February 3, 2014

Dopey Challenge: The Wrap-Up

You've all waited patiently for us to collect our thoughts on the Dopey Challenge.  Thank you for your questions and we're attempting to answer them below and include some additional commentary.  This is an absolutely incredible race experience and one that we will certainly treasure forever.  Throughout this journey, we've been incredibly grateful for your love and support - thank you!


Training and Preparation
What training plans did you use?  
P: I followed Jeff Galloway's Dopey Challenge plan for experienced runner  here.  This plan was perfect from a physical and mental perspective because you actually run a Dopey simulation three weeks before the race weekend.  This was a huge confidence booster for me and I went into race weekend feeling very confident.
C: I also used the Galloway plan with a few modifications based on my Marine Corps Marathon training and my own personal preferences for training.  Hal Higdon also developed a Dopey Training plan that you can access here.  One thing that I would add is that the training for Dopey is hard.  If you adhere to a plan, it will be countless hours on the road.  That being said, I would strongly recommend you do some back to back runs to prepare your body for that if you aren't used to running on consecutive days.  The weekend before Christmas, I estimate I spent about 8 hours running.  And that doesn't take into account that after our 24 miler on December 22nd, we were comatose and couch-bound.  The training burden around the holidays is real.


The Races
Favorite Race
C: My favorite was the marathon.  I also really enjoyed the half marathon because we did new things - took a castle pic and stopped to see the Army man.  
P: Without a doubt, my favorite race was the marathon. With a plan to conserve our energy for this race, we both felt fine physically on race morning. My only prior marathon (WDW Marathon 2013) was run solo and having a running partner made this race so much fun.
Almost to the finish line and feeling on top of the world!
Did you go to the parks? 
We planned to spend 4 days in the parks.  We chilled out on Wednesday after hitting up the expo and spent time unpacking and getting organized.  We hit the parks Thursday and Friday after the 5k and 10k respectively.  On both days, we were very diligent about hydration, finding healthy meal options and letting each other know if we were tired and needed a break.  When we went to Magic Kingdom on Friday, we ended up heading back to the hotel for a few hours in the late afternoon to rest and then we went back for dinner and a few rides.  After the half marathon on Saturday, we had a mandatory chill out day and hung out at the resort.  And then after the marathon, we were all about the parks!

High point(s)
P: Seeing so many familiar faces during the race week was really fun.  We spent time with old friends and new and that is one of the reasons we love the runDisney races. The finish line of the marathon was another high point and extra special with PR's for both of us and the excitement of completing the challenge.
C: I agree - seeing buddies at the races is awesome!  I loved running in costume for the 5k.  And of course running a marathon PR with my mom by my side on Sunday was simply magic!
An amazing moment!  Thanks to Megan's husband Brent for capturing this!
Low point(s)
C: I was borderline angry on the morning of the 10k.  I didn't sleep well and woke up feeling very cranky and tired.  After a lackluster 5k, I was looking forward to this inaugural race and was really disappointed in the lack of entertainment on the course.  The 4 early mornings were tough, but Friday was definitely the worst for me.  
P: The lowest point for me was the 4 early mornings, which actually were 6 early mornings due to a 5:30AM airplane flight and an early morning to get to the Expo. I also was disappointed in the 10K race course and the lack of character stops for both the 5K and the 10K.  We really wanted a photo with Dopey and never got one.

How did you approach each race?
We planned to goof off in the first 3 races and put our game faces on for the marathon.  After spending way more time on the 5k course than we planned (long character photo lines), we were more business-like for the 10k, but still didn't push too hard.  We ran both of these races straight and took short walk breaks if we needed them and during the water stops.  For the half marathon, we had a goal to run it in 2:30 and did 4:1 run: walk intervals.  That worked perfectly and got us off the course early so we had adequate time to rest, but we were loose throughout that race.  For the marathon, we ran 4:1 run:walk intervals as well and you know the rest of that story!

What do you get for running 48.6 miles?
You get a whopping 6 medals - 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge.  And you get the corresponding race shirts which are all long-sleeved tech shirts with the exception of the 5k and that's a cotton t-shirt.

Fueling and Recovery
What did you do for recovery?
We had "mandatory" stretching time each day.  After the half marathon, we both took ice baths using giant plastic bags to tote the ice back to the room.  We also brought a foam roller and stick with us for additional help keeping our legs loose.

How did you feel after the races?
P: I felt good after the first three races.  Taking an ice bath after the half marathon and relaxing afterwards made a huge difference for the marathon.  I would recommend anyone running the Dopey Challenge to avoid the parks and just eat and hydrate after the half marathon. Post marathon I was very tired and had some soreness.  Christine pushed me (in a good way) for the last half of the race and my legs were trashed at the finish.  However, I would not trade one second of running that marathon!
C: I definitely had some tightness after each race which in all honesty, made me nervous.  I think the fact that we took the first 3 races easy helped because I wasn't really stressing my muscles much.  I felt amazing the morning after the marathon.  Surprisingly, I wasn't sore after the marathon and I attribute that to strong training...or a Dopey Challenge miracle!

How did you fuel and handle meals while being away from home?
We made reservations at some great table service restaurants for each night.  We knew we would enjoy the relaxation and needed quality meals before each race.  When eating in the parks, we tried to stick to leaner meats and avoid fatty foods.  In full disclosure, Christine snagged a chocolate cupcake on the first night that we shared and it was pretty tasty!
While we were out and about during the days, we carried Clif bars in our bags for easy snacks and a water bottle to refill in the parks.  We also brought Nuun hydration tablets and Gatorade powder for easy and quick electrolytes.
Before the 5k and 10k, we both ate a normal pre-race meal.  For Christine, that was a banana and a Clif bar.  For Pam, that was a banana and peanut butter on an English Muffin.  For the half and full marathons, we fueled in race retreat with bananas and bagels with peanut butter.
We had a fantastic dinner at Be Our Guest with Danielle
Registration
We registered for the event the day it opened because we were worried about a quick sell-out.  If memory serves us correctly, it took a few weeks for it to sell out.

Financial considerations - worth the cost?
P: Absolutely, but with price increases for the future, I am not certain how much I would be willing to pay for a repeat. When you add in hotel, food and park tickets, the week can become very costly.
C: I'm on the fence on this.  I thought the 5k and 10k were kind of crummy races so I felt like the $500 price tag was hefty for 2 frustrating events.  But the women's cut shirts was a HUGE improvement so I am very happy about that.  $500 is a lot of money to spend on a single race event (yes, I realize this is 4 races, but it acts like one event) and like Mom said, there are other travel expenses that go into it.  
Showing off our Minnie 10k medals with Mickey!

Would we do it again?
C: I was surprised that I loved this challenge as much as I did.  There isn't a single thing I would have done differently.  Crossing the finish line at the marathon was an incredible high!  I don't know that I'll jump when registration opens in April, but I won't write it off.  Honestly if I'm back for another marathon weekend, I would probably pick Goofy over Dopey unless there's some evidence of significant improvements in the 5k and 10k...not to mention figuring out a way to deal with the 4 early wake-up calls!
Will I be Dopey enough to do it again?
 P: This is a tough question.  I loved the experience of testing myself for 4 consecutive days of running, but I also know that this type of training and racing is very hard on your body.  At the moment, I have different running goals but I will never say never.  Who knows, maybe I will do Dopey again on the 10th anniversary to celebrate my 70th birthday!
Maybe to celebrate 70 years!
Did you run the Dopey Challenge?  What did you think?

31 comments:

  1. Love the honest thoughts, ladies! A lot of your frustrations were very similar to my husband's, especially in dealing with the training around the holidays and the lack luster feel about the 5k and 10k. I completely sympathize with you on the early mornings, because even though I only did the 10k and half I was out there all four mornings cheering on my Dopey husband. He has similar feelings about a Dopey repeat as well; maybe down the road he'll do Dopey again but if we return for Marathon weekend next year (there's other races we also want to do), the most he'll probably do is Goofy.

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    1. You were awesome to wake up to cheer for those races that you were not running! I (Pam) also feel that Goofy may be the better option for me!

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  2. Great informative post! I really, really appreciate all the tips and will keep them in mind for Dopey next year. And I selfishly hope both of you make it to marathon weekend next year so I can see your smiling faces!

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    1. My coach is running Dopey so I do hope to be there, but who knows what I will choose to run, maybe "just" the marathon!

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  3. Fantastic post!! Definitely gives me a lot of insight to what I'll be getting myself into next year. I'm looking towards it as a fun event, but also a very serious event since it requires a ridiculous amount of training!! I really appreciate your honest thoughts!

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    1. Thanks Lauren. With proper training this race weekend can be a blast. Just be prepared for alot of miles around Christmas!

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  4. Awesome post! Sounds very similar to my overall thoughts, haha. I'd do it again, but like Christine said...only if they make some serious improvements to the 5K and the 10K! Either way, you ladies did a fabulous job, and it looks like you had as much fun as I did! Congrats again on your accomplishment(s)! :-D

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. I (Pam) would probably only go for Goofy just because of the early mornings, but never say never!

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  5. Love hearing your perspective on these hot topics! I don't know that I will ever go Dopey! Goofy... maybe but like Christine mentioned, I worry about being frustrated with lackluster courses for the cost of adding the shorter races to the weekend.

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    1. The crowded courses for the 5K and 10K were also not very fun. After waiting for the first character stop during the 5K the course was packed!

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  6. Thank you so much for your candid insights and tips. I'm gearing up for Dopey and downloaded JG plan. I have many half's planned for 2014 and this will be my first marathon. Wishing you continued successes in 2014 and beyond :) Kat

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    1. Thank you for reading our post and good luck with your training and especially the Dopey Challenge in 2015!

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  7. Awesome! Congratulations on an incredible achievement. The recaps were great but going forward, I think this post-experience information is really going to benefit a lot of people who are thinking Dopey in the future.

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    1. Thank you Frank. It really is an endurance contest with lack of sleep and all those miles. However, I would not trade our experience...it was amazing.

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  8. Great and thorough write up! Part of the problem is that Dopey will sell out fast, and with registration so early (in April) we'll have know idea whether/how the 5k and 10k might be changed.

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    1. Good point Chris. There is probably no chance we will see a possibility of a revised course in time for race registration. We have the same 10k course for the Glass Slipper Challenge and frankly I am not looking forward to it!

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  9. I did Goody this year and although I wanted to do Dopey I am pretty glad I didn't. As you guys mentioned the wake-up calls are BRUTAL and considering I had my family with me I am not sure I would want to wake up that early two additional days when we already had days to race to the airport and such.

    I really think (from what I have heard from multiple people) that they could have done MUCH better on the 5 and 10k races, I know a lot of folks were/are disappointed the positive thing is that Disney is pretty good about listening to feedback and perhaps they will take the suggestions into consideration.

    I followed the Galloway plan for Goofy and I have to agree, I really think that the plan was/is very well suited for situations or races like this. I am considering Goofy again for 2015. Who knows!

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    1. Congrats on completing the Goofy Challenge. The additional morning wake ups were the worst part of Dopey, and hopefully runDisney alters the 5k and 10k courses to make them more appealing to the runners.

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  10. So I said "one and done" the first couple of weeks after Dopey, but here I am saying...maybe. Getting up early so many days stunk...really stunk. We park hopped each day and had no issues (daily appointment with my trigger point kit) with being sore. I was cranky on Saturday and quite tired. My son and husband got food poisoning on Friday, so there was little sleep that night. After the half race I found the rocking chairs on Tom Sawyer's Island - haha! The first two races were very disappointing and are still my hitches with deciding on Dopey for next year - Goofy for 300 or 200 more for 2 races that total 9 miles of mediocre racing. Maybe, maybe not. Partly afraid of running Dopey another year and getting hooked on some sort of "perfect Dopey" challenge. Run Disney!! :)

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    1. Amy, I am sure there will be alot of runners who want to be perfectly Dopey and I say good luck to them. That will not be either of us!

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  11. I don't see myself taking on Dopey next year because I don't see myself taking another five-night WDW race-cation. My wife, daughter, and I had fun running the 5K together, and I had a blast running the marathon (my first) on Sunday...but the rest of the weekend/week dragged on a bit much (even though I did have family come down to run in the half). While we have discussed running the 10K as a family next year, in hearing the feedback on the race, I have trouble justifying a $300-ish spend and a couple of extra nights of hotel/meal expenses. I haven't ruled out Goofy for myself, but I'm thinking I might just come back to run the marathon again and to stay for just the weekend.

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    1. Pete, your comments make perfect sense to me. (Pam). The cost of these race weekends is immense when you add on park visits, hotel and food. Nothing is cheap at Disney and the price of races times three makes it nearly the cost of a European vacation! Goofy was really fun last year and I would recommend it.....and there are just 2 early mornings!

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  12. Loved your honesty. As always, we want to say that every single thing about disney is "magical" and great but in reality there are a lot of other things to consider! I think this is a great experience, although something that wouldn't warrant doing every year! You ladies certainly made some great memories! Congrats again! I look forward to hearing about your cruise Pam. ( I hope I didn't miss that post)

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    1. Thanks Meranda. We thoroughly enjoyed this, but would think long and hard before committing to this challenge again for all the reasons we mentioned. See you soon and no, I have not posted anything about my cruise!

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  13. Christine and Pam, I have enjoyed following your posts, love the costumes!!! I have a question regarding the run/walk ratio. I am training for my 1st half marathon in April, and am using the Jeff Galloway app, but it eats up the battery power on my iphone like crazy!!! What do you use to alert you to follow the run/walk ratio method? Do you have an app that works better for you and doesn't use up your phone battery life? Thanks in advance for any advice!!!!

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    1. Donna, Neither of us uses anything but our Garmin watches and because we use a run/walk ratio of 4 minutes running to 1 walking (only for the longer distance races) we keep track by looking at the watch. Sorry we don't have something better to share with you.

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    2. Jeff Galloway recommends the gym boss timer. I got mine at Amazon for about $20.

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    3. I use an app called Seconds. It's available in the Apple App Store (IDK about Android). It has some preloaded interval timers for runners and cross-fit training. I paid to upgrade the app, and now I have the ability to build customized interval timers. I've used the Seconds app for the past year & haven't noticed my battery draining any quicker than before. I also use the RunKeeper app at the same time. My phone battery lasted through Goofy 2014.

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  14. I too ran Dopey and didn’t have a problem with the 5k and 10k. The 5k seemed to have just as many character stops as any other Disney 5k. Yes, the 10k has a few miles outside the park, but they still managed to have entertainment for each mile. I believe that having the time for runners to spread out is better than having crowded field in the park. I also think that the atmosphere in the 5k and 10k may have been caused by all of us Dopey’s. These two races were warm-ups for the main events and not our focus. The cost concerns are legitimate. They add up quite quickly. I hope to see all my fellow Dopey’s in 2015. -@Disney_Groom

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    1. Good point about the crowds being caused by the Dopey runners. I do not know if the 5k and 10k had bigger numbers, but actually, the number of characters for the 5k was considerably less than we experienced for the Royal Family 5k in 2013.

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  15. Love hearing both of your perspectives on this. Having done the 5K, 10K and half, totally agree on the wake-up time. So brutal to do so many days in a row! I loved doing the 5K with my mom. We weren't stopping at characters so we didn't really pay attention to that stuff. We just enjoyed the atmosphere of the race. I had a frustrating 10K with the crowds. I was actually racing, so again didn't pay too much attention to the characters. But racing proved difficult with so many Dopey runners taking it easy. But I still loved the overall race atmosphere. Way more fun than my usual 10Ks around Central Park!

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