I am SOO behind on recaps…and blogging in general.
But I mean…I guess I have good reason…between moving, settling in, family visiting, running, racing and y’know, paying the bills (LOL) life has been a whirlwind. But a good whirlwind. And it definitely isn’t slowing down anytime soon…which is why I thought, well, I think it’s time to crank out a bit of a recap.
First of all, my initial thoughts about the Goofy Challenge – can be summed up in three words: It. Was. Awesome. Really, I mean I expected to enjoy it, but had no idea how much I’d learn and grow from it.
You see, in 2011, I embarked upon my very first distance event – the WDW Half Marathon (see more runDisney posts here). It was the longest distance I had ever run in my entire life, and it was within hours after accomplishing that feat that I decided that a marathon was in my future. However, I never would have imagined that a Goofy Challenge was…
You see, before the days of the Dopey Challenge, the most hardcore thing you could do was Goofy (13.1 on Saturday, and 26.2 on Sunday)…and though I’ve said I was not interested before, I have to admit that after this year…my mind has changed a little on it...because honestly, each hour that was spent on the courses this past weekend were truly amazing.
From the spirit of the spectators, the energy of the volunteers, and the determination of all runners – whether they were embarking upon the Mickey Mile, gearing up for their first 5K or 10K, or stepping up to the challenge of 13.1 or more, there was a sort of presence this weekend that I just can’t describe. Sure, not everything went perfectly (um, crazy bus driver that took us on a tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge parking lot), but perfect isn’t life.
With all that being said, I will *attempt* to encapsulate the sights, sounds and wonder of 39.3 miles as concisely as possible…and though I’ve not yet purchased my picture package, I will (if you haven’t seen enough pictures from this race already)!
Day 1: The WDW Half Marathon (AKA Donald Half)
My alarm went off at 2:30 AM, followed shortly by the wake up call service. I sprung out of bed, and did all my pre-race preparations – though this morning was a little different, as I had to adjust my faux headgear for my Darla costume!
I was able to move quickly enough to jump on the first bus of the morning, and much to my surprise, we took off with only about 5 runners total (I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House – for this trip) before driving (loops through the parking lot) to Kidani Village, where a steady stream of runners boarded the bus.
Once we made it to the Epcot lot and race start area, I wandered around in my PJs (which were my throwaways) before coming across Jen and Adam (and their friends, the Giffords), who I hung out with for a while before stopping to chat with Kyle, Katie and other pals from the WDW Radio Running Team…and soon enough, it was time to head to the corrals!
I was in D – which, again, was meaningful and nostalgic, as it had been my corral for that first half marathon! I even contemplated going for the exact same finish time (2:04) but a few miles in, I thought I’d opt for my standard “dash to characters” strategy and not pay attention to my watch.
Although not my favorite course (that honor belongs to Wine and Dine! See my 2012, 2013 and 2014 recaps) I still enjoyed this race. And as in every runDisney race, I definitely enjoyed my prior CM knowledge of property by utilizing “real” bathrooms (hello, Ticket and Transportation Center – (TTC)!!) and, even more, there is definitely something that sends chills up my spine running through a dark Magic Kingdom!
In Frontierland, I heard someone call out my name and was happy to see fellow Disney fan and friend Meghann (check out her recap here)! We ran together for a few minutes, and chatted until I had to stop again to take a pic with the princesses and she kept going.
Around the time we hit the road back toward Epcot, the sun was starting to rise over the Magic Kingdom area resorts. I actually enjoy this part of the race – seeing runners making their way toward MK, as we made our way back. There was a lot of cheering on both sides, and a generally good vibe going on.
Soon enough, it was the “hill” (complete with Green Army Man) and the path back to Spaceship Earth was almost illuminated. I kicked it in for the finish, and despite fighting a bit of a cramp in my right leg, I let the cheering take me in to my 13.1 finish in 2:01.
After exiting the race chute, I headed to the character greeting area and got my picture with Goofy (after all, it was his race challenge!!) and had the pleasure of seeing my friend Jeff as well.
It was hard to believe, but 1/3 of the challenge was already complete! I returned to the resort for a shower and a nap before heading out for some Epcot fun (including the Pasta in the Park party – future post coming on that!!) that evening.
Day 2: The WDW Marathon (AKA Mickey Marathon)
Beep beep beep.
After a surprisingly restful sleep, I was up again at 2:30 on Sunday morning, ready to take on the second race of the Goofy Challenge!
And FUN we had!
With concept of a “PR in FUN” embedded firmly in our minds, we rocked the course with Megan’s training method of 2/:30 Galloway run/walk, and with another potty stop (at TTC of course!) we made our way through all four parks, the speedway, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Boardwalk area, you could NOT wipe the smiles off of our faces!
One of my favorite things about this marathon, truly, is the excitement you can see in fellow runners, spectators, volunteers, cast members, and everyone else in between. You honestly lose yourself in the environment, and though it’s still 26.2 miles, you never feel “alone” and in fact, as each mile clicks off – at least for me – you start to almost feel sad that it’s coming to a close (unlike a regular marathon…that you might just want to hurry up and end!)
From the on-course dance parties, to the chocolate at Hollywood Studios…the goats, pigs and donkeys cheering you on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the endless “High-4’s” from Mickey-gloved chEAR squad members – there honestly was magic in every mile – and I didn’t get paid to say that! 🙂
As a runDisney fan, I knew that I’d enjoy the 39.3 mile journey, but, as I mentioned above…there really was no way for me to imagine how I’d feel at the conclusion of it all! If post-marathon depression is a thing, I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to be immersed in the excitement and energy of tens of thousands of like-minded individuals in the place where dreams come true.
What’s your next big race event?