It’s been three months since I finished the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World. As I dust off my well-rested running shoes to again put in some miles, I can’t help but reflect on all the running of done over the past few months. I happened upon the blog I wrote several months ago about how I would tackle the challenge, and I chuckled to myself because nothing ever goes exactly as you plan it. If you missed my original plan, you can catch it here. So here’s what actually happened:
TCS NYC Marathon: There were so many interesting things to see and people cheering; the energy was amazing. In a crowd of thousands, we ran into 3 of our Team Fox teammates around mile 3 and managed to play leapfrog with them for the next 23 miles. Hubby and I stopped for a beer around mile 8 (true story) and we had a few Snickers breaks along the way as well. We roughly kept to our intended 4-minute to 2-minute run/walk ratios, only deviating at that awful Queensboro Bridge. As a central Floridian, I was completely unprepared for a 1.5-mile uphill climb. It was exhausting, but it was all worth it when we crossed the finish line in Central Park with the aforementioned teammates Alanna, Jamie, and Selina. It was an amazing time.
After NYC, with the Dopey looming over our heads, hubby and I took a much-needed 2-week break from running. During that time I stuck to cross-training at spin class instead. We slowly eased our way back to the Dopey training plan during the second week of November. Once December started, we kicked our marathon training back into high gear. On top of the usual training miles, you need to put in, I decided to do a 31-day fundraising challenge to get more donations for Team Fox. Armed with my Charity Miles app and my Asics sneakers, I logged at least one mile every day (missing only 1) during the 31 days. My generous supporters donated more than $500 to Michael J Fox Foundation in addition to the money raised I raised using my Charity Miles app.
That brings us to the Dopey Challenge.
Day 1: The 5k was on Thursday, and it was chilly! We decided to abandon our initial plan of only walking. Instead, we opted for an informal run/walk ratio of running as long as you want and then walking for a while. Not at all precise, but we just listened to what our bodies said and kept it slow and steady. Medal count: 1
Day 2: Friday was the 10K. It was rainy and gross in the morning, but we were upbeat and ready to conquer! My husband and I were joined by my cousin and Team Fox members Bob and Cecily. Neither Bob nor Cecily had run a 10K before, and Bob had the added challenge of running the race 10 years after receiving the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. As far as pacing went, we decided to take it at Bob’s pace. It was mostly walking, peppered in with 2-3 minute intervals of running at a comfortable pace. Having done so many races, I forgot how exciting it is to cross the finish line of your first race. Crossing with Cecily and Bob reminded me of that magical feeling. It was truly amazing and nearly brought me to tears. This was by far my favorite part of the weekend. Medal count: 2
Day 3: Saturday was the half marathon portion of the Dopey Challenge. We decided to take it in reverse of our regular intervals. We did 2 minutes of running and 4 minutes of walking. It felt really good, except I felt as though I was being a slacker or something. It was all mental of course, as the body felt fine throughout the race. At the end of the day, there were a few blisters and some mild muscle soreness, but we were still upright, which is always good. Medal count 3
Day 4: The only thing that stood between me and earning my last 3 medals was the marathon. Did I really just say the “only” thing? Waking up around 2:30 AM four days in a row had finally caught up. I was tired, and a little sore, but ready to be done with this mess already. My hubby and I started out in J corral and made it there just as they were closing it off. With minimal time to stretch, we proceeded to march toward the start line. We started the race with 2 marathon rookies and had every intention to stay with them in the months prior to the race. We quickly abandoned that idea as soon as we started the race and felt how tight our legs were. We bid them “adieu” and the pair bolted ahead.
In direct opposition to how we had trained, my hubby called an audible and decided to switch up the intervals for this race. We decided to employ a 3:30 minute run to a 1:30 minute walk interval. That probably wasn’t the most brilliant idea, but I blame the excessive carb intake on our not thinking clearly. Normally, I hit the wall somewhere between miles 16-20. That day my stomach was growling and my first wall struck at mile 4. Yup! Mile 4. That was bad, but luckily my cousin was at the Team Fox cheer section to supply me with animal crackers to help fuel the next few miles. (Thanks Janelle!) After I got past that first hurdle, I felt “good” until somewhere in the Animal Kingdom. After bathroom breaks and refueling with Snickers, I was able to just keep ticking away at the remaining miles. The rest of the race included many more fuel stops and lots of cheering on my teammates whenever we passed each other.
At mile 24 we stopped at the Team Fox cheer section and downed some Oreos. That is when we decided we were so far off our PR pace that we should just have fun with the last few miles. We stopped for some pics and even hit the Cava del Tequila for a preemptive celebratory shot. We strolled in through the finish line exhausted and accomplished. I even stopped for a selfie with Mickey at the finish, which is something I had never done in the previous 7 times I had completed the race. Medal count: 6
In some ways, I stuck with my original plan. I did train (relatively) hard. I did eat a lot of carbs. I did finish upright. As for giving in to peer pressure and running the Dopey again, at this point, I’m thinking not. But of course, as I get back into running again and the carb crazies cloud my judgment; my plan may again change on the fly. Only time will tell.
~Rose Babcock is still a charity runner, and carb enthusiast, and is now an 8-time Walt Disney World Marathon survivor.