Archive for January 2015

3 of 4 Dopey Challenge races done at this point and I wanted to put up a bit of a quick recap / race report

So the quick race reports below haven’t been edited very much – I just quickly dumped out some thoughts about how the races went and what I enjoyed to get something up on the blog.

I will update and do more thorough race / trip reports later but for now here is how the Dopey Challenge is going so far with only 1 race left to go (of course it is the big one…).

Please click the link for a review of the final race (the Walt Disney World Marathon) with many pictures.


5k #wdw5k

Official time: 25:18

I got a great surprise last night before I crashed when I got an encouragement tweet from Stacey J. Aswad ( – @staceyjaswad) – as in the lovely and energetic lady who stars in the Must Do Disney shows on the Walt Disney World TV channel in the Disney resorts). Bloody awesome!! One of the highlights of the trip!

Cold in the morning, bloody cold in fact. The wind was bitter. I am used to running in some pretty cold weather but I walk out of a nice warm house and run immediately and get warmed up. That is not really an issue with a Disney race considering the hour plus wait time from when I got off the bus until Corral A got to start.

I brought thermal gear as I knew there would be at least one cold day based on the forecasts and put on a big black garbage bag to cut the wind and retain some additional heat. Still chilly with some teeth chattering but I was properly equipped once we got moving.

After the long travel day the day before the race I really just wanted to move a bit. I also wanted to burn off some of the cold that was settling into the muscles. So instead of taking it easy I decided to push the 5k a little harder and then back off on the half marathon on Sunday. I figured as long as I didn’t go all out on the 5k I wouldn’t do too much damage, or at least less damage than going harder on the half.

Everything was going great until a little over a mile into the race and I heard a weird noise of something dropping. I realized it was my phone and had to stop, turn around and go back about 15 paces to get it. It had fallen out of the holster I keep it in – I mustn’t have gotten the phone seated properly in the holster. Crud.

Luckily no one stepped on it but it is definitely an interesting experience running backwards against a mass of people. Not something I recommend.

I held up my arms and waved and did some warning yelling as I went to grab it. Luckily I am a pretty big guy so I was a bit more noticeable that some might be.

Grabbed the phone without anyone getting hurt and got back at it. I didn’t realize until after that I had cracked the screen pretty good. Thankfully the phone and touch screen still works, it just looks like hell. (I have order a new screen that should be at home when I get there to get everything all fixed up.)

Right after that we entered Epcot. I had specifically not worn headphones so I could hear the background music of Epcot as we went through. I am glad I made that decision and it really enhanced the experience.

Disney had all of the mood lighting on around World Showcase and also had the big torches lit. Gorgeous!

After following World Showcase around through France we took the detour down through International Gateway (instead of running through the England pavilion), looped around for a water stop and came back out right by Canada. From there we ran over by The Land pavilion and by the Nemo ride before heading back out to go under Spaceship Earth and toward the finish line.

Besides the phone and the cold (neither of which I can blame on Disney) that was a fantastic experience. It is really too bad the new Marathon course doesn’t start you through Epcot anymore.

There was unfortunately a long wait for buses in the cold after the race was done. Corrals were still being started and the course goes along the road the buses need to take…so no buses until the balloon ladies have come through and the last of the runners have cleared the area.

Even after the runners were cleared there was an issue with our stop – there weren’t any showing up for us! Other hotels were getting 2 or 3 and we hadn’t had one yet. In the cold that was a bit rough.

The logistics folks fixed that quickly by pulling up what appeared to be a generic bus (didn’t have any of the hotel specific cards or info on the front that the dedicated buses had). And I think the driver got a bit lost as it was a fairly long drive back to the hotel. A lot longer that it should have been. But at least the bus was warm!


10k – #wdw10k

Official Time: 53:59

Not quite as cold as yesterday but still pretty chilly. Onto my backup set of thermal gear and my second garbage bag! My legs were feeling a bit rough after a lot of walking yesterday so I decided to run in my Hoka One One Cliftons – I was going to only use those on the half and the full but figured they were probably a good idea for the 10k at this point as well.

Once I got to the staging area I wandered around for a bit and then headed over to the corrals. There I met up with Bill who blogs over at and on twitter at @rilla6969 and chatted for a while as Corral A was brought up to the start line.

We headed off to run and I intended to go fairly slow and finish at about the hour mark…but the highway boredom got to me so I pushed it a bit more for the first half of the race until we entered Epcot. At that point I slowed down.

I wanted to relax some more and enjoy the atmosphere even more than I did the day before on the 5k so I slowed down and took some video while I ran. I had also did a quick walk break right by the China pavilion while I had some water.

The course then headed International Gateway as the 5k did but instead of cutting back around to go back into Epcot right away, runners head up the ramp and across the bridge to go toward the Boardwalk Inn. A great place to run although you do have to be careful on the actual boardwalk.

From there we were sent back over the bridge toward the Yacht Club Resort and the Beach Club Resort.

Now I have mentioned in the past that the Beach Club resort is a place I really love and enjoy. So while running by the Yacht and Beach Club hotels I took video while running and stopped to do a quick scan of the Stormalong Bay pool area before continuing on.

I then put the camera away and pushed the speed back up as we headed back into Epcot and by The Land pavilion and back by Spaceship Earth.

From there a quick push to the finish where Bill tapped me on the shoulder. I had lost track of Bill 10 seconds into the run and he did his own race and we ended up finishing within seconds of each other.

Medal #2 received and Bill and I had another short chat before I headed over to the buses to go get warmed up.

All in all a good run – 5-6 minutes faster than I wanted to go since I wanted to save my legs a bit but as long as I don’t do anything crazy on the half it shouldn’t be a big problem.

Buses were fairly smooth today – I got on a bus very quickly after I headed to the bus stops and back at the hotel not long after that.

2 of 4 races done for the Dopey Challenge! At this point the realization started to set in that there was a full Goofy Challenge left to do this weekend…ouch!


Half – #wdwhalf

Official time: 1:58:52

Third cold day in a row…I brought 2 sets of cold weather gear. One set for the day that was actually forecasted to be cold and a spare – both sets were used so I had had to wash a bit of stuff yesterday to be ready for today.

My brother is doing the Goofy this weekend (his 3rd one) and we went down to the race together and hung out in the staging area for a while and wandered around.

We weren’t near the stage and didn’t hear any announcement to go to the corrals but we noticed people streaming that direction so we wandered that way as well figuring it was getting close to time.

I don’t know if Disney has done anything specifically to make the walk to the corrals less crowded but this was the first year that I could walk and talk with someone without constantly watching my feet so I didn’t run into someone. It was significantly less crowded on that walk and it was appreciated!

Along the walk we saw what could have been a bright red meteorite in the sky that faded after a while. I could have been a fireworks test or something but didn’t look like any fireworks I had seen but it was cool to see either way. If it was a meteor … was it a bad omen? Made for some good chuckles along the long walk.

We were in separate corrals so we split up and went to our own spots to get ready.

I wandered into Corral D and started getting ready mentally.

After what seemed like a very short wait the wheelchair folks were off and then Corral A shortly after. Things move quickly from there and Corral D was off and moving pretty soon after that.

Because I wanted to take it easy today (with a goal pace of around 2 hours to finish) I had decided to wear an old running jacket the whole race, I have done it before with that jacket in temperatures near where they were forecast so I figured it would be ok. About 2 miles in though it was too hot and I had to abandon it. But with how I had planned to run it took a bit of time to get it off and reseat my hydration belt, etc – that cost some time.

That also meant, that in some areas it was cooler than I would have liked and I pushed the speed up to warm up a bit. I was in danger of doing something dumb there and pushing too fast which would cost me on the full tomorrow.

Then I look down around mile 3 and realize that my bib is only hanging by one of the two cords from my bib belt. The top left hole had ripped out and my bib was just dangling there. Losing the bib would have royally buggered the weekend, so I started running holding up the torn corner in my left hand. This would ensure I didn’t lose it and that it was visible for any photographers.

It was obviously kind of awkward to run that way but it did have the bonus of slowing me down a bit. But perhaps too much as I could tell from my mile times I was in danger of being slower than my goal pace. With the lost time for the jacket it was beginning to look like I would not get my 2 hour time.

I needed to get the bib fixed!

I realized that the medical tents might have something to help out but I had already passed one a while so it was going to be a while until I got to the next one just on the back end of the course through the Magic Kingdom.

So I had to run like that for a while – around 3.5 miles actually and you can see in my split times that I was doing ok at keeping my pace steady but I couldn’t go like that for the rest of the race.

Finally I hit the medical tent hoping they would have a safety pin or something to help out. In the end they didn’t have a safety pin but some medical tape helped out and I was able to get moving again.

At this point my toque / knitted hat was fairly saturated so I abandoned it and the old beat up running gloves I was using today expecting to have to get rid of them.

And then I got to work at getting some time back. I had missed my scheduled fuel break so I took that around mile 7 and another at mile 10. But I steadily made back time.

I was glad I made that time up when I did because that was when we hit the overpass followed by the long bridge. Some long steady inclines that required some effort to push through.

But by then the sun was coming up with a blue sky – perfect time to enter Epcot for the last mile! At this point I knew I had made up enough time to make the 2 hour arbitrary goal pace with about a minute to spare. So I just focused on a slightly slower but solid and steady pace that would let me finish with that spare minute in reserve incase anything came up like an emergency walk break or something like that.

In the end I didn’t need the emergency minute and I finished strong.

If I hadn’t had the gear issues I probably would have ended up closer to the 1:50 mark…which would probably have cost me big time tomorrow on the full marathon but as it is I feel pretty good with my only issue being a slight ache in my right ankle that I should be able to walk out today.

After the run I quickly checked to see where my brother was on Disney’s new live tracking tools and saw that he was still quite a way out. With the cold sinking into to my now damp clothes I decided to hit the buses and get warm. Walked on a bus and it took off back to the hotel very shortly after that. Barely any wait at all. Nice!

Plan for today is to not do too much walking and get my head focused for the full marathon tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow is to take it easy and survive! I will be doing photo stops along the course and just trying to keep a steady running pace with probably some walk breaks thrown in. I don’t have a specific goal pace but under 5 hours would be great and under 4:30 would be fantastic. But I will take finishing in one piece as a major victory as well.

My rough game plan for the Dopey Challenge…

Alrighty – so I took today off work so I could sleep in and then get my final organization done for the Dopey Challenge before I leave tomorrow morning. And of course I end up waking up an hour before my alarm would normally go off on a work day…and I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I kept running through my head what my game plan was for each day of the challenge and finally I decided I might as well get up and put it down in writing so I could think about something else for a while!


Wednesday the 7th:

First flight is at 5:15 am – so not really just doing 4 early mornings, I am doing 5! Will probably have to get up around the same time I will for the 10k, half and full days so that I can get to the airport and check in on time. Flying through Toronto which can be fun but I have plenty of time to clear US customs and make the connecting flight without rushing, but not so much time that it will feel like I am stuck in the airport forever. I will be meeting up with my brother at the Toronto airport and we will be traveling together from there.

We should get into Orlando at around 1:30 pm – grab the Magical Express and off to the hotel from there. Hopefully should then be at the hotel and checked in well before 3:30 pm (would prefer a bit earlier but this still gives plenty of time).

From the hotel, we will hit the shuttle bus to the Expo (with photo ID and race waivers in hand) and grab the race kits…and buy lots of stuff. I am hoping we will be at the Expo before 4:00 pm, this would give lots of time to do the Expo thoroughly in one go.

Then off to find supper…not sure where this will take us yet, potentially Epcot unless we are just too tired.


Thursday the 8th:

5k! Strangely this will be my first ever timed 5k run…I have done 14 halfs and 9 fulls at this point but have not run a timed race shorter than that. So I guess a guaranteed PR there?

I’m not sure what corral I will be in for this one but based on my corral placement of D for the other races it should be A or B for the 5k.

Plan for this one is just to take it easy – I just want to wander around Epcot in the dark. I love the atmosphere of Epcot and I want to enjoy every second of it. That being said I also don’t want to walk the race – so I will go for sub 30 minutes, maybe 27 minutes? That should be a relatively easy leg stretch to work out some of the kinks.

After the race, back to the hotel, grab my brother (who is doing Goofy) and off to a park. Perhaps Magic Kingdom? I have set up some fastpasses there for Thursday but may change them based on our moods that day.

Early to bed after Skyping my wife and kids!


Friday the 9th:

10k…same as the 5k here, I have never done a timed 10k. A double PR weekend!

The 10k runs through Epcot and the Boardwalk / Yacht Club / Beach Club areas and those all fall in my list of happy places (especially the Beach Club area) – so I will be taking it easy here as well. I want to just absorb the atmosphere and the vibe.

I assume I will be shooting for under an hour but might walk a bit to take pictures and absorb.

Once the race is done then it will be park time again! Still not sure which park – maybe Epcot but perhaps Animal Kingdom. Just staying flexible there.

Then again off to bed early after Skyping the family back home.


Saturday the 10th:

Half marathon! I think this is the race I am most looking forward to out of all 4 in the challenge. This is the one race that I expect to try to achieve some speed on. Basically the fastest I have done the half course at the Disney World Marathon weekend is about 2:20. I did a few Goofy Challenges when I really wasn’t ready and took the halfs slow to save myself for the fulls, so my times have never been up there as being that quick. I have also gotten trapped in slow corrals before and also run with others giving me a slower time than I would like to put up.

Now, I’m not going to shoot for my half PR of 1:46:00 but I would like to push a bit. I’m not planning on taking pictures or just wandering around on this one – I want to run strong without hurting myself for the full. That means sub 2 hours but if I am really feeling it sub 1:50. But that will really depend on how beat up my legs feel. So not a PR but a personal course record is the goal.

I will be strapping on my Hoka’s for this race, so that should help protect my legs a bit for the full.

After the race the plan will be to avoid further damage! Ice bath once back at the hotel and compression gear for the rest of the day.

I will probably also hit a park but one without a lot of walking. I will want a bit of walking to help stretch out the legs and work the lactic acid through the system but also don’t want to feel like my legs are wood the next day.

Early, early, early to bed! After a quick Skype to the family.


Sunday the 11th:

The full! It all comes down to this race in the end! My stated goal for this one was that I want to enjoy it – that means I will be doing picture stops and taking it easy. Weather forecast for Sunday (so far) is hot and extremely humid right from the beginning so I will definitely be trying to not push too hard.

So yeah, character picture stops – I have never done that before on a Disney race (which seems odd now that I think about it) so it will be something new to me and the lower corral placement should mean shorter wait times for the characters.

I’m not sure I really have a goal time on this one but I think a personal course record should be quite achievable even with character photo stops, if I am focused. The fastest I have done the full course at Disney World is about 4:40 which I did during last year’s Goofy Challenge (marathon PR of 4:09:44 with a bad knee and in a downpour). I am in better shape for the Dopey Challenge this year and have been training for these back to back to back to back scenarios so hopefully my legs should be good when I toe the start line! If the legs are feeling strong then a personal course record should be more than possible even with the character photo stops.

I will also be using the Hokas for this race and that should help. I ran my Hokas on the 12 hour race (49.2785 miles) I did back in early October (the Lemming Loop) and when I finished I was still able to climb stairs and was quite functional the next day. Since I trained to do a 50k and did damned near 50 miles, the condition I was in after had a lot to do with the Hoka cushioning and I will be looking to use that to my advantage during the Dopey Challenge!

I have a history with the portapotties during the full marathon at Disney World that I am trying to avoid on this trip. The biggest downfall for me seems to be Poweraid on course – my system can’t seem to handle it. To combat that issue then I will be bringing my hydration backpack (which carries 2 liters of liquid) onto the course with my fuel of choice (flat Coke). With the heat and humidity forecast I will supplement on course with water but not Poweraid.

After the race is done and I have purchased and drank the obligatory finish line beer (hopefully Disney does that again this year), I will head back to the hotel. How long I hang out at the finish line will depend on where my brother is on the race and who I run into from the Twittersphere!

Then an ice bath and more compression gear. What happens next depends on how my brother is doing and what he is up for. I am hoping that I am solid and functional because I would love to hit a park (or 2) after the race is done.

Today I go as long as my body and mind will let me!


Monday the 12th:

Returning home today – at least I got a direct flight back to Winnipeg – it isn’t until late evening and the Magical Express probably won’t take me to the airport until sometime around supper so I am hoping to spend some time at Downtown Disney but again that will depend on how my legs are doing!


Tuesday the 13th:

Home…sleep. If I wake up…do laundry.

3.1 miles today to finish out Dopey Challenge taper. Unless I decide to run tomorrow to cut the nerves a bit…

So I did a 3.1 mile run on Saturday and another today. Just plugging away at the last few miles of taper, trying to keep the legs stretched out and not do anything silly (like try to get one last speed run in).

Saturday’s run was 3.1 miles in 25:20 and today’s was 3.1 miles in 27:30. No real drama with either run – just smooth and easy with little to no pace changes. Just running steady.

I might still do another short run tomorrow night to stretch out the legs one last time before getting on the plane dark and early Wednesday morning. That will really depend on how well packing goes today and tomorrow and how much time I need to spend running around to get last minute items.

At this point I am feeling good and looking forward to the races!

Things I want to do at Disney World during the Disney World Marathon weekend, besides run!

With less than a week to go before I make it to Disney World for the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon and the Dopey Challenge, I thought it would be a good time to sit down and think about what I want to do there (besides run the races and spend tons of money at the expo of course).

Doing the Dopey Challenge, I will need to conserve some energy and hitting every ride at every park is probably not going to be the smartest thing to do for the legs. That means I need to determine what my “Must Do’s” are for this trip. If just to make sure I get best Disney vibe for my money while I am there.

The past few months have been quite hectic and stressful at work and I have put in significant miles running besides. Throw in the holidays and I am looking for peace. So a peaceful and quiet atmosphere is going to be the major theme for the list with some new things thrown in that I haven’t had a chance to do or see before.

So on with the list:


  1. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train – the ride wasn’t open yet the last time I was at Magic Kingdom so I want to see this ride


  1. Festival of Fantasy Parade – I have to see that steampunk fire breathing dragon up close!


  1. Sticking at the Magic Kingdom – the People Mover – not an exciting ride but this one fits the peaceful criteria for me – I love to ride it and people watch Tomorrowland.


  1. Monorail – I enjoy the ride between Magic Kingdom and Epcot and it is a uniquely Disney experience


  1. Epcot in general – it is our family’s favorite park and I just love the feel of the various areas. I enjoy just finding a bench and sitting and watching people or the fountains in different areas.


  1. If I can do that sitting and watching in Epcot with a beer in hand it will be even better – don’t get the chance to sit out and have a drink in the fresh air much in winter here in Winnipeg and it would feel really good.


  1. Spaceship Earth – there is just something so comfortable and relaxing about this ride – love it!


  1. Illuminations – it is a tough call but I think Illuminations is my favorite fireworks show at Disney World.


  1. International Gateway – my whole family loves this back entrance to Epcot and World Showcase. It is a great place to sit and relax or just to pick up the peaceful vibe.


  1. That then leads out to the Beach and Yacht Club and Boardwalk areas – I love the Beach and Yacht areas and we have so many good memories of the trips when we have stayed in this area. I always feel good walking around there. (Kind of nice that my happy place happens to be at about the 24.5 mile point in the Disney World Marathon – nice little mental mood boost right when it is needed most!)

There are obviously many, many more things I will be looking at doing but this is the short list of things I am truly looking forward to for this trip. Beside the running, of course!