Wow, 48.6 miles in 4 days – twice! I must be crazy, or, Dopey! Here’s my recap on the events.
Day 1 – Walt Disney World 5K
Day 2 – Walt Disney World 10K
Day 3 – Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Day 4 – Walt Disney World Marathon
Did you do any specific Dopey training?
Honestly, not really. Last year I ran the LA Marathon in mid-March, and then spent May through August focusing on triathlon to prepare for Ironman 70.3 Maine. From there, I picked up a 12 week plan from the NYRR Virtual Trainer to focus on getting ready for the Philly Marathon in late November. My thinking was if I trained well for Philly and put myself in a position to PR, I would be more than fit enough for Dopey. Although high winds ruined my PR plans in Philly, I did run a race I was proud of. After Philly, I did a reverse taper, to build back up to one peak week that included a Dopey simulation (3/6/10/20). I’m not sure if I really needed that extra 20 before Dopey, but it did give me some extra confidence.
What was your pacing strategy for all 4 races?
My plan was to run run the first 3 races at about a 10mm (the faster end of my training paces) and hold on for dear life to come in under 5 hours for the marathon. I did want to stop and get a few good character photos, but I also was not willing to wait in crazy long lines, either. I think I executed my strategy of having fun but making sure I still ran races I was proud of perfectly, and I am so beyond happy with my final results.
What were you final results?
5K: 29:24. 10K – 58:14. 13.1 – 2:11:48. 26.2 – 4:31:20. overall, I came in 872 out 7469 Dopeys (top 12%), which for this mid-packer, is pretty damn cool.
Did you go to the parks after the races?
Uhh, yeah. I’m at Disney World! I made sure to take a nap after each of the shorter races, and I did try to go to bed between 9-9:30 every night, but I still wanted to make sure I had a fun vacation.
How did you pack?
Literally, the kitchen sink! I brought two running outfits for each day – one with a pair of shorts and a singlet, one with a pair of tights and long sleeves, thinking I could mix and match as needed. I also brought a few extra outer layers, and some extra tops, just in case. It ended up being so much cold then I originally thought, so I was glad I came prepared! I did only bring one pair of shoes to run in, since I normally do not switch up my shoes during the week. I am lazy like that.
Where did you stay?
We stayed onsite at Cornando Springs – which I think was perfect. It was close enough we did not have any major bus or traffic issues getting the races, but it was not on the race course (like the Magic Kindom area hotels) so we did not have any major traffic issues getting back, other than after the actual marathon.
What was the hardest part of the challenge?
Absolutely the wake ups. The sleep deprivation was getting progressively worse each day – by the end, I just so beyond exhausted. And then of course the day after the marathon, I didn’t sleep nearly as late as I wanted to, because my body clock was so screwed up from the last four days!
Is there anything you would of done differently during the weekend?
The only thing I can really think of is that I should of eaten more the day before/morning of the half marathon. But I think I salvaged the race just fine.
Is there anything Disney should do differently?
Well, I sure wish the races did not start at 5:30 am LOL! I understand why the half marathon and the full marathon need to start that early. After all, the races do impact the parks, and the runners are just a small portion of the guests of the entire resort. However, I do not understand why a 5K and a 10K need to start at 5:30 in the morning when the parks do not open until 9 am.
I also wish they would figure out a better solution for the merchandise at the expo. I have been to many, many large races over the years, and none of them have the same expo madness. It took us almost 3 three hours just to buy a few official merch items and pick up our race bibs – we didn’t even look at the other vendors. Every other large race – including World Marathon Majors – puts all or the majority of their offical merch online before the race. I really wish Disney would do the same. While Disney has been offering some pre-order items in more recent years, they are generic race weekend (not race specific) items, and you don’t know what it looks like before you pick it up. Sorry, I am not spending $85 on a jacket if I don’t even know what it looks like! And if I am doing Dopey, I want a Dopey a jacket, not a Marathon Weekend jacket. #rantover.
How much did the week cost?
Um, alot. LOL! Race registration was $560, plus hotel, travel, park tickets, food, etc. While there are ways to make the weekend a little more economical (not as many sit down meals or park days) however you slice and dice it, it will be an expensive week. For your registration, you did get 4 days of racing, 5 tech shirts (and a cotton shirt for the 5K), and 6 medals. Compared to triathlon, it’s not so bad, but in the world of road racing, I think it is one of the more expensive races.
Would you do it again?
If money and time off were not on the table – HELL YEAH! But sadly, this is the real world, and we all only have so much vacation time and money we can devote to racing. While I highly doubt I will never run the Dopey Challenge ever again in my life, I don’t plan on returning for it any time soon, at least for the foreseeable future. I have a lot of other race goals I would like to accomplish, and I will never get to them if I keep doing the same (expensive) race weeks over and over. I am sure I will be back in Disney for the 19.3 challenges (less costly and time consuming), however, sooner than later!