood Studios to the other side of the Boardwalk. We got close to where she was and I was looking and looking and finally saw her and her son and parents! They had all come out to cheer us on, so so sweet. (Next two photos taken by Jen)

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I was SO excited to see her, and gave her a big sweaty hug and thanked her for coming out. She told us to keep going we were so close, and I blew kisses to their family and we took off again. It was great to have our own cheerleaders out on the course, especially so close to the end.

Right after seeing them, we were heading into EPCOT. This was IT, we were so close, and could still make it under six hours. We started around the World Showcase, and I enjoyed watching everyone as we went by. Honestly, this part was kind of a blur to me, I was so focused on running strong and getting to the end, I really don’t remember a whole lot.

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When we passed the Mexico Pavilion and Spaceship Earth was in sight, I told Bobby we were doing it, we were almost there, and how awesome he was doing to run through the pain.

There were some amazing spectators/cheerleaders those last few tenths that really lifted my spirits.

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I had a HUGE smile on my face as we came to the gospel choir. I wanted to remember everything, soak it all in. With the crowd roaring around us, we went around a turn, and I looked up and saw that beautiful finish line.

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That home stretch went in slow motion. The crowd was on their feet, the music was blaring, I was about to get my Goofy medal. Was this real? Surly not the girl when ran the 100 meter dash in high school. Surely not the girl who dreaded the timed mile in P.E. class. 39.3 miles in two days? Oh yes, it was real, and I couldn’t be more proud.

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I grabbed Bobby’s hand, my partner in crime, who has stood by me, trained with me, and completed this journey with me, and we crossed that glorious finish line together.

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Not only did we finish in an upright position which was my only goal, but we broke six hours running a 5:58, (including tons of character stops mind you!) but we also have a shiny new PR to go with our medals.

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I couldn’t believe we did it, and I couldn’t believe it was over. It was time to get my medals. God is so good. We were under trained, slightly injured, and He still brought us through. I am so thankful.

We high fived some friends at the finish, and that beautiful marathon medal was put around my neck. It truly is so gorgeous, my absolute favorite and will be hard to beat. We grabbed our water, banana, etc. and there was a lady yelling that we had to have our drink open by time we got to her and start drinking. I couldn’t get mine open so she had to do it for me! We then high tailed it straight to the Goofy tent, it was time for another moment I had been waiting a long time for. We were both given our medals and were told congratulations by the wonderful volunteers. Now, it was time to celebrate!

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We had left our bags in the media tent so we had to climb over a barricade (even though we were told not to, sorry!) to get over there. We took some photos

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ate some breakfast (Bobby claimed it was the best omelet ever, but I think we were just starving!)

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and celebrated with some mimosas in the VIP tent.

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We sat outside the tent on some stools and watched the other runners come in. I absolutely loved this part. Watching the emotion on their faces as runner after runner streamed in, most smiling, some crying. It was amazing.

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After a couple of hours it was time to head back to the hotel, we had lingered long enough, but didn’t want this special experience to really be over. Here are some final thoughts on the race:

Organization: Great as always. Plenty of bathrooms, volunteers, signs, barricades, busses, etc. It’s great not having to worry about the little details!

Expo: Fabulous when I went on Thursday, however I know most merchandise was gone by Friday evening, someone didn’t order enough. Oops.

Aid Stations: Awesome! The volunteers were all so friendly, and there were plenty of them! I felt very hydrated, and loved the Clif shot and banana (and candy!) stations. Well done.

On Course entertainment: I love all the characters, they were a fun distraction, I just wish the lines weren’t as long! The more people that get added onto the course, the longer the lines are going to get. Also loved running through the parks and was so happy to see the icicle lights were still on the castle. Amazing. Mile 20 surprise was cute but a little underwhelming considering all the hype.

Medals: amazing. Truly amazing. I am obsessed with the marathon medal. I know I said I wouldn’t do goofy again, but I can’t imagine how cool the next goofy anniversary medal will look!

Weather: Obviously not in Disney’s control, I mean, it was JANUARY after all. The high for the day was around 81 I think, but honestly I didn’t think it was that bad. It was probably in the mid 70’s when we finished. I remember it being very humid when we started, but once the sun came up the humidity went down. True it was warm and I am sure it affected everyone’s times, (and we sweated a lot!) But I was never of the mindset that it was so miserable I wasn’t going to make it. I took water and Powerade at EVERY aid station, wore sunglasses and sunscreen, and dumped water on my head a couple of times. I have run much hotter races before, and I think Disney did a great job of handling it for those who didn’t know what they were getting into.  The had heat advisories everywhere, the sponges at mile 18 were nice, as were the folks at the water stops dumping water on peoples heads. The med tents had sunscreen, and well there isn’t really much else you can do! They did well with the weather cards we were dealt. I was very pleased with how much energy I felt I had at the end despite the weather, and know between heat and character stops, I could have run a lot faster, it’s a great confidence booster!

Overall: runDisney, you did it again. I don’t know how you keep outdoing yourself, but it’s happened. I loved everything about marathon weekend, there was so much hype, fun, and electricity. I know it takes an army to plan and run this thing, and I am so grateful. I applaud you for a job well done, and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve next. Thanks for putting on such an amazing event, where truly every mile is magic.

QOTD: Ok, who wants to run a runDisney race now? Does this recap convince you? Tell me yes please!

2013 Disney Marathon Recap Part 1

 

My alarm jolted me awake at 2:30. Was I dreaming? Was it groundhog day? I was pretty sure I was already up at this crazy hour….but wait. It was Sunday, and I was running double the distance I ran Saturday. By the end of the day I (hopefully) would have completed 39.3 miles and be the proud owner of a 20th anniversary runDisney marathon medal AND a Goofy medal. Today was the day I had been preparing for! We got dressed, same as yesterday, and took photos, same as yesterday before heading out the door.

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We ate a quick breakfast and then headed downstairs to head to the starting line.

*Quick back story. Jen and Jeff were supposed to run with us again this day, but Jen’s baby got very sick the night before and they had to take him to the ER, so Jen didn’t end up running, and we didn’t find out Jeff was running until mid way through the race. We were so sad and felt so badly for them!

Bobby and I hitched a ride with some other media folks at 3:30 am, and dropped off our bags at the media tent before catching a golf cart ride to the start line.

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It was weird being on the other side of the starting line, facing the wrong way, but also really cool to be there and get photos before the runners arrived.

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It was still really early, so we hung out, sat around on the ground, stretched, and waited for the runners to start arriving. Before I knew it, Corral A in front of us started filling up, and a lot of cameras and people were arriving around us. It was neat to see people like Jeff Galloway and Joey Fatone get interviewed right by us as we waited.

Joey Fatone getting interviewed

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Bob from runDisney getting interviewed by Joe from the Marathon Show.

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Then, I finally got to see Carissa! I had somehow missed her all weekend. She is a rockstar announcer!

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A little after 5:00, we were ushered in through the front of the corrals into our starting positions. This is a shot of everyone behind us in the corrals.

Me, Sara and Toni in the corral

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Jeff Galloway and some other legends were interviewed on stage, the national anthem was sung, and before I knew it, we were on our way…again!

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Much like yesterday, our goal was to take it nice and slow, and have fun (and take more character photos.) Bobby’s feet have been bothering him for awhile and were hurting during the half, so we didn’t know how he would hold up, so we were very conservative going out. We stayed to the right out of the way of the super speedy folks, and settled into a groove. I even ran into some fellow friends from the #teamrunDisney along the way (hey guys!) in those first few miles.

The first character stop was upon us, and even though there was a long line, we got in it. I didn’t want to keep “waiting” for short lines then end up with no fun photos!

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We continued on our way through the dark, stopping at every water stop and taking Powerade and water. I knew I needed to hydrate early, and didn’t want to wait until the sun came up to get in enough fluids.

We made it to the transportation and ticket center, where I spotted Karen’s husband. We yelled and waved, and kept going. (We also stopped here to use a “real” bathroom!) Soon enough, we were making the turn towards the Magic Kingdom again, and I caught a glimpse of the sparkling lights above the main street stores. I couldn’t wait to “relive” my favorite part of the race again, how lucky! We made the turn, and the crowd was even louder than the day before. I was grinning from ear to ear as we made our way towards the castle.

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I high fived several strangers as we went, not believing that I was really here, and it was really happening.

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Through Tomorrowland again, with plenty of cast members cheering us on, which I thought was really cute. I spotted a strikingly handsome man and knew we had to get a picture.

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Off we went again, excited that we were going to get more character photos as we went through the Magic Kingdom. As we headed towards Fantasyland, we spotted these crazy characters, and I told the Mad Hatter that today was my exact HALF BIRTHDAY! He wished me an unbirthday and off we went.

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We rounded the corner and I saw the carousel in the distance, and in front of it near New Fantasyland was Belle and Ariel! We of course had to stand in line for both, even though the Belle line was long because well…she’s my favorite.

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Bobby snapped this beautiful picture of Fantasyland as we waited.

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We started running again, and passed up our first characters. The line for royal Minnie and Mickey was about 25 people deep, so we waved and went on through the castle.

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The trumpeters were announcing our arrival as we ran underneath them, and out the other side. I was sure to smile for the cameras as we came down the ramp.

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Oh yes. I waved with my left hand, and then my right hand. I am THAT cool.

We turned right, following the familiar path I have walked dozens of times with my family, and headed on into Frontierland, where we found a rootin’ tootin’ cowgirl and a trusty steed.

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We didn’t stop at the Princesses on the way out of the Magic Kingdom, it had an insanely long line. Sadly, we were now out of the Magic Kingdom and out onto the skinny-impossible-to-pass-people-on road. We plodded along, not fighting to get around people, and were happy when the road opened up a bit near the Grand Floridian. We waved at Mary Poppins, and kept moving forward. By this time, my knee was starting to bug me a bit, so we began our stopping at every med tent for biofreeze, and as needed, Tylenol.

Does this photo look familiar?

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WDW Marathon 2013                        WDW Marathon  2011

 

I was excited about the next part of the race, which was a new add on this year…running on the Speedway! It was nice to have a change of scenery!

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We had to go down a very steep ramp, and then back up again before entering the speedway. The sun was just coming up over the tree tops, and it was absolutely beautiful.

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We went left immediately upon entering, and made our way around the track. One thing that surprised me was all the cool cars they had lined up around the track. They do the same thing out on the road during the Disneyland half marathon, and it was cool to see it again here.

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We were feeling good and having fun, Goofy here we come!

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We had made it 3/4ths of the way around my track, when I heard my name. It was Jenn, Danielle, and Dan! It was so weird because I ran into them the day before during the half, too!

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We chatted for a minute, and off they went, as we stopped at another medical tent. I was dreading the next part, I knew we had several miles of well, nothing, until we got to Animal Kingdom. Bobby and I started playing little mind tricks at this point, like “let’s just make it two more miles” or counting down from 39.3 to see how many miles we had left. it really helped! I was interested to see what characters I would see along the way though, and we were not disappointed! You will have to wait and see who we “ran” into in the second half of my race recap!

QOTD: Do you play mental games with yourself to make the miles go by on long runs or races?