This Runner's Trials

runDisney Dopey Challenge pros and cons

Posted by runnerstrials

The winner of the Illumiseen giveaway is Erica C. Congrats Erica! I’ll send you an email.


I’ve had a Dopey Challenge final thoughts post done since a week after I completed the race this past January. But I thought it was better to sit on it awhile before hitting publish.


You see, immediately after the challenge, I was on the biggest running high. It was my best race experience ever, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Even my non-Disney-loving, only-runs-because-it’s-necessary-for-triathlons husband was a huge fan of Dopey. We went into Dopey thinking that we’d be “one and done”, but the day after the marathon, Jeff started making goals for “next time”. Of course, this was music to my ears!

dopey results

That’s our cumulative time for the races on the right. I actually want to run again so I can beat him!

I had hoped that we would be running Dopey again in 2016. But Disney Annual Passholder registration came and went last week, and we didn’t sign up – and we won’t sign up when regular registration opens later this month either.

Here’s the short version why: Dopey is the most amazing race, but it’s also incredibly expensive – $586! – especially when both my husband and I want to run. Add in travel costs, hotel, meals, and it’s more than we can afford right now.

If you’re on the fence about registering for Dopey, I’d definitely suggest doing it. But if you want a little more info than that, here are my top pros and cons:



It’s the most amazing race challenge. Dopey consists of a 5k on Thursday, 10k on Friday, half marathon on Saturday, and full marathon on Sunday. A full marathon, in my opinion, is a huge race challenge in itself. Running a marathon after running all of those other events leading up to it is just… well crazy! Part of the excitement is the unknown. I never did any Dopey simulation runs (some people run 4 days in a row and do mini-Dopey challenges as part of training), so I really didn’t know if I would be able to complete the challenge. But that’s seriously half of the fun. As the challenge goes on, things get more serious and the nerves and excitement just keep building up, making you feel like you’re going to explode. Add in the fact that you’re in Disney with thousands of other runners, and it’s just an amazing environment and experience.


It’s doable if you can run a marathon. I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to finish Dopey going into it. I had friends who ran it the year before who assured me that I would, but still – the unknown is scary! However, I remember finishing the marathon and thinking “that wasn’t so bad”! And it’s true – if you can run a marathon, you can do Dopey. I think holding back during the first three races – we ran the 5k, 10k, and half marathon all at an “easy” pace – and resting as much as possible between the races is key for success.

The early race starting times. I know that the crazy early start times, and 2:30 am wake-ups, seem like a con, but they’re not for Dopey. We resisted the urge to nap every day so that we’d be ready to pass out by 7pm every night. By days three and four, we had readjusted our body clocks and weren’t too tired. Full disclosure, though: at the time we ran Dopey, we had an 8-month-old and 3-year-old, neither who slept through the night for months leading up to the race. So, we were used to not being well-rested if that makes sense.



Unpredictable weather. I prefer running in warm weather, and unfortunately it was horribly cold and windy the morning of the 5k. The 10k and half marathon weren’t too much better, but thankfully it was warmer for the full. The weather in Florida in January is so unpredictable. We participated in marathon weekend in 2009 and it was warmer than average, in 2010 when there was record lows and sleet, and in 2013 when it was miserably hot. You never know what you’re going to get, which makes costume planning challenging. I suggest bringing four throwaway layers, one for each race morning.


You won’t know until race morning if you’ll need to run the entire race in a bathrobe!

The time of year of the race. For me, December is the most challenging month for running. The cold air settles in and I’m just not eager to hop out of bed on cold, dark mornings to go run. Add in the extra festivities and family fun that comes with the holiday season, and it’s just really hard for me to carve out time for long runs. However, I ran two marathons in November before Dopey. Even though I was feeling burnt out after those races and second guessed my decision to take on Dopey, I think already being in marathon shape before December helped me out. I didn’t feel the pressure to get in every training run through December because I knew I was in fairly good shape. When I run Dopey again, I’ll also follow this approach and run a fall marathon.

The price tag. Unless you’re local to the Orlando area, Dopey is a racecation. In addition the steep registration fees, you have to pay for travel and at least 4 nights stay in a hotel, not to mention food, park tickets, and goodies from the expo. You’re literally forced to make a vacation out of Dopey. For many runners, this means bringing the kids along, which adds to the cost. Dopey literally costs thousands of dollars! In my opinion it’s worth it once (if you can afford it), but this is what’s stopping us from doing it again in the near future.

My biggest tips for Dopey are to take it easy at the parks, resist the urge to nap so it’s easier to go to bed earlier, and expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather. And have fun! Dopey was hands down my most fun race experience ever. I’m so excited for everyone who is taking on the challenge in 2016!


For more on Dopey, check out these posts:

Registration for runDisney Marathon Weekend opens April 28, 2015 at noon EDT. Don’t hesitate to sign up. Dopey will sell out quickly. If you want to run any of the 2016 marathon weekend races, be at your computer before noon.


Base race

Posted by runnerstrials

Isn’t time a funny thing? I feel like I have been in this non-training mode forever. I’ve been running, but I don’t remember the last time I “had” to run. Well, yes I do. It was back when I actually followed a training plan leading up to NYCM/ Thunder Road last fall.


Shorts weather!

I have this crazy idea that I want to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah marathon this November. I know. I said I was done doing marathons for awhile. But it’s amazing what some time off from serious running does for the soul. The itch is back. I want to run faster and longer. I want to train at daybreak on humid summer mornings and push myself. And, yes, I want to see if I could smash my PR by running a marathon on a flat course. My neighbor is running the race, and we run the same pace and trained for NYCM together, so it’d be really fun to train with her again.

But I also want to make sure I get my health straightened out and the whole work-life balance thing somewhat balanced before I commit to intense training again ( <-- thank you so much for all of the points to consider for nanny vs. daycare!). I feel like things are starting to fall into place, so I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be in a good place in a few months when I need to start training.


Speaking of time, she’s going to be ONE next week, and he’ll be 3.5 next month. How is this possible?

Anyway, back to that time thing. I told my husband last night that I need to run a base race first before I decide if I’m going for Savannah. Even though I haven’t been training, I feel like I may not have lost too much speed. But I want to know for sure. A base race is important to me because I need something recent to base my training paces on.

racefest 2015

Charlotte Racefest is this weekend. It’s a great race, and where I ran a 1/2 marathon PR when Wyatt was itty bitty three years ago. There’s a 5k, 10k, and half option. I would do the 10k. I asked my husband last night if it would be OK to race this weekend, and he assumed I wanted to run the half! I laughed hysterically. There is no way I could run a half marathon now. I haven’t run more than 7.25 miles in almost two months – which is forever in the running world. Then he asked me why I couldn’t base my race paces off my Dopey* times. I responded something like, “because Dopey was forever ago”. But no. Dopey was only three months ago! I cannot believe it. It seriously seems like years ago! It’s crazy how quickly we lose our running fitness, huh?

I just registered for the 10k and I’m really, really excited. I don’t expect a PR, nor do I have any time goals, which is actually pretty nice. I’m just super eager to get out there again!

Who else does a base race before settling on a training plan? If you don’t, how do you settle on goal paces for the plan? I’m really curious because my husband thinks I’m weird for needing to run a race first, but he couldn’t tell me how he picks goal paces!

*I owe you guys a Dopey takeaways post. I’ve had a draft that’s 3/4 of the way completed sitting for months now, and I promise to have it published before registration opens at the end of this month.

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16 (or 18?) week marathon training plan for a sub- 4:00 hour finish

Posted by runnerstrials

I tracked my weekly training for NYCM here, but I said I would share the final plan once I ran the race. I’m really happy with this plan! I felt very prepared for the marathon, never felt over-trained, and met the sub-4:00 goal I set. Well, I achieved my goal but it took two weeks longer than planned.


So, here’s a detailed plan of what I did to earn my sub-4:00 marathon. I think I was ready to run a sub-4:00 after 16 weeks of training, but just had an unlucky day. I don’t think anyone would need to do all 18 weeks of this plan – especially considering that I took it extra easy in the weeks between the marathons.

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
4.25mi at 8:36; 2.25mi w/stroller at 9:16 45min spin 5mi tempo w/ 3 at 8:03 + lifting 45min spin 9mi at 9:09 3.25mi at 8:27 + spin OFF
4.25mi at 8:22; 3mi at 9:10 w/ double stroller 45min spin 5mi at 8:08, including 5x 800m at 7:30; 20 minutes lifting 45min spin 10mi at 9:20 3mi at 8:11; 45 minute TRX class OFF
4.25 mi at 8:18; 3mi w/ stroller at 9:15 45min spin 5mi at 8:14 with 3 tempo at 7:54 45min spin 11mi at 9:05 OFF 5mi stroller at 8:03
6x 800m at 7:00 (6mi total) 4mi untimed OFF 4.25mi at 8:10 12mi at 9:03 5k race in 26:45 45min spin class + lifting
5mi at 8:45 7x 800m at 6:52 (7mi total) OFF 4mi at 8:43 14mi at 9:07 OFF 45min spin class + lifting
5mi at 8:32 8x 800m at 6:52 (7.5mi) OFF 4.25mi at 8:34 15mi at 9:09 OFF 1 hour spin
5mi at 8:30 + 3mi double stroller at 9:40 45 min Spin 7mi with 5 tempo at 7:32 45min TRX 16mi at 9:12 OFF 3mi at 8:55 + 20min swim
2mi warm-up + 5k race in 22:01 7mi progression run Spin + TRX 7mi at 8:55 OFF 1mi warm-up + 5k race in 21:35 1 hour spin
6mi at 8:49 9x 800m at 6:53 (8mi total) Spin + TRX 4.25mi at 8:55 OFF 18mi at 9:12 OFF
Spin +TRX + 3mi at 8:48 8mi w/ 6mi tempo at 7:45 OFF 7mi at 8:55 OFF 20mi at 9:21 1 hour spin
6.25mi at 8:39 10x 800m at 6:56– 9mi total Spin + TRX OFF 8.75mi at 8:45 16mi at 8:50 pace 1 hour spin
OFF 8mi progression run – 9:55/ 8:52/ 8:37/ 8:20/ 8:14/ 7:50/ 7:40/ 7:32 Spin + TRX 8.5 mi at 9:29 5mi at 8:38 OFF Half marathon in 1:39:55
OFF 7mi at 8:56 8mi at 8:38 7.5mi at 8:53 OFF 20mi at 9:15 OFF
5.25mi at 8:30 8x 800m at 7:00 (7.25mi) OFF

(should have been spin/TRX)

OFF OFF (should have been 12mi) 5mi at 8:55 OFF
5mi at 8:40 6mi including 4mi tempo at 7:40 Spin + TRX 4mi at 8:13 OFF 10mi at 8:27 OFF
30min spin + TRX 4mi at 8:40 3mi at 8:52 OFF 3mi at 8:30 OFF Marathon in 4:34:37
OFF OFF OFF OFF Spin +TRX 8mi at 8:49 4mi at 8:53
OFF 3.5mi at 8:39 pace 3mi w/ double stroller at 9:04 pace 2.5mi w/ stroller at 9:08 pace OFF Marathon in 3:47:50
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