It was the first of 4 early morning wake ups, but as the alarm went off I felt nothing but excitement. Usually I cringe at the sound of the alarm, but not today. Today was the start of something exciting. Today was the start of something magical. Today was the start of the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World.
I woke up, got dressed, had my typical pre-race meal of a bagel with peanut butter, took some pre-race pics, and headed off to the hotel shuttle. The awesome thing about staying on Disney property (I stayed at All Star Movies) is that they have shuttle buses that bring you to the start of the race. You don't have to worry about rushing through traffic to Epcot on race morning. So onto the bus I went, and off to Epcot it was!
You could feel the excitement in the air as you approached Epcot. You could see the brightly lit corrals with their big bubbles indicating the letter. You could hear the music pumping and getting everyone psyched for the race. The volunteers pointing the way for everyone were wide awake and funny. They all had their own whimsical touch to add to race morning.
We walked past the start line and I could only get more excited. Just a little longer until this
crazy amazing journey was to begin. Was I ready? Maybe not 100%. Physically I definitely wasn't, but mentally I was rearing to go.
I met up with April and Jen before the race and we hung out and chatted about our plans for this, as well as the other 3 races. We were all going to be tackling the Dopey Challenge. Shortly after we got into conversation they started calling us into corrals, and we obeyed.
The race started off wonderfully, with fireworks going off at the start of each corral. I was in corral C, so I waited for a bit, and then I was off. My original plan was to take it easy and walk most of the 5k, but I felt really good at the start of the race. I was just coming off of a sinus infection so I wasn't sure how that was going to affect my breathing, but I felt OK and my legs felt strong. I didn't push too hard, but I kept a decent pace for the first mile. The weather was good, I felt energetic, and I was at Disney.
I knew I needed to slow it down a bit so I did once I got to Epcot. I had run through this park before during the Disney half last year, but it had already gotten light out. Now it was dark and the park was lit up. It was a completely different experience. The park was beautiful and it took my mind somewhere else. I decided to stop and snap a couple of pictures. No rush here, after all I had 3 more races coming up this weekend, might as well enjoy the sights.
The sky started to lighten as I headed towards the end of the course. I was trying to snap a picture of myself, but was stopped by a fellow picture loving runner who offered to help. She was dressed up as Jessie from Toy Story. I returned the favor and snapped a quick pic of her and then we were off again.
I neared the finish line and felt good. I was energized by the race. The excitement of the runners, the crowd, being in the park. It all is such an amazing experience that I believe one can only obtain by actually running a Disney race.
In the end I completed the 5k in 40:22. I was happy with this time because I felt strong for the parts of the race I was actually running through. I'll have to admit I was nervous about completely the Dopey challenge, but this race got me fired up. My legs felt good. I felt strong. I could actually do this.
After the 5k it was back to the hotel for a quick shower and then it was off to the Grand Floridian for breakfast. We dined at the pretty Grand Floridian Cafe and I had some delicious vanilla french toast. I love french toast, and I love vanilla. What more could I ask for? Oh perhaps a celebratory mimosa to kick off the day!
After breakfast I got super tired. I'm not normally winded after a shorter distance race, so I think the early wakeup combined with the day spent between the expo and Magic Kingdom did me in. It was back to the hotel for a nap. Then we headed over to Downtown Disney and had dinner at T-Rex. I had never been there before and I figured it would be fun to do something touristy. The restaurant was super similar to Rainforest Cafe. There were obviously dinosaurs in place of the animals at Rainforest, and there were meteor showers every 30 minutes (I may be wrong on the time frame) instead of rain storms. I still really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food was pretty decent.
Then it was off to see the Cirque du Solei show, La Nouba. I absolutely loved this show and would recommend it to anyone going to visit Disney or that is going to be in the Orlando area. Its not just a circus, but some pretty amazing acts that are performed with such detail and precision. I've been to other Cirque du Solei shows, and this one is by far my favorite. It was also the 3rd time I was seeing it, so you know I'm a fan.
After the show it was off to bed, another early morning wakeup awaits.
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