Running Valentine… what I love about running the most. Easy. It’s races. Races, I love you. And the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge is the ULTIMATE RACE. I will be the first to admit I am no good at writing race reviews. Races are a lot like childbirth. I don’t remember much other than the end result. However, I am still riding high on my experience this year and wanted to write it down – so I can remember the details! Here we go – The 2018 Dopey Challenge Recap!
Dopey Challenge 2018: The Training
It’s funny that I have already related running to childbirth. And really, it is so true.
My goal during childbirth? To not die.
My goal during the Dopey Challenge? To not die.
Training for the Dopey Challenge in 2018 was, honestly, really disappointing. I had set out with the goal to really stick to a great plan and be totally prepared, and that just flat out did NOT happen.
Don’t get me wrong – I trained. I ran a lot.
But once the holidays kicked in, everything fell to pieces. I was still able to get in a good 10 mile / 20 mile back to back training run… but I was not feeling the way I wanted to feel going into the weekend.
I also didn’t get in ANY strength training and VERY LITTLE cross training. I knew deep down that I would finish, I just had no idea what that finish would look like.
Dopey Challenge 2018: The Expo
The Expo this year was pure madness.
I showed up right when it was opening and the weather was terrible. Cold, rainy, miserable.
I decided that I wanted to check out the official merchandise first, so stood in line for a while waiting for it to open to the general public.
And boy, am I glad I did.
That line pictured above is the line to get into the official merchandise area – I took that after I finished. It was insane.
I ran into two of my favorite people at the expo and was able to score the merchandise I really wanted… along with a few extra goodies.
Dopey Challenge 2018: The 5K
This. Race. Was. Cold.
My BFF Beth invited me to run with her group, and I had sooooo muuuuch fuuuuun. We all had planned to run as characters from the fab 5 – but the coldness changed most of the costume opportunities. I ran as Daisy, and managed to stay relatively warm!
The most I remember from this race is that my toes and fingers never warmed up.
It was cold!
We had fun, ran a little, walked a little, and I managed to finish in 46:41!
We stuck to :30/:30 walk/run intervals for the majority of the race and it went pretty well!
Not my best 5K time, not my worst 5K time, but definitely one of my most FUN 5K times!
Dopey Challenge 2018: The 10K
This. Race. Was. COLDER.
I gave up on any sort of costume and straight up ran in my winter coat.
I was wearing two pairs of leggings, a sparkle skirt, two shirts, two pairs of socks, gloves, and an ear warmer. Then topped that off with the coat.
We had more fun, we ran a little more, we walked a little more, and managed to finish in 1:27:36!
This was another :30/:30 interval run, with some longer walk breaks around water stops, and a few picture stops as well.
A pretty solid and normal time for me.
This race was so much fun, I was actually sad when it was over. I felt great and wanted to run more! I should have known that was foreshadowing what would come next!
Dopey Challenge 2018: The Half Marathon
This is when it starts to get serious.
My fun group for the 5K and 10K were breaking up to tackle the more serious mileage of the rest of the challenge.
I started to get a little nervous about the half. My hip had started to give me some trouble, and I had SO much fun running with a group for the 5K and 10K – I just didn’t know if I had it in me to run by myself.
Luckily, Julia, and Team in Training, to the rescue!
I texted her to see what corral she was in and if she minded if I joined her. Julia and her friend Laura welcomed me with open arms!
The race started out pretty miserable actually. We ran/walked and complained for the first few miles.
It was cold. I could not warm up.
It was windy. It was not fun.
Why do we do this? Blah blah blah.
Once the sun started to come up, so did our spirits.
We got closer to the castle and started to see some of the Team in Training coaches, I heard all the shouts of “go team” as we ran by, and I don’t think it was pure coincidence I was wearing purple and green that day.
There will be a longer post on Team in Training. Promise.
We were having a blast together! It was shaping up to be a really fun race!
I even got a bucket list picture taken – Richard.
And it was like, perfect timing. He was walking to work as we passed Grand Floridian. It was meant to be!
Anyways, back to the race. When we were at about mile 8 or 9, Julia and Laura were set to hang back and finish leisurely.
Originally – my goal was to finish the half marathon as quickly as I could without exerting myself too terribly much – just purely so I would spend less time on my feet. I was already feeling it, and so figured it was probably a good time for me to push it a bit and finish.
Plus – the “official” rule to finish the Dopey Challenge is to do all of the races in under a 16-minute mile. I know, for a fact, that they don’t check your pace.
If you cross all those finish lines – you get your medals.
Last year, the half was canceled. I ran it anyways around the lake at the Caribbean Beach Resort but I didn’t really consider myself a true “Dopey Finisher”.
I was afraid if I hung back too much, my pace would end up over a 16-minute mile. And while I know that they wouldn’t kick me out of the club… I would think to myself for another year that I wasn’t a true “Dopey Finisher”.
So I had to push it.
I said bye to Julia and Laura (and thanked them for letting me crash their team)… and took off!
I ran. I mean, I really ran.
And it actually felt REALLY GOOD.
My last four miles were all under a 13-minute mile.
That’s fast for me! I think it was a really good thing for me, too, because I proved to myself that even on tired feet and legs, at the end of a race I can pick it up and be strong.
I finished in 3:22:27 – and now it was time to REST!
After this race, I was starting to get worried. I mean, my legs hurt. My feet hurt. My HIP hurt. (I had self-diagnosed myself with bursitis… and omg that hurts!)
I just didn’t know what to expect for the marathon.
Dopey Challenge 2018: The Marathon
This is the big one. Here we go.
I woke up early, got dressed, and headed out the door. The final day to the Dopey Challenge.
Luckily, it was cold but it was not as miserable as every other morning. I felt comfortable and knew as soon as that sun came up I would be just fine.
I was nervous, but not nervous at the same time. Like, I knew I was going to be okay… really, I just wanted it to be over.
I had no idea what was about to happen.
So, I took off. It was good, I felt good.
I ran into Laura from the day before, which was awesome.
I do not typically take a ton of pictures when I run – but I wanted to snap some photos of the big spots. At least one in each park!
After Magic Kingdom, I was still feeling really good. I was running! And, like, really running.
My legs felt good, I felt strong, and I was actually having a lot of FUN.
After Magic Kingdom – Animal Kingdom!
I was really excited to get here because I knew it was pretty much the halfway point.
I also knew I would be seeing friends soon.
I ALSO realized that my time was really, really good… and I was definitely going to crush last year’s finish time.
Patty and Meghan gave me Red Vines. I was so excited for the Red Vines.
I kept running.
I kept feeling great.
Then, my phone dinged.
My husband was texting me…
That was seriously the coolest surprise EVER.
I really wish the girls could have been there this year – but adulting is adulting and we made the decision to keep the family at home for this race.
My husband is the sweetest guy ever though, and these race signs were just what I needed!
I was feeling REALLY good.
I mean seriously…
Who even is that person?!
So… now we’re getting into everybody’s least favorite part of the Marathon.
I’ll tell you what. I was so terrified of this part of the course my first year. Everyone talked about how awful it was.
But – when I got there – it wasn’t that bad at all.
I was actually so pleasantly surprised at how it wasn’t THAT bad – I actually enjoyed it!
I remembered the year before, running through the stadium, and texting my dad at mile 20. I was not happy. This year? So different.
I also remembered ESPN really well from the year before.
When I went in, I was watching a ton of people coming out. When I came out… nobody was coming in. That was just a little bit scary.
This year… when I came out… soooo many runners were coming in.
I was elated. I couldn’t believe it.
I even got choked up leaving ESPN because I was so amazed at the difference a year can make.
Hollywood Studios was REAL quick.
In and out.
And someone gave me chocolate … which was actually not good at all … so I dumped it.
After leaving Hollywood Studios, I ran by the lake through Boardwalk to get over to Epcot.
It was at this time I realized that not only did I blow last year out of the water, but there was a decent chance I was going to break six hours.
So – as any normal runner would do – I decided to FaceTime my family. LOL!!
I so wish I would have thought to take some screenshots of this…
I talked to my mom and dad for a little bit, then called my husband to say hi to the girls.
I was feeling SO GOOD.
Before I knew it… I was in Epcot.
I have never been so excited crossing a finish line in my life.
It was surreal.
I couldn’t believe it.
I finished the Walt Disney World Marathon in 5:55:09 – I broke 6 hours and shaved 58 minutes and 33 seconds off of my time from 2017.
I’m STILL in shock when I think about it.
Dopey Challenge 2018: The Future
So, I told myself I was going to be one and done.
And then I did two.
And then I met Team in Training.
So – I’m sure you can see where this is going – I’M DOING IT AGAIN!
But this time, I’ll be running with a purpose.
More to come on this over the year – but I will be raising money for Team in Training to run the Dopey Challenge in 2019!
My Fundraising Page
I can’t wait to go back.
I can’t wait to do that again.
(but please remind me I said that next year when I am dreading my 20-mile training runs!!)
In case fundraising isn’t for you (though Patty has some thoughts on it!)— Don’t forget: travel agents like me will have YOUR bib for the Dopey Challenge!
Patty Holliday has been running Disney since 2011. She knows just about every tip, trick, and hack there is to cover the runDisney Magical Miles at Disney World and Disneyland. She knows every mile isn’t *always* magical- but most of them are pretty full of pixie dust at Disney!