Post-Dopey and Pre-Princess.

It’s been a few weeks since Dopey and I got an alert on my phone this morning that I am TWO WEEKS away from heading back to Disney for Princess Weekend. Sooo what have I been doing post Dopey to simultaneously recover from 48.6 miles and train for 22.4 miles?

dopey challenge

I figured that with only slightly more than a month between challenges, I didn’t have to worry about “training” all that much and could instead make sure that I recovered properly and maintained enough fitness to be able to run all 3 races comfortably Princess Weekend.

The whole “not a lot of running” training plan works perfectly with how I feel about winter running in NYC anyway: it’s annoying – it’s too dark for me to run either before or after work, I hate being cold, it will randomly blizzard and then I’m dealing with snow and/or ice cleanup, etc.

So essentially, my recovery/”training” has looked like this:

  • Weekdays: Crosstraining and strengh training
    • Soulcycle
    • Street Zumba
    • Bodysculpting/dumbbell exercise
    • Yoga
  • Weekends: 1 or 2 short to medium runs

This weekend, I’ll be running 6 miles on Saturday and then the 4M Gridiron Race in Central Park on Sunday.

Unlike with most half-marathons, I will not be doing a long run of 10-12 miles the week before. Since I will be running these races at a slow pace (and with lots of photo stops!) and also ran a full marathon just a month ago, I figure it’s not necessary. I’m thinking a solid 8-9 mile run next weekend will do the trick.

February is a really busy month for me (work, boyfriend’s birthday, long weekends upstate, Florida, moving) so I’m glad that these races are not overwhelming and spark more excitement than anything else.

Right now, I’m just trying not to get overwhelmed with everything else that has to get done prior to leaving for Disney. Like packing my life into boxes. Seriously, who wants a couch?

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2016 Dopey Challenge: a 48.6 mile journey ends with an amazing 26.2.

This race marked my 8th marathon and 2nd Dopey Challenge!

For those just tuning in, the Dopey Challenge is for runners who think the below sounds magical:

dopey challenge

2016 Dopey Challenge posts (2015 Dopey Challenge posts found here):

Dopey Challenge Day 4: The Marathon

A little bit of Disney magic mixed with complete exhaustion that had me snoozing by 8:30 pm made the 3:15 am wake up feel easy-peasy.  All of our running gear and nutrition was out and ready to go from the night before so Nicole and I were, once again, ready in under 20 minutes. Damn it’s nice to be low maintenance.

The nice thing about not “racing” a full marathon is that you can worry a little less about pre-race nutrition timing. Who cared if I had to pee during the race? Not me (luckily, Nicole didn’t care either and we made a port-a-potty stop once during the middle miles).

We had no issue getting onto a bus and making it through security once we reached the start village. With the warm temps, the wait didn’t feel bad at all and we relaxed a bit before starting the 15-minute walk up to the corrals.

dopey challenge marathon

Once the race was underway, we began our “8 and 2” run/walk method immediately to keep our legs fresh and feeling good as long as possible. Just like in the latter miles of the half, we adjusted the 8/2 to account for the time we waited for photos or if we were running a particular stretch where it made sense to extend our running time (such as the track in ESPN WWOS).

Just like last year, I was anxious to get to the 2 mile mark because that meant we were halfway through the Dopey Challenge miles! In a marathon, these little things make a huge difference mentally.

After the 2 mile mark, I anxiously awaited the first park of the day, Magic Kingdom. Once we turned onto Main Street, ALL THE FEELS came pouring down and I practically pranced through the entire park with the goofiest of smiles on my face.

Naturally, I sent pictures to my family group chat during these miles (and even John was awake to respond to them!).  This was my first marathon that my parents weren’t at and I wanted to make sure they were being updated with all the fun they were missing back in cold NYC.

dopey challenge marathon mk

Going through Animal Kingdom was fun and I found myself dancing to all the tunes they had blasting through the speakers. Because Nicole and I thought that Safari Mickey would be outside the park like in previous years, we elected to skip the character stops in Animal Kingdom. But Safari Mickey or Minnie was nowhere to be found so we kept on our way, wondering where we’d spot Mickey on the course.

Our plan was to get to mile 16 and then change our 8 and 2 run/walk into an 8 and 3 run/walk. There’s a long highway stretch during these miles and that extra minute proved to be more of a mental benefit than a physical one (although it was that too!). Knowing that after every 8 minutes of running, we would be “rewarded” with 3 minutes of walking was HUGE in keeping us strong mentally.

Maybe because I had a run/walk strategy this year or because I had amazing company (or the combination, probably), I found ESPN WWOS less of a struggle than I did last year when I started bargaining with myself during these miles (“you can walk for 5 minutes once you get to that tree”).

Also, I spotted Mickey! He was kind of hidden and I think a lot of people missed him because the line was so short in comparison to other characters. Thankfully, I essentially have a degree in spotting hidden Mickeys :-)

It was also during these miles that I saw a sign with Psalm 26.2 on it (“Test me, Lord, and try me.”) and I may have teared up a bit. Thank you, random spectator.

dopey challenge marathon middle miles wwos

Next up was Hollywood Studios! Last year, making it to this park was huge for me. I had seen Alec here during her first marathon and I jumped in because OMG ALEC LOOKS AMAZING AND SHE PASSED MILE 23 AND AH DISNEY IS SO MUCH FUN. Also, last year this meant that I was only about a mile away from seeing my family. I <3 spectators.

Hitting mile 23 is such a rush. The absolute best miles are ahead (Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, Epcot) and the atmosphere along these miles is exhilarating.

We felt so incredible that we adjusted our plan… get to mile 25 and run it on in to the finish line!

I made sure to send the family a pic of the 25 mile marker. ONE MORE MILE UNTIL MY SECOND 48.6!

dopey challenge marathon hollywood studios epcot

Just like last year, I experienced every emotion while running through Epcot and at times had to hold back tears. It truly felt like we were running on air this last mile. Mile 25 (or, well, mile 47) was our fastest mile of the entire challenge (around a 9 minute pace) and we ran the last .2 around an 8:30. Whaaaat?!

I knew once we passed the famous choir, the finish line would be in view and this amazing journey would be over. It’s a mix of emotions because you’re so happy and proud but you’re also bummed because the magic is ending. Yes, all 48.6 miles are magical.

dopey challenge marathon finish

I felt amazing during the entire challenge (yet again!). We trained well (oh hey there, Philly Marathon) and ran smart. And I got to spend 48.6 magical miles with a pretty awesome lady. #luckypants

After a quick recovery lunch, we were off to the spa at Saratoga Springs for a post-Dopey massage and then took the riverboat over to Disney Springs for some shopping.

For dinner, we had a reservation at the restaurant in our hotel, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. My family and I ate here last year after the marathon and it was perfect because not only is the food delicious, it requires zero travel to get back to the room and get in bed after what is a very, very long day.

We cheered to 48.6 miles of magic with good beers and good food before moseying on back to the room to pack. Side note: packing to leave Disney is not nearly as fun as packing to go to Disney. 

You’d think that after 2 Dopey Challenges that I’d want to retire from the early mornings and running a ridiculous number of miles while on vacation but no, not even close.

2016 dopey challenge 6 medals

Disney, you were incredible. See you in 23 days for my first Princess weekend. 

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2016 Dopey Challenge: the first 22.4 miles.

As a refresher, the Dopey Challenge looks like this:

dopey challenge

Previous Dopey Challenge posts:

Dopey Challenge Day 3: The Half-Marathon

Our alarms went off promptly at 3:15 am and we were up and it for day 3 of the Dopey Challenge. With a true long distance race ahead of us, we made sure we were equipped with everything we’d need to successfully make it through the 13.1 miles (while factoring in the fact that we’d be on our feet for a longer amount of time than it usually takes us to run a half-marathon).

The morning was warm but I still put on Justin’s long sleeve shirt that I was using as my throwaway gear. I’ve made the mistake before of thinking it was warm enough that I wouldn’t need anything only to stand around shivering until the start time.

The half-marathon and marathon start lines are a good way’s away from the start village (probably about a 10-15 minute walk) so we made sure that we had plenty of time to walk and also make a quick port-a-potty stop.

dopey challenge half marathon

The plan was to keep the pace nice and easy until mile 7 and then begin a run/walk. We used an “8 and 2” run/walk, meaning for every 8 minutes we ran, we would incorporate 2 minutes of walking. We mostly kept to this but also made adjustments to account for the time we spent waiting on line at photo stops, etc.

The hardest part of the half-marathon portion of the Dopey Challenge is to keep yourself slow enough that you still have lots of gas in the tank for the next day’s full marathon. At this point of the challenge, you still feel SO good and it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of everything and pick up the pace. The run/walk method ensured that we were incorporating some breaks into those last miles to keep our legs as fresh as possible.

dopey challenge half marathon 2

My advice to anyone running the Dopey Challenge is to run those first 22.4 miles at a pace so easy that when you finish the half-marathon, your body almost feels as if it hasn’t ran at all.

My body felt great but the bottom of my feet were definitely starting to feel the miles. Before continuing the fun for the day, Nicole and I made a pit stop in the jacuzzi and it worked like magic. Does Disney also put magic in their hot tubs?

After the half:

harry potter universal

Nicole hadn’t been to the new Harry Potter section of Universal so we planned to spend the day there before heading back to Disney for our pre-marathon dinner.

I have so many things I want to write about our experience at Universal but this is a happy post and I don’t want to taint it. Long story short: I’ll be sticking to Disney from now on. I really, really love Harry Potter. And I think Universal did an amazing job with the two Harry Potter theme parks. But that’s where my positive review ends. Never again, Universal.

We had our pre-marathon meal in Disney Spring’s at Wolfgang Puck’s Dining Room and everything was delicious. I polished off every last bit of my rigatoni bolognese and recall telling Nicole that if they brought out another one by mistake, I’d eat that whole plate too.

With the carb-loading done, all that was left to do was get ready for marathon morning and get to bed early! Almost halfway done with miles and only one more morning to go!

_______________________

Next up: the last 26.2 miles of the 2016 Dopey Challenge. What’s another 26.2, right?

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2016 Dopey Challenge: the first 9.3 miles.

It’s been just a few days now since I completed my second Dopey Challenge and damn, the post-Dopey blues are in full swing yet again. I thought it’d make things easier knowing that I’ll be back in Disney in February for Princess Weekend but nope, no such luck.

If you’re just tuning in, this is the Dopey Challenge:

dopey challenge

If it looks crazy, it’s because it is. I’m crazy enough to have done it twice. I’m also crazy enough that I’m considering doing it again.

But anywho, I figure there’s no better way to fight the post-Dopey blues than to start recapping these amazingly magical miles…

Disney World Day 1:

Nicole and I arrived in Orlando early on Wednesday and headed straight to the expo after a quick pit stop at the hotel to drop off our bags. We stayed in the Port Orleans Riverside Resort and it was wonderful, just like last year.

After picking up our bibs and another 6 Disney shirts to add to my growing Disney wardrobe, we went straight for Hollywood Studios for some pre-Dopey fun.

expo and hollywood studios

Dopey Challenge Day 1: The 5k

Thursday morning began with a 3:55 am alarm (woohoo for a later 5k start time!) and our 48.6 mile adventure was officially underway.

While the weather was significantly warmer than last year’s 5k, I’m glad that I had throwaway gear for all 4 of the races. TIP: Never throw away old long sleeve t-shirts (I keep all long sleeve race t-shirts even if I know I’ll never wear them) or post-race foils. I put these to the side and use them as throwaway gear for races with a long wait before the start. For the 5k, I used my finisher’s foil from the Philadelphia Marathon.

We waited on line to take a picture with Dopey and then walked to corral A, anxious to get this show on the road (quite literally).

Ariel and Sebastian kept the pace super easy and stopped for a few pictures along the Epcot route. Just like last year, I got chills when running around the World Showcase. Between the lights, the inspirational music, and the Disney magic, it truly is incredible.

dopey challenge 5k

With 3.1 miles behind us, we were 6% done with miles and 25% done with mornings!

epcot

After showering, enjoying some breakfast, and a little down time, we spent the rest of the day in the beautiful Epcot sunshine.

Rough life.

Dopey Challenge Day 2: The 10k

After the 5k, all the races begin at 5:30 am so waking up at 3:55 is no longer an option. For the remainder of the Dopey Challenge, our alarms went off at 3:15 every morning and we were out the door before 3:40 to get on a bus to the start village.

Before leaving the hotel room, we checked the weather one last time (because Florida weather apparently changes drastically every 15 minutes or so) and saw that rain was in the forecast. We grabbed our ponchos in addition to our throwaway gear and got out the door.

Luckily, we were able to wait inside a tent up until it was time to head to the corrals so we were kept warm and dry for as long as possible. While there was a light rain throughout the majority of the 10k, it was rather warm so the rain didn’t really bother us. In fact, by mile 1 we had both dropped our throwaway gear and ponchos. Tinkerbell and Olaf don’t melt. Wait. Errr. Hmm.

dopey challenge 10k

Just as in the 5k, we kept the pace super easy and stopped for a few photos ops along the course.

We celebrated being 19% done with miles and 50% done with mornings in the Magic Kingdom. It worked out perfectly and the rain stopped and the sun came out just as we got off the bus at Magic Kingdom. Oh hey there, sunny skies!

magic kingdom

Just like last year, there was no “staying off my feet” the days leading up to the marathon. #wheninDisney #zeroregrets

By keeping our pace extremely easy during the first 9.3 miles, we ensured that we were able to both enjoy the parks and complete the next 39.3 miles with a smile, which was really the only goal in the first place :-)

____________________

Next up: getting to the 22.4 mile mark with the WDW Half-Marathon!

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Filed under 10k, 5k, disney, vacation, walt disney world marathon