Friday, January 23, 2015

"This is Hard" and 10 other Dopey Challenge Observations #runDisney

Many runners ask themselves "would I do another Marathon?" after completing their first 26.2. I'm not one of those runners (I always knew I'd run more than one) but reflection is always good. So I thought I'd spend some time detailing my thoughts about our recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth and the 2015 Dopey Challenge.

11. I love staying on property.

I do. I can't help myself (and if I could, I wouldn't want to). I love Disney World. It is a fantastic place to vacation. Every time I've stayed on property at one of the WDW Resorts I've left the vacation feeling relaxed and happy. On a budget? (Aren't we all, LOL) That's okay - the Value Resorts are still amazing and offer nearly all of the Disney extras as the more expensive resorts. I have always stayed at the ALL STAR resorts and loved it. It starts with the luggage and Disney's Magical Express. When you fly into Orlando or Anaheim you have nothing to worry about because the ride is taken care of and the luggage pick-up is too. The rooms are clean and comfortable but the best thing about staying on property is the Magic Hours. Handsome Jack and I got to do/see a lot during our Magic Hours. I can't imagine doing Disney any other way. If you are at Disney for a runDisney event, staying on property is essential. The transportation provided from your resort to all the race related functions really takes the stress out of getting around on race day.

10. Meal plan is a mixed bag.

Handsome Jack and I enjoy trying new cuisine and there are plenty of restaurants to try at WDW. We went with the Deluxe Dinning Plan (three meals a day plus a snack). We used our meal plan to dine at some of WDW's best restaurants (Citrico's, the Brown Derby, and Le Ceillier) as well as fun restaurants (Akershus - where you get to meet the Princesses - and the Sci Fi Dine In). A lot of our meals would have been very pricey if not for the meal plan (180$ - 200$ before tip). So on the one hand, the meal plan is awesome because it allowed us to enjoy fine dinning. On the other hand, we probably ate more than we normally would (not a huge problem, this is vacation after all). Also, if you are at Disney for a run you will likely miss breakfasts due to the early morning race starts. This wasn't a big deal for us because we brought race day staples from home. But if you aren't interested in attending some fine dinning options (where 2 meal credits are deducted per meal) you may end up leaving meals on your card. Just something to think about. So, as you can see, it's a mixed bag. I definitely loved the meals we ate while on our Disney vacation. Next time I might shop for a lesser meal plan.

9. Goodbye race etiquette (sorta).

This is not unique to runDisney events. The loss of race etiquette plagues a lot of popular, crowded races and runDisney races are no exception. You may be super psyched to be racing trough a Disney park (or even on a Disney Cruise) and imagine all the other runners will be equally jazzed. Not the case. Just remember, there are grumpy runners at every race. It is worth mentioning that several places throughout the Disney courses are narrow (running through the Castle is a good example). A lot of folks slow down in the narrow passages and it only takes a few walkers side-by-side to completely clog the course. Just be aware of the space around you. Be the example you wish to see.

8. Don't get sick.

Seriously. Racing while sick is the worst! We did it in 2013 (5k,+ Goofy) and it soured us to running for an entire year. We don't know when we caught the flu in 2013 (either on the plane or shortly after arriving at Disney) but we were full-on sick with flu about half way through the Marathon. Every single fiber in our bodies hurt and the race was torture (the unseasonably warm weather probably added to the torture that year). Remember to take precautions seriously. Stay hydrated. Take vitamins. Get good rest. Wash hands often. Stay healthy and you will have a better experience.

7. Cold? Hot? Rain? Plan for the worst case scenario.

Running at Disney requires a 'come to Jesus' with the 'over-packer' in all of us. Embrace it. Over-pack.It is essential to bring clothing for all weather scenarios. In 2013 it was super freaking hot during the Marathon. This year, the 5k was frigidly cold and it rained a little during our Marathon. If you are running in costumes think about ways your costumes can be modified for different weather situations. My hubby and I didn't plan for cold weather. We expected it would be warm like it was in 2013. We were uncomfortable a lot of the time because we were under dressed for the weather. Worried about checking your gear at the race? Don't be. The runDisney gear check is the best gear check I've ever experienced.

6. Running with friends is so much more fun.

Simple but true. In 2012 and 2013 we ran alone. No friends. No supporters on the course. No one. This time we had family with us. And my awesome friend Cherylanne came by to run the 10k with us and cheer for us during the Marathon. Just knowing she was on the course ready to cheer for us was motivating.Running with friends makes the entire race so much more enjoyable.

5. What about the parks?

In 2012 we messed up. It was our first full Marathon. We knew we needed to get to Disney and allow time to soak it all up. We arrived 4 days early and spent them at the parks and Expo. But we did too much (too many hours in the park before a run can really be tough on the feet and legs). The race was tough and we were hurting the entire time. in 2013 we learned from that mistake and spent less time in the parks each race day. We had scheduled two 'fun' days after the race but 2013 was the year of the flu (see number 7 above). Instead of having fun in the parks we slept in the room and barely moved. This time around we did a little of both. We stuck to our 'not much time in the parks before a race' strategy and it paid off. Our feet and backs were not sore at all on race day. However, we only allowed 1 'fun day' after the race. The weather was bad for our 'fun day' so we felt like we didn't really get to do as much as we would have liked. *shurgs* We are thinking next time we might do less races and more fun.

4. Dopey is Big but Goofy is King.

I think a lot of folks see gold when they hear the Dopey Challenge comes with 6 race shirts and 6 medals (5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2, Goofy, and Dopey). But the Dopey is also very expensive. The 5k and 10k are fun but they are also easy. The meat of the Dopey Challenge is the Goofy Challenge. Goofy is a huge undertaking (running a half and a full over consecutive days). It's mentally tough and physically tough. If you don't have the funds or the time to do the Dopey but can afford the Goofy don't feel like you are some how lesser. The Goofy is seriously tough and super respected.

3. What's wrong with just running 26.2 miles?

Handsome Jack and I started chatting about this near the end of the WDW Marathon. What happened to just running a Marathon? Ever since we became Marathoners we have been tacking more races to the 26.2. In 2013 we did Goofy + the 5k. In 2015 we did Dopey. Maybe it's time to revisit running the Marathon as a stand-alone race. Instead of focusing on endurance we could focus on time and really get our Marathon time down. Just a thought.

2. Running naked is actually fun.

Okay, let me explain. By 'naked' I mean without music and without heart rate monitors. I never- in a million years - thought I'd be advocating for running without music but hear me out. The music creates a wall between you and the rest of the runners with you. And example: this year we saw a woman running in the cutest Dumbo costume ever. A firefighter/medic riding by on his bicycle commented on how awesome her costume was and she didn't even hear him. How sad is that? I was running as Rapunzel but a lot of people were not familiar with her character. I got a lot of questions during the race from other runners about the frying pan on my belt (and a lot of compliments). Not wearing headphones allowed me to really soak of up the race, connect with other runners, and really take in the support from spectators and volunteers. Can't imagine running without music? Don't worry, there is tons of music and entertainment along the course including music at ever mile marker.

1. This is Hard.

My hubby said it best, around mile 21 of the Marathon, "This is hard." Running is hard. Running 26.2 is hard. Running 39.3 is hard. Running 48.6 is hard. The Dopey Challenge was so freaking hard. We were better trained for this race than any of our previous Marathons and it was still hard. Don't underestimate the challenge. Train seriously. But don't forget to have fun along the way. The miles are magical and the runDisney races are seriously the best I've ever participated in. Enjoy it! The Dopey was a ton of fun and I am so proud that we accomplished such an amazing thing together.

Would I do the Dopey Challenge again? IDK. My knee and my budget might be limiting factors in that decision. Here I am icing it after I got home (don't mind mess - we still hadn't fully unpacked from the trip).

I can safely say I would absolutely do another runDisney race (maybe a half or a full (though not necessarily both)).

Want more thoughts and reflections about the WDW Marathon Weekend? Check out these great posts by the lovely ladies at We Run Disney:

Goofy is Getting No Respect

Goofy Training

10 Reasons we love WDW Marathon Weekend

How about you? Would you do the Dopey or Goofy again?

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