Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I'm Not Doing "Half" Of Anything, I'm Crushing the Whole 13.1 (Dopey Challenge 2018: Half)

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." -- Winnie the Pooh

All 13.1 miles were done for you, Aunt Denise.
Emotionally, the half was the hardest race of the Dopey Challenge. Morgan, who was also running the Dopey Challenge, and I both dedicated our half marathon to Aunt Denise who had passed away a couple of weeks before Marathon Weekend. Aunt Denise loved Winnie the Pooh, so we, naturally, both dressed as Pooh for the race. Shout out to Morgan for making my skirt right before she came to Disney. 

Every time I wanted to quit or complain, I just thought of Aunt Denise and knew that I had to keep going. And trust me, there were lots of times that I wanted to quit or complain. 

In standard Marathon Weekend 2018 fashion, the half marathon was cold. COLD. I feel like a broken record saying it, but living it was no picnic either. Unlike the 5k and the 10k, Tasha and I were actually running, so that helped with not turning into icicles for the third day in a row. The temps also warmed up a bit more than the previous two days. And by that I mean, I felt comfortable enough ditching my Mylar blankets/ HotHands/ gloves. But not warm enough that I didn't regret taking my gloves off about an hour later when the back of my hands were chapped and wind burnt.

The many faces of 13.1 miles.
I actually really enjoyed running the half, which is something that I haven't said before. Tasha and I were running 30:30 intervals, which meant 30 seconds of running and then 30 seconds of walking. For the entire 13.1 miles. Which was a lot of stop and go, but we also didn't get bored or tired. So win win? It also gave use ample time to plan our PhotoPass poses and then resort to the tried and true hands in the air. Every. Single. Time.

We also got to run through Magic Kingdom which was the first time that weekend we had run through a park other than Epcot and the first time I had ever run through MK. We were only in there for about a mile (lame.), but it was pretty, well, magical. Life goal is to get there while the castle is still lit up, but that means that I actually have to train. Ick.

Throughout the entirety of the Dopey Challenge, we were not far from the three flamingos. I have no idea who these men are, but they were easily one of the best parts of the entire weekend. Their loud and constant "caw, caw"s definitely provided more than one pick me up over the course of the weekend. I mean, the hats, the tutus, the caws, the fact that they were running far better than me each day? It was all awesome.

And there cherry on top of the half marathon was looking through all of the PhotoPass pictures and seeing that Morgan and I had matching poses with crossing the finish line. This one was for you, Aunt Denise.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

If Running Is Hard, Run More (Dopey Challenge 2018: 10k)

The 10k easily held the scariest moment of the entire Dopey Challenge. While sauntering around the course during the 5k, Tasha and I chatted about what characters we would stop for. Tasha had never stopped for a character during a RunDisney race, whereas I had stopped for a couple through Wine and Dine Weekend. We were in the last corral for Marathon Weekend, which stressed both of us out a little bit, especially for the half and the full marathon. We basically decided that we weren't going to stop for characters unless we both felt like we were maintaining a decent pace, far enough along in the race that we could make up time if we needed. My #1 character stop was Meeko, and hers was Robin Hood.

Lo and behold, just over a mile in to the 10k, we saw Meeko. The line wasn't too bad, so we hopped in and, of course, Meeko goes to take his break. I'm sure he was gone for only 2 minutes, tops, but it felt like an eternity. We got the picture and as we were walking away, we saw the balloon ladies (the unofficial pacers) and the sweeper bikes (the official pacers). Tasha shouted "RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!" at the same second I started running and honestly, I think it was the fastest either of us moved all weekend. Our 2018 Dopey Challenge Survival Plan of just walking (AGAIN) went right out the window, and I don't think either of us had any regrets.

We learned a lot during Marathon Weekend. But I think our biggest takeaway was probably the importance of Mylar blankets. On Thursday, we were doubters. There's no way that a piece of foil (essentially) was going to make us feel warmer.  On Friday, we tried it. And by Sunday, we were firmly pro-Mylar blankets. I don't understand how they work, and frankly, I don't care, but at a 28 degree windchill, it was basically a godsend.

And I felt like a burrito, which made me laugh harder than it should have.

Corral waiting-- with Mylar blankets this time. 
Besides the realization that Mylar blankets are a godsend and the Meeko fiasco, the 10k was pretty tame. The course was almost exactly the same as the 5k from the previous day, except they added three extra miles of running on the road at the beginning. Since I wasn't winded at all by the time we got into the World Showcase, I was able to FaceTime some of my friends who decided to take a road trip on the one weekend a year that I couldn't go.

Tasha and I spent many miles talking about how we should pose for photos, but then each time we saw the lime green PhotoPass tents, we just froze and fell back on the favorites-- arms up, thumbs up, mouths wide open. Throw in a couple of dance parties and the classic "I hate everything about this" face and you've got yourself a 10k.

If It Scares You, It Might Be a Good Thing To Try (Dopey Challenge 2018)

Have you ever had a great idea, commit to it, and then are like "WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!"

That's how I felt about the RunDisney Dopey Challenge. Because it's just that-- dopey.

It's 48.6 miles over the course of four days throughout the Walt Disney World Property. It starts with a 5k on Thursday, then continues to a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and concludes with a full marathon on Sunday. And yes, it's every bit as daunting as it sounds.

But last January, when I saw that my friend, Tasha, had run her first RunDisney marathon and I was at the beginning stages of my running career AND I knew that I was going to be moving to Orlando over the summer, we started chatting about the races we've done and how we'd definitely have to do RunDisney races together. One thing led to another, and because a year is totally enough time to train, the next thing we knew we had both signed up to run the Dopey Challenge.

The four courses that would label was "officially Dopey"
I'd like to say that we were fully and properly trained and 100% prepared for these races. But we weren't. Not even a little bit. Our "2018 Dopey Challenge Survival Plan" included two things-- finish all the races and get all the medals. Timing wasn't even on our radar; we just had to finish.

There was the promise of these beauties waiting for us at each finish line. And honestly, for a couple of the races, knowing that a shiny medal was at the end was enough. 

From the first of the year until the Expo, which was the day before the 5k, I went back and forth between thinking "I HAVE SO MANY REGRETS" and "We'll be fine, we'll be so fine." Post Expo feelings were definitely "I have so many regrets and I might die, but I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can."

Ready or not-- Dopey Challenge 2018 was finally here.

. . . . . .

And as a side note, or a PS, or whatever you would like to call it. I took this picture at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party in October, knowing that I would be completing the Dopey Challenge in just a couple of months.

"I think the Dopey Challenge should be renamed to the Seven Dwarves Challenge. Dopey because signing up was a dopey idea. Bashful because I don't even consider myself a runner, but I still signed up to do something so monumental. Sleepy because 2am wake up calls, four days in a row are the WORST. Grumpy due to sitting in our corrals for almost two hours in the freezing cold while we waited for the races to start. Sneezy due to the colds that have been going around. Doc because I learned so much about myself. And HAPPY because I did it!! (And now it's over!!)"

A 20 Minute Mile is Just As Far As a 6 Minute Mile (Dopey Challenge 2018: 5k)

Due to the fact that we live in Orlando, Tasha and I just drove ourselves to Epcot each morning of the Dopey Challenge. We were actually there before any of the resort buses arrived each morning, so on 5k day I was able to walk up to every single character with no wait. 

What's up, Fab Five?
Since the corrals were close to our cars and the 5k is untimed AND it was cold, we got all of the pictures we wanted and then went back to our cars until the last possible minute. Honestly, I think the race had actually started and we were still sitting in our toasty, warm cars. With the corrals and the wave releases that Disney does, we probably could have stayed in our cars another 15-20 minutes, strolled out around 5:50ish, and still had the pleasure of standing in the corral in the cold.

The 5k was incredibly relaxed, if not freezing. In following our "2018 Dopey Challenge Survival Plan", we walked the entire race. And let me tell you, it was boring. Not the conversation or the characters or the atmosphere or seeing the lights of Epcot all lit up-- that was all awesome. But we both wanted to RUN and knew we shouldn't. I think we strolled around the course with a solid pace of 20 minutes (or more) per mile. 

At all three mile markers throughout the course.
Three miles while never moving faster than a leisurely stroll doesn't allow for much time to warm up. And, honestly, I don't think either one of us actually got warm at all. We did our best through solid dance moves and posed laughing photos, but it was a bit of an uphill battle (Not literally, it was Florida, after all.) with a windchill that never broke 30 degrees. 

We high fived each other while crossing the finish line, but PhotoPass wasn't able to get one photo of us together. So our pictures made us look like big nerd high fiving nothingness. Problem solved-- kind of.

PhotoPass served us well over the course of 48.6 miles. And although they weren't able to get a picture of us high fiving, they did capture this gem. Which, honestly, kind of sums up our whole weekend, so you can imagine the Tom Foolery that took place. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Oh, I Thought You Said 1.31 Miles..."

I realize that as an Annual Passholder who can come and go to Disney World at her leisure, I have far less exposure to the usual meltdowns that accompany trips to Disney. I haven't invested the money that other families have and don't feel the need to force a day there if I'm not feeling it. It starts to rain? K, bye. It gets too hot? See ya later. I decide that I'm cranky and want to go home? Tchau. 

But running 13.1 miles through the Walt Disney World grounds definitely made me want to cry. Not because it was Disney World, but because it was 13.1 miles. A decision that I made on my own and a decision I kind of regretted about halfway through.

I was completing the Wine and Dine Two Course Challenge, which meant I completed the 10K on Saturday and then the half marathon on Sunday. And despite all of the complaining (of which there was a lot), the distance wasn't the worst part. Because, you know, I knew how far it was when I signed up. It was actually the back to back 2am wake up calls that I thought were going to kill me.  Disney does an excellent job wit pre-race entertainment that they seem somewhat bearable, but it was still 3am. 

The first 4 miles and the middle 5 miles were the hardest, mentally, because it was all highway running. When you're running through the parks, there's so much to look at and so many decorations and it's just so COOL that you don't necessarily have time to focus on "Oh my gosh, why am I still running? Why did I ever start running?" But there's LOTS of time to think about that while you're just running down the highway.

Apparently I only have one pose.
It's pretty hard to miss the PhotoPass booths along the course. They're set up in bright green pop-up tents, for crying out loud. Naturally, most people pose because why wouldn't you? Myself included. It's painfully obvious that I need to have more poses in my arsenal. 

I didn't feel quite as jolly in real life as I did in the majority of the photos. Back to back 2am wake up calls and 13.1 miles, remember? But in all honesty, I felt pretty good. I talked to people a long the way, I stopped for character photos, I danced at the DJs. For a half marathon, it was pretty fun. #DisneyMagic

Mile 8-- on the right
But then there was a PhotoPass at Mile 8 that I didn't see and the photo might be my favorite from the whole race. Disney Magic doesn't change the fact that it's still a half marathon. It doesn't change the fact that when I passed the 10K sign, I cried a little because I wanted to be finished and knew I was only halfway done. It doesn't change the fact that I spent most of miles 6-9 texting my friends telling them how many regrets I had.

Though I wasn't about to say it outloud, I wasn't blown away by the character opportunities during the 10k. They were fine, but I only stopped for travel Genie. So I didn't have high hopes for the half marathon, but also kind of had high hopes for the half marathon. And I wasn't disappointed. Not only did they have character opportunities, but they also had photographers out throughout Pandora since it was the first half to ever run through there. I might have squealed a little when I turned the corner towards France and saw Remy and Emile-- they were the two characters that I really super wanted to see. Dreams do come true.

ADPi runs Disney.
By noon, I had finished a half marathon, meaning that I had run 19.3 miles throughout the weekend. And despite that fact that I kept telling myself I would never do that again, yeah, I'd totally do it again.

Wine and Dine Two Course Challenge 2018-- I'm comin' for ya.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Hello? Excuse Me, Is There a FastPass to the Finish Line?"

Despite endless complaining about how 13.1 miles is after running the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu, I still signed up for another one. I know, I know. Worst.

Approximately three-ish years ago, I sent a Facebook message to a friend saying that we HAD to complete a race at Disney World during Princess Weekend. At the time, I had no idea that I would actually end up moving to Florida, so it kind of seemed like one of those "Oh, we should do this sometime in the future, whether it be near or distant." and kind of left it at that.

Little did I know, I would actually become a Florida resident and my RunDisney dreams could come to fruition.

RunDisney offers approximately four race weekends throughout the course of the year and the Wine and Dine weekend was the first race weekend that took place after moving here. As soon as I knew that I was officially moving to Florida, I signed up. And since I was CrossFitting and running a lot at the time, I figured I could handle running the Two Course Challenge-- a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday.

Much like my last half, I completed these races with very little training, which is a bad habit that I need to break. Honestly, the worst part wasn't even the running, not for the 10K anyways. The worst part was waking up at 2am to get ready, drive to Disney, and wait for a race that started at 5:30. But luckily this is Disney and there was plenty to do while we were waiting-- character meet and greets, a DJ, crowd interviews, lip sync competitions, etc.

I got into my corral and soon we were off! The first part of the 10K was just down the highway, so it could have been pretty boring. But again, this is Disney. There was a marching band out playing for us, big screens set up with video clips and music, DJs, and more character meet and greets.

It was all downhill once we got to Disney's Hollywood Studios, though. Not literally speaking, of course. Sunset Blvd was all decorated for Christmas and since it was still dark out, the lights were all on. It was so pretty! There was so much music and holiday cheer and we were so close to the end-- it was a lot of fun. So much fun that I called Pops at 6am and wheezed out how freakin' fantastic it was.

After a quick jaunt through Hollywood Studios and a trip around the Boardwalk, we entered Epcot and the finish line was near! It was still dark, so there was a cauldron of fire lit in front of each country and it was just beautiful. I may have teared up a little bit-- sorry not sorry.

I may have also teared up a little bit when I crossed the finish line because I'd finally done a RunDisney race and it was awesome. And the medal was awesome. And I didn't feel like I was going to die.

After just one 10K, I made the bold statement that 10Ks are my favorite distance. At the 5K point of the race, I definitely had enough energy to keep going (thank god!) and I was glad that the race wasn't over yet. 10Ks are just far enough that you have to work, but not far enough to seem impossible. Not too much work that I couldn't go to Magic Kingdom to watch the Hoston Astros World Series Champs parade or to Animal Kingdom for a showing of the Festival of the Lion King, but enough work that I felt like I accomplished something in the morning.

Up next-- Wine and Dine Half Marathon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On a Scale of 1-10, I'm a 13.1

Holy Moses.

This past Sunday, June 4, 2017, I ran my first half marathon.

I'll let that sink in.


Remember how I decided to take up running because I was bored? (Seriously, why? Why didn't I take up sun bathing? Or gelato tasting? Or kitten cuddler? Why running?) In Decemeber-ish, maybe even January, I signed up for a couple of 5Ks, almost fell down the rabbit hole of ordering WAY too many virtual run medals, and then challenged myself to run one race each month. #12monthsofraces My intention was to stick to 5ks. Only 5Ks. Quick, easy, fun, done. 5Ks.

So how did I go from a lover of 5Ks to half marathoner in just six months? (Seriously, I don't even believe it when I say that out loud. Or in my head.) Honestly? Mostly stubbornness, pride, and the fact that I didn't want to lose the money I had already paid.

Despite constant searching, there were no 5Ks to be found in/ around Rio de Janeiro during the month of June. (Even though June/ July have the mildest weather here in Rio, so it seems like the perfect time for some races. But what do I know?) It would be hard to complete #12monthsofraces without a June race. So I looked around and somehow stumbled across the 10th Meia Maratona das Cataratas in Foz do Iguaçu. They were offering an 8K and a 21K race and while I would have been happier with the 8K race, I figured that if I was going to pay the money to fly out to Foz do Iguaçu, I was going to do the whole thing. All 21 stinkin' kilometers of it.

Unfortunately, I paid for the race, but then flights and hotel prices kept creepin' up and up. Upwards of $600 for both for the weekend. Which is a lot of money to pay for a race that I wasn't even sure I was going to like. So I kind of figured that was that. No half marathon, no June race, no #12monthsofraces. But then about two weeks before the race, I checked flight prices and hotel prices on a whim. It was about $200 for both, for the whole weekend. Sigh, fiiiiiiine. For $200, I could do it.

The next thing I knew, I had booked a hotel, a flight, and was officially 13 days away from completing my first half marathon.

At which point I had started to panic because I hadn't really been training due to injury, travels, and friends visiting me in Rio. I spent a couple of days running around the Lagoa and a couple more days running at the gym and the whole two weeks panicking.

Next thing I knew, May was over, June was here, and it was race freakin' weekend. On Saturday, I went to Marco das Três Fronteras, which is where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all come together, to pick up my race kit. Unfortunately, I had a taxi driver waiting for me and the meter runs quickly in Iguaçu, so I didn't get to stay long. So that makes two trips to Marco das Três Fronteras and two times without actually seeing the monument.

My Saturday plan mostly included laying around in my hotel room and reading a book/ watching TV, but the TV was only in Portuguese, it was nice weather, and part of the race kit included free admission to Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, so I decided to leave my hotel room and head to the park. As always, it was so worth it.

Seriously, the falls are flippin' awesome. I would spend all day, every day at the falls, if I didn't have to have a job and such. It was also a little bit sunny and a lot a bit misty, which made for some killer rainbows all. freakin'. day.

Before, during, and after. 
All weekend, the weather was predicting 100% chance of thunderstorms for the entirety of the race. It was freakin' me out. I felt like I wasn't prepared, clothes wise, which was causing me far more anxiety than necessary. And despite telling myself to have little to no expectations, 3 hours of running through a thunderstorm was NOT how I envisioned my first half.

Luckily, it was all for naught, as it didn't even rain once single drop. Not once during the race, and only for about 3.5 seconds after I crossed the finish line. Thank goodness, too, because I had enough to deal with without the rain.

13.1 miles is NO JOKE. It's far as heck.

Foolishly, I'd only been training around the Lagoa or on a treadmill and not including any sort of hill workouts. Dumbbbbb because so much of this course was hills. Not major hills, I think there was only a 750 feet elevation gain throughout the entire course, but goodness gracious, we were going up and down those 750 feet the entire time.

It's just so beautiful.
The first 13K were completed outside of the park, and then, at the 8K mark, we entered the park and ran to the falls. I'll admit, it was gorgeous. And I definitely kept reminding myself to enjoy my surroundings, to look around, to soak it all in. I was doing my first half marathon in FOZ DO FREAKIN' IGUAÇU for cryin' out loud. I thought I was dying, but it was pretty amazing.

My goal was to run a sub-2:45 half and I DID. Which is something that I still cannot believe. This half marathon represents so much-- working hard(-ish) for something that I didn't think I would ever be capable of (or even want to do), pushing myself when I wanted to stop, traveling somewhere alone without meeting anyone on the other side.

I don't think that half marathons are going to become my distance of choice (have I mentioned how FAR 13.1 miles is?!), but I did it. And now I know that I can. And on a scale of 1-10, I can now say that I'm a 13.1.