It’s been about 2 weeks since the epic trip to Orlando for the Dopey Challenge.  Time has given me some perspective on it.

First, I have to commend Disney (won’t they be happy) for how they put on all of the races.  Most of the courses were well planned out, the starts were a lot of fun, the employees and volunteers were nice, polite and helpful.  Most of the medals are awesome (the 5K one is weak, but it’s understandable).  The food and such at the finish line was kind of weak as well, but since I usually don’t eat much right after a race, that didn’t really bother me.

Disney Medals

Sorry for the crappy pic, but you get the idea of the medals.

In addition to the good work by the staff and volunteers at Disney, we had a blast with friends that were there to also run.  I crossed three finish lines with (or very close to) Brian, my long time friend and running partner (and who was somewhat responsible for getting me into this).  One day we all ran with “Carol’s Crew” shirts on to honor our friend Carol who is going through treatment for breast cancer.  We laughed and shivered before the starts (one day it was about 30 degrees in the early hours).  We had a good meal with everyone Sunday night after the marathon.  And, we drank our way around Epcot.  Holy crap was I hammered…

I think the only thing I would change as far as the trip is concerned is where we stayed.  It was a nice place and great for the price, but I think I would have liked to stay on property – on the monorail line to make it easier for me to get to and from the races and easier for my cheer squad to get around.

The other great thing was the weather.  Sure it was 30 degrees before the 5K.  But, when marathon day rolled around and it started in the high 40’s, I was a happy camper.  Even better, it was cloudy and even rained off and on a bit so the feared 70 degree high around the time I would be finishing didn’t happen.  I think that and a change to my fueling plan really helped me avoid the cramps that crushed me at mile 14 of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.

So, here’s where the rubber meets the road.  I had some really good times.  I’ve found, in my “overweight running” phase, that while I can’t go fast, or go too far, I can just keep going, whether it’s running or walking or somewhere in between.  My 5K wasn’t too fast.  Mostly because you just couldn’t get around all the other people – lots of families and kids participating which made it tough.  But, since it wasn’t timed, no big deal.

The 10K was another good race.  Again, pretty crowded so I didn’t get to do the pace I normally would do, but that’s a good thing.  I really didn’t need to push it on this day knowing what was coming over the weekend.  The mantra was start out easy and back off from there.  Still, a solid 1:03:03 made me pretty happy.  A 10:01 pace and feeling good afterwards left me in a positive mood for the upcoming races.

Once we got out of the crowds at the start of the half marathon on Saturday, we settled into a pretty consistent pace.  The first few miles were spent weaving in and out of the crowds and we were just trying to find space and a running groove, so those were relatively slow.  We also stopped to walk a bit at the halfway point so that mile was just over 12 minutes.  The rest of them were fairly consistent and right where I was hoping to be and I came in with a 2:23:10 time.  That’s a 10:45 pace.  Not going to win any races, but again I felt good afterwards and went back to the room for an ice bath and then our for Giodorno’s deep dish pizza.

As dawn broke on marathon Sunday…we were 3 or 4 miles into it.  The Disney races all start at “Oh my god it’s too early to be out here” o’clock.  Even for me, a habitual early riser, it was tough.  I think I got up around 2:30 so I could eat something, go for a walk and wait for things to move along before I put on my running clothes and headed out.  We were supposed to be in the starting corrals by 5:00.  Missed it by a bit because of traffic, but we did ok.

So, the marathon.  I did it in 5:13:40.  An 11:46 pace.  The crazy thing was, I was only 5 minutes behind my half marathon time at the 13.1 point in the marathon.  Unlike other races, I didn’t “fall apart” and I certainly didn’t get any cramps.  So, I slowed down simply because I was tired and my feet were hurting pretty bad.  My routine was to take a GU every 5 miles and a electrolyte tab every 6.  I drank only water and felt ok most of the time.

The bottom line is that I pretty much gave everything over those 4 days – I don’t think I could have done a whole lot better all things considered.  And what did I learn?  I’ve mentioned before that I learned I will never get better until I get into much better shape (read: lose weight).  I also learned that running at this weight is probably going to cut my running habit short.  It’s just too much pounding on my old man joints.  But, I also learned that I can do the long runs – maybe not at a blistering pace ever, probably won’t ever qualify for Boston, sadly.  But, I can do them and I enjoy them so I’ll continue to work on losing weight for the next few months and then I’ll work on getting stronger, doing more speed work for my runs and building my daily mileage back up.

I don’t think I’ll do it again.  Not because I hated it or had bad time, quite the opposite.  But, there are too many other races I want to do (NYC Marathon, Philadelphia Marathon, Florida Ragnar, and others).  But, if money and time wasn’t an issue, I’d definitely go back.

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