2017 plans. A return to form and a push to Dopey Challenge 2018!?!

With a new year we get a chance to reflect on things both good and bad from the past year and make plans for the future. What do we want to change? What should we keep doing? What can we do (or not do) to build ourselves and others up?

For the coming year there are a few things I know I need to change both running wise and just for life in general.

I don’t like to make resolutions since they usually get broken pretty damned quick – instead I am going to make a few commitments to myself.

 

First Commitment:

2018 Dopey Challenge – I am just days away from heading down to Orlando / Disney World for the 2017 Goofy Challenge but I am committing to running the 2018 Dopey Challenge now and doing it well. I want a better overall time than I got when I ran it in 2015. I was very happy with my overall time and strength that year and if I want to better that time, then I need to start work now and build through the year. I did 1971 miles in 2014 leading up to the 2015 Dopey Challenge so I will be trying to beat those numbers for 2017. I also set my PRs in the half and full marathons in 2014, so I will have some work to do to rebuild here.

In 2018 the race will be the 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge, the 5th anniversary of the Minnie 10k and the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon. That is a party I want to be involved with! I suspect there will be many who feel the same way so hopefully I can get in through the early entry with my annual pass!

My wife and I want to bring the kids down for this one too. I am doing Goofy Challenge this year and Heather is doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. We both have fallen in love with runDisney races and we really want to share that with the kids and get them more active at the same time. So we intend to do the 5k with them and see where else we end up. Our son is old enough to do the 10k so we will see if we can get him interested in that too. We are going to start building them up to this with the Pro Bowl 5k on January 28th – they will get a taste of a race through Epcot and hopefully they will catch the bug too!

Basically, all my running this year must lead toward this goal.

 

Second Commitment:

Spruce Woods Ultra – I let myself down on this one in 2016. I didn’t run my own race and it cost me. I know I could have completed this race and it eats at me a bit that I messed it up. So this year I will do it again and do it properly (properly for me – RUN MY OWN RACE). The only thing here is that I will have to decide what distance – 50k, 50 miles or 100k (smart enough to know I will not be ready for a 100 miler any time soon). Completing the race will be rebuilding my confidence so I need to figure out if I will feel better running a very strong 50k or if going well beyond 50k will work better.

The decision here will depend on how well my Achilles tendon continues to recover. I also don’t want to jeopardize 2018 Dopey Challenge with a big injury during the year. I realize you risk injury on every run and you can’t let that hold you back from reaching your goals…but there is a big difference between taking chances and deliberately flitting with disaster.

This race is in May, so I have some time to decide how things are going before I finalize my plans.

 

Third Commitment:

24 hour Lemming Loop – considering I really had no idea what I was getting into and my Achilles tendon didn’t cooperate  at all, I am a fairly happy with what I accomplished at the 2016 Lemming Loop…but I know I can do better.

I want to do this one again when I am stronger and healthier and just see what I can do. I have always thought my strength as a runner was more about endurance and quick recovery and this event lends itself to those traits. And I want to know what I am capable of here.

 

Other things:

These aren’t quite the same as the commitments above but they are things that will either need to happen or I want to happen over the year.

 

Lose weight…this one starts to sound a bit like a New Years resolution but it really isn’t. With my reduced mileage and injuries, my weight has crept up over the past year and a half and I have probably gained back 20 of the pounds I had previously lost. This needs to be rectified to achieve my goals above. I know how to do it and this will happen.

 

Marathon Maniacs – there are about 4 marathons run near(ish) to where I live and either combined with each other or with the ultras listed above I should be able to get Marathon Maniac status this year. I think this is something that would be pretty cool – but I am not going to commit to it as being healthy for the above races will take precedent as will various family commitments through the year.

 

Half Marathons – there are a few I like to do every year and I will most likely do so again with the goal of getting some speed back. My half PR is 1:46:00 and getting back there this year might be difficult but I think I can get back down to sub 1:50 and I would be quite happy with that.

 

Stress reduction – Over the past year or so I have been dealing with some big stressors that have been impacting my running motivation. I need to find a way to deal with those. At this point I suspect doing additional writing on the blog will help. I have been a bit lax over the past year on the blog but I will be picking it up and posting more. I find the writing helps focus my brain and lets me come up with solid plans better…so let’s do that.

 

As a conclusion, I have to say I am fairly excited about the upcoming year of running and looking forward to see where I end up!

Good luck to everyone in 2017!!

2017 Goofy Challenge trip plan – looking forward to this trip!

My Goofy Challenge trip this year is kind of different from any other Goofy or Dopey Challenge I have ever done.

I will be going to Orlando completely on my own. In the past, I have always traveled with my wife, or my wife and kids, or with my brother for Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and of course that means my schedule was never fully my own. So that is something I definitely am looking forward to for this trip – having complete freedom to figure out what I want to do and how I want to spend my time. I can’t wait to wander around to wherever my whims take me at any given time.  I will be bringing my DSLR to take pictures and I will be having fun doing that as well.

On Thursday the 5th, I will need to be up and at the Winnipeg airport around 3 am or so Central time and I will get into the Orlando airport around 1:30 pm Eastern time after hopping through Toronto.

From there, it is straight over to catch the Magical Express to my first hotel (I ended up having to do a hotel switch part way through the trip this time).

After some quick running around to sort out my park tickets, I expect to get to the race expo between 4 and 5 on Thursday. After getting the expo swag back to my hotel room I will be heading into Epcot for the evening and looking to wander the Boardwalk area after the park closes.

I am staying in the Boardwalk area and will be getting up early on the Friday morning to come out to cheer on the 10k runners! Not exactly sure where I will be hanging out cheering everyone on but hopefully I will see folks I know.

After hanging around and having some fun, I will need to change hotels on Friday. My plan here is to get moved as early as I can and enjoy either Magic Kingdom or maybe Hollywood Studios for the afternoon and early evening. Maybe some time at Disney Springs too?

Saturday will be the half marathon – so up way early again. I am not going to put any speed pressures on this race – just want to enjoy the atmosphere and take it easy.

After the race, I will head back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then decide what to do next. Probably a park but maybe Disney Springs – I am definitely going to be playing this one by ear.

Sunday – full marathon – another early morning. Again no time goals here but I will be trying to keep a steady pace and see where that leads with my ankle. If I start having issues, I will have to protect it and slow down – this one might finish with a nice long walk…

After the race – back to the hotel and if the weather cooperates, I would like to do some swimming to stretch things out (and maybe do some laundry being the exciting person I am). I will play most of the day be ear and then I expect to hit Epcot until it closes – I think they have some later hours for Disney resort guests that night, so I will be taking advantage of that.

Monday – my last day – I will have to check out of the hotel but I don’t have to be at the airport until 5ish so depending on Magical Express timing I am hoping to hit a park in the morning and afternoon.

So that is my basic plan but I am really excited to just go and wander wherever I feel I want to go – I have never had that freedom at Disney World before and I think it will be pretty awesome! Looking forward to the trip!

Ok – last post of then night – time to enjoy the New Years celebrations. Happy New Year!

2016 year end review – kinda rough but getting better!

Time again for a year end recap – and this one is a bit of an odd one to write up. On one hand my total mileage is not really awful and I did manage to get in my longest race event ever, but on the other hand my weight is up, my motivation was down, I had some injuries to deal with, and I had my first ever DNF.

There were definitely challenges this year but also some moments of light – I don’t want to focus on the negative, so I will mention some of the challenges but will try to concentrate more on the positive aspects of the year.

Total miles 1206.5 – down from 1400 in 2015 and 1971 in 2014. Definitely down – my Achilles tendon issue near the end of the year did not help here and without that I suspect I would have beaten my 2015 mileage. An injury is never fun but I did more mileage in the last half of the year than the first half despite the injury, that shows an increase in drive and strength.

2016 started pretty well with the 129 day 485 mile run streak but after the streak was broken the motivation tanked. That being said the streak didn’t work the way I would have liked either – I needed to adapt the streak to training for the specific races I had coming up and I failed to do so.

I then messed up on the Spruce Woods 50k by not hydrating during the race and then the Fargo Marathon by not eating properly the night before. But for both of these races I saw glimmers of strength still inside – if I hadn’t mentally screwed up on the 50k, I could have finished quite well. And for Fargo, I ran well early on in the race and despite g.i. issues and some major heat it still wasn’t my worst race. They both represent some screw ups on my part but I enjoyed them enough to want to do them both again – so that says something.

I had some recovery in the fall but then I had issues with my Achilles tendon that spanked me fairly well and through the last few months of the year. I am still struggling with the tendon now and it will probably define the start of 2017 too.

My longest run of the year (and ever), the 24 hour Lemming Loop, got me 53.3 miles – I believe I could have gotten farther but my ankles rebelled and I couldn’t run nearly as much as I would like on the race. I probably walked about half of the distance due to ankle issues. So while it was my longest event ever it was also disappointing. But man did I ever enjoy the event…starting to think I like messing up on races…

Then, 2 weeks after the 24 hour Lemming Loop, I ran my fastest half marathon in a year and a half at the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services Half Marathon. My Achilles was really not pleased after that but it shows some solid recovery capability.

One common thing I found through the year was that I was struggling to feel strong in my legs when I ran. I finally figured out what the issue was and I understand that the issue led directly to the Achilles problems I have been trying to recover from. What was the issue? I have been running in the wrong shoes.

I won’t get too deep into the issue but to keep it simple, I switched from a high heel to toe ratio shoe to a lower one. A lower heel to toe ratio puts extra pressure on the Achilles tendon (it gets stretched a bit more each step) and since I have used a high ratio shoe for years, my tendons weren’t prepared for the extra extension and rebelled. Note to self – changing running form overnight = bad.

But I have now figured that out, gotten shoes that work with my running form and I have seen improvement over the past few months. The tendon is still healing but I am seeing some strength return. I have a lot of rebuilding to do but I am ending the year with hope that I will recover and come back stronger in 2017.

Next week is the 2017 Goofy Challenge and I won’t be running it for speed or to challenge myself – I will be doing it for fun and as a reminder to enjoy the running. And then, I get down to work to seriously rebuild over 2017. I will do another post on what I hope to do over the upcoming year – as a spoiler though, I want to do Dopey Challenge in 2018 for the anniversary year and I will be building to be stronger than I was when I did it in 2015.

So maybe that leads me to my take away for 2016 – I made mistakes, I had motivation issues, I had injuries, and things did not go to plan in any way, shape or form…but I am still running. Even injured, I am still at a spot where others might spend years getting to, and I have to be thankful for what I can do and proud of what I have accomplished.

I will be stronger in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone and keep running!

Updated Goofy Challenge Packing List – Carry on only

A few years back, I put up a packing list for the Goofy Challenge and then added another packing list specifically for the Dopey Challenge. But, both of those assumed I would be checking a bag with the airline to fly down, which is what I would normally do. However, this year I am hoping to get away with just carry on bags.

 

Why?

 

For this trip, I am flying from Winnipeg to Toronto and then from Toronto down to Florida with a couple hour layover between flights. This means I will need to do US Customs in Toronto. That’s not a big deal but it means I have to collect my checked bags at a special luggage conveyor in the Toronto airport before I go to the US entry area. I have never had a lost bag here or missed a flight but it is a frustrating thing, standing there wait for your bags as you watch the US entry area get fuller and more backed up and your flight time gets closer and closer. Frankly it is a frustration I would rather avoid this trip and it should be doable if I plan well.

 

To achieve it, I have to be more focused on what I really need to bring and what I can do without. I may also have to commit to doing laundry on the Sunday after the marathon but I will have a better idea on that as I start to pack and see what will actually fit in my bags.

 

On the bag side, I will be using a luggage piece that fits the airline’s size restriction for carry on. The trick is determining what the additional “personal item” will be and how much I can fit in it. Usually I bring a padded camera backpack into the cabin area and I might do that this time but it would be nice if I could get away with a simple messenger bag instead. Again, I won’t be able to fully decide that until I get actually packing.

 

As I split the stuff up between bags I will need to keep in mind that I might get stuck having to gate check a bag, meaning there will be stuff I want to make absolutely sure is in the “personal item” bag, just in case of issues with the gate checked bag. This means electronics and at least one running gear set in the “personal item” bag.

 

I will also try to save some space in the bags by wearing layers of clothes onto the plane. Frankly I would probably have to do this anyway. It will most likely be parka weather in Winnipeg as I head to the airport and I will not want to bring the parka with me to Orlando. So that means I will layer on clothes so I don’t become an icicle getting to the plane but I will be able to get comfortable once I am in warmer air again.

 

Wear:

 

  • Standard jeans, socks, etc (for staying warm – not much I can do here for efficiency)
  • Long sleeve running tech shirt – could be used to run if required (some efficiency here)
  • Sweater / light jacket – layering in action – but can also be used to run if the race mornings are cool
  • Nike Elements running jacket – this thing can keep me warm in damned cold weather but is still light enough to use if it is only cool out – again can be used for running or just wearing if it is cool as I am wandering a park or something
  • Shoes – I will wear my planned running pair on the plane – going to make sure I have that pair of shoes with me
  • Running gloves
  • Running hat
  • Garmin running watch (Garmin Vivoactive)
  • Cell phone in armor case and holster and a set of headphones

 

 

“Personal Item” – backpack or messenger bag

 

  • Passport
  • Race waiver!
  • Travel documents including Disney receipts for tickets to pick up, etc
  • Chargers and charger cables galore – watch, phone, laptop, etc
  • Portable battery bank (fits in my running belt and in my pockets, keep the phone charged)
  • Laptop (Surface 3 tablet actually with keyboard and hard case to keep it protected) and connectors to read camera memory card, etc
  • Headphones – I will probably have a pair in a pocket of the jacket I am wearing but I will bring a spare pair
  • Sunglasses – I would just wear them but my first flight leaves at 5 am – the sun will still be asleep
  • 1 set running clothes – shirt, shorts, underwear and socks
  • Running belt and bib belt
  • DSLR camera + one lens – I would normally take 2 lenses and a point and shoot camera but will cut that back this trip to save space
  • Kindle – I could read on my phone or Surface while flying but I prefer the feel of the Kindle and it is an easy carry so I will bring it.
  • Minor toiletries – won’t bring much since you can bring much liquid through security but I won’t need much while I am down there and things like shampoo, etc will be supplied by the hotel anyway.
  • Disney Pieces of Magic – mementos that I carry on every run to remind me of my family and have them with me on the run.
  • Electrolyte drink tablets
  • Bottle opener – for beer.
  • Magic band – being Canadian, Disney won’t have mailed out my new band for this stay but I will bring an older one to have options (plus it makes getting on Magical Express a bit quicker)
  • Nipple protectors – because otherwise, ouch. 

 

 

Luggage

  • Normal clothes – jeans, shirts, socks, etc – number of full sets will depend on room – if I can avoid having to do laundry that would be good but lounging in the pool while doing laundry after the marathon is done doesn’t seem that bad a thing either…
  • Additional running gear full set – possibly 2 to give options with a warmer weather set and colder weather set. Disney World Marathon weekend weather can be odd – I have had blistering heat warnings…and snow (curse you 2010!).
  • Running shoes – 1 pair – back up pair / walking around pair to use instead of the race pair I will be wearing on the plane
  • Space – going to have souvenirs and race items to bring home and will need that room. I expect I will check the bag on the way home so having the luggage fit the carry on size requirements but still be expandable would be good.
  • Ziplock bags – good to have to carry stuff on the race that want to protect
  • Water bottles for the electrolyte drink tabs
  • Running backpack – I carry way too much stuff on marathons but I also can’t handle PowerAde so I need to bring my own liquid fuel for the race – I find the 2 liters in the backpack gets me through a full marathon.
  • Couple of big garbage bags – easily disposable rain barrier if needed
  • Knee and ankle braces – have had issues in the past and they are easy to pack as a just in case
  • Swimsuit
  • Wipes – easy pack for GI issues on the race and a nice quick clean up after the race
  • Grooming / blister kit – bandages, nail clippers, etc – I will have to double check here exactly what I can bring in carry on bags – this may have to be modified.

 

Let me know if I missed anything!

Watch Instagram @biggoofyrunner over the next few weeks!

Hi folks – as the post title says, please check out my Instagram account @biggoofyrunner over the next few weeks.

In honor of heading into the final push towards Goofy Challenge 2017, and to do a bit of a celebration of 4 years of this blog, I will be posting a picture a day from along the route of the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon. I ran Dopey that year and had a blast hitting every picture stop I could.

Most of the pictures will be from the on course photographers taken at the various character stops but a few are taken by myself (those will be the blurry ones).

So have a look and feel some nostalgia if you have done a Disney race before or if you haven’t done one before you can see some of the things to expect.

If you want to see most of the pictures ahead of time – most of them will be coming from the post: 

Final Race – Dopey Challenge 2015 – Disney World Marathon race report and pictures!

Hope you enjoy!