19.25 miles in 3:15:21 outside on a solstice morning – a slow run but last Dopey Challenge dry run is done! Am I ready?

Hey, looks like my 500th post on the site too.

Plan today was 20 miles but didn’t quite make it. I had some g.i. issues plus couldn’t get any real traction due to fresh snow sitting on top of some freezing rain overnight – so ran a fair bit slower than I had hoped. With the slowness I ran out of time to finish off the 20 miles. Got close but not quite.

I did do some vacuuming a little bit later and went and did a bunch of grocery shopping – does that count for the extra 0.75 miles?

Feeling strong – no aches or pains after the run – came through healthy! Since I tweaked my knee last week it was a major concern going into this run but it came through very solid.

OK…Am I ready for the Dopey Challenge? Short answer is yes…long answer is below.

This makes about 4-5 dry runs I have done since mid-September (plus 2 half marathon races and a 12 hour race (49.2785 miles)). I am ready for the Dopey Challenge in 2015 for sure. However I may be slower now than I was even in September…

Basically in July, August and September I did a fair bit of speed work and several long outdoor runs in anticipation of the 12 hour race. That race fell 2 weeks after a half marathon race and then I had another 2 weeks after the 12 hour run. Around this time, work was heavily stressful and busy – probably the most intense and stressful month I have had since I went into this position 6-7 years ago. Needless to say by late October I was pretty exhausted and was getting a bit unfocused.

I also started having treadmill troubles in late October at the same time the weather went all wintry here in Winnipeg. Last year I did at least one of my Goofy Challenge 20 milers on the treadmill to avoid bad weather but that wasn’t an option this year due to treadmill issues. I had my highest mileage month ever in November (201.8 miles) but I felt like I was just treading water the full month. There was no real speed work and the long outdoor runs were usually a tough slog.

What it came down to is, I think I peaked too early and without the ability to push harder with the speed work it all just felt like I was just putting in time. I wasn’t getting faster like I hoped to train for – I was just maintaining endurance.

No passion, just pushing through. When you put in over 200 miles in the month, you should at least be enjoying the runs. It makes it way too easy to cut a run short or blow it off completely once you get into that mindset. At least I did 2 Dopey Challenge dry runs in November even though I was feeling burnt out. If passion isn’t working, it is good to know that I can rely on pure pigheadedness.

Things got a bit better in December as I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel but the weather certainly wasn’t helping (I am over 10 miles off schedule this month due to weather and a minor injury caused by slippery conditions). But…speed work still is not happening – I have been doing a bit some shorter speed runs just to make sure I still can but I can’t push faster pacing on the longer outdoor runs.

What that basically means is that I am ready to do the distances for the Dopey Challenge but pacing is going to be interesting. Luckily I am not going into this expecting to break any PRs! because frankly it isn’t going to happen.

My current plan is basically to glide through the 5k and 10k enjoying the atmosphere of Epcot. For the half marathon I would like to push a bit faster – sub 2 hours would be about right (not going to shoot to beat my 1:46 PR) – I would like to push the half fast enough that I get it out of my system so I don’t go out too fast in the full. For the full, I think I would like to pace for around 4 hours (which would be faster that my 4:09:44 PR) but hit most, if not all, of the character stops along the way – so maybe finish out around 4:30 (since I am in a lower corral and the lines shouldn’t be too long yet).

What it comes down to is the 12 hour run was my golden moment so far for running – I never thought I would ever be at the point where I could do an ultramarathon but I pulled it off. With that done the Dopey Challenge is meant to be something to be enjoyed for me – I am not doing it as a series of races but just as a time to enjoy the runs. It will include my 15th half marathon, my 10th full and my 5th Goofy Challenge and after it is done I probably won’t be doing another Goofy Challenge for a few years so I really want to savor this one.

The Dopey Challenge has its own quirks (like 4 early, early, EARLY mornings in a row) that will need to be overcome but I think through my training I am ready and I am looking forward to it! Maybe that is one of the reasons I haven’t had the same running intensity lately that I have had in the past – Dopey isn’t really scaring me – I am confident and excited but know I am more ready than I would have thought possible even back in the summer when I set out my training plan.

Well, anyway I am feeling strong and confident going into taper time! It is nice to get the major training complete going into the holidays so I can enjoy more time with family…and turkey. Looking forward to some rest too frankly…

Happy taper time to everyone else running the Disney World Marathon races and challenges this year! Maybe I will see you there!

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