So one week on from completing the Dopey challenge, I thought it was time to reflect on my achievements and the experience as a whole.
Lets start with the races themselves, and my results:
- 5K – 25.00
- 10K – 49:44
- Half-Marathon – 1:54:47
- Marathon – 3:34:55
Which gives me an overall time of 6:44:26. Now Disney don’t officially rank the Dopey Challenge, but as they publish all the finishers times for each race, lots of helpful people on the internet work it out for you. Of the 6,323 finishers who completed the Dopey Challenge, I came 158th. Not bad! Very happy with that!
Looking back the races they really couldn’t have gone any better.
Initially when I first signed up in April, this is what I was aiming for:
- 5k – within 30mins
- 10k – within 1 hour
- Half-Marathon – within 2 hours
- Marathon – Between 4 and 4 1/2 hours
This was revised slightly in October to:
- 5K – 25 mins
- 10K – 55 mins
- Half-Marathon – 2 hrs
- Marathon – 4 hrs
Which would have put me around 7 hours 20mins for the Dopey. Following my final training sessions I again revised this, aiming to be at or within 7 hours.
I enjoyed both the 5K and the 10K, both were run at steady but comfortable pace allowing me to stretch my legs without over exerting myself. The half was the race where I simply enjoyed where I was running, taking the time to appreciate the surroundings and supporters. I finished tired but in good shape. All my focus was then on the marathon. I knew I needed to be within 3:50 to get that 7 hour mark. I achieved it with time to spare. I don’t think I could have run it better, once I’d started everything seemed to click into place, from my pacing though to hydrating and fueling. In fact on reflection, I don’t think I’d run any of the races any different. A perfectly executed plan!
Loved it! Can not recommend it highly enough. Being Disney it’s all pretty slick and runs as you would expect. There are long stretches, particularly in the half and full marathon, along the roads, with little company but your fellow runners, but to give credit to runDisney they’ve done all they can to help alleviate this. Volunteers and supporters are grouped in sections providing vocal support to all, and there are bands and characters to help distract you from the miles. The buzz you get from running through the 4 parks also drives you through the quieter sections.
I followed the Hal Higdon training plan, and would recommend it. It was a different type of training for me, with built in recovery weeks every other week, but it worked, and I thankfully arrived at the start line injury free.
The training is tough. You shouldn’t under estimate the time and effort involved, particularly in the latter stages when you’re running back to back long runs over the weekend. It’s a big commitment. I’m fortunate to have an understanding family who supported me and understood as I disappeared for hours on end every weekend.
One thing the training doesn’t prepare you for is the early mornings. Even getting up for early training runs, was not the same as the 4 consecutive 2am alarm calls of race days. Lack of sleep is a big issue, so finding time to rest and relax throughout the day is imperative.
So what now? Firstly to anyone thinking about entering a runDisney race, do it! You won’t regret it. I wouldn’t hesitate to run another (or even this) event again. It’s a big commitment both financially and time wise, but its certainly worth it. Hopefully I’ll get to run again, either here or perhaps one of the other events. It would be nice to do it when my kids are bit older and able to run some of the races with me.
For now, however, I’ve had a week off running, and just returned from my first post Disney run. Everything felt ok, and with only 13 weeks until Brighton Marathon, the next plan starts now.